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Indies. A similar dissolution into islands is traceable on a smaller scale between the mainlands of North Germany and Scandinavia, which is the home of the Danes, who contributed to British blood, and hence may claim a share in the nautical fame of the greatest maritime power of Europe. The Dutch also inhabit a region of islands which originated by subsidence, and did not exist at the time when the British Isles still formed part of the continent of Northern Europe.
In those regions of the New World which owe their configuration to a like cause, we may, therefore, expect to find a similar development of the inhabitants. But from physical comparisons elsewhere made, it appeared that the archipelago of the so-called North-west Passage must also be regarded as the remnant of a former connection between the small continent of Greenland and the continent of North America; and further, that where North and South America approach each other, on the Atlantic shores of the shallow Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the Antilles still exist as the residue of a former connection. Hence, if the development of human civilization depends on favourable local configuration, we ought to find the highest degree of nautical skill in the American Polar Sea, and in the two gulfs of Central America, which in the New World supply the place of the Mediterranean, once so highly favoured. Nor do these expectations altogether mislead us.
Archipelagoes have, however, frequently served as asylums for weak or decrepit beings, for whom the struggle for life on the continents has become too fierce, and who could only continue to exist where the sea protected them from their more hardy oppressors. Both the Lesser and the Great Antilles, as well as the Bahamas, were inhabited prior to 1492 by a gentle and extremely unwarlike race of men, whom Von Martius has named Taini. The few remnants of their language that have been preserved, chiefly names of places, do not afford any certain testimony of their origin, yet it has recently been assumed that they were related to the Arowaks of South America, who still inhabit the Guayanas. These people made no long voyages; at the most, those who lived in the south of Hayti ventured occasionally to
Jamaica, or the inhabitants of Jamaica to Hayti.13 But in 1492 they had already been partially driven from their islands by the Caribs, a race extraordinarily gifted, both physically and intellectually, whom we must not condemn too severely for their complete nudity, their inclination to piracy, their craving after human flesh, and the poisoning of their arrows. The Caribs of these islands, whose language was a dialect of that of the Caribs of the mainland, had even then conquered the so-called Lesser Antilles, occupied the eastern half of Porto Rico, and extended their kidnapping excursions into Hayti, where some of their adventurers had founded monarchies, and the older comers had taken possession of the country on the eastern shore. Their ships of war, or pirogues, were forty feet in length, and broad enough to afford room for a Spanish cask (pipa) lying crossways. They carried fifty seamen, and were moved either by cotton sails or by oars plied to a time set by a singer. They must not be blamed for their piracy, for Thucydides tells us how the Greeks owed their maritime power to the same trade. Piracy is in fact one of the evils inseparable from the development of national intercourse; hence maritime customs have remained extremely barbarous even up to our own century. Many of the renowned English circumnavigators and discoverers of the 16th and 17th centuries were also pirates; nay, the Dutch West Indian Company was able to pay fabulous profits to its shareholders only because their ships pursued the Spanish galleons. The customs of war at that time certainly ennobled piracy.
Just as the Caribs became pirates where the Antilles approach. nearest to the South American continent, so we also find a very highly civilized people, namely, the Yucatecs, at the spot were Cuba approaches the shores of Central America. Here there is, indeed, no piracy, but Columbus, when on his fourth voyage, steering from Bay Islands towards the coast of Honduras, met with a trading vessel from Yucatan, which, if it kept along shore, had to traverse at least 400 miles before reaching the nearest native port. It was eight feet wide and as large as "a galley," and was pro
13 The largest boats of the Antilles were built in Jamaica; these were 96 feet in length, and eight feet in width. Bernaldez, Reyes Catol.
* See "Science" xxii. 44.
vided with a roof of palm leaves for the protection of the merchandize, which consisted of woven fabrics and articles of clothing, wooden swords with obsidian blades, brass and earthenware utensils; in other words, manufactures which the merchants had exchanged for a cargo of cocoa. They were seen to stoop and gather up with care every fallen bean, for even then these seeds, or "almonds," as the discoverers called them, served instead of small coins in Mexico and in Yucatan, to which they were laboriously brought from Honduras. The Yucatecs must also have made occasional visits to Cuba, for on the 1st and 29th of November Columbus notes in his log, that he found a piece of silver and a cake of beeswax among the natives of Cuba, both of which articles could have come there only by way of Yucatan. It is unfortunately impossible to state positively whether sails were even then used by the Maya races.14
The archipelago between North America and Greenland would be peculiarly fitted for the development of maritime skill did not its sea, fast bound by the arctic winter, leave the passage by water open only during a few weeks in the year. Nevertheless the Eskimo, one of the most sea-going nations of the world, have spread themselves over this very region. In another place we shall give a more detailed account of their achievements.
Our task is accomplished if we have succeeded in showing that both in the Old and the New World the analogous formations of coast have promoted the nautical achievements of their inhabitants in a similar manner; and that in America it is only in very limited and specially favoured tracts that we find rude germs of navigation. All who know the stories of the voyages in the Pacific, from the times of Schouten and Le Maire to that of Wilkes, or even
14 Don Fernando Colombo, describing in the biography of his father (Vita del Almirante) the Yucatan galley on the coast of Honduras, makes no mention of a sail. On the other hand, Bernal Diaz, an eye-witness, relates that when Francisco Fernandez di Cordova, in 1517, first discovered Yucatan, near Cape Catoche, five large boats containing forty or fifty people approached with oars and sails-á ramo y vela (Histor. verladera). In Herrera the words are cinco canoas con gente, que iban al remo, that is to to say, with oars. In Oviedo and Peter Martyr also there is no confirmation of Bernal Diaz's
of later discoveries, are accustomed to regard boats, full of inquisitive and importunate native crowds, as always present round the European vessels off those shores; nay, in certain favourable places in the South Sea, even where land is not in sight, the sails made of matting of Polynesian natives may be seen passing in the distance. In the records of the discoverer of America, on the contrary, instances in which Europeans meet with natives on the sea even near land are extremely rare. We have already cited the most notable cases. The comparatively small advance of the American natives in the arts of sailing and paddling may perhaps be ascribed to the absence of a Mediterranean Sea or of a coast formation such as that of our North Sea. Yet in all respects the human race has developed far more slowly in America than in the Old World. If we sum up the industrial feats of the great civilized nations of America, the Mexicans and the Peruvians of the time of the Incas, as if they had been found side by side instead of apart, the two together would still not present such a picture of a civilization as we see in Egypt under the fourth dynasty, the earliest of which we possess monuments. In other words, the American race, even in the districts of its highest development, had not attained a maturity in the year 1492 equal to that of the highest local civilization of the Old World three thousand years before Christ. But let us imagine that in the year 3000 B.C., discoverers from America had come to Europe in decked sailing vessels and with the compass in their hands, they would scarcely have found the waters on the northern shores of our continent occupied by better seamen than the Eskimo and the Kolushs, or Thlinkites, of North America, and in the Mediterranean they would probably not yet have encountered Phoenician ships of Tarshish, but perhaps trading galleys, such as went from Yucatan to Honduras, or ships such as the Caribbean sailing pirogues, and manned by the pirates of Asia Minor of whom Thucydides speaks in his first book.
VI. THE INFLUENCE OF COMMERCE ON THE LOCAL
Ir is not easy to overestimate the advantages arising from the interchange of local products. The merchant spreads abroad not only his goods, but with them, samples of art, inventions, knowledge, morals, customs, and poetry; and his footsteps are usually followed by the missionary. Of these facts we shall say no more, but we will rather show the extent to which valuable products of dif ferent regions have affected the distribution of nations and languages. Let us first note that commerce already existed in those ages in which we find the earliest signs of our race. It must have been by barter that the cave-dwellers of Périgord, of the reindeer period, obtained rock crystals, Atlantic shells, and the horns of the Polish Saiga antelope. The obsidian blades which are occasionally met with in ancient graves to the east of the Mississippi, must have reached the places where they are now discovered by barter either from Mexico or from the Snake River, an affluent of the Columbia to the west of the Rocky Mountains. We must not imagine that the so-called Redskins of the Union had no intercourse but that of murderous feuds. Merchant boats passed along the great rivers, and transit duties were taken by the chiefs.3 In South America, curaré, the arrow poison, the preparation of which was understood only by a few hordes, formed a valuable article of commerce among the Indians of the Amazon, so that people living near the Napo were obliged to make canoe voyages of three months' duration in order to procure it. Even where bands of hawkers and pedlars did not wander through the country, goods were bartered betwixt horde and horde, and such a system of intercourse might extend throughout an entire quarter of the world. English wares deposited at Mombas, on the eastern side of South Africa, have been recognized at Mogador, on the west coast of Northern Africa.5 Since from these circumstances
1 See above, p. 37.
2 Carl Rau, Archiv für Anthropologie. 1871.
3 Lafitau, Mœurs des sauvages amériquains. Paris, 1724.
4 Von Martius, Ethnographie, vol. i. p. 504, and above, p. 187.
5 Waitz, Anthropologie, vol. ii. p. 101.