“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, January 1844; p. 16-19)
About the different colors of the human race.
The globe upon which we dwell is a small body compared with the sun, or with Jupiter, or Saturn; yet it contains many millions of inhabitants. The exact number can never be ascertained. The best estimates make the number between eight and nine hundred millions. This number is too great for a young mind to grasp. A better idea may be formed of it, by supposing the whole population of the globe to pass by you, one by one. How long would it take you to count them, at the rate of twenty thousand a day? More than one hundred and twenty years.
These inhabitants are scattered over every part of the earth, and are to be found in almost every island of the sea. They have penetrated into the frozen regions, where scarcely anything grows but moss: where fish, bears and reindeer are their only food; and where they are obliged to live in cabins under ground.
Vast as the number of the earth’s inhabitants is, and widely scattered as they are, yet they all sprung from one pair. This the scriptures tell us. About six thousand years ago, God created Adam and Eve in Asia, and from them all mankind have descended.
Do you ask how this can be? Do you say, that the inhabitants of different countries and climates differ much? They do indeed differ. They differ in respect to laws, and government, and manners, and dress, and language, and color. In this last respect, color, they differ almost more than in anything else.
Well, because they differ thus much, you think they could not all have descended from Adam and Eve? If they did not, then the Bible, so far, cannot be true. This would be a sad conclusion.
But, is such a conclusion necessary? Cannot we account for the differences which exist among different nations,
upon the suppostition that they all did descend from Adam and Eve?
Take the difference in color, which exists among different nations. This, perhaps, is the most difficult to be accounted for. A great variety of color may be noticed; but the various colors may, perhaps, be reduced to three—white, black and red. All the others may be supposed to be different shades of these.
Now, were Adam and Eve white, black or red? This we cannot ascertain. The late Dr. Dwight, I believe, supposed that they were red; but allow that they were white; by what process could their descendents have become some brown, some yellow, others red, and others still quite black?
Suppose that a white person in the United States should constantly go abroad without any covering upon his head. What would be the consequence of his exposure to the wind and sun? He would “tan,” as we say, or grow dark colored; and the longer he was exposed the darker he would become.
Exposure, then, to the heat of the sun, and to changes in the weather, causes a change of complexion. Suppose this same person visits the torrid zone. Here, as the heat of the sun is much greater, and the winds are more scorching, we should naturally expect that his complexion would darken faster, and, in time, become of a deeper cast.
This is precisely as we find the fact. The inhabitants of the torrid zone incline more or less to a black color. Under the equator, where the heat is greater than in any other part of the world, they are quite black. In other parts of the world, where the heat is less intense, as in the temperate climates, they are generally white, or only brown. Still farther north, in the frigid zones, where the air is very dry, and the cold very severe, the inhabitants are tawny.
Thus it appears that difference of climate produces a great difference in the complexion of people. But do not nations living in the same climate, differ in color? They do. This is remarkably exemplified in the Tartars and Chinese. The latter are fairer than the former, though they resemble the Tartars in features; but, then, they are more polished, and adopt every means to protect themselves from the weather. On the other hand, the Tartars, are a roving people, without any fixed dwellings; and hence, are continually exposed to the sun and air.
We might mention many other causes of a variety of color. Perhaps few things injure the complexion more than want of cleanliness. This recalls to my recollection a set of people, who were called Yonkers, and who lived a few miles from the city of Schenectady, in the state of New York. When I saw them, some years since, they consisted of about one hundred souls. Their ancestor’s name was Johnson. He and his wife were white persons.
Being poor and shiftless, they removed into the woods a few miles from Schenectady, where they erected a miserable hut, without a floor, and without a chimney. Some loose straw served them for a bed; and in dirt and in filth they lived. They had several children, who followed their examples. Other huts were erected—they intermarried, and in smoke, and
in grease, and in filth, they and their descendants have lived. In the hottest season of the year the children are accustomed to roll in the dirt with the pigs around the door; and in the winter season they play with the ashes and live in the smoke. They seldom, if ever, wash; and it is doubtful whether a child’s hair is combed half a dozen times, till it is grown up. When I visited them, which was for the purpose of distributing bibles among them, it was stated that only five of the whole clan were able to read.
The consequence of this filthy mode of living may be easily guessed. They appeared like a different race of beings. Their features were greatly changed; but much more their complexion. In this latter respect they were nearly as dark as the North American Indians. From this story my readers may learn something of the influence which manner of living exerts, not only on complexion, but even upon features.
From the foregoing facts it is easy to perceive how white people may, in process of time, become dark-colored, and even black. Hence, admitting that Adam and Eve were created white, their descendants might, through the influence of climate and other causes, become red and even black.
But, you say, perhaps they were not white—perhaps they were red, perhaps black. Yes, they might have been red, or they might have been black. Well, if they were either of these, you ask how any of their descendants became white.
This is a nice question. But, perhaps, something may in truth be said by way of a satisfactory answer. We have seen how a white man might become very dark-colored, and how his descendants might become, in process of time, even black, by removing to the torrid zone, and there continuing to dwell for several hundred years.
Now, might not the very reverse of this prove true? Do not the blacks from Africa grow lighter colored, when brought to the northern parts of the United States? Listen to what President Dwight says on this subject:
“The change of the blacks,” says he, “whose ancestors were introduced into New Eng]and, is already very great, as to their shape, features, hair and complexion. Within the last thirty years, I have not seen a single person, of African descent, who was not many shades whiter than the blacks formerly imported directly from Guinea.”
Now, it is possible that the black people in the United States might become white, in process of time. I do not say that they ever will, because their manner of living is far different from that of the whites. They are not as cleanly; most of them are much exposed to the weather. And this ia true of the Indians, or “red men.”
But, you ask, can any instances be produced of either “red men” or black men becoming white? I answer, yes, instances of both. I will give an account of an instance of each kind; and I can assure my readers that the account is true, and they may find it in an enlarged form, in Dr. Dwight’s travels. And first, I shall tell them the story of the Indian, or “red man.”
Or, rather I might say, that my story
relates to four Indians. They belonged to the tribe called Brothertown Indians, who lived at a place called Brothertown, in the state of New York. It was in the year 1791, that Mr. Hart, formerly minister at Stonington, in Connecticut, saw four Indians, whose skin, in different parts of their body, was turning white.
One, whose name was Samuel Adams, had become almost entirely white. This Indian told Mr. Hart, that his skin had been gradually changing its color for fourteen years. He was a very healthy man; nor was he sensible of any pain or disease which occasioned the change. “His skin appeared perfectly smooth and fresh, and delicately white.” His hair, also, had become in part gray, like that of aged white people.
The instance of a black man, who became white, is also related by Dr. Dwight, who himself saw the man, and examined him. His name was Henry Moss. He was a native of Virginia. He came to New Haven in the year 1796, where Dr. Dwight saw him. He was originally black, and woolly headed, like other negroes; but, at this time, he was almost entirely white, and of a “clear, fresh, and delicate complexion.” His hair, also, was in part changed, and was exactly that of fair white people; of a flaxen hue, and perfectly free from curling.
From these examples my readers may learn that no one color is essential to the nature the body; and that, as white men have become black, and red and black men white, all mankind, how different soever they may now appear, may have descended from Adam and Eve, whatever their complexion might have been.
I might say much more in relation to the differences which exist among different nations; and might, perhaps, explain how they came to differ so greatly in respect to language, and dress, and laws, and government, and other things; but I must not be tedious.
It would be pleasant, no doubt, to my readers, could they travel in safety round the world, and visit the different nations and tribes of men, and mark the differences which exist, for themselves. This pleasure some have enjoyed to a certain extent; and many are the vessels which yearly sail from the United States to various parts of the globe.
A few men have visited almost every country on the globe; but it would take a long life to become even superficially acquainted with the different tribes of men, had one the means which would be necessary. But it is not essential to travel much, to become tolerably acquainted with the people of different countries. Different men have travelled the world over, and have given faithful accounts of the people whom they saw. It is desirable to know what has been thus related. Many of my readers, I suppose, cannot obtain the books which have been written on this subject. I shall, therefore, proceed to tell them something about it.
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, February 1844; pp. 56-58)
The people of Greenland—Labrador.
In order to observe some method, in our account of the people of America, we shall introduce our readers in the first place to the Greenlanders, for I shall here consider Greenland as belonging to the American continent. For a long time Greenland was supposed to be united to this American continent; but it is now ascertained to be a large island. It lies so near to America, however, on the north-east, that it is proper to speak of it in this connection.
Greenland is a cold country, and very mountainous. It is quite barren, except in spots; but the sea is well stored with fish. The country also abounds with reindeer, foxes, white bears, sea-wolves, sea-dogs and sea-cows.
The Greenlanders are short in stature, seldom exceeding five feet in height; but well formed, and rather stout. Their faces are broad and flat; their eyes, nose, and mouth commonly small; their under lip sometimes thicker than the upper; they have high breasts and broad shoulders; their complexion is brown or olive, and their hair coal-black and long.
When they rise in the morning, they appear thoughtful and dejected, but in the evening, when their toil is over, they are cheerful and happy. In general, however, they are not very lively in their temper, yet good-humored and friendly. When a person dies, they think he goes to the land of spirits where he spends his time in hunting.
They are very fond of hunting and fishing and in both they are very expert. They kill many seals; these furnish them with food. The oil they use as sauce, and of the blood they make soup. They use the oil also for lamp light and kitchen fire.
The clothing of the Greenlanders is composed of the skin of the reindeer, seals, and some kinds of birds, which they sew together with the sinews of the reindeer, seal, or whale. Their best garments they keep quite neat; but their ordinary dress abounds in filth and vermin. Their clothes smell so strong, that an inhabitant of the United States would be glad to get to the windward of a Greenlander.
The dwellings of the Greenlanders are of two sorts; one for summer, the other for winter. Their summer habitations are light tents, constructed with a few poles, covered with seal skins. Their winter habitations are built of stones, filled in with moss and covered with turf. The principal apartment is chiefly under ground, and the passage to it is so low, that it is necessary to creep rather to it.
The Greenland women are very much degraded, and their lives are toilsome. They act as butchers and cooks; they dress all the skins, and then make them into garments, boots, shoes, &c. They are even obliged to build and repair the winter habitations, excepting that the men assist about the carpenter’s work.
We are sure that our readers would not with to live in Greenland; yet the inhabitants of that island think their country the best in the world. If at any time a Greenlander is carried to a warmer clime, he longs for his native snows; and, if he cannot hope to return, he sometimes pines away and dies.
Crossing Davis’ Strait, which is not very wide, we reach that part of the American continent which is called Labrador. This is the country of the Esquimaux.
These people resemble the Greenlanders in several important respects. Like them, they are low in stature, and in complexion are very sallow. Their beards are thick and bushy; but, unlike the Greenlanders, their constitutions are feeble. They are a timorous people, and stroke their breasts in token of peace, when they approach a stranger.
The word Esquimaux, signifies “eaters of raw flesh.” They are very properly named. They are a rude and miserable race of beings, but some of them, it is said, have been taught to read the Scriptures. Their food consists chiefly of fish, with the flesh of the seal and the reindeer. Their greatest luxury is seal blubber, or oil, which they devour with as great relish as boys and girls of this country do sweetmeats.
The dress of these people is made of skins. Men and women dress nearly alike. The women use no trinkets except beads; but they ornament themselves by drawing a needle and thread, blackened with soot, under the skin. This leaves a light blue mark. It is a painful operation; but they delight so much in this kind of marks, that they sometimes cover almost their whole body with them.
The Esquimaux have a singular kind of dog, of which they keep large numbers. In this country, we should think
it strange if a dog could not bark; yet theirs never bark. They make use of them to draw their sledges and guard their habitations. Sometimes they eat them, and use their skins for clothing.
Their dwellings in winter resemble caves or holes dug in the earth. They are rendered very filthy by the large quantities of fat or oil which are burnt in them, and which are used in cooking. In summer, they live in tents, much like the Greenlanders.
When Captain Parry made his voyage towards the north pole, a few years since, he found some Esquimaux people living north of Hudson’s Bay. These lived in huts, built of frozen snow. They were very talkative, good-humored and friendly. When they saw anything that pleased them, some fell to singing and dancing, while others screamed as loud as they could. Captain Parry’s men gave them some food; but they made up hideous mouths at it, till, at length, a sailor wet up some dried bread pounded fine, with train-oil, which they licked up with great delight. This would be a loathsome dish to some of our readers in the United States.
These people seem to have no idea of formal religious worship, yet they believe they shall live after death; and if they are good, according to their ideas, that they shall go to heaven and be perfectly happy. Perfect happiness, in their view, no doubt, consists in having plenty of blubber to eat. Without the light of the Bible, how degraded mankind are!
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, March 1844; pp. 86-88)
In a former number we have given some account of the northern Indians, called Esquimaux; and as our readers may like to know how these people look, we give a likeness of one of them. He would hardly be thought a beauty among us, but no doubt he would find some one to fancy him among the girls of his tribe, who live on fish and blubber oil.
All our readers know that when America was discovered, it was inhabited by tribes of copper-colored people, whom we generally call Indians. These were
divided into many tribes, and spoke many languages, but they bore a general resemblance, which led to the conclusion that this remarkable race came originally from Asia, and had a near affinity to the roving, warlike tribes there, called Tartars.
The American Indians, at the time of the discovery of Columbus, might be viewed in four groups: 1st. The Mexicans, who had built cities, established a permanent government, carried on manufactures and commerce, and cultivated the earth with care and success; 2d. The Peruvians, who had made nearly the same advances in civilization as the Mexicans, though differing in many of their arts, manners, customs, and opinions; 3d. The Caribs, a warlike nation, inhabiting the Caribbean isles and the adjacent coast of South America; and, 4th. The various scattered tribes of the continent.
We shalll not enter into a minute account of these several groups, for so much has been said of the Indians, that almost all persons are pretty well acquainted with the subject. Among the chief tribes of New England, when our forefathers settled there, were the Pequots, Narragansets and Mohegans. In New York, are the Mohawks, Senecas, Oneidas, Delawares and Ottoes. In the south and west, there are many other bands or nations.
These tribes, of which there were perhaps several hundred in North America, varied in number from two hundred to five thousand inhabitants each. They all lived chiefly by hunting and fishing, raising a few pumpkins and melons, and a little corn, to aid in obtaining a subsistence. They knew not the use of iron or other metals for cutting; they had no domestic fowls or animals, except, perhaps, dogs far to the north; they lived a wandering life, having no better houses than huts of wood and mud.
Their weapons of war were hatchets of stone, bows and arrows; their fish-hooks were the bones of fishes. They had no tables or chairs; no religious edifices, and but few religious notions. The men spent their time in hunting and the chase, and the women performed all the drudgery.
In war, these savages were cunning, deceitful and cruel: they could track their enemy through the forest by the traces left upon the grass and leaves; they would lurk in the thickets for days, and then suddenly and unexpectedly burst upon their victims. The warriors taken in battle, were often tortured and put to death—but these disdained to show the slightest emotion, even though knots of pine were stuck in their flesh and set on fire!
At first, these Indians received our forefathers with kindness, but, exasperated by various acts of injustice and cruelty, they became treacherous and vindictive. Many bloody encounters took place between the settlers and the savages, in all of which the latter suffered defeat and loss, until they became extinct along the Atlantic border and the remains of their tribes only continue to linger along our western frontier.
The natives that dwelt in the West Indies, some of which were very numerous, have entirely disappeared. Mexico was conquered by Cortez more than three hundred years ago, and the whole Indian
race, amounting to six or eight millions, belonging to that nation, were subjugated. The Indians of Mexico now acknowledge the authority of the established government, pay taxes, and generally belong to the Catholic religion. They are still an ignorant and half barbarous race.
The Peruvian nation, also amounting to millions, was conquered by Pizarro about the year 1536, and from that period the natives became subject to the laws of the white man. These, as in Mexico, are partially civilized.
There are still many South American tribes, which are independent, and maintain their savage habits. The Araucanians, a Chilian tribe, the noblest race of aboriginal Americans, have never been fairly subdued, and though partly civilized, they maintain a lofty spirit of independence. Far south, toward the extremity of South America, the broad-shouldered Patagonians live in savage wildness, and around the rocky and tempestuous shores of Cape Horn, the naked, shivering Fuegians snatch from the raging elements a precarious subsistence.
At the present day there are several tribes inhabiting the vast regions that lie west of the Mississippi, consisting, for the most part, of fragments of tribes driven by the white man from more eastern settlements, to their present abodes. Here they are still lords of the forest, prairie, river and mountain, and here they maintain their wild independence and savage customs. They have become in some degree changed by intercourse with the white race; they have horses, and fire-arms and blankets, and a few utensils derived from civilized man; but they are still hunters and warriors, are still without books, or a settled government, or fixed habitations, or extended agriculture, or any of the leading features of civilization. In another number we propose to tell something about the Indians as they now are.
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, April 1844; pp. 113-116)
The Indians, continued.
Let us now proceed with our promised account of some of the most remarkable manners and customs of the great tribes of Indians, which occupy the western portion of the United States. Among the chief tribes, are the Osages, Pawnees, Choctaws, Creeks, Cherokees, Sacs and Foxes, Assineboins, and Winnebagoes. To the north, are the Blackfeet and the Chippewas. There are also several smaller tribes. These occupy the great tract of country which lies immediately west of the Rocky Mountains; on the other side of that range are a multitude of other tribes. All these Indians are supposed to amount to between two and three hundred thousand.
The people of these different tribes speak different languages, though these
have some resemblance. In their personal appearance, there is little to distinguish them. They are all copper-colored, with small black eyes, and high cheek bones. The hair is invariably black in youth, turning gray in age. It is coarse and lank, resembling horse hair. It is very glossy—a quality which is increased by the use of grease.
The men are tall and well shaped; their arms are small, but their legs are very stout. They can endure long abstinence from food, and run for a great distance with speed. They have not, however, the strength and endurance of the white man. In a personal conflict, where strength and energy of purpose are required, the white man will generally overcome the Indian.
The women are much shorter than the men, and are capable of performing a great deal of labor. All the drudgery of the household falls to their lot. The warrior and the hunter cannot stoop to the cultivation of the soil, or any of the ordinary business of life. In travelling from one part of the country to another, the women carry heavy burdens, take the entire charge of the furniture, pitch the tents, gather the fuel, and kindle the hres; cut up and dress the meat, besides taking care of the children.
Some of the tribes are stationary and live in villages, their houses being made of stone and mortar covered with coarse thatch. These tribes carry on some agriculture, and produce corn, pumpkins, and beans. They frequently send out hunting parties, who furnish a supply of meat from the buffaloes, deer, bear, and other quadrupeds.
Other tribes have permanent villages, built like the preceding, which however are occupied only in winter. In spring, they plant their grounds, and then, taking their tents, set forward, and spend their summer in roaming from place to place, chiefly for the purpose of obtaining game. The men spend their time in war and the chase, and the women in performing household duties. During these excursions, they seem for the most part to live a happy, careless life, though they sometimes suffer from the attacks of their enemies. About the middle of autumn, they return and take up their abode at their winter residence. Here they gather their harvest, which is now ripened.
Besides the great business of war and the chase, the Indian men carry on a considerable traffic in the hides of the animals they kill. White traders frequently visit their settlements, and, in exchange for their furs, give them various trinkets, blankets, knives, hatchets, powder, ball and fire-arms, together with rum and whiskey, the great bane of the Indian. The amusements of these savages are chiefly found in the serious pursuits of life, war, and the chase. Their councils, also, in which the leading men make great speeches, excite a deep and lively interest. Besides these sources of pleasure, the Indian men are very much addicted to various kinds of dances; in these they represent their feats in battle and the chase. The women take no part in such sports, except as spectators.
A great source of amusement with the Indian men is found in personal decorations. They pluck out their beards with the utmost care, probably that they may paint themselves with the more
facility. They now use tweezers made wire, but they formerly used muscle-shells, the edges of which were ground smooth. The operation is performed with a jerk, like that commonly used in plucking a goose.
They paint their bodies in various colors, with various devices. They decorate themselves with necklaces of bear’s-claws, head-pieces consisting of the pate and horns of the buffalo, and ornamented robes of buffalo skins. They also wear feathers in their hair; the chief idea in these decorations seems to be to present a fierce and startling appearance.
The chief amusement of the women, aside from their laborious duties, seems to be found in gossiping. They never mingle in the sports of the men, but seem to take great pleasure in witnessing them. They are little addicted to finery, and dandyism is almost wholly given up to the sterner sex. Notwithstanding that they are the mere slaves of the men, they are talkative, lively and cheerful, and seem to possess a good deal of that sympathy and kindness of heart common to women in all conditions of society.
As I have said, the Indians have no books, no schools, and no churches. Their knowledge is almost wholly confined to the tract of country in which they live and the few arts they practise. They believe in the existence of a great good Spirit, and also an evil Spirit. They believe that they shall exist in a state; if they perform their part well in this life, they hope to enjoy a paradise in the next, fashioned after their notions of happiness. The Indian, about to die, addresses his mind to the Great Spirit, setting forth his feats in battle and the chase, and expresses the hope that in the future state, he shall be surrounded by obedient squaws, roam over rich prairies, feed on fat buffaloes and find no prickly pear to wound his feet. The Indians are superstitious, and believe in the efficacy of various charms. They have sorcerers, who pretend to cure diseases by their incantations.
Mankind in all countries are formed by the circumstances in which they live. The savages of the western wilds have those faculties sharpened, which are called into frequent exercise. Those who have horses become very expert riders. The hunter and the warrior have a keenness of sight, and a nicety of observation, which are truly wonderful. It is related that a hunter belonging to one of the western tribes, on his return home one day to his hut, discovered that his venison, which be had hung up to dry, had been stolen. After taking observations upon the spot, he set off in pursuit of the thief, whom he tracked through the woods. Having gone a little distance, he met some persons, of whom he inquired if they had seen a little old white man, with a short gun, accompanied by a small dog with a short tail? They replied in the affirmative; and upon the Indian assuring them that the man thus described had stolen his venison, they desired to be informed how he was able to give so minute a description of a person he had not seen.
The Indian replied thus, “The thief I know is a little man, by his having made a pile of stones to stand upon in order to reach the venison from the height I hung it, standing on the ground;
that he is an old man, I know by his short steps which I have traced over the dead leaves in the woods; and that he is a white man, I know by his turning out his toes when he walks, which an Indian never does. His gun I know to be short, by the mark the muzzle made in rubbing the tree on which it leaned; that his dog is small, I know by his tracks; and that he has a short tail, I discovered by the mark it made in the dust where he was sitting at the time his master was taking down the meat.”
This story shows that savages are very sharp in little matters to which their circumstances have directed their attention. But how great is their ignorance of many important subjects! They have no idea of geography, beyond their own travels! They do not know the shape of the world—its vast magnitude, its mighty rivers, its boundless oceans, or the nations and kingdoms with which it is covered. They know nothing of Europe, or Asia, or Africa. They know nothing of astronomy except from what they see, and the highest conception they have of the stars is that they are fires with which the Great Spirit lights his pipe. They know nothing of the great truths of the Bible, and they conceive the Deity to be a being possessing nearly the same qualities as themselves. How fearful is the darkness which rests upon uncivilized, unchristianized man, and how thankful should we be for the advantages bestowed upon us by the light of knowledge and truth of revelation!
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, May 1844; pp. 146-149)
I could tell you a great deal more about the Indians, especially of the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, and other tribes, which have been removed by the government of the United States to a fine country northwest of Louisiana, where they have schools and churches, and cultivate their lands, and live much like white people. But I am afraid I am making too long a story. I shall, therefore, tell you something of certain queer tribes that seem to be a mixture of the American Indian and Esquimaux, and then proceed to other countries.
Let us cross to the western side of the continent of America. Here, far to the northwest, we find Nootka Sound, which is a bay in the Pacific Ocean, discovered by [C]aptain Cook, in 1778. Around this bay live a set of people, who in some respects differ from the North American Indians, though they have many traits in common with them.
On board one of the vessels which first entered Nootka Sound, in 1778, was John Ledyard, one of our own countrymen. He resided in Hartford some time after his return, where he wrote an account of his voyage. That account I have seen, and in it he speaks of the inhabitants who live round the Sound.
He says that the people there resemble the Indians on this side of the Rocky Mountains. They are tall, robust, and well made; but in this last respect, they do not equal the Indians farther east. Some of the women, however, appeared quite handsome.
They have large and full faces, high and prominent cheek bones, small and black eyes, broad and flat noses, thick lips, and teeth of the most brilliant whiteness. They fill their hair with oil, paint, and the down of birds. They also paint their faces with red, blue, and white colors. They look odd enough.
Some accounts represent them to be a
quiet, peaceable people; but others say that they are bold and ferocious. They give some evidence of being rather a wise people,—they do not talk much; perhaps, it is because they have not many ideas. This last, I think, is true, for they have no books, and no means of knowing much.
I am sorry to add, that they are said to be cannibals; that is, they eat human flesh. Ledyard saw, when he was there, not only human skulls and bones for sale; but, also, human flesh ready cooked. This made the sailors shudder, and well it might.
The only inhabited parts of the Sound are two villages, containing about two thousand people. Their houses are of very long and broad plank, resting upon the edges of each other, fastened together by means of withes, supported by posts.
As you enter one of their houses, you find benches raised on the sides of the room. These are covered with mats, upon which the family sit and sleep. The fireplace is in the middle of the floor, but they have neither hearth nor chimney.
They have very fine furs; and when Captain Cook was there, he purchased some, not thinking they were very valuable, but when he arrived in China, he sold skins, which cost but sixpence, for a hundred dollars. Since Captain Cook’s time, many vessels have been to Nootka Sound after furs, and made their voyages very profitable.
I will only add, that Nootka Sound lies west of Boston, about three thousand miles. But should any of my readers ever go thither, they will probably go by water. In this case, if they sail from New York, they will proceed south along the American coast, round Cape Horn, and then north to the Sound. The voyage will take them about five months, and they will sail not less than fifteen thousand miles.
Before we return to the eastern side of the continent, we must notice the people who inhabit the Fox Islands, the largest of which is called Onalaska. This island lies in the Pacific Ocean, at some distance from the peninsula of Alaska, as you may perceive by looking on a map.
This island, also, was first discovered by Captain Cook, in 1778. The inhabitants here are described as being in stature about middle size, with full round faces, flat noses, black eyes and hair, but no beard; for this they pluck out by the roots as soon as it begins to grow. Their skin is quite dark, but is rendered still more so by the manner in which they live.
The inhabitants appear to be good-natured and benevolent; but if their anger is once roused, it is not easily allayed. Their common dress, in rainy weather, is a garment, made of the entrails of the sea-dog. This secures them against the rain. In dry and cold weather, they wear a garment made of feathers, curiously sewed together, and which costs a person sometimes a whole year’s labor. Their hats are made of wood, and very much resemble an umbrella.
They are quite fond of ornaments, particularly beads, and small ivory figures cut from the teeth of the sea-cow,
and with the bristles of the sea-lion’s beard—all of which they put upon their hats. The women ornament themselves with rings upon their fingers, and with belts of glass beads upon their wrists and ankles.
The houses in which they dwell are large holes, dug in the ground, and covered with a roof, over which earth is thrown, and grass grows upon it. In the centre of the roof a hole is cut. This is all the door, window, and chimney which they have. They enter the house, and go out of it, by means of an upright post, with pins in it. Their habitations are generally filthy places. They are filled with the smoke of burnt oil, which they use for light and cooking. They live principally upon fish and sea-dogs.
The canoes or these people are very ingenious. They build a wooden frame, which they cover with sea-dogs’ skins. They are light, and are pushed forward in the water with amazing rapidity.
It is a long distance from the island of Onalaska to Canada; but as we travel, we are soon there. Canada now belongs to Great Britain, and there are many English, Scotch and Irish people resident there but it was first settled by the French, and there are more French than there are English. Some Americans, also, have settled there, for the purpose of trade.
The English and American inhabitants of Canada are intelligent and polished people, resembling the higher classes in England and America. These live principally in the large towns and cities.
The common people, or true Canadians, are French. They speak the French language; but it has lost much of its purity. Few among them know how either to read or write. They are, however, quite an honest, hospitable, and inoffensive people. They are very poor; and no wonder they are so, for they are a very lazy people. They seem to have few wants, and to be quite happy, and contented with their condition. Within a few years they have improved somewhat; but it will be a long time before they make much advance.
At an early period of life, the Canadian is healthy and robust; but he soon looks old and sallow, owing to his exposure to the weather, and the toil of the field. This is also true of the women, many of whom are quite handsome when young; but they soon fade. Both men and women frequently live, however, to advanced age.
Canada is a cold country. The winters are long and severe. The inhabitants protect themselves when they go abroad, by means of furs, in which they envelop themselves. They travel, during the cold season, in a kind of sledge, or open carriage, called a cariole. In these, they glide over deep snows and frozen rivers, with surprising celerity.
At the beginning of winter, the farmers, who are called habitants, kill hogs, cattle, and poultry, sufficient to serve them till spring, as well as to supply the markets. The carcasses they store in their garrets, where they soon become frozen, and keep without injury; or they bury them, and dig them out as wanted. Vegetables are preserved in a similar manner. The French Canadians are
chiefly Roman Catholics; the other inhabitants are of various sects.
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, June 1844; pp. 170-172)
South-west of the United States is the country of Mexico. Till within a few years, it was a Spanish colony; but is now independent.
In Mexico there are seven kinds of people: 1. Whites, born in Europe; 2. Creoles, born of Spanish parents in America; 3. Mestizoes, or descendants of Whites and Indians; 4. Mulattoes, sprung from Whites and Negroes; 5. Zambas, the offspring of Indians and Negroes; 6. Indians, who are the copper-colored native race; and 7. African Negroes.
The Mexicans are of good stature, well proportioned, and so free from personal defects, that there is scarcely upon the earth a nation, in which fewer deformed persons are to be met with. Their skin is of a copper-color; and they have good complexions, narrow foreheads, black eyes, white, firm, regular teeth, and thick, glossy, black hair.
Some of the ladies are said to be very beautiful; but they have one practice, which is very disgusting—that of smoking cigars. They carry their cigars in a gold, or silver case, suspended by a ribbon at their side; and as soon as one cigar is exhausted, another is lighted; and they only cease to smoke, when they eat or sleep.
It is said that the Mexicans are moderate in eating; yet one would think they must eat a great deal, as they have eight meals a day. This I suppose, however, is only among the higher classes. Chocolate is a favorite beverage, but if they eat little, they drink much. Indeed, drunkenness is so common, that in the city of Mexico, the police send round tumbrils, or carts, to collect such as are found stretched in the streets.
The senses of these people are very acute, especially that of sight, which they enjoy to old age, unimpaired. Their constitutions are naturally sound; and, though most of them die of severe diseases, it is not uncommon for them to attain to the age of a hundred years.
The Mexicans have good understandings; but education among them is not very general. They are said not to be as passionate as the people of some other countries. They are slow, and very persevering in respect to works, which require time. They are generous and disinterested. They set but little value upon gold. The Spanish inhabitants dress very expensively. They generally wear silks, and adorn their hats with belts of gold, and roses of diamonds. Even some of the slaves have bracelets, and necklaces of gold, silver, pearls, and gems.
The Roman Catholic is the established religion. The natives retain many of their superstitious notions and practices. When one of them dies, the deceased has a jug of water given him, and pieces of paper, with directions where to go. At the same time, a little dog, or some other domestic animal, is killed, to accompany the deceased on his journey, to the invisible world. The corpse and the animal are now burned, and the ashes placed in an earthen pot, which is buried in a deep ditch.
Before we speak of the inhabitants of Brazil, however, we shall say a word or two of the country. Scarcely a finer country is to be found on the globe. Its climate is healthful; its soil fertile; its scenery charming, and even romantic; thick forests crown its hills, and perpetual verdure adorns its valleys; noble rivers pass in every direction, and the richest tropical fruits abound in every quarter. Brazil also is famous for its gold and diamonds. Until recently, the country belonged to the king of Portugal; but it is now independent. The Roman Catholic is the established religion.
The European settlers are generally gay and fond of pleasure. The men generally wear cloaks and swords. The ladies have fine dark eyes, and expressive, countenances. They adorn their heads with tresses, tied with ribbons and flowers. The labor of this class of persons is chiefly performed by slaves.
If you go into the country, but not into the mining districts, you will find the people living in small mud cottages, covered with tiles or leaves. The people here use no knives or forks; and but few have tables. They eat their meals, squatting on the ground, with dishes, bowls or gourds, placed in the centre. The people dress in a slovenly and mean manner, but the women more so than the men.
In the mining districts, the inhabitants are still more degraded. You may indeed see cups, coffee-pots, wash-basins, and the like, all of silver; but other things, food, dress, and manner of living, by no means correspond.
The native Indians of Brazil are divided into numerous tribes, and speak different languages; but they all agree in wearing few clothes. Many are entirely naked. They are of a copper-color, with long, coarse, black hair; but, like the more northern Indians, they are destitute of beards. They are a strong, lively, and gay race of people. Few diseases are known among them. They delight in feasting and dancing, both of which they carry to excess.
Their huts are made of the branches of trees, and covered with palm leaves. Their articles of furniture are few and simple. Their weapons of war are bows, arrows, and wooden clubs. The flesh of monkeys is their principal animal food. This they so prepare, that, at the same time it is roasted, it is blackened with smoke. A monkey roasted by a Brazilian, would frighten an American: or if it did not frighten, it would disgust him, for it is always roasted with its head on, and in a sitting posture.
To the west of Brazil, lies Peru; and hither we shall now conduct our readers, to take a view of the inhabitants of that country.
We must first tell them, however, a few words of the country itself. Peru is a hot and barren country. It is barren, because it seldom rains there. It has many dreary deserts. The lofty Andes pass through, and divide it. It abounds in gold, and silver, and mercury, or quicksilver. Here, too, is found Peruvian bark, which is so much used in this, and other parts of the world.
Peru is a large country; and yet it, has but about a million and a half of in-
habitants. They consist of Creoles, Mestizoes, and Indians, or natives of the country. The Creoles are natives of Spanish descent. They are well made, and of good stature, with lively, agreeable countenances. The Mestizoes are a mixed race. They are, also, generally well made, very robust, and quite tall.
By far the greater part of the inhabitants of Peru are Indians; but they are not now what they once were. Many years ago, the Spaniards conquered them. At that time, they were a rich and flourishing people. They understood several of the arts, and many of them lived in a style of magnificence.
At that time, gold was so common among them, that they used it, as we use iron and brass. Their sovereigns were called Incas. They believed the sun to be a god, and worshipped it as such. The glory of their former days has, however, passed away. They are now almost savages. They are well proportioned, and even strong; but are generally low in stature, and some of them remarkably so. They have deep black hair, which is thick, long, harsh and coarse, like that of a horse. The men wear theirs loose, but the women plait theirs behind with a ribbon. They set great value upon their hair; the greatest insult which can be offered to either sex, is to cut it off; and when this is done by way of punishment, they never forgive the disgrace put upon them.
Their dress consists of white cotton drawers, reaching to the calf of the leg, loose, and edged with lace. Instead of a shirt, they wear a black cotton frock, in the form of a sack, with two openings for the arms, and a third for the head to pass through; over this, they throw a kind of cloak and cover the head with a hat.
This dress they never put off; even when they sleep. Some of the richer class distinguish themselves by the fineness of their drawers, and wear shirts with lace four or five inches broad, fastened round the neck like a ruff. Though they wear no stockings, they have silver or gold buckles in their shoes; and their cloak, which is of fine cloth, is often adorned with gold or silver lace.
“Pictures of Various Nations” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, July 1844; pp. 26-28)
Chili lies south of Peru, and is a narrow tract about twelve hundred miles in length, between the Pacific ocean and the Andes. It has a climate remarkably fine and salubrious, and a soil which is very fertile. It seldom rains there, but the dews are abundant. In several parts of the Andes, volcanoes yearly spout forth their fires, and earthquakes are frequent and severe.
Chili was conquered by the Spaniards many years since; but the conquest was achieved with much difficulty. In the native Chilese they found a bold and intrepid people, who fought with desperate courage, and continued the war for fifty years.
The Spaniards who have settled Chili, live principally in the northern part. With these have mingled a few English, French and Italians.
The Creoles, or the descendants of the Spaniards, are generally wel made, honorable, intrepid and liberal; yet vain and fond of pleasure. The men generally dress in the French fashion; the women in that of Peru. But the Chilese ladies wear long gowns, and have a more modest air. The Creole population are very extravagant in dress and in their manner of living. The common people of the country lead a happy
tranquil life. They are somewhat gay, and fond of music and poetry.
About one half of Chili is still possessed by tribes of the Aborigines, who are called Araucanians. In many respects they are an interesting people. They are not tall, but strong and robust, and intrepid warriors, devoted to their country, and prodigal of their lives. They are courteous, hospitable, faithful to their engagements, grateful for benefits, and generous and humane towards the vanquished. Many of them, however, are addicted to gaming and drunkenness. Great feasts are sometimes made by them, on which occasions they are guilty of a most wasteful prodigality.
They are copper-colored, but somewhat lighter than most of the northern and central tribes. Their face is nearly round, eyes small, noses flattened, but the mouth well made, and the teeth white and uniform. They have long, black hair. They pluck out their beards by the roots. Many of the women are handsome; are seldom gray before sixty or seventy, nor bald before eighty. It is not uncommon to find among them persons of more than a hundred years, retaining their teeth, and sight, and memory unimpaired.
Of their dress, we shall only say, that it is generally tight or compact, consisting of a shirt, with breeches, and a mantle reaching to the knee. These are generally of wool, and of a blue color; though the mantle is sometimes red or white. They ornament their heads with plumes of feathers. The women wear a gown reaching to the feet, but without sleeves. It is bound round the waist with a girdle, confined by a silver clasp in front. Their hair is left to fall on their shoulders, and is decorated with brilliant stones. Bracelets, necklaces, and rings are also worn, and most of the lower classes have ornaments of silver.
These people do not live in villages, but their habitations are generally at a distance from each other, on the banks of rivers. These are commonly surrounded with trees, under the shade of which the family take their meals. Many of the men have several wives, each of whom daily presents her husband with a dish of food, cooked at her own fire. The Araucanians are distinguished for their horsemanship and for their eloquence. For this last, their language is well adapted.
Patagonia is the most southern country in South America. It has never been much explored; so that we can say but little more about it, than that the northern parts have a milder climate and a more productive soil than the southern parts, which are intensely cold. It is as cold there as Cape Horn, or as it is in the northern part of Canada. Of the inhabitants, also, we can give no very particular account. Some Europeans, however, have visited them, during their voyages of trade or discovery.
In 1764, Commodore Byron landed in Patagonia, and had an interview with the natives. They have always been said to be giants, and he found them to be so. They seemed to him to be generally six feet and a half high, and some of them quite seven feet. The tallest Americans are seldom over six feet,
generally not more than five feet, and seven and ten inches.
He found them not only thus tall, but very robust. Only their hands and feet are small. They are a warlike tribe, yet courteous and humane. In their complexion, they are copper-colored. They have straight, black, and coarse hair, usually tied behind with a string. They paint themselves with circles round the eyes, and with various colors. Their teeth are exceedingly white, and remarkably even and well set.
Their dress is made of the skin of the guanaco, sewed together into pieces about six feet long and five broad, which are wrapped as a cloak round their body. The upper part, however, falls back, and thus exposes the neck and shoulders to the weather, and makes them look almost naked. They appear to eat raw flesh of animals. They are excellent horsemen, and will pursue their game on horseback, in places of danger, where an American would be afraid to go.
In 1766, Captain Welles visited Patagonia, and while there, he took several of the people on board his ship; but he was surprised to find that they had no curiosity about anything, excepting a looking-glass, before which they danced and played a thousand tricks.
Terra del Fuego.
Of Terra del Fuego and its inhabitants, we know still less than of Patagonia, and the people of that country. It is an island, separated from Cape Horn by a strait, called the straits of Magellan, after the navigator who first discovered it. The same navigator gave the name of Terra del Fuego to the island. It signifies “the land of fire,” and was given to the island because he and his men discovered on it numerous fires, which proceeded from volcanoes.
The island is a dreary region; bleak, barren, and mountainous. Winter reigns here nearly the whole year round. The inhabitants are of a middle stature, with broad faces, flat noses, and high cheek bones. They paint their bodies, which are naturally fair, and what clothes they wear are made of seals’ skins. Shell fish is their principal food. Their huts are miserable shelters, built in a conical form, or much like a tunnel.
The inhabitants of the north seem to be quite different from those of the south. The former are said to be cruel and treacherous; the latter harmless and simple. They are alike destitute of curiosity, however, and although the climate is extremely cold, they go almost naked.