Liberation of Dr. Steiger—Indian Funeral in Paris.
[From the Courrier Des Estats Unis.]
Dr. Steiger, who lately escaped from his imprisonment at Lucerne, was received with transports of enthusiasm on his passage. At Winterthow they gave him a fine serenade and concert, with a supper for 200 guests. Colonel Weiss made to the Dr. the compliments of the assembly. Signal fires were kindled on the heights of Horgger, Albis, &c. that the country round might have its part in the general joy.
The three liberators of Dr. Steiger have addressed the following letter to the Director of Police at Lucerne:
M. DIRECTOR: We, the signers of this paper, have the satisfaction of announcing to you that we arrived here at three o’clock this morning, placing Dr. Steiger safe and sound on the free soil of the Canton of Zurich. We wish to let you know, at the same time, that we quit your service with no desire to return to it. Perhaps you will represent this action of ours as contrary to our duty and our oath; but we protest before-hand against such representations, in the most solemn manner, being convinced that we have acted loyally, and have not failed in duty. The sad circumstances of the Canton of Lucerne at this time are the consequence of the resolution of the Grand Council, which has violated the Constitution by calling the Jesuits into Lucerne. When the higher authorities violate their oath and the Constitution, subordinates are freed from the obligation of obedience.
The sentence of death passed upon Dr. Steiger is a result of such violation of the Constitution; we were therefore disposed to prevent its execution; still expecting a pardon, we waited, though with lively grief that such a sentence should ever have passed. But during a month that the sword of justice was kept suspended over the head of this generally esteemed citizen, we acquired certainty that, under the semblance of pardon, he would be sent into the country of Jesuits and Lazzaroni, and that there would be done in secret what the authorities dared not here do openly. It then became our duty to save the Canon of Lucerne and the Confederation from such ignominy, and this we have accomplished.
One of the subscribers, Sergeant Kaufmann, has served under three Governments with loyalty and fidelity since 1815. Another, Corporal Birrer, has been sixteen years in the service. Never has an act so arbitrary been pertrated by any Government; and it is to put a stop to this that we have taken a resolution which all the civilized world will approve. We have done this act spontaneously and deliberately; and we have no accomplice at Lucerne. Another Canton has sent us passe-partouts, of which none would answer, but a lucky chance came to our aid. Last Monday, the guardian of the Tower Stadler was obliged to go to Hitzkirck, and thus the key of Steiger’s prison was left with Corporal Birrer, as second-in-place. He compared his key with number nine of the passe-partout, and perceived that only a slight alteration was needed to enable him to open the door with that which he himself made. Seek, then, no accomplices: you would waste your labor. We say this because we do not wish that any persons should be exposed to useless torments.
We hope that the free part of Switzerland will esteem, honor, and, if necessary, protect us.(Signed)
KAUFMANN, Ancient Sergeant,
Some interesting particulars are given of the death of O-ki-oui-mi, the wife of the Little Wolf.
The death of a very young child, whom this poor woman lost in London, may be considered the determining cause of her malady. She had already lost three children, and could no longer resist her grief. Her husband, who showed her the utmost and most constant tenderness, tried to recal her to life; but she replied, ‘No! my four children call me; I see them with the Great Spirit; they stretch out their arms, and are surprised that I have not already joined them.’
The last four days of her life, the Little Wolf did not appear in the exhibition room of Mr. Catlin; he did not quit for an instant his wife, but watched her night and day, serving her with all the zeal and love, and refusing any person to aid him. He received the last wishes of his wife. She desired him to thank the physicians for their care for one so unhappy, and to say she was now about to become a happy mother, since the Great Spirit would reunite her with her four children. She gave orders in what dress to inter her body, and asked that they would leave upon her neck a medallion of the Virgin, mother of the Great Spirit of the Christians. The interpreter, hearing her say this, went for a priest, who, not arriving before her death, recited over the corpse the prayers of the Catholic church.
The Little Wolf then dressed her as she had desired, and painted her, according to the custom of the tribe. The three Ioway women lamented over the body of her who had become endeared to them during their companionship of travel, though daughter of the Sac tribe, hostile to theirs, and not by birth and education a sister.
When her child died at London, the English showed both for her and her husband lively sympathy; they erected a tomb to the child, and the Quakers, to reassure the father, who feared the tomb might be violated by surgeons, engaged to keep constant watch over it.
The 14th June, at 12 o’clock, the funeral left the house, Rue St. Honoré, where Mr. Melody lives with the Indians. In one of the carriages was the Little Wolf, with the Doctor. The General Commandant, M. Jeffery the interpreter, and the Abbe Alfred Wattemare, for whom the poor O-ki-oui-mi had conceived a great affection and from whom she had received the first notions of Christianity.
The bier was richly ornamented and followed by several carriages, the chief mourners being Messrs. Catlin, Melody and Alex. Wattemare, friend of the two honorable Americans who accompanied these Indians to Europe.
A crowd followed to the Magdalen Church. The Indians were introduced there and conducted to the foremost row of reserved seats, beside the desk.—They took their places, gravely, without saying a word.
The grief of Choue-ta-gi-ga, the Little Wolf, appeared profound; his noble and good countenance was darkened with sadness, his eyes bloodshot; ten days had added ten years to his age. The Doctor seemed, also, much afflicted, and showed it by a calm sternness we should have thought impossible to this man, who, notwithstanding his age, has the gaiety and liveliness of a young boy. As to Oua-ta-oui-bu-kana, that charming youth of the proud distinguished air, he looked as grave and sad as the others.
They were all very simply dressed, none painted except the Doctor, who had upon his face a thin coat of yellow that gave it the look of a bronze mask. The Little Wolf had laid aside all his usual ornaments; on his scalp he had neither vermillion, hair or feathers, a band of stuff bordered with pearl beads around his head was all its covering. The General had on an eagle’s plume, the Doctor hair. Some of them wore bear-skins, but one a purple shirt. Each had in his hand an eagle’s plume, which he used as a fan. On their feet plain moccasins, with the exception of the General. Embroidered garters, bracelets, and wampum in the ears were the only ornamental parts of their attire.
We are very glad to see that such refined sympathy is shown for the Red Chiefs in Europe, and such intelligent respect for customs, every one of which is a poetical record of their history, which must ever remain a dead letter to those who have no eye for such tokens.*
“Translations for The Tribune.” New-York Daily Tribune, 25 July 1845, p. 1.