19th. Governor C. writes, in response to a letter detailing difficulties which have arisen oh this frontier between the military and citizens: “Military gentlemen, when stationed at remote posts, too often ‘feel power and forget right,’ and the history of our army is replete with instances proving incontestably by how frail a tenure our liberties would be held, were it not for the paramount authority and redeeming spirit of our civil institutions.”
“I thank you,” he observes, “for the specimens of copper you have sent me. I participate with you in your feelings upon the important discovery you have been the instrument of communicating to the world, respecting the existence of that metal upon the long point of Lake Superior. This circumstance, in conjunction with others, will, I hope, lead to a congressional appropriation, at the next session, for exploring that country, and making such purchases of the Indians as may promise the valuable supplies.”
“My Indian materials are rapidly accumulating; but, unfortunately, they are more valuable for quantity than quality. It is almost impossible to rely upon the information which is communicated to me on the subject of the languages. There is a lamentable obtuseness of intellect manifested in both collector and contributor; and there is no systematic arrangement—no analytical process, and, in fact, no correctness of detail. I may safely say that what I received from you is more valuable than all my other stock.
“It has recurred to me that you ought to visit Europe. Don’t startle at the suggestion! I have thought of it frequently. You might easily procure some person to execute your duties, &c., and I think there would be no difficulty in procuring permission from the government. I speak, however, without book. Think of the matter. I see incalculable advantages which would result to you from it, and you would go under very favorable auspices, and with a rich harvest of literary fame.”
23d. B. F. Stickney, Esq., writes on the occasion of not having earlier acknowledged my memoir on the Fossil Tree of the Des Plaines, in Illinois. “How little we know of the laws of nature,” he observes, “of which we profess to know so much.”
Incidents of the year 1824—Indian researches—Diverse idioms of the Ottowa and Chippewa—Conflict of opinion between the civil and military authorities of the place—A winter of seclusion well spent—St. Paul’s idea of languages—Examples in the Chippewa—The Chippewa a pure form of the Algonquin—Religion in the wilderness—Incidents—Congressional excitements—Commercial view of the copper mine question—Trip to Tackwymenon Falls, in Lake Superior.
1824. Jan. 1st. As soon as the business season closed, I resumed my Indian researches.