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, and all the numerous articles requisite for their equipment, but the provisions for victualling them, were to be carried through the immense deserts of Siberia, along rivers of difficult navigation, and roads almost impassable, the mandate of the sovereign, and the perseverance of the people, at last surmounted every obstacle. Two vessels were finished; and, under the command of the captains Behring and Tschirikow, failed from Kamtschatka in quest of the New World, in a quarter where it had never been approached. They shaped their course towards
the east; and though a storm soon separated the vessels, which never rejoined, and many difafters befel them, the expectations from the voyage were not altogether frustrated. Each of the commanders discovered
land, which to them appeared to be part of the American continent; ..and, according to their observations, it seems to be situated within a few degrees of the north-west coast of California. Each fent some of his people ashore : but in one place the inhabitants filed as the · Russians approached; in another, they carried off those who landed, and deftroyed their boats. The violence of the weather, and the distress of their crews, obliged both to quit this inhospitable coaft. In their return they touched at several islands, which stretch in a chain from east to west between the country which they had discovered and the coast of Asia. They had some intercourse with the natives, who seemed to them to resemble the North Americans. They presented to the Russians the calumet, or pipe of peace, which is a symbol of friendship universal among the people of North America, and an usage of arbitrary institution peculiar to them.”
The more recent and accurate discoveries of the illustrious navigator Cooke, and his successor Clerke, have brought the matter still nearer to certainty. The sea, from the south of Behring's Straits to the crescent of isles between Asia and America, is very shallow. It deepens from these ftraits (as the British feas do from those of Dover) till foundings are lost in the Pacific Ocean; but that does not take place but to the south of the isles. Between them and the straits 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 separation of the continents at the Straits of Behring, but that the whole space from the illes 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 most remote times, subyerted 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 observes, that our planet has been subject to great vicissitudes fince the deluge. Ancient and modern histories confirm the truth which Ovid has sung in the name of Pythagoras :
Video ego quod fuerat quondam solidifsima tellus,
Ele fretum; vidi factas ex aquore terras. At present they plough those lands over which ships formerly failed, and now they sail over lands which were formerly cultivated; earthquakes have swallowed some lands, and subterraneous fires have thrown up others: the rivers have formed new soil with their mud; the fea retreating from the shores has lengthened the land in some places, and ad. vancing in others has diminished it; it has separated some 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, say the same 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 similar irruption of the fea separated their island from the peninsula of India. The same thing is believed by those of Malabar with respect 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 lost 30 or 40 leagues, which the sea 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 deposited 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 dissertation 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 observed with philofophic eyes the peninsula of Yucatan, do not doubt that that country has once e been the bed of the sea; and, on the contrary, in the channel of Bahama many indications shew the island of Cuba to have been once united to the continent of Florida. In the ftrait which separates America from Asia many islands are found, which probably
were the mountains belonging to that tract of land which we suppose to have been swallowed up by earthquakes; which is made more probable by the multitude of volcanoes which we know of in the peninsula of Kamtschatka. It is imagined, however, that the finking of that land, and the separation of the two continents, has been occasioned by thofe great and extraordinary earthquakes mentioned in the histories of the Americans, which formed an era almost as memorable as that of the deluge. The histories 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 conje&ture of the time that great calamity happened. If a great earthquake should overwhelm the isthmus of Suez, and there should be at the same time as great a scarcity of historians as there were in the first ages after the deluge, it would be doubted, in 300 or 400 years after, whether Asia had ever been united by that part to Africa; and many would firmly deny it.
Whether that great event, the separation of the continents, took place before or after the population of America, is as impossible as it is of little moment for us to know; but we are indebted to the above-mentioned navigators for settling the long dispute about the point from which it was effected. Their observations prove, that in one place the distance between continent and continent is only 39 miles, not (as the author of the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains would have it) 800 leagues. This narrow strait has also in the middle two islands, which would greatly facilitate the migration of the Asiatics into the New World, fuppofing that it took place in canoes after the convulsion which rent the two continents asunder. Besides, it may be added, that these straits are, even in the summer, often filled with ice; in winter, often frozen. In either case mankind might find an easy passage ; in the last, the way was extremely ready for quadrupeds to cross and stock the continent of America. But where, from the vast expanse of the north-eastern world, to fix on the first tribes who contributed to people the New Continent, now inhabited almost from end to end, is a matter that baffles human reason. The learned may make bold and ingenious conjectures, but plain good sense cannot always accede to them.
As mankind increased in numbers, they naturally protruded one another forward. Wars might be another cause of migrations. There appears no reason why the Asiatic norih might not be an officinia virorili, as well as the European. The overteeming country, to the east of the Riphæan mountains, must find it necessary 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: successive and new impulses con
tinually arriving, Mort rest was given to that which spread over a more eastern tract; disturbed again and again, it covered fresh regions ; at length, reaching the farthest limits of the Old World, found a new one, with ample space to occupy unmolefted for ages ; till Columbus cursed them by a discovery, which brought again new sins and new deaths to both worlds.
“ The inhabitants of the New World (Mr. Pennant obserres), do not consist of the offspring of a single nation ; different people, at several periods, arrived there; and it is impossible to say, that any one is now to be found on the original spot of its colonization. It is imposible, 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 customs or dresses common to the inhabitants of both worlds : some have been long extinct in the Old, others remain in both in full force.
“ The custom of scalping was a barbarism in use 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 horse, and fitting on a human skin, with scalps pendent from the breast, fully illustrates the custom of the Scythian progenitors, as described by the Greek historian. This usage, as the Europeans know by horrid experience, is continued to this day in America. The ferocity of the Scythians to their prisoners extended to the remoteft part of Asia. The Kamtschatkans, even at the time of their discovery by the Russians, put their prisoners to death by the most lingering and excruciating inventions; a practice in full force to this very day among the aboriginal Americans. A race of the Scythians were ftiled Anthropopbagi, from their feeding on human flesh. The people of Nootka Sound still make a repast on their fellow creatures : but what is more wonderful, the savage allies of the British army have been known to throw the mangled limbs of the French prisoners into the horrible cauldron, and devour them with the same relish as those of a quadruped.
“ The Scythians were said, for a certain time, annually to transform themselves into wolves, and again to resume the human shape. The new discovered Americans about Nootka Sound, at this time disguise themselves in dresses made of the skins of wolves and other wild beasts, and wear even the heads fitted to their own. These habits they use in the chace, to circumvent the animals of the field. But would not igno
rance or superstition ascribe to a supernatural metamorposis these tempo. rary expedients to deceive the brate creation ?
“ In their marches, the Kamtschatkans never went abreast, but followed one another in the fame tract. The same custom is exactly observed by the Americans,
“ The Tungufi, the most numerous nation resident in Siberia, prick their faces with small punctures, with a needle, in various shapes; then sub into them charcoal, so that the marks become indelible. This cuftom is still observed in several parts of America. The Indians on the back of Hudson'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 present, 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 Tungusi use canoes made of birch-bark, distended over ribs of wood, and nicely fewed together. The Canadian, and many other American nations, use no other sort of boats. The paddles of the Tungusi are broad at each end; those of the people near Cook's river, and of Oonalascha, are of the fame form.
“ In burying of the dead, many of the American nations place the corpse at full length, after preparing it according to their customs; others place it in a sitting posture, and lay by it the most valuable cloathing, wampum, and other matters. The Tartars did the same : and both people agree in covering the whole with earth, so as to form a tumulus, barrow, or carnedd.
“Some of the American nations hang their dead in trees. Certain of the Tungusi observe a similar custom. .
“We can draw some analogy from dress: conveniency in that article must have been consulted on both continents, and originally the materials must have been the fame, the skins of birds and beaits. It is fingular, that the conic bonnet of the Chinese should be found
among 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 those Americans with a pattern for that part of the dress.
“ In respect to the features and form of the human body, almoft every tribe found along the western coast has some fimilitude to the Tartar nations, and still retain the little eyes, small nofes, high cheeks, and broad faces. They vary in fize, from the lusty Calmues to the little Nogaians. The internal Americans, such as the Five Indian nations, who are tall of body, robuit in make, and of oblong faces, are derived