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THE NEW YORK IPUBLIC LIBRARY
COLUMBUS in his third voyage, having attained the "great object of his ambition, by discovering the continent of America ; his success produced a number of adventurers from all. nations ; the year before this, Sebastian Ca'bot, in the service of Henry the Seventh of England, discovered the Northern continent, of which it is intended now explicitly to treat. The questions which first present themselves to our notice "are, From what part of the Old World has America heen peopled? and how accomplished? Few questions in the history of Mankind have been more agitated than these. Philosophers and men of learning and ingenuity, have been speculating upon them ever since the discovery of the American islands by Columbus. But notwithstanding all their labours, the subject still affords an ample field for the researches of the man of science, and for the fancies of the theorist.
It has been long known that an intercourse between the old Continent and America, might be carried on with facility, from the north-west extremities of Europe, and the north-east boundaries of Asia. In the year 982 the Norwegians discovered Greenland, and planted a colony there. The communication with that country was renewed in the last century by Moravian missionaries, in order to propagate their doctrines in that bleak uncultivated region. By them we are informed that the north-west coast of Greenland is separated from America by a very narrow strait; that at the bottom of the bay it is highly probable they are united ; that the Esquimeaux of America, perfectiy resemble the Greenlanders, in their aspect, dress, and manner of living; and that a Moravian missionary, well acquainted with the language of Greenland, having visited the country of the Esquimeaux, found to his astonishment, that they spoke the same language, and were, in every respect the
same people. The same species of animals, are also found in the contiguous regions. The bear, the wolf, the fox, the hare, the deer, the roe-buck,and the elk, frequent the forests of North America, as well as those in the north of Europe.
Other discoveries have proved, that if the two continents of Asia and America be separated at all, it is only by a narrow strait. From this part of the old continent also, inhabitants may have passed into the new; and the resemblance between the Indians of America, and the eastern inhabitants of Asia, would induce us to conjecture, that they have a common origin. This opinion is adopted by the celebrated doctor Robertson, in his History of America. The more recent and accurate discoveries of that illustrious navigator, Cooke, and his successor Clerke, have brought the matter still nearer to a certainty.
The sea, from the south of Behring's straits, to the cres. cent of isles between Asia and America, is very shallow. It deepens from these straits (as the British seas do from those of Dover) till the soundings are lost in the Pacific Ocean ; but that does not take place but to the south of the isles. Between them and the straits is an increase from 12 to 54 fathoms, except only of St. Thaddeus-Noss, where there is a channel of a greater depth.
From the volcanic disposition, it has been judged probable, not only that there was a separation of the continents at the straits of Behring, but that the whole space from the isles to the small opening, had once been occupied by land; and that the fury of the watery element, actuated by that of fire, had, in some remote times, subverted and overwhelmed the tract, and left the islands to serve as monumental fragments.
There can be no doubt that our planet has been subject to great vicissitudes since the deluge : ancient and modern historians confirm this truth, that lands are now ploughed, over which ships formerly sailed ; and that they now sail over lands, which were formerly cultivated : earthquakes have swallowed some lands, and subterraneous fires have thrown up other's ; the sea retreating from its shores, has lengthened the land in some places, and encroaching upon it in others, has diminished it; it has separated some territories, which were formerly united, and formed new bays and gulphs.