Abbildungen der Seite

in hastening my decision; for although my heart, in its simplicity, failed to catch conviction from their doctrines, it yet whispered the probability of my own notions being founded on hereditary error.

I had viewed also, with surprise, the vast accession lately made to the hordes who first came among us, by the numerous bands of their countrymen who were incessantly pouring into our wilds, usurping our patrimony, and driving us from our native seats; who, by the labour we despise, were fast altering the face of things, and destroying the woods I had been taught to look on with veneration. Strange, thought I, that the arts and the laws they boast of, are not pleasing enough to restrain these men from leaving the country they profess to admire so much! Are they come to learn happiness from the Cherokees?

As I one day drew near and listened to their talk, I heard the voice of murmuring and grief. They said to each other, "Our. country is become desolate, it is better to perish in this wilderness, by the hands of savages who know not mercy, than to lose our substance under the grasp of the oppressor, who knows it only by name."-"What," said I mentally, "do not these strangers profess to possess a balm for every wound of

body and spirit? Can they be liars, who declare truth dwells among them only? If so, they have deceived us, and are no happier or wiser than we."

Every moon, my thoughts became more painful: "I will fly," said I, "the land of my birth; I will visit the country of those who vaunt their superiority over the Red Children; I will solve the mystery of the manifest contradiction between their actions and their professions. Why cannot the Cherokees acqe knowledge of the stranger, and build caies 3ke his? Am not I made as one of them? Surely the European and the Horse, the Indian and the Elk, sprung from one common Cause? They tell me of things which my soul refuses to comprehend."

[ocr errors]

My father had often said, "My son, beware of the Whites, they are crafty above all men. They deceived our Fathers while they extended to them the right hand of brotherhood; their children are like those of the old time, and will deceive thee: our Fathers were too sparing of the tomahawk: had they not been so, we, their descendants, should not be at this day loaded with the presence of that accursed Race." Reflections like these made me resolve to delay my purpose no longer.

And besides, at this juncture, an oppor


tunity was presented to me of journeying under most favourable circumstances. had, in my visits at the factory, become acquainted with an Englishman named L— who, unlike most of his nation, had sojourned in our country from motives of curiosity only. He was on the eve of returning home; and on my opening my wishes, besought me to become his companion; offering an asylum in his own dwelling, and to point out much that would be novel and striking to a stranger, in the institutions of his countrymen. Such a temptation was irresistible: the goal I had so long panted to reach, seemed close. His preparations for departure were already complete, and a short time sufficed for mine. At once I embarked on the world of waters, without bidding adieu even to thee; and buoyant with hope, turned away from the land of my fathers. Our friendship demands this explanation; for lack whereof thou mightest deem me unkind. Thou shalt from time to time receive my observations and records of passing events among the people I am going to visit: I think thou wilt be interested in my narration. Farewell.



OUR journey is ended. Our passage across the Great Water was marked by no particular occurrence; so, at least, the persons who navigated our vessel declared; but to my simple faculties all was new and wonderful. When the shores faded from the sight, and we entered on an expanse which seemed boundless, as we shot like a swan before the gale, I felt an emotion of terror to which my bosom had been hitherto a stranger. This was increased by the depression produced from the nausea of unnatural motion. In the intervals of sickness, I could not help thinking the sea was an element unnatural to man, else why this new sensation so foreign to that felt by us while treading on earth? While traversing our woods, the thought of sinking through the surface to a fathomless depth had never occurred to me: and if my canoe upset, confidence in swimming enabled me to pass its greatest width. But now, I fancied the wind which bore us along sounded as a breath inhaled by the Spirit of the deep, to draw us

within his jaws. Our companions, however, seemed incapable of understanding my feeling from habit or indifference they were wrapped in perfect confidence, and spoke of terminating our career safely, as a matter of course and in proportion as indisposition subsided, and the tide of my spirits flowed in the usual channel, I too, began to wonder at my former fear. As to my friend, he had been the same under every change; whether in the evening or the morning, in rough weather or calm; though he spoke little to any one but myself. But towards the end of our journey he became more thoughtful and reserved, and began to keep more and more aloof from conversation. I even thought I saw on him symptoms of melancholy irritation. In the evening of the day before our landing, a day which had been to him one of increased abstraction and silence, we were near each other; I marked the dejection of his countenance and manner, but concluding they were caused by painful recollections, somehow connected with our now near approach to England, I forbore to harass him with questions; and waited for some external incident to dissipate the gloom which gathered round him. Already he had endeared himself to me by a thousand kind attentions; already our minds

« ZurückWeiter »