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language. Without any particular knowledge of the lan. guages of India, I could have informed our Missionaries of that fact, many years before they announced it, and I can inform them further, independent of scripture authority, that all the languages used from the Ganges to the Straits of Hercules, and the Giants Causey, are strictly dialects of one lan. guage ; branches of a common stock.
But the descendants of most of the first families of men have become more or less intermixed, by means of repeated and numerosus conquests and migrations. From the present state of the Greek and Latin languages, it is obvious that the Teutonic or Gothic races descended into Greece and Italy, and became incorporated with the original Celtic tribes, be. fore the date of authentic history. The Cimbri from the modern Denmark, invaded Italy and Britain ; and in the fourth century,the Goths of Tbrace began their irruptions into Italy. Not long after, the inhabitants of the Baltic shores, under the names of Suevi, Vandals, &c. entered Italy, and after being often repulsed, ultimately conquered the country and put an end to the Roman Empire. Other tribes of Gothic and Teutonic origin invaded and settled in Spain; and the Italian and Spanish languages to this day, bear witness to the truth of the history of their conquests. Spain was afterwards conquered and possessed for several centuries by the Moors of Africa, and the Spanish is tinctured with their language. In later ages, Russia was subdued by the Tartars, who maintained their dominion, for two or three centuries. The Huns from the country north of the Caspian invaded Italy, and ulimately gave name to the modern Hungary.
Hence it is obvious, that most of the nations of Europe are now composed of the descendants of different families or races ; a few tribes only on the western skirts of the continent can assert the unmixed purity of their race.
Laying aside minute distinctions of tribes, we may alledge that the inhabitants of Europe consist of four distinct fami
lies. 1st, the Celts, who first occupied the southern territories, on the Mediterranean, and extended their settlements to the west along the shores of the Atlantic. 2d, the Teutonic and Gothic race, which formerly occupied the countries south and north of the Danube, and which extended their settlements to Prussia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Britain. 3d, the Slavonic or Sarmatic race, which passed to the north of the Euxine into Europe, and now occupy European Russia, Poland, and some of the adjoining territories. And 4th, the Lapps, Finns, and other tribes on the north of Sweden.
The French writers, Pelloutier and Mallet maintain most strenuously that the Celtic race once spread over Europe, to the confines of the Slavonic race. This cannot have been the fact, unless they preceded the Teutonic nations, by which they were afterward driven from Germany, and the vicinity of the Baltic. It is true indeed that there is an affinity between the Celtic and Teutonic languages, which indicates a primary common origin ; but these languages are so different particularly in the variations and inflexions of words, as to prove beyond a question, that these races are of different families; and not only so, but these families must have been separated in the first ages of the world,
From the testimony of early writers, and from the names of towns and rivers, it is certain that the ancestors of the German nations, once inhabited the country in which Troy was situated. The warriors of Priam and Hector were of that family, and spoke the language from which ours is derived. A small stream runs near the site of Troy, called Thymbrius, a name corrupted by the Greeks from Thymbrek, which, according to Clark, the traveller, is the name it still bears; and in this name, we recognize our word brook.
My Dear Friend,
Nothing can be more interesting to man, than the history of his own species. His mere physical nature supplies subjects of wonder, without number. Still more wonderful in his intellectual nature, by the improvement of which he may rise and approach the rank of an angel, and by the neglect and abuse of which he may sink to a level with the brute, or be assimilated to an infernal spirit. To trace the progress of our ancestors from the savage to the civilized state; to develope the principles and passions of untutored minds ; to exhibit the character and manners of nations in the various stages of advance towards refinement; to discover what of evil is lost, and what of good is obtained by the change ; and particularly to ascertain how much of the spirit of barbarism is yet retained in our principles and manners : these are inquiries of no ordinary interest. Let us then take a rapid survey of our ancestors in their rude state, and see by what slow advances they emerged from barbarism to civilization.
All savage nations exhibit a surprising uniformity of character. Different nations and tribes present indeed some circumstances of difference; but the principal traits of character are every where the same. This remark is applicable to all the families which peopled Europe.
As all our information respecting the ancient Celtic, Teutonic and Slavonic races of men, is derived from Greek and Roman writers, you will readily perceive that, anterior to the age of the earliest Greek historians, the condition of the inhabitants in the interior and northern parts of Europe, was not well known to their more southern neighbors, and has not been described. The Greeks, whose commerce in the Euxine, led them to establish colonies or factories on its shores, were the first to become acquainted with the Sythi
ans inhabiting the neighboring country. From these, Herodotus probably obtained his information respecting those rude nations. The Greeks also carried on some commerce with the Phoceans who had established themselves in Gaul, and built Massilia, now Marseilles. But for a principal part of our knowledge of the primitive inhabitants of the west and north of Europe, we are indebted to the Roman conquests, under Julius Cesar and his successors.
From the dispersion of men, at the building of Babel, to the age of Herodotus, more than eighteen centuries elapsed, and almost two thousand and two hundred years passed between the dispersion and the conquest of Gaul by Julius Cesar. In this long tract of time, while Europe was overspread with inhabitants, none of its various nations became civilized except those along the southern shore ; and during the period of eight or ten centuries after the dispersion, the inhabitants of Greece remained nearly in the same barbarous state as the people of Thrace and Germany. Some traits of character and some facts respecting the rude inhabitants in Thrace and Asia Minor may be collected from Homer, but little authentic information respecting them can be obtained, of an earlier date than the writings of Herodotus, about four centuries and a half before the Christian era.
When the people of Greece and Italy first became acquainted with the inhabitants of Germany and Gaul, they were struck with surprise at their stature. Diodorus, Strabo, Pausanias, Cesar, Livy, Tacitus, Mela, and many other authors concur in representing the Gauls, Germans and Britons as men of enormous size, tall and somewhat fleshy; and one author alledges that the Burgundians were seven feet in heighth. And perhaps this will account for the length of our foot of twelve inches, which was probably the real or common length of the feet of our ancestors, though it exceeds much the common length of the human foot in our days.
These rude nations were distinguished also from their more southern neighbors by a very fair complexion, blue
eyes, and a fierce menacing countenance, which struck terror into their enemies encountering them in battle. Their bodies were strong, being inured to hardships and continually exposed naked to a cold and inclement air; and they were hardened also by the practice of plunging into cold water, every morning, as soon as they rose from sleep. But notwithstanding the strength of their bodies, they could not endure great heat nor fatigue. Hence Tacitus and Livy remark that the first attack of the Germans and Gauls in battle was impetuous and almost irresistable ; but their courage or their strength seemed to be exhausted in the first onset.
The food of the first inhabitants of Europe consisted of fruits of natural growth, and of the flesh of wild beasts, fish and fowls. Although the earth was assigned to man for cultivation, yet it is certain that most of the inhabitants of Europe, for more than two thousand years, subsisted without much attention to agriculture. One principal article of food in the first stage of society, is the fruit of forest trees, and particularly acorns. So general was the practice of feeding on acorns, that this fruit received the name of mast, or meat, an acorn being called in Welsh, to this day mesen, and in the plural mes; the word signifying acorns or a portion, a meal; and a tradition remains among the Welsh, that this fruit, as well as fern roots, was formerly a substitute for bread. And it may well be conjectured that our word maiz, is from the same origin as mast, meat ; being introduced into America by the natives from the north of Asia. Even so late as the time of Strabo, the mountaineers, in Lusitania, [Portugal] made bread of acorns, which they first dried and then bruised.
The next step in the progress of society was the shepherd state. This was the state of almost all the people of Europe, north of the Alps, down to a period subsequent to the Christian era.
All the Scythian, Teutonic and Celtic tribes were nomads, as they are called by the Greek writers; that is, tribes moving from place to place, to find pasturage for their