American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

SCENES ON LAKE HURON (1836). Written anonymously by “a North American,” Scenes on Lake Huron: A Tale; Interspersed with Interesting Facts in a Series of Letters purports to be the description of an autumn 1822 voyage taken by schooner from Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Detroit. According to the author in his introduction, the main purpose of this fictionalized travelogue, besides describing the scenery of that portion of the Great Lakes* and its dangerously changeable weather, was to defend the reputation and promote the intrepidity and skill of Lakes sailors from their oceangoing colleagues, who maintained that the former were “no seamen at all.” The narrative, in the form of letters to an unnamed friend and signed “M,” provides graphic examples to counter such beliefs. Copyright records in the Library of Congress suggest that the author of this book may be one A. J. Matsell, a small New York City publisher during the 1820s and 1830s who specialized in religious and philosophical works and about whom scant additional biographical information is available.

Robert Beasecker