by other tribes. Public punishment seems unknown amongst them, and crimes against the person are always avenged by the relations of the party injured. This is particularly the case in instances where murder is committed, and by general consent the pursuit of the murderer is left altogether to the discretion of the deceased victim's friends. This system is subject to great vicissitudes, so far as relates to the certainty of the murderer's punishment. Thus, should the relations of the murdered man be women, most likely he will escape with impunity. It may happen, too, that a wife suddenly made a widow or motherless, by the murder of her husband or of a son, may be so destitute of friends as to have no one to whom she can look, either for revenge or for protection; in such circumstances, she may be glad to make up for the loss of her male companion, by actually taking the perpetrator of the crime into her service, and so probable is this arrangement, that a case in which it took place has been selected for a particular description. In an Indian village, some years ago, on the banks of the St. Lawrence, in the neighbourhood of Montreal, lived two powerful Indians, who, upon some accidental difference, engaged in a quarrel, which terminated in the death of one. The survivor, who was either feared for his courage or his strength, or both, when he sat down beside the corpse, awaiting the usual punishment of the tomahawk, found no one come forward to make the attempt. He rose, and taking his station in one of the most public situations in the village, again exposed himself to what he considered the penalty merited by his crime; but with no better success. He then proceeded to the mother of the Indian whose bfe he had taken away, and placed himself entirely at her disposal. The woman replied, that to deprive him of life would in no way benefit her, but the only reparation she would require was, that the murderer should give her his son in place of the one whom she had lost. The murderer upon this told the woman that his son was too young and inexperienced to be any thing but a burden to her, but that if she approved of it he himself would become her servant, for that he was truly capable of supporting her. She agreed to the proposal, and the murderer passed with his family forthwith into her service.

There is another story still more remarkable. A woman named Jenny, whose husband had been killed by the friends of an Indian whom he had murdered, lived with her children amongst a tribe, one of whom was killed by her eldest son, a man of twenty-five years of age, and familiarly called "Tom." This person was, by the public voice, appointed for death, and as the executioners were about to inflict it, old Jenny appeared and persuaded them to allow her to be substituted for her son. In the few hours allowed her for preparation, she went to an American lady, who had always behaved charitably to her, to ask for a coffin and winding sheet, which she said was for her son. The request was complied with, and Jenny retired. In a short time, the lady heard that it was Jenny, not the son, who was put up for execution, and she hastened to the spot for the purpose of preserving her; but when Jenny saw her come, she eagerly importuned the executioner to perform his duty, and this he accomplished without delay. We give the remainder in the words of the author:

During five years after this, Tom was treated with sneers and contempt by the friends of the old man whom he had murdered. They said to him, * You coward ; let your mother die for you! You afraid to die, coward.' Tom could not endure all this. Some time afterwards, he met a son of the old man whom he had murdered, on the bank of the Mississippi, ten miles from his home, and for some cause unknown, (probably he had been his principal tormentor,) plunged his knife into him, giving him a mortal wound. He returned home with indications of triumph, brandishing his bloody knife, and without waiting for inquiry, confessed what he had done. He told his Indian friends, that he would not live to be called a coward. 'I have been told,' he said, 'that I fear to die. Now you shall see that I can die like a man.' A wealthy planter, whose house he passed, he invited to witness how he could die. This was on the Sabbath. Twelve o'clock, Monday, was the hour which he appointed for this self-immolation.

Here, says our informant, a scene was presented which baffles description. As she approached the place, Tom was walking forward and back again, still keeping in his hand the bloody knife, which he seemed to consider, as the duellist does his sword or pistol, his badge of honour. With all his efforts to conceal it, he discovered marks of an agitated mind. The sad group present consisted of about ten men, and as many females; the latter, with sorrowful countenances, were employed in making an over-shirt for Tom's burial. The men, all except two brothers of Tom, were present, smoking their pipes with apparent unconcern. Several times Tom examined his gun, and remained silent. His grave had been dug the day before, and he had laid himself down in it, to see if it suited as to length and breadth.

When the shirt was completed, and handed to him, he immediately put it over another garment, the only one he had on ; drew a pair of calico sleeves on his arms; tied two black silk handkerchiefs round each shoulder, crossed on the breast, and wrapped a third about his head. His long hair was tied with a blue ribbon, and he had a yard or two on each arm, above the elbow. The pipe of peace went round thrice. The old chief's wife then arose, retired into the bushes, and sang the death-song—in words rendered in English, ' Time is done; death approaches.'

This done, Tom went round and shook hands with every person present. While he held the hand of one of his neighbours; a white man, he said to him, 'farewell; you see me no more in this world. When you die, you sec me.' His neighbour said, 'Tom, where are you going?' 'I am goinij to mother,' said Tom. 'Where is your mother?' 'In a good place.' 'But Tom, will you not wait? Perhaps the friends of the young man you killed will accept of a ransom. We will do what we can to save you.' Tom replied, 'No, I will die.'

No one demanded his death; for all who were interested, and would have considered their honour and duty concerned in it, resided at the distance of forty or fifty miles. The death-song was repeated, as was the shaking of hands. Both were again repeated the third and last time. Immediately after, Tom stepped up to his wife, a young woman of eighteen, ■with an infant in her arms, and another child two or three years old, standing by her side, and presented to her the bloody knife, which till now he had kept in his hand. She averted her face to conceal a falling tear; but recovering herself, turned, and took it with a faint forced smile. His sister was sitting by the side of his wife, so wholly absorbed in grief, as to be apparently insensible to what was passing; her eyes vacant, fixed on some distant object. It was a perfect picture of woe.

His pipe he gave to a young brother, who struggled hard to conceal his emotions. He then drank a little whisky and water, dashed the bottle on the ground, sung a few words in the Choctaw language, and with a jumping, dancing step, hurried to his grave. His gun was so fixed by the aid of a young sapling, as to enable him to take his own life. No one, he had declared, should take it from him. These preparations and ceremonies being now completed, he gave the necessary touch to the apparatus; the gun was discharged, and its contents passed through his heart. He instantly fell dead to the earth. The females sprang to the lifeless body. Some held his head; others his hands and feet; and others knelt at his side. He had. charged them to show no signs of grief while he lived, lest it should shake his resolution. /Vs far as possible, they had obeyed. Their grief was restrained till he was dead. It now burst forth in a torrent, and their shrieks and lamentations were loud and undissembled.—vol. ii. pp. 77—81.

A very interesting chapter succeeds, giving an account of the holding of a council even so late as the year 1826, at which two United States' Commissioners attended. The description of the scene is drawn from the work in which one of them (Colonel M'Kenney) gave a history of his tour.

In speaking of the diseases of the Indians, Mr. Thatcher informs us that there are many diseases known to the whites, of which the former tribes are totally exempt from any experience. They were visited, however, by the small pox in the middle of the last century, through their association with England, and it proved rapidly destructive, chiefly amongst the Cherokees. Naturally of good and hale constitutions, the Indians seldom labour under other maladies, except those which arise from immoderate or unwholesome food, or extreme fatigue, with exposure to night air. Their doctors confine their materia medica altogether to vegetables; but the main resource which they employ is sweating. In certain complaints they use burning and bleeding. The former is our actual cautery—that is, the application of a burning matter, such as a piece of torchwood or pine-knot set on fire, to the skin.

With respect to the religion of the Indians, there appears a tradition amongst them in which the deluge is obviously alluded to, although it is associated with other ideas which have no foundation in reason. But a belief in the immortality of the soul is common to every tribe, although they differ vastly from each other in their notions of the state of the soul after death: they likewise credit the doctrine of rewards and punishments. The way to earn the rewards is by being on earth a good hunter, and a great warrior, and to be master of a large number of scalps which belonged to the enemies of the individual who possessed them. Nor was it an exaggeration in Pope to represent the poor Indian as convinced that—

admitted to an equal sky,

His faithful dog should bear him company.

They have annual sacrifices to appease the indignation of the Great Spirit, which they have raised by their sins; and in these sacrifices much personal suffering is endured from the infliction of a sort of torture. The penitent, resting on his knees, with his head inclined downwards, submits to the operation. The persons appointed to perform it, take up between the thumb and finger, an inch and a naif of skin and flesh, with a portion of muscle, on the back side of each shoulder, and force a large dull knife "through it. After this is withdrawn, splints, of the size of a man's thumb, are forced through them, to which are attached a couple of cords, descending from the top of the lodge; and by these he is drawn up till his feet are nearly raised from the ground. In the same manner splints or arrows are put through the arms below the shoulder, below the elbow, on the thighs, and below the knees; and attached to these splints are his bow and quiver, his shield, his lance, and medicine-bags, with several heads and horns of buffaloes.

He is now gradually raised by the cords until all these weights are free, and his feet six or seven feet above the ground. In this condition, with the blood flowing in streams from his hands and feet, he hangs in the most exquisite agony, uttering, in pitiful groans and cries, his earnest prayers to the Great Spirit to spare his life—to forgive his sins—and that he may be successful in battle, and always have buffalo in abundance for his subsistence.

The Indians bury their dead in the sitting posture, the grave being most commonly lined by the birch bark: its site is generally marked by a wild vine plant. Sometimes a fire is kept in the graves for several nights. Making presents of clothes and food to the deceased, and placing the articles near their graves, is a very common custom also; many tribes, too, go into mourning for their deseased relatives. Some of the natives in the northern districts have a great feast over the grave, and have games of all sorts performed on the occasion.

It is impossible for us to follow the author through the succeeding details, interesting and instructive as they are; we must, therefore, be content with assuring the reader, that if he has found iu the above account any materials for his amusement, or that he thinks calculated to serve a higher end, he will find these materials most seriously multiplied in the very neat volumes themselves—of which we fear that we have given an account by no means worthy of their very rare merits, both in respect of the facts they contain, and of the style in which they are narrated.

Art. VIII.—The Lifts of William Roscoe. By his son, Henry Roscoe. In 2 vols. 8vo. with a portrait. London: Cadell. 1833.

Although productive of an inconvenient amplification in respect of its size, the plan of this work is yet one which is entitled to unqualified approbation. The mere catalogue of the years of the best man's life must always be read without profit; and it is only when he is represented as one amongst many objects, and surrounded with many circumstances, and when his relations with these objects and circumstances are minutely traced,—it is, we repeat, only then that his life becomes available as a legitimate source of practical instruction. The conviction of the truth of these premises appears to have presided over the mind of the present biographer in contemplating his project, and instead of limiting his descriptions to the mere results of the operations of his father's mental faculties, he penetrates into the depths of all the preceding processes from which those results intimately sprang, and in this way has provided for us a demonstration at once most curious and valuable in reference to the philosophy of the human mind.

Mr. Roscoe was of humble origin, and though destined, in consequence of the limited means of his family, to be appointed to pursuits too mechanical and altogether unworthy of his natural endowments, yet he was not the less prone to give, in his early life, striking indications of the high qualifications which he afterwards proved he was possessed of. He was first placed with a bookseller, and next was articled to an attorney, in whose service he contrived to earn a reputation for diligence, at the same time that he found leisure for cultivating the belles lettres. The whole history of his early years affords the most irresistible proof that Mr. Roscoe possessed that intuitive faculty which, in its effect upon the feelings and the fancy, directs the mind to poetry. The earliest of the productions by which his tendency to be a suitor of the muses was made manifest, is the ode composed to celebrate the foundation of a society for the encouragement of the arts of painting and design, which was established in Liverpool in 1773. In 1781, Mr. Roscoe having, in the mean time, entered into a thriving partnership as an attorney, was lucky enough to have formed a matrimonial alliance with a Miss Griffies, to whom he had been a long time attached, and who appears to have been, from her congenial tastes, as well as her abilities, fully deserving all his affection and constancy.

Mr. Roscoe vindicated his taste for the fine arts on many occasions, but especially by the exertions which he made to get up a society for promoting design and painting, in 1784, in Liverpool. At this society he delivered, in 1785, several lectures on the history of art, the knowledge and use of prints, and on the progress of engraving, and to him is the justly celebrated Fuseli indebted for an auspicious introduction to public life. Whilst his attention was

« ElőzőTovább »