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Origin and Progrefs of American Nations.

HAving no authentic materials for a natural history of all the Americans, the following obfervations are confined to a few tribes, the best known; and to the kingdoms of Peru and Mexico, as they were at the date of the Spanish conquest.

As there has not been difcovered any paffage by land to America from the old world, no problem has more embarrassed the learned, than to account for the origin of American nations: there are as many different opinions as there are writers. Many attempts have been made for difcovering a paffage by land; but hitherto in vain. Kamfkatka, it is true, is divided from America by a narrow ftrait, full of iflands and M. Buffon, to render the paffage still more eafy than by these iflands, conjectures, that thereabout there may formerly have been a land-paffage, fwallowed up in later times by the ocean.


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There is indeed great appearance of truth in this conjecture; as all the quadrupeds of the north of Afia seem to have made their way to America; the bear, for example, the roe, the deer, the rain-deer, the beaver, the wolf, the fox, the hare, the rat, the mole. He admits, that in America there is not to be feen a lion, a tiger, a panther, or any other Afiatic quadruped of a hot climate: not, fays he, for want of a land-paffage; but because the cold climate of Tartary, in which such animals cannot fubfift, is an effectual bar against them *.

But to give fatisfaction upon this fubject, more is required than a paffage from Kamskatka to America, whether by land or fea. An inquiry much more decifive is totally overlooked, relative to the people on the two fides of the ftrait; particularly, whether they have the fame language.

* Our author, with fingular candor, admits it as a strong objection to his theory, that there are no rain-deer in Afia. But it is doing no more but juftice to fo fair a reafoner, to obferve, that according to the latest accounts, there are plenty of raindeer in the country of Kamfkatka, which of all is the nearest to America.

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Now by late accounts from Ruffia we are informed, that there is no affinity between the Kamskatkan tongue, and that of the Americans on the oppofite fide of the strait, Whence we may affuredly conclude, that the latter are not a colony of the former.

But further. There are feveral cogent arguments to evince, that the Americans are not defcended from any people in the north of Afia or in the north of Europe. Were they defcended from either, Labrador, or the adjacent countries, must have been first peopled. And as favages are remarkably fond of their natal foil, they would have continued there, till compelled by over-population to fpread wider for food. But the fact is directly contrary. When America was difcovered by the Spaniards, Mexico and Peru were fully peopled; and the other parts lefs and lefs, in proportion to their distance from thefe central countries. Fabry reports, that one may travel one or two hundred leagues north-west from the Miffifippi, without feeing a human face, or any veftige of a house. And fome French officers fay, that they travelled more than a hundred leagues from the delicious country


watered by the Ohio, through Louisiana, without meeting a fingle family of favages. The civilization of the Mexicans and Peruvians, as well as their populousness, make it extremely probable that they were the first inhabitants of America. In travelling northward, the people are more and more ignorant and favage: the Ef quimaux, the most northern of all, are the most favage. In travelling fouthward, the Patagonians, the most fouthern of all, are fo ftupid as to go naked in a bitter cold region.

I venture ftill farther; which is, to indulge a conjecture, that America has not been peopled from any part of the old world. The external appearance of the inhabitants, makes this conjecture approach to a certainty; as they are widely different in appearance from other known people. Excepting the eye-lashes, eyebrows, and hair of the head, which is invariably jet black, there is not a single hair on the body of any American: no appearance of a beard *. Another distin



Some authors I am aware affert that the Americans would have beards like other people; but

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guishing mark is their copper colour, uniformly the fame in all climates, hot and cold; and differing from the colour of every other nation. Ulloa remarks, that the Americans of Cape Breton, resemble the Peruvians, in complexion, in manners, and in customs; the only visible difference being, that the former are of a larger stature. A third circumftance no less distinguishing is, that American children are born with down upon the skin, which disappears the eighth or ninth day, and never grows again. Children of the old world are born with skins smooth and polished, and no down appears till puberty.

The Efquimaux are a different race from the reft of the Americans, if we can have any reliance on the most striking characteristical marks. Of all the northern nations, not excepting the Laplanders, they are of the smallest fize, few of them exceeding four feet in height. They have a

that the men are at great pains to pluck them out, efteeming them unbecoming. But why are they efteemed unbecoming? Plainly from the grotesque figure that fome men make by having a few downy hairs here and there appearing on the chin. Thefe look as unfeemly among them as a beard upon a woman among us.


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