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side of a river called the Black river; and hither the young women of quality used to repair every month in armed bodies, in search of this decoration of their ears and wrists.
It happened on a certain day, as some of the flower of the Amazonian maidens were out on this errand, they fell in with a troop of Indian youths, who were going on an embassy to a neighbouring tribe. The young men were so struck with the beauty of these adventurers, that they immediately laid at their feet a part of the presents with which they were loaded for the
of their commission. The desire of pleasing each other soon became mutual, and grew so rapidly, that the next day they joined in building little temporary cottages on the spot. Every month they met together at the same place, where the strictest decorum was preserved. The women slept always in separate lodgings; their heads reposing on their bucklers, and their feet covered with the fleeces of the lama, the presents of their lovers. The youths also assisted them in gathering the green gems, and were delighted with the occupation of decorating their persons and their arms with the costliest they could find. At every fresh meeting they brought with them the plumage of green parrots for their helmets, and chains of lions' teeth for their necks and wrists; not forgetting to load themselves with presents of fish and venison, and fruits of the fairest kinds, such as guavas, bananas, pomegranates, and pine-apples. By the force of these assiduities, they obtained a promise from the female warriors, to choose them for their temporary husbands, when the time should arrive which was appointed by the laws of the Amazonian state for the intercourse of the sexes.
This moment at length came, and their tenaer
engagements were faithfully performed. The short interval allowed them was passed in the fondest endearments; but at the end of the fourth day the terrible order for separation was issued, and proclaimed by the rattling of their spears against their corselets, and such funeral shouts as it was their custom to raise in sorrow for departed friends. They took a final leave of each other, never to meet again but in the land of souls. The male pledges. of their loves were sent back to their fathers; and the females were brought up by their mothers for the supply of the commonwealth.
It so happened, that in the course of some sixteen years, a war broke out between the
tribe to which these Indians belonged, and the nation of the Amazons. After many desperate encounters, and a great deal of bloodshed, the men proved an overmatch for the women, burned and laid waste their country, and advanced towards their last town, with minds prepared to revenge their fallen associates. The little devoted capital was thrown into terrible consternation; the air was filled with the shrieks of helpless virgins miserably murdered by their own mothers, to save them from the bloody hands of an exasperated enemy.
In the midst of this cruel disorder, one of those very women who had been made mothers in the amorous adventure with the Indian youths, was inspired by her guardian spirit with a thought that saved the remnant of her countrywomen. Gathering together all she could muster of her comrades, who had shared in the expedition after the green gems, she made a short harangue, full of the most touching remonstrances, on the necessity of laying aside all measures of resistance; and besought them vehemently to try what the force of nature might do for them, and the tender pleadings of those bosom recollec. tions which their presence must awaken in the minds of their former lovers. Scarcely had she finished, when actuated by a common spirit, with a shout that ran along the mountains in ominous echoes, they all threw away their targets of canes, and their half-moon bucklers, and rushed out with naked breasts to meet the enemy. The novelty of the sight arrested for some moments the march of the Indians. A solemn silence prevailed; taking advantage of which, the forlorn females raised their voices, and called upon their temporary husbands, and the sons of their pleasures and their vows, repeating their names, and reminding them of the crowns of parrots' feathers, and all the pledges of their former loves.
As these Indians were originally a Peruvian colony, they had inherited a portion of that softness, and humanity of character, which distinguished that tranquil race. When they beheld the offspring of that tender rencounter, and those breasts which they had pressed so often with fond delight, their heads fell upon their bosoms, and their axes dropped from their hands; they rushed forwards, and embraced with enthusiasm their wives and their mothers, and spared for their sakes the remains of the Amazonian nation. Admonished by this event, these warrior women relinquished their bows and iheir spears, and resolved in future to trust more to their weakness than their strength, to their tears than their arrows, to their extended arms than to their half moon bucklers, to their soft bosoms than their adamantine corslets : and, whatever imposing travellers may relate, there are no more such people to be found in the mountains of Guiana.
No. 10. TUESDAY, APRIL 10.
Stultitia plerumque exitio est.
TO THE REV. SIMON OLIVE-BRANCH.
April 2, 1792. SIR,
Your great predecessor, the Spectator, has noticed the custom, even in his time an ancient one, of distinguishing the first day of the present month by the practice of what has always been called
making April fools.” It is his idea, that the pleasure we feel from this exercise of our understanding is nothing more than a self-satisfaction, which is excited in our bosoms by the discovery of another's disparity. Such a pride, however, one should be tender of condemning too widely, lest, on examination, it should be found, in some shape, or with some modification, at the bottom of most of our great exertions and great achievements: yet this pride, when it can triumph in the overthrow of a person unprepared, can construe simplicity into ignorance, and be content with such equivocal proofs of superiority as the successes of artifice and untruth, must be of a very ordinary and unproductive kind : in its higher degrees, it is cruel; in its lower, contemptible.
How it has happened that a particular day has long been appropriated, though by no means ex. clusively, to the exercise of this amusement, and why the first of April was destined to that purpose, I leave to the investigation of antiquaries; hazarding only one conjecture, that, at some very remote period, the worshippers of the goddess Folly, the idlers and witlings of the world, in imitation of other heathens, established this anniversary celebration of their deity; and perhaps some analogy may be traced between the sacrifices of the ancients and the offerings which Folly's votaries continue to heap before her altar on this her high festival: nay, though the heathen system of theology is long since exploded, this deity finds her power over the world by no means on the decline: and while Venus is no longer invoked by our belles, while pickpockets forget their obligations to Mercury, and Neptune is neglected even on his own element, Folly has splendid temples in every city, priests in every family, and whole hecatombs of human victims, if you allow the expression, swell the honours of her red-letter day.
What led me into this train of thought was an accidental visit, which I paid yesterday, to an old acquaintance, formerly a domestic in the family my grandfather, and by him established, above forty years ago, in a little shop, where he has found means to acquire a decent subsistence. When but a boy, as I have heard my father say, he was esteemed an oddity by all the neighbourhood, and always had a strong propensity to little mischievous exploits. He would stalk through the churchyard at night, wrapped in a tablecloth; he would hide the maid's shoes, blacken his face to frighten the children, and grease the strings of the chaplain's violin. Indeed, my grandfather, though he had a regard for the boy, was at length obliged to discard him, for fastening his grand-aunt Anna Maria's