Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Country's Honour would be at stake, by it, but gave their Bodies willingly up to the most cruel Torments of their Enemies, to shew, that the Five Nations consisted of Men whose Courage and Resolution could not be taken. They fully, however, these noble Vertues by that cruel Passion Revenge, which they think not only lawful, but Honourable to exert without Mercy on their country's Enemies, and for this only they deserve the Name of Barbarians.

But what have we Christians done to make them better? Alas! we have reason to be ashamed, that these Infidels, by our Conversation and Neighbourhood, are become worse than they were before they knew us. Instead of Vertues we have only taught them Vices, that they were entirely free of before that time. The narrow Views of private Interest have occasioned this, and will occasion greater, even Publick Mischiefs, if the Governors of the People do not, like true Patriots, exert themselves, and put a stop to these growing Evils. If these Practices be winked at, instead of faithful Friends that have Manfully fought our Battles for us, the Five Nations will become faithless Thieves and Robbers, and joyn with every Enemy that can give them the hopes of Plunder.

If care were taken to plant in them, and cultivate that general Benevolence to Mankind, which is the true Principle of Vertue, it would effectually eradicate those borrid Vices occasioned by their Unbounded Revenge ; and then the Five Nations would no longer deserve the name of Barbarians, but would become a People whose Friendship might add Honour to the British Nation, tho' they be now too generally despised.

The Greeks & Romans, once as much Barbarians as our Indians now are, deified the Hero's that first taught them the Vertues, from whence the Grandeur of those Renowned Nations wholly proceeded; but a good Man will feel more real Satisfaction and Pleasure from the Sense of having any way forwarded the Civilizing of Barbarous Nations, or of having Multiplied the

Number Number of good Men, than from the fondest hopes of such extravagant Honour.

These Confiderations, I believe, would make your Excellency think a good History of the Five Nations worthy of your Patronage. As to this, I only hope, that you will look on my offering the following Account, however meanly perform’d, to proceed from the Desire I have of making some Publick Profession of that Gratitude, which is so much the Duty

of

SIR,
Your Most Obliged

And Moft Obedient

Humble Servant,

Cadwallader Colden.

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

Hough every one that is in the least acquainted with the Affairs of Norib - America, knows of what

Consequence the Indians, commonly known to the people of New York by the Name of the Five Nations, are both in Peace and War, I know of no Accounts of them Published in Englisb, but what are meer Translations of French Authors. This seems to throw some Reflection on the Inhabitants of this Province, as if we wanted Curiosity to enquire into our own Affairs, and that we were willing to reft fatisfied with the Aceounts the Frencb give us of our own Indians, nothwithstanding that the Frencb in Canada are always in a different Interest, and sometimes in open Hoftility with us. This Consideration, I hope, will justify my attempting to write an History of the Five Nations at this time ; and my endeavouring to remove that Blame with which we may be charged, perhaps will attone for many Faults which the want of Capacity may have occafioned.

Having had the Perusal of the Minutes of the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, I have been enabled to collect many Materials for this History, which are not to be found any where else: And this Collection will, at least, be useful to any Person of more Capacity, who shall afterwards undertake this Talk. When a History of these Nations shall be well wrote, it will be of great use to all the British Colonies in Norib- America ; for it may enable them to learn Experience at the Expence of others; and if I can contribute anything to so good a Purpose, I shall not think my Labour loft.

It will be necessary to Excuse two things in the following Performance, which, I am afraid, will be found fault with by those that are the best Judges. The Firft is, My

(b)

filling

filling up so great part of the Work with the Adventures of small Parties, and sometimes with those of one single Man. The Second is, The inserting so many Speeches at length. I must confess, that I have done both these designedly.

As to the First, The History of Indians would be very lame without an Account of these Private Adventures ; for their War-like Expeditions are almost always carried on by Surprizing each other, and their whole Art of War consists in managing small Parties. The whole Country being one continued Forrest, gives great Advantages to these Sculking Parties, and has obliged the Chriflians to imitate the Indians in this method of making War. I believ'd likewise, that some would be curious to know the Manners and Customs of the Indians, in their Publick Treaties especially, who could not be saisfied without taking Notice of several minute Circumstances, and some things otherwise of no Consequence. We are fond of searching into Remote Antiquity, to know the Manners of our Earliest Progenitors : if I be not mistaken, the Indians are living Images of them.

My Design in the Second was, That thereby the Genius of the Indians might better appear. An Historian may paint Mens Actions in lively Colours, or in faint Shades, as he likes best, and in both cases preserve a perfect Likeness : But it will be a difficult Task to show the Wit, and Judgment, and Art, and Simplicity, and Ignorance of the several Parties, managing a Treaty, in other Words than their own. As to my part, I thought myself uncapable of doing it, without depriving the judicious Observer of the Opportunity of discovering much of the Indian Genius, by my Contracting or Paraphrafing their Harrangues, and without committing often grofs Mistakes. For, on these Occafions, a skilful Manager often talks Confusedly and Obscurely with design; which if an Historian should endeavour to amend, the Reader would receive the History in a false Light.

The

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »