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The gentleman alluded to, having spent much of his life in trading on the North-West Coast, became intimately acquainted with the natives ; and at the close of his long and very interesting account of them, he adds, “ Were I to relate half the anecdotes which press on my mind, when I look back to the years spent amidst the wild scenes of nature, far from the haunts of civilized man, I should swell my communication to a volume.” The following is given in his own language:
“ The first time I visited the North-West Coast, the captain of the ship, in which I was then a junior officer, took as prisoners two chiefs who had been concerned in the murder of captain Hill and Mr. Elliot, belonging to a vessel from Boston. These chiefs he delivered up to another tribe with whom they were at war, and the mother of whose chief they had killed. They were executed in our presence, and the execution was a scene which I shall never forget, and was strongly illustrative of Indian character. It took place in a small cove, where three American vessels were lying. Round the head of the cove, all the men of the tribe, nearly 1000, were collected in canoes, forming a semicircle ; the women and children lined the high rocks and banks, and the crews of the vessels were all in the shrouds and on the masts. It was a calm, sunny day in May, and all was still as death :-you might hear the dash of an oar at the distance of half a mile. The chief of the tribe, Khou, came along side of the ship for the prisoners, in a large war canoe, having with him only his brother Kilchart and another young chief, and two slaves to paddle the canoe. The two young chiefs were to be the executioners, and were entirely naked, with their daggers, bright as silver, glittering in their hands.* The prisoners were placed, in a sitting posture, near the centre of the canoe, ironed together, the executioners standing close behind them. The canoe was then paddled one hundred yards from the ship, which placed them near the centre of the semicircle of canoes. The most profound silence prevailed. Khou, who stood at the extremity of the canoe, facing the prisoners, turned from them and gave the signal for death. The raised daggers were instantly plunged into the hearts of the unhappy victims !-I shudder, even now, when I think of the appearance of those daggers, as drawn from the bodies of the murdered chiefs. They were raised in the air, with the bright handles glittering in the sun, and the fresh blood dripping from the points. In an instant all was confusion. It seemed as if the sight of blood had roused every ferocious feeling and savage passion in the breasts of the whole tribe. Men, women and children uttered a yell, horrible beyond conception, and the men rushed forward, with savage eagerness, to plunge their daggers into the dying bodies of the victims. Many of them would plunge their hands into the wounds and then rub them on their own bodies and faces; thus giving to their countenances an appearance pefectly demoniacal. It was an ap
* These daggers were of a peculiar form and fitted for ruthless executions. The blade was two-edged and about fourteen inches in length, and regularly narrowed from the handle (where it was about three inches broad) to the point
palling scene, but it should be remembered that the sufferers had, without provocation, murdered the mother of the principal chief of the tribe who thus executed them.”
CONVERSATION WITH AN INFIDEL.
“Our hopes, our fears,
As it seems to be my lot to travel the greatest part of the time, I have in two or three instances sent you an account of my adventures, in hopes that they might be useful to some of your readers. Since my last, I have been visiting in various places, from some of which you will hear in due time. But one adventure is of so singular a nature that I will relate it to you. As I was returning home from my last, I overtook a man on the road, who appeared to be somewhat fatigued, and after the usual salutation, I told him I was weary, and proposed that we should sit and rest us awhile on a neighbouring rock. To this proposal he agreed, and we sat down As it is my invariable custom to converse on no topic but religion, I immediately opened the subject, by enquiring what was the state of religious feeling in the place where he lived. He replied that it was a matter in which he took no interest, and that he was not such a fool as to believe any thing about this nonsense, which, under the name of religion, turned the heads of half the women and children in the coun
Peter. Do not believe in it! Pray tell me what you do believe in, and then, perhaps, we can the more readily find out wherein we dif
Infidel. I do not believe in any thing I cannot comprehend; I do not believe the bible, nor any of your systems arising out of it.
Peter. I did not ask you what you do not believe, but what you do believe. If you do not believe in the existence of a God, nor the truth of his word, nor in any thing which you cannot comprehend, you certainly cannot believe in the creation of the world, nor in the beginning or end of any thing which exists: in fact, I do not see on what principles you can believe in any thing.
Inf. I believe that chance governs all things, and that matter is eternal, though it changes its form. Nature is the God that I worship. You christians talk about futurity; but what do you know about it? Nobody has ever come back from the dead to give you information on the subject. No, sir, matter material 'never had a beginning, as I can find out, and I don't see how it can ever have an end. I existed in some previous form, undoubtedly, before this present one, and shall undoubtedly continue to exist although I may be unconscious of it. 'Twas by chance I was a man instead of a
tree, and it will be a chance, when I leave this state of existence, whether I turn to a tree, an ox, or a horse.
Peter. Chance then it seems is your God, so as rational creatures we will examine its probabilities. The region of chance, when on the throne of Deity, is boundless; so by chance there may be a God, by chance the scriptures may be true, by chance there may be a heaven and a hell as there described, and by chance, when you shut your eyes on time, you may open them in a world of wo and misery. Under such circumstances your chance is desperate indeed, and
Inf. Sir, I should like to spend the day in conversing with you, but I must go. I came from home this morning to look some lambs which had strayed away. I am somewhat fearful they have eaten of the ivy that grows so plentifully about here, and have got poisoned, or that they have been killed by dogs ; and as you see I have been detained till quite late, I must be going.
Peter. But stop a moment, sir. A man who does not believe any thing he cannot comprehend, never need trouble himself about his sheep and lambs eating ivy. Pray tell me why you are afraid of ivy? To be sure it did poison sheep about a year ago, but that is no reason it should do so again. Chance signifies mutability, and to illustrate the idea, we will take a pair of dies, two square ivory blocks, of six sides, each numbered from one to six; now you take one of these, or both, and put them into a box and shake them, and we say it is a chance whether they come out sixes or something else. But should a man throw them six thousand years, and they should come out sixes every time, he would search for some certain cause; he would think they were so contrived by the artist who made them, that they could come out nothing else but sixes, and they would be laid aside as useless in all games of chance. Now we will apply this to the point on which we were conversing. You say that nature has no laws; or otherwise, that she has no lawgiver, which is the same thing. Now if this is the case, there is no certainty in making calculations; it is true, to be sure, that dogs a few weeks ago killed sheep, but that gives us no liberty to suppose they will do so to day ; but, on the contrary, it is very probable that your sheep have killed the dogs. Can you comprehend any cause or reason why ivy should not be as nutritious as plantain, or why sheep should not kill dogs as well as dogs sheep. But we will follow chance a little farther. Pray why do you sow and plant in May any more than in November ? To be sure, for five or six thousand years past, winter and summer have come in regular rotation, and the sun has risen and set with such precision that men could calculate the time for years before it took place; but according to your creed it was mere chance ; and though, by the Almanac, the sun will rise to-morrow at five o'clock, yet it is as likely to rise at midnight, or not till ten or eleven o'clock in the forenoon, as at that time. The seasons are divided into months, and according to our computation January is always a winter month, yet it is wholly by chance, and it is just as likely that July will be a good month for sleighing as January. If chance governs, as you say it does, why do you lay up wheat and rye, corn and potatoes, beef and pork for your family stores : It is true, if there is an unchangeable God, we might suppose, with confidence, that, as he has given laws to the kingdom of Nature, it would invariably be subject to those laws; and that what was given to man as food in the beginning, would remain as such through the succeeding generations of the children of men; but as chance governs, we cannot tell what to do. The articles enumerated above were food last year, but they may be poison this year. For instance, I am invited by you to tea this evening, and a steak and toast furnish us with an excellent repast. But next week I go, and chance has changed matters entirely ; you at the head of the table are dining on a dish of oats, while the family are eating cut straw or hay, and your horses are eating the steak and toast.You will excuse me, for I use great plainness of speech in talking to you. It is not in the compass of chance, (powerful as you would believe it to be,) for the human intellect to debase itself so low as to believe and practice on the principles you have here laid down and avowed as your own. You say chance governs all : and then go and sow your ground as carefully as a christian, with wheat or rye, fully believing, if your word is true, that it is just as likely to send up thistles as any thing which you have sowed. Now does this look like truth? Certainly not. Your words say one thing and your conduct contradicts it ; and God will judge both your words and conduct. And now I request you to examine the subject a little more; look at that despised book called the Bible.-But before we part, I wish to hear you repeat your creed again, for I cannot besieve yet that a rational man would really acknowledge such to be his principles, after he had thought of them half an hour, as you have done now.
Inf. I did not tell you my real sentiments, for I do not believe as I have stated. I only brought forward the idea to see how you would combat it. No, sir, I believe there is a God supreme, who created all things : but I do not believe the Bible. It is so full of contradictions that a man must throw away his reason before he can subscribe to it.
Peter. But what do you think the Bible is, and by whom was it written? Somebody must have written it, and they must have had an object in view in doing it.
Inf. The Bible, sir, was written by designing men, for the purpose of enslaving the minds of the ignorant; tis the fruit of priestcraft and knavery; it contradicts itself a hundred times over, and tells the most foolish stories that can be imagined. Do you really believe it yourself?
Peter. Why I always have, but am ready to be convinced of the fallacy of my faith on proper reasons being shown. You say the Bible is the fruit of priestcraft and knavery, therefore we may naturally conclude, when we can find a time that bad priests and knaves held the sway in any place, that the Bible would be circulated to the utmost extent of their power.
Inf. Yes, that would be a matter of course ; and you see now how many Bible Societies
Pēter. Stop, if you please, and answer my questions, and then you
may rail on Bible Societies, if you think proper. You say that the Bible, being written by knaves and bad priests, will of course circulate most where such men have most influence. Well, in the next place, we may take it for granted, that, as its principles are calculated to enslave the mind, and keep men in barbarous ignorance, where the Bible is most circulated, and read, and believed, there the people will be the most ignorant, barbarous, wretched and enslaved.
Inf. Why, I don't know : that would be the natural conclusion to be sure. Yes, I conclude it is so.
Peter. Well, in the next place, we generally suppose mens' writings to be something like themselves, and as the Bible was written, you say, by knaves, bad priests, and bad men, of course its precepts would hold forth encouragement to such men, and the doctrine laid down would be corrupt, like its authors.
Inf. Yes, certainly that is the case. I could point you out a dozen instances where the most corrupt and most dangerous
Peter. Wait a moment longer if you please; we will now go back and compare the principles laid down with the facts. In the first place, as it was written by bad priests and knaves, so wherever, and whenever, they have the most influence, the Bible will have the most circulation. Now there is no one, we believe, so hardy as to deny that when the Papal power was at its height, bad men and knaves had the ascendency; of course it was at that time, according to your theory, that the Bible was most circulated, most read, and most believed. But how is the fact? The Bible was to be found in the libraries of princes and bishops alone, and there in another language ; and it was considered as treason against the church for any to read the Bible, except princes, or their peers. Thus much for the first proposition. Now, for the second, which is, that where the Bible is most read, people will be the most ignorant barbarous and enslaved. What is the fact ? There is no place in the world where the Bible is in the hands of every one so completely, as in the United States; and there is no place where so large a proportion of the people can, and do read and believe it, as in New-England; consequently, New-England people must be in the most abject state of slavery, barbarity and ignorance, of any people in the civilized world; and the Spaniards, Portuguese and Neapolitans, must be the most enlightened, upright and free. I will not insult you so much as to ask you whether you believe your own principles, but will add, what you well know, that the people of New-England and the United States are the most free,and enlightened people within the compass of our knowledge ; and that the people of Great Britain are next. In the United States there is no Ecclesiastical power, and in Great Britain it is very limited ; and the standard of moral feeling in those nations is thought to be higher than in any other, while it is so low in Naples and her dependences, that with a doubloon you might hire a prince royal assassinated. And now for the third proposition, which was that as the writings of men were in some measure like themselves, of course, if the Bible was written by bad priests, and bad men, its doctrine must be extremely corrupt. To begin, we will