Cherokee Phoenix


Published September, 30, 1829

Page 4 Column 1a



Slow with deep'ning gloom,

Age roll'd o'er age, and every bitter year

Smote us with wintry frost some plant of hope,

Which the poor Indian cherish'd. Still he nurs'd,

Unchill'd, uncheck'd, amidst the tempest's ire

His native eloquence. Like the wild flame

Of some red meteor, o'er the howling storm

It flash'd, gilding the dark skirts of the cloud

Which curtain'd midnight. Awfully it shone

Into the soul of Logan, as he wept

That of his race, cold Treachery had spar'd

Not one to mourn for him; -- its darting ray

Flas'd from the eye of Corn-Plant, as he spread

The black'ning transcript of his nation's wrongs

Before great Washington. -- 'Thou, at whose name

Our kindling warriors for the battle arm,

Our women tremble, and our frighted babes

Cling to their mothers, yet whose generous heart

Still kind and pitiful, has mov'd our tribes

To call thee father, to thine ear once more

Our Chiefs appeal.

'They come not in base fear,

Who dread nor toil, nor danger; but they seek

Peace for their people. Corn-plant hath desired

To guard the tree of peace, and as he poured

Fresh dew upon its roots, his arm hath striven

With his own nation. For in wrath, they ask

Continually, 'Tell us! where is that land

On which our children, and our children's babes

Shall rest in peace? Why then do white men come

And take it from us?'--

' What shall Corn-land urge

To this unhappy race? His little store

He has imparted to those wretched men

Whom yours have plundered, and unpitying left

Without a garment. All his wealth is gone,

Yet they remain unsatisfied. His heart

Shudders to think, that when enraged they rise,

To vengeance, their unsparing hand will whelm

Both Innocence and Guilt. The flowery Spring,

And favoring Summer, while his brethren tilled

The bounteous Earth, spend in fruitless toil,

Labouring for peace. The Autumn now is past,

But Corn-Plant hath no harvest. Said he sees

His famished wife, and hears the thrilling voice

Of his young children, asking him for bread,

When he has none to give. His soul is wrung

With agony for them.--

'-- Yet there are wrongs

Heaped on his nation, which his struggling soul

But ill can bear. Our noblest blood is shed

By menial hands. Our Chiefs and warriors fall.

Fall provoked, and in their crimson beds

Sleep unavenged. The haughty murder stalks

From his dark deed, unpunished passes on,

And finds protection. From the earth, a voice

Demands our vengence. That you have a law,

Dooming the man, who sheds his brother's blood

We know. But are we, Senecas, alone

Cast out from justice? May the restless swords

Of all malignant rovers drink our blood

And yet be blameless? Shall the murder find

A refuge in your arms, when our own law

Sanctions the swift avenger to pursue,

And recompense the deed? Father! to us,

These are great things. That you are strong we know:

That you are wise, we hear; but we must wait

Till you have answered this, before we say

That you are just.'

When rising cities shone

In wealth and splendour, the poor natives roved

Around their bounds, amazed. Fall'n Pride represt

The words of admiration; but strange awe;

Slavish degeneracy, and the dark frown

Of banished men, sat heavier on the brow.

Once, to the mart, which favoring Commerce reared,

On fair Manhattan, the said Chiefs repaired

To seek an audience. From a towering height

They marked the goodly prospect. Lofty spires,

Vast domes, delightful villas, clustering roofs,

Streets, where the countless throng incessant poured,

As pleasure, pomp, or business moved their tides

In murmuring fluctuation; distance dales,

Slumbering in verdure; the majestic flood,

Crown'd with tall masts, and white snowy sails,

Thoughtful they view'd. Unmov'd the men of wealth,

Who mark'd their own possessions, lightly ask'd

'Why are ye sad?' as once Chaldan's bands

Inquir'd of wasted Judah, where their mirth

And songs had vanish'd, when their unstrung harps

Hung on the willows, and their exil'd feet

Roam'd in captivity.

-- To them replied

The elder Chief: 'We bear upon our minds

Past times, and other days. This beauteous land

Was once our fathers'. Here, in peace they dwelt;

For the Great Spirit gave it as a gift

To them, and to their sons. But to this shore

Once came a vast canoe, which white men steer'd

Feebly, against the blast.

'Driv'n by rude storms,

They sought permission on our coast to land,

And how could we refuse? Their sick, they brought,

And in our soft shades, fann'd by gentle gales,

Laid them, and they reviv'd. But wintry winds

Soon swept the waste, and humbly they besought

Leave to erect a wigwam, while the frost

And snows were raging. Could our hearts refuse

The stranger shelter? to our Chiefs they said

With solemn words that when the soft'ning spring

Dissolved the wrath of winter, they would seek

Their distant homes, and leave us to ourselves;

And we were satisfied. With pitying eye

Their wasted frames we saw, by Famine smit;

We gave them corn, and fed them. When fair spring

Shone sweetly on the budding earth, we claim'd

Their promise to depart. But they had rear'd

Strange iron ramparts, which at their command

Breath'd flame and death. Pointing to these, they said

'We will not!' and indignately they glanc'd

Defiance on us. Other bands arriv'd

Strength'ning their purpose. Mad, enticing draughts

Deceitfully they gave us, till the cup

Reft us of reason. Then they forc'd us back

From field to field, from forest, and from flood.

Where our subsistence lay: And you, their sons,

Still drive us onward. You enjoy the land

Of luxury; while we, wasted and scorn'd,

Herd in the wilderness. But ye will cease

Ere long to press us, for our fading race

Will cease to be. Think ye, that we can view

These beauteous shores, and yon proud swelling flood,

And not remember that they once were ours?

And thus rememb'ring, need ye wond'ring

Why sorrow clothes our brow?'

Full many a strain

Of native eloquence, simple and wild,

Has ris'n in our dark forests, which the winds

Unheeded, swept away. Yet, had it broke

From bold Demosthenes, when Athens fear'd

The distant step of Philip, had it burst

From the impetuous Hannibal, when Rome

Muster'd at Zama -- it had been enroll'd

In History's choicest annals the pure eye

Of taste had trickled o'er it, and the lip

Of the young student, had been proud to pour

Its treasur'd pathos. But thy slighted words,

Untutor'd Red Man! -- Ah! how few will trace

Their chronicle obscure, and few still

Accord the need of just applause, unmix'd

With scorn upon thy nation. Lofty, firm,

And high soul'd honour, mocking at the pain

Which wastes the body, once thy sires could boast,

Such as in Rome; amid her better days,

Had been exalted. --