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could be more clear-Arius Montanus, without the least hesita. tion, asserts that Mexico was the true Ophir, and the Jews the early settlers of the country. While Possevin, Becan, and several other sagacious writers, lug in a supposed prophecy of the fourth book of Esdras, which being inserted in the mighty hypothesis, like the keystone of an arch, gives it, in their opinion, perpetual durability.
Scarce, however, have they completed their goodly superstructure, than in trudges a phalanx of opposite authors, with Hans de Laet, the great Dutchman, at their head, and. at one blow tumbles the whole fabric about their ears. Hans, in fact, contradicts outright all the Israelitish claims to the first settlement of this country, attributing all those equivocal symptoms, and traces of Christianity and Judaism, which have been said to be found in divers provinces of the new world, to the Devil, who has always affected to counterfeit the worship of the true Deity. “A remark,” says the knowing old Padre d’Acosta, “made by all good authors who have spoken of the religion of nations newly discovered, and founded besides on the authority of the fathers of the church.”
Some writers again, among whom it is with much regret I am compelled to mention Lopez de Gomara, and Juan de Leri, insinuate that the Canaanites, being driven from the land of promise by the Jews, were seized with such a panic that they filed without looking behind them, until stopping to take breath, they found themselves safe in America. As they brought neither their national language, manners, nor features with them, it is supposed they left them behind in the hurry of their flightm I cannot give my faith to this opinion.
I I pass over the supposition of the learned Grotius, who being both an ambassador and a Dutchman to boot, is entitled to great respect; that North America was peopled by a strolling company of Norwegians, and that Peru was founded by a colony from China-Manco or Mango Capac, the first Incas, being himself a Chinese. Nor shall I more than barely mention, that father Kircher ascribes the settlement of America to the Egyptians, . Rudbeck to the Scandinavians, Charron to the Gauls, Juffredus Petri to a skating party from Friesland, Milins to the Celtæ, Marinocus the Sicilian to the Romans, Le Compte to the Phoenicians, Postel to the Moors, Martyn d'Angleria to the Abyssinians, together with the sage surmise of De Laet, that England, Ire and, and the Orcades may contend for that honor.
Nor will I bestow any more attention or credit to the idea that America is the fairy region of Zipangri, described by that dreaming traveler, Marco Polo, the Venetian ; or that it comprises the visionary island of Atlantis, described by Plato. Neither will I stop to investigate the heathenish assertion of Paracelsus, that each hemisphere of the globe was originally furnished with an Adam and Eve. Or the more flattering opinion of Dr. Romayne, supported by many nameless authorities, that Adam was of the Indian race- or the startling conjecture of Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin, so highly honorable to mankind, that the whole human species is accidentally descended from a remarkable family of monkeys !
This last conjecture, I must own, came upon me very suddenly and very ungraciously. I have often beheld the clown in a pantomime, while gazing in stupid wonder at the extravagant gambols of a harlequin, all at once electrified by a sudden stroke of the wooden sword across his shoulders. Little did I think at auch times, that it would ever fall to my lot to be treated with
equal discourtesy, and that while I was quietly beholding these grave philosophers, emulating the eccentric transformations of the hero of pantomime, they would on a sudden turn upon me and my readers, and with one hypothetical flourish metamorphose us into beasts! I determined from that moment not to burn my fingers with any more of their theories, but content myself with detailing the different methods by which they transported the descendants of these ancient and respectable monkeys to this great field of theoretical warfare.
This was done either by migrations by land or transmigrations by water. Thus Padre Joseph D'Acosta enumerates three passages by land—first by the north of Europe, secondly by the north of Asia, and thirdly by regions southward of the Straits of Magellan. The learned Grotius marches his Norwegians by a pleasant route across frozen rivers and arms of the sea, through Iceland, Greenland, Estotiland and Naremberga : and various writers, among whom are Angleria, De Hornn, and Buffon, anxious for the accommodation of these travelers, have fastened the two continents together by a strong chain of deductions—by which means they could pass over dry-shod.
But should even this fail, Pinkerton, that industrious old gentleman, who compiles books, and manufactures Geographies, has constructed a natural bridge of ice, from continent to continent, at the distance of four or five miles from Behring's Straits—for which he is entitled to the grateful thanks of all the wandering aborigines who ever did or ever will pass over it.
It is an evil much to be lamented, that none of the worthy writers above quoted could ever commence his work, without immediately declaring hostilities against every writer who had treated of the same subject. In this particular, authors
compared to a certain sagacious bird, which in building its nest, is sure to pull to pieces the nests of all the birds in its neighborhood. This unhappy propensity tends grievously to impede the progress of sound knowledge. Theories are at best but brittle productions, and when once committed to the stream, they should take care that like the notable pots which were fellow-voyagers, they do not crack each other.
My chief surprise is, that among the many writers I have noticed, no one has attempted to prove that this country was peopled from the moon—or that the first inhabitants floated hither on islands of ice, as white bears cruise about the northern oceans -or that they were conveyed hither by balloons, as modern aeronauts pass from Dover to Calais—or by witchcraft, as Simon Magus posted among the stars—or after the manner of the renowned Scythian Abaris, who, like the New England witches or full-blooded broomsticks, made most unheard of journeys on the back of a golden arrow, given him by the Hyperborean Apollo.
But there is still one mode left by which this country could have been peopled, which I have reserved for the last, because I consider it worth all the rest: it is—by accident! Speaking of the islands of Solomon, New Guinea, and New Holland, the profound father Charlevoix observes, “in fine, all these countries are peopled, and it is possible some have been so by accident. Now if it could have happened in that manner, why might it not have been at the same time, and by the same means, with the other parts of the globe ?” This ingenious mode of deducing certain conclusions from possible premises, is an improvement in syllogistic skill, and proves the good father superior even to Archimedes, for he can turn the world without any thing to rest his lever upon. It is only surpassed by the dexterity with which the sturdy old Jesuit, in another place, cuts the gordian knot—"Nothing," says he, “is more easy. The inhabitants of both hemispheres are certainly the descendants of the same father. The common father of mankind received an express order from Heaven to people the world, and accordingly it has been peopled. To bring this about, it was necessary to overcome all difficulties in the
and they have also been overcome.!” Pious logician! How does he put all the herd of laborious theorists to the blush, by explaining, in five words, what it has cost them volumes to prove they knew nothing about!
From all the authorities here quoted, and a variety of others which I have consulted, but which are omitted through fear of fatiguing the unlearned reader, I can only draw the following conclusions, which luckily, however, are sufficient for my purpose. First, that this part of the world has actually been peopled, (Q. E. D.) to support which we have living proofs in the numerous tribes of Indians that inhabit it. Secondly, that it has been peopled in five hundred different ways, as proved by a cloud of authors who, from the positiveness of their assertions, seem to have been eye-witnesses to the fact. Thirdly, that the people of this country had a variety of fathers, which, as it may not be thought much to their credit by the common run of readers, the less we say on the subject the better. The question, therefore, I trust is for ever at rest.