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658 Notes First Part (A) Page 36 See, concerning the lands of the west that Europeans have not yet penetrated , the two voyages undertaken by Major Long, at the expense of Congress. Concerning the great American desert, Mr. Long says notably that a line must be drawn about parallel to the 20th degree of longitude (meridian of Washington),1 beginning at the Red River and ending at the Platte River. Extending from this imaginary line to the Rocky Mountains, whichborder the Mississippi Valley in the west, are immense plains, generally covered with sand which is unsuitable for agriculture, or strewn with granitestones. Theyaredeprivedof waterinthesummer.Thereonlygreatherdsof buffalo and wild horses are found. Some Indian hordes are seen as well, but only a small number. Major Long has heard it said that, ascending the Platte River,inthesame direction, this same desert would always be found on the left; but he was not able personally to verify the accuracy of this report. Long’s Expedition, vol. II, p. 361. Whatever confidence Major Long’s account merits, it must not be forgotten , however, that he only crossed the country that he is speakingabout, without making any great zigzags outside the line that he followed. 1. The 20th degree of longitude, following the meridian of Washington, is approximately the equivalent of the 99th degree following the meridian of Paris. notes 659 (B) Page 38 South America, in the region between the tropics, produces an incredible profusion of climbing plants known by the generic name of creepers. The flora of the Antilles alone offers more than forty different species. Among the most graceful of these bushes is the grenadilla. Descourtiz,a in his description of the plant kingdom of the Antilles, says that this lovely plant attaches itself to trees by means of its tendrils, and forms moving arcadesand colonnades,maderichandelegantbythebeautyof thecrimson flowers, variegated with blue, that decorate them and that delight the sense of smell with the scent they give off; vol. I, p. 265. The acacia with large pods is a very thick creeper that grows rapidly and, going from tree to tree, sometimes covers more than a half-league; vol. III, p. 227. (C) Page 40 On the American Languages The languages spoken by the Indians of America, from the Arctic Pole to Cape Horn, are all formed, it is said, on the same model, and subject to the same grammatical rules; from that it can be concluded that, in all likelihood , all the Indian nations came from the same stock. Each tribal band of the American continent speaks a different dialect; but the languages strictly speaking are very few in number, which would tend as well to prove that the nations of the New World do not have a very ancient origin. Finally the languages of America are extremely regular, so it is probable that the peoples who use them have not yet been subjected to great revolutions and have not mixed with foreign nations by necessityorvoluntarily; a. M. E. Descourtiz, Voyages d’un naturaliste et ses observations, Dufart Père, 1809, 3 vols. 660 notes for it is in general the union of several languages into a single one that produces irregularities of grammar. Not long ago the American languages, and in particular, the languages of North America, attracted the serious attention of philologists. It was discovered then, for the first time, that this idiom of a barbarous people was the product of a system of very complicated ideas and of very clever combinations. It was noticed that these languages were very rich and that, when forming them, great care had been taken to show consideration for the sensitivity of the ear. The grammatical system of the Americans differs from all others on several points, but principally in this one. Some peoples of Europe, among others the Germans, have the ability to combine different expressions as needed, and thus to give a complex meaning to certain words. The Indians have extended this ability in the most surprising way, and have succeeded in fixing so to speak at a single point a very large number of ideas. This will be easily understood with the help of an example cited by Mr. Duponceau, in the Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society. When, he says, a Delaware woman plays with a cat or with a dog, you sometimes hear her pronounce the word kuligatschis. The word is composed in this way: K is the sign of the second person and means you or your...


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