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cessary consequence. The speedy adoption and relinquishment of customs and manners are moreover frequently the result of a spi. rit of imitation, which operates so powerfully on communities no less than on individuals. Through the medium of this active principle of our nature, nations and tribes, by contracting alliances, mingling in commercial transactions, or otherwise establishing a mutual and continued intercourse, have oftentimes affected each other with very signal changes.
In religious opinions and forms of worship, particularly among barbarous and wandering nations, the history of mankind leaches us that there is almost an equal liability to change. In the round of mutations to which human affairs are liable, it has repeatedly occurred, that a single enterprising and artful fanatic has succeeded in revolutionizing the religion of a whole people, in cffacing every vestige of their former mode of worship, and establishing a new ceremonial in its place. The human figure, features, and complexion are themselves so liable to be affected in their appearance by external circumstances, and by the progress of society in the acquirements of civilization, that even they cannot, at all times, be securely relied on as to the evidence they furnish in relation to the origin of nations.
With regard to language the case is known to be materially different. Having no essential dependence on external circumstances, it is, comparatively speaking, but little affected by a change of situation. When once formed, it becomes appended to a people with an adherence almost as firm as that of their existence. To change, adulterate, and mold it into different dialects is easy and perhaps natural; but to efface it entirely is almost impossible. Neither conquest, exile nor emigration, nothing short of a national annihilation, can effect such a total and complete demolition of it, as not to leave behind some perceptible traces. No instance, we believe, has ever yet occurred in which the descendents of a nation have been entirely deprived of the language of their ancestors, unless where they have voluntarily adopted another. The language of the modern Greeks exhibits a striking affinity to that of the ancient; in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and all the adjacent islands of the Mediterranean, the language of the Romans is easily recognised; and, even in
Egypt, India and other countries of the east, which have so of. t'en been the scenes of conquest and devastation, not a single language has ever been annihilated, unless with the extermination of those by whom it was spoken. .
Aware of the truth, and feeling the force, of these considerations, professor Barton, from whose rich, and multifarious stores of knowledge, his country cherishes the loftiest expectations, began at a very early period to direct his attention to the languages of the native tribes and nations of America, with a view to the ultimate development of their origin. The following is the professor's own account of his commencement, progress, and success, in this arduous and interesting enterprise in science:
“ As early, says he, as the year 1787, whilst I was a student of medicine in the University of Edinburgh, I endeavoured to discover, whether there was any resemblance between the American and Asiatic languages. But although I devoted a good deal of time to the inquiry, I met with but little success. Upon my return to my native country, in the latter end of the year 1789, I re. sumed the inquiry, and, by the assistance of the tables in Strolenberg's work, and very mutilated vocabularies of the languages of some of the American tribes, principally, if not entirely, of the Delaware stock, I discovered such affinities that I was persuaded that more extensive researches would, in time conduct me to something interesting on the subject. In the midst of many, and more favourite, pursuits, I never entirely lost sight of this, though I had not an opportunity of prosecuting the question much farther, until the spring of 1796, when I received, through the hands of my'learned friend, Dr. Joseph Priestley, the Vocabularia Comparativa of professor Pallas. It is this great work that has enabled me to extend my inquiries, and to arrive at :some degree of cer. tainty on the subject. The general result of my inquiries is now offered to the public. They will be extended and corrected in proportion as I shall re. ceive additions to my stock of American vocabularies.”
The following paragraph will furnish the reader with a view, at once satisfactory and succinct, of the plan and arrangement of the work which we are about to examine. .
“ The order I shall pursue, says professor Barton, in the ensuing pages, is the following: I shall first give some account of the various American tribes and nations whose languages are taken notice of in this memoir. Remarks on their languages are afterwards to be offered. I shall then give some account of the various Asiatic and European nations, whose languages I have compared with those of the Americans; and shall conclude the memoir with some general observations relative to the course of the migrations of the A-mericans through the continent, their comparative antiquity, &c.
That the public might not, on the present subject, expect more from the pen of professor Barton, than, under existing cir. cumstances, it was practicable for him to accomplish; he briefly unfolds to them, in language which we shall quote, a view of the difficulties he had to encounter in the inquiry.
“Let the reader, says he, who follows me in this inquiry, recollect, that the path which I tread is almost entirely new. I may without vanity, compare myself to the new settler in the wilderness of our country. I found no cultivated spot. In the vast forest, my easiest task was the removal of briers and thorns. Unequal to the opening of an extensive road, I have, at least, succeeded in opening a path, which will serve to direct the traveller in his pilgrimage of science. Unequal to the building of a stately edifice, I have erected an humble habitation, in which philosophers, who have laboured in researches of this kind, may repose from a portion of their toil. More ought not to be expected of one person, who, in the practice of a profession as anxious as it is important, has known neither the felicities of leisure nor of wealth.
In the interesting treatise which we now hold under our consideration, its learned author has in view a twofold object-to demonstrate, first, the existence of an identity of origin between the aborigines of America and certain tribes and nations of the northern Asiatics; and, secondly, to prove, that America derived the germe of her population from Asia, and not Asia from America, as Mr. Jefferson and a few other writers have contended.
As an argument in favour of his position, that America is to be regarded as the officina virorum, the nursery of the human race, in relation to the northern parts of the continent of Asia, Mr. Jefferson asserts, that there exists in the former country (we mean among its savage inhabitants) a much greater number of original languages, than there does in the latter. Hence he infers its higher antiquity, as a populated country. This position professor Barton attempts to invalidate, by setting forth and endeavouring to prove, that instead of a great number, there ex. ists, in reality, among the savage tribes of America, but one original language. This he alleges to be the language spoken by the Indians of the Delaware tribe, or, as he more technically denominates them, the Lenni Lennape. To this, as the parent-stock, he traces all the other languages of the country, in the character of dialects.
The professor acknowledges, to adopt his own words,“ that in America there is frequently less affinity between languages which he considers as being radically the same, than there is in Asia between languages which are also taken to be radically the same. This, however, does not, in his opinion, “prove that the Americans are of greater antiquity than the Asiatics. It would seem, as he maintains, to prove no more than this, viz. that the Americans alluded to have been longer separated from each other in America, than the Asiatics of whom he speaks have been separated from each other in Asia.”
His opinion that America derived her original population from the countries of Asia, our author rests on a twofold basis: First, the traditions current among the Indians of the present day, in relation to the place of residence of their ancestors, and the course of their former national migrations; Secondly, the comparative state of population between the eastern and western parts of America, when it was first discovered by adventurers from Europe.
After asserting as his opinion, that, in the determination of the present question, no inconsiderable weight ought to be attached to traditions prevalent among the aborigines of America, professor Barton subjoins:
If all, or many, of the North American tribes had preserved a tradition, that their ancestors formerly dwelt towards the rising of the sun, and that, in process of time, impelled by the spirit of conquest, by urgent necessities, by caprice, or by the influence of a dream, they had moved towards the setting of the same planet (luminary he meant) would not such a tradition be thought entitled to some attention in an inquiry concerning the original of these people would not such a tradition rather favour the opinion of those writers who have imagined, that the Norwegians, the Welsh, and other na. tions of Europe, have been the principal peoplers of America? But the na. tions of America have not preserved any such tradition as this. On the contrary, their traditions inform us, that they came from the west; that they crossed the Mississippi, and that they gradually travelled towards the east. “ When you ask them, says Lawson, speaking of the Carolina Indians, whence their forefathers came, that first inhabited the country, they will point to the westward and say, where the sun sleeps, our forefathers came thence.”
Our author adds, that, as far as his inquiries have extended on the subject, “ All the Indian nations on the east side of the
Mississippi; assert, that they past thither from the west, from the north-west, or from the south.” Again:
“When the Europeans, says professor Barton, took possession of the countries of North America, they found the western parts of the continent much more thickly settled than the eastern. This assertion is confirmed by the testimony of all the earlier visiters of America; and it is a fact, which, in my opinion, gives considerable weight to the theory, that the Americans are of Asiatic origin. I will not, continues our author, attempt to conceal, that this greater degree of population of the western parts of America was used as an argument to prove the derivation of the Americans from Asia, almost two hundred years ago."
Contrary to the sentiments of the Abbé Clavigero, and some other writers of talents and distinction, our author is of opinion, that the aborigines of North and those of South America, are descendents of the same original stock. He derives them alike from the nations that inhabit the north of Asia. This position he endeavours to maintain partly from traditions now prevalent among some of the people of South America, setting forth, that their forefathers had emigrated from regions far to the nortb; and partly from an affinity which he conceives he has discovered between the languages of the aboriginal tribes and nations inhabiting the two grand divisions of our continent.
We are now prepared for an examination of what constitutes the leading feature of our author's essay—his attempt to prove the existence of a radical affinity between the American and certain Asiatic languages.
The professor's scheme in relation to this subject, as far as it extends, is certainly judicious and well directed. It is perhaps, as happily calculated to conduct him to a successful issue (if, indeed, such an issue in an inquiry so arduous be at all attainable) as any thing the wisdom of man could deyise.
He selects a certain number of objects, ideas, and relations, which must, under some denomination or mode of expression, find a place in the language of every people. The artificial representations of these may be regarded as constituting, in parl, the basis of all communication whether oral or written. By an examination of vocabularies of anumber of the languages of America, he ascertains the names or terms by which these objects,