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the commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Indians by a speech, that there was at Williamsburg a college, with a fund, for educating Indian youth ; and if the chiefs of the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their sons to that college, the government would take care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the learning of the white people. It is one of the Indian rules of politeness not to answer a public proposition the same day that it is made : they think it would be treating it as a light matter, and that they show it respect by taking time to consider it, as of a matter important. They therefore deferred their answer till the day following: when their speaker began, by expressing their deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making them that offer ; “ for we know,” says he, “that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those collegen, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your proposal; and we you heartily. But you who are wise must know, that different nations have different conceptions of things ; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us, they were bad run ners ; ignorant of every means of living in the woods ; anable to bear either cold or hunger ; knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy ; spoke our language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counsellors: they were
totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting of it; and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”
Having frequent occasions to hold public councils, they have acquired great order and decency in conducting them. The old men sit in the foremost ranks, the warriors in the next, and the women and children in the hindmost. The business of the women is to take exact notice of what passes, imprint it in their memories, for they have no writing, and communicate it to the children. They are the records of the coun cil, and they preserve tradition of the stipulations in treaties a hundred years back; which, when we compare with our writings, we always find exact. He that would speak rises. The rest observe a profound silence. When he has finished, and sits down, they leave him five or six minutes to recollect, that, if he has omitted any thing he intended to say, or has any thing to add, he may rise again and deliver it. To interrupt another, even in common conversation, is reckoned highly indecent. How different this is from the conduct of a polite British House of Commons, where scarce a day passes without some confusion, that makes the speaker hoarse in calling to order ; and how different from the mode of conversation, in many polite companies of Europe, where, if you do not deliver your sentence with great rapidity, you are cut off in the middle of it by the impatient loquam city of those you converse with, and never suffered to finish it!
The politeness of these savages in conversation is indeed carried to excess ; since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of what is asserted in their presence. By this means they, indeed, avoid disputes ; but then it becomes difficult to kuow their minds, or what impression you make upon them. The missionaries, who have attempted to convert them to Christianity, all complain of this as one of the great difficulties of their mission. The Indians hear with patience the truths of the gospel explained to them, and give their usual tokens of assent and approbation : you would think they were convinced. No such matter_it is mere civility.
A Swedish minister having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehannah Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal historical facts on which our religion is founded : such as the fall of our first parents by eating an apple ; the coming of Christ to repair the mischief ; his miracles and sufferings, &c. -When he had finished, an Indian orator stood up to thank him. “What you have told us,” says he, “is all very good. It is indeed bad to eat apples. It is better to make them all into cider. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far to tell us these things which you have heard from your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of those which we have heard from ours.
“ In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist on ; and if their hunting was unsuccessful, they were starving. Two of our young hunters having killed a deer, made a fire in the woods to broil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their hunger, they beheld a beautiful young woman descend from the clouds, and seat herself on that hill which you see yonder among the blue moun
tains. They said to each other, It is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiled venison, and wishes to eat of it; let us offer some to her. They presented her with the tongue: she was pleased with the taste of it, and said, “Your kindness shall be rewarded. Come to this place after thirteen moons, and you shall find something that will be of great benefit in nourishing you and your children to the latest generations.' They did so, and to their surprise found plants they had never seen before ; but which, from that ancient time, have been constantly cultivated among us, to our great advantage. Where her right hand had touched the ground, they found maize ; where her left hand had touched it, they found kidney-beans; and where her backside had sat on it, they found tobacco.” The good missionary, disgusted with this idle tale, said, “What I delivered to you were sacred truths ; but what you tell me is mere fable, fiction, and falsehood." The Indian, offended, replied, “My brother, it seems your friends have not done you justice in your educa tion ; they have not well instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who understand and practise those rules, believed all your stories, why do you refuse to believe ours ?” When
of them come into our towns, our people are apt to crowd round them, gaze upon them, and incommode them where they desire to be private : this they esteem great rudeness, and the effect of the want of instruction in the rules of civility and good manners. “ We have,” say they, “as much curiosity as you, and when you come into our towns, we wish for opportunities of looking at you ; but for this purpose we hide ourselves behind bushes, where you are
and never intrude ourselves into your company."
Their manner of entering one another's villages has likewise its rules. It is reckoned uncivil in travelling strangers to enter a village abruptly, without giving notice of their approach. Therefore, as soon as they arrive within hearing, they stop and balloo, remaining there till invited to enter. Two old men usually come out to them, and lead them in. There is in every village a vacant dwelling, called the stranger's house. Here they are placed, while the old men go round from hut to hut, acquainting the inhabitants that strangers are arrived, who are probably hungry and weary, and every one sends them what he can spare of victuals, and skins to repose on. When the strangers are refreshed, pipes and tobacco are brought : and then, but not before, conversation begins, with inquiries who they are, whither bound, what news, &c. and it usually ends with offers of service, if the strangers have occasion for guides, or any necessaries for continuing their journey; and nothing is exacted for the entertainment.
The same hospitality, esteemed among them as a principal virtue, is practised by private persons ; of which Conrad Weiser, our interpreter, gave me the following instance. He had been naturalized among the Six Nations, and spoke well the Mohock language. In going through the Indian country, to carry a message from our governor to the council at Onondaga, he called at the habitation of Canasetego, an old acquaintance, who embraced him, spread furs for him to sit on, placed before him some boiled beans and venison, and mixed some rum and water for his drink. When he was well refreshed, and had lit his pipe, Canasetego began to converse with him, asked him how he had fared the many years since