網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Some go so far as to say, that they have neither peculiar notes, nor favourite imitations. This may be denied. Their few natural notes resemble those of the (European) nightingale. Their song, however, has a greater compass and volume than the nightingales', and they have the faculty of varying all intermediate notes in a manner which is truly delightful.Ashe's Travels in America, Vol. II. p. 73.

Stanza 5. l. 9. Or distant isles that hear the loud Corbrechtan roar.

The Corybrechtan, or Corbrechtan, is a whirlpool on the western coast of Scotland, near the island of Jura, which is heard at a prodigious distance. Its name signifies the whirlpool of the prince of Denmark; and there is a tradition that a Danish prince once undertook, for a wager, to cast anchor in it." He is said to have used woollen instead of hempen ropes, for greater strength, but perished in the attempt. On the shores of Argyleshire I have often listened with great delight to the sound of this vortex, at the distance of many leagues. When the weather is calm, and the adjacent sea scarcely heard on these picturesque shores, its sound, which is like the sound of innumerable chariots, creates a magnificent and fine effect.

Stanza 13. 1. 4. Of buskined limb and swarthy lineament. In the Indian tribes there is a great similarity in their colour, stature, &c. They are all, except the Snake Indians, tall in stature, straight and robust. It is very seldom they are deformed, which has given rise to the supposition that they put to death their deformed children. Their skin is of a copper colour; their eyes large, bright, black, and sparkling, indicative of a subtle and discerning mind: their hair is of the same colour, and prone to be long, seldom or never curled. Their teeth are large and white; I'never observed any decayed among them, which makes their breath as sweet as the air they inhale. - Travels through America by Captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1904-5-6.

Stanza 14. 1. 6. Peace be to theemy words this belt approve. The Indians of North America accompany every

formal address to strangers, with whom they form or recognize a treaty of amity, with a present of a string, or belt, of wampum. Wampum (says Cadwallader Colden) is made of the large whelk shell, Brincinium, and shaped like long beads: it is the current money of the Indians.-History of the five Indian Nations, page 34, New-York edition.

Stanza 14. 1. 7. The paths of peace my steps have hither led. In relating an interview of Mohawk Indians with the governor of New York, Colden quotes the following passages as a specimen of their metaphorical manner: “Where shall I seek the chair of peace? Where shall I find it but upon our path ? and whither doth our path lead us but unto this house?”

Stanza 15. I. 2. Our wampum league thy brethren did embrace. When they solicit the alliance, offensive or defensive, of a whole nation, they send an embassy with a large belt of wampum and a bloody hatchet, inviting them to come and drink the blood of their enemies. The wampum made use of on these and other occasions before their acquaintance with the Europeans, was nothing but small shells which they picked up by the seacoasts, and on the banks of the lakes; and now it is nothing but a kind of cylindrical beads, made of shells, white and black, which are esteemed among them as silver and gold are among us. The black they call the most valuable, and both together are their greatest riches and or naments; these among them answering all the end that money does among us. They have the art of stringing, twisting, and interweaving them into their belts, collars, blankets, and moccasins, &c., in ten thousand different sizes, forms, and figures, so as to be ornaments for every part of dress, and expressive to them of all their important transactions. They dye the wampum of various colours and shades, and mix and dispose them with great ingenuity and order, and so as to be significant among themselves of almost every thing they please; so that by these their words are kept, and their thoughts communicated to one another, as ours are by writing. The belts

that pass from one nation to another in all treaties, declarations, and important transactions, are very carefully preserved in the cabins of their chiefs, and serve not only as a kind of record or history, but as a public treasure. -Major Rogers's account of North America.

Stanza 17. 1. 5.

As when the evil Manitou. It is certain that the Indians acknowledge one supreme being, or giver of life, who presides over all things; that is the Great Spirit: and they look up to him as the source of good from whence no evil can proceed. They also believe in a bad Spirit, to whom they ascribe great power; and suppose that through his power all the evils which befall mankind are inflicted. To him therefore they pray in their distresses, begging that he would either avert their troubles, or moderate them when they are no longer avoidable.

They hold also that there are good spirits of a lower degree, who have their particular departments, in which they are constantly contributing to the happiness of mortals. These they suppose to preside over all the extraordinary productions of Nature, such as those lakes, ria vers and mountains that are of an uncommon magnitude; and likewise the beasts, birds, fishes, and even vegetables or stones that exceed the rest of their species in size or singularity.- Clarke's Travels among the Indians.

The supreme Spirit of good is called by the Indians Kitchi Manitou; and the Spirit of evil Matchi Manitou.

Stanza 19.1.2.

Feverbalm and sweet sagamite. The feverbalm is a medicine used by these tribes; it is a decoction of a bush called the Fevertree. Sagamite is a kind of soup administered to their sick.

Stanza 20. 1. 2.
And I, the eagle of my tribe, have rushed

With this lorn dove. The testimony of all travellers among the American Indians, who mention their hieroglyphics, authorizes me in putting this figurative language in the mouth of Outalissi. The dove is among them, as elsewhere, an emblem of meekness; and the eagle, that of a bold, noble, and

R

liberal mind. When the Indians speak of a warrior who soars above the multitude in person and endowments, they say, “he is like the eagle who destroys bis enemies, and gives protection and abundance to the weak of his own tribe.

Stanza 23. 1. 2. Far differently the mute Oneida took, &c. They are extremely circumspect and deliberate in every word and action; nothing burries them into any intemperate wrath, but that inveteracy to their enemies which is rooted in every Indian's breast. In all other instances they are cool and deliberate, taking care to suppress the emotions of the heart. If an Indian has discovered that a friend of his is in danger of being cut off by a lurking enemy, he does not tell him of his danger in direct terms as though he were in fear, but he first coolly asks him which way he is going that day, and having his answer with the same indifference, tells him that he has been informed that a noxious beast lies on the route he is going. This hint proves sufficient, and his friend avoids the danger with as much caution as though every design and motion of his enemy had been pointed out to him.

If an Indian has been engaged for several days in the chase, and by accident continued long without food, when he arrives at the hut of a friend, where he knows that his wants will be immediately supplied, he takes care not to show the least symptoms of impatience, or betray the extreme hunger that he is tortured with; but on being invited in, sits contentedly down and smokes his pipe with as much composure as if his appetite was cloyed and he was perfectly at ease. He does the same if among strangers. This custom is strictly adhered to by every tribe, as they esteem it a proof of fortitude, and think the reverse would entitle them to the appellation of old women.

If you tell an Indian that his children have greatly signalized themselves against an enemy, have taken many scalps, and brought home many prisoners, he does not appear to feel any strong emotions of pleasure on the occasion; his answer generally is—“they have done well;" and makes but very little inquiry about the matter; on the contrary, if you inform him that his children

are slain or taken prisoners, he makes no complaints : he only replies, “it is unfortunate;”—and for some time asks no questions about how it happened.-Lewis and Clarke's Travels.

Stanza 23. 1. 3.

His calumet of peace, Sc. Nor is the calumet of less importance or less revered than the wampum in many transactions relative both to peace and war. The bowl of this pipe is made of a kind of soft red stone, which is easily wrought and hollowed out; the stem is of cane, elder, or some kind of light wood, painted with different colours, and decorated with the heads, tails and feathers of the most beautiful birds. The use of the calumet is to smoke either tobacco or some bark, leaf, or herb, which they often use instead of it, when they enter into an alliance or any serious occasion or solemn engagements ; this being among them the most sacred oath that can be taken, the violation of which is esteemed most infamous, and deserving of severe punishment from Heaven. When they treat of war, the whole pipe and all its ornaments are red, sometimes it is red only on one side, and by the disposition of the feathers, &c. one acquainted with their customs will know at first sight what the nation who presents it intends or desires. Smoking the calumet is also a religious ceremony on some occasions, and in all treaties is considered as a witness between the parties, or rather as an instrument by which they invoke the sun and moon to witness their sincerity, and to be as it were a guarantee of the treaty between them. This custom of the Indians, though to appearance somewhat ridiculous, is not without its reasons; for as they find that smoking tends to disperse the vapours of the brain, to raise the spirits, and to qualify them for thinking and judging properly, they introduced it into their councils, where, after their resolves, the pipe was considered as a seal of their decrees; and, as a pledge of their performance thereof, it was sent to those they were consulting, in alliance or treaty with ;-so that smoking among them at the same pipe, is equivalent to our

« 上一頁繼續 »