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OF MAN AS FORMED FOR THE SOCIAL STATE.
Of the first rude state. Whether this is a state of virtue and happiness in
preference to a state of improvement.
That the savage state is a state of nature to man cannot with truth, be denied. There is not, at this day, a people on earth, who may not trace their origin to a race of savages; some' indeed more and some less remote. The Jews, as the writings of Moses and their subsequent historians abundantly prove, are far from being an exception. The question is not, whether a rude unpolished state be ever a natural state to man; but whether, in the original constitution of his nature, he is so formed for happiness in this state, as to exclude any benefit to be derived from progressive improvement. We are at a loss, at what period of the progress of society, to fix the precise state of nature intended. Shall we go back to the rude state of the inhabitants of New Holland, who have learned to draw no part of their subsistence from the earth by cultivation, or the inhabitants of Terra-del-Fuego, whose sole dependence, for food, is said to be in the shell fish found in the sand at the ebb of the tide, neither of whom have any notions of honesty or the rights of property, beyond the circles of their little tribes ? Shall we make a little farther advance and place it among the savages of North America, when first discovered by Europeans, some of whom continue in the same rude state to this day? They are simple, they are honest, as far as the circle of their several
tribes. They obtain their food from the river, or the forest, furnished by the bounty of nature, and the little deficiencies are supplied by a scanty cultivation of the earth. The skins of the chase furnish them with coarse, but comfortable clothes, or are exchanged for the products of European looms. They are contented with their present situation, or rather resigned to it as their inevitable lot. All this was true, and still is true of all the American natives, whose manners have not been affected by intercourse with European settlers, who have occupied a large portion of their country; and yet it gives us hardly a glimpse of their character. The savages of America, like other men, have their predominant passions. They esteem war and hunting almost the only pursuits worthy of a man. Address in these constitutes their highest point of honor, while every other labor of life is imposed on the women, who are no better than slaves. Hence they derive an excessive ferocity of manners : their resentment is keen, and revenge their most darling gratification. This arises from their state of society, in which every one is left to judge in his own cause, and to avenge his own wrongs. As they never forget a 'favor, so they never forgive an injury. Among the different tribes, the injuries of an individual are résented as' national; the possession of a hunting ground is to them the possession of an empire, and these are the sources of frequent wars waged with the most savage serocity. The butchering and scalping of old men,
, women, and children, the torturing and burning of prisoners in cold blood with the most shocking circumstances of cruelty are among their pastimes. These are not secret acts of violenceare by none considered as wrong; they are public transactions, performed under what is to them, the law of nations. Nor have they been free from 'ambition of conquest,--from that lust of power, which when acquired, has generally proved the scourge of the human race. The Mexicans, when first visited by the Spaniards, were in possession of an extensive empire. acquired by the conquest of neighboring nations and tribes. In later times, the Iroquois, or five nations, formed a powerful confederacy of conquerors, and became the terror even of distant tribes.-Nor were these singular incidents. We find every where among them, traditions and even monuments of powerful
nations, who made extensive conquests, and were again conquered or exterminated by some more powerful nation, or by a coalition of neighboring tribes. Notwithstanding this trait of character, which has been exhibited by some of the North American tribes, at different and distant periods, it is generally true of all, that as they are not anxious about the future, for the same reason they are almost wholly improvident. When not engaged in their favorite pursuits of war or hunting, they are too: indolent to think of making an adequate provision against the inclemency of the seasons, or of any future want. As they have fewer vices, so they have fewer virtues than more civilized nations, and both are more prominent, more distinctly marked. This arises from the paucity of the objects with which they are conversant. With them numerous passions, correcting and restraining each other, are not, as in a state of civilization, equally excited, by a multiplicity of objects. When any object rouses their attention, the whole force of the mind, the whole vigor of the soul is collected and exerted on one point. Hospitality is always a virtuè, and is peculiarly so to a savage people, and the finest trait in their character. When we contemplate this virtue, among such a people, it strikes the mind with all the advantage of vivid sentiment, singularity of impression and contrast of manners. Every recollection is accompanied with an enthusiasti: admiration, that makes us regret the loss of those manners, which are, alone, capable of giving lustre to this sublime virtue. Will it be thought strange to assert, that this virtue derives its origin and takes its principal lustre, from the barbarous manners of the age ? and yet such is the fact. It does not, however, consist with the rudest state of society and of manners. Some advance in civilization, some progress in the arts of life, is necessary to give a relish for hospitality, and to supply the means of indulging it. Among a people in the hunter state it makes but little figure: depending on the fortune of the chase, or the gleanings of the forest, they find but a scanty and precarious subsistence. With neither the foresight, nor the means of making a secure provision for the future, they are frequently in want of necessary sustenance. Among such a people, the pressing demands of nature, leave little of their scanty stores for the uses of hospitality. They have little curiosity, and no conception of any knowledge, which can be of use beyond that of forming the bow or some instrument of the chase. With such a people always exposed, and not unfrequently reduced to a famishing condition, what can compensate for an additional tax on their precarious and scanty means of subsistence? The North American natives have never been equally noted, for the practice of this virtue, with the ancient Germans, or the more ancient inhabitants of Greece. They draw but a small share of their subsistence from the earth; all the care of their tillage, consisting in the cultivation of maize, beans, and a few edible roots, is left to the women. The labor of these, spared from their attendance on the men in hunting, and other drudgeries of a domestic nature, without the assistance of useful animals, and with such rude implements as they can either form or procure, can yield but a scanty supply for one part of the year; the other is, for the most part, as scantily supplied by the fortune of the chase. They appear to have little relish for any new arts of life, unless they have some relation to their principal occupations of war and hunting; and very little curiosity for any information to be derived from an intercourse with strangers. Instances are not however, wanting, in which they have discovered all that fidelity to their guests, all that warmth of attachment, which gives such a charm to the patriarchal times of the old world. Although the instances are less frequent, they bear the same genuine character of heroic integrity.
The shepherd state supplies a more ready and abundant supply of food and domestic conveniences. Then, more at ease, conversation begins to acquire a charm; more arts become necessary. The useful and the convenient engage the attention. New objects afford gratification to an awakened curiosity; still they are divided into small tribes; their domestic manners are sincere, but rough ; to strangers, they are fierce, cruel and faithless. So universal has always been the state of war, among such a people, that, in almost every language, the same word originally signified both foreigner and enemy. Disputed boundaries are often the occasion of wars : they are often waged to avenge a private quarrel; and to surprise and plunder the neighboring tribes of their herds is the principal object of
their hostile enterprises. Their whole history is a continued scene of war, pillage and reprisal. So frequent were these predatory expeditions, among the petty tribes of ancient Greece, that they were early honored with a particular name.* In such a state of society and nations the use of coin is unknown. Their whole commerce, whatever they may have, consists in exchange of commodities in kind. These are usually bulky and unfit to attend the person of the owner, to answer his occasions in travelling; nor could they attend him with safety, among a people, who reckon the plundering of strangers a lawful means of acquisition. Inns for the accommodation of travellers are unknown. Were it not for the hospitality of individuals, there could be no passing from one country to another. There is something in the practice very congenial to the frank, rough and generous manners of a rude people. Their generosity, however, in this favorite instance rises, as it were, through a cloud. We find from Homer that strangers often applied to their intended hosts, in the posture of suppliants, and entreated the rights of hospitality as for their lives. His instances may, indeed, be considered as poetic fiction ; but they were, undoubtedly, relative to the spirit and manners of the age. To grant the rights of hospitality was to grant protection. The host or patron was considered as the protector of his guest; an office which suited with a martial spirit. It gave the host consequence, in his own estimation and in the estimation of others. The practice of this virtue, among rude nations, affords not only a gratification to curiosity, but the opportunity of indulging in the exercise of humanity to strangers, without incurring the imputation of a want of attachment to the tribe. The advantages are national and reciprocal; in no other way can they acquire a knowledge of foreign nations, their arts and manners. Like the safety of heralds it passes into their law of nations. In ancient writers, we often read of the right of hospitality, and of wars to protect those rights or to avenge their violation. Indeed, it is to be considered no less a national, than a private virtue. In the present state of improvement, among civilized
* Bonlaoid, abactio bovum, præda taking cattle, prey.