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Schuyler, the son of a gentleman of that name, who induced and accompanied the visit to England of those Indian chiefs, mentioned in the Spectator as one of the principal London shows of that time. Either this elder Mr. Schuyler, or his immediate ancestors, had emigrated from Holland, and ranked among the most wealthy and respectable settlers in the province of New York, and among the most zealously loyal subjects of the British government. As his residence was on the frontier of the country belonging to the Mohawks, or Five Nations, at that time probably the most powerful of all the tribes of the aborigines, he was the principal medium of intercourse between that formidable community and the province, and the principal preservative of peace and amity. When the French in Canada became powerful enough, in conjunction with the Indian tribes in their alliance, to commence a system, and to indicate the most ambitious designs, of hostility and encroachment, it was felt to be of the utmost importance to the province to retain the friendship of the Mohawks; among whom the French intriguers, or rather we should say negociators, had already been assiduous to propagate the notion that the English were a contemptible nation, a company of mere traders, inhabiting an insignificant island. Mr. Schuyler judged that far the best expedient would be for a number of the chiefs to visit England, in order to have immediate evidence of its power and magnificence, and to receive the respectful attentions of its government. It was found very difficult to persuade them to this undertaking; but at length they consented, on the positive condition that their brother Philip, who never told a lie, nor spoke without thinking', should accompany them, with which he reluctantly complied. The measure had the desired effect; the sachems were kindly and respectfully treated by queen Anne and all her court; on their return to America they called a solemn council of their nation, and made such representations, that the Mohawks continued the firm allies of the British State and settlers,through their intercourse with whom however their numbers and their independence were gradually diminishing, till, by the time that the English power was annihilated, they had sunk into comparative insignificance. In describing the reception of the chiefs in England, the writer makes some very just remarks on the proper mode of treating observant and thoughtful barbarians, such as these were, when they happen to visit a civilised country.
The understanding and the virtues of Mr. Schuyler must have been of a very high order of excellence; and these
qualities appear to have been inherited by his son, the husband of the lady who makes so distinguished a figure in this work. He became, in his turn, the chief manager and conciliator between the province, and the race who saw their ancient empire of woods suffering an unceasing and progressive invasion by the multiplying colony of strangers. In these and all his other benevolent employments, he had a most able coadjutor in his wife; who was his cousin, and had in a great measure been educated by his father, whose fond partiality she had early engaged by extraordinary indications of intelligence and worth. It was not very long after this lady became a widow, and when she was past the age of sixty, that our author was introduced into her house, where her reflective disposition, her passion for reading, and the interest she took in listening to the conversation of elder people, soon rendered her a great favourite. She attained to such a degree of intimacy and confidence, that Mrs. Schuyler, when not engaged in important affairs, would spend hours in conversing with her and instructing her, and in some of these conversations would relate to her many particulars of her own history, of that of her deceased relatives, and that of the colony hence the writer became qualified to relate various transactions in the family, and in the province, of a period antecedent to her personal knowledge.
The first part of the work is an ample description of the town of Albany and its vicinity; the site, the surrounding country, the romantic recesses between the hills, the banks of the great river Hudson, the manners of the inhabitants, and their whole social economy, as all these things appeared to the author, are exhibited in the most lively and picturesque manner; and the whole forms, to us, a surprisingly outlandish scene. It is impossible for us to give any just idea of this most interesting description; but the following are some of its prominent features. The children and young people, beginning as early as the age of six or seven, were formed, by themselves as it should seem, (it does not appear that they were allotted by their parents) into a number of little classes or companies for the mere purposes of friendship and co-operation in pursuits and amusements; each company consisting of an equal number of boys and girls, acknowledging one of their number of each sex, as leaders, and holding a kind of convivial meeting at particular times in the year. Within these companies began very early those attachments which commonly led to marriage, and it was regarded as not very honourable to marry out of the company. In a new and rising settlement, the
marriages were of course very early, often when the parties had not passed the age of sixteen or seventeen. When a youth was anxious to attain this object, the usual expedient for providing the requisite resources was to go on a trading adventure among the Indian nations; his father furnishing him with a canoe, and money for lading it with the articles most in request among those tribes. A most entertaining account is given of the usual severe toils and hazards of this enterprise; and of the strange transformation of the boy into the gravity, the prudence, and the dignified deportment of the man, which is often effected by the care, the foresight, the self-command, and the courage which he has been compelled to exert during even expedition of this kind. When the young people rashly married before any provision had been made, the parents of both the parties very composedly met in consultation, and the family that happened to have the more property took the young pair home; the young man then commenced his trading expeditions, and the young people and the old people often continued to live together with mutual satisfaction many years after they had ample means for a separate competency, the ancients being as foud of their grandchildren as they had ever been of their own. All the families had negroes, but these slaves were treated with as much kindness as if they had been equals; they were bred up in the house, and their mothers had very great influence, not to say authority, in the family, and over their master's children. When a negro child was a few years old, it was formally given to one of the children of the family, who was thenceforth considered as its master or mistress, and its patron and friend; the two children grew up in the most affectionate habits, and there were innumerable instances of the negro young men braving the most extreme perils to defend or assist their young masters. Yet all this time there was, in the whites, an invariable perfect conviction of a vast and insuperable barrier being placed by nature between them and the African race; this feeling operated so powerfully, that, before the arrival of British troops in Albany, only one mulatto was remembered to have been born there, and he was regarded as an anomalous and almost a monstrous creature. Almost the whole of the inhabitants are represented. to have been orderly, industrious, friendly, and in short exceedingly pure in their general morals; the correctness of the description, as to one branch of morals at least, is strongly supported by the very curious account of the astonishment, the general mortification, and the alarm, caused in the town by a single instance of seduction in one of Vol. V.
the middling families, and this was effected by a British officer who was entertained there. As an odd exception to the general character of virtue and good order, the writer honestly mentions a custom similar to one that prevailed in Sparta, a licensed practice of petty thefts among the young men. It was requisite to take the utmost care of pigs and poultry, while all other things might be left exposed with entire safety. It was thought fair to belabour the thief, if caught in the fact; but no real criminality seems to have been imputed to it; it was considered as an established privilege of the youth, and all but the gravest part of the community were too willing to applaud the most dexterous performer for such ingenious tricks as those of which our author relates one or two. The young men were not allowed to join in these frolics, as they were called, after they were married, which to some of them is said to have been no small mortification.
The young people, though brought up to acquire so early a spirit of enterprise and independence, practised the greatest deference to their parents. Law or punishment was scarcely ever heard of in the town. In the rare case of a negro proving incorrigibly refractory, he was sold to Jamaica; and this transaction excited a far more melancholy emotion in the whole population, than the execution of a dozen crimi nals at once excites in our metropolis. The description of the summer excursions of the people of Albany, leads us into the most delightful scenes of wildness and simplicity, and displays that romantic mixture of cultivated and uncivilised life, (though with a preponderance of the former) and that contrast of garden with boundless forest, which must be a transient state of moral and physical nature in any country.
A sufficient number of specific facts are given, to attest the truth, in substance, of our author's representation of the virtuous and happy condition of this community but there are also some other facts tending to prove that their praises are a little indebted to the rekindling glow of the writer's primeval fancy and sensibility. For at the period to which the description relates, the settlement had been a good while infested by something beyond all comparison more pernicious than the wolves of the desert; by the military from Europe, whose officers had taken indefatigable pains to deprave the notions, manners, and morals of the young people, a much more easy exploit than to vanquish the French and the Indians on the lakes. By a varnish of elegance and a froth of gaiety, by ridicule of the primitive habits of the old sobersided settlers, and an ostentation of knowing the world, and at last by the introduction of balls and plays, they created
a mania in the young people, which drove them to rush into dissipation like a torrent, in scorn of the authority and remonstrances of the elder inhabitants, and reduced their zealous, affectionate, but too sensitive and self-important minister, to a melancholy which was believed to have betrayed him to a voluntary death. All this had taken place before the time of our author's residence; and though the phrenzy had in a good measure subsided, it is impossible to suppose it could have left a state of manners altogether so unsophisticated as our author would represent.
In describing the comfortable situation of the negroes in this settlement, she by no means aims at raising any plea for the slave-trade or slavery; she means merely to state the fact, that in Albany they were kindly treated and comparatively happy. We must notice the striking inconsistency between the sentence (I. 48) in which she says that two or three slaves were the greatest number that each family ever possessed,' and her mention in another place that Mrs. Schuyler had eleven, and her information that each child of a family had an appropriated negro.
It would be in vain for us to attempt any abstract of the history of Mrs. Schuyler. She was evidently an extraordinary and a most estimable person; and though so few of us ever heard of her before, her fame, during her time, was spread over the northern provinces of America, and far among the savage tribes; nor should we have ventured to gainsay, if her biographer had asserted that the queen of Sheba, even after her visit to Jerusalem, was less qualified to counsel or to govern than this lady. She was consulted by traders, planters, governors, and generals; she was revered by soldiers, by Indians, by missionaries, and even by the most depraved persons that ever came within the sphere of her acquaintance. Perhaps the only man that ever offered her an insult was General Lee, at that time a captain in the English service, who, in marching past her estates towards Ticonderoga, hastily and harshly demanded certain supplies for the troops, which she would have been of all persons the readiest to furnish voluntarily; but when he was brought back wounded from the fatal attack on that fortress, and kindly accommodated and attended in her house till his recovery, he swore, in his vehement manner, that he was sure there would be a place reserved for Madame in heaven, though no other woman should be there, and that he should wish for nothing better than to share her final destiny. Both during the colonel's life, and after she was left alone, her house was the grand centre of attraction to all persons in the province who were devising any thing for the