Графични страници
PDF файл

to harden and embolden them. Having wrapt them in a clout, they lay them on a straight thin board, a little more than the length and breadth of the child, and swaddle it fast upon the board, to make it straight, and thus they carry them at their backs. The children will walk when very young, at nine months commonly: they wear only a clout round their waist, till they are grown up: if boys, they go a fishing till ripe for the woods, which is about fifteen; they then hunt; and after having given some proofs of their madhood, by a good return of skins, they may marry, otherwise it is a shame to think of a wife. The girls stay with their mothers, and help to hoe the ground, plant corn and carry burdens. When the young women are fit for marriage, they wear something on their heads for advertisement, but so as their faces are hardly to be seen, except when they please.

Their houses are made of poles stuck in the ground, covered with mats and bark, in the fashion of an English barn; their beds are reeds, grass, or skins. If an European comes to see them, or calls for lodging at their house or wigwam, they give him the best place, and first cut. If they come to visit the white inhabitants, their salutation is commonly, Itah! which is as much as to say, good be to you! and set them down, which is mostly on the ground; sometimes not speaking a word, but observe all that passes. If you give them any thing to eat or drink, it is well, for they will not ask; and, if it be little or much, if it be with kindness, they are well pleased : else they go away sullen, but say nothing. In liberality they excel; nothing is too good for their friend. Light of heart, strong affections, but soon spent: they are the most merry creatures that live; they feast and dance perpetually; they never have much, nor do they want much. If they are ignorant of our pleasures, they are free froin our pains. We sweat and toil to live; their pleasure feeds them; I mean their hunting, fishing, and fuwling; and their table is spread every where: they put twice a day, morning and evening. In sickness impatient to be cured, and for it give any thing, especially to their children, to whom they are extremely natural.

They are great concealers of their own resentments. A tragical instance fell out since I came into the country :A king's daughter, thinking herself slighted by her husband, in suffering another woman to lie down between them, rose up, went out, plucked a root out of the ground and ate it; upon which she immediately died: and for which, he, some time after, made an offering to her kindred, for atonement, and liberty of marriage; as two others did to the kindred of their wives, that died a natural death. For, until the widowers have done so, they must not. marry again.

They believe in God and immortality, without the help of me. taphysics: for they say, " There is a great King that made them,

6 who dwells in a glorious country to the southward of them, and “the souls of the good shall go thither, where they shall live « again." Their worship consists of two parts, viz. Sacrifice and Cantico. Their sacrifice is the first fruits; the first and fattest buck they kill, they put on the fire, where he is all burned; and he that performs the ceremony sings, at the same time, a mournful ditty, but with such marvellous ferment, and labour of body, that he will even sweat to a foam. The other part is their Cantico, performed by round dances, sometimes words, sometimes songs, then shouts; and two (being the first that begin) by sing. ing and drumming on a board, direct the chorus; their postures in the dance are very antick, and different, but all keep measure. This is done with equal earnestness, but great appearance of joy. In the fall, when the corn is gathered in, they begin to feast one another: there have been two great festivals already, to which all come that will; I was at one myself; their entertainment was a great seat by a spring, under some shady trees, and twenty bucks, with hot cakes of new corn, both wheat and beens, which they made up in a square form, in the leaves of the stem, and baked them in ashes; and after that they proceeded to dancing. But they that go must carry a small present in their money (wampum), it may be sixpence, which is made of the bone of a fish; the black is with them as gold, the white silver.”

This account of the natives, notwithstanding it, in some res. peets, differs from what has been observed by other writers, yet, in general, it serves to establish the most prominent features of their character, already exhibited.

Notwithstanding the many settlements of Europeans in this continent, great part of America remains still unknown. The northern continent contains the British colonies of Hudson's Bay, Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia : the United States, viz. Massachusetts, with the district of Maine, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi Territory, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Northwestern Territory; Louisiana, including the Island of New Orleans, purchased of the French, to whom it had been ceded by the Spaniards; it contains also the Spanish Territories of East and West Florida, New Mexico, California and Mexico: besides these, there are immense regions to the west and north, the boundaries of which have never yet been discovered. Such as have in any degree been known, are inhabited by the Esquimeaux, the Algonquins, the Iroquois, the Cherokees, the Chickasaws, the Chactaws, the Creeks, and many other tribes of Indians. Vast tracts of the inland parts are unknown, being comprehended under the general name of Amazonia. A large district also, said to be the residence of a gigantic race of men, lies on the east side of the southern continent, between the Straits of Magellan and the province of Paraguay.

This vast country produces many of the metals, minerals, plants, fruits, trees, and wood, to be met with in other parts of the globe, and many of them in greater quantities, and in high perfection.

The gold and silver of America have supplied Europe with such large quantities, that these precious metals have become so common as to be very much diminished in value to what it was before America was discovered: it also produces diamonds, pearls, emeralds, amethysts, &c. which has been more largely treated upon in the first volume of this history.

Although the Indians still live in the quiet possession of many large tracts, America, so far as is known, was chiefly claimed by three European nations, and divided into colonies, viz. the Spaniards, English, and Portuguese. The Spaniards, as they first discovered it, have the largest and richest portion. Next to Spain, the most considerable proprietor was Great Britain, who derived her claim to North America from the first discovery of that continent, by Sebastian Cabot, in the name of Henry the seventh, in the year 1497, about six years after the discovery of South America by Columbus.

This country was in general called Newfoundland, until Ame. ricus Vespucius, a Florentine, who accompanied Ojeda, a Spanish adventurer, on a voyage of discovery: and having drawn up an entertaining history of his voyage, it was published and read with avidity. In his narrative he had the artifice to insinuate, that he was the first who discovered the New World. Many of his readers gave credit to the insinuation, and from him it assumed the name of America. The original name of Newfoundland is solely appropriated to an island on the north coast. It was a long time before the English made an attempt to settle in this country. Sir Walter Raleigh, an uncommon genius, and a brave cominander, first led the way, by planting a colony, and naming it Virginia, in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

The French, from this period until the conclusion of the war in 1763, laid claim to, and actually possessed, Canada and Louisiana; and comprehending all that extensive country, reaching from Hudson's Bay, on the north, to Mexico, and the gulf of the same name, on the south. But in that war, they were not only driven from Canada and its dependencies, but obliged to relinquish all that part of Louisiana lying on the east side of the Mississippi. Thus the British colonies were preserved, secured and extended so far, as to render it difficult to ascertain the precise bounds of empire in North America. To the northward they might have extended their claims quite to the pole, nor did any nation shew a disposition to dispute the property of this northern coun. try with them. From that extremity they had a territory extending south-ward, to Cape Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, in the latitude of 25° north; and consequently near 4000 miles long in a direct line; and to the westward, their boundaries reached to nations unknown even to the Indians of Canada.

of the revolution that has since taken place, by which a great part of these territories bave been separated from the British empire, and which has given a new face to the western world, an impartial narrative shall be attempted. It will, however, be difficult to avoid some errors; the accounts from which the historian must derive his information, partake too much of prejudice, and the fabrications of party; and they want that amelioration which time alone can give.

The state of the British colonies, at the conclusion of the war in 1763, was such, as attracted the attention of all the politicians in Europe. At that period their flourishing condition was remarkable and striking. Their trade had prospered and extended, notwithstanding the difficulties and distresses of the war. Their population increased; they abounded with spirited and enterprising individuals, of all denominations; they were elated with the uncommon success that had attended their commercial and military transactions. Hence they were ready for every undertaking, and perceived no limits to their hopes and expectations. They entertained the highest opinion of their value and importance, and of the immense benefit that Britain derived from its connexion with them; their notions were equally high in their own favour. They deemed themselves entitled to every kindness and indulgence which the mother country could bestow. Although their pretentions did not amount to perfect equality of advantages and privileges, in matters of commerce, yet in those of gov. ernment, they thought themselves fully competent to the task of conducting their domestic concerns, without any interference from the parent state.

Though willing to admit the supremacy of Great Britain, they viewed it with a suspicious eye, and eagerly solicitous to restrain it within its strict constitutional bounds. Their improvements in necessary and useful arts, did honour to their industry and ingenuity. Though they did not live in the luxuries of Europe, they had all the solid and substantial enjoyments of life, and were not unacquainted with many of its elegancies and refinements. Notwithstanding their peculiar addiction to those oceupations, of which wealth is the sole object, they were duly attentive to promote the liberal sciences; and they have, ever since their first foundation, been particularly careful to provide for the education of the rising generation.

Their vast augmentation of internal trade, and external commerce, was not merely owing to their position and facility of communication with other parts; it arose also from their natural turn

and temper: full of schemes and projects; ever aiming at new discoveries, and continually employed in the search of means to improve their condition. This carried them into every quarter, whence profit could be derived, there was scarcely any port of the American hemisphere, to which they had not extended their navigation. They were continually exploring new sources of trade.

To this extensive and continual application to commerce, they added an equal vigilance in the adninistration of their affairs at home. The same indefatigable industry was employed in cultivating the soil they possessed, and in the improvement of their domestic circumstances; that it may be truly said, that they made the most of nature's gifts.

In the midst of this solicitude and toil in matters of business, the affairs of government were conduced with a steadiness, prudence and leuity, seldom experienced, and never exceeded, in the best regulated countries in Europe. Such was the situation of the British colonies, in general, throughout North America; and of the New England provinces in particular, at the close of the war in 1763.

In treating of the American revolution, the English writers ascribe that event to the successful intrigues of the French government; they appear willing to search for the origin in any other source than their own misconduct. It has therefore been repeatedly asserted, “ that the French having long viewed with envy and apprehension, the flourishing state of the

colonies which Britain had founded in America, began immediately after the peace of Paris to carry into execution their design of separating the colonies from the another country. Secret emissaries, it is said, were employed in spreading dissatisfaction among the colonists; and the effects produced by these machinating spirits, are described to have been a rapid diminution of that warm attachment which the inhabitants of North America had hitherto demonstrat. ed for the mother country." That such emissaries were ever employed, is a fact unsupported by any document which the purity of historical truth can admit; and although the effects here described, have certainly appeared, it must be remembered, that their appearance followed, but did not precede, the attempts of Britain, upon the rights and liberties of America.

That the French should succeed in the arts of intrigue, so far as to alienate the affections of the colonists from the mother country, and at the close of a war, in which their interests and feelings had been interwoven with more than usual strength and energy, was not in any sense probable. But if we trace these effects to another cause, to a love of liberty, and a quick sense of injury, their appearance will be natural and just; consistent with the Ameerican character, and corresponding with the conduct which was displayed in all the various changes that attended their opposition.

« ПредишнаНапред »