Sentiments of loyalty--Northern Antiquarian Society--Indian
statistics--Rhode Island Historical Society--Gen. Macomb--Lines in
the Odjibwa language by a mother on placing her children at school--Mehemet
Ali--Mrs. Jameson's opinion on publishers and publishing--Her
opinion of my Indian legends--False report of a new Indian
language--Indian compound words--Delafield's Antiquities--American
Fur Company--State of Indian disturbances in Texas and
Florida--Causes of the failure of the war in Florida, by an
officer--Death of an Indian chief--Mr. Bancroft's opinion on the
Dighton Rock inscription--Skroellings not in New England--Mr.
Gallatin's opinion on points of Esquimaux language, connected with
our knowledge of our archaeology.
1839. Jan. 1st. I called, amid the throng, on the
President. His manners were bland and conciliatory. These visits, on
set days, are not without the sentiment of strong personality in
many of the visitors, but what gives them their most significant
character is the general loyalty they evince to the constitution,
and government, and supreme law of the land. The President is
regarded, for the time, as the embodiment of this sentiment, and the
tacit fealty paid to him, as the supreme law officer, is far more
elevating to the self-balanced and independent mind than if he were
a monarch ad libitum, and not for four years merely.
2d. I received a notice of my election as a member of the
Royal Northern Antiquarian Society of Copenhagen, of which fact I
had been previously notified by that Society. This Society shows us
how the art of engraving may be brought in as an auxiliary to
antiquarian letters; but it certainly undervalues American sagacity
if it conjectures that such researches and speculations as those of
Mr. Magnusen, on the Dighton Rock, and what it is fashionable
now-a-days to call the NEWPORT RUIN, can satisfy the purposes of a
sound investigation of the Anti-Columbian period of American
There was a perfect jam this evening at Blair's. What sort of a
compliment is it to be one of five or six hundred people, not half
of whom can be squeezed into a small house, and not one of whom can
pretend to taste a morsel without the danger of having server and
all jammed down his throat.
3d. The mail hunts up everybody. Go where you will, and
particularly to the seat of government, and letters will follow you.
Whoever is in the service of government bears a part of the
functions of it, though it be but an infinitesimal part. Mr. H.
Conner, the Saginaw sub-agent, in a letter of this date, reports the
Saginaws at one thousand four hundred and forty-three souls, and the
Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas at one hundred and
ninety-eight. One of the most singular facts in the statistics of
the most of the frontier Indian tribes of the Lakes, is, in the long
run, that they neither increase nor decline, but just
keep up a sort of dying existence.
4th. Dr. Thomas H. Webb, Secretary of the Rhode Island
Historical Society, announces the plan of that Society in publishing
a series of works illustrating, in the first place, the history and
language of the Indians, and soliciting me to become a contributor
of original observations. The difficulty in all true efforts of our
literary history is the want of means. A man must devote all his
leisure in researches, and then finds that there is no way in which
these labors can be made to aid in supplying him the means of
subsistence. He must throw away his time, and yet buy his bread.
There is no real taste for letters in a people who will not pay for
them. It is too early in our history, perhaps, to patronize them as
a general thing. Making and inventing new ploughs will pay, but not
9th. The Secretary of War confirms my leave of absence, to
visit Europe, and extends it beyond the contingencies of a
re-appointment, on the 4th of March next.
10th. Attended a general and crowded party at Gen. Macomb's,
in the evening, with Mrs. Schoolcraft. The General has always
appeared to me a perfect amateur in military science, although he
has distinguished himself in the field. He is a most polished and
easy man in all positions in society, and there is an air and manner
by which he constantly reveals his French blood. He has a keen
perception of the ridiculous, and a nice appreciation of the mock
gravity of the heroic in character, and related to me a very
effective scene of this latter kind, which occurred at Mr. John
Johnston's, at St. Mary's Falls, on the close of the late war. He
had visited that place in perhaps 1815 or 1816, as military
commander of the District of Michigan, in the suite of Major-Gen.
Brown. They were guests of Mr. Johnston. In going up the river to
see Gros Cape, at the foot of Lake Superior, the American party had
been fired upon by the Chippewas, who were yet hostile in feeling.
When the party returned to the house of Mr. Johnston, their host,
the latter drew himself up in the spirit of the border times of
Waverley, and, with the air and accent of a chief of those
days--which, by the way, was not altogether unnatural to
him--manifested the high gentlemanly indignation of a host whose
hospitality had been violated. He exclaimed to his eldest son, "Let
our followers be ready to repel this gross affront." The General's
eye danced in telling it. The thing of the firing had been
done--nobody was hurt--nobody was in fact in hostile array; and far
less was the party itself alarmed. It had been some crack-brained
Indian, I believe Sassaba, who yet smarted at the remembrance of the
death of his brother, who was killed with Tecumseh in the Battle of
11th. Left Washington, with my family, in the cars for
Baltimore, where we lodged; reached Philadelphia the next day, at
four P.M.; remained the 13th and 14th, and reached New York on the
16th, at 4 o'clock P.M.
14th. Mrs. Schoolcraft, having left her children at school,
at Philadelphia and Princeton, remained pensive, and wrote the
following lines in the Indian tongue, on parting from them, which. I
thought so just that I made a translation of them.
Nyau nin de
May kow e
Ain dah nuk
Waus sa wa
Ain dah nuk
Ne dau nig
Ne gwis is
Ishe nau gun
Waus sa wa
She gwau go
Ba sho waud e
Nin zhe ka we
Ishe ez hau
Ain dah nuk
Ain dah nuk
Nin zhe ke we
Ishe ke way
Nyau ne gush
thought reverts to my country so dear,
fills with pleasure, and throbs with a fear:
my country, my own native land,
So lovely in
aspect, in features so grand,
Far, far in
the West. What are cities to me,
Oh! land of
my mother, compared unto thee?
Fair land of
the lakes! thou are blest to my sight,
beaming bright waters, and landscapes of light;
and the murmur, the dash and the roar,
and autumn cast over the shore,
to my thoughts, like the lullaby tongue,
me to slumber when youthful and young.
more strongly still binds me to thee,
my forefathers, in liberty free--
they the war lance, and sported the plume,
had cast o'er this country a gloom;
they that kingdoms more happy could be,
of a land so resplendent and free.
Yet it is not
alone that my country is fair,
And my home
and my friends are inviting me there;
beckon me onward, my heart is still here,
With my sweet
lovely daughter, and bonny boy dear:
what's the joy that a home can impart,
the dear ones who cling to my heart.
learning that calls them; but tell me, can schools
Repay for my
love, or give nature new rules?
teach them the lore of the wit and the sage,
To be grave
in their youth, and be gay in their age;
But ah! my
poor heart, what are schools to thy view,
from children thou lovest so true!
I return to
my country, I haste on my way,
commands me, and duty must sway;
Yet I leave
the bright land where my little ones dwell,
With a sober
regret, and a bitter farewell;
For there I
must leave the dear jewels I love,
of gifts from my Master above.
March 18th, 1839.
17th. Went, in the evening, to hear Mr. Stephens, the
celebrated traveler, lecture before the Historical Society, at the
Stuyvesant Institute, on Mehemet Ali. Public opinion places
lecturers sometimes in a false position. An attempt was here made to
make out Mehemet Ali a great personage, exercising much influence in
his times. An old despotic rajah in a tea-pot! Who looks to him for
exaltation of sentiment, liberality and enlargement of views, or as
an exemplar of political truth? Mr. Stephens, however, knew the
feeling and expectation of his audience, and drew a picture, which
was eloquently done, and well received. This popular mode of
lecturing is certainly better than the run-a-muck amusements of the
day. But it panders to an excited intellectual appetite, and is
anything but philosophical, historical, or strictly just.
18th. I received instructions from Washington, to form a
treaty with the Saginaws, for the cession of a tract of ground on
which to build a light-house on Saginaw Bay.
The next letter I opened was from Mrs. Jameson, of London, who
writes that her plan of publication is, to divide the profits with
her publishers, and, as these are honest men and gentlemen, she has
found that the best way. She advises me to adopt the same course
with respect to my Indian legends1.
"I published," she says, "in my little journal, one or two legends
which Mrs. Schoolcraft gave me, and they have excited very general
interest. The more exactly you can (in translation) adhere to the
style of the language of the Indian nations, instead of
emulating a fine or correct English style--the more characteristic
in all respects--the more original--the more interesting your work
21st. I read the following article in the New York Herald:--
NEW INDIAN TRIBE.--Dr. Jackson, in his report of the geology of the
public lands, states that at the mouth of the Tobique there is an
Indian settlement, where a large tribe of Indians reside, and gain a
livelihood by trapping the otter and beaver. These Indians are quite
distinct from the Penobscot tribe, and speak a peculiar language.
1: I followed this advice, but fell into the
hands of the Philistines.
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Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the
Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers, 1851
Years with the Indians |