The Indian father and mother display great tenderness for their children, even to the weakness of unlimited indulgence; this affection, however, appears to be merely instinctive, for they use no exertion whatever to lead their offspring to the paths of virtue. Children, on their part, show very little filial affection, and frequently treat their parents, especially their father, with indignity and violence. This vicious characteristic is strongly exemplified in the horrible custom above described.
When the Indian believes that his death is at hand, his conduct is usually stoical and dignified. If he still retain the power of speech, he harangues those who surround him in a funeral oration, advising and encouraging his children, and bidding them and all his friends farewell. During this time, the relations of the dying man slay all the dogs they can catch, trusting that the souls of these animals will give notice of the approaching departure of the warrior for the world of spirits; they then take leave of him, wish him a happy voyage, and cheer him with the hope that his children will prove worthy of his name. When the last moment arrives, all the kindred break into loud lamentations, till some one high in consideration desires them to cease. For weeks afterward, however, these cries of grief are daily renewed at sunrise and sunset. In three days after death the funeral takes place, and the neighbors are invited to a feast of all the provisions that can be procured, which must be all consumed. The relations of the deceased do not join in the banquet; they cut off their hair, cover their heads, blacken their faces, and for a long time deny themselves every amusement.
The deceased is buried with his arms and ornaments, and a supply of provisions for his long journey; the face is painted, and the body arrayed in the richest robes that can be obtained; it is then laid in the grave in an upright posture, and skins are carefully placed around, that it may not touch the earth. At stated intervals of eight, ten, or twelve years, the Indians celebrate the singular ceremony of the Festival of the Dead; till this has been performed, the souls of the deceased are supposed still to hover round their earthly remains. At this solemn festival, the people march in procession to the burial-ground, open the tombs, and continue for a time gazing on the moldering relics in mournful silence. Then, while the women raise a loud wailing, the bones of the dead are carefully collected, wrapped in fresh and valuable robes, and conveyed to the family cabin. A feast is then held for several days, with dances, games, and prize combats. The relics are next carried to the council-house of the nation, where they are publicly displayed, with the presents destined to be interred with them. Sometimes the remains are even carried on bearers from village to village. At length they are laid in a deep pit, lined with rich furs; tears and lamentations are again renewed, and for some time fresh provisions are daily laid, by this simple people, upon the graves of their departed friends.
[Footnote 238: "At night the savages direct their course by the polar star; they call it the motionless star. It is a curious coincidence that the constellation of the Bear should be called by the savages the Bear. This is certainly a very ancient name among them, and given long before any Europeans visited the country. They turn into ridicule the large imaginary tail which astronomers have given to an animal that has scarcely any such appendage, and they call the three stars that compose the tail of the Bear, three hunters who are in pursuit of it. The second of these stars has a very small one very close to it. This, they say, is the kettle of the second hunter, who is the bearer of the baggage and the provision belonging to all three. The savages also call the Pleiades 'the Dancers,' and Hygin tells us that they were thus called by the ancients, because they seem, from the arrangement of their stars, to be engaged in a circular dance."—Lafitau, vol. ii., p. 236. Hygin., lib. ii., art. Taurus.]
[Footnote 239: "Even at the present time" (1720), Lafitau writes, "these three stars are called in Italy, i tre cavalli"—the three knights—on the celestial globe of Caronelli.]
[Footnote 240: See Appendix, No. L. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 241: Charlevoix says that the eloquence of the savages was such as the Greeks admired in the barbarians, "strong, stern, sententious, pointed, perfectly undisguised."
Decanesora's oratory was greatly admired by the most cultivated among the English: his bust was said to resemble that of Cicero. The celebrated address of Logan is too well known to be cited here. Mr. Jefferson says of it, "I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, and of any other more eminent orator, if Europe has furnished more eminent, to produce a single passage superior to the speech of Logan." An American statesman and scholar, scarcely less illustrious than the former, has expressed his readiness to subscribe to this eulogium.—Clinton's Historical Discourse, 1811.]
[Footnote 242: Catlin gives the following account of a native preacher, known by the name of the Shawnee Prophet: "I soon learned that he was a very devoted Christian, regularly holding meetings in his tribe on the Sabbath, preaching to them, and exhorting them to a belief in the Christian religion, and to an abandonment of the fatal habit of whisky-drinking. I went on the Sabbath to hear this eloquent man preach, when he had his people assembled in the woods; and although I could not understand his language, I was surprised and pleased with the natural case, and emphasis, and gesticulation which carried their own evidence of the eloquence of his sermon. I was singularly struck with the noble efforts of this champion of the mere remnant of a poisoned race, so strenuously laboring to rescue the remainder of his people from the deadly bane that has been brought among them by enlightened Christians. It is quite certain that his exemplary endeavors have completely abolished the practice of drinking whisky in his tribe."—Catlin, vol. ii., p. 98.]
[Footnote 243: "Whatever may be the estimate of the Indian character in other respects, it is with me an undoubting conviction, that they are by nature a shrewd and intelligent race of men, in no wise, as regards combination of thought or quickness of apprehension, inferior to uneducated white men. This inference I deduce from having instructed Indian children. I draw it from having seen the men and women in all situations calculated to try and call forth their capacities. When they examine any of our inventions, steamboats, steam-mills, and cotton factories, for instance; when they contemplate any of our institutions in operation, by some quick analysis or process of reasoning, they seem immediately to comprehend the principle or the object. No spectacle affords them more delight than a large and orderly school. They scorn instinctively to comprehend, at least they explained to me that they felt, the advantages which this order of things gave our children over theirs."—Flint's Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi, 1831.
Mr. Flint, an experienced and intelligent observer, takes so dark a view of the moral character of the Red Indian that his favorable opinion of their mental faculties may be looked upon as probably accurate, though differing strongly from that more generally held. On the other side of the question, among the early writers may be cited M. Bouguer, Voyage au Perou, p. 102; Voyage d'Ulloa, tom. i., p. 335-337. "They seem to live in a perpetual infancy," is the striking expression of De la Condamine, Voyage de la Riv. Amazon, p. 52, 53. Chauvelon, Voyage a la Martinique, p. 44, 50. P. Venegas, Hist. de la Californie.]
[Footnote 244: All those who have expressed an opinion on the subject seem to agree that children of most native races are fully, or more than a match, for those of Europeans, in aptitude for intellectual acquirement. Indeed, it appears to be a singular law of Nature, that there is less precocity in the European race than almost any other. In those races in which we seem to have reason for believing that the intellectual organization is lower, perception is quicker, and maturity earlier.—Merivale On Colonization, vol. ii., p. 197.]
[Footnote 245: "Thus, on the whole, it may be said that the virtues of the savages are reducible to intrepid courage in danger, unshaken firmness amid tortures, contempt of pain and death, and patience under all the anxieties and distresses of life. No doubt these are useful qualities, but they are all confined to the individual, all selfish, and without any benefit to the society. Farther, they are proofs of a life truly wretched, and a social state so depraved or null, that a man, neither finding nor hoping any succor or assistance from it, is obliged to wrap himself up in despair, and endeavor to harden himself against the strokes of fate. Still it may be urged that these men, in their leisure hours, laugh, sing, play, and live without care for the past as well as for the future. Will you then deny that they are happier than we? Man is such a pitiable and variable creature, and habits have such a potent sway over him, that in the most disastrous situations he always finds some posture that gives him ease, something that consoles him, and, by comparison with past suffering, appears to him well-being and happiness; but if to laugh, sing, or play constitute bliss, it must likewise be granted that soldiers are perfectly happy beings, since there are no men more careless or more gay in dangers or on the eve of battle. It must be granted, too, that during the Revolution, in the most fatal of our jails, the Conciergerie, the prisoners were very happy, since they were, in general, more careless and gay than their keepers, or than those who only feared the same fate. The anxieties of those who were at large were as numerous as the enjoyments they wished to preserve; they who were in the other prisons felt but one, that of preserving their lives. In the Conciergerie, where a man was condemned in expectation or in reality, he had no longer any care; on the contrary, every moment of life was an acquisition, the gain of a good that was considered as lost. Such is nearly the situation of a soldier in war, and such is really that of the savage throughout the whole course of his life. If this be happiness, wretched indeed must be the country where it is an object of envy. In pursuing my investigation, I do not find that I am led to more advantageous ideas of the liberty of the savage; on the contrary, I sees in him only the slave of his wants, and of the freaks of a sterile and parsimonious nature. Food he has not at hand; rest is not at his command; he must run, weary himself, endure hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and all the inclemency of the elements and seasons; and as the ignorance in which he was born and bred gives him or leaves him a multitude of false and irrational ideas and superstitious prejudices, he is likewise the slave of a number of errors and passions, from which civilized man is exempted by the science and knowledge of every kind that an improved state of society has produced."—Volney's Travels in the United States, p. 467.
"Their impassible fortitude and endurance of suffering are, after all, in my mind, the result of a greater degree of physical insensibility. It has been told me, and I believe it, that in amputation and other surgical operations, their nerves do not shrink, do not show the same tendency to spasm with those of the whites. When the savage, to explain his insensibility to cold, called upon the white man to recollect how little his own face was affected by it, in consequence of its constant exposure, he added, 'My body is all face.' This increasing insensibility, transmitted from generation to generation, finally becomes inwrought with the whole web of animal nature, and the body of the savage seems to have little more sensibility than the hoofs of horses."—Flint's Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi. See, also, Ulloa's Notic. Amer., p. 313.
Charlevoix quotes a passage from Cicero to the effect that "l'habitude au travail donne de la facilite a supporter la douleur."—2 Tusc., 25.]
[Footnote 246: Delicacy of skin is observed to be in proportion to civilization among nations, in proportion to degrees of refinement among individuals.—Sharon Turner.]
[Footnote 247: Conical stones, wrapped up in 100 goat skins, were the idols preserved in the temple of the Natchez. Many authors assert that the Amazons and many Eastern people had nothing in their temples but these pyramidal stones, which represented to them the Divinity.... "Peut-etre aussi vouloient ils (les fondateurs des Pyramides) figurer en meme tems la Divinite, et ce qui leur restoit d'idees du mystere de la Sainte Trinite, dans les trois faces de ces pyramides. Du moins est ce ainsi qu'aux Indes un Brame paroissoit concevoir les choses et s'expliquer d'apres les anciennes. 'Il faut,' disoit il, 'se representer Dieu et ses trois noms differents qui repondent a ces trois principaux attributs, a peu pres sous l'idee de ces Pyramides triangulaires qu'on voit elevees devant la poste de quelques temples."—Lettre du Pere Bouchet a M. Huet, Eveque d'Avranches. Three logs are always employed to keep up the fire in the Natchez temple.—Lafitau, vol. i., p. 167.
Extract from a dialogue between John Wesley and the Chickasaw Indians:
"Wesley. Do you believe there is One above who is over all things?
"Answer. We believe there are four beloved things above—the clouds, the sun, the clear sky, and He that lives in the clear sky.
"Wesley. Do you believe there is but One who lives in the clear sky?
"Answer. We believe there are two with Him, three in all."—Wesley's Journal, No. 1., p. 39.]
[Footnote 248: See Stephens's "Incidents of Travel in Central America," vol. ii., p. 346.
"Les croix qui ont tant excite la curiosite des conquistadores a Coqumel, a Yucatan, et dans d'autres contrees de l'Amerique ne sont pas 'des contes de moines,' et meritent, comme tout ce qui a rapport au culte des peuples indigenes du Nouveau Continent, un examen plus serieux. Je me sers du mot culte, car un relief conserve dans les ruines de Palenque, de Guatemala, et dont je possede une copie, ne me parait laisser ancun doute qu'une figure symbolique en forme de croix etoit un objet d'adoration. Il faut faire observer cependant qu'a cette croix manque le prolongement superieur, et qu'elle forme plutot la lettre tau. Des idees qui n'ont ancun rapport avec le Christianisme ont pu etre symboliquement attachees a cet embleme Egyptien d'Hermes, si celebre parmi les Chretiens depuis la destruction du temple de Serapis a Alexandrie sous Theodose le Grand. (Rufinus, Hist. Eccles., lib. ii., cap. xxix., p. 294; Zozomenes, Eccl. Hist., lib. iii., cap. xv.) Un baton termine par une croix se voit dans la main d'Astarte sur les monnaies de Sidon au 3me siecle avant notre ere. En Scandinavie, un signe de l'alphabet runique figurait le marteau de Thor, tres semblable a la croix du relief de Palenque. On marquoit de cette rune, dans les tems payens, les objets qu'on vouloit sanctifier." (Voyez l'excellent Traite de M. Guillaume Grimm. Ueber Deutsche Runen, p. 242.)—Humboldt, Geographie de Nouveau Continent, vol. ii., p. 356.
"Laet avoue qu' Herrera parle d'une espece de bapteme, et de confession usitee dans Yucatan et dans les isles voisines, mais il ajoute qu'il est bien plus naturel d'attribuer toutes ces marques equivoques de Christianisme qu'on a cru apercevoir en plusieurs provinces du Nouveau Monde au demon qui a toujours affecte de contrefaire le culte du vrai Dieu." Charlevoix adds, "Cette remarque est de tous les bons auteurs qui out parle de la religion des peuples nouvellement decouverts, et fondee sur l'autorite des peres de l'Eglise."—Charlevoix, tom. v., p. 28.]
[Footnote 249: See Appendix, No. LI. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 250: "The most sensual, degraded, and least intellectual tribes of Northern Asia and America have purer notions of a Spiritual Deity than were possessed of old by the worshipers of Jupiter and Juno under Pericles."—Progression by Antagonism. This, according to Lord Lindsay's theory, is to be accounted for by the absence of imagination, these nations being only governed by Sense and Spirit, to the exclusion of intellect in either of its manifestations, Imagination, or Reason.—P. 21, 26.]
[Footnote 251: "At the breaking up of the winter," says Hunter, "after having supplied ourselves with such things as were necessary and the situation afforded, all our party visited the spring from which we had procured our supplies of water, and there offered up our orisons to the Great Spirit for having preserved us in health and safety, and for having supplied all our wants. This is the constant practice of the Osages, Kansas, and many other nations of Indians on breaking up their encampments, and is by no means an unimportant ceremony." The habitual piety of the Indian mind is remarked by Heckewelder, and strongly insisted upon by Hunter, and it is satisfactorily proved by the whole tenor of his descriptions, where he throws himself back, as it were, into the feelings peculiar to Indian life. And, indeed, after hearing at a council the broken fragments of an Indian harangue, however imperfectly rendered by an ignorant interpreter, or reading the few specimens of Indian oratory which have been preserved by translation, no one can fail to remark a perpetual and earnest reference to the power and goodness of the Deity. "Brothers! we all belong to one family; we are all children of the Great Spirit," was the commencement of Tecumthe's harangue to the Osages; and he afterward tells them: "When the white men first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no places on which to spread their blankets or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our fathers commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit has given to his red children."—Quarterly Review.]
[Footnote 252: On the remarkable occasion on which our forces were compelled, in 1813, to evacuate the Michigan territory, Tecumthe, in the name of his nation, refused to consent to retreat; he closed his denial with these words: "Our lives are in the hand of the Great Spirit: He gave the lands which we possess to our fathers; if it be his will, our bones shall whiten upon them, but we will never quit them." An old Oneida chief, who was blind from years, observed to Heckewelder, "I am an aged hemlock; the winds of one hundred years have whistled through my branches; I am dead at the top. Why I yet live, the great, good Spirit only knows." This venerable father of the forest lived long enough to be converted to Christianity.—Quarterly Review.]
[Footnote 253: A Huron woman under the instruction of a missionary, who detailed to her the perfections of God, exclaimed, in a species of ecstasy, "I understand, I understand; and I always felt convinced that our Areskoui was exactly such a one as the God you have described to me."—Lafitau, tom. i., p. 127. The Great Spirit was named Areskoui among the Huron, Agriskone among the Iroquois, Manitou among the Algonquins.]
[Footnote 254: See Appendix, No. LII. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 255: Every spring the Arkansas go in a body to some retired place, and there turn up a large space of land, which they do with the drums beating all the while. After this they call it the Desart, or the Field of the Spirit, and thither they go when they are in their enthusiastic fits, and there wait for inspiration from their pretended deity. In the mean while, as they do this every year, it proves of no small advantage to them, for by this means they turn up all their land by degrees, and it becomes abundantly more fruitful.—Tonti.]
[Footnote 256: Lafitau asserts that the first beast killed by a young hunter was always offered in sacrifice.—Vol. i., p. 515. See Catlin's description of the sacrifices and ceremonies practiced when the first fruits of corn are ripe.—Catlin, vol. i., p. 189.]
[Footnote 257: Peter Martyr speaks of the general opinion among the early discoverers that the Indians believed in a species of immortality. "They confess the soul to be immortal; having put off the bodily clothing, they imagine it goeth forth to the woods and the mountains, and that it liveth there perpetually in caves; nor do they exempt it from eating or drinking, but that it should be fed there. The answering voices heard from caves and hollows, which the Latines call echoes, they suppose to be the souls of the departed wandering through those places."—Peter Martyr, Decad. VIII., cap. ix., M. Lock's translation, 1612.]
[Footnote 258: "Une jeune sauvagesse voyant sa soeur mourante, par la quantite de cigue qui elle avoit pris dans un depit, et determine a ne faire aucun remede pour se garantir de la mort, pleuroit a chaudes larmes, et s'efforcoit de la toucher par les liens du sang, et de l'amitie qui les unissoit ensemble. Elle lui disoit sans cesse, 'C'en est donc fait; in veux que nous ne nous retrouvions jamais plus, et que nous ne nous revoyions jamais?' Le missionnaire, frappe de ces paroles, lui en demanda la raison. 'Il me semble,' dit-il, 'que vous avez un pays des ames, ou vous devez tous vous reunir a vos ancetres; pourquoi donc est ce que tu parles ainsi a la soeur?' 'Il est vrai,' reprit-elle, 'que nous allons tous au pays des ames; mais les mechants, et ceux en particulier, qui se sont detruits eux-memes par un mort violente, y portent la peine de leur crime; ils y sont separes des autres, et n'ont point de communication avec eux: c'est la le sujet de mes peines.'"—Lafitau, tom. i., p. 404. See Appendix, LII. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 259: Hunter gives the following view of the Indian mythology, while describing his own and his companions' first sight of the Pacific Ocean: "Here the surprise and astonishment of our whole party was indescribably great. The unbounded view of waters, the incessant and tremendous dashing of the waves along the shore, accompanied with a noise resembling the roar of loud and distant thunder, filled our minds with the most sublime and awful sensation, and fixed on them as immutable truths the tradition we had received from our old men, that the great waters divide the residence of the Great Spirit from the temporary abodes of his red children. We have contemplated in silent dread the immense difficulties over which we should be obliged to triumph after death before we could arrive at those delightful hunting-grounds, which are unalterably destined for such only as do good, and love the Great Spirit. We looked in vain for the stranded and shattered canoes of those who had done wickedly; we could see none, and were led to hope they were few in number. We offered up our devotions, or, I might say, our minds were serious, and our devotions continued all the time we were in this country, for we had ever been taught to believe that the Great Spirit resided on the western side of the Rocky Mountains; and this idea continued throughout the journey, notwithstanding the more specific boundary assigned to Him by our traditionary dogmas."—Memoirs of a Captivity among the North American Indians from Childhood to the Age of Nineteen. By John D. Hunter, p. 69. 1824.—See Appendix, No. LIII. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 260: See Appendix, No. LIV. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 261: See Appendix, No. LV. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 262: See Appendix, No. LVI. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 263: "While I remained among the Indians, a couple, whose tent was adjacent to mine, lost a son of four years of age. The parents were so much affected at the death of their child, that they observed the usual testimonies of grief with such extreme rigor as through the weight of sorrow and loss of blood to occasion the loss of the father. The woman, who had hitherto been inconsolable, no sooner saw her husband expire than she dried up her tears, and appeared cheerful and resigned. I took an opportunity of asking her the reason of so extraordinary a transition, when she informed me that her child was so young it would have been unable to support itself in the world of spirits, and both she and her husband were apprehensive that its situation would be far from happy. No sooner, however, did she behold her husband depart for the same place, who not only loved the child with the tenderest affection, but was a good hunter, and would be able to provide plentifully for its support, than she ceased to mourn. She said she had now no reason to continue her tears, as the child on whom she doted was under the care and protection of a fond father, and she had now only one wish remaining ungratified, that of herself being with them."—Carver.]
[Footnote 264: Captain Franklin says of the Chippewyans, "No article is spared by these unhappy men when a near relative dies; their clothes and tents are cut to pieces, their guns broken, and every other weapon rendered useless if some person do not remove these articles from their sight."
"When the French missionaries asked the Indians why they deprived themselves of their most necessary articles in favor of the dead, they answered, 'that it was not only to evidence their love for their departed relatives, but that they might avoid the sight of objects which, having been used by them, would continually renew their grief.' The same delicacy of feeling, so inconsistent with the coarseness of the Red Man's nature, was manifested in their custom of never uttering the names of the dead; and if these names were borne by any of the other members of the family, they laid them aside during the whole of their mourning. And it was esteemed the greatest insult that could be offered to say to any one, 'Your father is dead, your mother is dead.'"—Charlevoix, tom. vi., p. 109.]
[Footnote 265: Pere Brebeuf, Relation de la Nouvelle France; Charlevoix; Lafitau. Catlin describes the same ceremonies.
It has been often said that the care taken by the Indians for the deceased corpses of their ancestors was in consequence of a universally received tradition that these corpses were to rise again to immortal life.]
In the warmer and milder climates of America, none of the rude tribes were clothed; for them there was little need of defense against the weather, and their extreme indolence indisposed them to any exertion not absolutely necessary for their subsistence. Others were satisfied with a very slight covering, but all delighted in ornaments. They dressed their hair in different forms, stained their skins, and fastened bits of gold, or shells, or bright pebbles in their noses and cheeks. They also frequently endeavored to alter their natural form and feature; as soon as an infant was born, it was subjected to some cruel process of compression, by which the bones of the skull while still soft, were squeezed into the shape of a cone, or flattened, or otherwise distorted. But in all efforts to adorn or alter their persons, the great object was to inspire terror and respect. The warrior was indifferent to the admiration of woman, whom he enslaved and despised, and it was only for war or the council that he assumed his choicest ornaments, and painted himself with unusual care. The decorations of the women were few and simple; all those that were precious and splendid were reserved for their haughty lords. In several tribes, the wives had to devote much of their time to adorning their husbands, and could bestow little attention upon themselves. The different nations remaining unclothed show considerable sagacity in anointing themselves in such a manner as to provide against the heat and moisture of the climate. Soot, the juices of herbs having a green, yellow, or vermilion tint, mixed with oil and grease, are lavishly employed upon their skin to adorn it and render it impervious. By this practice profuse perspiration is checked, and a defense is afforded against the innumerable and tormenting insects that abound every where in America. Black and red are the favorite colors for painting the face. In war, black is profusely laid on, the other colors being only used to heighten its effect, and give a terrible expression to the countenance. The breast, arms, and legs of the Indian are tattooed with sharp needles or pointed bones, the colors being carefully rubbed in. His Manitou, and the animal chosen as the symbol of his tribe, are first painted, then all his most remarkable exploits, and the enemies he has slain or scalped, so that his body displays a pictorial history of his life.
In the severe climate of the north the Indian's dress is somewhat more ample. Instead of shoes he wears a strip of soft leather wrapped round the foot, called the moccasin. Upward to the middle of the thigh, a piece of leather or cloth, fitting closely, serves instead of pantaloons and stockings: it is usually sewed on to the limb, and is never removed. Two aprons, each about a foot square, are fastened to a girdle round the waist, and hang before and behind. This is their permanent dress. On occasions of ceremony, however, and in cold weather, they also wear a short shirt, and over all a loose robe, closed or held together in front. Now, an English blanket is generally used for this garment; but, before the produce of European art was known among them, the skins of wild animals furnished all their covering. The chiefs usually wear a sort of breast-plate, covered with shells, pebbles, and pieces of glittering metal. Those who communicate with Europeans display beads, rings, bracelets, and other gauds instead. The ear, too, is cumbrously ornamented with showy pendents, and the tuft of hair on the crown of the head is interwoven with feathers, the wings of birds, shells, and many fantastic ornaments. Sometimes the Indian warrior wears buffalo horns, reduced in size and polished, on his head: this, however, is a distinction only for those renowned in war or in the council. The dress of the women varies but little from that of the men, except in being more simple. They wear their hair long and flowing, and richly ornamented, whenever they can procure the means.
The dwellings of the Indians usually receive much less attention than their personal appearance. Even among tribes comparatively far advanced in civilization, the structure of their houses or cabans was very rude and simple. They were generally wretched huts, of an oblong or circular form, and sometimes so low that it was always necessary to preserve a sitting or lying posture while under their shelter. There were no windows; a large hole in the center of the roof allowed the smoke to escape; and a sort of curtain of birch bark occupied the place of the door. These dwellings are sometimes 100 feet long, when they accommodate several families. Four cabans generally form a quadrangle, each open to the inside, with the fire in the center common to all. The numerous and powerful tribes formerly inhabiting Canada and its borders usually dwelt in huts of a very rude description. In their expeditions, both for war and the chase, the Indians erect temporary cabans in a remarkably short space of time. A few poles, raised in the shape of a cone, and covered with birch bark, form the roof, and the tops of pine branches make a fragrant bed. In winter the snow is cleared out of the place where the caban is to be raised, and shaped into walls, which form a shelter from the wind. The permanent dwellings were usually grouped in villages, surrounded with double and even triple rows of palisades, interlaced with branches of trees, so as to form a compact barrier, and offering a considerable difficulty to an assailing foe.
The furniture in these huts was very scanty. The use of metal being unknown, the pots or vessels for boiling their food were made of coarse earthen-ware, or of soft stone hollowed out with a hatchet. In some cases they were made of wood, and the water was boiled by throwing in a number of heated stones.
The Indian displays some skill in the construction of canoes, and they are admirably adapted for his purpose. They are usually made of the bark of a single tree, strengthened by ribs of strong wood. These light and buoyant skiffs float safely on stormy or rapid waters under the practiced guidance of the Indian, and can with ease be borne on his shoulder from one river or lake to another. Canoes formed out of the trunk of a large tree are also sometimes used, especially in winter, for the purpose of crossing rivers when there is floating ice, their great strength rendering them capable of enduring the collision with the floating masses, to which they are liable.
Even among the rudest Indian tribes a regular union between man and wife was universal, although not attended with ceremonials. The marriage contract is a matter of purchase. The man buys his wife of her parents; not with money, for its value is unknown, but with some useful and precious article, such as a robe of bear or other handsome skin, a horse, a rifle, powder and shot. When the Indian has made the bargain with his wife's parents, he takes her home to his caban, and from that time she becomes his slave. There are several singular modes of courtship among some of the tribes, but generally much reserve and consideration are exhibited. In many respects, however, the morals and manners of the Indians are such as might be expected in communities where the precepts of Christianity are unknown, and where even the artificial light of civilization is wanting. There are occasionally instances of a divorce being resorted to from mere caprice; but, usually, the marriage tie is regarded as a perpetual covenant. As the wife toils incessantly, and procures a great part of the subsistence, she is considered too valuable a servant to be lightly lost. Among the chiefs of the tribes to the west and south, polygamy is general, and the number of these wife-servants constitute the principal wealth; but among the northern nations this plurality is very rarely possessed. The Indian is seldom seen to bestow the slightest mark of tenderness upon his wife or children: he, however, exerts himself to the utmost for their welfare, and will sacrifice his life to avenge their wrongs. His indomitable pride prompts him to assume an apparent apathy, and to control every emotion of affection, suffering, or sorrow.
Parents perform few duties toward their children beyond procuring their daily bread. The father is by turns occupied in war and the chase, or sunk in total indolence, while the mother is oppressed by the toils of her laborious bondage, and has but little time to devote to her maternal cares. The infant is fastened to a board, cushioned with soft moss, by thongs of leather, and is generally hung on the branch of a tree, or, in traveling, carried on the mother's back. When able to move, it is freed from this confinement, and allowed to make its way about as it pleases. It soon reaches some neighboring lake or river, and sports itself in the water all day long. As the child advances in years it enjoys perfect independence; it is rarely or never reproved or chastised. The youths are early led to emulate the deeds of their fathers; they practice with the bow, and other weapons suited to a warrior's use; and, as manhood approaches, they gradually assume the dignified gravity of the elders. In some tribes the young men must pass through a dreadful ordeal when they arrive at the age of manhood, which is supposed to prepare them for the endurance of all future sufferings, and enables the chiefs to judge of their courage, and to select the bravest among them to lead in difficult enterprises.
During four days previous to this terrible torture the candidates observe a strict fast, and are denied all sleep. When the appointed day arrives, certain strange ceremonies of an allegorical description are performed, in which all the inhabitants of the village take part. The candidates then repair to a large caban, where the chiefs and elders of the tribe are assembled to witness the ordeal. The torture commences by driving splints of wood through the flesh of the back and breasts of the victim: he is next hoisted off the ground by ropes attached to these splints, and suspended by the quivering flesh, while the tormentors twist the hanging body slowly round, thus exquisitely enhancing the agony, till a death-faint comes to the relief of the candidate: he is then lowered to the ground and left to the care of the Great Spirit. When he recovers animation, he rises and proceeds on his hands and feet to another part of the caban: he there lays the little finger of the left hand upon a buffalo skull, as a sacrifice to the Great Spirit, and another Indian chops it off. The fore-finger is also frequently offered up in the same manner: this mutilation does not interfere with the use of the bow, the only weapon for which the left hand is required. Other cruel tortures are inflicted for some time, and at length the wretched victim, reeling and staggering from the intensity of his suffering, reaches his own dwelling, where he is placed under the care of his friends. Some of the famous warriors of the tribe pass through this horrible ordeal repeatedly, and the oftener it is endured, the greater is their estimation among their people. No bandages are applied to the wounds thus inflicted, nor is any attention paid to their cure; but, from the extreme exhaustion and debility caused by want of sustenance and sleep, circulation is checked, and sensibility diminished; the bleeding and inflammation are very slight, and the results are seldom injurious.
The native tribes are engaged in almost perpetual hostility against each other. War is the great occupation of savage life, the measure of merit, the high road of ambition, and the source of its intensest joy—revenge. In war the Indian character presents the darkest aspect; the finer and gentler qualities are vailed or dormant, and a fiendish ferocity assumes full sway. It is waged to exterminate, not to reduce. The enemy is assailed with treachery, and, if conquered, treated with revolting cruelty. The glory and excitement of war are dear to the Indian, but when the first drop of blood is shed, revenge is dearer still. He thirsts to offer up the life of an enemy to appease the departed spirit of a slaughtered friend. Thus each contest generates another even more embittered than itself. The extension or defense of the hunting-grounds is often a primary cause of hostility among the native nations, and the increase of the power of their tribe by incorporating with them such of the vanquished as they may spare from a cruel death is another frequent motive. The savage pines and chafes in long-continued peace, and the prudence of the aged can with difficulty restrain the fierce impetuosity of the young. Individual quarrels and a thirst for fame often lead a single savage to invade a hostile territory against the counsels of his tribe; but, when war is determined by the general voice, more enlarged views, and a desire of aggrandizement guide the proceedings.
As soon as the determination of declaring war is formed, he who is chosen by the nation as the chief enters on a course of solemn preparation, entreating the aid and guidance of the Great Spirit. As a signal of the approaching strife, he marches three times round his winter dwelling, bearing a large blood-red flag, variegated with deep tints of black. When this terrible emblem is seen, the young warriors crowd around to hearken to the words of their chief. He then addresses them in a strain of impassioned, but rude and ferocious eloquence, calling upon them to follow him to glory and revenge. When he concludes his oration, he throws a wampum belt on the ground, which is respectfully lifted up by some warrior of high renown, who is judged worthy of being second in command. The chief now paints himself black, and commences a strict fast, only tasting a decoction of consecrated herbs to assist his dreams, which are strictly noted and interpreted by the elders. He then washes off the black paint. A huge fire is lighted in a public place in the village, and the great war-caldron set to boil: each warrior throws something into this vessel, and the allies who are to join the expedition also send offerings for the same purpose. Lastly, the sacred dog is sacrificed to the God of War, and boiled in the caldron to form the chief dish at a festival, to which only the warriors and men great in council are admitted.
During these ceremonies the elders watch the omens with deep anxiety, and if the promise be favorable, they prepare for immediate departure. The chief then paints himself in bright and varied colors, to render his appearance terrible, and sings his war song, announcing the nature of the projected enterprise. His example is followed by all the warriors, who join a war-dance, while they proclaim with a loud voice the glory of their former deeds, and their determination to destroy their enemies. Each Indian now seizes his arms: the bow and quiver hang over the left shoulder, the tomahawk from the left hand, and the scalping-knife is stuck in the girdle. A distinguished chief is appointed to take charge of the Manitous or guardian powers of each warrior; they are collected, carefully placed in a box, and accompany the expedition as the ark of safety. Meanwhile the women incite the warriors to vengeance, and eagerly demand captives for the torture, to appease the spirits of their slaughtered relatives, or sometimes, indeed, to supply their place. When the war party are prepared to start, the chief addresses his followers in a short harangue; they then commence the march, singing, and shouting the terrible war-whoop. The women proceed with the expedition for some distance; and when they must return, exchange endearing names with their husbands and relations, and express ardent wishes for victory. Some little gift of affection is usually exchanged at parting.
Before striking the first blow the Indians make open declaration of war. A herald, painted black, is sent, bearing a red tomahawk, on one side of which are inscribed figures representing the causes of hostilities. He reaches the enemy's principal village at midnight, throws down the tomahawk in some conspicuous place, and disappears silently. When once warning is thus given, every stratagem that cunning can suggest is employed for the enemy's destruction.
As long as the expedition continues in friendly countries, the warriors wander about in small parties for the convenience of hunting, still, however, keeping up communication by means of sounds imitating the cries of birds and beasts. None ever fail to appear at the appointed place of meeting upon the frontier, where they again hold high festival, and consult the omens of their dreams. When they enter the hostile territory a close array is observed, and a deep silence reigns. They creep on all fours, walk through water, or upon the stumps of trees, to avoid leaving any trace of their route. To conceal their numbers they sometimes march in a long single file, each stepping on the foot-print of the man before him. They sometimes even wear the hoofs of the buffalo or the paws of the bear, and run for miles in a winding course to imitate the track of those animals. Every effort is made to surprise the foe, and they frequently lure him to destruction by imitating from the depths of the forest the cries of animals of the chase.
If the expedition meet with no straggling party of the enemy, it advances with cautious stealth toward some principal village; the warriors creep on their hands and feet through the deep woods, and often even paint themselves the color of dried leaves to avoid being perceived by their intended victims. On approaching the doomed hamlet, they examine it carefully, but rapidly, from some tree-top or elevated ground, and again conceal themselves till nightfall in the thickest covert. Strange to say, these subtle warriors neglect altogether the security of sentinels, and are satisfied with searching the surrounding neighborhood for hidden foes; if none be discovered, they sleep in confidence, even when hostile forces are not far off. They weakly trust to the protecting power of their Manitous. When they have succeeded in reaching the village, and concealing themselves unobserved, they wait silently, keeping close watch till the hour before dawn, when the inhabitants are in the deepest sleep. Then crawling noiselessly, like snakes, through the grass and underwood, till they are upon the foe, the chief raises a shrill cry, and the massacre begins. Discharging a shower of arrows, they finish the deadly work with the club and tomahawk. The great object, however, of the conquerors is to take the enemy alive, and reserve him to grace their triumph and rejoice their eyes by his torture. When resistance is attempted, this is often impossible, and an instant death saves the victim from the far greater horrors of captivity and protracted torment. When an enemy is struck down, the victor places his foot upon the neck of the dead or dying man, and with a horrible celerity and skill tears off the bleeding scalp. This trophy is ever preserved with jealous care by the Indian warriors.
After any great success the war party always return to their villages, more eager to celebrate the victory than to improve its advantages. Their women and old men await their return in longing expectation. The fate of the war is announced from afar off by well-known signs; the bad tidings are first told. A herald advances to the front of the returning party, and sounds a death-whoop for each of their warriors who has fallen in the fray. Then, after a little time, the tale of victory is told, and the number of prisoners and of the slain declared. All lamentations are soon hushed, and congratulations and rejoicing succeed. During the retreat, if the war party be not hard pressed by the enemy, prisoners are treated with some degree of humanity, but are very closely guarded. When the expedition has returned to the village, the old men, women, and children form themselves into two lines; the prisoners are compelled to pass between them, and are cruelly bruised with sticks and stones, but not vitally injured by their tormentors.
A council is usually held to decide the fate of the prisoners: the alternatives are, to be adopted into the conquering nation, and received as brothers, or to be put to death in the most horrible torments, thus either to supply the place of warriors fallen in battle, or to appease the spirits of the departed by their miserable end. The older warriors among the captives usually meet the hardest fate; the younger are most frequently adopted by the women, their wounds are cured, and they are thenceforth received in every respect as if they belonged to the tribe. The adopted prisoners go out to war against their former countrymen, and the new tie is held even more binding than the old.
The veteran warrior, whose tattooed skin bears record of slaughtered enemies, meets with no mercy: his face is painted, his head crowned with flowers as if for a festival, black moccasins are put upon his feet, and a flaming torch is placed above him as the signal of condemnation. The women take the lead in the diabolical tortures to which he is subjected, and rage around their victim with horrible cries. He is, however, allowed a brief interval to sing his death-song, and he often continues it even through the whole of the terrible ordeal. He boasts of his great deeds, insults his tormentors, laughing at their feeble efforts, exults in the vengeance that his nation will take for his death, and pours forth insulting reproaches and threats. The song is then taken up by the woman to whose particular revenge he has been devoted. She calls upon the spirit of her husband or son to come and witness the sufferings of his foe. After tortures too various and horrible to be particularized, some kind wound closes the scene in death, and the victim's scalp is lodged among the trophies of the tribe. To endure with unshaken fortitude is the greatest triumph of an Indian warrior, and the highest confusion to his enemies, but often the proud spirit breaks under the pangs that rack the quivering flesh, and shouts of intolerable agony reward the demoniac ingenuity of the tormentors.
Many early writers considered that the charge of cannibalism against the Indians was well founded: doubtless, in moments of fury, portions of an enemy's flesh have been rent off and eaten. To devour a foeman's heart is held by them to be an exquisite vengeance. They have been known to drink draughts of human blood, and, in circumstances of scarcity, they do not hesitate to eat their captives. It is certain that all the terms used by them in describing the torture of prisoners relate to this horrible practice; yet, as they are so figurative in every expression, these may simply mean the fullest gratification of revenge. The evidence upon this point is obscure and contradictory; the Indian can not be altogether acquitted or found guilty of this foul imputation.
The brief peace that affords respite amid the continual wars of the Indian tribes is scarcely more than a truce. Nevertheless, it is concluded with considerable form and ceremony. The first advance toward a cessation of hostilities is usually made through the chief of a neutral power. The nation proposing the first overture dispatches some men of note as embassadors, accompanied by an orator, to contract the negotiation. They bear with them the calumet of peace as the symbol of their purpose, and a certain number of wampum belts to note the objects and conditions of the negotiation. The orator explains the meaning of the belts to the hostile chiefs, and if the proposition be received, the opposite party accept the proffered symbols, and the next day present others of a similar import. The calumet is then solemnly smoked, and the burial of a war hatchet for each party and for each ally concludes the treaty. The negotiations consist more in presents, speeches, and ceremonies, than in any demands upon each other; there is no property to provide tribute, and the victors rarely or never require the formal cession of any of the hunting-grounds of the vanquished. The unrestrained passions of individuals, and the satiety of long continued peace, intolerable to the Indian, soon again lead to the renewal of hostility.
The successful hunter ranks next to the brave warrior in the estimation of the savage. Before starting on his grand expeditions, he prepares himself by a course of fasting, dreaming, and religious observances, as if for war. He hunts with astonishing dexterity and skill, and regards this pursuit rather as an object of adventure and glory than as an industrious occupation.
With regard to cultivation and the useful arts, the Indians are in the very infancy of progress. Their villages are usually not less than eighteen miles apart, and are surrounded by a narrow circle of imperfectly-cleared land, slightly turned up with a hoe, or scraped with pointed sticks, scarcely interrupting the continuous expanse of the forest. They are only acquainted with the rudest sorts of clay manufactures, and the use of the metals (except by European introduction) is altogether unknown. Their women, however, display considerable skill in weaving fine mats, in staining the hair of animals, and working it into brilliant colored embroideries. The wampum belts are made with great care and some taste. The calumet is also elaborately carved and ornamented; and the painting and tattooing of their bodies sometimes presents well-executed and highly descriptive pictures and hieroglyphics. They construct light and elegant baskets from the swamp cane, and are very skillful in making bows and arrows; some tribes, indeed, were so rude as not to have attained even to the use of this primitive weapon, and the sling was by no means generally known.
Most of the American nations are without any fixed form of government whatever. The complete independence of every man is fully recognized. He may do what he pleases of good or evil, useful or destructive, no constituted power interferes to thwart his will. If he even take away the life of another, the by-standers do not interpose. The kindred of the slain, however, will make any sacrifice for vengeance. And yet, in the communities of these children of nature there usually reigns a wonderful tranquillity. A deadly hostility exists between the different tribes, but among the members comprising each the strictest union exists. The honor and prosperity of his nation is the leading object of the Indian. This national feeling forms a link to draw him closely to his neighbor, and he rarely or never uses violence or evil speech against a countryman. Where there is scarcely such a thing as individual property, government and justice are necessarily very much simplified. There exists almost a community of goods. No man wants while another has enough and to spare. Their generosity knows no bounds. Whole tribes, when ruined by disasters in war, find unlimited hospitality among their neighbors; habitations and hunting-grounds are allotted to them, and they are received in every respect as if they were members of the nation that protects them.
As there is generally no wealth or hereditary distinction among this people, the sole claim to eminence is founded on such personal qualities as can only be conspicuous in war, council, or the chase. During times of tranquillity and inaction all superiority ceases. Every man is clothed and fares alike. Relations of patronage and dependence are unknown. All are free and equal, and they perish rather than submit to control or endure correction. During war, indeed, or in the chase, they render a sort of obedience to those who excel in character and conduct, but at other times no form of government whatever exists. The names of magistrate and subject are not in their language. If the elders interpose between man and man, it is to advise, not to decide. Authority is only tolerated in foreign, not in domestic affairs.
Music and dancing express the emotions of the Indian's mind. He has his songs of war and death, and particular moments of his life are appointed for their recital. His great deeds and the vengeance he has inflicted upon his enemies are his subjects; the language and music express his passions rudely but forcibly. The dance is still more important: it is the grand celebration at every festival, and alternately the exponent of their triumph, anger, or devotion. It is usually pantomimic, and highly descriptive of the subject to which it is appropriate.
The Indians are immoderately fond of play as a means of excitement and agitation. While gaming, they, who are usually so taciturn and indifferent, become loquacious and eager. Their guns, arms, and all that they possess are freely staked, and at times where all else is lost, they will trust even their personal safety to the hazard of the die. The most barbarous of the tribes have unhappily succeeded in inventing some species of intoxicating liquor: that from the root of the maize was in general use; it is not disagreeable to the taste, and is very powerful. When the accursed fire-water is placed before the Indians, none can resist the temptation. The wisest, best, and bravest succumb alike to this odious temptation: and when their unrestrained passions are excited by drinking, they are at times guilty of enormous outrages, and the scenes of their festivities often become stained with kindred blood. The women are not permitted to partake of this fatal pleasure; their duty is to serve the guests, and take care of their husbands and friends when overpowered by the debauch. This exclusion from a favorite enjoyment is evidence of the contempt in which females are held among the Indians.
In the present day, he who would study the character and habits of these children of Nature must travel far away beyond the Rocky Mountains, where the murrain of perverted civilization has not yet spread. There he may still find the virtues and vices of the savage, and lead among those wild tribes that fascinating life of liberty which few have ever been known to abandon willingly for the restraints and luxuries of civilization and refinement.
[Footnote 266: "The custom of squeezing and flattening the head is still strictly adhered to among the Chinooks. The people bearing the name of Flat Heads are very numerous, but very few among them actually practice the custom. Among the Chinooks it is almost universal. The process is thus effected: The child is placed on a thick plank, to which it is lashed with thongs to a position from which it can not escape, and the back of the head supported by a sort of pillow made of moss or rabbit-skins, with an inclined piece resting on the forehead of the child. This is every day drawn down a little tighter by means of a cord, which holds it in its place, until at length it touches the nose, thus forming a straight line from the crown of the head to the end of the nose. This process is seemingly a cruel one, though I doubt whether it causes much pain, as it is done in earliest infancy, while the bones are soft and cartilaginous, and easily pressed into this distorted shape by forcing the occipital up and the frontal down, so that the skull at the top in profile will show a breadth of not more than an inch and a half or two inches, when in a front view it exhibits a great expansion on the sides, making it at the top nearly the width of one and a half natural heads. By this remarkable operation the brain is singularly changed from its natural state, but in all probability not in the least diminished or injured in its natural functions. This belief is drawn from the testimony of many credible witnesses who have closely scrutinized them, and ascertained that those who have the head flattened are in no way inferior in intellectual powers to those whose heads are in their natural shapes. This strange custom existed precisely the same until recently among the Choctaws and Chickasaws, who occupied a large part of the states of Mississippi and Alabama, where they have laid their bones, and hundreds of their skulls have been procured, bearing marks of a similar treatment, with similar results."—Catlin's American Indians, vol. ii., p. 112.
With respect to the origin of this singular custom, Humboldt is inclined to think that it may be traced from the natural inclination of each race to look upon their own personal peculiarities as the standard of beauty. He observes that the pointed form of the heads is very striking in the Mexican drawings, and continues thus: "If we examine osteologically the skulls of the natives of America, we see that there is no race on the globe in which the frontal bone is more flattened or which have less forehead. (Blumenbach, Decas Quinta Craniorum, tab. xlvi., p. 14, 1808.) This extraordinary flattening exists among people of the copper-colored race, who have never been acquainted with the custom of producing artificial deformities, as is proved by the skulls of Mexican, Peruvian, and Aztec Indians, which M. Bonpland and myself brought to Europe, and several of which are deposited in the Museum of Natural History at Paris. The negroes prefer the thickest and most prominent lips, the Calmucks perceive the line of beauty in turned-up noses. M. Cuvier observes (Lecons d'Anatomie Comparee, tom. ii., p. 6) that the Grecian artists, in the statues of heroes, raised the facial line from 85 deg. to 100 deg., or beyond the natural form. I am led to think that the barbarous custom, among certain savage tribes in America, of squeezing the heads of children between two planks, arises from the idea that beauty consists in this extraordinary compression of the bone by which Nature has characterized the American race. It is no doubt from following this standard of beauty that even the Aztec people, who never disfigured the heads of their children, have represented their heroes and principal divinities with heads much flatter than any of the Caribs I saw on the Lower Orinoco."—Humboldt's Researches on the Ancient Inhabitants of America.]
[Footnote 267: "L'anatomie comparee en offre une autre confirmation dans la proportion constante du volume des lobes cerebrales avec le degre d'intelligence des animaux."—Cuvier's Report to the Institute on Flouren's Experiments in 1822.]
[Footnote 268: "Ces huiles leur sont absolument necessaires, et ils sont manges de vermine quand elles leur manquent."—Lafitau, tom. i., p. 59.
It is supposed by Volney that the fatal effects of the small-pox among the Indians are to be attributed to the obstacle that a skin thus hardened opposes to the eruption.—P. 416. In the most detailed account given of the ravages of this disease, Catlin particularly mentions that no eruption was visible in any of the bodies of the dead. Forster, the English translator of Professor Kalm's Travels in America, held the same opinion as Volney.
"When the Kalmucks in the Russian dominions get the small-pox, it has been observed that very few escape. Of this, I believe, no other reason can be alleged than that the small-pox is always dangerous, either when the open pores of the skin are too numerous, which is caused by opening them in a warm-water bath, or when they are too much closed, which is the case with all the nations that are dirty and greasy. All the American Indians rub their body with oils; the Kalmucks rub their bodies and their fur coats with grease; the Hottentots are also, I believe, patterns of filthiness: this shuts up all the pores, hinders perspiration entirely, and makes the small-pox always fatal among these nations."—Note by the translator of Kalm, p. 532.
"The ravages which the small-pox made this year (1750) among their Mohawk friends was a source of deep concern to these revered philanthropists. These people having been accustomed from early childhood to anoint themselves with bear's grease, to repel the innumerable tribes of noxious insects in summer, and to exclude the extreme cold ill winter, their pores are so completely shut up that the small-pox does not rise upon them, nor have they much chance of recovery from any acute disorder."—Memoirs of an American Lady, vol. i., p. 322.]
[Footnote 269: M. de Tracy, when governor of Canada, was told by his Indian allies that, with his good-humored face, he would never inspire the enemy with any degree of awe. They besought him to place himself under their brush, when they would soon make him such that his very aspect would strike terror.—Creuxius, Nova Francia, p. 62; Charlevoix, tom, vi., p. 40.]
[Footnote 270: St. Isidore of Seville, and Solinus, give a similar description of the manner of painting the body in use among the Picts. "The operator delineates the figures with little points made by the prick of a needle, and into those he insinuates the juice of some native plants, that their nobility, thus written, as it were, upon every limb of their body, might distinguish them from ordinary men by the number of the figures they were decorated with."—Isidor., Origin, lib. xix., cap. xxiii.; Solin., De Magna Britannia, cap. xxv.]
[Footnote 271: "These horns are made of about a third part of the horn of a buffalo bull, the horn having been split from end to end, and a third part of it taken, and shaved thin and light, and highly polished. They are attached to the top or the head-dress on each side, in the same place as they rise and stand on the head of a buffalo, rising out of a mat of ermine skins and tails, which hangs over the top of the head-dress somewhat in the form that the large and profuse locks of hair hang and fall over the head of a buffalo bull. This custom is one which belongs to all northeastern tribes, and is no doubt of very ancient origin, having purely a classic meaning. No one wears the head-dress surmounted with horns except the dignitaries who are very high in authority, and whose exceeding valor, worth, and power is admitted by all the nation. This head-dress is used only on certain occasions, and they are very seldom: when foreign chiefs, Indian agents, or other important personages visit a tribe, or at war parades. Sometimes, when a chief sees fit to send a war party to battle, he decorates his head with this symbol of power, to stimulate his men, and throws himself into the foremost of the battle, inviting the enemy to concentrate his shafts upon them. The horns upon these head-dresses are but loosely attached at the bottom, so that they easily fall backward or forward; and by an ingenious motion of the head, which is so slight as to be almost imperceptible, they are made to balance to and fro, and sometimes one backward and the other forward like a horse's ears, giving a vast deal of expression and force of character to the appearance of the chief who is wearing them. This is a remarkable instance, like hundreds of others, of a striking similarity to Jewish customs, to the kerns (or keren, in Hebrew), the horns worn by the Abyssinian chiefs and Hebrews as a symbol of power and command—worn at great parades and celebrations of victories."—Catlin, vol. i., p. 104.]
[Footnote 272: "When a young Indian becomes attached to a female, he does not frequent the lodge of her parents, or visit her elsewhere, oftener, perhaps, than he would provided no such attachment existed. Were he to pursue an opposite course before he had acquired either the reputation of a warrior or a hunter, and suffer his attachment to be known or suspected by any personal attention, he would become the derision of the warriors and the contempt of the squaws. On meeting, however, she is the first, excepting the elderly people, who engages his respectful and kind inquiries; after which, no conversation passes between them, except it be with the language of the eyes, which, even among savages, is eloquent, and appears to be well understood. The next indication of serious intentions on the part of the young hunter is the assumption of more industrious habits. He rises by daybreak, and, with his gun or bow, visits the woods and prairies, in search of the most rare and esteemed game. He endeavors to acquire the character of an expert and industrious hunter, and, whenever success has crowned his efforts, never fails to send the parents of the object of his affections some of the choicest he has procured. His mother is generally the bearer, and she is sure to tell from what source it comes, and to dilate largely on the merits and excellences of her son. The girl, on her part, exercises all her skill in preparing it for food, and when it is cooked, frequently sends some of the most delicious pieces, accompanied by other small presents, such as nuts, moccasins, &c., to her lover. These negotiations are usually carried on by the mothers of the respective parties, who consider them confidential, and seldom divulge even to the remaining parents, except one or both of the candidates should be the offspring of a chief, when a deviation from this practice is exacted, and generally observed. After an Indian has acquired the reputation of a warrior, expert hunter, or swift runner, he has little need of minor qualifications, or of much address or formality in forming his matrimonial views. The young squaws sometimes discover their attachment to those they love by some act of tender regard, but more frequently through the kind offices of some confidante or friend. Such overtures generally succeed: but should they fail, it is by no means considered disgraceful, or in the least disadvantageous to the female; on the contrary, should the object of her affections have distinguished himself especially in battle, she is the more esteemed on account of the judgment she displayed in her partiality for a respectable and brave warrior."—Hunter, p. 235-237.]
[Footnote 273: See Appendix, No. LVII. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 274: "They firmly believe that the spirits of those who are killed by the enemy without equal revenge of blood, find no rest, and at night haunt the houses of the tribe to which they belonged; but when that kindred duty of retaliation is justly executed, they immediately get ease and power to fly away."—Adair's Account of the American Indians.]
[Footnote 275: "The modern scalping-knife is of civilized manufacture made expressly for Indian use, and carried into the Indian country by thousands and tens of thousands, and sold at an enormous price. In the native simplicity of the Indian, he shapes out his rude hatchet from a piece of stone, heads his arrows and spears with flints, and his knife is a sharpened bone or the edge of a broken silex. His untutored mind has not been ingenious enough to design or execute any thing so savage or destructive as these civilized refinements on Indian barbarity. The scalping-knife, in a beautiful scabbard which is carried under the belt, is generally used in all Indian countries where knives have been introduced. It is the size and shape of a butcher's knife with one edge, manufactured at Sheffield perhaps for sixpence, and sold to the poor Indians in these wild regions for a horse. If I should ever cross the Atlantic, with my collection, a curious enigma would be solved for the English people who may inquire for a scalping-knife, when they find that every one in my collection (and hear, also, that nearly every one that is to be seen in the Indian country, to the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean) bears on its blade, the impress of G.R."—Catlin's American Indians, vol. i., p. 236.]
[Footnote 276: See Appendix, No. LVIII. (see Vol II)]
[Footnote 277: The savage Cantabrians and the first inhabitants of Spain sang songs of triumph as they were led to death and while they hung on the cross. Strabo mentions this as a mark of their ferocity and barbarism.—Strabo, lib. iii., p. 114.]
[Footnote 278: The American word "cannibal," of a somewhat doubtful signification, is probably derived from the language of Hayti or that of Porto Rico. It has passed into the languages of Europe, since the end of the fifteenth century, as synonymous with that of Anthropophagi, "Edaces humanarum carnium novi heluones Anthropophagi, Caribes, alias Canibales appellati," says Peter Martyr of Anghiera, in the third decade of his Oceanics, dedicated to Pope Leo X. "We were assured by all the missionaries whom we had an opportunity of consulting, that the Caribbees are perhaps the least anthropophagous nation of the New Continent. We may conceive that the fury and despair with which the unhappy Caribbees defended themselves against the Spaniards when, in 1704, a royal decree declared them slaves, may have contributed to the reputation they have acquired of ferocity. The licendiado Rodrigo de Figuera was appointed by the court in 1520 to decide which of the tribes of South America might be regarded as of Caribbee race, or as Cannibals, and which were Guatiaos, that is, Indians of peace, and friends of the Castilians. Every nation that could be accused of having devoured a prisoner after a battle was arbitrarily declared of Caribbee race. All the tribes designated by Figuera as Caribbees wore condemned to slavery, and might at will be sold or exterminated in war."—Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. vi., p. 35.
Charlevoix and Lafitau speak of the cannibalism of the North American Indians as a generally acknowledged fact: Lafitau mentions the Abenaquis as the only tribe who held it in detestation.—Lafitau, vol. ii., p. 307.]
[Footnote 279: "On ne peut gueres douter que les sauvages en faisant fumer dans le calumet ceux dont ils recherchent l'alliance ou le commerce, n'ayent intention de prendre le soleil pour temoin et en quelque facon pour garant de leurs traites, car ils ne manquent jamais de pousser la fumee vers cette astre: ... Fumer donc dans la meme pipe, en signe d'alliance, est la meme chose que de boire dans la meme coupe, comme il s'est de tout tems pratique dans plusieurs nations."—Charlevoix, tom. v., p. 313.
Calumet in general signifies a pipe, being a Norman word, derived from chalumeau. The savages do not understand this word, for it was introduced into Canada by the Normans when they first settled there, and has still continued in use among the French planters. The calumet, or pipe, is called in the Iroquois language ganondaoe, and by the other savage natives, poagau.
Embassadors were never safe among any of the savage tribes who do not smoke the calumet.—Lafitau, vol. ii., p. 313. At the time of the early French writers on Indian customs, the calumet, since almost universally in use, was only known among the tribes inhabiting Louisiana, who in many respects were more advanced in civilization than those of the cold northern regions.]
[Footnote 280: Wampum is the Indian name of ornaments manufactured by the Indians from vari-colored shells which they get on the shore of the fresh-water streams, and file or cut into bits of half an inch, or an inch in length, and perforate, giving them the shape of pieces of broken pipe-stems, which they string on deer's sinews, or weave them ingeniously into war-belts for the waist. The wampum is evidently meant in the description of the esurgny or cornibolz, given by Verazzano in Ramusio, which has so much puzzled translators and commentators. Lafitau and Charlevoix both describe it under the name of porcelaine.
"La porcelaine dont nous parlons ici, est bien differente de ces ouvrages de porcelaine qu'on apporte de la Chine ou du Japan dont la matiere est une terre beluttee et preparee. Celle ci est tiree de certains coquillages de mer, connues en generale sous le nom de porcelaines—celles dont nos sauvages se servent sont canelees, et semblable pour leur figure aux coquilles de St. Jacques. Il y a de porcelaine de deux sortes, l'une est blanche, et c'est la plus commune. L'autre est d'un violet obscur; plus elle tire sur le noir plus elle est estimee. La porcelaine qui sert pour les affaires d'etat est toute travaillee au petits cylindres de la longueur d'un quart de pouce et gros a proportion. On les distribue en deux manieres, en branches et en colliers. Les branches sont composees de cylindres enfiles sans ordre, a la suite les uns des autres comme des grains de chapelet. La porcelaine en est ordinairement toute blanche, et on ne s'en sert que pour des affaires d'une legere consequence. Les colliers sont de larges ceintures, ou les petits cylindres blancs et pourpre sont disposes par rangs et assujettes par de petites bandelettes de cuir, dont on fait un tissu assez propre. Leur longeur, leur largueur et les grains de couleur se proportionnent a l'importance de l'affaire. Les colliers communs et ordinaires sont de onze rangs de cent quatre-vingt grains chacun. Le fisc, ou le tresor public consiste principalement en ces sortes de colliers.... Les sauvages n'ont rien de plus precieux que leur Porcelaine: ce sont leurs bijoux, leurs pierreries. Ils en comptent jusqu' aux grains, et cela leur tient lieu de toute richesse."—Lafitau, 1720.
Catlin writes thus in 1842: "Among the numerous tribes who have formerly inhabited the Atlantic coast, wampum has been invariably manufactured and highly valued as a circulating medium (instead of coins, of which the Indians have no knowledge), so many strings, or so many hands' breadth, being the fixed value of a horse, a gun, a robe, &c. It is a remarkable fact, that after I passed the Mississippi I saw but very little wampum used, and on ascending the Missouri, I do not recollect to have seen it worn at all by the Upper Missouri Indians, although the same materials for its manufacture are found in abundance in those regions. Below the Lions and along the whole of our western frontier, the different tribes are found loaded and beautifully ornamented with it, which they can now afford to do, for they consider it of little value, as the fur traders have ingeniously introduced an imitation of it, manufactured by steam or otherwise, of porcelain or some composition closely resembling it, with which they have flooded the whole Indian country, and sold at so reduced a price as to cheapen, and consequently destroy, the value and meaning of the original wampum, a string of which can now but very rarely be found in any part of the country."—Catlin, vol. i., p. 223.]
[Footnote 281: "Among the numerous shells which are found on the sea-shore, there are some which by the English here are called clams, and which bear some resemblance to the human ear. They have a considerable thickness, and are chiefly white, excepting the pointed end, which both within and without hath a blue color, between purple and violet. The shells contain a large animal, which is eaten both by Indians and Europeans. The shells of these clams are used by the Indians as money, and make what they call their wampum; they likewise serve their women for an ornament when they intend to appear in full dress. These wampums are properly made of the purple part of the shells, which the Indians value more than the white parts. A traveler who goes to trade with the Indians, and is well stocked with them, may become a considerable gainer, but if he take gold coin or bullion he will undoubtedly be a loser; for the Indians who live farther up the country put little or no value on the metals which we reckon so precious, as I have frequently observed in the course of my travels. The Indians formerly made their own wampums, though not without a great deal of trouble; but at present the Europeans employ themselves in that way, and get considerable profit by it."—Kalm in Pinkerton, vol. xiii., p. 455.]
[Footnote 282: "Marsden et la Comte Baldelli ont rappelle, dans leur savans commentaires du Milione de Marco Polo, que c'est la nom de la coquille du genere Cypraea a dos bombe (porcellanor, de porcello, en latin porcellus, pourcelaine du pere Trigault) qui a donne lieu a la denomination de porcelaine par laquelle les peuples occidentaux ont designe les Vasa Sinica. Marco Polo se sert du mot porcellane, et pour les coquilles karis, ou couries, employees comme monnaie dans l'Inde, et pour la poterie fine de la Chine. ... La blancheur lustree de plusieurs especes de la famille des Buccinoides, appellees de pourcelaines au moine age, a sans doute suffi pour faire donner aux beaux vases ceramiques de la Chine une denomination analogue. Ces coquilles ne sont pas entrees dans la composition de la porcelaine."—Humboldt, Geog. du Nouveau Continent, tom, v., p. 106.]
[Footnote 283: "Avant d'avoir l'usage des moulins, ils brisaient leurs grains dans les piles, ou des mortiers de bois, avec des pilons de meme matiere. Hesiode nous donne la mesure de la pile et du pilon des anciens, et de nos sauvages, dans ces paroles, 'Coupez moi une pile de trois pieds de haut, et un pilon de la longueur de trois coudees.' (Hesiod, Opera et Dies, lib. v., 411; Servius in lib. ix., AEneid. Init.) Caton met aussi la pile et le pilon, au nombre des meubles rustiques de son temps. Les Pisons prirent leur nom de cette maniere de piler le bled."—Lafitau.]
[Footnote 284: "Il leur suffit d'un morceau de bois recourbe de trois doigts de largeur, attache a un long mouche qui leur sert a sarcler la terre, et a la remuer legerement."—Lafitau, tom. ii., p. 76.
Catlin says that the tribe of Mandans raise a great deal of corn. This is all done by the women, who make their hoes of the shoulder-blades of the buffalo or elk, and dig the ground over instead of plowing it, which is consequently done with a vast deal of labor.—Vol. i., p. 121.]
[Footnote 285: "Nothing so distinctly marks the uncivilized condition of the North American Indian as his total ignorance of the art of metallurgy. Forged iron has been in use among the inhabitants of our hemisphere from time immemorial; for, though the process employed for obtaining the malleability of a metal in its malleable state is very complicated, yet M. de Marian has clearly proved that the several eras at which writers have pretended to fix the discovery are entirely fabulous."—Lettres sur la Chine.
Consequently the weapons of brass and other instruments of metal found in the dikes of Upper Canada, Florida, &c., are among the strongest indications of the superiority of those ancient races of America who have now entirely passed away.
"Know, then," says Cotton Mather, "that these doleful creatures are the veriest ruins of mankind. They live in a country full of metals, but the Indians were never owners of so much as a knife till we came among them. Their name for an Englishman was 'knife-man.'"]
[Footnote 286: Chateaubriand, vol. i., p. 233; Charlevoix.
"The dances of the Red Indians form a singular and important feature throughout the customs of the aborigines of the New World. In these are typified, by signs well understood by the initiated, and, as it were, by hieroglyphic action, their historical events, their projected enterprises, their hunting, their ambuscades, and their battles, resembling in some respects the Pyrrhic dances of the ancients."—Washington Irving's Columbus, vol. ii., p. 122.
"In the province of Pasto, on the ridge of the Cordillera, I have seen masked Indians, armed with rattles, performing savage dances around the altar, while a Franciscan monk elevated the host."—Humboldt's Nouveau Espagne, vol. i., p. 411.
See, also, Lafitau's Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains compares aux moeurs des premiers temps, tom. i., p. 526. He refers to Plutarch, in Lycurgo, for an account of similar Spartan dances.]
[Footnote 287: Charlevoix; Lafitau; Boucher, Histoire du Canada.
"The players prepare for their ruin by religious observances; they fast, they watch, they pray."—Chateaubriand, vol. i., p. 240. See Appendix, No. LIX. (see Vol II)]
While the French were busied in establishing themselves upon the banks of the St. Lawrence, their ancient rivals steadily progressed in the occupation of the Atlantic coasts of North America.
Generally speaking, the oldest colonies of England were founded by private adventurers, at their own expense and risk. In most cases, the soil of the new settlements was granted to powerful individuals or companies of merchants, and by them made over in detail to the actual emigrants for certain considerations. Where, however, as often occurred, the emigrants had settled prior to the grant, or were in a condition to disregard it, they divided the land according to their own interests and convenience. These unrecognized proprietors prospered more rapidly than those who were trammeled by engagements with non-resident authorities. The right of government, as well as the nominal possession of the soil, was usually granted in the first instance, and the new colonies were connected with the crown of Great Britain by little more than a formal recognition of sovereignty. But the disputes invariably arising between the nominal proprietors and the actual settlers speedily caused, in most cases, a dissolution of the proprietary government, and threw the colonies one by one under royal authority.
The system then usually adopted was to place the colony under the rule of an English governor, assisted by an upper House of Parliament, or Council, appointed by himself, and a Lower House, possessing the power of taxation, elected by the people. All laws, however, enacted by these local authorities were subject to the approbation of the British crown. This was the outline of colonial constitutions in every North American settlement, except in those established under peculiar charters. The habit of self-government bore its fruit of sturdy independence and self-reliance among our transatlantic brethren, and the prospect of political privileges offered a special temptation to the English emigrant to embark his fortunes in the New World. At their commencement trade was free in all, and religion in most of the new colonies; and it was only by slow degrees that their fiscal regulations were brought under the subordination of the mother country.
Although a general sketch of British colonization in North America is essential to the illustration of Canadian history, it is unnecessary to detail more than a few of the leading features of its nature and progress, and of the causes which placed its interests in almost perpetual antagonism with those of French settlement. This subject is rendered not a little obscure and complicated by the contradictory claims and statements of proprietors, merchant adventurers, and settlers; the separation of provinces; the abandonment of old, and the foundation of new settlements.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, of Compton, in Devonshire, formed the first plan of British colonization in America. Queen Elizabeth, who then wore the crown, willingly granted a patent conveying most ample gifts and powers to her worthy and distinguished subject. He was given forever all such "heathen and barbarous countries" as he might discover, with absolute authority therein, both by sea and land. Only homage, and a fifth part of the gold and silver that might be obtained, was reserved for the crown.
The first expedition of Sir Humphrey Gilbert failed in the very commencement. The adventurers were unfortunately selected; many deserted the cause, and others engaged in disastrous quarrels among themselves. The chief was ultimately obliged to set out with only a few of his own tried friends. He encountered very adverse weather, and was driven back with the loss of a ship and one of his trustiest companions (1580). This disaster was a severe blow to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, as most of his property was embarked in the undertaking. However, with unshaken determination, and aided by Sir George Peckham, Sir Walter Raleigh, and other distinguished men, he again equipped an expedition, and put to sea in the year 1583.
The force with which this bold adventurer undertook to gain possession of a new continent was miserably small. The largest vessel was but of 200 tons burden: the Delight, in which he himself sailed, was only 120 tons, and the three others composing the little fleet were even much smaller. The crew and adventurers numbered altogether 260 men, most of them tradesmen, mechanics, and refiners of metal. There was such difficulty in completing even this small equipment, that some captured pirates were taken into the service.
The expedition sailed from Concert Bay on the 11th of May, 1583. Three days afterward, the Raleigh, the largest ship of the fleet, put back to land, under the plea that a violent sickness had broken out on board, but, in reality, from the indisposition of the crew to risk the enterprise. The loss of this vessel was a heavy discouragement to the brave leaders. After many delays and difficulties from the weather and the misconduct of his followers, Sir Humphrey Gilbert reached the shores of Newfoundland, where he found thirty-six vessels engaged in the fisheries. He, in virtue of his royal patent, immediately assumed authority over them, demanding and obtaining all the supplies of which he stood in need: he also proclaimed his own and the queen's possession of the country. Soon, however, becoming sensible that this rocky and dreary wilderness offered little prospect of wealth, he proceeded with three vessels, and a crew diminished by sickness and desertion, to the American coast. Owing to his imprudence in approaching the foggy and dangerous shore too closely, the largest vessel struck, and went to pieces. The captain and many of the crew were lost; some of the remainder reached Newfoundland in an open boat, after having endured great hardships.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert altogether failed in reaching any part of the main land of America. The weather became very bad, the winter approached, and provisions began to fail: there was no alternative but to return, and with bitter regret and disappointment he adopted that course. The two remaining vessels proceeded in safety as far as the meridian of the Azores; there, however, a terrible tempest assailed them. On the afternoon of the 9th of September the smaller of the two boats was observed to labor dangerously. Sir Humphrey Gilbert stood upon her deck, holding a book in his hand, encouraging the crew. "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land," he called out to those on board the other vessel, as it drifted past just before nightfall. Darkness soon concealed his little bark from sight; but for hours one small light was seen to rise and fall, and plunge about among the furious waves. Shortly after midnight it suddenly disappeared, and with it all trace of the brave chief and his crew. One maimed and storm-tossed ship returned to England of that armament which so short a time before had been sent forth to take possession of a New World.
The English nation was not diverted from the pursuit of colonial aggrandizement by even this disastrous failure. The queen, however, was more ready to assist by grants and patents than by pecuniary supplies. Many plausible schemes of settlement were put forward; but the difficulty of obtaining sufficient means of carrying them into effect, prevented their being adopted. At length the illustrious Sir Walter Raleigh undertook the task of colonization at his own sole charge, and easily obtained a patent similar to that conferred upon Sir Humphrey Gilbert. He soon sent out two small vessels, under skillful naval officers, to search for his new government. Warned by the disasters of their predecessors, they steered a more southerly course. When soundings indicated an approach to land, they already observed that the breeze from the shore was rich with delicious odors of fruits and flowers. They proceeded very cautiously, and presently found that they had reached a long, low coast, without harbors. The shore was flat and sandy; but softly undulating green hills were seen in the interior, covered with a great profusion of rich grapes. This discovery proved to be the island of Okakoke, off North Carolina. (1584.) The English were well received by the natives, and obtained from them many valuable skins in exchange for trinkets. Some limited explorations were made, after which the expedition returned to England, bearing very favorable accounts of the new country, which filled Raleigh with joy, and raised the expectations of the whole kingdom. In honor of England's maiden queen, the name of Virginia was given to this land of promise.
Sir Walter Raleigh now embarked nearly all his fortune in another expedition, consisting of seven small ships, which he placed under the able command of Sir Richard Greenville, surnamed "the Brave." The little fleet reached Virginia on the 29th of June, 1585, and the colony was at once landed. The principal duties of settlement were intrusted to Mr. Ralph Lane, who proved unequal to the charge. The coast, however, was explored for a considerable distance, and the magnificent Bay of Chesapeake discovered.
Lane penetrated to the head of Roanoke Sound; there, without provocation, he seized a powerful Indian chief and his son, and retained the latter a close prisoner, in the hope, through him, of ruling the father. The natives, exasperated at this injury, deceived the English with false reports of great riches to be found in the interior. Lane proceeded up the river for several days with forty men, but, suffering much from the want of provisions, and having been once openly attacked by the savages, he returned disheartened to the coast, where he found that the Indians were prepared for a general rising against him, in a confederacy formed of the surrounding tribes, headed by a subtle chief called Pemisapan. In the mean time, however, the captive became attached to the English, warning them of the coming danger, and naming the day for the attack. Lane, resolving to strike the first blow, suddenly assailed the Indians and dispersed them; afterward, at a parley, he destroyed all the chiefs with disgraceful treachery. Henceforth the hatred of the savages to the English became intense, and they ceased to sow any of the lands near the settlement, with the view of starving their dangerous visitors.
The colonists were much embarrassed by the hostilities of the Indians; the time appointed by Raleigh and Greenville for sending them supplies had passed; a heavy despondency fell upon their minds, and they began earnestly to wish for a means of returning home. But, suddenly, notice was given that a fleet of twenty-three sail was at hand, whether friendly or hostile no one could tell: to their great joy, it proved to be the armament of Sir Francis Drake. Lane and his followers immediately availed themselves of this opportunity, and with the utmost haste embarked for England, totally abandoning the settlement. (1586.) A few days after this unworthy flight, a vessel of 100 tons, amply provided with aid for the colony, arrived upon its deserted shores; the crew in vain searched the coast and neighborhood for their fellow-countrymen, and then steered for England. A fortnight after Sir Richard Greenville arrived with three well-appointed ships, and found a lonely desert where he had expected a flourishing colony: he also returned to England in deep disappointment, leaving, however, a small party to hold possession of the country till he should return with ampler resources.
The noble Raleigh was not discouraged by this unhappy complication of errors and disasters; he immediately dispatched another expedition, with three ships under the command of John White. But a terrible sight presented itself on their arrival: the fort razed to the ground, the houses ruined and overgrown with grass, and a few scattered bones, told the fate of their countrymen. The little settlement had been assailed by 300 Indians, and all the colonists destroyed or driven into the interior to an unknown fate. By an unfortunate error, White attacked one of the few tribes that were friendly to the English, in the attempt to revenge the cruel massacre. After this unhappy exploit, he was compelled, by the discontent of his followers, to return to England, for the purpose of procuring them supplies. From various delays, it was not till 1590 that another expedition reached Virginia. But again silence and desolation reigned upon that fatal shore. The colony left by White had been destroyed like its predecessor. Raleigh at last abandoned the scheme of settlement that had proved ruinously disastrous to him and all concerned, and the brave Sir Richard Greenville was soon after slain. (1591.)