Imágenes de página

lized visiters requite the hospitality they experienced under the roof wliose doors stand open to shelter and feed all who enter!

As all about our young hostess is interesting, I will add some further particulars. Having inquired: for her mother, she told me she remained generally with her other sons and daughters, who were living in the Indian settlement on the grand river that falls into Lake Erie: that her mother preferred being in the Wig-wams, and disapproved, in a certain degree, of her and her brother John's conforming so much to the habits and costume of the English. It may be added that this family are the children of the celebrated Mohawk Indian Chief, Captain Brandt, who was introduced to his late Majesty, and who translated the prayer-book, and part of the scriptures into one of the Indian languages; and that the house where we were so hospitably entertained, was built upon a grant of land bestowed by George the Third on that Mohawk Prince.

My thus becoming acquainted with this young lady and her brother, fully establishes in my

mind all I was anxious to prove by the education of a young Indian; and many such instances might be adduced which would evince that wisdom, science, and exaltation of character, are not the exclusive property of any colour, tribe, or nation. The bravery, political sagacity, and knowledge of government, manifested by the negroes who now govern in St. Domingo (not to mention other well-known instances), are calculated to allay the doubts which

used to prevail as to the capacity of the African. But between the Indian of North America, and the African, there is a remarkable difference. The former never can be bowed to become the slave of man, to pay tribute, or to submit, by any hope of reward, to live in vassalage. Free, like the son of Ishmael, he will die rather than yield his liberty; and he is, therefore, hunted down by people who boast of civilization and christianity, and who, while they value their own freedom, do not hesitate to extend their lands and property by the merciless destruction of the unoffending original proprietor. But let not those who still claim the British name, nor the citizens of the United States, deceive themselves in the belief that because the poor Indians, whose lands they possess, and whose rivers they navigate, have no powerful voice to blazon their wrongs, and hold them up to the abhorrence of mankind, they will always rest unavenged; or that the civilization which is pompously carried on, but which is in fact a slow consuming system of extinction, will avert the retributive justice which God will assuredly render. The poor

Indians confess that for their crimes they are now placed by the Great Spirit under the feet of the white men, and in the midst of their sufferings, they pathetically warn their cruel oppressors that the time may yet come when the Lord will have pity on them, and in turn, punish the Europeans. Truly the ways

of the Almighty are wonderful! The apparent prosperity of the wicked are among the most unaccountable features of the will of our Crea


tor, and would be utterly without a solution had we not the Bible to guide us into a right understanding of his designs. However the deist may scoff, or the philosopher doubt, yet therein we see that though the wrath of God may be long delayed, the punishiment of iniquity will assuredly come to pass. The re-action of crime and punishment is to be seen in the history of all nations. Let the European oppressors of the Indian savage, as he is called, look to it in time; and while the diffusion of the true principles of Christianity throughout the British empire, is followed by clemency and mercy to the African, it is to be hoped the same benevolent spirit will extend itself to the noble-minded Aborigines of North America; and that instead of supplying arms, ammunition, blankets, and rum, we may lead them to the arts and blessings of peace, and to the improvement of their admirable native talent.

With regard to the terms, barbarians” and

savages,” which it is the fashion to lavish so prodigally on our Indians, let us hear what the philosophical French essayist, Montaigne, said of them, in reference to these appellations, between two and three hundred years ago.

“ I find that there is nothing barbarous and savage in this nation, by any thing I can gather, excepting that every one gives the title of barbarity to every thing that is not in use in his own country: as indeed we have no other level of truth and reason, than the example and idea of the opinions and customs of the place wherein we live. There is always the true religion; there

the perfect government, and the most exact and accomplished usance of all things. They are savages at the same rate, that we say fruits are wild, which nature produces of herself, and by her own ordinary progress; whereas, in truth, we ought rather to call those wild, whose natures we have changed by our artifice, and diverted from the common order. ***** These nations, then, seem to me to be so far barbarous, as having received but very little form and fashion from art and human invention, and consequently, not much remote from their original simplicity. The laws of nature, however, govern them still, not, as yet, much vitiated with


mixture of ours; but in such purity, that I am sometimes troubled we were no sooner acquainted with these people, and that they were not discovered in those better times, when there were men much more able to judge of them, than we are, I am sorry that Lycurgus and Plato had no knowledge of them; for to my apprehension, what we now see in those natives, does not only surpass all the images with which the poets have adorned the golden age, and all their inventions in feigning a happy estate of man; but, moreover, the fancy and even the wish of philosophy itself. So native and so pure a simplicity, as we, by experience, see to be in them, could never enter into the imagination of the ancient philosophers, nor could they ever believe that human society could have been maintained with so little artifice. Should I tell Plato that it is a nation wherein there is no manner of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no science

of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor political superiority, no use of service, no riches or poverty, no contracts, no successions, no dividends, no proprieties, no employments but those of leisure, no respect of kindred, but common, no clothing, no agriculture, no metal, no use of corn or wine, and where so much as the very words that signify lying, treachery, dissimulation, avarice, detraction, and pardon, were never heard of, --how much would he find his imaginary republic short of this perfection*.”

Our author, in the detail of his negations, is a little incorrect, but the passage, on the whole, is a noble and profound vindication of this primitive people.


* Montaigne's Essays, book 1. chap. 30. Cotton's translation.

« AnteriorContinuar »