Abbildungen der Seite

and brnv- "P tV children, and ^reserve and hand rforf* to'ixxteiitv th.. memo! y of public transactions. 1 l.ese emplovnv ntsof meo a„d .vomen are accounted naunul and eoiiowblf. Having few artificial wants, they have abundant ofkisnr, fw improvement by conversation O.u'labouiious manner of life. compared with Uui.s, they esteem si .vish and base; and the learning on which. T.e value TXirs. Ives they regard as frivolous and useless. An instance of tins occurred at the treaty_ of LancasI ter. in Pcnnsylvau a anno 17 >4. between" the government of Virginia and ihe i* Nation.. After the prmcipal business was stilled. the commissioners from Virginia ac'ni.:intrd the Indians by a speech, that there xvas at Williamsburg a colli g'., with a fund, for euueatin:' I dian you h; and that if the chief, of the Mx Nations would send down half a dozen of Uieir sons to that college. the government would lake care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all ther learning of the whi.e people—It is one of the Indian Tules of politeness not to answer a public proposition. the same day that it is made; they think it would bo treating it as a light matter; and they shew 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 expressmg their deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making that offer: "for we know (says he) that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those colleges, 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 thank. you heartily. But you who are wise, must know, that different nations have 'different conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it a miss, 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 i they were instructed in all your sciences > tout when they came back to us, they were bpcl runners; ignorant of every means of living in the woods; unable to bear either cold or hunger; knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy; •speak our language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors or counsellors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by youi kind offer, though we decline accepting it: and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia witl send us ad"Zen of their sous, we will take great cafe 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 anil decency in conducting then:. The oldest men sit in the foremost ri-nks, 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 their children. 1'hey are the records of the council and they pr» serve tradition of the stipulations in tieaties a hundred years back; which when we compa,e 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 Lave him five or six minutes to recollect, that if he has omited any thing he intended to say, or has any thing to add may rise again and deliver it. To interrupt another, even in common conversation, is reckoned highly indecent. How different thss is from the conduci of a polite British House of Commons, where scarce a clay passes without some confusion, that makes the speaker hoarse in calling to order; and how different from the modes of conversation in many polite companies of Europe, where, if you do not deliver your sentence with great rapidity, you are cut oft' in the middle of it by the impatient loquacity 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 know 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 thtir usual tokens of assent and approbation; you would think they were convinced. No such mat- . ter. It is mere civility.


A Swedish minister having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehannah Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting ihem with the principal liistorical facts on which our religion is founded; such as the fall of our first patents by eating an apple; the coming of Christ to repair the mischief; his mivacles and suffering, &c. When he had fmished. an Indian orator stood up to thank him. "VVhai 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 cyder. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far to tell us those thmgs which you have heard from your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of those we have heard irom ours.

"In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist on; and if lh'ir hunting was unsuccessful, they were starving. Two of our young hunteis having killed a detr, made a fire in the woods to feioil some parts of it. When they were about to sa.» tbl'y 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 Mountains. They said to each other, it is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiling venison, and wishes to eat of it: lei us offer some to her. They presented her ,with the tongues 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 iu nourishing you and .youp

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

•hiklren to the latest generations. They did so, & to their surprise, found plants they had never seen before ; but which, from that ancient time, have been constantly cultivatedamong 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 bacfc side had sat on it 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 education; they have not wll instructed you in the rules of common civility- You saw that we, who understand aiid practise those rules, believed all your stories ; why do you refuse to believe ours J"

When any of them come into our towns, our people are apt to ciowd 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 o'f instruction in the rules of civility and good manners. "VV e have," say they, " as much curiosity as yon, and when you come into our towns, we wish for opportunities of looking at you; but for this put pose we hide, ourselves behind bushes where you are to pass, 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 slop and hollow, 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 front hut to hut, acquainting the inhabitants that strangera are arrived, who are probably hungry and weary; and every one sends them what he cau spare of victuals and *kins to repose en. YV hen the strangers are refreshed, pipes and tobacco are brought; and then, but not before, conversation begins, with enquiries who they are, whither bound, what news, &c. and it usually ends with offers of service; if the strar.gers have occasion of guides, or any necessaries for continuing their journey; and nothing exacted for the entertainment.

The same hospitality, esteemed among them as a principal virtue, is practised by private persons; of .■which Conrad fi'eiser, 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 Canasselrgo, an old acquaintance, who embiaced 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 rtfttshed, and had his pipe, Canassengo began to converse vvilh him: asked how he had Lied the many years since they had seen each other, whence he then came, what occasioned the journey, &c. Conr.'d answered all liis questions; and . hen the discourse bv^an to flag. the Indian, to continue it, said, " Conrad. you have lived long umtmg the while peoplr, and ii ow something of then customs; I have been sometin es at Albany. aid liaie observed, that once in seven davs they shut up their slops, aid assenble all m the great house; tell me what it is for? What do tliey do there I" "'lie y meet there" savs Conrad, "to hear and learn good tiling*." "I do not doubt," says the Indian,' that liny tell you so; they have told me the same: but 1 doubt the truth of vv|iat they say, and I i ill tell you my reasons. 1 went lately to Albany, in v !' i. v 'kit ", ;-n( bi y blankets, knive>', powder, Iuiii, fcc. You know I used generally to deal with Hans Hanson out 1 a little inclmed this time to try son e onier merchants.' However, I called first upon Hai.S. and a;.kic! him what he v'.t.uld give for beaver.—-. He said he couki not give more than four shillings a

« ZurückWeiter »