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from several of these chapters will serve two purposes: first, to show how Heckewelder stresses the excellences of these Indians; second, to show the extent to which the Indians in Cooper's Leather-Stocking Tales are similar to Heckewelder's Indians.
Chapter VI. General Characteristics of the Indians.-The Indian considers himself as a being created by an all-powerful, wise, and benevolent Mannitto; all that he possesses, all that he enjoys, he looks upon as given to him or allotted for his use by the Great Spirit who gave him life; he therefore believes it to be his duty to adore and worship his Creator and benefactor; to acknowledge with gratitude his past favours, thank him for his present blessings, and solicit the continuation of his good will.
Everything was given in common to the sons of men. Whoever liveth on the land, whatsoever groweth out of the earth, and all that is in the rivers and waters flowing through the same, was given jointly to all, and every one is entitled to his share. From this principle, hospitality flows as from its source. With them it is not a virtue but a strict duty.
They treat each other with civility, and shew much affection on meeting after an absence.
They are not quarrelsome, and are always on their guard, so as not to offend each other.
They do not fight with each other; they say fighting is only for dogs and beasts.
Chapter VII. Government.-Although the Indians have no code of laws for their government, their chiefs find little or no difficulty in governing them. They are supported by able experienced counsellors; men who study the welfare of the nation, and are equally interested with themselves in its prosperity.
Chapter VIII. Education. It may justly be a subject of wonder, how a nation without a written code of laws or system of jurisprudence, without any form or constitution of government, and without even a single elective or hereditary magistrate, can subsist together in peace and harmony, and in the exercise of the moral virtues; how a people can be well and effectually governed without any external authority; by the mere force of the ascendency which men of superior minds have over those of a more ordinary stamp; by a tacit, yet universal submission to the aristocracy of experience, talents, and virtue.
Chapter IX. Oratory. The eloquence of the Indians is natural and simple; they speak what their feelings dictate without art and without rule; their speeches are forcible and impressive, their arguments are few and pointed; and when they mean to persuade as well as convince, they take the shortest way to reach the heart. I know that their oratorical powers have been strongly controverted, and this is not astonishing, when we consider the prejudice that exists against their languages, which are in general believed to be poor, and inadequate to the expression of any but the most common ideas.
Chapter XII. Metaphorical Expressions.-The Indians are fond of metaphors. They are to their discourses what feathers and beads are to their persons, a gaudy but tasteless ornament.18
Chapter XIV. Intercourse with Each Other.-It is a striking fact that the Indians, in their uncivilized state, should so behave towards each other as though they were a civilized people! . . . They often meet for the purpose of conversation, and their sociability appears to be a recreation to them, a renewal of good fellowship.
Chapter XV. Political Manoeuvres.—In the management of their national affairs, the Indians display as much skill and dexterity, perhaps, as any people upon earth.
Chapter XVI. Marriage and the Treatment of Their Wives.-There are many persons who believe, from the labour that they see the Indian women perform, that they are in a manner treated as slaves. These labours, indeed, are hard, compared with the tasks that are imposed upon females in civilized society; but they are no more than their fair share, under every consideration and due allowance, of the hardships attendant on a savage life. Therefore they are not only voluntarily but cheerfully submitted to; and as women are not obliged to live with their husbands any longer than suits their pleasure or convenience, it cannot be supposed that they would submit to be loaded with unjust or unequal burdens.
Chapter XVII. Respect for the Aged.-There is no nation in the world who pay greater respect to old age than the American Indians.
Chapter XVIII. Pride and Greatness of Mind.—The Indians are proud but not vain; they consider vanity as degrading and unworthy the character of a man. The hunter never boasts of his skill or strength, nor the warrior of his prowess.
Chapter XXIII. General Observation of the Indians on the White People. The Indians believe that the whites were made by the same Great Spirit who created them, and that he assigned to each different race of men a particular employment in this world, but not the same to all. To the whites the great Manitto gave it in charge to till the ground and raise by cultivation the fruits of the earth; to the Indians he assigned the nobler employment of hunting, and the supreme dominion over all the rest of the animal creation.
Chapter XLIV. The Indians and the Whites Compared.-Every person who is well acquainted with the true character of the Indians will admit that they are peaceable, sociable, obliging, charitable, and hospitable among themselves, and that those virtues are, as it were, a part of their
Here and there throughout the book the author grudgingly admits that his Indians have a few excusable faults. For example:
18 Heckewelder gives a list of forty-nine metaphorical expressions.
But we must now look to the other side of the picture. It cannot but be acknowledged that the Indians are in general revengeful and cruel to their enemies. That even after the battle is over, they wreak their deliberate revenge on their defenceless prisoners; that in their wars they are indifferent about the means which they pursue for the annoyance and destruction of their adversaries, and that surprise and stratagem are as often employed as open force.1o
Heckewelder repeatedly maintains that he is not picturing Indians "who have been corrupted by a long intercourse with the worst class of white men," but the "true genuine Indians" of an earlier time. Through his observation and his simple acceptance of old Indian traditions, therefore, he believed in the superiority of the early Indians.
The volume of 1819, which included the Indian Nations, was highly praised by the early reviewers, but after a few years Heckewelder and his publications were severely attacked. Allibone
His account of the Indians excited considerable attention, and was favorably received by Nathan Hale, in the North American Review, IX, 155-178, and by J. Pickering in the same periodical, IX, 179-187; it was unfavorably noticed, with the admission of some merits, by General Lewis Cass, in the same journal, XXII, 357-403. It was also attacked by John Penington, an intelligent antiquary of Philadelphia, in a Review of Yates and Moulton's History of New York, pub. in the United States Review, January, 1834.20
Nathan Hale, the critic, wrote in 1819:
The work abounds in facts and anecdotes, calculated not merely to entertain the reader, but to lay open, in the most authentic and satisfactory manner, the charatcer and condition of this people. There is no other work extant, in which this design has been so extensively adopted, or in which the object is so fully accomplished. There is no work upon the North American Indians which can bear any comparison with it for the means of correct information possessed by the author, or for the copiousness of its details. 21
In the same year J. Pickering wrote:
19 Ibid., p. 106.
20 Allibone, Samuel A., Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors. . . Philadelphia, [1858-98], 1, 51.
21 Review of Heckewelder's An account of the History American Review, IX, 178.
every man who reads Mr. Heckewelder's work with the same candour with which it is written, will be surprised to perceive how much their [the Delaware Indians] blemishes of character have been exaggerated, and how little we have known of their virtue.23
Cooper was much influenced in his choice and treatment of Indian material by W. H. Gardiner, who, in 1822, advised him to write tales of Indian life and to get his material from Heckewelder as the best historian of the Indians:
At the present day, enough is known of our aborigines to afford the groundwork of invention, enough is concealed to leave full play for the warmest imagination; and we see not why those superstitions of theirs .. may not be successfully employed . . . to light up a new train of glowing visions, at the touch of some future wizard of the West. And if we may credit the flattering pictures of their best historian, the indefatigable Heckewelder, not a little of softer interest might be extracted from their domestic life.23
In 1826 General Lewis Cass disparaged Heckewelder and mildly reproved Cooper for getting his materials from that source:
The effect of Mr. Heckewelder's work, upon the prevailing notions respecting Indian history, is every day more and more visible. . . . In one of those beautiful delineations of American scenery, incidents, and manners, for which we are indebted to the taste and talent of our eminent novelist, "the last of the Mohegans" [sic] is an Indian of the school of Mr. Heckewelder, and not of the school of nature."
By 1826 Gardiner, probably influenced by Cass, seemed to have forgotten his former advice to Cooper, for he now belittled Heckewelder and regretted Cooper's reliance upon the Indian historian:
He has relied exclusively upon the narrations of the enthusiastic and visionary Heckewelder, whose work is more eulogium upon the virtues of his favorite tribe, and contains, mixed with many interesting facts, a world of pure imagination. . . . It is therefore with great regret, that we have seen his wild tradition adopted by an author so generally read and so deservedly popular, for the sober voice of history, and the whole fable of
22 "Review of Correspondence between Heckewelder and Duponceau respecting the Language of the American Indians," North American Review, IX, 187.
23 "Review of the Spy," North American Review, XV, 256.
94" Review on books by John D. Hunter and John Halkett on the Indians," North American Review, XXII, 67.
the superior virtues and glories of the Lenni Lenape, incorporated into this tale, for such it must be called.25
In 1828 Cass rejected Heckewelder's account in even stronger terms:
His account is pure unmixed panegyric. The most idle traditions of the Indians with him become sober history; their superstition is religion; their indolence, philosophical indifference or pious resignation; their astonishing improvidence, hospitality; and many other defects in their character are converted into the corresponding virtues."
In the same article Cass charged Cooper with having adopted Heckewelder's inaccuracies in The Last of the Mohicans and The Prairie. He regrets that Cooper had not crossed "the Alleghany instead of the Atlantic" in order to " survey the red man in the forests and prairies, which yet remain to him," and that he had "wandered from nature in following the path marked out by Mr. Heckewelder." He devotes several pages to showing that Cooper followed "the book of Mr. Heckewelder, instead of the book of nature" in writing The Last of the Mohicans. He concludes by saying that "his Uncas and his Pawnee Hardheart . . . are the Indians of Mr. Heckewelder, and not the fierce and crafty warriors and hunters, that roam through our forests." 27
While never admitting that he had followed Heckewelder, Cooper never actually denied it. In the Preface to a new edition of the Leather-Stocking Tales he shows, however, that he esteemed highly Heckewelder's knowledge of the Indians:
It has been objected to these books that they give a more favorable picture of the red man than he deserves. The writer apprehends that much of this objection arises from the habits of those who have made it. One of his critics [Lewis Cass], on the appearance of the first work in which Indian character was portrayed, objected that its "characters were Indians of the school of Heckewelder, rather than of the school of Nature." These words quite probably contain the substance of the true answer to the objection. Heckewelder was an ardent, benevolent missionary, bent on
25" Review of the Pioneers; The Last of the Mohicans," North American Review, XXIII, 166, 167.
26" Review of William Rawle's A Vindication of the Rev. Mr. Heckewelder's History of the Indian Nations," North American Review, XXVI, 336-367.
27 Ibid., pp. 373 ff.