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she replied. 'Treasured as thou art in my heart,' continued she, ' I would scorn the proffered hand of a traitor to Poland, and reject an alliance with thy noble family, should the sun of my country's liberties set in the liberation of her captive daughter. Proceed in the glorious cause. The stake for which thou contendest is priceless and incomparable. I will not say to thee, in this hour of trial, Poland has other daughters. I know thy faith. Yon orb,' said she, pointing to the sun, 'is not more pure, nor his returns more constant. Commit thy Halina to Heaven — thy courage and perseverance to thy country. Depart, beloved Plater,' continued Halina, as she placed her miniature in his hand: 'on the day of trial, look on this. Yet stay a moment; lend me thy dagger. I shudder at the thought of self-destruction; yet are there cases in which even that act may be a virtue.'
1 What is the issue of thy interview with the daughter of Radzivil?' said Constantine, as Casimir descended toward the lower corridor of the palace.
'The secrets of Poland's daughters are secure with her sons,' replied Casimir. Thou wilt know, ere evening shades thy palace. Am I at liberty to depart?'
'Thou art,' returned Constantine.
Young Plater, preceded by his herald, soon reached his assembled companions. A shout, which shook the walls of the tyrant's palace, announced his arrival.
'What is the answer of the Duke ?' demanded a hundred voices.
'He refuses to release the captives,' replied Casimir.
'Storm the palace ! — raze the monster's mansion to the dust!' — cried the military companions of Casimir —' Poland and Liberty!'
'My comrades,' said Casimir, 'caution must be our watch-word. We must be wary in our approach to the den of the monster. He must have chance to escape. The fate of the house of Radzivil depends on this circumstance: and who among you would require the possession of the tyrant, at the sacrifice of this noble family V
'Not a son of Poland,' rejoined his companions. 'Let the Duke escape.'
'Three cheers!' said Plater, 'and then for the palace!'
'The acclamation reached the ears of Constantine. The words, 'storm the palace!' had scarcely fallen from the lips of the enthusiastic Poles, ere he entered the chamber of Halina.
'Imprudent maid,' exclaimed he, 'why dost thou court death?'
'I court the freedom of Poland,' she replied, 'even at the price which thou hast decreed. Know, Duke, the blood of Kosciusko still runs in the vein3 of Poland's daughters.'
'My guard,' said Constantine, 'conduct hither Prince Radzivil and his son.'
The soldier retired at the command, and returned with the noble captives.
'Behold the offering,' said Halina, as she gazed on her father and brother: 'behold the victims for the sacrifice. But thou,' turning to Constantine, 'art not the officiating priest at the altar.'
'Say'st thou so, maiden V replied Constantine. 'Executioners, approach!'
'Stand back! ye murdering ministers — ye accursed agents of another's crime!' exclaimed Halina, as her eye tinned ficm the assassins to their employer: 'the blood you seek is too pure for your cowardly daggers!'
'I command you to do your duty!' thundered the Duke. The ruffians again approached to fulfil the awful commission.
'Take thou the reward of guilt!' said the daughter of Radzivil, as she plunged the poniard of Plater into the bosom of the foremost assassin : 'I pity, yet have destroyed thee!'
Constantine, petrified with astonishment, gazed with conscious horror on the body of the executioner, as it writhed in the agonies of death.'The blood of that man shall be demanded at thy hand, Russian Duke,' said Halina, 'when we meet before the bar of Heaven. Mine was an act of justice, not revenge. The life of a parent demanded the poniard of a daughter. Thou seest how strong, when virtue nerves them, are the arms of Sarmatia's maidens.'
A crash in the court-yard now announced that the inner gates of the palace had been forced. 'To the rescue of the Radzivils!' was heard from every quarter. 'If they be safe, give quarter to the tyrant — if not, be his fate as theirs!'
Plater rushed to the eastern chamber: in a moment, the door was opened. 'My Halina is safe! Spirit of the Universe, I thank thee!' said he, as he clasped the lovely girl to his bosom.
'Where is the tyrant!' exclaimed the inflamed soldiery. 'He has escaped,' said Halina, ' by a secret passage.'
'Mother, I have fulfilled thy prophesy,' said Plater: 'the evening sun has not found the tyrant in the palace of Belveder. And now, my Halina, I demand thy bridal hand at the altar, before the face of Heaven, and on the dawn of Poland's regeneration.'
THE PORTRAIT: AN EXTRACT.
BY J. C. PE1CITAL.
Ae Those blue eyes upon the canvass throw
Ah! I would then that pictured form could talk
A few suns more, and the Indian will live only in history. A few centuries, and that history will be colored with the mellow, romantic light in which Time robes the past, and contrasted with the then present wealth and splendor of America, may seem so improbable, as to elicit from the historian a philosophic doubt of its authenticity. The period may even arrive, when the same uncertainty which hangs over the heroic days of every people may attend its records, and the stirring deeds of the battle-field and council-fire may be regarded as attractive fictions, or at the best as beautiful exaggerations.
This is but in the nature of things. Actions always lose their reality and distinctness in the perspective of ages; time is their charnel-house. And no memorials are so likely to be lost or forgotten, as those of a conquered nation. Of the Angles and Saxons little more than a name has survived, and the Indian may meet no better fate. Even though our own history is so enveloped in theirs, it is somewhat to be feared that, from neglect, the valuable cover will be suffered to decay, and care be bestowed only on the more precious contents. 'Be it so,' exclaim some; 'what pleasure or profit is to be derived from the remembrance? Let the wild legend be forgotten. They are but exhibitions of savage life teeming with disgusting excess, and brutal passion. They portray man in no interesting light, for with every redeeming trait, there rises up some revolting characteristic in horrid contrast. Was he grateful? so was his revenge bloody and eternal. Was he brave? — So was he treacherous. Was he generous? — so was he crafty and cruel.'
But a more philosophic mind would say, 'No! he presents a part of the panorama of humanity, and his extermination is an embodiment of a great principle — the same retreat of the children of the wilderness before the wave of civilization; hence arises a deep interest in his fortune, which should induce us to preserve, carefully and faithfully, the most trifling record of his greatness or his degradation.' At a time when barbarous nations elsewhere had lost their primitive purity, we find him the only true child of nature — the best specimen of man in his native simplicity. We should remember him as a 'study of human nature' — as an instance of a strange mixture of good and evil passions. We perceive in him fine emotions of feeling and delicacy, and unrestrained, systematic cruelty, grandeur of spirit and hypocritcal cunning, genuine courage and fiendish treachery. He was like some beautiful spar, part of which is regular, clear, and sparkling, while a portion, impregnated with clay, is dark and forbidding.
But above all, as being an engrossing subject to an American, as coming to us the only relic of the literature of the aborigines, and the most perfect emblem of their character, their glory and their intellect, we should dearly cherish the remains of their oratory. In these we see developed the motives which animated their actions, and the light and shadows of their very soul. The iron encasement of apparent apathy in which the savage had fortified himself, impenetrable at ordinary moments, is laid aside in the council-room. The genius of eloquence bursts the swathing bands of custom, and the Indian stands forth accessible, natural, and legible We commune with him, listen to his complaints, understand, appreciate, and even feel his injuries.
As Indian eloquence is a key to the character, so is it a noble monument of their literature. Oratory seldom finds a more auspicious field. A wild people, and region of thought, forbade feebleness; uncultivated, but intelligent and sensitive, a purity of idea, chastely combined with energy of expression, ready fluency, and imagery now exquisitely delicate, now soaring to the sublime, all united to rival the efforts of any ancient or modern orator.*
What can be imagined more impressive, than a warrior rising in the council-room to address those who bore the same scarred marks of their title to fame and to chieftainship? The diginified stature — the easy repose of limbs — the graceful gesture, the dark speaking eye, excite equal admiration and expectation. We would anticipate eloquence from an Indian. He has animating remembrances — a poverty of language, which exacts rich and apposite metaphorical allusions, even for ordinary conversation — a mind which like his body has never been trammelled and mechanised by the formalities of society, and passions which, from the very outward restraint imposed upon them, burn more fiercely within. There is a mine of truth in the reply of Red Jacket, when called a warrior: 'A warrior /' said he; 'I am an orator—I was born an orator.'
There are not many speeches remaining on record, but even in this small number there is such a rich yet varied vein of all the characteristics of true eloquence, that we even rise from their perusal with regret that so few have been preserved. No where can be found a poetic thought clothed in more captivating simplicity of expression, than in the answer of Tecumseh to Governor Harrison, in the conference at Vincennes. It contains a high moral rebuke, and a sarcasm heightened in effect by an evident consciousnessof loftiness above the reach of insult. At the close of his address, he found that no chair had been placed for him, a neglect which Governor Harrison ordered to be remedied as soon as discovered. Suspecting, perhaps, that it was more an affront than a mistake, with an air of dignity elevated almost to haughtiness, he declined the seat proffered, with the words, 'Your father requests you to take a chair,' and answered, as he calmly disposed himself on the ground: 'My father? The sun is my father, and the earth is my mother. / will repose upon her bosom.'
As they excelled in the beautiful, so also they possessed a nice sense of the ridiculous. There is a clever strain of irony, united with the sharpest taunt, in the speech of Garangula to De la Barre, the Governor of Canada, when that crafty Frenchman met with his tribe in council, for the purpose of obtaining peace, and reparation for past injuries. The European, a faithful believer in the maxim that 'En guerre ou lapeau du lion ne peut suffire il y faut coudre un lopin de celle du reguard,' attempted to overawe the savage by threats, which he well knew he had no power to execute. Garangula, who also was well aware of his weakness, replied, 'Yonondio, you must have believed when you left Quebec, that the sun had burnt up all the forests which render our country inaccessible to the French, or that the lakes had so overflowed their banks, that they had surrounded our castles, and that it was impossible for us to get out of them. Yes, surely you must have dreamed so, and the curiosity of seeing so great a wonder has brought you so far. Hear, Yonondio: our women had taken their clubs, our children and old men had carried their bows and arrows into the heart of your camp, if our warriors had not disarmed them, and kept them back when your messenger came to our castle.' We cannot give a better idea of the effect of their harrangues upon their own people, and at the same time a finer instance of their gratefulness when skilfully touched, than in the address to the Wallah-Wallahs by their young chief, the Morning Star. In consequence of the death of several of their tribe, killed in one of their predatory excursions against the whites, they had collected in a large body for the purpose of assailing them. The stern, uncompromising hostility with which they were animated, may be imagined from the words they chaunted on approaching to the attack: 'Rest, brothers, rest! You will be avenged. The tears of your widows will cease to flow, when they behold the blood of your murderers, and on seeing their scalps, your young children shall sing and leap with joy. Rest, brothers, in peace! Rest, we shall have blood!' The last strains of the death-song had died away. The gleaming eye, burning with the desire of revenge—the countenance, fierce even through an Indian's cloak — the levelled gun, and poised arrow, forbade promise of peace, and their superior force as little hope of successful resistance. At this moment of awful excitement, a mounted troop burst in between them, and its leader addressed his kindred: 'Friends and relations! Three snows have only passed over our heads, since we were a poor, miserable people. Our enemies were numerous and powerful; we were few and weak. Our hearts were as the hearts of little children. We could not fight like warriors, and were driven like deer about the plains. When the thunders rolled, and the rains poured, we had no place save the rocks, whereon we could lay our heads. Is such the case now? No! We have regained possession of the land of our fathers, in which they and their fathers' fathers lie buried; our hearts are great within us, and we are now a nation. Who has produced this change? The white man! And are we to treat him with ingratitude? No! The warrior of the strong arm and the great heart will never rob a friend.' The result was wonderful. There was a complete revulsion of feeling. The angry waves were quieted, and the savage, forgetting his enmity, smoked the calumet with those whom the eloquence of the Morning Star alone had saved from his scalping knife.
* An unqualified opinion to this effect has been expressed by Jefferson and Clinton.
Fearlessness and success in battle were the highest titles to honor, and an accusation of cowardice was a deadly insult. A reproach of this kind to a celebrated chief received a chivalric reply. Kognethagecton, or as he was more generally called, White-Eyes, at the time his nation was solicited to join in the war against the Americans, in our struggle for liberty, exerted his influence against hostile measures. His answer to the Senecas, who were in the British interest, and who, irritated by his obstinate adherence to peace, attempted to humble him, by reference to an old story of the Delawares being a conquered people, is a manly and dignified assertion of independence. It reminds one of the noble motto of the Frenchman: 'Je nestimc vn autre plus grand que moi lors que fai mon epee.' 'I know well,' said he, 'that you consider us a conquered nation — as women — as your inferiors. You have, say you, shortened our legs, and put petticoats on us. You say you have given us a hoe and a corn-pounder, and tcld us to plant and pound for you —