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that the whole human species is accidentally descended from a remarkable family of the 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 such 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, anxi. ous for the accommodation of these travellers, have fastened the two continents together by a strong chain of deductions-by which means they could pass over dryshod. 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 par. ticular, authors may be 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 neighbourhood. 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.
For my part, when I beheld the sages I have quoted gravely accounting for unaccountable things, and discoursing thus wisely about matters for ever hidden from their eyes, like a blind man describing the glories of light, and the beauty and harmony of colours, I fell back in astonishment at the amazing extent of human ingenuity.
If, cried I to myself, these learned men can weave whole systems out of nothing, what would be their productions were they furnished with substantial materials if they can argue and dispute thus ingeniously about subjects beyond their knowledge, what would be the profundity of their observations, did they but know what they were talking about! Should old Rhadamanthus, when he comes to decide upon their conduct while on earth, have the least idea of the usefulness of their labours, he will undoubtedly class them with those notorious wise men of Gotham, who milked a bull, twisted a rope of sand, and wove a velvet purse from a sow's ear.
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 wbite bears cruise about the northern oceansor 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 on 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, NewGuinea, 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 on 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 inbabitants 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 way, 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!
They have long been picking at the lock, and fretting at the latch, but the honest father at once unlocks the door by bursting it open, and when he has it once ajar, he is at full liberty to pour in as many nations as he pleases. This proves to a demonstration that a little piety is better than a cart-load of philosophy, and is a practical illustration of that scriptural promise" By faith ye shall move mountains."
From all the authorities here quoted, and a variety of others which I have consulted, but wbich are omitted through fear of fatiguing the unlearned reader-I can only draw the following conclusion, which, luckily however, are sufficient for my purposeFirst, 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-witness 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, trust is for ever at rest.
WOUTER VAN TWILLER.
The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twiller was descended from a long line of Dutch burgomasters, who had suceessively dozed away their lives, and grown fat upon the bench of magistraoy in Rotterdam; and who had comported themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety that they were never either heard or talked of which, next to being universally applauded, should be the object of ambition to all sage magistrates and rulers.
His surname of Twiller is said to be a corruption of the original Twijfler, which in English means doubter; a name admirably descriptive of his deliberative habits. For though he was a man shut up within himself like an oyster, and of such a profoundly reflective turn that he scarcely ever spoke except in monosyllables; yet did he never make up his mind on any doubtful point. This was clearly accounted for by his adhérents, who affirmed that he always conceived every subject on so comprehensive a scale that he had not room in his head to turn it over and examine both sides of it; so that he always remained in doubt, merely in consequence of the astonishing magnitude of his ideas!
There are two opposite ways by which some men get into notice-one by talking a vast deal and thinking a little, and the other by holding their tongues and not thinking at all. By the first, many a vapouring superficial
pretender acquires the reputation of a man of quick parts -by the other, many a vacant dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest of birds, comes to be complimented by a discerning world, with all the attributes of wisdom. This, by the way, is a mere casual remark, which I would not for the universe have it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller. On the contrary, he was a very wise Dutchman, for he never said a foolish thing; and of such invincible gravity that he was never known to laugh, or even to smile, through the course of a long and prosperous life. Certain, however, it is, there never was a matter proposed, however simple, and on which your common narrow minded mortals would rashly determine at the first glance, but what the renowned Wouter put on a mighty mysterious, vacant kind of look, shook his capacious head, and having smoked for five minutes with redoubled earnestness, sagely observed, that “he had his doubts about the matter :"-which, in process of time, gained him the character of a man slow of belief, and not easily imposed on.
The person of this illustrious old gentleman was as regularly formed, and nobly proportioned, as though it had been moulded by the hands of some cunning Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, far excelling in magnitude that of the great Pericles (who was thence waggishly called Schenocephalus, or onion head)-indeed, of such stupendous dimensions was it, that dame Nature herself, with all her sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the top of his back-bone, just between the shoulders; where it remained, as snugly bedded as a ship of war in the mud of Potowmac. His body was of an oblong form, particularly capacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labour of walking. His legs, though exceeding short, were sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sus.