Chapter 4

The people were the more reconciled to the circumstance of not getting the bog-trotter appointed a major general, inasmuch as there ceased to be an occasion for one. The Indians humbled by their late overthrow, were disposed to treat; and the settlement having collected a few blankets, were willing to part with these, to save their scalps. An Indian treaty was held, to which Teague was commissioner, and being told that he was the warrior who had discomfited them, they were the more disposed to listen to his terms. There were Red Jacket, Blue Jacket, Yellow Jacket, Rattle Snake, Terrapin, Half Moon, and Half King, on the part of the Indian nations. The bulwark of the Christian religion, underhandedly, by means of traders who passed for Indians, having assumed their dress, and could speak something of their language, secretly opposed the treaty; but with the aid of a few kegs of whiskey, it was carried against them.--The hatchet was buried deep, and an oak tree, figuratively speaking, was planted on it. The chain was brightened, meaning the chain of friendship. The whites were called brothers, and belts of wampum were spoken from; and the usual ceremonials of a treaty gone through, when the Indians returned to their own country, apparently satisfied with what was done.

The bog-trotter was in his element in the transactions of this treaty, drinking whiskey, and shaking hands with the Indians. It was not to be wondered therefore that his popularity increased. But a very extraordinary circumstance gave a new direction to his mind, and put him upon another scent. A camp-meeting was shortly after held upon the very ground the Indians had quitted. The nature of this convention is well known in our times; but for the sake of posterity, it may not be amiss to give some idea of it. The inhabitants collect even from a great distance, and carry provisions with them, and baggage wagons. They encamp usually in a wood near a stream of water, for days together; forming this assemblage for the purposes of religion; exercising their minds, and in proportion, their bodies, all at once, and in expectation that by mutual sympathy, their zeal may be increased, and their devotion rendered more fervent. Certain it is, that this assembling has the effect of agitating the mass greatly. Convulsive gestures and gesticulations are symptoms of a mind conceiving new ideas. Shouting, falling down, and tumbling are concomitants of a reform, and an evidence of a right conception of things. The more extravagant the actions, the surer signs of being in the true faith. Philosophers, and some physicians, think it a disease of the mind, and call it an epidemic phrenzy. Be that as it may, whether Teague was caught with the contagion, or by his natural sagacity saw that it attached attention to the individual who appeared to be most moved, and projected from his proper positions, he did not hesitate to participate in this tumult.-This brought him into great account with the religious, and the preachers pronounced him one of the converted.

The governor considered all this as but madness and fanaticism, yet he did not discourage the bog-trotter in his freaks; nor interfere with the people in their visions, and extacies; knowing that the phrenzy after a time will always dissipate, and the subjects of it come to their right reason. His ideas on the subject of religious toleration were correct; and though he disapproved of founding religion in passion, it being a thing of reason, judgment, and habit, yet he had seen that by directly opposing this error of the understanding, the pride of the multitude is enlisted in its service. He offered to make Teague his chaplain, since he had taken this religious turn; provided he would cultivate rational ideas, and study a sober system of divinity, the body of which would be morality, and would lead to the practice. For, in his opinion, it was but a spurious, or, as a scholar would say, a pseudo-religion, that did not make a man more temperate, and more just. I incline a good deal to his way of thinking. But there are others who entertain different notions. I admit that a Boanerges may do something towards rousing the attention of a rude multitude; or of an uncultivated individual; and this by a loud voice, and alarming representations of the consequences of a vicious course in this world, or that to come; but mere noise and tumult conveys no ideas; and the effect cannot be lasting, and the reform produced, permanent. For which reason I place religion in the understanding; though doubtless the hopes and fears of the human mind may be considered passion; and so far as this goes, I agree that in planting religion in the heart, we are to pray in aid of the passions. But the truth is, I incline to think, with those who consider all religion as but the cultivation of good habits; and this from the consideration of present convenience, and future happiness. I say present convenience; because there cannot be a deviation from virtue, without bringing with it a degree of punishment to the individual, even in this life. And if there is a future state, which philosophers may doubt, but cannot avoid hoping for, the condition of an individual must take its complexion from what has been done here. But I do not say that every good deed receives its full proportion of reward here, nor every evil deed, its correspondent degree of punishment. For the strongest argument from natural reason in favour of a future state, is that this is not the case in this life: and therefore there must be another, as making things equal. But I would sooner take my chance with the conscientious moralist, than with the rapturous enthusiast, who has more sail than ballast in his devotion. “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly,” I take to be the religion of reason, as it is of revelation, and to that I hold. As to making Teague chaplain, I have no idea that the governor was serious, but merely suggested it, in order to divert his mind from military promotion, and from his tumbling, and casting somersets at camp-meetings.


Observations

It will not be understood from what we have said in a preceding chapter of this work, that bibles were exchanged, or given in barter, eo nomine, for children’s scalps, or those of grown persons, by the mother country of Great Britain. But the truth is, we mean to caricature the inconsistency of calling this nation the “bulwark of our religion,” while at the same time she acknowledges as allies the savages who are in the habit of taking scalps. Doubtless, I distinguish the bible societies, as they are called, associations of the purest benevolence, amongst that people, from the government itself, by whom these allies are acknowledged, and their mode of warfare of course sanctioned; but it is a distinction that a foreign nation is not bound to make; nor, in fact, can make. For transactions emanating from a people, whether of a part or of the whole, and falling upon another society, is felt as the act of the whole. But it is not inconsistent in these societies, to be sending bibles and missionaries to teach and inculcate creeds, amongst savages, whilst these savages are at the same time acknowledged by the government, a part of which the people are who constitute these associations, to be allies, and subservient with them in the war which they carry on? Why do they not send their bibles and missionaries to the Prince Regent and his council, and not to savages, amongst whom they will be as little read as by the bears and the wolves of the wilderness, to whom they might just as well be dispersed? For until a savage is civilized, and is brought to cultivate the soil, and have a fixed residence, he differs in nothing from the wolf or the bear, as to any possibility of implanting systems of faith, or truths of religion.

Do we hear of any of these bible associations in Great Britain, remonstrating with the government of their country, against the practice of employing savages to kill and scalp individuals? Not a word is said by any of them, that I hear of, against the suspending a scalp with the speaker’s mace in the government house of Upper Canada. Silence in this case, and under these circumstances, may be considered as approving. Are any of the good and religious people of Birmingham and Manchester, who forge steel, and manufacture scalping knives, members of these associations, or do they contribute to their funds? If so, it manifests a strange inconsistency in the human mind, not to reflect that the selling a scalping knife, or tomahawk, and the bestowing a bible, makes the act a felo de se, and destroys the whole effect of the charity. I could wish they would send Castlereagh a bible, if it would do him any good. So that my burlesque does not all affect the good intentions of the donors in the propagation of the gospel amongst heathens; but the fruitlessness in the effect, while they are of a body from whom they cannot be distinguished as independent, who show by their acts, a disposition of mind in the very face of all that is inculcated by Christianity, which is peace and good will to man.

It was always a matter of astonishment to me to hear it suggested, that this war in which we are engaged with Great Britain was unjust. The fabrication of a single scalping knife in their island, and sending out for the inhuman purpose of Indian murder, and excoriation, was a just cause of war. But was it expedient to invade Canada? Was it a measure of defence to interpose between these armourers and the savages, who used the arms? An answer to this question will solve the problem. It is not for the butchers of the island that her manufacturers forge scalping knives-for these knives are crooked and of a peculiar configuration; and the tomahawks are formed with pipes in the pol, which show the face of the hatchet to be for the use of the savage. Shame to the name of civilized man, much more a Christian people, that such things should be done.