[Footnote 28: The appointment was made.]
31st. Devoted the day to the Indian language. It scarcely seems possible that any two languages should be more unlike, or have fewer points of resemblance, than the English and Ojibwa. If an individual from one of the nomadic tribes of farther Asia were suddenly set down in London, he could hardly be more struck with the difference in buildings, dress, manners, and customs, than with the utter discrepance in the sounds of words, and the grammatical structure of sentences. The Ojibwa has this advantage, considered as the material of future improvement; it is entirely homogeneous, and admits of philosophical principles being carried out, with very few, if any, of those exceptions which so disfigure English grammar, and present such appalling obstacles to foreigners in learning the language.
On going to dine at the usual hour, I found company invited, among whom were some gentlemen from Upper Canada. Conversation rolled on smoothly, and embraced a wide range of topics. Some of the dark doings of the North West Company, in their struggle for exclusive power in the Indian country, were mentioned. Nobody appeared to utter a word in malice or ill will. Dark and bright traits of individual character and conduct floated along the stream of conversation, without being ruffled with a breeze. In the evening I attended a party at the quarters of one of the officers in the fort. Dancing was introduced. The evening passed off agreeably till the hour of separation, which was a few minutes before twelve. And thus closed the year eighteen hundred and twenty-two.
New Year’s day among the descendants of the Norman French—Anti-philosophic speculations of Brydone—Schlegel on language—A peculiar native expression evincing delicacy—Graywacke in the basin of Lake Superior—Temperature—Snow shoes—Translation of Gen. i. 3—Historical reminiscences—Morals of visiting—Ojibwa numerals—Harmon’s travels—Mackenzie’s vocabularies—Criticism—Mungo Park.
January 1st. This is a day of hilarity here, as in New York. Gayety and good humor appear on every countenance. Visiting from house to house is the order. The humblest individual is expected to make his appearance in the routine, and “has his claims allowed.” The French custom of salutation prevails. The Indians are not the last to remember the day. To them, it is a season of privileges, although, alas! it is only the privilege to beg. Standing in an official relation to them, I was occupied in receiving their visits from eight o’clock till three. I read, however, at intervals, Dr. Johnson’s Lives of Rochester, Roscommon, Otway, Phillips, and Walsh.