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CHARACTER OF SEAMEN AND BOATMEN.
the amount of capital now devoted to this object. But if we take into view the great extent of our natural water-courses, the multitude of steamboats and other vessels which float upon their surfaces; if we then cast our eye upon the canals which intersect these water-courses, and survey their various appendages of boats and horses; and if we then add the warehouses and men necessary to the system, we cannot but conclude that the amount is incalculably great. If we could take in at a single glance, from some lofty eminence, the windings of the great arteries of our republic, the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Hudson, with their tributary branches, as well as our vast inland seas; and if we could then cast our vision beyond the Rocky Mountains, upon the inlets of wealth from that region-a region yet to be filled with a redundancy of life-our minds would be oppressed with the result. We should then be prepared rightly to estimate the magnitude and influence of this employment.
“Of the agents now employed in this business, by far the greatest proportion are watermen, whose numbers have been variously estimated. But it is believed that they will number at least one hundred thousand, the majority of whom, as to morals, are abandoned. The vices of sailors have become so proverbial, that virtue shrinks from all association with them. As they enter our ports they are welcomed only by that class of moral outlaws who infest our cities, and who live about the docks, ' seeking whom they may devour.' We need not wonder, then, that they travel swiftly the downward course, that their race is quickly run. Their average life, aster entering upon the water, is only about twelve years. Accustomed to constant privations and hardships, they soon become reckless of danger, and, to a great extent, regardless of life. Their moral sense is soon extinguished; but their animal and social propensities still survive, and hence they ordinarily approach our shores with their vicious appetites sharpened and inflamed by a coerced and protracted abstinence. Thus prompted, they immediately congregate in those dens of pollution which have been aptly described as the very 'nostrils of hell." Driven to desperation by the frauds and abuses of their associates, they are ready to avenge themselves upon the community by outrage and violence. The harbours of our lakes and the large villages upon our canals have consequently become a general rendezvous for vagabonds and sharpers.
“Let the same causes be continued for a few years without abatement, and we shall have at least two hundred thousand desperadoes, carrying devastation and death throughout the length and breadth of our land. That these are no idle fears is sufficiently evinced by facts. The calendars of our prisons, and the records of our criminal courts, could they be consulted, would read us a lesson on this subject of the most fearful import. We should there learn that seven tenths of all the crimes committed in the United States within the last five years have been committed in the immediate vicinity of our navigable waters. The State-prison at Auburn during the last year has received into its cells three hundred convicted witnesses of the truth of this remark, from the immediate vicinity of the Erie Canal. Robberies, thefts, and murders have been so frequent on the line of this canal for the last two or three years, that our business-men have become most seriously alarmed, and are beginning to feel that something must be done to stay the progress of this evil.
“To what combination of causes are we to attribute the degradation of sailors ?. They are familiar with some of the sublimest objects in nature; and were the contemplation of such objects sufficient to secure elevation of character, we should expect a different result. They are familiar, too, with sudden dangers and providential escapes. But nei
ther fear of the one nor gratitude for the other is found to be efficacious. Men need restraint, and without it they rapidly degenerate. In all our inquiries in reference to the moral or physical degeneracy of men, philosophy teaches us to look as well to their social condition as to their physical circumstances. Look at the watermen on these great thoroughfares in each of these aspects, and the causes of their degradalion will be easily developed.
“ Their social condition is in many respects deplorable. Professional associations, in civilized communities, generally tend to the elevation of individual character. But watermen are not within the pale of this influence. Their professional associations, owing to the general degradation, have an opposite tendency. Their very first lessons of seamanship are connected with profane and licentious allusions. Take almost any young man of promise, and throw him into a business of this kind, where he is compelled to submit to the professional teachings of vicious associates, and you give him over to hopeless ruin. In this feature of their condition, watermen are peculiarly exposed; and this exposure is fearfully increased by their libidinous associations on shore.
“ The domestic relations constitute, in the social economy, the great balance.wheel by which the whole system is regulated. Let these be perverted or their influence disturbed, and a train of causes is put in operation which will banish from the community all sense of moral obligation. Without the initiatory discipline of the domestic circle, there could be no point of social attraction. The Jacobins of France could never have deluged that unhappy kingdom with the blood of its slaughtered citizens, had they not first laid their ruthless hands upon its domestic altars. The relations of husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, carry with them a weight of obligation, a force of ex. ample, and a power of attraction more efficacious in the promotion of morals than the combined influences of law and government. But these sacred influences are rarely felt by the poor sailor. He is an insulated being, whose home is upon the waters,' and whose best affections, by sensual indulgences, are frittered away and destroyed.
Another prominent feature in the condition of watermen consists in their entire seclusion from the influences of a well-directed public sentiment. It is generally considered that public opinion, as a standard of morals, is defective. Yet in restraining vice it is often an instrument of great efficiency. A large portion of the world adopt it as their only standard of action, and a still larger portion avoid its indictions with instinctive dread. In all well-regulated communities, public opinion exerts a most powerful influence as well in the prevention as in the detection of crime. But, wherever the social system is deranged by the subtraction of any of its essential elements, this influence is perverted, and rendered subservient to the purposes of evil
. Thus, among sailors and watermen, the subtraction of the domestic relations, and the Sabbath, has been followed by a public sentiment utterly powerless in favour of virtue, but in its tendency to vice most deeply exciting.
“ They are destitute of moral and religious instruction. Whatever differences of opinion may exist upon questions purely religious, no one can deny that some kind of religious and moral training is essential to the formation of a virtuous character. To expect the fulfilment of an obligation from one who knows not the relations on which it is based, is preposterous. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ?'
« The Sabbath is another instrument in the formation of character entitled to the highest respect. It is a specific allotment of time to those studies and duties which constitute its chief basis. An unrelieved activity in the pursuit of any secular business has a tendency to lessen
SEAMEN AND BOATMEN.
the weight of moral obligation. A mind thus employed is goaded onward in its narrow pathway without the least regard to surrounding objects. It takes no note of other interests ; it forms no plans for the relief of human misery. But when this pursuit is relieved by a day set apart for other duties, involving other interests, other motives, and other feelings, we have a right to expect a different result. Hence we shall always find, among that class of men who respect the Sabbath, an elevated state of morals. The claims of the Sabbath, therefore, as a mere civil institution, are of high import. But when we come to add its religious bearings, it will be seen io lie at the very foundation of all that is valuable in human society. Sailors and watermen, however, are excluded from its healthful influences. To them it brings neither instruction nor rest, and we ought not to wonder at their consequent degradation.
“The physical circumstances of watermen are unfavourable to virtue. Their exposure to the weather at all times, and under every variety of hardship, occasions a great waste of physical energy, for which there is no adequate supply We are taught by the conditions of our being that, while labour exhausts our frame, rest invigorates it. But our watermen are required to make their full tale of brick, notwithstanding they have no straw.' It has long since been demonstrated that the rest of the Sabbath is as essential to bodily vigour as to moral health. Now the great mass of our watermen are required to work night and day, with only an occasional hour for sleep, and are also deprived of the physical rest of the Sabbath. It ought not to be a matter of surprise, therefore, that, in the absence of moral restraint, they are led to seek artificial stimulants to recall their wasted energies. To this source the intem. perance of thousands may without fear be attributed. Having taken one step in the downward road, they are easily led to other irregularities; to vice, to crime, and eventually to a premature grave. The physical circumstances of watermen, then, are not only unfavourable to virtue, but they become strong incentives to vice.
“ The way is now prepared to inquire for a remedy. We have seen that the evils to be encountered are both secular and moral; secular, be. cause they tend to the derangement of commerce by increasing its hazards; and moral, because they threaten to sap the foundations of the social system, by scattering“ firebrands, arrows, and death.' The inquiry, then, is not only important, but it must be met and answered.
"To avoid an effect we must remove the cause. It has been already shown that the causes now in question are various; and yet it will be seen that they are so intricately involved as to render it impossible wholly to eradicate them. Some may be obviated, but others must be counteracted. We may protect our watermen from excessive labour and from unnecessary exposure, and we can give them rest. By a proper division of labour we may prevent excessive draughts upon their physical energies, and secure to them the requisite time for sleep. But, above all, we can restore them the Sabbath, and thus, at a single blow, remove the most prominent cause of their degradation and vice.
“ The physical causes being removed, we then can give them books in the hope that they will be read. By placing well-selected libraries on board their vessels and within their reach, we can afford them intellectual, moral, and religious instruction, suited to their condition and employment.
“The Sabbaths being restored, we can give them chapels and living teachers. We can then give them the best of all possible substitutes for the influences of the domestic relations, the Gospel of the Son of God. Christianity, whether true or false, is the only system of morals, Infidelity herself being judge, which can effectually restrain the passions
and vices of men; and by giving this, is true, we give them the hopes of another and a better world."
Of the plain good sense and true philanthropy of all this, who can doubt; and of the zeal and earnestness with which the object of moral reform is carried out by those who have here undertaken it, I had abundant proofs. The same evils, I know-and produced, to a great extent, by the same causes-exist among our boatmen, watermen, and canal-men in England; and if those members of the British Parliament who oppose all legislation for the cessation of labour on the Sabbath, could but be brought to see how much it would be for the temporal and secular interests of the labourers themselves, they would never raise the senseless cry against the measure, of its being “a war of the rich against the privileges and enjoyments of the poor ;” the poor being de very class who would benefit most largely, if all travelling in public conveyances, all transportation of goods, and all labour of traffic or profit, were strictly prohibited on the Sabbath day, the observance of which as a day of rest is as beneficial in a physical as it is in a moral point of view, and would tend to national happiness as well as to national gain.
Visit to the Settlement of the Seneca Indians.-Statistics of this Tribe in Numbers and Lands.--Council of the Chiefs in the open Forest. -- Description of the Tribe and their Condition.- Visit to the Grave of the great Chief Red Jacket.-Anecdote of Red Jacket and Lafayette.--History of the White Woman,” Wife of an indian Chief.- Atrocities of the English leading the Indians.-- Testimony of Corn.planter, a retired Seneca Chief.-Corroborating Narrative of the “ White Woman."-Evils produced by the use of intoxicating Drinks. Winters at Buffalo. — Freezing of the Lakes.--Church-going, Sleighing Parties, and Religious Revivals.- Progress of the Catholics in the Western Cities.---Aların of the Protestant Sects at this.--Episcopa. lian Measures of counteraction. - Division of New.York into two Bishoprics --Newspapers of Buffalo. Number and Character.— Discussion on the rise of Water in the Lakes.-Curious Theory broached on this Subject.-- Joumey from Buffalo to Rochester.Williamsville, Ransom's Grove, Pembroke.-Batavia to Rochester by Railroad.
DURING our stay at Buffalo we paid a visit to the nation of Sen. eca Indians, whose settlement is about six or seven miles south of this city. These form one of the six Indian nations, whose few remaining members still linger in different parts of the State of NewYork. They are, therefore, one of the parties to the treaty, discussed in our presence the other day, among the Tuscarora Indians, whom we visited at Niagara, and their assent would accordingly be necessary before the amended treaty could be carried into execution.
A grand council was to be held here as at Tuscarora; and as
COUNCIL OF SENECA INDIANS.
the Indians were more numerous, and would be joined also by some of the Onondagas and Cayugas, greater preparations were made to give dignity to its proceedings. The council was intended to be opened on Monday last in the usual council-house; but there being a great number of dissentient chiefs, they would not allow it to be held there, as they were averse to the whole proceeding. A new house had been temporarily erected for the purpose ; but that was speedily burned down by some of the discontented Indians, so that the council was ordered to be opened to-day in the deep shade of the grove adjoining their settlement.
We went there with an agreeable party about twelve o'clock, in a carriage, and found there Generals Gillett, Porter, and Dearborn, of the American army, Judge Striker, of the Circuit Court, who opened the council, and a large number of American ladies and gentlemen. The Indians asseinbled were not more than one hundred, but they were all chiefs, and there were neither women nor children as at the former. The men were more Indian in their costume and physiognomy than the Tuscaroras, and a great number of them came with their tomahawks in their hands. They stretched themselves along in the most careless attitudes beneath the trees, and enjoyed the shade and repose, while they listened to the opening address of the judge and the speech of the commissioner, both of which were translated, sentence by sentence, by one of their own body acting as interpreter, to which they paid great attention, without, however, moving a muscle to betray any emotions, and smoking their pipes with the utmost gravity. The whole scene was far more picturesque and aboriginal than the council held in the church of the Tuscaroras.
I learned on the spot, from conversation with some of the chiefs, that their nation at present numbered about two thousand five hundred; the extent of their reserved land being sixty thousand acres, in four different portions, the largest of which came up almost to the very borders of the town of Buffalo. Of their whole number, not more than one fourth were even nominal Christians; and of these, it was doubted whether more than a very small number really understood and felt the influence of religion. The other three fourths were pagans, as they are here called, clinging to their ancient superstitions, and celebrating every year a festival, in which two white dogs are slain, with peculiar ceremonies.
Respecting the proposed treaty, we were assured that nine tenths of the whole body of the Seneca Indians were opposed to it, and, indeed, averse to any removal at all. Of the chiefs, who were ninety-six in number, more than half were openly hostile to the measure, and it was said by the Indians themselves that those who supported it had been bribed by the government to express favourable opinions. In this way they feared that a great many of the more dissolute and drunken of their number would be