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Labrador, Greenland, and the present States of New England. In Norway the severity of the climate has broken up the coast into islands and fiords. A rugged and disintegrated coast, with a sea as rough and yet as productive as the Northern Ocean, is the best school for seamen. The passage between Norway and the Shetland Islands was made even in Pliny's time: a longer distance than from any island in the Mediterranean to the nearest point of the mainland. As we must regard coasts with fiords and a fringe of islands as an excellent school of navigation, when we again examine the New World we shall find that a coast formation of this description exists there only on the Pacific Ocean, where it extends along the island-fringed shores of British and of what was formerly Russian America, from Vancouver's Island to Behring's Sea, and in the south, from the boundary of Chili to Terra del Fuego.
In the latter region we again see that the achievements of the inhabitants do not invariably correspond with the advantages of the abode, unless the inhabitants themselves are of a disposition to make the best use of the favourable circumstances surrounding them. The southern extremity of America, which is rent and cleft in every direction into islands and ravine-like sounds, where glaciers stretch down to the edge of the sea, while parrots fly about, and even colibri do not dread the snow storms, the home of evergreen fuchsias, of impenetrable forests, must, one would think, be inhabited only by sea-going tribes. As to the descent of the present inhabitants of Terra del Fuego, ethnographers can only repeat the words of d'Orbigny, namely, that their language approximates in sound to that of the Patagonians and Puelchians, but to the Araucanian in structure. We need not inquire whether the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego and the islands of Magellan are derived from the Patagonian or Araucanian nations, especially as the two are closely allied, and some genuine Patagonians are certainly to be found among the Fuegians. The Patagonians are hunters and do not possess even the simplest raft only fit to cross a river. The Araucanians are also hunters, although
Peschel, Neue Probleme.
7 Hist. nat. lib, iv. cap. 30.
8 L'Homme américain.
they inhabit mountains instead of grassy plains. We look in vain for bark canoes on all the great rivers of the pampas or steppes. Formerly the hide of an ox was turned up at the edges and bound together at the corners with thongs so as to resemble a flat open box. Goods were conveyed across rivers in such a pelota, as these leathern rafts were termed. The native of the steppes yoked himself by a thong to the front of the ox-hide, and dragged it after him, swimming from shore to shore. At the time of the discovery of America, no nation, from La Plata to Cape Horn, or from Cape Horn along the west coast of South America to Panama, had conceived the idea of constructing any vessel other than a raft; consequently the manufacture of canoes must have been invented independently on the waters of Magellan, by the Pesherah of Bougainville, or Fuegians, as they are now called. Yet the formation of this coast has always given rise to special customs and skill. At the Chonos Islands rude rafts are alone in use.1o The Fuegians, again, with whom Captain Wilkes had dealings, possessed only canoes of bark stretched upon a frame and sewed together, and which required continued bailing out. Better craft were seen in other parts, and Cordova even praises their mode of caulking, and mentions canoes at Cape Providence which were cut out of the trunks of trees. In looking at these feeble attempts of the Fuegians, we must remember that they were merely beginners in boat-building, for, as Araucanians or Patagonians, they previously lived the life of hunters on the mainland, as we may infer with great certainty from the fact that they possess slings, which are otherwise rarely found among maritime tribes, and can render them but little service. But the Fuegians still hunt a little, as herds of guanacos exist on Navarin and on other islands of the Straits of Magellan. We may therefore safely conclude that the Fuegians are a feeble horde of hunters, who being driven from their hunting-grounds by more powerful neighbours, were finally compelled to hazard a passage to the nearest island on the coast, and to apply themselves to the pursuit of marine animals.
9 Dobrizhoffer, Geschichte der Abiponer, vol. ii. p. 150.
of many species were once unusually numerous in Terra del Fuego, but the destruction caused by ruthless seal hunters has compelled the Fuegians, who, like so many other natives, are dying out, to content themselves with crustacea and fish.
Although but the rudiments of sea-craft have been developed in the Patagonian fiords, in the north, on the contrary, from Vancouver's Island to the Aleutian Islands, there are many small tribes of Redskins, with distinct languages, who represent the northmen of the New World, inasmuch as they inhabit a coast similar in formation to that of Norway, and are not easily surpassed in their own hemisphere as bold seamen. The slender structure and the pointed and really apt lines of the boats in the Nootka Sound have recently been praised by Catlin the artist: there are canoes there of fifty-three feet in length, and large enough for a hundred men. It is noticeable that south of the Juan de Fuca Straits, where the coast loses it fiord-like character, as far as the boundary of ancient Peru, only the rudest boats are used by the aborigines, while conversely from Nootka Sound northwards, the nearer we approach the continent of Asia, the more skilful is the construction of boats, and their management the more admirable. Even among the islands of what was formerly Russian America, inhabited by the Thlinkites, there are hunting boats of the true Eskimo build; these baidars, as they are there called, are intended only for a single person, and have closed decks, so that but one seat is left, which the boatman covers closely with his apron. These contrivances have been imitated as far as was suitable in Europe. The coast tribes from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Aleutian Islands are quite distinct from the so-called red hunting tribes to the east of the Rocky Mountains. It is uncertain whether they emigrated from Northern Asia in ancient times, or, having borrowed their nautical skill from their Asiatic neighbours, they spread a knowledge of it as far as Vancouver's Island. Both views seem to be admissible, and all that is certain is that the advance was confined to the fiords.
It is immaterial to us whether Asiatic people or only Asiatic culture spread along the north-west coast of America as far as the Straits of Juan de Fuca, for both were facilitated by the shape of the northern part of America, which is very significant. In
Inhabitants of Fiords.
Australia, the peninsula of Carpentaria (Cape York), stretching towards New Guinea, still made intercourse with the Old World possible. We may perhaps succeed in convincing ethnologists that this tongue of land was, geographically speaking, the means of again raising the social condition of the Australian aborigines. The north-west of America possesses an analogous limb in the peninsula of Alaska, which stretches like an arm towards Northern Asia, while the chain of Aleutian Islands is suspended like a string of beads towards the outstretched arm, forming an interrupted passage to Kamtshatka. If predestination were conceivable, we should say that this was the preordained pathway for a union between the civilizations of the Old and the New World. If America had not been discovered in 1492 under the Spanish flag, and if Europe had reached its degree of maturity of 1492 only half a century later, a civilized Asiatic nation, that is to say, the Japanese, would have anticipated us, by way of the Caspian Sea, in the discovery of America. We do not in the least mean to imply that Japanese navigators would have been wafted across the Pacific as they were in 1832 and 1833 to the Sandwich Islands, and to America itself in the neighbourhood of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, for history knows of no instance in which advantageous relations with unknown regions were due to the discoveries of castaways or shipwrecked sailors." We are rather arguing from the fact that the Japanese visited the Kuriles, occupying the southern islands before any Europeans had done so, and that no less than three times, in 1697, 1710, and 1729, did tidings come to Russia that Japanese trading vessels had penetrated as far as Kamtshatka, so that if the Russians had not anticipated them, they, as the Russians eventually were, would have been led on
11 The voyage of Bjarne Herjulfson might be quoted against us. Sailing in the year A. D. 1000 for Greenland, he missed his course and discovered America, probably Labrador. But this accidental acquaintance of the Northmen with America in no degree affected the history of civilization. The case of the Portuguese, Cabral, might also be quoted, who, on his second voyage to the East Indies, discovered Brazil. But that the successors of Vasco da Gama must sooner or later have come in sight of South America on their voyages to the Cape of Good Hope, depended in no way on accident, but was a physical necessity brought about by the trade winds prevailing on the Atlantic.
by the fur trade from the Kuriles to the Aleutians, and thence to America in the course of a century.
Islands lying near a coast are especially favourable to the development of seamanship. Thus the proximity of Elba, and of Corsica to Elba, attracted the Etruscans on to the Mediterranean before the time of the Romans. Austria still mans her fleet with excellent sailors from the island-bound Dalmatian coast, and Genoa owed her former greatness not merely to the size of her natural harbour, but to the circumstance that, in clear weather, Corsica, which to the Ligurian fishing-boats is the first goal of a longer voyage, is visible from the Riviera. The British Isles in former centuries attracted various nations in succession, each surpassing the other in seamanship. Before the Northmen, Danes and Saxons, even the Celts, ventured out into the Atlantic; for we know that the Northmen who first landed on Iceland found Irish antiquities of Christian times there, indicating a previous settlement of pious Celtic anchorites.
Large portions of continents which have become detached from the mainland by the subsidence of the intervening land, become groups of islands in shallow seas. We meet with this phenomenon, in the Old World, between Southern Asia and Australia, which were formerly bound together until the land connecting them was dissolved into the Sunda,12 Banda, and Molucca Islands. From these the Malays, a race eminent for seamanship, have ranged over the ocean to a distance exceeding half the circumference of the earth, spreading in the Pacific as far north as the Hawai or Sandwich Islands, to Easter Island on the east, and southwards to New Zealand, while in the Indian Ocean they have spread to Madagascar. Where Asia approaches so near to Europe that the basin of the Mediterranean is narrowed into the Dardanelles, the Grecian archipelago is the remnant of a former connection of the two continents. These islands trained a people surpassed in nautical skill but by the Phoenicians of all the nations of antiquity. Their colonies and markets extended in time over both the basins of the Mediterranean, in the Euxine as far as the mouth of the Don, and through the Red Sea as far as the East
12 Peschel, Neue Probleme der vergleichende Erdkunde.