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pursuits. The ambitious monarch beheld in it a new world, where, in consideration of its defenceless condition, and the peculiarly artless simplicity of its inhabitants, he was irresistibly invited to fresh acquisitions of territory and dominion. The da. ring and rapacious leader discovered in it a field alike propitious to his lust of gold and his love of glory—where his cupidity might be easily satiated with wealth, and his temples adorned with the wreaths of victory. The enlightened merchant looked to it as a scene of new and profitable enterprise in his profession, and considered its discovery as an important epoch in commercial adventure. The roving and unsettled spirit was anxious to traverse it, that he might gratify his curiosity with a sight of all that was new or wonderful in so extensive a region. The patriot, indignant at the insolence, and detesting the iniquitous exercise of power, longed to shelter himself in its wilds from the rod of oppression. The pious and persecuted christian earnestly sighed for freedom of conscience in the western hemisphere; and the philosopher himself was anxious for an opportunity of exploring a region where his researches, besides augmenting. his store of knowledge, and thereby extending the sphere of his renown, might also contribute to the promotion of science.
To the naturalist, in particular, the new world presented a prospect that was peculiarly inviting. It opened to him a field of research unparalleled in extent, and rich in every thing he had been accustomed to value. Its spacious plains and lofty moun. tains, formed and ornamented in the munificence of nature, had been hitherto trodden only by the foot of the savage; its animal, vegetable and mineral productions had attracted none but the savage eye. To sources like these he was eager for access, conscious that they would abundantly remunerate his toils.
It was not, however, by the rich exuberance of the mineral productions, it was not by the majesty and beauty of the vegetable kingdom, nor yet by the diversity and novelty of the inserior animals, that the attention of the naturalist was principally attracted towards the new worid. The men of America themselves, the aborigines and rightful owners of the soil, constituted the most interesting object of inquiry. It was in relation !0
these, that a new, interesting, and most difficult problem in the history of the human race, now presented itself to the eye of the philosopher.
When considered in all the relations and tendencies which rightfully appertained to it, the spectacle was not only interest. ing to science, but essentially connected with the truth of revelation. A new continent was discovered of vast dimensions, separated from Europe by a thousand leagues of ocean; and, for aught that was then known to the contrary, by an equal distance from the shores of Asia. By all pious and orthodox believers, the old world was acknowledged to be the birth-place of the human race, whence alone they had been disseminated throughout every peopled region of the earth. The continent of America, however, remote as it was from Europe and Asia, was occupied by millions of the human race, utterly unskilled in the art of navigation, which alone could have conducted them from a distant country. This people, moreover, differed very materially in complexion, features, figure, customs, and manners, from any that had been discovered in the old world. From every view, which, under existing circumstances, could then be taken of the subject, they were by many thought to have strong appearances of a race peculiar to themselves—the genuine aborigines of the soil they inhabited,
The origin of the inhabitants of the new world soon became a question eagerly examined and warmly contested by the philosophers of the day. Nor does the controversy appear to have been conducted with that spirit of harmony and mutual charity, which, whatever may be their religious tenets, should never fail to actuate the votaries of science. Harsh and unseemly vitupe. ration was too often substituted for liberal discussion, a denuna ciation of motives for an examination of arguments, and, perhaps, a desire of victory for a love of truth.
The enemies of revelation triumphantly embraced the opportunity, which, in their estimation, now presented itself, of invalidating the Mosaic account of the creation. Although it were possible, said they, to derive from a single pair, the numerous, widely scattered, and strikingly dissimilar inhabitants of the old world; the case is different in relation to the new. America presents us with an argument in our favour, which must paralyse forever the efforts of opposition. In the western hemisphere, the voice of nature is heard in our behalf. We here discover a continent disjoined even from the most adjacent points of land in the eastern hemisphere, by vast and formidable tracts of oceantracts utterly impassable by any people not extensively versed in navigation. This continent, however, is now inhabited, and appears to have been occupied time immemorial, by tribes and nations so entirely ignorant of maritime affairs, that they have never unfolded a sail to the wind. This people, therefore, must be regarded as a race radically distinct from the inhabitants of Europe, Asia, or Africa. Their progenitors must have been separately created for the peopling of the new world, as Adam and Eve are reported to have been formed for the peopling of the old. Such is the chain of reasoning by which the enemies of revelation endeavoured to bring into disrepute the Mosaic ac. count of the creation of man, and to prove that the people of America are descended from a distinct and specific origin.
The advocates of revelation, on the other hand, maintained the unity of the human race with every argument that learning and ingenuity aided by a fruitful imagination could furnish, and with all the perseverance that a laudable zeal for religion could inspire. Some of them contended, that the primary emigrants to the new world, the ancestral stock of the present inhabitants, might have been sufficiently versed in practical navigation at the time of their first arrival in America, although, by long disuse, their descendents had entirely forgotten the art. Others alleged, that, in former ages, America had been united to Europe or Asia, or both, by tracts of country which earthquakes had over. whelmed in the bosom of the deep. Along these tracts, previously to their submersion, the original inhabitants were supposed to have passed into the western continent. Even the fabled Atalantis was called up from the ocean to serve as a passage between the old world and the new. A third class conjectured, that, in high northern latitudes, a connexion by land still existed be. tween the west side of America and the east side of Asia, and that
by that route the former country had received her inhabitants from the latter. A fourth sect of philosophers were persuaded of the practicability of peopling America from the countries near the Baltic. The passage deemed most favourable was from Norway to the Faroe Isles; from thence to Iceland; from Iceland to Greenland; and from Greenland to Labrador. It was conjectured that the original germe of population had been thrown through this channel on the American shore, and had afterwards spread from north to south, till it ultimately reached the heights of Cape Horn. Should any remarks be offered on these hypotheses they will be reserved for a subsequent part of this article.
Having demonstrated, as they supposed, the practicability of the original people of America having passed, either by land or water, from the old world to the new, philosophers next turned their attention to the establishment of the fact. They directed their researches to the discovery of some circumstance or appearance, either physical or moral, which might tend to prove, not only that the aborigines of America might have emigrated, but that they actually did emigrate, from the shores of Europe, Asia or Africa. For this purpose they attempted to point out some characteristic resemblance or affinity between the inhabitants of the old world and those of the new, either on the score of figure, features, complexion, traditions, customs, manners, or religion. A few of these resemblances it may be proper to mention, in order to show on how slender a foundation philosophers are fre. quently induced to erect their hypotheses.
It was said, by some, to be a custom with the ancient Scythians to scalp their enemies whom they slew in battle, and that, therefore, the Indians of America, pursuing the same inhuman practice, might be justly regarded as of Scythian extraction. Others again derived the aborigines of America from the people of Kamschatka; inasmuch as it was ascertained, that, contrary to common custom, both nations, when advancing to war, march. in the order of single, or what is usually denominated Indian file. A third class discovered a wonderful resemblance between the bark canoes of the Canadian sayages, and those constructed by VOL. VIL .
the Tungusi, a nation inhabiting the north of Asia; and hence they concluded that the former were to be considered as a colony from the latter. A fourth contended that the Mexicans and Peruvians were obviously descended from the ancient Egyptians, because, like them, they were accustomed to perpetuate the memory of remarkable events by hieroglyphic representations. Other fancied resemblances between the natives of the new world and the northern Asiatics were found in the complexion, the figure of the head, the form and arrangement of the features, the appearance and qualities of the hair, the want of a beard, the manner of sitting on the ground, the treatment of children, the popular mythology of the countries, the ideas of a deity and a future state, and in certain parts of the ceremonial of religious worship; all of which, however, we deem unworthy of a detailed statement, and therefore wholly insufficient to serve as the basis of any opinion as to the origin of nations.
As yet the most substantial source of resemblance appears to have been overlooked: we should rather say, that philosophers were as yet unprepared to avail themselves of the valuable infor• mation which it seemed to offer. We allude to resemblances on the score of language, which is, perhaps, the least mutable and perishable of human institutions. Customs, manners and habits, whether public or private, civil or military, although frequently the objects of strong attachment, become seldom very deeply radicated in our nature. Such is their slight and superficial hold on us, and such our plastic and accommodating character; that they are easily adopted, modified, or laid aside. Being, for the most part, nothing but conformities to external circumstances, instituted on grounds of convenience, or necessity, pleasure or advantage, they are liable to change with every material change of situation. Remove a people from a pastoral or agricultural country, where they have lived in case and security, to one where they are obliged to subsist by fishing and hunting, and to defend themselves against the stratagems and attacks of enemies, and the no less formidable encroachments of wild beasts; or transplant them from the fervours of a tropical region to the piercing colds of a high northern latitude, and an entire revolution in their customs, habits and manners will be the ne.