The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

Indian Customs and Manners

Robert Beverley

Beverley's attitude toward the Indians was rarely encountered among the colonists: he praised them for resisting the white man's civilization and for trying to preserve their own way of life. Despite his admiration of the Indians, he described them not as noble savages but as human beings, and he studied their customs and religious beliefs in the spirit of an anthropologist. Since these natives seemed to possess so many estimable qualities, Beverley wished that more settlers had followed John Rolfe's example and married Indian girls. How much bloodshed would have been spared, Beverley exclaimed, if an enlightened policy of racial amalgamation had been adopted in the early years of settlement.


OF THE PERSONS OF THE INDIANS, AND THEIR DRESS

1. The Indians are of the middling and largest stature of the English: They are straight and well proportioned, having the cleanest and most exact Limbs in the World: They are so perfect in their outward frame, that I never heard of one single Indian, that was either dwarfish, crooked, bandy-legged, or otherwise misshapen. But if they have any such practice among them, as the Romans had, of exposing such Children till they died, as were weak and misshapen at their Birth, they are very shy of confessing it, and I could never yet learn that they had.

Their Color, when they are grown up, is a Chestnut brown and tawny; but much clearer in their Infancy. Their Skin comes afterwards to harden and grow blacker, by greasing and Sunning themselves. They have generally coal black Hair, and very black Eyes, which are most commonly graced with that sort of Squint which many of the Jews are observed to have. Their Women are generally Beautiful, possessing an uncommon delicacy of Shape and Features, and wanting no Charm, but that of a fair Complexion.

2. The Men wear their Hair cut after several fanciful Fashions, sometimes greased, and sometimes painted. The Great Men, or better

____________________
Robert Beverley: The History and Present State of Virginia. Edited by Louis B. Wright.

-248-

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The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 15
  • Part I - Arrivals 41
  • The Plymouth Plantation 43
  • A Description of New England 66
  • The New English Canaan 76
  • Letters 77
  • The Crossing to Pennsylvania! 83
  • Part II - Daily Life 99
  • Pirates in Plymouth 101
  • Thomas Morton of Merrymount 103
  • The Merrymount Colony 108
  • Edifying Incidents 113
  • An Exemplary Christian 115
  • Inoculation for Smallpox 118
  • Courtship 132
  • Marriage 141
  • On Taking a Mistress 154
  • The Speech of Polly Baker 156
  • Riding through Virginia 159
  • Part III - God and the Devil 167
  • Religious Tolerance 169
  • In Defence of Intolerance 175
  • Witchcraft in Salem 179
  • Witchcraft in Salem 185
  • Witchcraft in Salem 190
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman 193
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God 207
  • Personal Narrative 212
  • Part IV - The Indians 221
  • The Indians in Virginia 223
  • Pocahontas 231
  • The Pequot War 239
  • The Pequot War 244
  • Indian Customs and Manners 248
  • Captured by Indians 257
  • Part V - The South 291
  • Virginia 293
  • History of the Dividing Line 310
  • Part VI - Literature 351
  • Anne Bradstreet 353
  • Michael Wigglesworth 357
  • Edward Taylor 367
  • Bacon's Epitaph 370
  • Ebenezer Cook 372
  • Benjamin Franklin 377
  • Part VII - Four Colonial Views 387
  • Itinerarium Dr. Alexander Hamilton 389
  • Autobiography 419
  • Journal 437
  • Letters from an American Farmer 479
  • Bibliography 499
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