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Veddahs and Mincopies.
flowers, blossoms in every stage of development, opening and closed buds, shoots with swelling nodes, and, finally, new eyes nestling in the axils of the leaves. If he carefully traces the gradual transitions, the history of the plant's life lies unfolded before him. Past, present, and future do not here follow one another, but exist side by side. Looking only to the sequences of the various stages, it may be asserted, paradoxical as it sounds, that the fruit is younger than the rose, the rose younger than the bud; for the fruit followed the blossom, and the flowers were preceded by the swelling of the bud, as yet hardly distinguishable from the leaves, just as in a morphological sense it may be said that the boy is an older phenomenon than the aged man. Nor must we expect to find nations still in a budding condition, although it is possible to pronounce in which race of mankind the oldest or, rather, the most primitive condition may still be observed. The lowest grades of civilization have hitherto been usually sought among the Hottentots and Bushmen of Southern Africa, among the Veddahs of Ceylon, the Mincopies of the Andamans, the Australians and the kindred Tasmanians, and, finally, among the Eskimo, the Fuegians, and the Botocudos of Brazil. With the exception of the last, we find all the people enumerated either at the extreme margin of continents, and mainly on their southern extremities, or on remote islands or island continents; it is doubtful whether, as feeble tribes, they have been driven to the outskirts of continents, or whether, having prematurely separated themselves from other races of mankind, they could no longer be reached by the increasing blessings of civilization, or perhaps, owing to the diminution of their own numbers, were unable even to preserve those advantages of culture which they had formerly acquired. But it is only the misapprehension of the unlearned that could rank nations of such high intellectual powers as the Hottentots and Eskimo with these still primitive people. Whether the Australians and Tasmanians rank among the lowest human beings will be sufficiently shown in a later chapter devoted to these people. But the other nations previously mentioned have risen considerably in our estimation on nearer acquaintance.
The Bushmen, or San, have hitherto been regarded as the link
connecting monkeys with men. And I willingly admit that, in 1852, I saw Bushmen in London whose animal appearance might well have cured any one of the beautiful delusion that all men were made in the image of God. But Livingstone soon. afterwards warned his countrymen not to believe that the piteous objects exhibited were genuine types of an African race, since ugly individuals were alone selected and brought to Europe to gratify curiosity.42 It is only in the desert of Kalahari that the race of Bushmen has degenerated to a dwarfish size. Livingstone and Chapman 43 describe some of those further north, near Lake Ngami, as well-grown and handsome men. Their demeanour and appearance exhibit the self-respect characteristic of all races living in unrestricted liberty.44 Although naked, the strictest modesty prevails among them, and the delicacy with which they woo a maiden, as well as the circumstance that their marriages are made only from affection, places them high above many other nations. Chapman relates with emotion his surprise, when out of gratitude for his having given them a share of his game, some Bushmen presented him one morning with a cup of water, the most costly gift in those thirsty regions.45 It is also noteworthy that these lowly people find pleasure in artistic experiments. With great firmness of hand they have painted the cliffs from the Cape to beyond the Orange River with figures of men and animals in red, brown, white, and black colours, or etched them in light tints on a dark ground; the copies which we possess justify the assertion that the outlines appear more true to nature than those of many of the Egyptian monuments.46 Lichtenstein contends that Bushmen have a conception of a supreme Being,47 but later travellers suppose them to believe in a male and female deity,48 and they certainly maintain priests or sorcerers.49 As
42 Missionary Journeys in Southern Africa, vol. i. p. 64.
43 Travels into the Interior of South Africa. 1868.
44 G. Fritsch, Drei Jahre in Südafrika.
45 Chapman, Travels into the Interior of South Africa.
46 G. Fritsch, Die Eingebornen Südafrika's.
47 Reisen im südlichen Afrika.
48 Waitz, Anthropologie, vol. ii. p. 346.
49 Fritsch, Eingeborne.
Veddahs and Mincopies.
is proverbial among them that death is merely a sleep, it is almost a matter of course that they pray to the deceased as Livingstone ascertained. Intemperance and dirt are the only vices laid to
Another primitive people is to be found in the gloomy forests of Ceylon. There dwell the Veddahs, now said to be reduced to 8000 heads, a nearly naked hunting tribe, whose language is supposed to be Cingalese uncontaminated by Sanskrit or Pali. Their skulls are narrow (index of breadth 66 to 78) but always of considerable height, tolerably mesognathous, and with the cheekbones but little prominent.50 They traffic with their neighbours in dumb show, exchanging ivory and wax for implements and utensils such as were used in the iron age. They do not reject the most disgusting food, such as putrid meat, but on the other hand bind themselves by dietary laws, never touching victuals prepared by a Kandyan from fear of losing caste, for strangely enough they claim a higher rank for their race, and their claim is admitted by their neighbours. When they are described as worshippers of the devil, this implies that they endeavour to appease the powers of evil by their worship. Their hunting grounds are distributed among the families and are regarded strictly as property.5 In the midst of polygamous nations, the Veddahs are remarkable for marrying only one wife, and among them it is considered that death alone can part man and wife.52
As of the Veddahs so of the Mincopies, the inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, we possess but scanty information, although for nearly twenty years past the English have been in the habit of transporting their Indian criminals to this archipelago. As there is no lack of four-footed game on these islands, hunting is a common means of procuring food among the aborigines, who are dreaded by their enemies as good marksmen.53 They make nets admirably adapted for catching fish,54 and are yet more famous for the graceful lines of their canoes, which are made
50 Barnard Davis, Thesaurus Craniorum, p. 132.
51 Sir Emerson Tennent, Ceylon, vol. ii. pp. 439-451.
52 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 51. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, p. 344. 58 Frederic Mouat, Andaman Islanders, p. 321. 1863. 54 Ibid. p. 326.
* Sen L' Anthemspe, ii. 247; 297–337,
of trunks of trees scooped out until the sides are no thicker than those of a wooden band-box.55 They venture far out to sea in these canoes to spear fish by torchlight. As their language has not yet been thoroughly investigated, it would be quite premature to deny that they have any religious feelings. Their mutual intercourse is courteous and genial, and the affection between parents and children is peculiarly tender. They have been classed among the inferior races on account of their nudity, and probably also because they have always offered armed opposition to any attempts to land upon their shores.
The inhabitants of the Straits of Magellan, a region of constant damp and comparative cold, have always been described as the scarecrows of mankind. The people ethnographically most nearly allied to them are the Araucanians; we must regard them as a physically feeble tribe which could only find refuge from more powerful oppressors in the inhospitable district of Terra del Fuego. Two inventions, which are peculiar to these people, prove that, although the lowest of mankind, they are not destitute of all intelligence. As will be shown when we speak of the nautical skill of shore-dwelling populations, the Fuegians are the only South Americans who undertake voyages in hollow trunks of trees, from Ecuador to Cape Horn, and from Cape Horn to far beyond La Plata. They constantly keep a fire in these canoes, to which circumstance they and their country owe the name given to them by Europeans. In air so highly saturated with moisture, it is very difficult to set fire to wood. The fire-drill would most likely be useless, and therefore the inhabitants of the Islands of Magellan are among the few races of mankind who strike sparks from iron pyrites and catch them on tinder.56 In breeding their sporting dogs they pay attention to the rules of cross-breeding. 57 Sad to say, they kill the old women rather than the dogs in periods
55 Frederick Mouat, Andaman Islanders, p. 316.
56 W. Parker Snow, Off Tierra del Fuego, vol. ii. p. 360. 1857. Perhaps, however, they may have borrowed this invention from the Patagonians, who use flint and steel like Europeans. Musters in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. i.
57 Darwin, Variations of Plants and Animals under Domestication, vol. ii. p. 207.
Fuegians and Botocudos.
of famine, alleging that the dogs catch sea-otters, and that the old women do not. 58 Charles Darwin also says, "I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Fuegians on board the Beagle, with the many little traits of character showing how similar their minds are to ours." 59 Fitzroy ascribes to them a belief in a just deity, who sends adversity as a punishment for delinquencies.60
Perhaps the Brazilian Botocudos, of all the inhabitants of the world, are most nearly in the primitive state. Although they do not live at the southern extremity of a continent, their native country is inhospitable, and was the last of the coast districts of Brazil to be colonized by Europeans. The Botocudos live in complete nudity and disfigure themselves by inserting wooden. plugs in their lips and cheeks, from which habit they have received their name, which is derived from the Portuguese botoque (stopper); they call themselves Engkeräkmung. They gain their livelihood by the arrow, and with a forethought rare in other tribes, wrap a cord round their left hands as a protection against the recoil of the string. They live in the age of the polished but unpierced stone implements, build huts, sleep on matting, cook in earthenware vessels, and are said to worship the moon as the author of creation. The use of their hunting-grounds is permitted only to the proprietors, and poaching is avenged in single combats not unlike duels.62 To provide communication in their territory, suspension bridges are constructed with the stems of climbing plants (çipo).63 Let us add that their language possesses an expression for blushing,64 and that they enliven their feasts with songs, which are however rude and deficient in imagination. In the second half of the seventeenth century the Engkeräkmung were still so powerful that they were able to destroy three landing-places, totally expelling the Portuguese from the province of Porto Seguro, a deed which they could never have accomplished had there not been some national feeling binding all the various tribes together. But their greatest achievement has yet to be related; the Nakenuk,
58 Darwin, Journal of Researches.
59 Descent of Man, vol. i. p. 232.
60 W. P. Snow.
61 Prince of Vied, Reise nach Brasilien.