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HAVING, in a former chapter, endeavoured to explain in what manner islands are formed; and after what method they become green with vegetation, and enlivened with animals, it remains to show in what probable manner, they become peopled with the human race.
That America was peopled from Africa, there is scarcely one argument for inducing the belief. No similarity is there in colour, language, manners, customs, or religion; by which a single proof of a common origin may be traced. Nor is there even an association, on which we might build a conjecture, that, prior to the age of Columbus, even an intercourse subsisted between them by the means of navigation.
That America was peopled from Asia, on the northwest, there are so many reasons, arising out of a great variety of evidence, strengthened by the fact, that in one point the two continents are separated by a distance of only thirty-nine miles, that the problem may be said . almost certainly to be solved. In fact, the continents are so contiguous (and future research may even prove them to be actually joined), that hares, elks, roebucks, foxes, wolves, and bears, belong as well to North America as to Northern Asia.
There is also some reason to believe, that the Japanese and Chinese traded, in former ages, to the western continent?, many coincidences having been observed among the Chilians and Chinese.
| Horne. De Origine Americ. 1652.
Whence, and in what manner, the Pacific Islands became inhabited, is a question much more complicated and difficult. Their very existence was unknown to European research, a long time after the discoveries of Columbus, Vespucius, Magellan, and other navigators. They were equally unknown to Western America, and to Eastern Asia: and, with the exception of those islands, which are disposed in clusters, they were equally unknown to each other.
II. One object of modern inquiry has been to discover a north-east, a north-west, or a Polar passage to Cathay : and while the Russians were making efforts in the North Pacific, the English and French, steering through the vast bosom of the Southern Ocean, gave to the knowledge of Europe, Asia, and America, new manners, new customs, new religions, and even new creations; both in the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
Semi-barbarous nations mingle so many fables with their traditions, that it is difficult, and indeed frequently impossible to separate the one from the other. But barbarians have not even traditions, on which to build the structure of hypothesis. The inquirer into the origin of nations can, therefore, only reason from the best evidence that analogy affords. In the present instance these evidences are few; but they are striking: and lead to the probable conclusion, that most of the islanders, in the Pacific, sprang from one original stock,
What the Tartars still continue to do by land, the natives of the islands on the south Asian coasts were accustomed to do by sea. They voyaged from one island
to another"; and settled in those, they found the most agreeable and the best provided. The chief points of resemblance among these islanders may be reduced to the knowledge, which many of them traditionally possessed of the use of iron: to the circumstance, that the natives of Maugeca, and of the Caroline islands, although distant 1500 leagues, saluted strangers in the same manner, viz. by taking the hand and joining noses: to the similarity, observable in their features and complexions; to the coincidence of many of their manners and opinions; to the shapes of their musical instruments; and, above all, to the harmony, which subsists between their respective languages.
In respect to the manner in which some other of these islands were peopled, some idea may be formed from the circumstance of two Esquimaux savages having been driven by the currents in canoes upon the coast of the Orcades; a circumstance which is attested by Wallace, in his History of the Orkney Islands?. Baron de Humboldt", who alludes to this fact, relates, also, that in the year 1770, a small vessel, laden with corn at the island of Lancerotte, and bound to Santa Cruz, was, in the absence of its crew, driven out to sea : where, crossing the vast expanse of
. 1 Stæhlin's Disc. of New North Archipelago, p. 25. The Biajus of Borneo * live in covered boats, and subsist by the art of fishing; float from one island to another with the variations of the monsoons, and thereby enjoy perpetual summer.
Page 60. Ed. 1700. 3 Humboldt's Voy. to Equinoctial Regions, i. p. 57. Originally in Viera. Hist. Gen. de las Islas Canarias, iii. p. 167.
* Leyden on the Literature of the Indo-Chinese Nations.
the Atlantic, it ran ashore at La Guayra near the Caraccas. Some have, doubtless, been peopled by men and women, who, while fishing along their native coasts, lost their oars and paddles, and were drifted by the winds and tides. A circumstance rendered the more probable by its being ascertained, that women are employed in fishing, on some parts of the west American coasts, as well as men.
Whence New Holland derived its inhabitants, it is difficult to determine; but that the natives of Van Dieman's Land were originally African, is evident from their heads being covered with wool; and from their countenances exhibiting, in a very striking manner, the African physiognomy.
Many islands, on the American coasts, were, when first discovered, totally destitute of inhabitants. The Bermudas, for instance, 400 in number, lying in the form of a shepherd's crook, and situate between 200 and 300 leagues from the continent. The manner in which they have been successively peopled, it is not necessary to state; as they are well known to have derived their inhabitants from modern industry and enterprise.
III. In 1681 a Mosquito Indian was accidentally left on the island of Juan Fernandez by Captain Watling. For three years he lived upon fish, goats, seals, rock-fish, snappers, cabbage-tree, and a variety of herbs. He built himself a hut, and made his bed with goat-skins. Upon Captain Watling's revisiting the island, the Indian saw the ship at a distance; and, knowing it to be an English