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The Last of the Mohicans; A narrative of 1757 by James Fenimore Cooper
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The color of the Indian, the writer believes, is peculiar to himself,
and while his cheek-bones have a very striking indication of a Tartar
origin, his eyes have not. Climate may have had great influence on
the former, but it is difficult to see how it can have produced the
substantial difference which exists in the latter. The imagery of the
Indian, both in his poetry and in his oratory, is oriental; chastened,
and perhaps improved, by the limited range of his practical knowledge.
He draws his metaphors from the clouds, the seasons, the birds, the
beasts, and the vegetable world. In this, perhaps, he does no more than
any other energetic and imaginative race would do, being compelled to
set bounds to fancy by experience; but the North American Indian clothes
his ideas in a dress which is different from that of the African, and
is oriental in itself. His language has the richness and sententious
fullness of the Chinese. He will express a phrase in a word, and he will
qualify the meaning of an entire sentence by a syllable; he will even
convey different significations by the simplest inflections of the
voice.

Philologists have said that there are but two or three languages,
properly speaking, among all the numerous tribes which formerly occupied
the country that now composes the United States. They ascribe the known
difficulty one people have to understand another to corruptions and
dialects. The writer remembers to have been present at an interview
between two chiefs of the Great Prairies west of the Mississippi, and
when an interpreter was in attendance who spoke both their languages.
The warriors appeared to be on the most friendly terms, and seemingly
conversed much together; yet, according to the account of the
interpreter, each was absolutely ignorant of what the other said.
They were of hostile tribes, brought together by the influence of the
American government; and it is worthy of remark, that a common policy