« AnteriorContinua »
your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of thase which we have heard from ours.
"In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist on; and if their hunting was ansuccessful, they were starving. Two of our young hunters having killed a deer, made a fire in the woods to broil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their hunger, they Leheld a beautiful young woman descend from the clouds, and seat herself on that hill which you see yonder among the blue mountains. They said to each other, it is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiled venison, and wishes to eat of it; let us offer some to her. They presented her with the tongue: she was pleased with the taste of it, and said, Your kindness shall be rewarded.Come to this place after thirteen moons, and you shall find something that will be of great benefit in nourishing you and your children to the latest generations. They did so, and to their surprise, found plants they had never seen before; but which, from that ancient time, have been constantly cultivated among us, to our great advantage. Where her right hand had touched the ground, they found maize; where her left hand touched it, they found kidneybeans; and where her backside had sat on it, they found tobacco." The good missionary, disgusted with this idle tale, said, "What I delivered to you were sacred truths; but what you tell me is mere fable, fiction and falsehood." The Indian offended, replied, "My brother, it seems your friends have not done you justice in your education; they have not well instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who understand and practise those rules, believed all your stories, why do you refuse to believe ours?"
When any of them come into our towns, our peo ple are apt to crowd round them, gaze upon them, and incommode them where they desire to be private: this they esteem great rudeness, and the effect of the want of instruction in the rules of civility and good "We have," say they, "as much curinsity as you, and when you come into cur towns, we wish for opportunities of looking at you; but for thirs
purpose we hide behind bushes, where you are to pass, and never intrude ourselves into your company."
Their manner of entering one another's villages has likewise its rules. It is reckoned uncivil in travelling strangers to enter a village abruptly, without giving notice of their approach. Therefore, as soon as they arrive within hearing, they stop and halloo, remaining there till invited to enter. Two old men usually come out to them and lead them in. There is in every village a vacant dwelling, called the strangers house. Here they are placed, while the old men go round from hut to hut, acquainting the inhabitants that strangers are arrived, who are pro-· bably hungry and weary, and every one sends them what he can spare of victuals, and skins to repose on. When the strangers are refreshed, pipes and tobacco are brought: and then, but not before, conversation begins, with inquiries who they are, whither bound, what news, &c. and it usually ends with of fers of service, if the strangers have occasion for guides, or any necessaries for continuing their journey; and nothing is exacted for the entertainment.
The same hospitality, esteemed among them as a principal virtue, is practised by private persons; of which Conrad Weiser, our interpreter, gave me the following instance. He had been naturalized among the Six Nations, and spoke well the Mohuck language. In going through the Indian country, to carry a message from our governor to the council at Onondaga, he called at the habitation of Canassetego, an old acquaintance, who embraced him, spread furs for him to sit on, placed before him some boiled beans and venison, and mixed some rum and water for his drink. When he was well refreshed, and had lit his pipe, Canassetego began to converse with him: asked him how he had fared the many years since they had seen each other, whence he then came, what occasioned the journey, &c. Conrad answered all his questions; and when the discourse began to flag, the Indian, to continue it, said, "Conrad, you have lived long among the white people, and know something of their customs; I have been sometimes at Albany, and liave observed, that once in seven days
they shut up their shops, and assemble all in the great house tell me what it is for? What do they do there """They meet there," says Conrad, "to hear and learn good things?" "I do not doubt," says the Indian, "that they tell you so, they have told me the same but I doubt the truth of what they say, and I will tell you my reasons. I went lately to Albany, to sell my skins and buy blankets, knives, powder, rum, &c. You know I used generally to deal with Hans Hanson; but I was a little inclined this time to try some other merchants. However, I called first upon Hans, and asked him what he would give for beaver. He said he could not give more than four shillings a pound: but, says he, I cannot talk on business now; this is the day when we meet together to learn good things, and I am going to meeting. So I thought to myself, since I cannot do any business to-day, I may as well go to the meeting too, and I went with him. There stood up a man in black, and began to talk to the people very angrily. I did not understaud what he said: but, perceiving that he looked much at me, and at Hanson, I imagin ed he was angry at seeing me there; so I went out, sat down near the house, struck fire and lit my pipe, waiting till the meeting should break up. I thought too, that the man had mentioned something of beaver; I suspected it might be the subject of their meeting. So, when they came out, I accosted my merchant, 'Well, Hans,' says I, I hope you have agreed to give more than four shillings a pound.' 'No,' says he, I canont give so much; I cannot give more than three shillings and sixpence.' I then spoke to several other dealers, but they all sung the same song, three and six pence, three and six pence. This made it clear to me that my suspicion was right; and that, whatever they pretended of meeting to learn good things, the real purpose was to consult how to cheat Indians in the price of beaver. Consider but a little, Conrad, and you must be of my opinion. If they meet so often to learn good things they would certainly have learned some before this time. But they are still ignorant. You know our practice. If a white man, in travelling through our country, en
ters one of our cabins, we all treat him as I do you; we dry him if he is wet, we warm him if he is cold, and give him meat and drink, that he may allay his thirst and hunger; and we spread soft furs for him to rest and sleep on: we demand nothing in return.* But if I go into a white man's house at Albany, and ask for victuals and drink, they say, Where is your money? and if I have none, they say, Get out, you Indian dog. You see that they have not learned those little good things that we need no meetings to be instructed in, because our mothers taught them us when we were children; and therefore it is impossible their meetings should be, as they say, for any such purpose, or have any such effect; they are only to contrive the cheating of Indians in the price of beaver."
* It is remarkable that, in all ages and countries, hospitality has been allowed as the virtue of those, whom the civilized were pleased to call barbarians; the Greeks celebrated the Scythians for it; the Saracens possessed it eminently; and it is to this day the reigning virtue of the wild Arabs. St. Paul, too, in the relation of his voyage and ship-wreck, on the island of Melita, says, "The barbarous people showed us no little kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold." This note is taken from a small collection of Franklin's papers, printed for Dilly.
TO MR. DUBOURG.
CONCERNING THE DISSENTIONS BETWEEN ENGLAND. AND AMERICA.
London, October 2, 1770.
I SEE, with pleasure, that we think pretty much alike on the subjects of English America. We of the colonies have never insisted that we ought to be exempt from contributing to the common expenses necessary to support the prosperity of the empire. We only assert, that having parliaments of our own, and not having representatives in that of Great Britain, our parliaments are the only judges of what we can and what we ought to contribute in this case; and that the English parliament has no right to take our mo ney without our consent. In fact, the British empire is not a single state; it comprehends many; and though the parliament of Great Britain has arrogated to itself the power of taxing the colonies, it has no more right to do so, then it has to tax Hanover. We have the same king, but not the same legislatures.
The dispute between the two countries has already fost England many millions sterling, which it has lost in its commerce, and America has in this respect been a proportionable gainer, This commerce consisted principally of superfluities; objects of luxury and fashion, which we can well do without; and the resolution we have formed of importing no more till our grievances are redressed, has enabled many of our infant manufacturers to take root; and it will not be easy to make our people abandon them in future, even should a connexion more cordial than ever succeed the present troubles. I have, indeed, no doubt, that the parliament of England will finally abandon its present pretensions, and leave us to the peaceable enjoyment of our rights and privileges.