There is probably no language so barbarous as not to have words
to address God. But, of all languages under heaven, the Indian
dialects appear to me the most fruitful in terminations and adjuncts
to point their expressions, and to give to them living and spiritual
meanings. They appear, by their words, to live in a world of
spirits. Aside from the direct words for Father, as the universal
Parent, and of Maker, and Great Spirit, they have an exact term for
the Holy Ghost; and he who has ever heard a converted Indian pray,
and can understand his petition, will never afterwards wish to read
any philological disquisitions about the adaptation of their
languages to the purposes of Christianity.
Dec. 2d. I determined that part of the diversions of my first
winter at Mackinack should consist of notices of its meteorology,
the changes of winds and currents in the straits, &c. Shut out from
the world by a long expanse of coasts, which cannot be navigated in
the winter, much of the sum of our daily observation must
necessarily take its impress from local objects. To pass a winter in
the midst of one of the great lakes--the Huron--was itself a subject
of excitement. Mild weather had characterized the season, which had
been predicted by some persons as the consequence of the remarkable
meteoric displays in November.
At the monthly concert in the evening, interesting statements were
made on the efforts now in progress to evangelize the world. In this
the Bible, tract, and mission causes were shown to act with
3d. I employed myself in the morning in a revision of papers
relating to subjects of natural history, and in references to
Conybeare and Phillips. In the evening, the Rev. Mr. Ferry and Mr.
Barber were visitors.
4th. The last vessel for the season, the "Marengo," left the
harbor for Detroit, taking on board our expressmen, who are to
return by land. The weather has continued mild, with the winds from
the westward and southward.
6th. Some rain fell in the evening, which did not, however,
prevent friends from passing the evening with us.
7th. Weather still mild.
10th. The continued mildness of the atmosphere has induced
the Indians from the adjacent shores to visit the island. There are
no Indians permanently resident on it. Within the last ten days,
rising of eighty souls have visited the agency and shops. Some have
iron work to mend. Most of them have applied for provisions. Several
aged persons and widows have asked for blankets.
I employed the day in reading Humboldt's "Superposition of Rocks in
both Hemispheres." Humboldt is the Dr. Johnson of geology.
11th. Kwewis, a Chippewa convert, returned, after spending a
week or more among the Point St. Ignace Indians. He complained of
the listlessness and want of attention of the Indians to the truths
by Mr. G., his spiritual guide.
I determined to send an express, as soon as the state of the ice
will permit, to St. Mary's, with directions for its continuance from
that place to La Pointe, in Lake Superior--the missionary station.
12th. The meteorologic phenomena begin to thicken. The
thermometer, at 2 P.M. to-day, stood at 48 deg., Some snow, of a
moist, sleety character. Wind easterly. Not a particle of ice has
formed in the harbor up to this day.
13th. Perused Stewart's visit to the South Seas and the
Sandwich Islands. Certainly the author is one of the most gifted
religious travelers. He reminds the reader, by his graphic
descriptions, sometimes of Bishop Heber. It is remarkable, that with
every improvement, the population of these islands declines.
A blow from the east, with depression of temperature, and some snow.
14th. Easterly wind continues. Thermometer at noon 38 deg..
16th. Strong easterly winds.
17th. On rising this morning and drawing the curtains aside,
I observed a vessel in the harbor from Detroit. It proved to be the
"General Warren," with supplies for the inhabitants, ordered in the
fall, but, for two or three weeks back, not expected. By her we have
New York city papers to Nov. 26th, and Detroit dates to Dec. 4th.
What a jumble is a newspaper! Here we have the death of Ferdinand of
Spain, and the report of troubles in Europe: the appointment of Mr.
Butler as Attorney-General, and the busy note of editorial
discussion preparatory to the meeting of Congress; the result of
elections, progress of nullification, "cussin and discussion" by
Jack Downing, a terrible list of murders, accidents, &c. Prominent
among things for scientific readers, are accounts of the meteoric
phenomena of November.
18th. Dispatched an express to St. Mary's with letters for
the sub-agency, missionaries, &c. In the evening the vessel sailed
for Detroit with a light westerly breeze, which is fair.
Mr. Abbot, being in the office during the day, remarked that he had
examined the old records before alluded to; that the first public
act of the commanding officer is the appointment of a notary by Gov.
Sinclair in 1780; the next is a grant of land in 1781.
Stating these facts afterwards to Mr. Mitchell (William), he
observed that his father, who was the post surgeon, remarked that
the removal of the troops from old Mackinack was the year after the
massacre, which would be 1764. This is astounding. Yet Carver's
Mackinack, in 1766, appears to have been "old Mackinack."
19th. Thanksgiving day for the territory. A practical
discourse from Mr. Ferry. Lieut. and Mrs. K., &c., to dinner. The
Indian Kwewis returns to St. Mary's, accompanied by Mr. Cameron.
20th. Mr. Mitchell passed the evening.
21st. Visited Mr. Ferry in the afternoon. Conversation on
various religious topics. Coming home, found company; Lieut. and
Mrs. P., Miss D., and Miss H., who remained to tea, and spent the
22d. S. visited the infant-school in the village, and made
24th. Visited Mr. Barber, who directed conversation to
various theological points, and the state of religion on the island.
25th. Christmas. The Catholics have had the usual services,
and have gone to the usual extremes of a pantomimic ceremony at
midnight, &c. As a question of time, we cannot say that this is the
exact day of the anniversary of the Saviour's birth; but the
computation and adjustment of dates were made, I believe, on the
best astronomical data, and before the Romish Church assumed
26th. Wind N. W. Depression of temperature; freezes all day.
Mr. F. visited me, and directed my attention to the Mosaical
geology, or account of the creation, which he thinks the pride of
science has sadly misunderstood.
27th. Snow. No ice; not the slightest bordage yet in
the harbor. Lieut. P., Mrs. P., Mrs. K., and Dr. Turner visit. In
the afternoon, the Maternal Association, at Mrs. Schoolcraft's
invitation, assemble. I wrote to Prof. Olmstead a notice of the
falling stars of Nov. 13th, as described by the Indians.
28th. Wind from the westward and southward; moderate for the
29th. Wind veers to the east.
30th. A blow on the lake, creating a perfect tempest. Before
noon, the wind veers south-easterly, and snow melts on the roofs.
Ackuckojeesh and band, from the north shore, visit the office. He
presents me a small mukuk of maple sugar, made during the
month, as a proof of the mildness of the weather.
Continue my biblical readings, with a view of noticing the
coincidence of passages referred to by clergymen who have visited
me. Quite satisfied that "day," in Gen. i, 5, means, in that place,
a natural day of twenty-four hours. The context cannot be read
without it. Mr. M. and Mr. Stuart pass the evening.
31st. No thawing to-day. There has been quite a blow on the
lake. Began some sketches of biblical geology.
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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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Years with the Indians