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The Spartan boy, who had taken a fox from a neighbouring inclosure, was enabled, by the force of his discipline, to endure, without discovering his pain, the animal gnawing into his vitals rather than expose himself to the infamy of detection, and expired without a groan. And a savage warrior will suffer his enemies to rend his sinews, to burn his pesh, to rip off his nails, and to plunge the fiery stake into his bowels, without giving them the sat. isfaction of being able to extort from him a complaint. He glories in conquering their perseverance by his patience. But shall we, with the philosophers whom I combat, look for the cause of this astonishing constancy in the humidity of the climate, or in some specific organization of the corporeal system, and not rather in the almost omnipotent force of sentiment ?
It was a maxim with that philosophic and austere sect, who have just been mentioned, that pain is no evil: and certain it is, that it derives its chief power over man from the weakness of the mind. An energetic will, created by sublime sentiments, by strong passions, or even induced by the habit of conflicting with dangers and sufferings, imparts to the soul a strength which suspends, in a. great measure, the sensation of pain, and wholly deprives it of those additional terrors with which a timid imagination invests it.
Our savages understaning the hardships of their own lot, and foreseeing the trials to which their for. titude may probably be exposed by the chances of war, make it a principal object of their early disci. pline to inure their youth to fatigue, and sufferings, and deprivations of every kind. Even their amuse. ments partake of the same intention. Among all nations, their customary diversions are relative to their manners.
In the warlike ages of Greece and Rome the amusements of those martial people con. sisted in leaping, running, wrestling, and throwing the discus, or the spear, to fit them for the combat. After the model of nature, likewise, the American indians have drawn their amusements from their state, and make diversions themselves prepare them for suffering. Besides shooting the arrow, and throwing the tomahawk to qualify them for the active operations of hunting, and of war, their children frame diverting subjects of contest with one another, in trying who shall endure the deepest punctures, or the hardest blows without complaining; or who shall hold a burning brand in their hands with
the most persevering steadiness, and for the longest time. Sometimes they single out objects of their rude wit upon whom to try the force of their ridi. całe, who are forever disgraced if they discover any temper or impatience under all the jests and teazings of their companions. Thus do they prepare themselves, by continual exertions of patience, even in" their sports, for that last and great trial of it, when they shall be called to endure the most cruel tortures of enraged enemies, and to suffer from them every species of insult and contempt, often more difficulit to be borne than tortures.
Their religious ideas contribute also, in some deve gree, to sustain that amazing fortitude, and patience in enduring torture which is one of the principal distinctions of their race. It is not my intention to enter into any extensive delineation of their system of superstition : but only to suggest a single reflection as it is relative to their extraordinary fortitude in death.Virtue, in their esteem, consists entirely in those elevated and enterprizing qualities which are associated with the idea of heroism. An expiring warrior, therefore, is never affected with those fears of futurity which, to the disciples of a purer religion,
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when they are not assured of their own interest in its hopes, often render the consequences of death more terrible to them than the pains of dying. His heaven is accommodated to the rudeness of his ideas. It lies in a mild, serene, and bounteous sky far, to the South, where he shall forever enjoy the pleasures of a successful chace, Such sensible images are fitted to take the strongest hold upon unqultivated minds. . And Mahomet understood human nature well when he proposed such rewards to soldiers who were neither philosophers, nor saints, but whom he intended to make the conquerors of the world. I am aware that spiritual ideas are more powerful than all others, when once they have taken full possession of the soul, But the frailty of human nature, or perhaps, its degeneracy, which is only calling frailty by its cause, makes a sensible religion, and a sensible heaven, the religion and heaven of gross minds. And, when we see a whole nation suffer with such surprizing constancy wę must seek for the reasons of it in such principles as will apply to the mass of mankind.From the combination of so many causes, the savage tribes of America afford the most distinguished examples of a heroic patience in torture that the his. tory of nations has ever recorded.
Upon the whole, it results again from the preceeding details of the military history of the aboriginal tribes of North-America, and especially, of their uncommon power of supporting pain, that their mental as well as corporeal qualities may be all accounted for by natural causes, and on the common principles of human nature; and that it is superfluous and unphilosophical to attempt to search for the diversity of their moral, more than of their physical character from the more cultivated Europeans, or the citizens of the United States, in any specific difference of nature or organization.