« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
choose to live by rapine, are wanting to themselves, and deserve to be exterminated as savage and pernicious beasts.”
Now it is notorious, that the savages knew nothing of agriculture, when first discovered by the Europeans, but lived a most vagabond, disorderly, unrighteous life,-rambling from place to place, and prodigally rioting upon the spontaneous luxuries of nature, without tasking her generosity to yield them any thing more; whereas it has been most unquestionably shown, that heaven intended the earth should be ploughed and sown, and manured, and laid out into cities, and towns, and farms, and country-seats, and pleasure grounds, and public gardens, all which the Indians knew nothing about-therefore, they did not improve the talents Providence had bestowed on them-therefore, they were careless stewards-therefore, they had no right to the soil-therefore, they deserved to be exterminated.
It is true, the savages might plead that they drew all the benefits from the land which their simple wants required—they found plenty of game to hunt, which, together with the roots and uncultivated fruits of the earth, furnished a sufficient variety for their frugal repasts ;—and that as heaven merely designed the earth to form the abode, and satisfy the wants of man; so long as those purposes were answered, the will of heaven was accomplished. But this only proves how undeserving they were of the blessings around them-they were so much the more savages, for not having more wants; for knowledge is in some degree an increase of desires, and it is this superiority both in the number and magnitude of his desires, that distinguishes the man from the beast. Therefore, the Indians, in not having more wants, were very unreasonable animals; and it was but just that they should make way for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants to their one, and, therefore, would turn the earth to more account, and by cultivating it, more truly fulfil the will of heaven. Besides-Grotius and Lauterbach, and Puffendorff, and Titus, and many wise men beside, who have considered the matter properly, have determined, that the property of a country cannot be acquired by hunting, cutting wood, or drawing water in it-nothing but precise demarcation of limits, and the intention of cultivation, can establish the possession. Now, as the savages (probably from never having read the authors above quoted) had never complied with any of these necessary forms, it plainly followed that they had no right to the soil, but that it was completely at the disposal of
the first comers, who had more knowledge, more wants, and more elegant, that is to say, artificial desires than themselves.
In entering upon a newly-discovered, uncultivated country, therefore, the new comers were but taking possession of what, according to the aforesaid doctrine, was their own propertytherefore, in opposing them, the savages were invading their just rights, infringing the immutable laws of nature, and counteracting the will of heaven-therefore, they were guilty of impiety, burglary, and trespass on the case-therefore, they were hardened offenders against God and man-therefore, they ought to be exterminated.
But a more irresistible right than either that I have mentioned, and one which will be the most readily admitted by my reader, provided he be blessed with bowels of charity and philanthropy, is the right acquired by civilization. All the world knows the lamentable state in which these poor savages were found-not only deficient in the comforts of life, but what is still worse, most piteously and unfortunately blind to the miseries of their situation. But no sooner did the benevolent inhabitants of Europe behold their sad condition, than they immediately went to work to meliorate and improve it. They introduced among them rum, gin, brandy, and the other comforts of life-and it is astonishing to read how soon the poor savages learned to estimate these blessings-they likewise made known to them a thousand remedies, by which the most inveterate diseases are alleviated and healed; and that they might comprehend the benefits, and enjoy the comforts of these medicines, they previously introduced among them the diseases which they were calculated to cure. By these, and a variety of
other methods, was the condition of these poor savages wonderfully improved; they acquired a thousand wants, of which they had before been ignorant; and as he has most sources of happiness who has most wants to be gratified, they were doubtlessly rendered a much happier race of beings.
But the most important branch of civilization, and which has most strenuously been extolled by the zealous and pious fathers of the Romish church, is the introduction of the christian faith. It was truly a sight that might well inspire horror, to behold these savages stumbling among the dark mountains of paganism, and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of religion. It is true, they neither stole nor defrauded; they were sober, frugal, continent, and faithful to their word; but though they acted right habitually, it was all in vain, unless they acted so from
precept. The new comers, therefore, used every method to induce them to embrace and practise the true religion-except indeed, that of setting them the example.
But notwithstanding all these complicated labors for their good, such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these stubborn wretches, that they ungratefully refused to acknowledge the strangers as their benefactors, and persisted in disbelieving the doctrines they endeavored to inculcate; most insolently alleging that from their conduct, the advocates of christianity did not seem to believe in it themselves. Was not this too much for human patience?—would not one suppose that the benign visitants from Europe, provoked at their credulity, and discouraged by their stiff-necked obstinacy, would forever have abandoned their shores, and consigned them to their original ignorance and misery ?-But no-so zealous were they to effect the temporal comfort and eternal salvation of these pagan infidels, that they even proceeded from the milder means of persuasion, to the more painful and troublesome one of persecution, let loose among them whole troops of fiery monks and furious bloodhounds-purified them by fire and sword, by stake and fagot; in consequence of which indefatigable measures, the cause of christian love and charity was so rapidly advanced, that in a very few years not one-fifth of the number of unbelievers existed in South America, that were found there at the time of its discovery.
What stronger right need the European settlers advance to the country, than this? Have not whole nations of uninformed savages been made acquainted with a thousand imperious wants and indispensable comforts, of which they were before wholly ignorant?-Have they not been literally hunted and smoked out of the dens and lurking-places of ignorance and infidelity, and absolutely scourged into the right path? Have not the temporal things, the vain baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which were too apt to engage their worldly and selfish thoughts, been benevolently taken from them? and have they not, instead thereof, been taught to set their affections on things above?-And finally, to use the words of a reverend Spanish father, in a letter to his superior in Spain-“ Can any one have the presumption to say, that these savage pagans have yielded any thing more than an inconsiderable recompense to their benefactors, in surrendering to them a little pitiful tract of this dirty sublunary planet, in exchange for a glorious inheri、 tance in the kingdom of heaven!"
Here then are three complete and undeniable sources of right established, any one of which was more than ample to establish a property in the newly-discovered regions of America. Now, so it has happened in certain parts of this delightful quarter of the globe, that the right of discovery has been so strenuously asserted-the influence of cultivation so industriously extended, and the progress of salvation and civilization so zealously prosecuted, that, what with their attendant wars, persecutions, oppressions, diseases, and other partial evils that often hang on the skirts of great benefits-the savage aborigines have somehow or another, been utterly annihilated—and this all at once brings me to a fourth right, which is worth all the others put together. For the original claimants to the soil being all dead and buried, and no one remaining to inherit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards, as the next immediate occupants, entered upon the possession as clearly as the hangman succeeds to the clothes of the malefactor-and as they have Blackstone, and all the learned expounders of the law on their side, they may set all actions of ejectment at defiance-and this last right may be entitled the right by extermination, or in other words, the right by gunpowder.
But lest any scruples of conscience should remain on this head, and to settle the question of right forever, his holiness Pope Alexander VI. issued a bull, by which he generously granted the newly-discovered quarter of the globe to the Spaniards and Portuguese; who, thus having law and gospel on their side, and being inflamed with great spiritual zeal, showed the pagan savages neither favor nor affection, but prosecuted the work of discovery, colonization, civilization, and extermination, with ten times more fury than ever.
Thus were the European worthies who first discovered America, clearly entitled to the soil; and not only entitled to the soil, but likewise to the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, for having come so far, endured so many perils by sea and land, and taken such unwearied pains, for no other purpose but to improve their forlorn, uncivilized, and heathenish condition-for having made them acquainted with the comforts of life; for having introduced among them the light of reason, and finally-for having hurried them out of the world, to enjoy its reward!
But as argument is never so well understood by us selfish mortals as when it comes home to ourselves, and as I am particularly anxious that this question should be put to rest forever,
I will suppose a parallel case, by way of arousing the candid attention of my readers.
Let us suppose, then, that the inhabitants of the moon, by astonishing advancement in science, and by profound insight into that lunar philosophy, the mere flickerings of which have of late years dazzled the feeble optics, and addled the shallow brains of the good people of our globe-let us suppose, I say, that the inhabitants of the moon, by these means, had arrived at such a command of their energies, such an enviable state of perfectibility, as to control the elements, and navigate the boundless regions of space. Let us suppose a roving crew of these soaring philosophers, in the course of an ærial voyage of discovery among the stars, should chance to alight upon this outlandish planet.
And here I beg my readers will not have the uncharitableness to smile, as is too frequently the fault of volatile readers, when persuing the grave speculations of philosophers. I am far from indulging in any sportive vein at present; nor is the supposition I have been making, so wild as many may deem it. It has long been a very serious and anxious question with me, and many a time and oft, in the course of my overwhelming cares and contrivances for the welfare and protection of this my native planet, have I lain awake whole nights debating in my mind, whether it were most probable we should first discover and civilize the moon, or the moon discover and civilize our globe. Neither would the prodigy of sailing in the air and cruizing among the stars, be a whit more astonishing and incomprehensible to us, than was the European mystery of navigating floating castles through the world of waters, to the simple savages. We have already discovered the art of coasting along the ærial shores of our planet, by means of balloons, as the savages had of venturing along their sea-coasts in canoes; and the disparity between the former, and the ærial vehicles of the philosophers from the moon, might not be greater than that between the bark canoes of the savages, and the mighty ships of their discoverers. I might here pursue an endless chain of similar speculations; but as they would be unimportant to my subject, I abandon them to my reader, particularly if he be a philosopher, as matters well worthy of his attentive consideration.
To return then to my supposition-let us suppose that the ærial visitants I have mentioned, possessed of vastly superior knowledge to ourselves; that is to say, possessed of superior