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(it is true a most respectable one,) that of the law, or rather by that highly favored portion of them, who have previously enjoyed frequent opportunities of exercising and improving their oratorical powers before a judicial tribunal.
This is certainly far from desirable. There are, in every representative assembly, many citizens of other professions and pursuits, well entitled by their wisdom and integrity to the places which they hold, and well able, had they the power of expressing themselves with ease, to shed light on every question of public importance. Yet these men, (putting out of the
( question rare instances of natural eloquence,) are compelled either to do themselves and their subject injustice, by an imperfect and embarrassed enunciation of their sentiments, or to confine themselves to a simple yea and nay, and leave the field of debate to their more fluent, though it may often happen, worse informed, or less intelligent brethren. The more discreet generally prefer the latter course, and however clearly they may prove their wisdom by their votes, can exert but little influence over the decisions of others.
That this evil, with many others of a similar nature, would be at least materially remedied, by the measure which we recommend, seems to us beyond a question. We may add, that it is not only a practicable measure, but one which could be carried into execution with the greatest ease, and that it has been, in fact, recently adopted in several of our Law Schools. It may, perhaps, be considered as unnecessary, since it is frequently said, that the practice of composition in writing, is the best method of acquiring the power of debating with force and readiness. We are sensible, that this opinion is countenanced by no mean authority, and we should be the last to dispute the numerous and weighty advantages, which can be derived from writing only, but we cannot admit that it is of itself sufficient to render men consummate orators. It may strengthen their power of thought, and increase their command of language, but much will obviously reinain to do, which can be accomplished only by debating extempore. This practice, for instance, would greatly facilitate the acquisition of what is a rare accomplishment, in this and in most other countries, a good delivery. The reigning defect in our readers and speakers is monotony. Now this fault is often acquired by reading or reciting the works of others, and is occasioned,
more particularly, by the extreme difficulty which we find in entering into the spirit of what we utter ; that is, in inspiring ourselves with the same feelings, while pronouncing a passage, that existed at the time it was composed, in the mind of the author. We find a similar, though a less difficulty, in repeating aloud our own compositions, because the glow of feeling with which they were written, has gone by, and can be recalled only by a strong effort. There is, on the other hand, no monotony in private conversation, because we utter what we feel at the moment, instead of reciting what we recollect, and, for a similar reason, this defect is displayed much niore seldom, and in a much less degree, at the bar and in the senate, than in the pulpit.
We hope it will not be inferred from these remarks, that we are in any degree hostile to the prevailing custom of declaiming from the works of distinguished authors. On the contrary, we consider it of the highest value, both as an oratorical exercise, and as a vehicle of noble and useful sentiments. It is only while followed to the exclusion of other species of declamation, that it can be open to the slightest objection. To conclude, if any readers should complain, that we have noticed only the faults of our public speakers, and passed over their good qualities in silence, we would observe, that this circumstance has resulted from the nature of our design, which has been to suggest some methods for the improvement of American oratory, and by no means to give a picture of its actual condition, a task much too extensive and interesting to be accomplished within our present limits.
The edition of Demosthenes, mentioned at the head of this article, is entitled to the praise of great correctness. It has no other recommendation than its portable size; an advantage dearly purchased by the entire omission of notes, and the employment of a type too small and indistinct to be read without hazard, even by the strongest eyes. This latter defect is one, which has occurred so frequently in recent editions of standard works, both in our own and other languages, that it deserves to be particularly and strongly reprehended.
Art. V.-1. Manners and Customs of several Indian Tribes,
located west of the Mississippi, including some Account of the Soil, Climate and vegetable Productions; and the Indian Materia Medica; to which is prefixed the History of the Author's Life, during a Residence of several Years among them. By John D. HUNTER. 8vo. pp. 402.
Philadelphia. 1823. 2. Historical Notes respecting the Indians of North Ame
ricn, with Remarks on the Attempts made to convert and civilise them. By John Halkett, Esq. 8vo. pp. 408. London. 1825. MORE than three centuries have passed away, since the American continent became known to the Europeans. At the period of its discovery, it was inhabited by a race of men, in their physical conformation, their moral habits, their social and political relations, their languages and modes of life, differing essentially from the inhabitants of the old world. From Hudson's Bay to Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, the country was possessed by numerous petty tribes, resembling one another in their general features, but separated into independent communities, always in a state of alarm and suspicion, and generally on terms of open hostility. These people were in the rudest condition of society, wandering from place to place, without sciences and without arts, (for we cannot dignisy with the name of arts the making of bows and arrows, and the dressing of skins,) without metallic instruments, without domestic animals; raising a little corn by the labor of their women, with a clamshell or the scapula of a buffalo, devouring it with true savage improvidence, and subsisting, during the remainder of the year, upon the precarious supplies furnished by the chase, and by fishing They were thinly scattered over an immense extent of country, fixing their summer residence upon soine little spot of fertile land, and roaming, with their families, and their mat or skin houses, during the winter, through the forests, in pursuit of the animals necessary for food and clothing.
Such a state of society could not but arrest the attention of the adventurer, to whom everything was new and strange. A spirit of inquiry had been recently awakened in Europe, and the discovery of the mariner's compass, and the art of printing, had wonderfully enlarged the sphere of human observation, and given new vigor to the human faculties. And we find, accordingly, that the man of America soon became the subject of examination and speculation, and many a ponderous tome has been written on the topic, from the letter of Vereyzani to Francis the First, in 1524, down to the latest work manufactured in London, by some professional book maker, whose accurate knowledge of the Indian character and condition has been acquired, by profound observation within Temple bar, or who strings together the falsehoods of such men as the personage, who calls bimsell John Dunn Hunter; and whose finale is always a Jeremiad, upon the savage treatment of the aborigines of this continent, by their barbarous Anglo American neighbors.
In a retrospective examination of this mass of materials, it is easy to perceive, that the progress we have made in this interesting investigation, bears no proportion to the time and labor, which have been expended upon it; nor is it difficult to account for this unsatisfactory result.
Of the external habits of the Indians, if we may so speak, we have the most ample details. Their wars, their amusements, their hunting, and the more prominent facts connected with their occupations and condition, have been described with great prolixity, and doubtless with much fidelity, by a host of persons, whose opportunities for observation, and whose qualifications for description have been as different, as the places and the eras in which they have written. Eyes have not been wanting to see, nor tongues to relate, nor pens to record the incidents, which, from time to time, have occurred among our aboriginal neighbors. The eating of fire, the swallowing of daggers, the escape from swathed buffalo robes, and the juggling incantations and ceremonies, by which the dead are raised, the sick healed, and the living killed, have been witnessed by many, who related what they saw, but who were grossly deceived by their own credulity, and by the skill of the Indian Waubeno. We have ourselves, in the depth and solitude of our primeval forests, and among some of the wildest and most remote of our Indian tribes, gazed with ardent curiosity, and perhaps with some slight emotion of awe, upon the Jongleur, who with impudent dex
terity performed seats, which probably it is wiser to witness than to relate. And when the surrounding naked and painted multitude, exulting in the imposing performance, and in the victory obtained over the incredulity of the white strangers, fixed their eyes upon us, and raised their piercing yell, breaking the sounds by the repeated application of the hand to the mouth, and dancing around us with the activity of mountebanks, and the ferocity of demons,
• We dare not say, that then our blood,
Kept on its wont and tempered flood,' nor that, under less favorable circumstances, the scene might not have been terrific, and impressed us with recollections, equally difficult to reject and to account for. And there can be no doubt, that similar scenes in other times, with proper "appliances and means to boot,' have been the origin of most of those stories of Indian miracles and prophecies, which occupy so large a portion of the narratives of our earlier historians and travellers.
But of the moral character and feelings of the Indians, of their mental discipline, of their peculiar opinions, mythological and religious, and of all that is most valuable to man in the history of man, we are about as ignorant, as when Jacques Cartier first ascended the St Lawrence. The constitution of their society, and the ties, by wbich they are kept together, furnish a paradox, which has never received the explanation it requires. We say they have no government. And they have none, whose operation is felt either in rewards or punishments.
And yet their lives and property are protected, and their political relations among themselves, and with other tribes, are duly preserved. Have they then no passions to excite them to deeds of violence, or have they discovered, and reduced to practice, some unknown principle of action in human nature, equally efficacious with the two great motives of hope and fear, upon which all other governments have heretofore rested? Why does an Indian, who has been guilty of murder, tranquilly fold his blanket about his head, and, seating himself upon the ground, await the retributive stroke from the relation of the deceased ? A white man, under similar circumstances, would flee, or resist, and we can conceive of no motive, which would induce him to submit to such a sacrifice. Those Indians, who have mur