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Alaska--as Seen By Prof. Harrington

Alaska--as Seen By Prof. Harrington image
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We detailí'd 0. "speotal reporter" on Tueday svsning, to make some notes on Prof. Hakinotün's talk about Alaskn, at the M. E. C. Social, and here is the return we gut for our investinent : Aiter speaking of tho climatic peculiarities of Alaska, l'roi. II." remarked that ery few huve an adequate idea of the extent df its territory. This ncvv farm of Uncle Sam's is nina times as large u New England, and onc-tifth L13 large as all the United States. When the first attempt to lay the Atlantic cable had resulted in failure, it was decided by the "Western Uu,ion Telegraph Cotwny to seek cortlmunication with the Old World by way of Britieh and Kussian Amoriea, crossing Behring' Straits and connecting with the Russian lines. In exploring this route a romarkable disoovery was made- the discovery of a noble river whose existenco had not before becu suspected. Thia river, the Yukon, is greater I hftn th ïteuube, half as long as the Mississippi; and more than half as long as the Amazon. So great is its width at some points that one bank can scarcely be seen' iïom the other; its depth up to Fort Yukou ranges from twenty to eighty feet. It is the Proíessor's opinión that the southern portion of Alaska is capable of supporting avery consideradla agricultural ).i;ulat:on. He hadhimsclf eaten potatoes- -small and watery, to be sure, but still potatoes - that were grown there. Tlie gïnilis aro said to be a failure, but turnips and ï'adisiiüs thvive rcmarkably, peas and beaus do well, and apph's and other fruits can be growu. This mm1!' ha ving been demonatrated by the lazy shiftless Kussians and the Aleutes ; we oartaialy have a right to expeot from Yankee indus'uy and skill far greater results in tlie same field. Alaska has a population of aböut thirty thousand, only one-half that of Iceland. Of this population about threc thousand are Alcutcs, perhaps the best race of half civilized people in the world. They are certainly the best poople in Alaska. They are very bright, intelligent, and hospitablo. An Aleute will always tako off hia hat when he meets you, or if he has no hat to tako off will pull kis íoretop. They are a very inotlensive people - too iuoffeilsivo to protect themselves from aggression. This fact in their disposition was illustrated by an incident wluch oücurreil duriug tho Trofossor's stay among them. The Aleutes having traded elsewhere, the ageut of tho Alaska Fur Company, a very small man, administered a caning to the chief of their village. Although this man Was a tall and powerful fellow, he not ouly boro the whipping without resistance but iucontinently took to his heels as soou as lie could escape. The Professor then spoke of üeohoe Tkaiíoff, tlie young Aleute who accompanied him home, nd the pleasure with which he had wituessed tlie perlonuances of a circus troupe in San Francisco. He had also givon Geobge the opportunity of hearing Beechek while in New York. We all know the partioularly happy way Mr. B. has of expressing hiinself ; and on this occasion he several times expressed himself so happüy as to causo his congregation to laugh. Aiter the sermón G-EOEOE asked if that was an an American church, and on being told tliat it was, he said it was very niee ; he was much pleased with it indeed ; but he did n't think it was quite ;ls nice as the circus lie saw in San Francisco. The Aleutes are strictly honest - a remarkable statement to make of a semi-Civilized race. Not a single theft did the Professor hear of during his residence ainong them. In speaking of the origin of these people, Professor H. said they did not secm to be connected with tlie Ksipiimaux, though phüologists had found some slight resemblance in their languages. In manv respects they resemble the Mongolian type. and their darker skin and rougher aspect nmy 1( due to sxpoeore to the rigors of the climate. This suggests that they may be the descendanta of shipwrecked Japonese, as it is by 110 nieaiH rare lor the junkb of these people to bc driven out of their course and cast away on these northern shores. Ho had seen ft crew of ship-wrecked Japanese, and by means ot signs and pistares leamed from tliem that they had sailetl trom homo with a cargo of rice Their junks dismastod in a storm drifted northward I e many weeks, till they had eaten nearly all their rico and burned out the inside woodwork of their vessel for fuel ; their vossel grounding on the shores uf the hospit&ble Aleutes. They were by thein boing Sent back to Japan. That term incógnita of the north, Wrangle's Land, witli the fierce warriors tradition ascribes to it, was tlu'R spoken ot', and allusion made to the sugpestini oí Petermonn that perhaps this land extends much farther thaii has been sus- pected ; and if so, ite wild and warlikc people inay be even now dwelUng in that región so many uavigatws have souglit to reach, directly ander the polar star. An interosting account wis then given of the foreible conversión of the pliaut Aleutes to the doctrines of the Oreuk church, and of their ire ent conilition ; and the speaker closed with a few pleasaut remarks on the disappearance, before more modern research, of the wonders reiated by M.vrco Polo of Kl'üt.u Kahs's doïöinions of the fabiöd monsters of Sir John Mauxdü ; of the Great American Dcsert ; and lastly, of the icc-barriers of the north.


Old News
Michigan Argus