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oppoheir fou the kanga are so
some vegetable substance, but what in particular we had no opportunity to learn.
Their food is chiefly fish, though they sometimes contrive to kill the kangaroo, and even birds of various kinds; notwithstanding they are so shy that we found it difficult to get within reach of them with a fowling-piece. The only vegetable that can be considered as an article of food is the yam; yet doubtless they eat the several fruits which have been mentioned among other productions of the country; and indeed we saw the shells and hulls of several of them lying about the places where they had kindled their fire. ,
They do not appear to eat any animal food raw ; but having no vessel in which water can be boiled, they either broil it upon the coals, or bake it in a hole by the help of hot stones, in the same manner as is practised by the inhabitants of the islands in the South Seas.
Whether they are acquainted with any plant that has an intoxicating quality, we do not know; but we observed that several of them held leaves of some sort constantly in their mouths, as an European does tobacco, and an EastIndian betele; we never saw the plant, but when they took it from their mouths at our request; possibly it might be a species of the betele, but whatever it was, it had no effect upon the teeth or lips.
As they have no nets, they catch fish only by striking, or with a hook and line, except such as they find in the hollows of the rocks, and shoals, which are dry at half-ebb.
Their manner of hunting we had no opportunity to see; but we conjectured, by the notches which they had every where cut in large trees in order to climb them, that they took their station near the tops of them, and there watched for such animals as might happen to pass near enough to be reached by their lances : It is possible also, that in this situation they might take birds when they came to roost.
I have observed that when they went from our tents upon the banks of Endeavour River, we could trace them by the fires which they kindled in their way; and we imagined that these fires were intended some way for the taking the kangaroo, which we observed to be so much afraid of fire, that our dogs could scarcely force it over places which had been newly burnt, though the fire was extinguished. They produce fire with great facility, and spread it in a
wonderful wonderful manner. To produce it they take two pieces of dry soft wood, one is a stick about eight or nine inches long, the other piece is flat: The stick they shape into an obtuse point at one end, and pressing it upon the other, turn it nimbly by holding it between both their hands as we do a chocolate mill, often shifting their hands up, and then moving them down upon it, to increase the pressure as much as possible. By this method they get fire in less than two minutes, and from the smallest spark they increase it with great speed and dexterity. We have often seen one of them run along the shore, to all appearance with nothing in his hand, who stooping down for a moment, at the distatice of every fifty or a hundred yards, left fire behind him, as we could see first by the smoke and then by the flame among the drift-wood, and other litter wbiek was scattered along the place. We had the curiosity to examine one of these planters of fire, when he set off, and we saw him wrap up a small spark in dry grass, which, when he had run a little way, having been fanned by the air that his motion produced, began to blaze ; he then laid it down in a place convenient for his purpose, inclosing a spark of it in another quantity of grass, and so continued his course.
There are perhaps few things in the history of mankind more extraordinary than the discovery and application of fire: It will scarcely be disputed that the manner of producing it, whether by collision or attrition, was discovered by chance : But its first effects would naturally strike those to whom it was a new object; with consternation and tertor: It would appear to be an enemy to life and nature, and to torment and destroy whatever was capable of being destroyed or tormented ; and therefore it seems not easy to conceive what should incline those who first saw it receive a transient existence from chance, to reproduce it by design. It is by no means probable that those who first saw fire, approached it with the same caution, ås those who are familiar with its effects, so as to be warmed only and not burnt; and it is reasonable to think that the intolerable pain which, at its first appearance, it must produce upon ignorant curiosity, would sow perpetual enmity between this element and mankind; and that the same principle which incites them fo crush a serpent, would incite them to destroy fire, and avoid all means by which it would be
produced, as soon as they were known. These circumstances considered, how men became sufficiently familiar with it to render it useful, seems to be a problem very difficult to solve: Nor is it easy to account for the first application of it to culinary purposes, as the eating both animal and vegetable food raw, must have become a habit, before there was fire to dress it, and those who have considered the force of habit will readily believe, that to men who had always eaten the flesh of animals raw, it would be as disagreeable dressed, as to those who have always eaten it dressed, it would be raw. It is remarkable that the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego produce fire from a spark by collision, and that the happier natives of this country, New Zealand and Olaheite, produce it by the attrition of one combustible substance against another: Is there not then some reason to suppose that these different operations correspond with the manner in which chance produced fire in the neighbourhood of the torrid and frigid zones ? Among the rude inhabitants of a cold country, neither any operation of art, or occurrence of accident, could be supposed so easily to produce fire by attrition, as in a climate where every thing is hot, dry, and adust, teeming with a latent fire which a slight degree of motion was sufficient to call forth ; in a cold country therefore, it is natural to suppose that fire was produced by the accidental collision of two metallic substances, and in a cold country, for that reason, the same expedient was used to produce it by design: But in hot countries, where two combustible substances easily kindle by attrition, it is probable that the attrition of such substances first produced fire, and here it was therefore natural for art lo adopt the same operation, with a view to produce the same effect. It may indeed be true that fire is now produced in many cold countries by attrition, and in many hot by a stroke; but perhaps upon enquiry there may appear reason to conclude that this has arisen froin the communication of one country with another, and that with respect to the original production of fire in hot and cold countries, the distinction is well founded.
There may perhaps be some reason to suppose that men became gradually acquainted with the nature and effects of fire, by its permanent existence in a volcano, there being remains of volcanoes, or vestiges of their effects, in almost every part of the world : By a volcano, however, no meVOL. XIII.
thod of producing fire, otherwise than by contact, could be learnt; the production and application of fire therefore, still seem to afford abundant subject of speculation to the curious.
7 Mr Jones, who writes on this subject in one of his Physiological Disquisitions, is not a little displeased with some of the observations made here, which seem to imply that mankind were left destitute of the knowledge of fire, and had to acquire it by mere accidental notice.—Mr Jones's zeal, however, appears more conspicuous in this matter than either his judgment or bis acquaintance with the remarks of various authors. President Goguet has shewn his usual industry in this matter. He refers to a considerable number of authors for proof that the knowledge of fire was by no means very extensive among the early nations, and that even where it existed, it had been often discovered by accident. A summary of what this excellent writer has said on the subject, with a quotation or two, can. not fail to be interesting to the reader, and will scarcely run any risk of being judged either ill-timed or tedious. The Chinese, Persians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and several other nations, admit that their ancestors were once without the use of fire. This is said on the authority of Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Sanchoniathon, authors mentioned by Bannier, as Hesiod, Lucretius, Virgil, &c. &c. And we learn from Pomponius Mela, Pliny, Plutarch, and others, that in their times there were nations who were ei. ther quite ignorant of fire, or had but just learned its nature and effects, These authorities are strengthened by what has been related of people discovered in modern times. Thus the inhabitants of the Marian or Ladrone Islands, and also of the Philippine and Canaries, are said to have been without this knowledge, at the time of their discovery. We are told besides of several nations in America and Africa being in the same state of ignorance. As to these, however, it is but fair to apprize the reader, that the authorities adduced by the President are not such as can be implicitly relied on a remark, perhaps, which some readers will not fail to apply to certain of the writers formerly mentioned. The Egyptians owed their knowledge of fire to thunder and lightning; the Phænicians to the effect of the wind on woods and forests ; volcanos, burning earth, (as in a province of Persia) and boiling wells (frequent in several countries), gave rise to this knowledge amongst other people. “We may form very probable conjectures about the methods which men at first used to procure fire, when they had occasion for it, from ancient traditions, and from the present practices of the savages. They could not be long in discovering, that by striking two flints each against other, there went sparks from them :" “ They remarked, that by rubbing two pieces of hard wood very strongly against each other, they raised sparks; nay, that by rubbing for some time two pieces of wood, they raised flame.” “ The Chinese say that one of their first kings taught them this latter method; and the Greeks had nearly the same tradition.” This method, we learn from Lawson, was in use amongst the natives of Carolina, before they became acquainted with the use of steel and flints. “They got their fire," says be, « with sticks, which by vehement collision, or rubbing together, take fire.” “ You are to understand," he adds, “ chat the two sticks they use to strike
The weapons of these people are spears or lances, and these are of different kinds: Some that we saw upon the southern part of the coast bad four prongs, pointed with bone, and barbed ; the points were also smeared with a hard resin, which gave them a polish, and made them enter deeper into what they struck. To the northward, the
fire withal, are never of one sort of wood, but always differ from each other.” Indeed it is probable that this method has been very generally practised. Seneca makes mention of it in the 2d book, chap. 22. of his Nat. Quæst., and he specifies some of the kinds of wood known by the shepherds to be fit for the purpose, “ sicut laurus, hederæ, et alia in hunc usum nota pastoribus." This is noticed by Mr Jones, who gives it as his opinion that the laurus, here spoken of, is the bay-tree, which, according to the poet Lucretius, is remarkable for its inflammability. The reader may desire to see the opinion of Mr Jones as to the origin of man's acquaintance with fire. It is certainly worthy of consideration, and supposing it restricted to the parent of our race, and his immediate offspring, may be held with no small confidence. It embraces indeed a wider field than can possibly be investigated in this place. « The first family,” says he,“ placed by the Creator upon this earth, offered sacrifices; which being an article of religious duty, they were certainly possessed of the means of performing it, and consequently of the knowledge and use of fire, without which it could not be practised. The next generation presents us with artificers in brass and iron, which could not possibly be wrought without the complete knowledge of fire; neither indeed could any works of art be well carried on. The account of this affair in the Bible is much more natural, because it is much more agreeable to the goodness of God, and the dignity of the human species, than to suppose, on the principles of a wild and savage philosophy (alluding to Dr Hawkesworth's poor conjectures, as Mr Jones styles them, that men were left ignorant of the use of an element intended for their accommodation and support. To interdict a man from the use of fire and water, was accounted the same in effect as to send him out of life; so that if men, upon the original terms of their creation, were thus interdicted by the Creator himself, as the Heathen mythologists supposed them to be, they were sent into life upon such terms as others were sent out of it. If we admit any such gloomy suppositions, where shall we stop? If mankind were left destitute in respect to the knowledge of fire, perhaps they were left without language, without food, without clothing, without reason, and in a worse condition than the beasts, who are born with the proper knowledge of life, but man receives it by education; therefore he who taught the beasts by instinct, taught man by information.” Much might be said for and against this mode of reasoning, which this place, already so fully occupied, will not admit. The history of fire is involved in difficulties, and has really obtained less attention from men of learning than it deserves. Probably, on appointing the rites of sacrifice, which there is reason to believe was immediately after the first gracious promise to Adam, God testified his acceptance of the offering by fire from heaven, which was the beginning of man's acquaintance with it, and in this manner it is certain God afterwards shewed his approbation.