Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

CHAP. XII.

The Count De Frontenac attacks Onondaga in Per

fon with the whole Force of Canada. The Five Nations continue the War with the French, and make Peace with the Dionondadies.

188

CH A P. XIII.

Tbe Conduct which the English and French observed

'in regard to the Five Nations, immediately after the Peace of Ryswick.

196

Treaties, Charters, publick Aets, &c. from pag. 204,

to the End

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

[1]

THE

INTRODUCTION,

BEING

A short View of the Form of Govern-
ment of the Five Nations, and of their Laws,
Cuftoms, &c.
I

T is necessary to know something of the Form of
Government of the People, whose History one

is about to know, and a few Words will be sufficient to give the Reader a Conception of that of the Five Nations, because it still remains under original Simplicity, and free from those complicated Contrivances, which have become necessary to the Nations, where Deceit and Cunning have increased as much as their knowledge and Wisdom.

The Five Nations (as their Name denotes) confist of so many Tribes or Nations, joined together by a League or Confederacy, like the United Provinces, and without any Superiority of the one over the other. This Union has continued fo long, that the Christians know nothing of the Original of it : The People in it are known by the English under the Names of Mobatuks, Oney does, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Sennekas.

Each of these Nations is again divided into three Tribes or Families, who diftinguish themselves by three different Arms or Ensigns, the Tortoise, the Bear, and the Wolf; and the Sachems, or old Men of these Families, put this Ensign, or Mark of their

B

Family.

Family, to every publick Paper, when they fign it.

Each of these Nations is an absolute Republick by itself, and every CaAle in each Nation makes an independent Republick, and is govern'd in all publick 'Affairs by its own Sachems or old Men. The Authority of these Rulers is gain’d by, and consists wholly in the Opinion the rest of the Nation have of their Wisdom and Integrity. They never execute their Refolutions by Force upon any of their People. Honour and Esteem are their principal Rewards ; as Shame, and being despised, their Punishments. They have certain Cuftoms, which they observe in their publick Transactions with other Nations, and in their private Affairs among themse!ves ; which it is scandalous for any one among them not to obferve, and these always draw after them either pubtick or private Resentment, whenever they are broke.

Their Leaders and Captains, in like Manner, obtain their Authority, by the general Opinion of their Courage and Conduct, and lose it by a failure in those Virtues.

Their great Men, both Sachems and Captains, are generally poorer than the common People ; for they affect to give away and diftribute all the Prefents or Plunder they get in their Treaties or in War, fo as to leave nothing to themfelves. There is not a Man in the Ministry of the Five Nations, who has gain'd his Office, otherwise than by Merit; there is not the least Salary, or any Sort of Profit, annexed to any Office, to tempt the Covetous or Sordid; but, on the contrary, every unworthy Action is unavoidably attended with the Forfeiture of their Commission, for their Authority is only the Esteem of the People, and ceases the Moment that Efteem is loft. Here we fee the natural Origin of all Power and Authority among a free People, and whatever artificial Power or Sovereignty any Man may have acquired, by the Laws and Constitution of a Country, his real Power will

be

be ever much greater or less, in Proportion to the Esteem the People have of him.

The Five Nations think themselves by Nature superior to the rest of Mankind, and call themselves Ongue-bonwe ; that is, Men furpassing all others. This Opinion, which they take Care to cultivate into their Children, gives them that Courage, which has been fo terrible to all the Nations of North A. merica; and they have taken such Care to impress the same Opinion of their People on all their Neighbours, that they, on all Occasions, yield the most submissive Obedience to them. I have been told by old Men in New England, who remembred the Time when the Mobawks made War on their Indians, that as soon as a fingle Mobawk was discover'd in the Country, their Indians raised a Cry from Hill to Hill, A Mohawk! A Mohawk! upon which they all fled like Sheep before Wolves, without attempting to make the least Resistance, whatever Odds were on their Side. The poor New England Indians immediately ran to the Chriftian Houses, and the Mohawks often pursued them so closely, that they entered along with them, and knocked their Brains out in the Prefence of the People of the House ; but if the Family had Time to shut the Door, they never attempted to force it, and on no Occasion did any Injury to the Christians. All the Nations round them have, for many Years, intirely submitted to them, and pay a yearly Tribute to them in Wampum *; they dare neither make War nor Peace, with

* Wampum is the Current Money among the Indians : It is of two Sorts, White and Purple; the White is worked out of the Inside of the great Conques into the form of a Bead, and perforated, to string on Leather ; the Purple is worked out of the Inside of the Muscle Shell ; they are wove as broad as one's Hand, and about two Feet long; these they call Belts, and give and receive at their Treaties as the Seals of Friendship; for lesser Måtters a single String is given. Every Bead is of a known Value, and a Belt of a less Number, is made to equal one of a greater, by so many as is wanting fastened to the Belt by a String.

out

B 2

out the Consent of the Mobawks. Two old Meri commonly go about every Year or two, to receive this Tribute ; and I have often had Opportunity to observe what Anxiety the poor Indians were under, while these two old Men remained in that part of the Country where I was. An old Mobawk Sachem, in a poor Blanket and a dirty Shirt, may be seen ifsuing his Orders with as arbitrary an Authority, as a Roman Dictator. It is not for the Sake of Tribute however, that they make War, but from the Notions of Glory, which they have ever most strongly imprinted on their Minds; and the farther they go to seek an Enemy, the greater Glory they think they gain; there cannot, I think, be a greater or stronger Instance than this, how much the Sentiments, impressed upon a People's Mind, conduce to their Grandeur, or one that more verifies a Saying often to be met with, though but too little minded, That it is in the Power of the Rulers of a People to make them either Great or Little ; for by inculcating only the Notions of Honour-and Virtue, or those of Luxury and Riches, the People, in a little Time, will become fuch as their Rulers desire. The Five Nations, in their Love of Liberty, and of their Country, in their Bravery in Battle, and their Constancy in enduring Torments, equal the Fortitude of the most renowned Romans. I shall finish their general Character by what an Enemy, a Frenchman, says of them, Monsieur De la Por terie, in his History of North America,

" When we speak (says he) of the Five Nations “ in France, they are thought, by a common Mis“ take, to be mere Barbarians, always thirsting af* ter human Blood; but their true Character is very “ different. They are indeed the fiercest and most for“ midable People in North America, and, at the fame “ Time, are as politick and judicious, as well can “ be conceived ; and this appears from the Manage“ment of all the Affairs which they tranfact, not only “ with the French and English, but likewise with al

6 moft

[ocr errors]

2

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »