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silver in Michigan, a recent unsuccessful attempt to obtain salt by deep boring in Onondaga county, and the geography of the Genesee country, in western New York. The astonished reader may well ask, What has all this to do with the North American Indians? And this inquiry seems still more pertinent, when, after skipping ten or a dozen pages, he finds the next chapter or section to relate to the “ Existing Geological Action of the North American Lakes.” If there were any novelty or value in the facts here communicated, we might pardon the intrusion of them into the discussion of a theme with which they have no conceivable relation or union. But the passage contains nothing which was not familiarly known to every careless voyager over our Great Lakes, who has had curiosity enough to observe the configuration of the shores along which he sailed. The oft repeated and still oftener described phenomena of ancient disruption and upheaval, of abrasion and drift, which the well-trained geologist now hardly stops to notice, are here enumerated as if the only object were to fill out a paragraph, and are sometimes described with wearisome minuteness. Of the value of the general remarks suggested by these desultory notices of very common geological phenomena, the following may serve as a specimen.
“ 7. CONTINENTAL ABRASION. If we are to regard the Lakes as a grand geological triturating apparatus, converting its loose and shore rocks into a pulverulent state, it may be anticipated that their action on the configuration of the shores will be very considerable in the course of long periods. What is lost in this process in one place, from their rock area, is found to augment the quantity of alluvial soil in another ; which, in time, renders the whole area suitable for agriculture. Thus the plough gradually, but surely, follows the tempest and the hurricane; while the absolute indestructibility of matter is man's guarantee under every change.
“8. INTEGRITY OF MATTER. The absolute quantity and cubical area of material matter (!) of these immense areas is still the same. The elements of which they are composed are seen to be indestructible. No change of combination or position is seen to take from, or add to, the material aggregate. If physical matter (!) under the force of tempests, could be destroyed, as well as change its forms, there would result an annihilation of a part or molecule of the original accretion of elements. Wild as their rage sometimes is, casting vessels
on high on these Lakes, the entire volume of them yet retains its integrity."
We shall not dispute either the geology or the philosophy of this passage. Of course, if “ material matter” or “physical matter," to adopt our author's happy phrases, “ could be destroyed,” there can be no doubt that " an annihilation of a part or molecule would result.” But what has all this to do with the “ History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes"? The few feeble remnants of them that still linger about the shores of the Great Lakes will not probably continue long enough to witness the final conversion of the Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior into smiling cornfields.
As Mr. Schoolcraft came down to our own day to speak of the present action of the waters of the Lakes, he makes amends in the next section, by taking a great leap backwards to what he calls “ the antique osteology of the Monster Period.” We know not which of the geological ages are here referred to as they are all of “monster" length, and most of the animals which lived in them would appear monstrous if exhibited in a modern menagerie. But no matter; palæontology is an interesting study, and we were prepared to wel. come any new contributions to it, even if foisted into a treatise where they do not belong. Whatever may have been thought of the promise of a chapter with such a title, however, it was barren of fulfilment; for it proved on examination to contain nothing but a letter from a correspondent, giving a meagre account of one of those curious “salt licks” in the western States, which seem in a former geological period to have operated as mastodon traps, these huge animals frequenting them in quest of salt, and venturing too far into the treacherous morass, becoming inextricably entangled, and perishing ignobly in the mire. Only one complete specimen appears to have been disinterred; and as our author speaks of visiting it after it was set up for exhibition in Piccadilly, London, we may presume that its history and character were pretty well known, before these big volumes, which look like mastodons among our books, were written. But again we ask, how does this concern the Indians ?
Our readers must not imagine, however, that these volumes
are like a representation of Hamlet, with the part of the philosophic Prince of Denmark himself entirely left out. Unquestionably a good deal is said about the Indians in them, though very little is said to the purpose. The next section or chapter bears as its title "an Aboriginal Palladium, as exhibited in the Oneida Stone.” The Oneida Indians, it seems, were wont to meet in council, on the top of a hill in their territory, around a huge boulder rock, “irregularly orbicular” in shape, which they naturally enough adopted as the symbol of their tribe, and from its name, Oneota, came their usual appellation. According to the confused account here given, this word signifies, in the Indian tongue, “ the People of the Stone, or, by a metaphor, the People who sprang from the Stone;” though this etymology seems to conflict with the story that the word was originally the proper name of the stone itself, and not of the people who were named after it. Of course, we are treated to a full account and a fine colored engraving of this “aboriginal palladium,” from neither of which can we discern that it differed much from other boulders, which are found in great abundance in the neighborhood. Our author made a journey in 1845, with Indian guides, expressly to examine it, and found that its surface was somewhat rougher than is common with boulders that have been drifted so far; and this “peculiarity,” he sagaciously conjectures, "may perhaps be the result of ancient fires kindled against its sides.” He also made the interesting discovery, " on closely inspecting this stone,” that “minute species of mosses are found to occupy asperities in its surface." We are not told that other boulders on the neighboring hills present similar phenomena; but we may safely believe that they do. It is also said to be “one of the peculiar features of this hill of the Oneida or Oneota stone, that its apex shelters from the north-east winds — the worst winds of our continent- a fertile transverse valley.” This is certainly rather extraordinary; for it can hardly be said to be “a peculiar feature” of any hill with which we happen to be acquainted, that its apex shelters from the north-east wind some lowland tract in its neighborhood.
An article on the new Territory of Minnesota contains
hardly a word about the few savages who still inhabit it, but gives an imperfect geological and geographical sketch of the country, in which we do not find a single fact of novelty and interest. It is such an article as might be lazily penned, as a contribution to a newspaper, by one who had paid a two days' visit to the region described. It seems to have been introduced for no other purpose than that of bringing in a few other desultory observations made by Mr. Schoolcraft, over twenty years ago, in the course of his memorable journey to Itasca Lake.
The famed inscription on Dighton rock, the discovery of what was pompously but incorrectly termed a “ Skeleton in Armor” near Fall River in Massachusetts, and the more recent discovery of a few other Indian skeletons, with some copper implements near them, in the same locality, have already been so thoroughly discussed that we did not expect Mr. Schoolcraft to tell us any thing new about them; and this expectation has not been disappointed. Elaborate notices are given of them, however, and the author comes to what we consider the right conclusion," that the skeletons at Fall River were those of Indians who may possibly have lived during the time of Philip's wars, or a few years earlier, but that they are only those of Indians." This conclusion is founded upon the very satisfactory reasons, that “ the state of preservation of the flesh and bones proves that they could not have been of very ancient date," that the crania show "the conical formation of the skull peculiar to the Indian,” “ and lastly, the use of copper for arrow heads among the Indians at the arrival of the Puritans is well authenticated." The pieces found were “ apparently mere sheet copper, rudely cut into simple forms,” and were quite unfit for defensive armor. The author does not mend his argument much, however, when he adds the important information that “ both Rome and Phænicia were well acquainted with the elaborate working of iron and brass."
A detailed account is given of a visit made to Dighton rock, in 1847, by Mr. Schoolcraft, as one of a committee, appointed by the New York Historical Society, to examine the inscription. But the account adds nothing to our previous
information upon the subject, if we except the important facts that the author rode from Fall River to Dighton Four Corners, a distance of ten miles, “in an open one-horse buggy, which afforded a pleasant view of the state of New England cultivation and thrift on a rather indifferent soil;" and that he “crossed the river to the rock in a skiff rowed by an interesting lad, called Whitmarsh, who was not the less so for a lisp." This boy had shown some acuteness and a disposition to facilitate the observations to be made by the visitors, by crossing the river at an earlier hour in the morning, and marking in chalk the outlines of the principal figures in the inscription, so that they stood out very conspicuously when Mr. Schoolcraft approached. A fresh copy of the inscription is here furnished in an engraving founded in part upon the copies previously taken, and in part upon our author's own observations. An inspection of it makes the interpretation given by the Copenhagen antiquaries appear more doubtful than ever. That part of the inscription upon which they chiefly relied — a very small portion of the whole — is here presented with some material variations. Yet our author adheres to the very improbable hypothesis, that there are “ two diverse and wholly distinct characters employed, namely, an Algonquin and an Icelandic inscription.” That portion which is admitted to be pictographic and Indian in its origin is so rudely done and faintly incised, presenting awkward scrawls, any one of which, like Polonius's cloud, may be easily held to be a camel, a weasel, or “very like a whale," the action of the atmosphere and the tide water having also effaced in a great degree what little vraisemblance it may have once possessed, that detached portions of it may now seem meaningless — or alphabetic, which amounts to the same thing; and these portions may naturally seem Runic to an imaginative northern antiquary, or Sanscrit to an Oriental one. A little group, in the lower central part of the inscription, of these unmeaning and half-effaced scrawls, which can be construed, at most, into half a dozen alphabetic characters, is a very narrow basis to erect a theory upon. The present age has seen marvels accomplished in the art of deciphering; witness the labors of Mr. Layard, Col. Rawlinson, and Dr. VOL. LXXVII. —NO. 160.