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fails, and all the numerous articles requifite for their equipment, but the provifions for victualling them, were to be carried through the immenfe deferts of Siberia, along rivers of difficult navigation, and roads almost impaffable, the mandate of the fovereign, and the perfeverance of the people, at last furmounted every obftacle. Two veffels were finished; and, under the command of the captains Behring and Tfchirikow, failed from Kamtfchatka in queft of the New World, in a quarter where it had never been approached. They fhaped their courfe towards the eaft; and though a storm soon separated the vessels, which never rejoined, and many difafters befel them, the expectations from the voyage were not altogether fruftrated. Each of the commanders difcovered land, which to them appeared to be part of the American continent; and, according to their obfervations, it feems to be fituated within a few degrees of the north-west coast of California. Each fent fome of his people afhore: but in one place the inhabitants fled as the Ruffians approached; in another, they carried off thofe who landed, and deftroyed their boats. The violence of the weather, and the diftrefs of their crews, obliged both to quit this inhofpitable coaft. In their return they touched at feveral islands, which ftretch in a chain from east to weft between the country which they had difcovered and the coast of Afia. They had fome intercourfe with the natives, who seemed to them to refemble the North Americans. They prefented to the Ruffians the calumet, or pipe of peace, which is a fymbol of friendship univerfal among the people of North America, and an usage of arbitrary inftitution peculiar to them."
The more recent and accurate difcoveries of the illuftrious navigator Cooke, and his fucceffor Clerke, have brought the matter ftill nearer to certainty. The fea, from the fouth of Behring's Straits to the crefcent of ifles between Afia and America, is very fhallow. It deepens from
thefe ftraits (as the British feas do from thofe of Dover) till foundings are loft in the Pacific Ocean; but that does not take place but to the fouth of the ifles. Between them and the ftraits is an increase from 12 to 54 fathom, except only off St. Thaddeus Nofs, where there is a channel of greater depth. From the volcanic difpofition, it has been judged probable, not only that there was a feparation of the continents at the Straits of Behring, but that the whole space from the isles to that small opening had once been occupied by land; and that the fury of the watery element, actuated by that of fire, had in moft remote times, fubverted and overwhelmed the tract, and left the islands monumental fragments.
Without adopting all the fancies of Buffon, there can be no doubt, as
the Abbé Clavigero obferves, that our planet has been subject to great viciffitudes fince the deluge. Ancient and modern hiftories confirm the truth which Ovid has fung in the name of Pythagoras:
Video ego quod fuerat quondam folidiffima tellus,
At prefent they plough thofe lands over which ships formerly failed, and now they fail over lands which were formerly cultivated; earthquakes have fwallowed fome lands, and fubterraneous fires have thrown up others: the rivers have formed new foil with their mud; the sea retreating from the fhores has lengthened the land in fome places, and advancing in others has diminished it; it has feparated fome territories which were formerly united, and formed new straits and gulphs. We have examples of all these revolutions in the past century. Sicily was united to the continent of Naples, as Eubea, now the Black Sea, to Bætia. Diodorus, Strabo, and other ancient authors, fay the fame thing of Spain and Africa, and affirm, that by a violent eruption of the ocean upon the land between the mountains Abyla and Calpe, that communication was broken, and the Mediterranean Sea was formed. Among the people of Ceylon there is a tradition that a fimilar irruption of the fea separated their ifland from the peninfula of India. The fame thing is believed by thofe of Malabar with refpect to the isles of Maldivia, and with the Malayans with respect to Sumatra. It is certain, says the Count de Buffon, that in Ceylon the earth has loft 30 or 40 leagues, which the fea has taken from it; on the contrary, Tongres, a place of the low countries, has gained 30 leagues of land from the sea. The northern part of Egypt owes its existence to inundations of the Nile. The earth which this river has brought from the inland countries of Africa, and depofited in its inundations, has formed a foil of more than 25 cubits of depth. In like manner, adds the above author, the province of the Yellow River in China, and that of Louisiana, have only been formed of the mud of rivers. Pliny, Seneca, Diodorus, and Strabo, report innumerable examples of fimilar revolutions, which we omit, that our differtation may not become too prolix; as also many modern revolutions, which are related in the theory of the earth of the Count de Buffon and other authors. In South America, all those who have obferved with philofophic eyes the peninfula of Yucatan, do not doubt that that country has once been the bed of the fea; and, on the contrary, in the channel of Bahama many indications fhew the island of Cuba to have been once united to the continent of Florida. In the ftrait which feparates America from Afia many iflands are found,
were the mountains belonging to that tract of land which we fuppofe to have been fwallowed up by earthquakes; which is made more probable by the multitude of volcanoes which we know of in the peninfula of Kamtfchatka. It is imagined, however, that the finking of that land, and the feparation of the two continents, has been occafioned by thofe great and extraordinary earthquakes mentioned in the hiftories of the Americans, which formed an era almoft as memorable as that of the deluge. The hiftories of the Toltecas fix fuch earthquakes in the year I Tecpatl; but as we know not to what century that belonged, we can form no conjecture of the time that great calamity happened. If a great earthquake fhould overwhelm the isthmus of Suez, and there should be at the fame time as great a fcarcity of hiftorians as there were in the first ages after the deluge, it would be doubted, in 300 or 400 years after, whether Afia had ever been united by that part to Africa; and many would firmly deny it.
Whether that great event, the feparation of the continents, took place before or after the population of America, is as impoffible as it is of little moment for us to know; but we are indebted to the above-mentioned navigators for fettling the long difpute about the point from which it was effected. Their obfervations prove, that in one place the distance between continent and continent is only 39 miles, not (as the author of the Recherches Philofophiques fur les Americains would have it) 800 leagues. This narrow ftrait has alfo in the middle two islands, which would greatly facilitate the migration of the Afiatics into the New World, fuppofing that it took place in canoes after the convulfion which rent the two continents afunder. Befides, it may be added, that thefe ftraits are, even in the fummer, often filled with ice; in winter, often frozen. In either cafe mankind might find an easy paffage; in the laft, the way was extremely ready for quadrupeds to cross and stock the continent of America. But where, from the vast expanfe of the north-eaftern world, to fix on the first tribes who contributed to people the New Continent, now inhabited almoft from end to end, is a matter that baffles human reafon. The learned may make bold and ingenious conjectures, but plain good fenfe cannot always accede to them.
As mankind increafed in numbers, they naturally protruded one another forward. Wars might be another cause of migrations. There appears no reason why the Afiatic north might not be an officinia virorum, as well as the European. The overteeming country, to the eaft of the Riphoan mountains, muft find it neceffary to discharge its inhabitants: the first great wave of people was forced forward by the next to it, more tumid and more powerful than itself: fucceffive and new impulfes con
tinually arriving, fhort reft was given to that which spread over a more eastern tract; difturbed again and again, it covered fresh regions; at length, reaching the fartheft limits of the Old World, found a new one, with ample space to occupy unmolefted for ages; till Columbus curfed them by a discovery, which brought again new fins and new deaths to both worlds.
"The inhabitants of the New World (Mr. Pennant obferves), do not confift of the offspring of a fingle nation; different people, at several periods, arrived there; and it is impoffible to fay, that any one is now to be found on the original fpot of its colonization. It is impoffible, with the lights which we have fo recently received, to admit that America could receive its inhabitants (at least the bulk of them) from any other place than eastern Afia. A few proofs may be added, taken from cuftoms or dreffes common to the inhabitants of both worlds: fome have been long extinct in the Old, others remain in both in full force.
"The custom of scalping was a barbarism in ufe with the Scythians, who carried about them at all times this favage mark of triumph: they cut a circle round the neck, and stripped off the skin, as they would that of an ox. A little image found among the Calmucs, of a Tartarian deity, mounted on a horfe, and fitting on a human fkin, with fcalps pendent from the breaft, fully illuftrates the custom of the Scythian progenitors, as described by the Greek hiftorian. This ufage, as the Europeans know by horrid experience, is continued to this day in America. The ferocity of the Scythians to their prifoners extended to the remotest part of Afia. The Kamtschatkans, even at the time of their discovery by the Ruffians, put their prifoners to death by the moft lingering and excruciating inventions; a practice in full force to this very day among the aboriginal Americans. A race of the Scythians were stiled Anthropophagi, from their feeding on human flesh. The people of Nootka Sound ftill make a repast on their fellow creatures: but what is more wonderful, the favage allies of the British army have been known to throw the mangled limbs of the French prifoners into the horrible cauldron, and devour them with the fame relish as thofe of a quadruped.
"The Scythians were faid, for a certain time, annually to transform themselves into wolves, and again to resume the human fhape. The new discovered Americans about Nootka Sound, at this time difguife themselves in dreffes made of the skins of wolves and other wild beasts, and wear even the heads fitted to their own. Thefe habits they ufe in the chace, to circumvent the animals of the field.
But would not igno
rance or fuperftition afcribe to a fupernatural metamorpofis these temporary expedients to deceive the brate creation?
“In their marches, the Kamtschatkans never went abreaft, but followed one another in the fame tract. The fame custom is exactly obferved by the Americans.
"The Tungufi, the most numerous nation refident in Siberia, prick their faces with fmall punctures, with a needle, in various fhapes; then rub into them charcoal, fo that the marks become indelible. This cuftom is still obferved in feveral parts of America. The Indians on the back of Hudfon's Bay, to this day, perform the operation exactly in the fame manner, and puncture the skin into various figures; as the natives of New Zealand do at prefent, and as the ancient Britons did with the herb glaftum, or woad; and the Virginians, on the first discovery of that country by the English.
"The Tungufi ufe canoes made of birch-bark, diftended over ribs of wood, and nicely fewed together. The Canadian, and many other American nations, use no other fort of boats. The paddles of the Tungufi are broad at each end; thofe of the people near Cook's river, and of Oonalafcha, are of the fame form.
"In burying of the dead, many of the American nations place the corpfe at full length, after preparing it according to their customs; others place it in a fitting pofture, and lay by it the most valuable cloathing, wampum, and other matters. The Tartars did the fame: and both people agree in covering the whole with earth, fo as to form a tumulus, barrow, or carnedd.
"Some of the American nations hang their dead in trees. the Tungufi obferve a fimilar custom..
"We can draw fome analogy from dress: conveniency in that article muft have been confulted on both continents, and originally the materials muft have been the fame, the skins of birds and beafts. It is fingular, that the conic bonnet of the Chinese fhould be found among the people of Nootka. I cannot give into the notion, that the Chinese contributed to the population of the New World; but we can readily admit, that a fhipwreck might furnish thofe Americans with a pattern for that part of the drefs.
"In refpect to the features and form of the human body, almost every tribe found along the western coaft has fome fimilitude to the Tartar nations, and ftill retain the little eyes, fmall nofes, high cheeks, and broad faces. They vary in fize, from the lufty Calmucs to the little Nogaians. The internal Americans, fuch as the Five Indian nations, who are tall of body, robuft in make, and of oblong faces, are derived from