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IN WHICH THE AUTHOR PUTS A MIGHTY QUESTION TO THE
ROUT, BY THE ASSISTANCE OF THE MAN IN THE MOON
WHICH NOT ONLY DELIVERS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FROM
GREAT EMBARRASSMENT, BUT LIKEWISE CONCLUDES THIS INTRODUCTORY BOOK.
The writer of a history may, in some respects, be likened unto an adventurous knight, who having undertaken a perilous enterprise, by way of establishing his fame, feels bound, in honor and chivalry, to turn back for no difficulty nor hardship, and never to shrink or quail, whatever enemy he may encounter. Under this impression, I resolutely draw my pen, and fall to, with might and main, at those doughty questions and subtle paradoxes, which, like fiery dragons and bloody giants, beset the entrance to my history, and would fain repulse me from the very threshold. And at this moment a gigantic question has started up, which I must needs take by the beard and utterly subdue, before I can advance another step in my historic undertaking ; but I trust this will be the last adversary I shall have to contend with, and that in the next book I shall be enabled to conduct my readers in triumph into the body of my work.
The question which has thus suddenly arisen, is, What right bad the first discoverers of America to land and take possession of a country, without first gaining the consent of its inhabitants, or yielding them an adequate compensation for their territory?a question which has withstood many fierce assaults, and has given much distress of mind to multitudes of kind-hearted folk. And indeed, until it be totally vanquished, and put to rest, the worthy people of America can by no means enjoy the soil they inhabit, with clear right and title, and quiet, unsullied consciences.
The first source of right, by which property is acquired in a country, is DISCOVERY. For as all mankind have an equal right to any thing, which has never before been appropriated, so any nation, that discovers an uninhabited country, and takes possession thereof, is considered as enjoying full property, and absolute, unquestionable empire therein.*
This proposition being admitted, it follows clearly, that the Europeans who first visited America, were the real discoverers of the same; nothing being necessary to the establishment of this fact, but simply to prove that it was totally uninhabited by
This would at first appear to be a point of some difficulty, for it is well known, that this quarter of the world abounded with certain animals, that walked erect on two feet, had some thing of the human countenance, uttered certain unintelligible sounds, very much like language, in short, had a marvelous resemblance to human beings. But the zealous and enlightened fathers, who accompanied the discoverers, for the purpose of promoting the kingdom of heaven, by establishing fat monasteries and bishoprics on earth, soon cleared up this point, greatly to the satisfaction of his holiness the pope, and of all Christian voyagers and discoverers.
* Grotius. Puffendorf, k. v. c. 4. Vattel, b. i. c. 18, &c.
They plainly proved, and as there were no Indian writers arose on the other side, the fact was considered as fully admitted and established, that the two-legged race of animals before mentioned were mere cannibals, detestable monsters, and many of them giants—which last description of vagrants have, since the times of Gog, Magog, and Goliath, been considered as outlaws, and have received no quarter in either history, chivalry, or song. Indeed, even the philosophic Bacon declared the Americans to be people proscribed by the laws of nature, inasmuch as they had a barbarous custom of sacrificing men, and feeding upon man's flesh.
Nor are these all the proofs of their utter barbarism: among many other writers of discernment, Ulloa tells us “their imbecility is so visible, that one can hardly form an idea of them different from what one has of the brutes. Nothing disturbs the tranquillity of their souls, equally insensible to disasters and to prosperity. Though half naked, they are as contented as a monarch in his most splendid array. Fear makes no impression on them, and respect as little." All this is furthermore supported by the authority of M. Bouguer. “It is not easy," says he, " to
, describe the degree of their indifference for wealth and all its advantages. One does not well know what motives to propose to them when one would persuade them to any service. It is vain to offer them money; they answer they are not hungry.' And Vanegas confirms the whole, assuring us that “ambition they have none, and are more desirous of being thought strong than valiant. The objects of ambition with us—honor, fame, reputation, riches, posts, and distinctions, are unknown among thein. So that this powerful spring of action, the cause of so inuch seeming good and real evil in the world, has no power over
them. In a word, these unhappy mortals may be compared to children, in whom the development of reason is not completed.”
Now all these peculiarities, although in the unenlightened states of Greece they would have entitled their possessors to immortal honor, as having reduced to practice those rigid and abstemious maxims, the mere talking about which acqui: ed certain old Greeks the reputation of sages and philosophers ;yet, were they clearly proved in the present instance to betoken a most abject and brutified nature, totally beneath the human character. But the benevolent fathers, who had undertaken to turn these unhappy savages into dumb beasts, by dint of argument, advanced still stronger proofs; for as certain divines of the sixteenth century, and among the rest Lullus, affirm—the Americans go naked, and have no beards 4" They have nothing,". says Lullus, “ of the reasonable animal, except the mask.”—And even that mask was allowed to avail them but little, for it was soon found that they were of a hideous copper complexion-and being of a copper complexion, it was all the same as if they were negroes—and negroes are black, “and black,” said the pious fathers, devoutly crossing themselves, “is the color of the Devil!" Therefore, so far from being able to own property, they had no right even to personal freedom—for liberty is too radiant a deity to inhabit such gloomy temples. All which circumstances plainly convinced the righteous followers of Cortes and Pizarro, that these miscreants had no title to the soil that they infested—that they were a perverse, illiterate, dumb, beardless, black-seedmere wild beasts of the forests, and like them should either be subdued or exterminated.
From the foregoing arguments, therefore, and a variety of 01.hers equally conclusive, which I forbear to enumerate, it is
clearly evident that this fair quarter of the globe when first visited by Europeans, was a howling wilderness, inhabited by nothing but wild beasts; and that the transatlantic visitors acquired an incontrovertible property therein, by the riyht of discovery.
This right being fully established, we now come to the next, which is the right acquired by cultivation. 6. The cultivation of the soil,” we are told, “is an obligation imposed by nature on mankind. The whole world is appointed for the nourishment of its inhabitants : but it would be incapable of doing it, was it uncultivated. Every nation is then obliged by the law of nature to cultivate the ground that has fallen to its share. Those people, like the ancient Germans and modern Tartars, who, having fertile countries, disdain to cultivate the earth, and choose to live by rapine, are wanting to themselves, and deserve to be exterminated as savage and pernicious beasts."*
Now it is notorious, that the savages knew nothing of agriculture, when first discovered by the Europeans, but lived a most vagabond, disorderly, unrighteous life,-rambling from place to place, and prodigally rioting upon the spontaneous luxuries of nature, without tasking her generosity to yield them any thing more; whereas it has been most unquestionably shown, that Heaven intended the earth should be ploughed and sown, and manured, and laid out into cities, and towns, and farms, and country seats, and pleasure grounds, and public gardens, all which the Indians knew nothing about—therefore, they did not improve the talents Providence had bestowed on themtherefore, they were careless stewards—therefore, they had no right to the soil--therefore, they deserved to be exterminated.
It is true, the savages might plead that they drew all the
* Vattel, b. i. ch. 17.