I have not, on seeing something of them in their own haunts, found reason to change the sentiments expressed in the following lines, when a deputation of the Sacs and Foxes visited Boston in 1837, and were, by one person at least, received in a dignified and courteous manner.
GOVERNOR EVERETT RECEIVING THE INDIAN CHIEFS,
Who says that Poesy is on the wane,
And that the Muses tune their lyres in vain?
’Mid all the treasures of romantic story,
When thought was fresh and fancy in her glory,
Has ever Art found out a richer theme,
More dark a shadow, or more soft a gleam,
Than fall upon the scene, sketched carelessly,
In the newspaper column of to-day?
American romance is somewhat stale.
Talk of the hatchet, and the faces pale,
Wampum and calumets and forests dreary,
Once so attractive, now begins to weary.
Uncas and Magawisca please us still,
Unreal, yet idealized with skill;
But every poetaster, scribbling witling,
From the majestic oak his stylus whittling,
Has helped to tire us, and to make us fear
The monotone in which so much we hear
Of “stoics of the wood,” and “men without a tear.”
Yet Nature, ever buoyant, ever young,
If let alone, will sing as erst she sung;
The course of circumstance gives back again
The Picturesque, erewhile pursued in vain;
Shows us the fount of Romance is not wasted,—
The lights and shades of contrast not exhausted.
Shorn of his strength, the Samson now
For fragments from the feast his fathers gave;
The Indian dare not claim what is his due,
But as a boon his heritage must crave;
His stately form shall soon be seen no more
Through all his father’s land, the Atlantic shore;
Beneath the sun, to us so kind, they melt,
More heavily each day our rule is felt.
The tale is old,—we do as mortals must:
Might makes right here, but God and Time are just.
Though, near the drama hastens to its
On this last scene awhile your eyes repose;
The polished Greek and Scythian meet again,
The ancient life is lived by modern men;
The savage through our busy cities walks,
He in his untouched, grandeur silent stalks.
Unmoved by all our gayeties and shows,
Wonder nor shame can touch him as he goes;
He gazes on the marvels we have wrought,
But knows the models from whence all was brought;
In God’s first temples he has stood so oft,
And listened to the natural organ-loft,
Has watched the eagle’s flight, the muttering thunder heard.
Art cannot move him to a wondering word.
Perhaps he sees that all this luxury
Brings less food to the mind than to the eye;
Perhaps a simple sentiment has brought
More to him than your arts had ever taught.
What are the petty triumphs Art has given,
To eyes familiar with the naked heaven?