Chapter 16

Containing Observations

 The Captain was certainly to be commended in declining to countenance the imposition of making Teague a Kickapoo chief. Had he been disposed to adventure in a contraband trade of this kind, he might have undertaken it as a principal, and not as furnishing an assistant only. He could have passed Teague for a chief, and himself for an interpreter. He might pretend to have conducted this prince from a very distant nation, and that he had been several moons in travelling, and wanted, he knows not how much goods for his people, that otherwise would come to war. By this means, the Captain would have taken the whole emolument of the treaty, and not have been put off with a small share of the profit which another make by it.

I should like to have seen Teague in an Indian dress, come to treat with the commissioners. It would be necessary for him only to talk Irish, which he might pass for the Shawanese, or other language. The Captain could have interpreted in the usual words on these occasions.

The policy of treating with the Indians is very good; because it takes off a great deal of loose merchandise, that might otherwise lie upon our hands, and cuts away superfluities from finances of the government; at the same time, as every fresh treaty lays the foundation of a new war, it will serve to check the too rapid growth of the settlements. The extremities of a government, like the arm or ancle of an individual, are the parts at which blood is to be let.

Struck with the good effects of treating with the savages, and that our wise men who conduct affairs, pursue the policy, I have been led to wonder, that the agricultural societies, have not proposed treaties with the wolves and bears, that they might not clandestinely invade our sheep and pig folds. This might be done by sending messages to the several ursine and vulpine nations, and calling them to a council-fire, to which four or five hundred waggon loads of beef should be sent, and distributed. If it should be said, that this would restrain them no longer from their prey than while they continued to be satiated, the same might be said of the Potawatamies, or other Indian nations; and yet we see that those at the head of our affairs think it prudent to negotiate with them.

A bear and wolf treaty might seem an odd thing at first, but we should soon come to be accustomed to it. I should be sorry abuses should prevail, by treaty-making men passing rough water-dogs for bears, or mastiffs for wolves, upon our secretaries at war, or subordinate commissioners; which might be done as in the case of the savages, where it is pretended that some tribes had not been at the general treaty, and a chief is sent to represent them and to get goods.

If our traders go amongst the wolves in consequence of a treaty, I could wish they could check themselves in the introduction of spiritous liquors. A drunk wolf, or bear, would be a dangerous animal. It may be thought that a bear or wolf chief would not get drunk, as it would be setting a bad example to their people; but I have seen Indian Kings lying on the earth drunk, and exposing their nakedness, like Noah to Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and if Indians, that are a sort of humane creatures, act thus, what might we not expect from a poor brute wolf or bear?

If treaties with the wolves and bears should be found to succeed, it might not be amiss to institute them also with the foxes. This is a sagacious animal, and destructive to ducks and other fowls. It would be a great matter to settle a treaty with them, which might be done at the expense of nine or ten thousand dollars laid out in goods.