The New Zealand Evangelist
An Indian's Reproof
An Indian's Reproof.
Colonel Turnbull, an American writer and officer, in his life written in 1842, says:—
At the age of nine or ten, a circumstance occurred to me which deserves to be written on adamant. In the wars of New England with the natives, the Mohegan tribe of Indians early became friends of the English. Their favourite ground was on the banks of the river (now the Thames,) between New London and Norwich…….. The government of this tribe had become hereditary in the family of the celebrated chief, Uncas…. Among these hunters was one named Zachary, of the royal race, an excellent hunter, but as drunken and worthless an Indian as ever lived. When he had somewhat passed the age of fifty, several members of the royal family, who stood between Zachary and the throne of his tribe, died; and he found himself with only one life between him and the empire. In this moment his better genius resumed its sway, and he reflected seriously:
“How can such a drunken wretch as I am aspire to be the chief of this honourable race? What will my people say, and how will the shades of my noble ancestors look down indignant upon such a base successor? I will drink no more.” He solemnly resolved never again to taste any drink but water, and he kept his resolution
I heard this story, and did not entirely believe it; for young as I was, I already partook of the prevailing contempt for Indians …….. One day, the mischievous thought struck me to try the sincerity of the old man's temperance. Our family were seated at dinner, and there was some excellent home-brewed beer on the table. I addressed the old chief:—“Zachary, this beer is excellent, will you taste it?” The old man dropped his knife and fork, leaned forward with a stern expression, his black eye, sparkling with indignation, was fixed on me: “John,” said he, you do not know what you are doing. You are serving the devil, boy! Do you not know that I am an Indian? I tell you that I am, and that if I should but taste your beer, I could not stop until I had got rum, and become again the drunken contemptible wretch your father remembers me to have been. John, while you live, never again tempt any man to break a good resolution.” Socrates never uttered a more valuable precept; Demosthenes could not have given it in more solemn tones of eloquence. I was thunders, ruck. My parents were deeply affected; they looked at each other, at me, and at the venerable Indian, with deep feelings of awe and respect. They afterwards frequently reminded me of the scene, and charged me never to forget it. Zachary lived to pass the age of eighty, and sacredly kept his resolution. He is buried in the royal burial-place page 136 of his tribe, near the beautiful falls of the Yantic, the Western branch of the Thames. I visited the grave of the old chief lately, and there repeated to myself his inestimable lesson!