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without a written code of laws or system of jurisprudence, without any form or constitution of government, and without even a single elective or hereditary magistrate, can subsist together in peace and harmony, and in the exercise of the moral virtues; how a people can be well and effectually governed, without any external authority, by the mere force of the ascendancy which men of superior minds have over those of a more ordinary stamp; by a tacit, yet universal submission to the aristocracy of experience, talents, and virtue! Such, nevertheless, is the spectacle which an Indian nation exhibits to the eye of a stranger. I have been a witness to it for a long series of years, and after much observation and reflection to discover the cause of this phenomenon, I think I have reason to be satisfied that it is in a great degree to be ascribed to the pains which the Indians take to instil at an early age honest and virtuous principles upon the minds of their children, and to the method which they pursue in educating them, This method I will not call a system, for systems are unknown to these sons of nature, who, by following alone her dictates, have at once discovered, and follow without effort, that plain obvious path which the philosophers of Europe have been so long in search of*."
The manner of this education is described by our good missionary as follows:
“ The first step that parents take towards the
* Heckewelder's Historical Account, p. 98.
education of their children, is to prepare them for future happiness, by impressing upon their tender minds, that they are indebted for their existence to a great, good, and benevolent Spirit, who not only has given them life, but has ordained them for certaing reat purposes. That he has given them a fertile extensive country, well stocked with game of every kind for their subsistence; and that by one of his inferior spirits he has also sent down to them from above, corn, pumpkins, squashes, beans and other vegetables for their nourishment ; all which blessings their ancestors have enjoyed for a great number of ages. That this great Spirit looks down upon
the Indians, to see whether they are grateful to him and make him a due return for the many benefits he has bestowed, and therefore that it is their duty to show their thankfulness by worshipping him, and doing that which is pleasing in his sight.
“ This is in substance the first lesson taught, and from time to time repeated to the Indian children, which naturally leads them to reflect and gradually to understand that a Being which hath done such great things for them, and all to make them happy, 'must be good indeed, and that it is surely their duty to do something that will please him. They are then told that their ancestors, who received all this from the hands of the great Spirit, and lived in the enjoyment of it, must have been informed of what would be most pleasing to this good Being, and of the manner in which his favour could be most surely obtained, and they are directed to look up for instruction to
those who know all this, to learn from them, and revere them for their wisdom and the knowledge which they possess; this creates in the children a strong sentiment of respect for their elders, and a desire to follow their advice and example. Their young ambition is then excited by telling them that they were made the superiors of all other creatures, and are to have power over them; greatpains are taken to make this feeling take an early root, and it becomes, in fact, their ruling passion through life; for no pains are spared to instil into them, that by following the advice of the most admired and extolled hunter, trapper, or warrior, they will at a future day acquire a degree of fame and reputation, equal to that which he possesses; that by submitting to the counsels of the aged, the chiefs, the men superior in wisdom, they may also rise to glory, and be called Wise men, an honourable title, to which no Indian is indifferent. They are finally told that if they respect the aged and infirm, and are kind and obliging to them, they will be treated in the same manner when their turn comes to feel the infirmities of old age.
“ When this first and most important lesson is thought to be sufficiently impressed upon children's minds, the parents next proceed to make them sensible of the distinction between good and evil; they tell them that there are good actions and bad actions, both equally open to them to do or commit; that good acts are pleasing to the good Spirit which gave them their existence, and that on the contrary, all that is bad proceeds from the bad spirit who has
given them nothing, and who cannot give them any thing that is good, because he has it not, and therefore he envies them that which they have received from the good Spirit, who is far superior to the bad
“ This introductory lesson, if it may be so called, naturally makes them wish to know what is good and what is bad. This the parent teaches them in his own way; that is to say, in the way in which he was himself taught by his own parents. It is not the lesson of an hour nor of a day, it is rather a long course more of practical than of theoretical instruction; a lesson, which is not repeated at stated seasons or times, but which is shewn, pointed out, and demonstrated to the child, not only by those under whose immediate guardianship he is, but by the whole community, who consider themselves alike interested in the direction to be given to the rising generation.
“When this instruction is given in the form of precepts, it must not be supposed that it is done in an authoritative or forbidding tone, but, on the contrary, in the gentlest and most persuasive manner: nor is the parent's authority ever supported by harsh or compulsive means; no whips, no punishments, no threats are ever used to enforce commands or compel obedience. The child's pride is the feeling to which' an appeal is made, which proves successful in almost every instance. A father needs only to say in the presence of his children · I want such a thing done; I want one of my children to go
* upon such an errand; let me see who is the good
child that will do it! This word good operates, as it were, by magic, and the children immediately vie with each other to comply with the wishes of their parent. If a father sees an old decrepit man or woman pass by, led along by a child, he will draw the attention of his own children to the object by saying, What a good child that must be, which pays such attention to the aged! That child, indeed, looks forward to the time when it will like• wise be old!' or he will say, May the great
Spirit, who looks upon him, grant this good child • a long life!
“ In this manner of bringing up children, the parents, as I have already said, are seconded by the whole community. If a child is sent from his father's dwelling to carry a dish of victuals to an aged person, all in the house will join in calling him a good child. They will ask whose child he is, and on being told, will exclaim, what! has the Tortoise, or the Little Bear, (as the father's name may be) got such a good child? If a child is seen passing through the streets leading an old decrepit person, the villagers will in his hearing, and to encourage all the other children who may be present to take example from him, call on one another to look on and see what a good child that must be. And so, in most instances, this method is resorted to, for the purpose of instructing children in things that are good, proper, or honourable in themselves; while, on the other hand, when a child has committed a bad act, the parent will say