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PENN'S TREATY WITH THE INDIANS:
(With an Engraving.)
PERHAPS few events in the history of the world have more painfully illustrated the selfish nature of man, and the tendency of might to overcome right, than those which would be found in connexion with the settlement and colonization of the comparatively uninhabited portions of the earth. It has generally happened that some overflowing country has sent a number of its inhabitants to regions where the population has been widely scattered; and, with the power which civilization confers over savages, they have seized on such parts of the territory as have appeared to be suitable to their own purposes, without any regard to the rights and claims of those already dwelling there. A delicate question, indeed, arises, in cases of this kind. Human rights and duties are not to be measured by rules formed from metaphysical and abstract principles, but by reference to the plainly declared will of Him who at first created the earth, and placed man upon it; and who still claims to govern the creatures whom he has made. Now, one of his earliest social commands is, "Replenish the earth, and subdue it;" and, undoubtedly, in reference to Him, no collection of individuals have the VOL. XI. Second Series.
right to contravene his will, by dwelling in what is usually termed savage life, in which society exists in its most imperfect form, so that a far larger extent of ground is required for their subsistence than would be were the arts of life properly cultivated, and the earth made to yield her increase in the manner which experience proves to be practicable. A nation (if so it deserves to be called, when the individuals are scarcely bound together by any political and moral tie) which chooses to depend on the limited and precarious supply of the chase, must unavoidably require a larger territory than is necessary where man exists, as he is evidently intended to exist, under the form of civilization. America is rapidly advancing in population; and the time is arriving when it will be everywhere populous, as England, for instance, is now. But had it continued in the state in which its European discoverers found it, it is scarcely possible to calculate the proportion in which its inhabitants would have been fewer then they are at present likely to be. Where a few thousand hunting savages found a scanty supply, often experiencing extreme want, millions may dwell, well fed, well clothed, well housed, rejoicing in the abundance with which the earth yields her increase to them. And it is their own fault if there be not a proportionate augmentation of happiness. The vices of savage life are scarcely avoidable, and proceed from itself; while those of civilization result entirely from sin; and prophecy discloses a period when the innumerable inhabitants of the replenished and subdued earth, living in submission to the divine authority, shall rejoice in the divine goodness. It is sin which has led to savagism. A Christian people rapidly becomes a civilized people. We, therefore, say again, that, in reference to the will of the Creator, no savage tribe has a right to claim for its hundreds the occupancy of an extent of country that might support, in far greater well-being, and with a richer developement of the powers of humanity, its hundreds of thousands.
But God, who has given the earth to man, and commanded him to replenish and subdue it, has given to him, likewise, his law, and placed him under the obligations of justice and good-will to his fellows. He is to carry into effect the divine