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sion or pretext on which the Americans assemble, the meeting always terminates in a debauch. Many of their festivals have no other object; and they welcome the return of them with transports of joy. Their eagerness for present enjoyment renders them blind to its fatal consequences; and when their passions are inflamed by drink they are frequently guilty of the most enormous outrages, and the festivity rarely concludes without deeds of violence or bloodshed.

It were endless to enumerate all the detached customs which have excited the wonder of travellers in America: one more, however, must be mentioned. When parents and other relations become old, or labour under any distemper which their slender knowledge of the healing art cannot remove, the Americans cut short their days with a violent hand, in order to be relieved from the burthen of supporting and attending them. The same hardships and difficulty of procuring subsistence, which deter savages in some cases from rearing their children, prompt them to destroy the aged and infirm. This is not regarded as a deed of cruelty but as an act of mercy. An American broken with years and infirmities, conscious that he can no longer depend on the aid of those around him, places himself contentedly in his grave; and it is by the hands of his children or nearest relations that the thong is pulled, or the blow inflicted, which releases him for ever from the sorrows of life.

IX. After contemplating the rude American tribes in such various lights, it only remains to form a general estimate of their character, compared with that of more polished nations. A human being, as he comes originally from the hands of his maker, is every where the same. The capacity for improve

improvement seems to be the same, and his future talents and virtues depend, in a great measure, upon the state of society in which he is placed. To this state his mind naturally accommodates itself, and from it receives discipline and culture. In proportion to the wants which it accustoms a human being to feel, and the functions in which these engage him, his intellectual powers are called forth. According to the connections which it establishes between him and the rest of his species, the affections of his heart are exerted. It is only by attending to this great principle, that we can discover what is the character of man in every different period of his progress. In savage life, of course, the intellectual powers of man must be extremely limited in their operations. They are confined within the narrow sphere of what he deems necessary for supplying his wants. But the knowledge to which he does attain he possesses completely; it is the fruit of his own experience, and accommodated to his condition and exigencies. While employed in the active occupations of war and hunting, he often finds himself in difficult and perilous situations, from which the efforts of his own sagacity must extricate him. He must rely solely upon his own penetration to discern the dangers to which he is exposed, and upon his own wisdom in providing against them. Hence in deliberation and action he rests on himself alone.

As the talents of individuals are exercised and improved by such exertions, much political wisdom is said to be displayed in conducting the affairs of their small communities. The council of old men in an American tribe deliberating upon its interests has been compared to the senate in more polished republics. The proceedings of the former are often

no less formal and sagacious than those of the latter. Much address and eloquence are employed by the leaders, who aspire at acquiring such confidence with their countrymen as to have an ascendant in their assemblies. But among savage tribes, the field for displaying political talents cannot be extensive. They have neither foresight nor temper to form complicated arrangements with respect to their future conduct. The strongest feeling in the mind of a savage is a sense of his own independence. He has sacrificed so small a portion of his natural liberty by becoming a member of society, that he remains in a great degree the sole master of his own actions. In many of his operations he stands as much detached from the rest of his species as if he had formed no union with them. He pursues his own career and indulges his own fancy, without inquiring or regarding whether they may derive benefit or receive hurt from it. Hence the ungovernable caprice of savages, their impatience under any species of restraint, the scorn with which they receive advice, their high estimation of themselves, and their contempt of other men. Among them the pride of independence produces almost the same effects with interestedness in a more advanced state of society; it refers every thing to a man himself, and renders the gratification of his own wishes the measure and end of his conduct.

To the same cause may be imputed the hardness of heart and insensibility remarkable in all savage nations. Their minds, roused only by strong emotions, are little susceptible of gentle, delicate, or tender affections. Taciturnity and cunning are to be traced to the same cause. Impenetrably secret in forming their measures, the rude tribes of Ame

rica pursue them with a patient undeviating attention, and there is no refinement of dissimulation which they cannot employ in order to insure success. The natives of Peru were engaged above thirty years in concerting the plan of that insurrection which took place under the vice-royalty of the marquis de Villa Garcia; and though it was communicated to a great number of persons in every different rank, no indication of it ever transpired during that long period; no man betrayed his trust, or gave rise, by look or word, to any suspicion of what was intended.

But if there be defects or vices peculiar to the savage state, there are likewise virtues which it inspires, and good qualities to the exercise of which it is friendly. The bonds of society sit so loose upon the members of the more rude American tribes that they scarcely feel any restraint. Hence the spirit of independence and fortitude which are the pride of a savage, and which he considers as the unalienable prerogative of man. In no situation does the human mind rise more superior to the sense of danger or the dread of death than in its most simple and uncultivated state. Another virtue remarkable 'among savages is attachment to the community of which they are members, and perfect satisfaction with their own condition. On this account they have no inclination to relinquish their own habits, or to adopt those of civilized life. The transition is too violent to be suddenly made. Even where endeavours have been used to wean a savage from his own customs, and to render the accommodations of polished society familiar to him, he droops and languishes under the restraint of laws and forms; he seizes the first opportunity of breaking loose from them, and returns with


transport to the forest or the wild, where he can enjoy a careless and uncontroled freedom.

Such are the manners and character of the uncivilized tribes scattered over the vast continent of America. In surveying these rude nations, a natural distinction is observable between the inhabitants of the temperate and torrid zones. They may be divided into two great classes. The one comprehends all the North Americans from the river St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, together with the people of Chili, and a few small tribes towards the extremity of the southern continent. To the other belong all the inhabitants of the islands, and those settled in the various provinces which extend from the Isthmus of Darien almost to the southern > confines of Brasil, along the east side of the Andes. In the former, which comprehends the regions of the temperate zone, the human species appear manifestly to be more perfect. The natives are more robust, more active, more intelligent, and more courageous. They have defended their liberty with persevering fortitude against the Europeans, who subdued the other rude nations of America with the greatest ease. The natives of the temperate zone are the only people in the New World who are indebted for their freedom to their valour. The North Americans, though long encompassed by three formidable European powers, still retain part of their original possessions, and continue to exist as independent nations. The people of Chili, though early invaded, still maintain a gallant contest with the Spaniards, and have set bounds to their encroachments; whereas, in the warmer regions, men are more feeble in their frame, less vigorous in the efforts of their mind, more enslaved by pleasure, and more sunk in indolence.

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