Page images




AVAGES we call them, because their man.

ners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs.

Perhaps, if we could examine the manners of different nations with impartiality, we should find no people so rude as to be without any rules of politeness ; nor any fo polite as not to have some remains of rudeness,

The Indian men, when young, are hunters and warriors; when old, counsellors; for all their government is by the counsel or advice of sages; there is no force, there are no prisons, no oficers to compel obedience, or inflict punishment. Hence they generally study oratory, the best speaker having the most influence. The Indian women till the ground, dress the food. nurse and bring up the children, and preserve and hand down to pofterity the memory of public transactions. These employments of men and women are accounted natural and honourable. Having few artificial wants, they have abundance of leisure for improvenene by. conversation, Our laborious manner of life, compared with theirs, they esteem flavish and base; and the learning on which we value curselves, they regard as frivolous and useless.' An instance of this occurred at the treaty of Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, anno 1741, between the government of Virginia and the Six nations. After the principal business was settled, the cominillioners VCL. II,


from Virginia acquainted the Indians by 2. speech, that there was at Williamsburg a college, with a fund, for educating Indian youth; and that if the chiefs of the Six Nations would fend down half a dezen of their fons 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 cne of the Indian rules of politeness not to answer a public propofition the same day that it is made ; they think it would be treating it as a light matter ; and they shew it respect by taking time to consider it, as of a natter inportant. They therefore deferred their answer till the day following ; when their speaker began, by expreifing their deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making them that offer;" for we know (lays he) that you highly eftcem the kind of lcarning taught in those colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you.,


e are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your proposal, and we thank you heartily. But you

who are wife must know, that different nations have different conceptions of things; and you will therefore not ta'eit a:hils, if our ideas of ihis kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it: several of our young people were formrely brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces ; they were instructd in all your fçiences; but when they came back to us, they were bad runners ; igriorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger; knew neither how to buil. a cabin fpoke our language imperfectly; were thercfore

fore neither fit for hunters, warriors, or counsellors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it : and to how our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their fons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them."

Having frequent occafion to hold public coun. cils, they have acquired great order and decency in conducting them. The old men fit in the foreniost 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 pafles, iniprint it in their memories, for they have no writing, and communicate it to their children. They are the records of the council, and they preserve tradition of the ftipulations in treaties a hundred years back; whichi, when we compare with our writings, we always find exact: He that would fpeak, rises. The rest observe a profound filence. When he has finished, and fits down, they leave hin five or fix minutes to recollect, that, if he has comitred 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 converfia tion, is reckoned highly indecent, How different this is from the conduct of a polite British House of Commons, where scarce a day passes, without foine confusion, that makes the speaker hoarse in calling to order ; and how different from the mode of conversation in many po'ite companies of Europe, where if you do not deliver your fentence with great rapidity, you are cut off in the middle of it by the impatient loquacity of those you con: verse with, and never suffered to finish it I i91,

The politeness of these favages in conversation, is, indeed, carried to excess; since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of what is allerted in their presence. By this means they indeed avoid disputes ; but then it becomes difiicult to know their minds, or what impreffion you make upon them. The millionaries who have atteinpted to convert them to Chriftianity, all complain of this as one of the great difficulties of their million. The Indians hear with patience the trutis of the gospel explained to them, and give their u. sual tokens of aflent and approbation : you would think they ivere 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 principle histori. cal facts on vhich 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 fullcring, &c.-When he bad finished, an Indian crator 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 beiter to make thon all into cyder. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far to tell us those things which you have heard from your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of those we have heard from ours.

"In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to fubfift on; and if their hunting was unsuccessful, they were starving. 'Two of our

hunters having killed a dear, made a fire


in the woods to broil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their bunger, they beheld a beautiful young wonian descend from the clouds, and seat herself on that bill 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: let us oifer fome to her. They presented her withi the tongue: she was pleafed with the taste of it; and faid, Your kindnefs shall be rewarded. Come to this place after thirteen moon's, and you shall find something that will be of great benefit in nou. rishing you and your children to the latest generations. They did fo, and to their furprise found plants they had never seen before ; but which, from that ancient time, have been constantly cul. tivated among us, to nur 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 back side had fat on it, they found tobacco." "The good misiionary, disgusted with this idle tale, faid, " 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, i feems your friends have not done you justice in your education ; 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 any of them come into our towns, our people are apt to crowd round theni, sazz upon them, and incommode them where they defire to be p'ivatë; this they eleem great radleness, and the eirect of the vapen inligion in the rules of

« PreviousContinue »