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When this chant has been sung, there is a pause, during which some one who is expert in these things, and has a turn for the comic or ironic, utters a short speech, in the manner of a recitative, in which a peculiar intonation is given, and generally interrogates the supposed pilferer, as if he were present to answer questions, or accusations. There can be no pretence, that this recitative part of the song is always the same, at different times and places, or even that the same person should not vary his phraseology. On the contrary, it is often an object to vary it. It is a perfect improvisation, and it may be supposed that the native composer is always actuated by a desire to please, as much as possible by novelty. The whole object indeed is, to keep up the existing merriment, and excite fun and laughter.
The following may be taken as one of these recitative songs, written out, on the plan of preserving the train of thought, and some of those peculiar interjections in which these languages so much abound. The chorus alone, it is to be observed, is fixed in its words and metre, however transposed or repeated, and, unlike an English song, prece<?H the stanza or narrative.
Cereal chorus. Wagemin! wagemin I
Thief in the blade,
Recitative. See you not traces, while pulling the leaf,
Cereal Chorus. Wagemin! wagemin I
Thief in the blade,
Recitative. Where, little Taker of things not your own—
Where is your rattle, your drum, and your bone?
• A Juggler.
See how he stoops, as he breaks off the ear,
Cereal chorus. Wagemin 1 wagemin 1
Thief in the blade,
Recitative. WabumalJ corn-taker, why do you lag?
None but the stars see you—fill up your bag!
Why do you linger to gaze as you pull,
Tell me, my little man, is it most full %
A-tia! § see, a red spot on the leaf,
Surely a warrior cannot be a thief!
Ah, little night-thief, be deer your pursuit,
And leave here no print of your dastardly foot
BY THE LATE JOHN JOHNSTON, MO.
Health! dearest of the heavenly powers,
Ah! deign to hear my prayer;
A slave to pain and care.
Not sovereign power, nor charms of love,
If thou refuse thy aid; •
E'en friendship, sympathy divine!
Thou all-inspiring maid.
Return then, to my longing soul,
Transfused through every pore;
And gratefully adore.
• A sharp exclamation quickly to behold something striking.
t A derogatory exclamation. t Behold thou.
§ A masculine exclamation, to express surprise
DOMESTIC AND SOCIAL MANNERS OF THE INDIANS, WHILE ON THEIR WINTERING GROUNDS.
The Indian, who takes his position as an orator, in front of his people, and before a mixed assemblage of white men, is to be regarded, in a measure, as an actor, who has assumed a part to perform. He regards himself as occupying a position in which all eyes are directed upon him, in scrutiny, and he fortifies himself for the occasion, by redoubled efforts in cautiousness and studied stoicism. Rigid of muscle, and suspicious of mind by nature, he brings to his aid the advantages of practised art, to bear him out in speaking for his tribe, and to quit him manfully of his task by uttering sentiments worthy of them and of himself. This is the statue-like and artistic phasis of the man. It is here that he is, truly
"A man without a fear—a stoic of the wood."
All this is laid aside, so far as it is assumed, when he returns from the presence of the " pale-faces," and rejoins his friends and kindred, in his own village, far away from all public gaze, in the deep recesses of the forest. Let us follow the man to this retreat, and see what are his domestic manners, habits, amusements, and opinions.
I have myself visited an Indian camp, in the far-off area of the NorthWest, in the dead of winter, under circumstances suited to allay his suspicions, and inspire confidence, and have been struck with the marked change there is in his social temper, character, and feelings. And I have received the same testimony from Indian traders, who have spent years among them in these secluded positions, and been received by them as friends and kindred. All indeed, who have had frequent and full opportunities of witnessing the red man on his hunting grounds, concur in bearing evidence to his social, hospitable, and friendly habits and manners. Viewed in such positions, the most perfect sincerity and cheerfulness prevail; and their intercourse is marked with the broadest principles of charity and neighborly feeling. The restraint and ever watchful suspicion which they evince at the frontier post, or in other situations exposed to the scrutiny and cupidity of white men, is thrown aside and gives way to ease, sociability and pleasantry. They feel while thus ensconced in the shades of their native forests, a security unknown to their breasts in any other situations. The strife seems to be, who shall excel in offices of friendship and charity, or in spreading the festive board. If one is more fortunate than the other, in taking meat, or wielding the arrow or spear, the spoil is set apart for a feast, to which during the season, to which young persons only are ii vited, or admitted, except the entertainer and his wife, and generally two other aged persons, who preside over the feast and administer its rites. The object o' this feast seems to be instruction, to which the young and thoughtless are induced to listen for the anticipated pleasure of the feast. Before this feast commences, the entertainer, or some person fluent in speech, whom he has selected for the purpose, gets up and addresses the youth of both sexes on the subject of their course through life. He admonishes them to be attentive and respectful to the aged and to adhere to their counsels: never to scoff at the decrepid, deformed, or blind: to obey their parents: to be modest in their conduct: to be charitable and hospitable: to fear and love the great Spirit, who is the giver of life and every good gift. These precepts are dwelt upon at great length, and generally enforced by examples of a good man and woman and a bad man and woman, and after drawing the latter, it is ever the custom to say, " you will be like one of these." At the end of every sentence, the listeners make a general cry of had. When the advice is finished, an address, or kind of prayer to the great Spirit is made, in which he is thanked for the food before them, and for the continuance of life. The speaker then says, "Thus the great Spirit supplies us with food; act justly, and conduct well, and you will ever be thus bountifully supplied." The feast then commences, and the elders relax their manner and mix with the rest, but are still careful to preserve order, and a decent, respectful behavior among the guests.
Let it not be supposed, however, that the Indian's life, while on his wintering grounds, is a round of feasting. Quite the contrary; and his feasts are often followed by long and painful fasts, and the severity of the seasons, and scarcity of game and fish, often reduce himself and family to the verge of starvation, and even death. When the failure of game, or any other causes, induce the hunter to remove to a new circle of country, the labor of the removal falls upon the female part of the family. The lodge, utensils and fixtures of every kind, are borne upon the women's backs, sustained by a strap of leather around the forehead. On reaching the intended place of encampment, the snow is cleared away, cedar branches brought and spread for a flooring, the lodge set up, the moveables stowed away, wood collected, and a fire built, and then, and not until then, can the females sit down and warm their feet and dry their moccasins. If there be any provisions, a supper is cooked. If there be none, all studiously strive to conceal the exhibition of the least concern on this account, and seek to divert their thoughts by conversation quite foreign to the subject. The little children are the only part of the family who complain, and who are privileged to complain, but even they are taught at an early age to suffer and be silent. Generally, something is reserved by the mother, when food becomes scarce,