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The Captain explained to the Turtle some anecdotes respecting the Empress and her favorites, one of whom,—the king of Poland,—had at first been by her elevated to the throne, and afterwards driven from it. He was much astonished to find that men, and particularly warriors, would submit to a wo
He said that perhaps if his friend Kosciusko had been a portly, handsome man, he might have better succeeded with her majesty of all the Russias, and might by means of a love-intrigue have obtained that independence for his country, to which his skill and valor in the field had been found unequal.
The Turtle was fond of joking, and was possessed of considerable talent for repartee. In the year 1797, he lodged in a house in Philadelphia, in which was an Irish gentleman of considerable wit, who became much attached to the Indian, and frequently amused himself in drawing out his wit by good-humored jests. The Turtle and this gentlemen were at that time both sitting for their portraits—the former by order of the President of the United States, the picture to be hung up in the war-office--to the celebrated Stewart. The two meeting one morning in the painter's room, the Turtle appeared to be rather more thoughtful than usual. The Irishman rallied him upon it, and affected to construe it into an acknowledgment of his superiority in the jocular contest. “ He mistakes,” said the Turtle to the interpreter, "I was just thinking of proposing to this man, to paint us both on one board, and here I would stand face to face with him, and confound him to all eternity.”
The Seneca Chief, RED-JACKET-Circumstances under
which he succeeded CORN-PLANTER in his influenceAnecdotes of the latter-Red-Jacket's earliest oratorical triumph—His speech at the Treaty of Canandaigua—Account of Farmer's-BROTHER, and BRANDT, Red-Jacket's political and religious principles_Speech to Mr. Alexander, in 1811-Speech to Mr. Richardson-Remarks on the causes of his heathenisın in the conduct of the whites—His military career-Speech in favor of declaring war against the British, in 1812 -Seneca Manifesto-Red-Jacket's interview with Washington-His interview with Lafayette---His Memorial to the New-York Legislature---Speech to a Missionary in 1825---His deposition and restoration in 1827_Visits to the Atlantic cities---Death and funeral obsequies—Anecdotes.
The Indian orator of modern times, par excellence, was the New-York Chief, Saguoaha, or the KeeperAwake, but by the whites commonly called REDJACKET ;-a man who, with whatever propriety he might be entitled “the Last of the Senecas,' has at least transiently renewed, in these latter days, the ancient glory of the Mingoes. Thy name is princely," -a popular writer has said of him,
-Though no poet's magic Could make Red-Jacket grace an English rhyme, Unless he had a genius for the tragic,
And introduced it in a pantomime;
Yet it is music in the language spoken
Of thine own land; and on her herald-roll, As nobly fought for, and as proud a token
As Cæur-de-Lion's of a warrior's soul.*
* Talisman for 1830.
This, by the way, is considerably nearer the truth than the statement in a preceding stanza:
To thee and to thy sires the subject knee.
Better historical, if not poetical authority informs us, that the Seneca literally fought' for his rank, if not for his name; and that, like the subject of our last notice, he owed nothing to the advantages of illustrious birth.* We should add, however, that the struggle was in the council-house as well as in the field of battle. “ A warrior !"—he once (and probably more than once) had the modesty to say of himself, with a smile of contempt, when some enquiries were made respecting the deeds of blood which are sometimes supposed to constitute the character of an Indian ;_"A Warrior! I am an Orator. I was born an Orator!”
The predecessor of Red-Jacket, in the respect of the Senecas, and of the Confederacy at large, was a celebrated chief narned by the English the CORNPLANTER, a personage also well known for his eloquence, and worthy on that account to be distinctly commemorated, were there on record any definite and well authenticated sketches of his efforts. Unfortunately, there are not. The speeches commonly ascribed to him, are believed to have been mostly composed by some of his civilized acquaintances, rather on the principle of those effusions usually attributed to popular candidates for the gallows. Still, there is less reason, we apprehend, for doubting his real genius, than for disputing his nationality. He considered himself a half-breed,t his father being an
* Governor Clinton's Discourse before the New York Historical Society : 1811.
† Appendix, III. and VI.
Indian, according to his own account, and his mother a white woman.
By a singular combination of circumstances, RedJacket was brought forward into public life, and that to great advantage, mainly in consequence of the same incident which destroyed the influence of CornPlanter. This, indeed, had been rather declining for some time, owing partly to his agency in effecting a large cession of Seneca land to the American Government, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in 1784. His loss of popularity, in fine, bitterly chagrined him, and he resolved on a desperate exertion to restore it. With this view, he undertook to practice upon the never failing superstition of his countrymen, by persuading his brother to announce himself as a Prophet,-of course commissioned by the Great Spirit to redeem the fallen fortunes of his race,' that is, his own.
The savages listened to the new pretender with all the veracious credulity which characterises the race. Among the Onondagas, previously the most drunken and profligate of the Six Nations, he acquired such an ascendancy, as to induce them to abandon the use of spirituous liquors entirely, and to observe the common laws of morality and decency in some other respects, wherein they had before been grievously deficient. Indeed, among the Confederates generally, he obtained a supremacy equal to that of the same character obtained by Elskwatawa among the western tribes, not far from the same time. The Oneidas alone rejected him.
Like that notorious impostor, too, he soon availed himself, for evil purposes, of the confidence gained by the preliminary manifestation of good. A cry of (witchcraft' was raised, and a sort of examining committee of conjurors was selected to designate the offenders. And that duty was zealously discharged. The victims were actually sentenced, and would doubtless have been executed, but for the interference
of the magistrates of Oneidą and the officers of the garrison at Niagara.
But neither the Corn-Planter nor his pious coadjutor was yet discouraged. Nothing but an accident had prevented success, and the failure only made it the more imperatively necessary to try the experiment again. Red-Jacket was publicly denounced. His accusers came forward at a great Indian council held at Buffalo Creek. “At this crisis,” says an eminent writer, “he well knew that the future color of his life depended upon the powers of his mind. He spoke in his defence for near three hours. The iron brow of superstition relented under the magic of his eloquence; he declared the Prophet an impostor and a cheat; he prevailed; the Indians divided, and a small majority appeared in his favor. Perhaps the annals of history cannot furnish a more conspicuous instance of the triumph and power of oratory, in a barbarous nation, devoted to superstition, and looking up to the accuser as a delegated minister of the Al
If this anecdote be true,—and we are not aware of its having been doubted,—the Orator, whatever be said of his genius as such, hardly deserved the precise compliment which is paid him by his eulogist in
Is eloquence,” he asks,“ a monarch's merit?”
-Her spell is thine that reaches The heart, and makes the wisest head its sport, And there's one rare, strange virtue in thy speeches,
The secret of their mastery—they are short.
But the Ser a's case, it must be allowed, was one of clear compulsion; and he probably felt, on the occasion in question, very little of the impatience which induced Horne Tooke to say, after a noble friend's plea of eleven hours in his behalf before the Commons, that he would rather be hanged, another time, than defended."
* Discourse of Governor Clinton.