“I come to tell the chiefs what has happened,” said the runner. “Our Great Father from Quebec has sent his young men against the Yankees. Red warriors, too, were there in hundreds—” here a murmur of interest was slightly apparent among the chiefs—“their path led them to Detroit; it is taken.”
A low murmur, expressive of satisfaction, passed round the circle, for Detroit was then the most important of all the posts held by the Americans, along the whole line of the great lakes. Eye met eye in surprise and admiration; then one of the older chiefs yielded to his interest in the subject, and inquired:
“Have our young men taken many pale-face scalps?”
“So few that they are not worth counting. I did not see one pole that was such as an Indian loves to look on.”
“Did our young men keep back, and let the warriors from Quebec do all the fighting?”
“No one fought. The Yankees asked to be made prisoners, without using their rifles. Never before have so many captives been led into the villages with so little to make their enemies look on them with friendly eyes.”
A gleam of fierce delight passed athwart the dark features of Peter. It is probable that he fell into the same error, on hearing these tidings, as that which so generally prevailed for a short time among the natives of the old world, at the commencement of both of the two last wars of the republic, when the disasters with which they opened induced so many to fall into the fatal error of regarding Jonathan as merely a “shopkeeper.” A shopkeeper, in a certain sense, he may well be accounted; but among his wares are arms, that he has the head, the heart, and the hands to use, as man has very rarely been known to use them before. Even at this very instant, the brilliant success which has rendered the armed citizens of this country the wonder of Europe, is reacting on the masses of the old world, teaching them their power, and inciting them to stand up to the regularly armed bands of their rulers, with a spirit and confidence that, hitherto, has been little known in their histories. Happy, thrice happy will it be, if the conquerors use their success in moderation, and settle down into the ways of practical reason, instead of suffering their minds to be led astray in quest of the political jack-o’-lanterns, that are certain to conduct their followers into the quagmires of impracticable and visionary theories. To abolish abuses, to set in motion the car of state on the track of justice and economy, and to distinguish between that which is really essential to human happiness and human rights, and that which is merely the result of some wild and bootless proposition in political economy, are the great self-imposed tasks that the European people seem now to have assumed; and God grant that they may complete their labors with the moderation and success with which they would appear to have commenced them!