Imágenes de páginas

country is of great extent ; they live by hunting and fishing, having bows and arrows, but no fire-arms; and their cloath

ing is the skins of beasts: they are seldom, if ever, engaged in war; have no commerce with any other people, Indian or European, but live as if they had a world to themselves (a). If that country be ill peopled, it is not from scarcity of food; for the country is extensive, and well stored with every sort of game.

sort of game. On the south and west of the lake Superior, the country is level and fruitful all the way to the Mislifippi, having large plains covered with rank grass, and scarce a tree for hundreds of miles : the inhabitants enjoy the greatest plenty of fish, fowl, deer, &c.; and yet their numbers are far from being in proportion to their means of subsistence. In short, it is the conjecture of the ableft writers, that in the vast extent of North America, when discovered, there were not as many people, laying aside Mexico, as in the half of Europe.

Paucity of inhabitants explains clearly why the North-American tribes remain

(a) Account of North America by Major Robert Rogers.

T 2


hunters and fishers, without advancing to the shepherd-state. But if the foregoing difficulty be removed, another starts up, no less puzzling, viz. By what adverse fate are so rich countries so ill peopled ? It is a conjecture of M. Buffon, mentioned above, that America has been planted later than the other parts of this globe. But fupposing the fact, it has however not been planted fo late as to prevent a great population; witness Mexico and Peru, fully peopled at the era of the Spanish invasion. We must therefore search for another cause;

and none occurs but the infecundity of the North-American savages. M, Buffon, a respectable author, and for thar reason often quoted, remarks, that the inales are feeble in their



generation, that they have no ardor for the female sex, and that they have few children ; to enforce which remark he adds, that the quadrupeds of America, both native and transplanted, are of a diminutive fize, compared with those of the old world. A womnan never admits her husband, till - the child she is nursing be three years old; and this led Frenchimen to go ofren aitray froin the Canadian wires. The case was

reported reported by the priests to their superiors in France : what regulation was made has escaped my memory. Among the males, it is an inviolable law, to abstain from females while they are engaged in a military expedition. This is pregnant evidence of their frigidity ; for among savages the authority of law, or of opinion, seldom prevails over any strong appetite: vain would be the attempt to restrain them from fpirituous liquors, tho' much more debilitating. Neither is there any instance, of violence offered by any North-American favage, to European women taken captives in war.

Mexico and Peru, when conquered by the Spaniards, afforded to their numerous inhabitants the necessaries of life in profusion. Cotton was in plenty, more than fufficient for the cloathing needed in warm climates : Indian wheat was universal, and was cultivated without much labour. The natural wants of the inhabitants were thus easily fupplied; and artificial wants had made no progrefs. But the present ftare of these countries is very different. The Indians have learned from their conquerors a multitude of artificial wants, good



houses, variety of food, and rich cloaths which must be imported, because they are prohibited from exercising any art or calling except agriculture, which scarce affords them necessaries ; and this obliges a great proportion of them to live single. Even agriculture itself is cramped ; for in most of the provinces there is a prohibition to plant vines or olives. In short, it is believed that the inhabitants are reduced to a fourth part of what they were at the time of the Spanish invasion. The favages also of North America who border on the European settlements, are visibly diminishing. When the English settled in America, the five nations could raise 15,000 fighting men : at present they are not able to raise 2000. Upon the whole, it is computed by able writers, that the present inhabitants of America amount not to a twentieth part of those who exifted when that continent was discovered by Columbus. This decay is ascribed to the intemperate use of spirits, and to the small-pox, both of them introduced by the Europeans


* In all the West Indian colonies, the slaves continually decrease fo as to make frequent recruits


It is observable, that every sort of plague becomes more virulent by transplantation.


from Africa neceffary. “ This decrease,” says the author of a late account of Guiana, “is commonly

а “ attributed to oppression and hard labour; tho' 66 with little reason, as the slaves are much more “ robust, healthy, and vigorous, than their masters. • The true cause is, the commerce of white men “ with young Negro wenches, who, to support that “ commerce, use every mean to avoid conception, “ and even to procure abortion. By such practices “ they are incapacitated to bear children when they “ settle in marriage with their own countrymen. " That this is the true cause, will be evident, from “ considering, that in Virginia and Maryland, the “ stock of flaves is kept up without any importa« tion; because in these countries commerce with

Negro women is detested, as infamous and unna“ tural.” The cause here assigned may have some effect: but there is a stronger cause of depopulation, viz. the culture of sugar, laborious in the field, and unhealthy in the house by boiling; &c. The Negroes employ'd in the culture of cotton, coffee, and ginger, feldom need to be recruited. Add, that where tobacco and rice are cultivated, the stock of Negroes is kept up by procreation, without necellity of recruits. Because there, a certain purtion of work is allotted to the negroes in every plantation; and when that is performed, they are at liberty to work for themselves. The management in Jamaica is very different: no talk is there alligncd; and the poor flaves know no end of la

bour :

« AnteriorContinuar »