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always constructed their habitations, I was not at all disappointed in finding no vestige of the old town. But as I traversed the ground over which Pocahuntas had so often bounded and frolicked in the sprightly morning of her youth, I could not help recalling the principal features of her history, and heaving a sigh of mingled pity and veneration to her memory.
Good Heaven! What an eventful life was hers! To speak of nothing else, the arrival of the English in her father's dominions must have appeared (as indeed it turned out to be) a most portentous phenomenon. It is not easy for us to conceive the amazement and consternation which must have filled her mind and that of her nation at the first appearance of our countrymen. Their great ship, with all her sails spread, advancing in solemn majesty to the shore; their complexion; their dress; their language; their domestick animals; their cargo of new and glittering wealth; and then the thunder and írresistible force of their artillery; the distant country announced by them, far beyond the great water, of which the oldest Indian had never heard, or thought, or dreamed—all this was so new, so wonderful, so tremendous, that, I do seriously suppose, the personal descent of an army of Milton's celestial angels, robed in light, sporting in the bright beams of the sun and redoubling their splendour, making divine harmony with their golden harps, or playing with the bolt and chasing the rapid lightning of heaven, would excite not more astonishment in Great Britain, than did the debarkation of the English among the aborigines of Virginia.
Poor Indians! Where are they now? Indeed, this is a truly afflicting consideration. The people here may say what they please; but, on the principles of eternal truth and justice, they have no right to this country. They say that they have bought it.—Bought it! Yes;-of whom?— Of the poor trembling natives who knew that refusal would be vain; and who strove to make a merit of necessity by seeming to yield with grace, what they knew that they had not the power to retain. Such a bargain might appease the conscience of a gentleman of the green bag, and hackneyed" in the arts and frauds of his profession; but in heaven's chancery, there can be little doubt that it has been long since set aside on the ground of compulsion.
Poor wretches! No wonder that they are so implacably vindictive against the white people; no wonder that the
rage of resentment is handed down from generation to generation; no wonder that they refuse to associate and mix permanently with their unjust and cruel invaders and exterminators; no wonder that in the unabating spite and frenzy of conscious impotence, they wage an eternal war, as well as they are able; that they triumph in the rare opportunity of revenge; that they dance, sing, and rejoice, as the victim shrieks and faints amid the flames, when they imagine all the crimes of their oppressors collected on his head, and fancy the spirits of their injured forefathers hovering over the scene, smiling with ferocious delight at the grateful spectacle, and feasting on the precious odour as it arises from the burning blood of the white man.
Yet the people, here, affect to wonder that the Indians are so very unsusceptible of civilization; or, in other words, that they so obstinately refuse to adopt the manners of the white men. Go, Virginian; erase, from the Indian nation, the tradition of their wrongs; make them forget, if you can, that once this charming country was theirs; that over these fields and through these forests, their beloved forefathers, once, in careless gayety; pursued their sports and hunted their game; that every returning day found them the sole, the peaceful, the happy proprietors of this extensive and beautiful domain. Make them forget too, if you can, that in the midst of all this innocence, simplicity and bliss-the white man came; and lo!-the animated chase, the feast, the dance, the song of fearless, thoughtless joy were over; that ever since, they have been made to drink of the bitter cup of humiliation; treated like dogs; their lives, their liberties, the sport of the white men; their country and the graves of their fathers torn from them, in cruel succession: until, driven from river to river, from forest to forest, and through a period of two hundred years, rolled back, nation upon nation, they find themselves fugitives, vagrants and strangers in their own country, and look forward to the certain period when their descendants will be totally extinguished by wars, driven at the point of the bayonet into the western ocean, or reduced to a fate still more deplorable and horrid, the condition of slaves.
Go, administer the cup of oblivion to recollections and anticipations like these, and then you will cease to complain that the Indian refuses to be civilized. But until then, surely it is nothing wonderful that a nation even yet bleeding afresh, from the memory of ancient wrongs, perpetually
agonized by new outrages, and goaded into desperation and madness at the prospect of the certain ruin, which awaits their descendants, should hate the authors of their miseries, of their desolation, their destruction; should hate their manners, hate their colour, their language, their name, and every thing that belongs to them. No; never, until time shall wear out the history of their sorrows and their sufferings, will the Indian be brought to love the white man, and to imitate his manners.
• Great God! To reflect that the authors of all these wrongs were our own countrymen, our forefathers, professors of the meek and benevolent religion of Jesus! O! it was impious; it was unmanly; poor and pitiful! Gracious Heaven! what had these poor people done? The simple inhabitants of these peaceful plains, what wrong, what injury, had they offered to the English? My soul melts with pity and shame.
As for the present inhabitants, it must be granted that they are comparatively innocent: unless indeed they also have encroached under the guise of treaties, which they themselves have previously contrived to render expedient or necessary to the Indians.
Whether this have been the case or not, I am too much a stranger to the interiour transactions of this country to decide. But it seems to me that were I a president of the United States, I would glory in going to the Indians, throwing myself on my knees before them, and saying to them, "Indians, friends, brothers, O! forgive my countrymen! Deeply have our forefathers wronged you; and they have forced us to continue the wrong. Reflect, brothers; it was not our fault that we were born in your country; but now, we have no other home; we have no where else to rest our feet. Will you not, then, permit us to remain? Can you not forgive even us, innocent as we are? If you can, O! come to our bosoms; be, indeed, our brothers; and since there is room enough for us all, give us a home in your land, and let us be children of the same affectionate family.".
I believe that a magnanimity of sentiment like this, followed up by a correspondent greatness of conduct on the part of the people of the United States, would go farther to bury the tomahawk and produce a fraternization with the Indians, than all the presents, treaties, and missionaries that can be employed; dashed and defeated as these latter means always are, by a claim of rights on the part of the
white people which the Indians know to be false and baseless. Let me not be told that the Indians are too dark and fierce to be affected by generous and noble sentiments. I will not believe it. Magnanimity can never be lost on a nation which has produced an Alknomok, a Logan, and a Pocahuntas.
The repetition of the name of this amiable princess brings me back to the point from which I digressed. I wonder that the Virginians, fond as they are of anniversa ries, have instituted no festival, or order, in honour of her memory. For my own part, I have little doubt, from the histories which we have of the first attempts at colonizing their country, that Pocahuntas deserves to be considered as the patron deity of the enterprise. When it is remembered how long the colony struggled to get a footing; how often sickness or famine, neglect at home, mismanagement here, and the hostilities of the natives, brought it to the brink of ruin; through what a tedious lapse of time it alternately languished and revived, sunk and rose, sometimes hanging, like Addison's lamp, “ quivering at a point," then suddenly shooting up into a sickly and shortlived flame; in one word, when we recollect how near and how often it verged towards total extinction, maugre the patronage of Pocahuntas; there is the strongest reason to believe that, but for her patronage, the anniversary cannon of the fourth of July would never have resounded throughout the United States.
Is it not probable, that this sensible and amiable woman, perceiving the superiority of the Europeans, foreseeing the probability of the subjugation of her countrymen, and anxious as well to soften their destiny, as to save the needless effusion of human blood, desired, by her marriage with Mr. Rolfe, to hasten the abolition of all distinction between Indians and white men; to bind their interests and affections by the nearest and most endearing ties, and to make them regard themselves, as one people, the children of the same great family?
If such were her wise and benevolent views, and I have no doubt but they were, how poorly were they backed by the British court? No wonder at the resentment and indig nation with which she saw them neglected; no wonder at the bitterness of the disappointment and vexation which she expressed to captain Smith, in London, arising as well from the cold reception which she herself had met, as from the
contemptuous and insulting point of view in which she found that her nation was regarded.
Unfortunate princess! She deserved a happier fate! But I am consoled by these reflections: first, that she sees her descendants among the most respectable families in Virginia; and that they are not only superiour to the false shame of disavowing her as their ancestor; but that they pride themselves, and with reason too, on the honour of their descent; secondly, that she herself has gone to a country, where she finds her noble wishes realized; where the distinction of colour is no more; but where indeed, it is perfectly immaterial "what complexion an Indian or an African sun may have burned" on the pilgrim.
Ir is a wise and venerable custom, in New-England, to set apart one day in the year for the voluntary commemoration of the divine favour, and goodness; and it is pleasing to see so correct a custom gaining ground in our country. Not that in New-England, or any where else, it requires a year to roll over our heads to convince us of the everlasting mercies of Heaven. The sublime structure of the universe; this beautiful landscape, the earth; the magnificent ocean, now assailing the clouds with its foam, and then nestling the little birds on its billows; the glorious sun, and these sweet sentinels of light, the stars; the voice of the thunder, and the song of the linnet; who knows any thing of these, and can, for a moment, doubt the supreme benevolence of the Almighty!
Yet, although every instant be fruitful in blessings, we are inattentive, and do not regard; we are ignorant, and do not appreciate; we are ungrateful, and do not consider; we are selfish, and will not understand them. The best require to be reminded of their duty, and the thoughtless must be told of it always. It is wise, therefore, to select the season of gladness, and point to the source of good. When the husbandman rejoices for the harvest is ripe, and the poor go into the field to glean
The sheaves, which God ordains to bless
The widow, and the fatherless,
it becomes man to acknowledge the reward of his labours,