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THE PEOPLING OF ISLANDS. Having, in former chapters, 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 a, 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, any intercourse subsisted between them by the means of navigation.
That America was peopled from Asia, on the north-west, 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, that hares, elks, roebucks, foxes, wolves, and bears, belong as well to North America as to Northern Asia.
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.
One object of modern inquiry has been to discover a northeast, a north-west, or a Polar passage to Cathay: and while the Russians were making efforts in the North Pacific, the : " Duponceau says, however, that some resemblances do exist between the language of the American Indians and that of the people of Congo.
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
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 a; 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 1,500 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 6.
a 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.
b In respect to the New Zealanders, some have imagined, that they sprang from Assyria or Egypt. “ The god Pan,” says Mr. Kendall to Dr. Waugh,
* Leyden on the Literature of the Indo-Chinese Nations.
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 a. 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 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 exceedingly difficult,-perhaps impossible,—to determined ; but, that the natives of Van Diemen's Land were originally African is evident from their heads being covered with wool; and from
" is universally acknowledged. The overflowings of the Nile, and the fertility of the country, in consequence, are evidently alluded to in their traditions; and I think the Argonautic expedition, Pan's crook, Pan's pipes, and Pan's office in making the earth fertile, are mentioned in their themes. Query :--Are not the Malays and the whole of the South Sea Islanders Egyptians ?" To which we may reply ;-When will the spirit of conjecture rest ?
a Page 60. Ed. 1700. • Humboldt's Voy. to Equinoctial Regions, i. p. 57. Originally in Viera. Hist. Gen. de las Islas Canarias, iii. p. 167.
• Captain Cook found on the island Wateoo three inhabitants of Otaheite, who had been drifted thither in a canoe, although the distance between the two islands is five hundred and fifty miles. In 1696, two canoes, containing thirty persons, who had left Ancorso, were thrown by contrary winds and storms on the island of Samar, one of the Philippines, at a distance of eight hundred miles.-Willis.
d For some curious remarks on the affinity of certain words in the language of the Sandwich and Friendly Islands in the Pacific Ocean, with the Hebrew, see Archæologia, 1787. art. viii. by Dr. Glass.
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.
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 one, killed three goats ; dressed them with leaves of the cabbage-tree ; and brough them down to the shore. The ship anchored, and a Mosquito Indian, who was on board, with other sailors, landed. Running to his brother Indian, he threw himself upon his face at his feet. The islander lifted him up; and then fell at his feet in the same manner. He was afterwards hailed by the crew, when his joy was signified in every action.
Not long after the departure of this Indian, Alexander Selkirk was left, with his own consent, upon the same island, and passed upon it several years. His history is well known. It was he that planted the oats, which Commodore Anson saw growing, some years afterwards. The island rises high out of the water, and has a steep shore, fine woods and savannahs. The soil in the vales consists of a black and fruitful earth ; and there is good water in almost every part. It has been peopled by the Spaniards; and there is a regular garrison
a Selkirk was not wrecked on the island of Juan Fernandez, as most persons suppose ; but, having a great dislike to his captain, he was left there at his own. desire.
and a governor. From this account we learn, that Juan Fernandez was peopled with goats by the discoverer; and first planted with oats by a man, who was unfortunate enough to be cast upon it.
In recurring to the fate of Alexander Selkirk, the imagi. nation naturally reverts to the distress of Philoctetes, on the desert island of Lemnos ; so powerfully painted by Euripides,
As, wearied with the tossing of the waves,
Nothing but wretchedness a. Upon a rock, twenty-nine miles north-west of Nooaheevah, in the South Seas, an American passed three years. With three companions (who died soon after their landing), he had quitted his ship for the purpose of procuring feathers. The rock, upon which they were cast, was barren and desolate ; but he contrived to live upon the flesh and blood of birds, The skulls of his companions were his only drinking vessels. In 1818 the crew of the Queen Charlotte discovered a fire on the rock, made of dried sea-weeds. Knowing the rock to be barren, their curiosity was excited; and the captain sending off a boat, they discovered the forlorn seaman, and took him to Bombay. This man had a few seeds in his pocket; and he planted them; but they refused to propagateb. In the year 1808 or 1809, a sailor, named Jeffery, on
a Potter. b The island of Serrana takes its name from a Spaniard, called Serrano, who in the time of Charles V. was wrecked upon it, and remained several years. He was taken thence, all overgrown with hair, by a Spanish vessel, and carried to Spain. -Adams..