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PATOIS.--G. The great impediment to popular instruction in France, is the multiplicity of patois, and the tenacity of the peasantry for them. The same objection exists to the use of so many Indian dialects by such numbers of petty tribes. Pity these were not all abolished. They can never prosper without coming on to general grounds in this respect.

CHINESE.--Mr. Duponceau had published Col. Galindo's account of the Ottomic of Mexico, and likened it to the Chinese. It was the very reverse.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE.--S. The English language of Chaucer's day, is based on the Frisic, Belgic, and Low Dutch; and not on the Saxon. (Examples were given. He fully assented to this, and used his familiarity with European history to demonstrate it.)

G. There was, in fact, no Anglo-Saxon but that of Alfred, which was the old English. The early migrations were from Belgium. Doubtless the Teutons had made the conquest ascribed to them, but I think they did not revolutionize the language. They conquered the people, but not the language.

WASHINGTON IRVING.--G. Washington Irving is the most popular writer. Anything from his pen would sell.

JOHN JACOB ASTOR.--Several years ago, J. J. A. put into my hands the journal of his traders on the Columbia, desiring me to use it. I put it into the hands of Malte Brun, at Paris, who employed the geographical facts in his work, but paid but little respect to Mr. Astor, whom he regarded merely as a merchant seeking his own profit, and not a discoverer. He had not even sent a man to observe the facts in the natural history. Astor did not like it. He was restive several years, and then gave Washington Irving $5,000 to take up the MSS. This is the History of "Astoria."

RAFINESQUE.--This erratic naturalist being referred to, he said--

"Who is Rafinesque, and what is his character?"

NAPOLEON AND NERO.--Bonaparte was a mathematician; but, whatever he did, he did not appreciate other branches of science and research. On taking Rome, he carried to Paris all the Pope's archives, containing, in fact, the materials for the secret history of Europe. The papers occupied seventy large boxes, which were carefully corded and sealed, and put away in a garret of the Louvre at Paris, and never opened. On the restoration of the Bourbons, Louis XVIII. gave them back to the Pope's nuncio. The seals had never been broken.

Bonaparte hated Tacitus. He was an aristocrat, he said, and lied in his history. He had blackened the character of Nero merely because he was a republican. "That may be, sire," said ----, "but it is not the generally received opinion, and authorities sustain him." "Read Suetonius," said he. "Truly," said M. Gallatin, "it is there stated that the people strewed flowers on Nero's grave for years."

ALGIC RESEARCHES.--The oral legends of the Indians collected by me being adhered to, he said, "Take care that, in publishing your Indian legends, you do not subject yourself to the imputations made against Macpherson."

On leaving the hall, whither he came to see me out, he said: "I am seventy-eight, and (assuming a gayer vein) in a good state of preservation." He was then a little bent, but preserved in conversation the vivacity of his prime. He had, I think, been a man of about five feet ten or eleven inches. His accent and tone of voice are decidedly French. His eye, which is black and penetrating, kindled up readily. He wore a black silk cap to hide baldness.

15th. A singular coincidence of the names and ages of Indian chiefs, is shown in the following notice from a Russian source:--

"We have just received from Nova Archangesk, an account of the death of the chief of one of the most powerful tribes of North America, Black Hawk, who was suddenly carried off on the banks of the River Moivna, in the seventy-first year of his age. The loss of this chief, who kept up friendly relations with the authorities of the Russian colony, and was always hostile to the English, is felt in a lively manner by the Russian government, who rested great hopes on the influence exercised by Black Hawk, not only over his own tribe, but also over all the neighboring nations. The Czar has ordered the new governor-general of the Russian colony in America to endeavor by all means to secure the friendship of the three sons of Black Hawk, the eldest of whom, now forty-eight years of age, has succeeded his father in the government of the tribe."--Le Commerce.

22d. I left New York on the 12th, in the cars, with Mrs. Schoolcraft and the children, for Washington, stopping at the Princeton depot, and taking a carriage for Princeton. I determined to leave my son at the Round Hill School, in charge of Mr. Hart, and the next day went to Philadelphia, where I accepted the invitation of Gen. Robert Patterson to spend a few days at his tasteful mansion in Locust street. I visited the Academy of Natural Sciences, and examined Dr. Samuel George Morton's extensive collection of Indian crania. While here, I placed my daughter in the private school of the Misses Guild, South Fourth Street. I attended one of the "Wistar parties" of the season, on the 15th, at Mr. Lea's, the distinguished bookseller and conchologist, and reached the city of Washington on the 21st, taking lodgings at my excellent friends, the Miss Polks.

24th. Submitted an application to the department for expending a small part of the Indian education fund, for furthering the general object, by publishing, for the use of teachers and scholars, a compendious dictionary, and general grammar of the Indian languages.

25th. In a conference with Mr. Murray, of Pennsylvania, a recent commissioner to adjust Indian claims at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, he gave me Mr. Robert Stuart's testimony respecting the Indian trade, to read. It appears from the document that the gain on trade of the American Fur Company, from 1824 to 1827, was $167,000. From 1827 to 1834 it was $195,000. From the aggregate of ten years' business, there is to be deducted $45,000, being a loss from 1817 to 1824, which leaves a profit on seventeen years' trade of $317,000.

Mr. Murray presented me a copy of the Commissioner's report. These claims have not yet received the action of the department. The commissioners set out with requiring of traders high evidence of the individual indebtedness by Indians. They finally decided that the Winnebago debts were national. They went further--they approved and adopted the decision of a meeting of the claimants themselves, as to the application to individual firms, of the fund. This decision was subsequently sanctioned by eight Winnebago chiefs, who were stated to be authorized to act for the nation.

The error, in all these cases, seems to be, that where a tribe has agreed to set apart a generic sum to satisfy debts, and the United States has accepted the trusteeship of determining the individual shares, that the Indians, who cannot read, or write, or understand figures, or accounts at all, and cannot possibly tell the arithmetical difference between one figure and another, should yet be made the subject of these minor appeals. The TRUSTEE himself should determine that, by such testimony as he approves, and not appear to seek to bolster up the decisions of truth and faithfulness, by calling on Indian ignorance and imbecility, which is subject to be operated on by every species of selfishness.

25th. I applied to the department this day, by letter, for leave of absence from my post on the frontier, to visit Europe.

26th. I called on Mr. Poinsett, the Secretary of War, and received from him the permission which I had yesterday solicited. I also called on the President (Mr. Van Buren), who, in turning the conversation to the state of disturbances on the frontier, evinced the deepest interest that neutrality should be preserved, and asked me whether the United States Marshal at Detroit had faithfully performed his duty.

27th. Visited Mr. Paulding (Secretary of the Navy) in the evening. Found him a father aged bald-headed man, of striking physiognomy, prominent intellectual developments, and easy dignified manners. It was pleasing to recognize one of the prominent authors of Salmagundi, which I had read in my schoolboy days, and never even hoped to see the author of this bit of fun in our incipient literature. For it is upon this, and the still higher effort of Irving's facetious History of New York, that we must base our imaginative literature. They first taught us that we had a right to laugh. We were going on, on so very stiff a model, that, without the Knickerbocker, we should not have found it out.

28th. I prepared a list of queries for the department, designed to elicit a more precise and reliable account of the Indian tribes than has yet appeared. It is astonishing how much gross error exists in the popular mind respecting their true character.

Talk of an Indian--why the very stare Says, plain as language, Sir, have you been there? Do tell me, has a Potawattomie a soul, And have the tribes a language? Now that's droll--They tell me some have tails like wolves, and others claws, Those Winnebagoes, and Piankashaws.

30th. Mr. Paulding transmits a note of thanks for some Indian words. The euphony of the aboriginal vocabulary impresses most persons. In most of their languages this appears to result, in part, from the fact that a vowel and a consonant go in pairs--i.e. a vowel either precedes or follows a consonant, and it is comparatively rare that two consonants are required to be uttered together. There is but one language that has the th, so common in English. Sh and gh are, however, frequently sounded in the Chippewa. The most musical words are found in the great Muscogee and Algonquin families, and it is in these that the regular succession of vowels and consonants is found.

31st. The year 1838 has been a marked one in our Indian relations. The southern Indians have experienced an extensive breaking up, in their social institutions, and been thrown, by the process of emigration, west of the Mississippi, and the policy of the government on this head, which was first shadowed out in 1825, and finally sanctioned by the act of land exchanges, 1830, may be deemed as having been practically settled. The Cherokees, who required the movements of an army to induce them to carry out the principles of the treaty of New Echota, have made their first geographical movement since the discovery of the continent, a period of 331 years. How much longer they had dwelt in the country abandoned we know not. They clung to it with almost a death grasp. It is a lovely region, and replete with a thousand advantages and a thousand reminiscences. Nothing but the drum of the Anglo-Saxon race could have given them an effectual warning to go. Gen. Scott, in his well advised admonitory proclamation, well said, that the voice under which both he and they acted is imperative, and that by heeding it, it is hoped that "they will spare him the horror of witnessing the destruction of the Cherokees." The great Muskogee family had been broken up, by the act of Georgia, before. The Seminoles, who belong to that family, broke out themselves in a foolish hostility very late in 1835, and have kept up a perfectly senseless warfare, in the shelter of hummocks and quagmires since. The Choctaws and Chickasaws, with a wise forecast, had forseen their position, and the utter impossibility of setting up independent governments in the boundaries of the States. It is now evident to all, that the salvation of these interesting relics of Oriental races lies in colonization west. Their teachers, the last to see the truth, have fully assented to it. Public sentiment has settled on that ground; sound policy dictates it; and the most enlarged philanthropy for the Indian race perceives its best hopes in the measure.


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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851

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