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that it is natural to laugh and be merry. Indeed it would be strange if a race of people like these, who have little else to do or relish in life, should be curtailed in that source of pleasure and amusement; and it would be also strange, if a lifetime of indulgence and practice in so innocent and productive a mode of amusement, free from the cares and anxieties of business or professions, should not advance them in their modes, and enable them to draw far greater pleasure from such sources, than we in the civilized and business world can possibly feel. If the uncultivated condition of their minds curtails the number of their enjoyments, yet they are free from, and independent of, a thousand cares and jealousies, which arise from mercenary motives in the civilized world; and are yet far a-head of us (in my opinion) in the real and uninterrupted enjoyment of their simple natural faculties. They live in a country and communities, where it is not customary to look forward into the future with concern, for they live without incurring the expenses of life, which are absolutely necessary and unavoidable in the enlightened world; and of course their inclinations and faculties are solely directed to the enjoyment of the present day, without the sober reflections on the past or apprehensions of the future. With minds thus unexpanded and uninfluenced by the thousand passions and ambitions of civilized life, it is easy and natural to concentrate their thoughts and their conversation upon the little and trifling occurrences of their lives. They are fond of fun and good cheer, and can laugh easily and heartily at a slight joke, of which their peculiar modes of life furnish them an inexhaustible fund, and enable them to cheer their little circle about the wigwam fire-side with endless laughter and garrulity."
We might go on at this rate quoting, so as to fill an entire number of the Monthly Review, without exhausting half of the wonderful novel things which Mr. Catlin has to communicate. His pages are literally crammed with character, adventure, incident, customs of strangest cast, and pictures of scenery; and so spirited is the author's manner, so unaffected and genuine his feelings, and so close and minute his descriptions, so picturesque his sketches with the pen, that persons who have never been fortunate enough to visit his exhibition may almost form an adequate estimate of that unique collection by merely perusing the written work. It is altogether an extraordinary performance, whether subject or treatment be considered; nor can we recommend it too warmly. Indeed we hesitate not to pronounce Mr. Catlin to be a man of genius,-to be a person of that stamp whom Mr. Carlyle would call a true man, a hero. His first promptings in behalf of the red people look like inspirations of an original nature. His longings not only to advance in his art, but to strike upon a new path, are proofs of enterprize worthy to be noted; while his eagerness not only to study humanity in remarkable conditions, but to rescue a doomed race, was noble and magnanimous. But above all, perhaps, the unwearied perseverance with which he pursued his objects, and the ever-accruing enthusiasm which he experienced and exemplifies,
VOL. III. (1841.) No. III.
are the evidences of that earnestness, good faith, and sincerity which Mr. Carlyle would first set down as the tests of a true hero-an original man.
We had intended here to close, at least for the present, and without further extract, our review of Mr. Catlin's work; but we find that this could not be done in justice to him or to our readers; and therefore we devote a little more space to that most extraordinary tribe of the extraordinary Indians, the Mandans; the particulars concerning them being singularly interesting and exciting, and fraught also with a solemn melancholy.
The Mandans not only exhibited further advancement in civilization by locating themselves in a permanent village, substantially built, comparatively speaking, and strongly fortified, but by comforts and even luxuries of life than did any one of the other tribes. But this is not all; for, as a natural result or concomitant of the peculiar circumstances mentioned, they were ahead of the Indians generally in respect of manners and refinement, so as to receive from traders and others the distinction of being " the polite and friendly Mandans." We here quote more closely :
"There is certainly great justice in the remark; and so forcibly have I been struck with the peculiar ease and elegance of these people, together with the diversity of complexions, the various colours of their hair and eyes -the singularity of their language, and their peculiar and unaccountable customs, that I am fully convinced that they have sprung from some other origin than that of the other North American tribes, or that they are an amalgam of natives with some civilized race. Here arises a question of very great interest and importance for discussion; and, after further familiarity with their character, customs, and traditions, if I forget it not, I will eventually give it further consideration. Suffice it, then, for the present, that their personal appearance alone, independent of their modes and customs, pronounces them at once as more or less than savage. A stranger in the Mandan village is first struck with the different shades of complexion and various colours of hair which he sees in a crowd about him; and is at once almost disposed to exclaim that these are not Indians.' There are a great many of these people whose complexions appear as light as half-breds; and amongst the women particularly there are many whose skins are almost white, with the most pleasing symmetry and proportion of features; with hazel, with grey, and with blue eyes,—with mildness and sweetness of expression, and excessive modesty of demeanour, which render them exceedingly pleasing and beautiful. Why this diversity of complexion I cannot tell, nor can they themselves account for it. Their traditions, so far as I have yet learned them, affords us no information of their having had any knowledge of white men before the visit of Lewis and Clarke, made to their village thirty-three years ago. Since that time there have been but very few visits from white men to this place, and surely not enough to have changed the complexions and the customs of a nation. *** I have ascertained, on a careful inquiry, that about one in ten or twelve of the whole tribe are what the French call cheveaux gris, or grey
hairs; and that this strange and unaccountable phenomenon is not the result of disease or habit, but that it is unquestionably an hereditary character which runs in families, and indicates no inequality in disposition or intellect. And by passing this hair through my hands, as I often have, I have found it uniformly to be as coarse and harsh as a horse's mane; differing materially from the hair of other colours, which amongst the Mandans is generally as fine and as soft as silk. The reader will at once see by the above facts, that there is enough upon the faces and heads of these people to stamp them peculiar-when he meets them in the heart of this almost boundless wilderness-presenting such diversities of colour in the complexion and hair,-when he knows, from what he has seen and what he has read, that all other primitive tribes known in America are dark copper-coloured, with jet-black hair."
Mr. Catlin joins in the surmise about a Welsh immigration:
"The host of their peculiarities which stare a traveller in the face, lead the mind back in search of some more remote and national cause for such striking singularities; and in this dilemma, I have been almost disposed (not to advance it as a theory, but) to inquire whether here may not be found yet existing the remains of the Welsh colony-the followers of Madoc; who, history tells us, if I recollect right, started with ten ships, to colonise a country which he had discovered in the Western Ocean; whose expedition I think has been pretty clearly traced to the mouth of the Mississippi, or the coast of Florida, and whose fate further than this seems sealed in unsearchable mystery."
Stranger than romance were many of the customs and ceremonies of this now extinct, exterminated tribe. For instance, they never buried their dead; but placed them on scaffolds out of the reach of wolves and dogs, where the bodies were left to moulder. The place where these scaffolds stood was at the back of the village, on a level prairie. Mr. Catlin continues,—
"With all its appearances, its history, forms, ceremonies, &c., it is one of the strangest and most interesting objects to be described in the vicinity of this peculiar race. Whenever a person dies in the Mandan village, and the customary honours and condolence are paid to his remains, and the body dressed in its best attire, painted, oiled, feasted, and supplied with bow and quiver, shield, pipe and tobacco, knife, flint and steel, and provisions enough to last him a few days on the journey which he is to perform; a fresh buffalo's skin, just taken from the animal's back, is wrapped around the body, and tightly bound, and wound with thongs of raw hide from head to foot. Then other robes are soaked in water till they are quite soft and elastic, which are also bandaged around the body in the same manner, and tied fast with thongs, which are wound with great care and exactness, so as to exclude the action of the air from all parts of the body. There is then a separate scaffold erected for it, constructed of four upright posts, a little higher than human hands can reach; and on the tops of these are small poles passing around from one post to the others; across which a
number of willow-rods just strong enough to support the body, which is laid upon them on its back, with its feet carefully presented towards the rising sun. There are a great number of these bodies resting exactly in a similar way; excepting in some instances where a chief, or medicine-man, may be seen with a few yards of scarlet or blue cloth spread over his remains, as a mark of public respect and esteem. Some hundreds of these bodies may be seen reposing in this manner in this curious place, which the Indians call, 'the village of the dead;' and the traveller who visits this country to study and learn, will not only be struck with the novel appearance of the scene, but if he will give attention to the respect and devotions that are paid to this sacred place, he will draw many a moral deduction that will last him through life: he will learn, at least, that filial, conjugal, and paternal affection are not necessarily the results of civilization; but that the Great Spirit has given them to man in his native state; and that the spices and improvements of the enlightened world have never refined upon them. There is not a day in the year in which one may not see in this place evidences of this fact, that will wring tears from his eyes, and kindle in his bosom a spark of respect and sympathy for the poor Indian, if he never felt it before. Fathers, mothers, wives, and children, may be seen lying under these scaffolds, prostrated upon the ground, with their faces in the dirt, howling forth incessantly the most piteous and heart-broken cries and lamentations for the misfortunes of their kindred: tearing their hair, cutting their flesh with their knives, and doing other penance to appease the spirits of the dead, whose misfortunes they attribute to some sin or omission of their own, for which they sometimes inflict the most excruciating self-torture. When the scaffolds on which the bodies rest decay and fall to the ground, the nearest relations, having buried the rest of the bones, take the skulls, which are perfectly bleached and purified, and place them in circles of a hundred or more on the prairie-placed at equal distances apart (some eight or nine inches from each other), with the faces all looking to the centre; where they are religiously protected and preserved in their precise positions from year to year, as objects of religious and affectionate veneration. There are several of these Golgothas,' or circles of twenty or thirty feet in diameter, and in the centre of each ring or circle is a little mound of three feet high, on which uniformly rest two buffalo-skulls (a male and female) and in the centre of the little mound is erected a 'medicinepole,' about twenty feet high, supporting many curious articles of mystery and superstition, which they suppose have the power of guarding and protecting this sacred arrangement. Here, then, to this strange place, do these people again resort, to evince their further affections for the dead—not in groans and lamentations, however; for several years have cured the anguish; but fond affections and endearments are here renewed, and conversations are here held and cherished with the dead. Every one of these skulls is placed upon a bunch of wild sage, which has been pulled and placed under it. The wife knows (by some mark or resemblance) the skull of her husband or her child, which lies in this group; and there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it, with a dish of the best cooked food that her wigwam affords, which she sets before the skull at night, and returns for the dish in the morning. As soon as it is discovered that the
sage on which the skull rests is beginning to decay, the woman cuts a fresh bunch, and places the skull carefully upon it, removing that which was under it. Independent of the above-named duties, which draw the women to this spot, they visit it from inclination, and linger upon it to hold converse and company with the dead. There is scarcely an hour in a pleasant day, but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or lying by the skull of their child or husband-talking to it in the most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back. It is not unfrequently the case, that the woman brings her needle-work with her, spending the greater part of the day sitting by the side of the skull of her child, chatting incessantly with it, while she is embroidering or garnishing a pair of moccassins; and perhaps, overcome with fatigue, falls asleep, with her arms encircled around it, forgetting herself for hours: after which she gathers up her things and returns to the village. There is something exceedingly interesting and impressive in these scenes, which are so strikingly dissimilar, and yet within a few rods of each other; the one is the place where they pour forth the frantic anguish of their souls, and afterwards pay their visits to the other, to jest and gossip with the dead."
The poor Mandans! the living shall know them no more for ever; although the engravings which illustrate Mr. Catlin's letterpress, as well as does his far-famed exhibition, will serve to embalm their memory. For the present we close with a few tragic words :
"Look!' (said a Mandan, pointing to a little ravine to the right, and at the foot of the hill, from which suddenly broke some forty or fifty furious Sioux, on fleet horses and under full whip, who were rushing upon them); they wheeled, and in front of them came another band more furious from the other side of the hill! they started for home (poor fellows), and strained every nerve; but the Sioux were too fleet for them; and every now and then, the whizzing arrow and the lance were heard to rip the flesh of their naked back, and a grunt and a groan, as they tumbled from their horses. Several miles were run in this desperate race; and Frénié got home, and several of the Mandans, though eight of them were killed and scalped by the way. So ended that day and the hunt."
ART. IV.—Illustrations of Arts F. L. S., &c. MR. AIKIN was late Secretary to the "Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce." In 1828 it was arranged that a few evenings should be appropriated to the illustration of the two former of these branches. All the papers read during the first two years were furnished by the author of the present neat volume. He supplied in all forty essays, those before us being a selection from the series. Other members have been prevailed on" to give illustrations of those arts and manufactures
and Manufactures. By ARTHUR Aikin, London: Van Voorst.