the rivers, the prolific vegetation, of the New World.
In the dialect of the wildest tribe, the wilderness can show a nobler work, of a Power higher than that of man.
Another and a more certain conclusion is this—that the ancestors of our tribes were rude like themselves.
It has been asked if our Indians were not the wrecks of more civilized nations.
Their language refutes the hypothesis; every one of its forms is a witness that their ancestors were, like themselves, not yet disenthralled from nature.
The character of each Indian language is one continued, universal, all-pervading synthesis.
They to whom these languages were the mother tongue, were still in that earliest stage of intellectual culture where reflection has not begun.
Meantime, from the first visit of Europeans, a change has been preparing in the American
The stage of progress, in the organic structure of a language, is that of intermixture.
To the study of the American
dialects the missionaries carried the habit of analysis, and enriched the speech of the barbarians with the experience of civilization.
Hence new ideas are gaining utterance, and new forms are springing up. The half-breeds grow unwilling to indulge in diffuse combinations, but are ready to employ each word distinctly and by itself; and the wild man understands, if he does not approve, the innovation.
Already the cultivated Chippewa
is gaining the power of expressing a noun of relation, independent of its relations; and the substantive verb begins to glimmer in various tongues from Lake Superior
to the homes of the Choctas.
‘The sociableness of the nature of man appears in the wildest of them.’
To Indians returning to their