Imágenes de página

daughters were so forcibly taught by the natural politeness of their hostess, will never be forgotten by them, and that I also may profit by the example.

After stopping a few hours with these interesting young Indians, and giving them an invitation to pay us a visit at New-York, which they expressed great desire to fulfil, and which I therefore confidently anticipate, we took our leave with real regret on all sides. As we passed through the hall, I expected to see some Indian instruments of war or the chase; but perceiving that the walls were bare of these customary ornaments, I asked Mr. Brandt where all the trophies were that belonged to his family? He told me, and I record it with shame, that the numerous visiters that from time to time called on him, expressed their desire so strongly for these trophies, that one by one he had given all away; and now he was exempt from these sacrifices, by, not having any thing of the kind left. He seemed, nevertheless, to cherish with fondoess the memory of these relics of his forefathers. How ill did the civilized visiters requite the hospitality they experienced under the roof whose doors stand open to shelter and feed all who enter!

As all about our young hostess is interesting, I will add some farther 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 Mokawk 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 wellknown 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 theyare 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 turu, 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 Creator, 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 punishment 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 nobleminded 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 hersell, 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 any 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, por 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

[ocr errors]






SEVERAL chiefs from the Missouri territory, (a part of North America which is inhabited by tribes of Indians, who, from the remoteness of their situation, do not so often as others, come in contact with white men,) were brought by order of the government of the United States, to Washington under the guidance of Major O'Fallon. They were subsequently taken on to NewYork, where, as at Washington, every thing calculated to impress their minds was exbibited to them. Previous to their departure to their native homes, they were introduced to the President of the United States, when the following speeches were delivered by them. The reader, I thinks, will not fail to discern in these addresses a grand vein of original eloquence, united with great sagacity; another proof of the error of his Excellency De Witt Clinton, in confining the rhetorical talent solely to the Iroquois or Five Nations. It is with feelings of humility that I allude again to this inaccurate statement. No one can have a higher respect for this gentleman than myself. His discourse delivered to the Historical Society of New-York, is not surpassed by any document I ever read, for profoundness of intellect, pbilanthropy of sentiment, exquisite beauty of composition, and extent of historical knowledge condensed within a


brief space.

« AnteriorContinuar »