« PreviousContinue »
and pilgrimages, worthy of previous ages, and of a more enlightened people, though in a less honored cause, were made to the manes of their beloved sachem. At each visit, additional stones were placed on the rude monumental pile which kept hallowed the earth that covered his bones. It was a pleasing but melancholy sight, to behold the poor Indian coming up from his home, far away in the wild, to pay homage to the memory of a chief of bis nation, long since mingled with the soil of a stranger-land — to shed a tear on the sacred sod, and to add another fragment to the memorial which fidelity had reared. It was indeed a sight which might well bring a burning blush to the cheek of the white man, and excite an emotion of tenderness for the cause, and of respect for the spot, of the red man's lamentations. But no! We talk of Christian affection,' of civilized refinement,' and we laud the luxury of social sentiment; but let us cease our vain boasting, when we reflect, that there is not a solitary stone to mark the place so often visited by the friendly Indian, even to the last remnant of his tribe. The same despoiling hand which has recklessly sacrificed so many of the venerated relics of other days to curiosity, or the hackneyed watch-word of the age, 'improvement,' but still more frequently to the palıry cause of trilling gain, has scattered, too, this little testimonial of a people's affection. The pale-face who put his destructive hands on that consecrated pile, should never claim kindred sentiments with the 'savage.' Where did the red man ever, in a spirit of revenge — and it is surprising, when so much cause has been given to create it, that so little has been manifested or in a spirit of gain, despoil the places of the dead? Where has the 'savage' rifled your tombs, or wantonly destroyed your memorials of friendship į No where - never! He is not the barbarian, thus ruthlessly to mutilate or destroy the objects of sense that link us to all we hold dear in memory. He is not the poor savage,' said to be insensible to, and devoid of, those •finer feelings of which we boast as the happy results of civilization -- the exclusive effects of education and of social institutions. No: he is, on the contrary, an example worthy of our emulation in this and in many, very many, of those emotions of affectionate sensibility and of ennobling disinterestedness, which we deem the distinctive characteristics of our race.
There is something sad in the thought, that the fragments of olden time are, every where in our country, recklessly destroyed by unfeeling and unthinking men. We can call to mind numerous inte. resting relics which time, more sparing and conservative than man, has handed down unscathed through former ages and generations. But they are now gone! Would that the progress of society and of human weal might leave undisturbed the grand and mysterious relics of the west, since the destructive hand of man cannot here be stayed! But there, too, has the sacrilegious example been followed ; and soon, we fear, unless checked in time, will its effects be every where as apparent as at Circleville, etc. As I love the remembrance of our fathers' deeds, and the incidents of other ages as I delight to dwell on the past acts and conditions of men, and revere the relics of ancient days — I condemn the man who, in earnest or in sport, destroys one of the few sacred remains of his country's history. He is the personification of stolid selfishness, and is fit for treason, stratagem, and spoil.'
The curious may find a few additional facts and traditionary particulars, amusing if not instructive, should he ever visit the beautiful lands of the Uncases, or hereafter recur to the history of a people who, with all their traditions, are fast going the way of all their brethren. The antiquarian may not be less gratified with data which he may no where else obtain. Nor will the stranger who, at some future and perhaps far-distant period of time, may recognise the graves of the Mohegan chiefs, or the endeared but forgotten places of their people, deem any local fragments, snatched from the wreck of time, devoid of interest.
In the pleasant and shady grove by the road side, as you pass from “the Landing' to the Falls,' in the charming town of Norwich, and at the head of a deep ravine running to the 'factory village,' which sweeps around the base, and begirts like a zone the solitary sumınits of the sachem's former glory, lie the remains of the royal Uncases. One of the mounds is distinguished as the sepulchre of the first of his tribe — the conqueror of Miantinomah. This spot is the more distinguishable, from the result of a late popular impulse which, in 1833, caused the earth around it to be handsomely elevated, and a granite block to be planted by the hand of General Jackson on its centre. A flat slab of gueiss rock supports this granite pedestal, intended, as it is understood, to be surmounted by a pyramidal column. The occasion which induced this momentary attention to the manes of the Mohegan chief having passed by with the departure of General Jackson and his suite, the memory of the object, with the half-finished testimonial, remains to this day, as it ever yet may,
unhonored and unsung. Thus far the deed, designed to mark the visit of the hero of the white men, was just and laudable. The address by Governor Cass, and the eclat on that occasion, were alike honorable to the dead and to the living. It is hoped that neither may be forgotten ; nor may the desire of possession, or the power of time, for ages destroy the green-sward where repose the ashes of the Uncases. Already has a portion of the consecrated soil been forced to yield its pittance to the itching palm of the white man; but farther, at least, should not the hallowed grave, the homely monument, nor the sepulchral sod, give place to overweening acquisitiveness. Let the group hereafter remain undisturbed to posterity, shielded by an inclosure from destruction by 'rational or instinctive animals.
The inscriptions yet to be deciphered on the few humble yet mutilated stones within the brief area, may be curious to the reader. On a fragment of that which once marked the grave of the great sachem, and white man's friend, are the following eulogistic lines :
* For beauty, wit, and sterling sense,
* The etymology of the word wawegan, which is evidently of Indian origin, tradition says was, as its use here seems to imply, good. This poetical eulogium is said to have been written by a Mr. Tracy.
The stone, with this almost illegible inscription, was long since removed from its original place, and is now preserved by J. GodDARD, Esq. On the only three stones now standing, with inscriptions upon them, may be traced, though with much difficulty, the following, in Roman letters. The exact form and orthography, which are of the rudest and most antique character, it is difficult here to preserve :
The following are in italics. Each inscription seems to have been rudely chiselled by different persons, both from the style and difference of spelling: 'In Memory
'In Memory E L I Z A BETH BEQN EE, E L I Z A BETH JO YN IIB, great-grand-child of
the daughter of VNCAUS,
M 0 H A M E T
great grand-child to ye first Sachem of Mohegan,
Sachem of Mohegan, who died died Del. ye 20th, A. D. 1761,
July ye 5th, 1756, aged aged 14 years.'
33 years.' The accompanying genealogical account of the royal family has been preserved, but in what manner we are unable to say. It was found, however, in the possession of one of the oldest inhabitants, and is worth keeping.
Sussecus, Sachem of the Narragansets. 1. Uncas, first sachem of Mohegan, the son of Sassecus.
2. Sachem, Venech, son of Uncas by Sassecus' daughter. The first son of Venech was shot for murder in the life-time of his father, who left a son Mohamet, alias Yeamcuen, who died in England, being then with Capt. Mason. ,
3. Sachem Cæsar, second son of Venech.
There are several other particulars, respecting marriages and intermarriages, which we have not room to notice. The sixth and last chief is described as a splendid fellow, every way worthy of his ancestors. There was evidently much, and very praiseworthy, attention paid to the royal family by the whites of those times, in thus preserving these particulars, and in erecting memorials to their memory; but why the chiefs themselves have not been thus honoredthe first Uncas excepted — does not appear; though they may have received this distinction, and the stones have since been lost. The pretty grove of trees, under which are now to be recognised about twenty graves, together with the associations there called up, and the scenery round about, make a visit to the spot a subject of romantic yet melancholy reminiscence.
As I slowly re-traced my steps from the ancient fortification I have described, I called to mind the remark of one who — after nineteen years' constant intercourse with the Indian tribes of the west, as an officer of the United States' government — affirmed that he never heard of a sanguinary contest with the aborigines, which was not first provoked by the abuses of the whites.* There have been stratagems and frauds practised upon the Seminoles, and the Cherokees, which, if they could be traced out, would awake in the bosom of every thinking, right-minded white man, deep sympathetic emotions. There is not a nation nor a people on earth, who have endured the abuses of the American Indian. The 'poor African,' about whom there is a prodigious uproar, and with whose alleged mistreatment the press is teeming, has never suffered the long and heart-felt wrongs of the aborigines. And yet, with as much difference between the two races as between any people in the world, we pour out lamentations for the one, and bind the free and noble in spirit, without compunction.
As an American, born where raged the fiercest struggles against oppression, and rocked in the cradle of liberty, my heart melts within me, when I think of the injustice and treachery which have been practised upon the original owners of our glorious domain of the fetters which freemen have rivetted upon limbs hitherto untrammelled, and tender to the touch of shame and degradation. We have much to answer for, in our treatment of the aborigines. The horrors of battles which fraud and injustice, born of cupidity, have provoked, may for a time hide the truth from the public eye. But history will avenge the wronged; and repentance will come when it is too late. When every vestige of the race has departed — when the arts of speculators and the arts of war shall have accomplished their work — then may come untimely regrets, and unavailing sympathies — the cant of political affectation, or the misplaced sensibility of the pseudo philanthropist. May real contrition, and timely sorrow for the past, avert our fears for the future !
TO THE STUFFED SHARK, AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM.
Would thou couldst tell the wonders thou hast seen
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried,' Of spar-like gems of purest ray serene,'
With which the deep sea-caves are starred and serried :
I almost envy Jonas, who was ferried
an undigested dinner!
* Col. M'KENNEY, late Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
‘Poor MARY - is no more! She breathed her last on Thursday, just as the sun was sinking to his rest. You remember her singular beauty - the rose-leaf bloom of her cheek, and the lustre of her large dark eye. Alas! they were but the harbingers of premature decay. Yet we little thought so, one short year ago, as we gazed in admiration upun features glowing with youth and beauty, and saw the radiant color come and go, with tidings from her heart, as if it were a running messenger to that glad source. But she is gone — and the fund eyes that have seen her will see her no more! A little while before she died, in an interval of pain, she desired her sister to bring a mirror, that she might behold the ravages which disease had wrought. ·Her request was granted - and never shall I forget the affecting scene which ensued – the solemn monitions with which it was fraughl'
LETTER FROM A FRIEND.