Page images

were then collected on the bank of the river, to learn the manners and customs of their ancestors, and hear the old men recite the traditions of their forefathers. They were assembled again, at sunset, for the same purpose; and were taught to regard as a sacred duty, the transmission to their posterity of the lessons thus acquired. He said, that this custom is now abandoned by all the tribes with which he is acquainted, except, to use his own words," where there is, here and there, an old ancient fellow, who upholds the old way;"-that many have talked of resuming their own customs, which the Whites have gradually undermined; but are unable, from the loss of their traditions;-that he supposes that these might be recovered, from distant tribes over the Mississippi; but that the Choctaws are acting more wisely in seeking civilization.

He said that they had an obscure story, somewhat resembling that of Jacob wrestling with the Angel; and that the full-blooded Indians always separate "the sinew which shrank," and that it is never seen in the venison exposed for sale. A gentleman, who had lived on the Indian frontier, or in the nation, for ten or fifteen years, told me that he had often been surprised that the Indians always detached this sinew, but it had never occurred to him to inquire

the reason.

My half-breed Choctaw also informed me, that there were tribes or families among the Indians, somewhat similar to the Scottish Clans. Those of the same family or clan are not allowed to intermarry, although no relationship, how ever remote, can be traced between them, and though the ancestors of the two parties may have been living, for centuries,in different and distant nations. Indeed, wherever any of the family or clan meet, they recognize one another as brothers and sisters; and use one another's houses, though personally strangers, without reserve.

With respect to the religions belief of the Choctaws, he said that it is a prevailing opinion among them, that there is a Great Spirit, who made the earth, and placed them on it, and who preserves them in their hunting journeys, and gives them their "luck in life;" that, however, they do not often think of Him; that they believe that all who die, go to the spirit country; but that some suppose it is divided into two nations;

the one abounding in fine woods, and deer, and buffaloes; the other destitute of both ;—that these imaginé, that when the spirit of bad men leaves the body, it proceeds on the same road as that of good men, till the road forks, when it takes the way to the bad country, supposing it to be the other;-that many expect a great day, when the world will be burnt and made over again, far pleasanter than it is now, when the spirits will return from the spirit country and settle again upon it; and that near the place where they were buried will be their future home.


On Sunday evening, two poor Indian hunters came in, with no covering but a little blanket wrapped round them. Our host immediately lighted his pipe, gave two or three puffs, and passed it to his Indian guests, who did the same; when it was laid down again. As soon as the strangers heard that I was British," they seemed much pleased; and indirectly confirmed what I had previously heard, both in the Creek and Choctaw nations, of the lingering attachment of many of the Indians to their ancient allies. Before the hunters arrived, my host had been speaking on the subject; and said that the older Indians had frequently inquired of him, where their White people were gone ;that they had fine times formerly, when their White people were among them, who used to give them handsome presents for nothing; but they disappeared suddenly, and nobody had ever seen them since: "however, may-be they'll come again." He said that many large districts had suffered severely, especially during the late war, for refusing to fight against the British; and some individuals had' been put to death, even by their own nation, after it had gone over to the Americans. I told them of the death of King George; who, among the Choctaws, is often spoken of with a degree of respect that must gratify a British heart; although enlightened humanity forbids us to wish that they should cherish their former feelings under circumstances which must render them productive only of disappointment.

Our hunters, who conversed with us through the medium of our half breed host, remained till fate; an Indian never thinking of leaving any thing that he is interested in, merely because it is night, as they have no fixed engagements to prevent them sleeping whenever they'

please. We endeavoured to obtain one of them for a guide the next morning, as our track was a lonely one: but he had hurt his foot. We accordingly set out alone, very early, as there was not a habitation of any kind for the distance of fifty miles; which we were therefore to complete in the day, or to lie in the woods and as the day was wet, we preferred the former. We might perhaps have felt some apprehension also of wild beasts on such an unfrequented road; since, although we were informed that wolves, unless nearly famished, are scared by the scent of a human being, a hungry panther is sometimes not inti midated even by a fire. Our course, the whole day, was along an Indian path, about twelve or fourteen inches broad, through woods which protected us from the hot sun when it gleamed between the showers. It was twice crossed by hunters' paths, a little narrower than itself; and we were admonished, that, if we deviated into these, we should perhaps come to no habitation for 100 or 150 miles. We arrived safely at the end of our journey about sunset; hav. ing seen only two Indian hunters and two wolves, in the course of the day.

The Chickasaws, among whom we next arrived, generally appeared to us neater in their persons than our friends the Choctaws. The Chickasaws seem to expend in ornaments their savings and the annuity, of which the Choctaws appropriate a large proportion to their farms or cattle.-Among their customs, I was told that they bury their dead in their houses. While getting a cup of coffee at a full-blooded Chickasaw's, a little Negro girl the only person about the house who could speak English, said, “ Master's wife is lying behind you." On looking round, I saw nothing but a bed; when the little girl told me to look under it. When she observed that I was disappointed on perceiving nothing, she said, "Mistress is buried there; but don't speak loud, or master will cry."

We again set off early in the morning, and breakfasted at an Indian's. Soon after breakfast, we crossed a swamp, which had been held up in terrorem before us for some days; and took the precaution of passing it in company with some gentlemen who were acquainted with its intricacies. Our prudence, however, was unnecessary; as the dry weather had rendered it far less difficult and troublesome than several which we

had previously crossed alone. In the course of this day's ride, we crossed the last waters which fall into the Tombigbee; and some little streams, which, taking an opposite direction, empty themselves into the Tennessee. We also passed, though still in the Indian nation, the boundary line between Mississippi and Alabama. The country became more hilly; and we were glad to exchange our muddy streams for clear pebbly brooks.


At night, we slept in the woods; and, in the morning, crossed Bear Creek, a beautiful romantic river. A few miles further, we came to the summit of a hill, from which we had an extensive view of the country below us. The surface was broken into lofty ridges, among which a river wound its course; and the mass of forest which lay between us and a very distant horizon, exhibited no trace of animated existence, except a solitary cabin and one patch of Indian The view of this boundless soli. tude was naturally a sombre one; but, to us, emerging into light from the recesses of thick woods, in which, for many days, our eyes had seldom been able to range beyond a narrow circle of a few hundred yards, it imparted sensations of cheerfulness which it would be difficult to describe. Not that we were tired of the wilderness. The fragrance of the woods which enveloped us in a cool shade, and the melody of their warbling tenants, regaled the senses with a perpetual feast: while the gambols of the squirrels, the cooing of the doves, the variety of large snakes which often crossed our path, birds with the richest plumage, which we had seen only in museums, and, above all, the magnificent forest trees which here attain their largest growth,—all presented an unfailing succession of objects to interest and amuse us. Besides, there is something so soothing in the retirement of these vast solitudes, that the mind is, at first, unwilling to be disturbed in its reveries, and to awaken from the deep, and, perhaps, unprofitable musings into which it has suffered itself to be lulled. Yet, although it would shrink from the glare of a day-light which would summon it to its ordinary cares, and would start back from a sudden introduction into the din and bustle of a jarring world, it is refreshed by looking abroad on the face of nature, and is delighted to revive its sympathies with the rational creation of which it forms

a part, by glancing on the distant confines of civilized life.

Towards evening, we passed, not without regret, the line which separates the present territory of the Chickasaw nation, from their last cession to the United States. As I had previously learnt that my journey would not be extended by visiting the Missionary Settlement among the Cherokees, I determined to take Brainerd in my way; and proceeded through Alabama and East Tennessee, to the north-east corner of the State of Georgia, where it is situated. In passing through the north ern part of Alabama, I was particularly struck with the rapidity with which it has been settled. It is little more than two years since these public lands were sold. At that time not a tree was felled; and now the road is skirted with beautiful fields of cotton and Indian corn, from 80 to 120 miles in extent. Whereever I inquired, which I seldom failed to do as often as I stopped, I found that there were schools and opportunities for public worship within a convenient distance. I was gratified by receiving the same information throughout East Tennessee.

At the foot of the Cumberland Mountains we slept in a solitary hut, where we found a neat old woman, of 70 or 80 years of age, very busily engaged in spinning. A young clergyman, who had been visiting Brainerd, was also driven in by heavy rain; and his offers to conduct family worship were thankfully accepted by our hostess and her son.

We reached Brainerd early on the 1st of June, and remained till the following morning. The manner of proceed ing was so similar to that at Elliot, that it is unnecessary to describe it. In deed, this institution was orginally formed by some of the very missionaries, who afterwards went on to establish the settlement at Elliot. The number of Cherokee children amounted to about 80; and, in addition to these, were two little Osage Indians, who had been rescued from captivity. I was much gratified by hearing the children sing their Cherokee Hymns: and many ancient prophecies came forcibly to my recollection, when joining, in this Indian country, with Americans, Indians, and Africans, in singing the praises of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he bath sent. Some Negroes attended family prayer; and many come from a considerable distance to public worship

on Sunday. I was told, indeed, that there were instances of their walking twenty miles over the mountains and returning the same day.

What animation would an occasional glance at Elliot or Brainerd infuse into our missionary committees! and how cheering to many a pious collector of one shilling per week in our female associations would be the sight of her Indian sisters, rescued from their degraded condition, and instructed in the school of Christ!

After leaving Brainerd I crossed the river Tennessee, which here forms the boundary of the Cherokee Nation. I now bade a last adieu to Indian territory; and, as I pursued my solitary ride through the woods, I insensibly fell into a train of melancholy reflections on the eventual history of this injured race. Sovereigns, from time immemorial, of the interminable forests which overshadow this vast continent, they have gradually been driven by the White usurpers of their soil, within the limits of their present precarious possessions. One after another of their favourite rivers has been reluctantly abandoned, until the range of the hunter is bounded by lines prescribed by his invader, and the independence of the warrior is no more. Even their present territory is partitioned out in reversion; and intersected with the prospective boundaries of surrounding States, which appear in the maps, as if Indian title were actually extinguished, and these ancient warriors were already driven from the land of their fathers. Of the innumerable tribes, which, a few centuries since, roamed, fearless and independent, in their native forests, how many have been swept into oblivion, and are with the generations before the flood! Of others, not a trace remains but in tradition, or in the person of some solitary wanderer, the last of his tribe, who hovers like a ghost among the sepulchres of his. fathers-a spark still faintly glimmering in the ashes of an extinguished race. From this gloomy review of the past history of these injured tribes, it was refreshing to turn to their future prospects; and to contemplate those missionary labours, which, under the blessing of God, are arresting the progress of that silent waste, by which they were fading rapidly from the map of nations. Partial success, indeed had followed the occasional efforts of the American Government for the civilization of the

Indians; but it was reserved for the perseverance of disinterested Christian Jove, to prove, to the world at large, the practicability of an undertaking which had often been abandoned in despair.

It is animating to contemplate the United States-in the name, as it were, and as the representative of the various nations who have participated in the wrongs inflicted on this injured racepreparing to offer the noblest compen. sation in their power, by diffusing the Gospel throughout the Aborigines of this western world. And, surely, if any arguments were necessary in support of Missions, in addition to those derived from the force of the Divine commands, and the suggestions of diffusive charity, we should find them in the history of the early intercourse of Christian Europe with Asia, Africa, and America.


The Committee, in their Ninth Occasional Report, lately published, acknowledge with great satisfaction the enlarged contributions received since the publication of their last Report. They regard it as a subject of the highest congratulation to every unbiassed mind, that no sooner did the Society stand forward at a critical moment in the great cause of the Christian Religion, against the combined efforts of blasphemy and infidelity, than the needed supplies were readily obtained, new auxiliaries appeared on its side, and many persons, from whom the Society had not previously met with any co-operation, now zealously joined in promoting its useful objects, and in giving it additional vigour and effect.

The Society has carried into effect its established plans for preventing open profanations of the Sabbath, with increased success. Since the last Report, its agents have regularly inspected the numerous districts in and about the metropolis; and no less than one hundred and thirty-four offenders have been prosecuted to conviction. By these means an opportunity has been afforded to the conscientious dealer for maintaining a decent and religious observance of the day; the outrages on public feeling have been restrained; nuisances before complained of have very sensibly abated; many districts have changed their appearance; and some, from having been noted for an entire disregard of the Christian SabCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 243.

bath, are now distinguished for the quiet and cleanliness which pervade their streets, and the peace and good order observed by their inhabitants on that hallowed day. The aid of the Society continues to be extended, either by advice or by more effectual methods, to such distant towns or districts as shall apply for it; and it has already reached to no less than nine counties.

In the month of August 1819, a short Report was published detailing the conviction and punishment of five men, detected by the Society's agents in disseminating obscene hand-bills on the Ealing, Winchester, and Chelmsford racegrounds; when no less than nine hundred and sixteen copies were seized and destroyed. These prosecutions have at one race-course, and probably at others, put a stop, for a time at least, to this outrage on public decency. The Society have since discovered three wholesale dealers, by whom the hawkers were supplied. One of these three men was the same individual who had made his escape at Doncaster; the second was the printer; and the other was possessed of a large stock of copper-plate prints of the most disgusting obscenity; which he not only retailed in this country, but exported largely to America. Bills were found against these offenders, who were tried at the Lancaster assizes, and, having pleaded guilty, were severally sentenced to two months' imprisonment, to which, in the last of the three cases, was added a fine of 501. The judge, on passing sentence, remarked," The public are very much indebted to the Society for extending their care to distant parts of the country and I am very glad that they have extended it to this place, because it promotes decency, morality, and reli gion."

In London, the Society observed a considerable abatement in this traffic during twelve months after the proceedings against various offenders in the year 1818: but subsequently it began (though more covertly) to resume its former activity; of which the Society being apprised, six dealers were prosecuted and convicted.

The last transaction under this head respects the protection of one of the principal public seminaries in the kingdom, from the baneful effects of this detestable trade. The head master found that two boys were possessed, of obscene snuff-boxes, and quickly as 2 B


Relig. Intell.-Naval and Military Bible Society.

certained that they had been sold to them by an itinerant Italian hawker; who, for the purpose of carrying on his infamous traffic with this seminary, had fixed his residence, for a time, at a public house in a neighbouring town. Application being made to the Society, the man was immediately apprehended, and convicted of the offence, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and to pay a fine of 51. The interposition of the Society was so sensibly felt at the seminary alluded to, that a liberal contribution, to be continued annually, was in cousequence transmitted in aid of its funds.

The Committee detail, under the head of" infidel and blasphemous publications," ten different indictments, not one of which has failed, either for want of a proper selection or of competent evidence. Several of these were instituted against Richard Carlile and his agents. The results are before the public, and need not be here repeated. Repeated prosecutions, following closely on the publication of blasphemous and infidel works, and leaving their vendors no hope of profiting by their crime, are absolutely necessary to check this enormous evil; and under this view the Committee solicit instant and effectual aid from all classes of sincere friends to religion and humanity. They pledge themselves to the most persevering efforts in the application of the Society's funds, undeterred by any considerations of a personal nature, and, least of all, by the reproaches of evilminded men. They profess to do nothing more than to put the existing laws into execution against vice and immorality; a duty binding on all friends to social order, morality, and religion.


depôts, taking with him a letter addressed to the officers commanding, with specimens of the books, and offering supplies solely on the terms of purchase at reduced prices, except for regimental schools, hospitals, and guard-rooms; which, upon the written requisitions of commanding officers, he is authorized to supply gratuitously. By means of corps have had copies of the holy Scripthis travelling agent, forty stations or tures tendered to them; and, in conseword of God have been distributed, quence, no less than 4615 copies of the towards which the individuals supplied have contributed the unprecedented sum of 4841. 8s. 6d. The Society has thus had the best possible proof of the desire of the men to become possessed of the holy Scriptures, with a strong pledge that they value the books, and are likely to make a right use of them. The agent thus employed has invariably received the countenance and support of the officers in command; and in some instances he has not only had their cordial assistance in promoting the object of his mission, but has obtained their names as subscribers, besides supplying them with Bibles for their own use, at the Society's prices.

Gravesend, who also acts for this SoThe agent of a kindred institution at ciety, in visiting twenty-one ships, in which detachments were embarked to join their regiments abroad, to the number of 1646 individuals, found scarcely twenty copies of the Scriptures among the whole of them. This agent, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, has distributed to these persons 362 Bibles and Testaments.

The Committee are now engaged in the introduction of a plan for an enlarged circulation of the Scriptures in his

NAVAL AND MILITARY BIBLE Majesty's ships, in the hope of extend


The Committee of this excellent in stitution state in their last Report, that pressing and extensive demands continue to be made upon them for copies of the holy Scriptures, both at home and abroad. Urgent applications had been made not only from Scotland and Ireland, and various naval and military stations in England, but from India, the Mauritius, Ceylon, Corfu, Halifax, and Canada. Besides extensive issues through the medium of the Committees of Auxiliary Societies, a person of piety and zeal, many years in the army, has been employed to visit various regiments and

the British soldier, the means of becoming to the British sailor, in common with ing a purchaser of the sacred volume.

during the year, the Committee report, As the result of their proceedings that since the anniversary of 1820, they have found it necessary to purchase no less than 8924 Bibles, and 4850 Testaments, without being able to keep a sufficient stock of books to meet the demauds upon them. The total distribution of the Society, in Bibles and Testaments, for the year has been 10,142 ably involved the Society in pecuniary copies. These exertions have unavoidengagements far beyond the means

« PreviousContinue »