Page images

shillings a pound: but, says he, I cannot talk on business now; this is the day when we meet together to learn good things, and I am going to the meeting. So I thought to myself, since I cannot do any business today, I may as well go to the meeting too, and I went with him. There stood up a man in black, and began to talk to the people very angrily. I did not understand what he said; but perceiving that he looked much at me, and at Hanson, I imagined he was angry at seeing me there; so I went out, sat down near the house, struck fire, and lit my pipe, waiting till the meeting should break up. I thought too, that the man had mentioned something of beaver, and I suspected it might be the subject of their meeting. So when they came out I accosted my merchant. Well, Hans, says I, I hope you have agreed to give more than four shillings a pound? No, says he, I cannot give so much, I cannot give more than three shillings and sixpence. I then spoke to several other dealers, but they all sung the same song, three and sixpence, three and sixpence. This made it clear to me that my suspicion was right; and that whatever they pretended of meeting to learn good things, the real purpose was to consult how to cheat Ivdians in the price of beaver. Consider but a little, Conrad, and you must be of my opinion. If they met so often to learn good things, they would certainly have learned some before this time. But they are still ignorant. You know our practice. If a white man, in travelling through our country, enters one of our cabins, we all treat him as I do you; we dry him if he is wet, we warm him if he is cold, and give him meat and drink, that he may allay his thirst and hunger; and we spread soft furs for him to rest


and sleep on: we demand nothing in return*. But if I go into a white man's house at Albany, and ask for victuals and drink, they say, Where is your money? and if I have none, they say, Get out you Indian dog. You see they have not yet learned those little good things, that we need no meetings to be instructed in, because our mothers taught them to us when we were children; and therefore it is impossible their meetings should be as they say, for any such purpose, or have any such effect; they are only to contrive the cheating of Indians in the price of beaver."

The internal State of America; being a true Description

of the Interest and Policy of that vast Continent. THERE is a tradition, that, in the planting of NewEngland, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships; as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt establishing themselves in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought relief from Heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented; and, like

* It is remarkable. that in all ages and countries, hospitality has been allowed as the virtue of those, whom the civilized were pleased to cali Barbarians. The Greeks celebrated the Scythians, for it, the Saracena possessed it eminently; and it is to this day the reigning virtue of the wild Arabs. St. Paul too, in the relation of his voyage and shipwreck, on the island of Melita, says, “The barbarous people sliewed us no litule kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.” 1.').' ' . m 2 C4


the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt, which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked, that the inconveniences they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened ; that the earth tagan to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsistence; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious : he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, instead of a fast, they should proclaim a thanksgiving, His advice was taken ; and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a thanksgiving day; which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.

I see in the public newspapers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scarcity of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to assert or maintain, that these complaints are entirely without foundation. There can be no country or nation existing, in which there will not be some people so circumstanced, as to find it hard to gain a livelihood; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce, because they have nothing to

give in exchange for it; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.

The great business of the continent is, agriculture. For one artisan, or merchant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only food necessary for their subsistence, but the materials of their clothing, so as to need very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providence to these regions, and so favourable the climate, that, since the three or four years of hardship in the first settlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard of amongst us; on the contrary, though some years may have been more, and others less plentiful, there has always been provision enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of last year were generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the published price currents abundantly testify. The lands he possesses are also continually rising in value with the increase of population; and, on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquainted with the old world must agree, that in po part of it are the labouring poor so generally well fed, well clothed, well lodged, and well paid, as in the United States of America.

If we enter the cities, we find, that, since the revolu


liberty; and perhaps they help to preserve it. By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained. The different factions, which at present divide us, aim all at the public good: the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it. Things, actions, measures, and objects of all kinds, present themselves to the minds of men in such a variety of lights, that it is not possible we should all think alike at the same time on every subject, when hardly the same man retains at all times the same ideas of it. Parties are therefore the common lot of humanity; and ours are by no means more mischievous or less beneficial than those of other countries, nations, and ages, enjoying in the same degree the great blessing of political liberty.

Some indeed among us are not so much grieved for the present state of our affairs, as apprehensive for the future. The growth of luxury alarms them, and they think we are from that alone in the high road to ruin. They observe, that no revenue is sufficient without economy, and that the most plentiful income of a whole people from the natural productions of their country may be dissipated in vain and needless expences, and poverty be introduced in the place of affluence. This may be possible. It however rarely happens: for there seems to be in every nation a greater proportion of industry and frugality, which tend to enrich, than of idleness and prodigality, which occasion poverty; so that upon the whole there is a continual accumulation. Reflect what Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Britain were in the time of the Romans, inhabited by people little richer than our savages, and consider the wealth they at present possess, in numerous well-built cities,



[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »