Billeder på siden

gifted natures, it is apt to assume. On the contrary, it is clothed with beauty as with a garment, and colors every thought that passes through it with the hues of wonder and romance. Such are the feelings which the luxurious and opulent Musselman seeks to enjoy. To stir up the languid current of his mind, satiated with excess of pleasure, he has recourse to that remedy which his own genial choice produces in greatest perfection. Seated perhaps amid the luxuriance of oriental splendor, with fountains bubbling around, and the citron shading him with its canopy, and casting perfume on all sides, he lets loose the reins of an imagination, conversant from infancy with everything magnificent and gorgeous. The veil which shades the world of fancy is withdrawn, and the scenes lying behind it are exposed to view. He sees palaces and temples in the clouds, or the Paradise of Mahomet with its houris and bowers of amaranth may stand revealed to his excited senses. Everything is steeped in poetic exaggeration. The zephyrs are courted into aërial music, the trees bear golden fruits, the rose blushes with unaccustomed beauty, and breathes a fragrance not of earth. Earth, in a word, is brought nearer to the sky, and becomes a vast Eden of pleasure. Such are the first effects of the eating of the drug; but when it has been continued so long as to bring disease upon the constitution, the pleasurable feelings wear away and are succeeded by those of a very different kind. Instead of disposing the mind to happiness, it now acts upon it like the spell of a demon, and calls up phantoms of horror and disgust. The fancy is still as fanciful as ever, but it is turned in another and a very different direction. The mind is no longer charmed with its former sights of happiness; frightful dreams usurp their place, till at last the person becomes the victim of an almost perpetual misery.

The fasts are, for the Turks, fraught with the most dreadful tortures, as during them they are not allowed by the religion of Mahomet, to take anything during the day. It is said that those who are addicted to the habit of using opium, take before the morning prayers, besides the usual dose, a certain number of other doses, each wrapped up in its particular paper, having previously calculated the time when each envelop shall unfold itself and produce the desired effect."

The operation of opium upon a “celestial,” materially changed by the process it undergoes in its preparation for smoking, is to produce a degree of animation which is described as the acmé of human happiness. He feels an unusual activity of spirits, his imagination revels in luxurious images, and he enjoys at the same time a feeling of more than common strength. Soon his strength of body leaves him, and he then falls into a delicious dream. He lives either in the present or in the past, for to him there is no future beyond the grave. During this delirium, he is possessed of rank, riches and male children, the then dearest wishes of a Chinaman's heart, or his mind, travelling backwards, he is in the company of his revered ancestors, at whose tomb he has so often worshiped, or he sees before him his much loved teacher Confucius, and his words of wisdom fall sweetly upon his eager ear. But when the pleasing in. toxication leaves him, laziness and disgust of all kinds of occupation follow, and an imbecility of the senses closely bordering upon insanity.

An habitual opium smoker is immediately recognized by his appearance. A total attenuation of body, a withered yellow countenance, a lame gait, and glossy deeply sunken eyes betray him at the first glance. The digestive organs are in the highest degree disturbed; he eats scarcely anything, his mental and bodily powers are alike destroyed-he is impotent. By degrees the habit becomes more confirmed, his strength continues to decrease, the cravings for the stimulant become even greater than ever, and to produce the desired effect, he resorts more frequently to the pipe. Soon, however, he becomes subject to neuralgic pains to which even opium brings no relief.

The use of this pernicious drug, is justly considered by the Chinese as the worst evil, the greatest calamity which afflicts their land. Its victims are to be found in all ranks—in the imperial palace (a son of the present Emperor is said to have died a few years since from the use of opium) and in the hovel of the poorest peasant. We in this country, judge of misery and wretchedness from the spectacle which the poor drunkard exhibits; but the victimized opium smoker is by far the most wretched and pitiable object I ever beheld. The horrors of delirium tremens—the tortures of the damned, which seize hold of the slave to ardent spirits, are, I had almost said, slight in comparison with those in which writhes the pennyless opium smoker. A Chinaman who had been addicted to the habit, but who, happily for himself, had overcome it, stated once to a gentleman at Canton, that the sensations he experienced, when through poverty he was deprived of the drug, were like those which would be occasioned “by worms crawling in his stomach, and rats gnawing at his elbows.” Horrible as are the effects of intemperance among us, I would rather see them increased four fold than witness the general use of opium among our people. Language would fail to describe the evils it has produced in China. The finest intellects in the land have been destroyed—disease, misery, wretchedness and death, have with opium rioted among the great and good there—family ties have been painfully severedthose who have known affluence and ease brought to beggary in the streets—crime, giant-like has stalked through the land,' by

opium fitted for easy conquest, and the rivers and the ditches be. come the grave of thousands of suicides. Who will one day be accountable for all these evils?

Those who have been addicted to indulgence in ardent spirits know, (and they only know,) how difficult it is to abandon the use of them. But the difficulty which the reforming opium user experiences, is far greater. On this subject let Coleridge speak. “For ten years the anguish of my spirit has been indescribable, the sense of my danger staring, but the consciousness of my guilt, worse, far worse than all. I have prayed with drops of agony upon my brow, trembling not only before the justice of my Maker, but before the mercy of my Redeemer. I have warned young men, mine acquaintances who have spoken of having taken opium, of the direful consequences, by an awful exposition of its tremendous effects upon myself. I was seduced into the habit ignorantly. I had heard of a person afflicted as I was, having been cured by the use of opium. I tried it. It acted like a charm, like a miracle. I recovered the use of my limbs, of my appetite, of my spirits, and this continued for near a fortnight. At length the unusual stimulus subsided—the complaint returned--the supposed remedy was recurred to, but I cannot go through the dread history. Others can bear witness to the truth that the longer I abstained, the higher my spirits were, the keener my enjoyments, until the direful moment arrived when my pulse began to fluctuate, my heart to palpitate, and such a dreadful falling abroad, as it were of my whole frame, such intolerable restlessness and incipient bewilderment, that in the last of my several attempts to abandon the poison, I exclaimed in agony, 'I am too poor to hazard this !' You bid me rouse myself. Go bid a man paralytic in both his arms to rub them briskly together, and that will cure him. Alas!' he would reply, that I cannot move my arms is my complaint and my misery."),

If such was the difficulty which Coleridge, a highly enlightened and educated man, and one too, sensible of his responsibilities to his Maker, experienced, we can easily imagine it to be almost impossible for the poor, benighted pagan, with no moral sense to guide him, to cut loose from this enticing, yet pernicious habit.

G. H. V.



$1. The branch of the human race found on this continent, at the close of the 15th century, was at once pronounced Asiatic, or of Asiatic origin, and called “Indios," and Indian by the discoverer. Columbus returned to announce the fact that he had found a remote and new part of India. He had stumbled, in fact, on America in seeking a more direct course to the seats of oriental commerce. When he beheld the physical traits of the race-their red complexion, dark hair and eyes, and striking physiological traits, he did not hesitate to connect them with the orientals. From that day to this, there have been volumes poured out on the subject, without identifying the particular country from which they came—far less the era or eras of their migration.

§ 2. The tribes that are found in the present area of the United States, existed in the condition of mere hunters, who obtained their chief means of subsistence from the forest, planting a little corn at their summer villages, but passing a large part of the year in roving from place to place, in quest of game or fish. They appeared to have overrun the country in its vast magnificence and abundance, in a wild and reckless spirit of war and plunder-might always making right, and seeking the gratification of power wherever there were the greatest attractions. The inrush of the population appeared to have been from the West and South, striking the great Apalachian range, and wending their way, century by century, along the Atlantic coast, quite to the Bay of Funda and the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, where tribes from other centres of sally were met.

$ 3. In this expansion, they crossed their own tracks, in many cases, as time advanced, and the fortune of war and the chase dictated. There appear to have been great wars, in olden time, in these wild migratory inroads, in which the first intrusive race were set upon and driven off, or scattered by other hordes, who came seeking game and new countries at later periods. For there are evidences of such great wars, in many remains of earth-works and embankments, which are so situated with respect to streams and eminences, as to have had no other probable object but defence

This article was communicated to the Register by a gentleman, the most distinguished in our country for his acquaintance with the history and character of the North American Indians. That he is now performing a valuable service to the public will be seen by the questions appended to this article, which are given as specimens of the inquiries, amounting to several hundred, prepared by him, by order of the govern. ment, for the purpose of procuring materials illustrative of the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States.

and that defence, such only as was required in hand to hand conflicts—long, long before gunpowder was invented, or the bow and javelin had resigned their once proud supremacy as the chief implements of war.

§ 4. Other remains of the domestic institutions of the older tribes were found in the forests, where our later and existing race only hunted deer. The chief of these consisted of mounds, barrows, and graveyards, with some remains of incipient arts. These comprise a field of antiquarian research, from which some gleam of light may yet be cast on the era of other and perhaps greater races, who erected them. So far as there is any light thrown on the earlier epoch, the first invading aborigines came with oriental ideas, habits, and religious opinions, as well as in their physical lineaments. They were evidently free-worshipers, and took the sun, moon, and stars for gods, and demi-gods, under whose forms they beheld the original and creative Manito, or Great Spirit, and lesser spirits. OWAYNEO and WACONDAH were other names, by other generic classes of the tribes, for the same Being, who was, however, recog. nized by all in early epochs, in that great Indian symbol of divinity, the Sun.

§ 5. We are speaking of the Indians of the present boundaries of the United States, wherein we had, at the opening of the 16th century, about 100 distinct tribes, nations, or leading fraternities of clans. Their languages were very much multiplied, notwithstanding the very marked agreement of the people in general manners, customs, and traits. It is only of late that anything like research into their primary divisions has been applied by means of the curious key of language, to determine whether there ever were so many distinct languages, or whether they were mere dialects of a lesser number of mother tongues. And already it is perceived that there were but few generic languages at the outset of their history-and that there is a process of change, constantly but slowly going on, in the languages, which, in long periods, would quite alter the present languages, and render them unintelligible. These mutations arise from changes of accent, permutation of the vowel sounds, new modes of enunciation, and other traits of speech, which soon undermine the fabric of the vocabulary. But even where this process of change has gone the farthest, we still find direct proofs of their ancient affiliation, particularly in their grammar, or the plan of utter

$ 6. The principal group of Indian tribes, in the more northerly latitudes, is the Algonquin. This group was very extensive at the era of the discovery, and in its utmost ramifications and extended subdivisions, spread along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to the extreme bounds of New England. Following up the valley of the


« ForrigeFortsæt »