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habits of intoxication were not so universal and incurable, they would be, of all the races of men who inhabit the globe, the most likely to prolong, not only the bounds, but the enjoyments, of animal life to their utmost duration.
Let us now attend to other pictures which have been given of the aboriginal inhabitants of the New World. The vices and defects of the American Indians have by several writers been most unaccountably aggravated, and every virtue and good quality denied them. Their cruelties have been already described and accounted for. The following anecdote of an Algonquin woman we find adduced as a remarkable proof of their innate thirst of blood. That nation being at war with the Iroquois, she happened to be made prisoner, and was carried to one of the villages belonging to them. Here she was stripped naked, and her hands and feet bound with ropes in one of their cabins. dition the remained ten days, the favages fieeping round her every night. The eleventh night, while they were asleep, she found means to disengage one of her hands, with which the immediately freed herself from the ropes, and went to the door. Though she had now an opportunity of escaping unperceived, her revengeful temper could not let slip so favourable an opportunity of killing one of her enemies. The attempt was manifestly at the hazard of her own life; yet, snatching up a hatchet, the killed the favage that lay next her; and, springing out of the cabin, concealed herself in a hollow tree which she had observed the day before. The groans of the dying person soon alarmed the other savages, and the young ones immediately set out in pursuit of her. Perceiving from her tree, that they all directed their course one way, and that no savage was near her, she left her sanctuary, and, flying by an opposite direction, ran into a forest without being perceived. The second day after this happened, her footsteps were discovered, and they pursued her with such expedition, that the third day she discovered her enemies at her heels, Upon this the threw herself into a pond of water; and, diving among some weeds and bulrushes, she could juft breathe above water without being perceived. Her pursuers, after making the most diligent search, were forced to return. ---For 35 days this woman held on her course through woods and desarts, without any other sustenance than roots and wild berries. When the came to the river St. Lawrence, she made with her own hands a kind of a wicker raft, on which she crossed it. As she went by the French fort Trois Rivieres, without well knowing where The was, she perceived a canoe fuil of favages; and, fearing they might he Iroquois, ran again into the woods, where she remained till sunset.Continuing her course, soon after she saw Trois Rivieres; and was then
discovered by a party whom she knew to be Hurons, a nation in alliance with the Algonquins. She then squatted down behind a bush, calling cut to them that she was not in a condition to be seen, because she was naked. They immediately threw her a blanket, and then conducted her to the fort, where she recounted her story.
Personal courage has been denied them. In proof of their pusllanimity, the following incidents are quoted from Charlevoix by Lord Kames, in his sketches of the History of Man. “The fort de Vercheres in Canada, belonging to the French, was, in the year 1690, attacked by some Iroquois. They approached filently, preparing to scale the palifade, when some musket shot made them retire. Advancing a second time, they were again repulsed, wondering that they could discover none but a woman, who was seen every where. This was Madame de Ver. cheres, who appeared as resolute as if supported by a numerous garrison. The hopes of storming a place without men to defend it occafioned reiterated attacks. After two days siege, they retired, fearing to be intercepted in their retreat. Two years after, a party of the same nation appeared before the fort fo unexpectedly, that a girl of fourteen, daughter of the proprietor, had but time to shut the gate. With the young woman there was not a soul but one raw foldier. She showed herself with her asliftant, sometimes in one place and sometimes in another; changing her dress frequently, in order to give some appearance of a garrison; and always fired opportunely. The faint-hearted Iroquois decamped without success.”
There is no instance, it is said, either of a single Indian facing an individual of any other nation in fair and open combat, or of their jointly venturing to try the fate of battle with an equal number of
foes. Even with the greatest superiority of numbers, they dare not meet an open attack. Yet, notwithstanding this want of courage, they are still formidable; nay, it has been known, that a small party of them has routed a much superior body of regular troops : but this can only happen when they have surprised them in the faftnesses of their forella, where the covert of the wood may conceal them until they take their aim with their utmost certainty. After one such discharge they imme diately retreat, without leaving the smallest trace of their route. It may easily be supposed, that an onset of this kind must produce confusion oven among
the steadiest troops, when they can neither know the number of their enemies, nor perceive the place where they lie in ambush.
Perfidy combined with cruelty has been also made a part of their character. Don Ulloa relates, That the Indians of the country called Watches, in Louisiana, laid a plot of massacring in one night every indi
vidual belonging to the French colony established there. This plot they actually executed, notwithstanding the seeming good unde standing that fubfifted between them and these European neighbours. Such was the secrecy which they observed, that no person had the least suspicion of their design until the blow was struck. One Frenchman alone escaped, by favour of the darkness, to relate the disaster of his countrymen. The compassion of a female Indian contributed also in some measure to his exemption from the general mafiacre. The tribe of Natches had invited the Indians of other countries, even to a considerable distance, to join in the same conspiracy. The day, or rather the night, was fixed, on which they were to make an united attack on the French colonists. It was intimated by sending a parcel of rods, more or less numerous according to the local distance of each tribe, with an injunction to abftract one rod daily; the day on which the last fell to be taken away being that fixed for the execution of their plan. The women were partners of the bloody secret. The pareels of rods being thus distributed, that belonging to the tribe of Natches happened to remain in the custody of a female. This woman, either moved by her own feelings of compassion, or by the commiseration expressed by her female acquaintances in the view of the proposed scene of bloodshed, abstracted one day three or four of the rods, and thus anticipated the term of her tribe's proceeding to the execution of the general conspiracy. The consequence of this was, that the Natches were the only actors in this carnage; their distant associates having itill several rods remaining at the time when the former made the attack. An opportunity was thereby given to the colonists in those quarters to take measures for their defence, and for preventing a more extensive execution of the design.
It was by conspiracies fimilar to this that the Indians of the province of Macas, in the kingdom of Quito, destroyed the opulent city of Logrogno, the colony of Guambaya, and its capital Sevilla del Oro; and that so completely, that it is no longer known in what place these fettlements existed, or where that abundance of gold was found from which the laft-mentioned city took the addition to its name. Like ravages have been committed upon l'Imperiale in Chili, the colonies of the Miffions of Chuncas, those of Darien in Terra Firma, and many other places, which have afforded scenes of this barbarous ferocity. These conspiracies are always carried on in the same manner. The secret is inviolably kept, the actors assemble at the precise hour appointed, and every individual is animated with the same fanguinary purposes. The males that fall into their hands are put to death with every shocking circumstance that can be suggested by a cool and determined cruelty.
The females are carried off, and preserved as monuments of their vic. tory, to be employed as their occasions require.
Nor can this odious cruelty and treachery, it is said, be justly ascribed to their subjection to a foreign yoke, seeing the same character, belongs equally to all the original inhabitants of this vast continent, even those who have preserved their independence most completely. Certain it is, continues he, that these people, with the most limited capacities for every thing else, display an astonishing degree of penetration and subtlety with respect to every object that involves treachery, bloodshed, and sapine. As to these, they seem to have been all educated at one school; and a secret, referring to any fuch plan, no confideration on earth can extort from them.
Their understandings also have been reprefented as not less contemptible than their manners are gross and brutal. Many nations are neither capable of forming an arrangement for futurity; nor did their folicitude or forefight extend fo far. They fet no value upon thofe things of which they were not in some immediate want. In the evening, when a Carib is going to reft, no consideration will tempt him to fell his hammock; but in the morning he will part with it for the slightest trifle. At the clofe of winter, a North American, mindful of what he has suffered from the cold, fets himself with vigour to prepare materials for erecting a comfortable hut to protect him against the inclemency of the fucceeding feafon : but as foon as the weather becomes mild, he abandons his work, and never thinks of it more till the return of the cold compels him to resume it.--In short, to be free from labour seems to be the utmost wish of an American. They will continue whole days stretched in their hammocks, or seated on the earth, without changing their posture, raifing their eyes, or uttering a single word. They cannot compute the succesiion of days nor of weeks. The different aspects of the moon alone engage their attention as a measure of time. Of the year they have no other conception than what is suggested to them by the alternate heat of summer and cold of winter; nor have they the least idea of applying to this period the obvious computation of the months which it contains. When it is asked of any old man in Peru, even the most civilized, what age he is of? the only answep he can give is the number of caciques he has seen. It osten happens, too, that they only recolicct the most distant of these princes in whose time certain circumcumstances had happened peculiarly memorable, while of those that, lived in a more recent period they have loit all remembrance.
The same gross stupidity is alledged to be observable in those Indians who have retained their original liberty. They are never known to fix.
the dates of any events in their minds, or to trace the succeflion of cire cumstances that have arisen from such events. Their imagination takes in only the present, and in that only what intimately concerns themfelves. Nor can discipline or instruction overcome this natural defect of apprehension. In fact, the subjected Indians in Peru, who have a continual intercourse with the Spaniards, who are furnished with curates perpetually occupied in giving them lessons of religion and morality, and who mix with all ranks of the civilized society established among them, are almost as stupid and barbarous as their countrymen who have had no such advantages. The Peruvians, while they lived under the government of their Incas, preserved the records of certain remarkable events. They had also a kind of regular government, described by the historians of the conquest of Peru. This government originated entirely from the attention and abilities of their princes, and from the regulations enacted by them for directing the conduct of their subjects. This ancient degree of civilization among them gives ground to presume, that their legislators sprung from some race more enlightened than the other tribes of Indians; a race of which no individual seems to remain in the present times.
Vanity and conceit are said to be blended with their ignorance and treachery. Notwithstanding all they fuffer from Europeans, they fill, it is faid, consider themselves as a race of men far superior to their conquerors. This proud belief, arising from their perverted ideas of excellence, is universal over the whole known continent of America. They do not think it possible that any people can be so intelligent as theme felves. When they are detected in any of their plots, it is their common observation, that the Spaniards, or Variacochas, want to be as knowing as they are. Those of Louisiana, and the countries adjacent, are equally vain of their superior understanding, confounding that quality with the cunning which they themselves constantly practise. The whole object of their transactions is to over-reach those with whom they deal. Yet though faithless themselves, they never forgive the breach of promise on the part of others. While the Europeans seek their amity by presents, they give themselves no concern to secure a reciprocal friendship. Hence, probably, arises their idea, that they must be a superior sace of men, in ability and intelligence, to those who are at such pains to court their alliance and avert their enmity.
Their natural eloquence has also been decried. The free tribes of favages who enter into conventions with the Europeans, it is observed, are accustomed to make long, pompous, and, according to their own notions, fublime harangues, but without any method or connection. The