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  • Captain Pipe

    Speech of Captain Pipe
    The Speech of Captain Pipe, or Hopocan, which signifies, in the Indian, tobacco-pipe, before the British commandant, in the council-house at Detroit, whither he was invited to give an account of past transactions -- in his left hand was a short stick to which was fastened a scalp. He arose, and spoke as follows: "Father, I have said Father, although, indeed, I do not know why I am to call him so, having never known any other father than the French, and considering the English only as brothers. But as this name is also imposed upon us, I shall make use of it, and say, Father, some time ago, you put a war hatchet into my hands, saying, 'Take this weapon and try it on the heads of my enemies, the Long Knives, and let me afterwards know if it was sharp and good.' Father, at the time when you gave me this weapon, I had neither cause nor inclination to go to war against a people who had done me no injury; yet in obedience to you, who say you are my father, and call me your child, I received the hatchet; well knowing, that if I did not obey, you would withold from me the necessaries of life, without which I could not subsist, and which are not elsewhere to be procured, but at the house of my father. You may perhaps think me a fool, for

    risking my life at your bidding, in a cause, too, by which I have no prospect of gaining anything; for it is your cause and not mine. It is your concern to fight the Long Knives; you have raised a quarrel amongst yourselves, and you ought yourselves to fight it out. You should not compel your children, the Indians, to expose themselves to danger for your sakes.

    "Father; many lives have already been lost on your account; nations have suffered, and been weakened: children have lost parents! -- brothers and relatives! wives have lost husbands! It is not known how many more may perish before your war will be at an end! Father, I have said, that you may perhaps, think me a fool, for thus thoughtlessly rushing on your enemy! Do not believe this, father; think not that I want sense to convince me, that although you now pretend to keep up a perpetual enmity to the Long Knives, you may before long conclude a peace with them. Father, you say you love your children, the Indians; this you have often told them, and indeed it is your interest to say so to them, that you may have them at your service. But, father, who of us can believe that you love a people of a different colour from your own, better than those who have a white skin like yourselves? Father, pay attention to what I am going to say. While you, father, are setting me (meaning the Indians in general), on your enemy, much in the same manner, as a hunter sets his dog on the game; while I am in the act of rushing on that enemy of your's, with the bloody, destructive weapon you gave me, I may, perchance, happen to look back to the place from whence you started me; and what shall I see? Perhaps I may see my father shaking hands with the Long Knives; yes with these very people he now calls his enemies. I may there see him laugh at my folly, for having obeyed his orders; and yet I am now risking my life at his command! Father, keep what I have said in remembrance. Now, Father, here is what has been done with the hatchet you gave me, (with these words he handed the stick to the commandant, with the scalp upon it, above

    mentioned) I have done with the hatchet what you ordered me to do, and found it sharp. Nevertheless I did not do all that I might have done. No, I did not, my heart failed within me, I felt compassion for your enemy. Innocence (helpless women and children) had no part in your quarrels; therefore I distinguished -- I spared, I took some live flesh, which while I was bringing to you, I spied one of your large canoes, on which I put it for you. In a few days you will recover this flesh, and find that the skin is of the same colour with your own. Father, I hope you will not destroy what I have saved. You, father, have the means of preserving that which with me would perish for want. The warrior is poor, and his cabin is always empty; but your house, father, is always full."

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