THE letter from Colonel Kennon, and more particularly the argument for the settlement of Oceanica from Japan, are links in the chain of circumstantial evidence, showing that in all probability the inhabitants of Eastern Asia once passed to Western America. I myself have seen Sandwich Islanders of the best class, well-educated--occupying, in fact, the position of ladies and gentlemen--who were not to be distinguished by me from the same class of Japanese, only that the Sandwich Islanders seemed to be rather the better-looking. Some of the Pacific islands are even now uninhabited, which renders it the more probable that those which are not derived their population from the country which lies, as Colonel Kennon remarks, "to the windward." Taking everything therefore into consideration, the scientific character of early Chinese and Japanese navigation, the crowded state of the empires, which, despite stringent laws, continually compelled thousands to either live on the water, or seek a living by voyaging; the islands thousands of miles away which were probably
peopled by them, and the great ease with which the journey by the Aleutian Islands could be accomplished, we have a chain of inductions which require only the least fact to establish the whole as truth. This fact is probably to be found in the record of the journey of Hoei-shin. All that now remains is the hope that, if curiosity and inquiry should be stimulated by the publication of what is here given, further research may be made in China, or in its ancient records, for clearer evidence. I have heard it said that it is commonly related by the Chinese in California that their ancestors had preceded them by many centuries in that country, which tradition was once recorded in a San Francisco newspaper. This may have originated in some obscure version of the old story of Hoei-shin, but then it is not impossible that there are sources of information extant on this subject which were never known to Europeans.
As regards the discovery of America by the Norse-men, while there is apparently good direct evidence to establish what is now (popularly, at least) regarded as a fact, the chain of general and presumptive evidence is not so sarong as that which indicates the probable transit of Chinese or Japanese to Aliaska. It is true the Icelanders were dauntless seamen and reckless adventurers, and that the passage to Greenland presented no great difficulty to them. But all these conditions existed equally as regards seamanship, and to a much higher degree as to the ease of the journey,
for Japanese or their neighbours. Scandinavia and Iceland were never at any time more than thinly populated; but the teeming millions of Eastern Asia have in all ages been proverbial. It is. certainly true that one fact is worth all the presumptive evidence which can be imagined; and it is equally true that the least fact is entitled to peculiar consideration and respect when heralded and supported on every side by probabilities.
There is a class of very unscientific writers on many subjects, but especially on Ethnology, who affect a negative method in everything, and ridicule every new thing as belonging rather to the realm of fairy tales than to science. With these writers nothing was ever derived from a strange source, or could have come from anything of which they were ignorant. This tendency is not inspired by truth, but by that timidity rather than prudence which dreads failure or ridicule, and contents itself with theorising and arranging in the track of bolder minds and true discoverers. Opposition to or belief in what they regard as "religion," has also mach to do with this spirit of denial, since many, and indeed far too many writers, are guided in every department of science by a desire to prove or disprove Christianity, rather than to find out what is true. To then all the extraordinary coincidences of serpent-worship, monolithic groups, cups, winged globes, or crosses in monuments, are merely phenomena of an accidental nature, and the most natural things in the world, such as must have occurred to
everybody. In philology they are identical with that very large class of unthinking and generally uneducated people who deem it useless to seek for the origin of cant words or popular phrases, so convinced are they that such "catches" come spontaneously to people's lips. "Everybody uses them, so they must have come of themselves to everybody," said a man of this class once to me. "A man can't help saying them." Now, as much research in this field has convinced me that every popular saying has a decided origin, popular belief to the contrary, it seems most probable that such very positive matters as religions and myths, which are difficult to learn, are, with the customs which they involve, more generally transmitted, however remotely, than easily invented. A snake is a singular object, and its motion on the ground is very much like the winding course of a great river, and the island or islands so generally found in the delta of a river naturally suggest something held in the mouth of the snake; and yet I do not think that the idea of a serpent with a ball at its mouth is so very palpable a religions symbol, and one so innate, that it should be the very first thing which would occur as an emblem of the great deity of the waters, to aboriginal Egyptians, to monolith-setters in Brittany, to mound-builders in Ohio, to Peruvians and Mexicans. In fact, I deem it not altogether impossible that this poetical collocation of the serpent as a type of a river, and the ball, simple and self-suggesting as it is, has never occurred to many of my readers. It would
be preposterous to deny what Sir John Lubbock has all but proved in "The Origin of Civilisation," that many methods of worship have occurred independently and spontaneously to savage races widely remote one from the other. Yet, ou the other hand, few impartial investigators will deny that transmission has also been a wonderful element in what Germans call culture.
If Buddhist priests were really the first men who, within the scope of written history and authentic annals, went from the Old World to the New, the fact is of great value in itself, and one which must doubtless lead the way to much important knowledge as to all the early settlement or culture of Old America. And if it be a fact, it will sooner or later be proved. Nothing can escape History that belongs to it. Within a generation Egypt and Assyria have yielded the greatest secrets of their language and life to patient inquiry; every week at present sees the most wonderful conquests, from the dreamy realm of myth and fable to that of material record and fact. I do not know how or when it will be, but I am persuaded that ancient America will in time yield her Moabite stones and Rosetta slabs to the patient inquirer. The records of Mexico were carefully destroyed by wicked bigots, who, not satisfied with exterminating a flourishing and happy nation, sought to commit a double murder by killing its past life. But it will be found again; for science will yet achieve that, and more.