The reader of this book, being supposed to have read my former work, in two volumes, and to have got some account from them, of the eight years of my life spent amongst the wild Indians of the “Far West,” in the forests of America, knows enough of me by this time to begin familiarly upon the subject before us, and to accompany me through a brief summary of the scenes of eight years spent amidst the civilization and refinements of the “Far East.” After having made an exhibition of my Indian Collection for a short ...
The reader of this book, being supposed to have read my former work, in two volumes, and to have got some account from them, of the eight years of my life spent amongst the wild Indians of the “Far West,” in the forests of America, knows enough of me by this time to begin familiarly upon the subject before us, and to accompany me through a brief summary of the scenes of eight years spent amidst the civilization and refinements of the “Far East.” After having made an exhibition of my Indian Collection for a short time, in the cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, in the United States, I crossed the Atlantic with it—not with the fear of losing my scalp, which I sometimes entertained when entering the Indian wilderness—and entirely without the expectation of meeting with excitements or novelties enough to induce me to commit the sin of writing another book; and the thought of doing it would never have entered my head, had not another of those untoward accidents, which have directed nearly all the important moves of my life, placed in my possession the materials for the following pages, which I have thought too curious to be withheld from the world.
After I had been more than four years in England, making an exhibition of my collection, and endeavouring, by my lectures in various parts of the kingdom, to inform the English people of the true character and condition of the North American Indians, and to awaken a proper sympathy for them, three different parties of Indians made their appearance, at different dates, in England, for the purpose of exhibiting themselves and their native modes to the enlightened world, their conductors and themselves stimulated by the hope of gain by their exertions.
These parties successively, on their arrival, (knowing my history and views, which I had made known to most of the American tribes,) repaired to my Indian Collection, in which they felt themselves at home, surrounded as they were by the portraits of their own chiefs and braves, and those of their enemies, whom they easily recognised upon the walls. They at once chose the middle of my Exhibition Hall as the appropriate place for their operations, and myself as the expounder of their mysteries and amusements; and, the public seeming so well pleased with the fitness of these mutual illustrations, I undertook the management of their exhibitions, and conducted the three different parties through the countries and scenes described in the following pages.
In justice to me, it should here be known to the reader, that I did not bring either of these parties to Europe; but, meeting them in the country, where they had come avowedly for the purpose of making money, (an enterprise as lawful and as unobjectionable, for aught that I can see, at least, as that of an actor upon the boards of a foreign stage,) I considered my countenance and aid as calculated to promote their views; and I therefore justified myself in the undertaking, as some return to them for the hospitality and kindness I had received at the hands of the various tribes of Indians I had visited in the wildernesses of America.
In putting forth these notes, I sincerely hope that I may give no offence to any one, by endeavouring to afford amusement to the reader, and to impart useful instruction to those who are curious to learn the true character of the Indians, from a literal description of their interviews with the fashionable world, and their views and opinions of the modes of civilized life.
These scenes have afforded me the most happy opportunity of seeing the rest of Indian character (after a residence of eight years amongst them in their native countries), and of enabling me to give to the world what I was not able to do in my former work, for the want of an opportunity of witnessing the effects which the exhibition of all the ingenious works of civilized art, and the free intercourse and exchange of opinions with the most refined and enlightened society, would have upon their untutored minds. The reader will therefore see, that I am offering this as another Indian book, and intending it mostly for those who have read my former work, and who, I believe, will admit, that in it I have advanced much further towards the completion of a full delineation of their native character.
I shall doubtless be pardoned for the unavoidable want of system and arrangement that sometimes appears in minuting down the incidents of these interviews—for recording many of the most trivial opinions and criticisms of the Indians upon civilized modes, and also the odd and amusing (as well as grave) notions of the civilized world, upon Indian manners and appearance, which have got into my note-book, and which I consider it would be a pity to withhold.
I have occasionally stepped a little out of the way, also, to advance my own opinion upon passing scenes and events;