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dis less intensely cold, than that which blows over land " in the same latitudes. But in America, the land stretches “ from the river St. Laurence towards the pole, and spreads
out immensely to the west. A chain of enormous moun“ tains, covered with snow and ice, runs through all this s dreary region. The wind passing over such an extent " of high and frozen land, becomes so impregnated with "cold, that it acquires a piercing keenness, which it re"tains in its progress through warnier climates; and is not entirely mitigated, until it reaches the gulf of Mexi
co. Over all the continent of North America, a north“ westerly wind, and excessive cold, are terms synonimous. “Even in the most sultry weather, the moment that the "wind veers to that quarter, its penetrating influence is " felt in a transition from heat to cold, no less violent, than "sudden. To this powerful cause we may ascribe the “extraordinary dominion of cold, and its violent in "roads into the southern provinces in that part of the
Of the manners and customs of the North Americans, the following is the most consistent account that can be collected from the best informed, and most impartial writers.
When the Europeans first arrived in America, they found the Indians quite naked, except those parts which the most uncultivated savages usually conceal. Since that time, however, they generally use a coarse blanket, which they obtain of the neighbouring planters, in exchange for furs and other articles. Their huts or cabins are made of stakes of wood, driven into the ground, and covered with branches of trees or reeds. They lie on the floor, either on mats, or the skins of wild beasts. Their dishes are of wood, and their spoons of the sculls of wild oxen, and some. times of laurel, a hardy wood, very suitable for the purpose ; their knives and hatchets are made of flint or other stone. A kettle, and a large plate, constitute almost the whole utensils of the family. Their diet consists chiefly on what they procure by hunting, and sagamite, or pottage, is likewise one of the most common kinds of food. The most honorable furniture amongst them is a collection of the scalps of their enemies: with these they ornament their huts, which are esteemed in proportion to the number of this horrid sort of spoils.
The character of the Indians, is only to be known by their circumstances and way of passing through life. Constantly employed in procuring a precarious subsistence, by bunting wild animals, and often engaged in war, it cannot be expected that they enjoy much gaiety of temper, or a high Aow of spirits. They are therefore generally grave, approaching to sadness: they have none of that giddy vivacity, peculiar to some nations of Europe, but despise it. Their behaviour to those about them is regular, modest, and respectful. They seldoni speak but when they have something important to observe; and all their actions, words, and even looks, are attended with some meaning. Their subsistence depends entirely on what they procure with their hands; and their lives, their honour, and every thing dear to them, may be lost by the smallest inattention, to the designs of their enemies. As no particular object has power to attach them to one place, more than another, they go wherever the necessaries of life can be procured in the greatest abundance. The dif. ferent tribes, or nations, when compared with civilized societies, are extremely small. These tribes often live at an immense distance; they are separated by a desart frontier, and hid in the bosom of impenetrable woods, and almost boundless forests.
There is in each society, a certain kind of government which with very little deviation, prevails over the whole continent; their manners and way of life, are nearly similar and uniform. An Indian has no method by which he can render himself considerable, among his companions, but by his personal accomplishments, either of body or mind; but, as nature has not been very lavish in these distinctions, where all enjoy the same education, all are pretty much upon an equality, and will desire to remain so. Liberty is therefore the prevailing passion of the American Indians; and their government under the influence of this sentiment, is perhaps better secured, than by the wisest political regulations. They are very far, however, from despising all sort of authority: they are attentive to the voice of wisdom, which experience has confirmed on the aged, and they inlist under the banners of the chief, in whose valour and military address, they have learned to repose a just and merited confidence.
Among those tribes which are most engaged in war, the power of the chief is naturally predominant ; because the idea of having a military leader was the first source of his superiority; and the continued exigencies of the state requiring such a leader, will enhance it. His power bowever, is rather persuasive than coercive, he is reverenced as a father, rather than feared as a monarch. He has no guards, no prisons, no officers of justice ; and, one act of ill-judged violence, would pull hin from his humble throne.
The elders in the other form of government, which may be considered as a mild and nominal aristocracy, have no more power. Age alone is sufficient for acquiring respect, influence, and authority ; experience alone, is the only source of knowledge among a savage people.
Among the Indians, business is conducted with the utmost simplicity, and recalls to those who are acquainted with antiquity, a lively representation of the early ages. The heads of families meet together in a house or cabin, appointed for the purpose : here the business is discussed; and here those of the nation distinguished for their eloquence or wisdom, have an opportunity of displaying their talents. Their orators, like those of Homer, express themselves in a bold, figurative style, more strong than refined, with gestures violent, but natural and expressive. When the business is over, and they happen to be well provided with food, they appoint a feast upon the occasion, of wbich almost the whole nation partake ; the feast is accompanied with a song, in which the exploits of their forefathers are celebrated. They have dances too, but chiefly of the military kind, like the Greeks and Romans, which inspire the younger with a martial spirit.
To assist their memory, they have bells of small shells swampum) or beads, of different colours, each representing a different object, which is marked by their colour or arrangement. At the conclusion of every subject on which they discourse, when they treat with a foreign state, they deliver one of those belts; for, if this ceremony should be omitted, all that they have said passes for nothing. These belts are carefully deposited in each town, as the public records of the nation ; and to them they occasionally have recourse, when any public contest happens with a neigh
bouring tribe. Of late, as the materials of which those belts are made have become scarce, they often give some skin in the place of the wampum; and receive in return, presents of a more valuable kind, from the commissioners appointed to treat with them; for they never consider a treaty of any weight, unless every article in it be ratified by some gratification.
It sometimes happens, that those different tribes or nations, scattered as they are, at an immense distance from one another, meet in their excursions whilst hunting. If there subsists no animosity between them, they behave in the most friendly and courteous manner; but, if they happen to be in a state of war, or, if there has been no previous intercourse between them, all who are not friends are deemed enemies, and they fight with the most savage fury.
War, hunting, and fishing, are the principal employments of the men; almost every other concern is consigned to the women.
The most prevailing motive with the Indians for entering into a war, if it does not arise from an accidental rencounter, is either to revenge themselves for the death of some lost friends, or to acquire prisoners, who may assist them in their hunting, and whom they adopt into their society. These wars are either undertaken by some private adventurers, or by the whole community. In the lat. ter case, all the young men who desire to go out to battle (for no one is compelled contrary to his inclination) give a piece of wood to the chief, as a token of their design to accompany him. The chief who is to conduct the enterprize, fasts several days, and carefully observes his dreams during that time ; which the presumption natural to savages mostly renders as favourable as he could desire. A variety of other superstitious ceremonies are observed.
The war kettle is set on the fire, as an emblem that they are going out to devour their enemies; which among these nations, it is probable, was formerly the case ; since they still continue to express it in clear terms, and use an emblem significant of the ancient usage. Then they dispatch a cup or large shell to their allies; inviting them to join in the destruction of their enemies, and drink their blood; for like the ancient Greeks, they think that those
in their alliance, must not only adopt their quarrels, but that they must also have their resentments wound up to the same high pitch with themselves.
There are no people who carry their friendships or re. sentments so far as they do; this naturally results from their peculiar circumstances. The Americans live in small societies, accustomed to see but few objects, and few persons: to be deprived of these objects to which they are so closely attached, renders them miserable. Their ideas are too confined to enable them to entertain just sentiments of humanity, or universal benevolence. But this very circunstance, while it makes them cruel and savage, to an incredible degree, towards those with whom they are at war, adds a new force to their particular friendships, and to the common tie which unites the members of the same tribe, or those in alliance with them.
Without attending to this reftection, some facts which immediately follow would excite our wonder, without informing our reason ; and we would be bewildered in a number of particulars, seemingly opposite to one another, without being sensible of the general cause from which they proceed.
Having finished all the ceremonies previous to the war, and the appointed day for setting out on their expedition has arrived, they take leave of their friends, and exchange their clothes, or whatever moveables they have, in token of mutual friendship; after which they proceed from the town, their wives and female relations walking before, and attending them to some distance. The warriors march dressed in all their finery, and most showy apparel, without any order. The chief walks slowly before them, singing the war song; while the rest observe the most profound silence. When they come up to their women, they deliver to them all their ornaments, and putting on their worst clothes, proceed on their expedition.
Every nation has its peculiar ensign or standard, which is generally a representation of some beast, bird, or fish. Those among the Five Nations, are the bear, otter, wolf, tortoise, and eagle, and by those names the tribes are usually distinguished. They have the figures of those animals pricked and painted on several parts of their bodies : and when they march through the woods, they