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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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15 January 1771

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope


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Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope (continued)

From the similitude between the language of the Eastern Indies, and the islands of the South Sea, conjectures may be formed with respect to the peopling those countries, which cannot easily be referred to Madagascar. The inhabitants of Java and Madagascar appear to be a different race; the Javanese is of an olive complexion, and has long hair; the native of Madagascar is black, and his head is not covered with hair, but wool; and yet perhaps this will not conclude against their having common ancestors so strongly as at first appears. It does not seem less difficult to account for the personal difference between a native of England and France, as an effect of mere local situation, than for the difference between the natives of Java and Madagascar; yet it has never been supposed, that England and France were not peopled from common ancestors. If two natives of England marry in their own country, and afterwards remove to our settlements in the West Indies, the children that are conceived and born there will have the complexion and cast of countenance that distinguish the Creole; if they return, the children conceived and born afterwards, will have no such characteristics. If it be said that the mother’s mind being impressed with different external objects, impresses corresponding features and complexion upon the child during her pregnancy, it will be as difficult to refer the effect into this cause, upon mere physical principles, as into the other; for it can no more be shewn how a mere idea, conceived in the mother’s imagination, can change the corporeal form of her infant, than how its form can be changed by mere local situation. We know that people within the small circle of Great Britain and Ireland, who are born at the distance of two or three hundred miles from each either, will be distinguished by the Scotch face, the Welsh face, and the Irish face; may we not then reasonably suppose, that there are in nature qualities which act powerfully as efficient causes, and yet are not cognizable by any of the five modes of perception which we call senses? A deaf man, who fees the string of a harpsichord vibrate, when a corresponding tone is produced by blowing into a flute at a distance, will see an effect of which he can no more conceive the cause to exist in the blowing air into the flute, than we can conceive the cause of the personal difference of the various inhabitants of the globe to exist in mere local situation; nor can he any more form an idea of the cause itself, in one case, than we can in the other: what happens to him then, in consequence of having but four senses instead of five, may, with respect to many phenomena of nature, happen to us, in consequence of having but five senses instead of six, or any greater number.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 778 - 779, 2004
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