was certainly one of the earliest ship-builders, and the ark, the first large vessel that is mentioned in history. Profane history relates an extraordinary account of two other ships, of a prodigious magnitude: the first built by Ptolemy Philopater, king of Egypt, which carried four thousand rowers, four hundred sailors, and three thousand soldiers; the other belonged to Hiero, king of Sicily, and was built under the direction of Archimedes. It contained all the variety of apartments belonging to a palace; banquetingrooms, galleries, gardens, fish-ponds, stables, baths, mills, a temple of Venus, &c.; and, to render it complete, it was encompassed with an iron rampart and eight towers, with walls and bulwarks, furnished with machines of war.

MR. HARCOURT. When the history of a very remote period records events that exceed rational belief, it is reasonable to suppose that the circumstance related was regarded as extraordinary at the time it happened; and that the historian, desirous of transmitting the fame of his native country to posterity, has enlarged

the fact, and related it in the glowing colours

of fiction. In this light I consider the description of Hiero's vessel. But to return to the simple inventions of the earliest navigators: the various tribes of savage nations that inhabit the sea-coast, will throw the best light on the subject. Canoe is the name given to the little boats generally used by those who dwell in both Indies, as well as by the negroes in Guinea. They generally make them of the trunks of trees hollowed out, and sometimes of pieces of bark fastened together. They differ in size, according to the tree of which they are made. They are rowed with paddles, something like the oars of a boat, and but rarely carry sails. The loading is placed at the bottom; but as they have no ballast, they are frequently turned upside down. The want of a rudder, with which they are not furnished, is supplied by the hind paddles. The negroes of Guinea use the same sort of canoe, though made in a different manner; they are long-shaped, having only room for one person in width, and seven or eight in length, and show but little of the wood above


the water. Those accustomed to row them are extremely dexterous, not only in striking the paddles with cadence and uniformity, by which the canoes seem to skim along the surface of the water; but also in balancing the vessels with their bodies, and preventing their overturning, which, without this address, must continually happen, from their extreme lightness. But, what is still more extraordinary, when this accident does occur, many of them have the dexterity to turn them up again, even in the water, and remount them.

CECILIA. I have often remarked that savages show great ingenuity in their simple contrivances, and that they excel the inhabitants of civilized countries in personal address and dexterity. What Europeans can vie with some of the Indians in running, when they pursue their game in hunting; or in patience, whilst they suffer the want of food, when they happen to be disappointed of obtaining it in the woods? The art with which they contrive stratagems in war, to deceive their enemies, shows great cunning and skill. Though I despise the principle, I admire the fertility

of their invention. When I reflect upon their superiority in these things, I am discontented, because I cannot find a satisfactory reason why ignorance should excel knowledge in any thing.

MRS. HARCOURT. There are many causes why a savage should perform acts of skill and dexterity, in a manner superior to a person whose mind has been enriched by the cultivation of science; but there can exist no instance of ignorance being preferable to knowledge. The intellectual powers of a savage, though capable of receiving the same impressions as a man of science, are, from want of education, confined to very few objects; on those he bestows his whole attention, and consequently attains a great degree of perfection in the things that belong to them. Do you not think that Charles would jump better than any of his acquaintance, if he passed whole days or weeks in no other occupation but that exercise.

CECILIA. Certainly: I have no doubt of it. SOPHIA. The subsistence of savages depends so much upon their success in fishing and hunting, that, without skill in these arts,

they must frequently be destitute of provisions: it is likely, therefore, that their whole education consists in attaining this dexterity. Although they manage their canoes with such surprising cleverness, I suppose they do not venture far out to sea.

MR. HARCOURT. Seldom to a greater distance from shore than four leagues. They weave mats with rushes, of which they make the sails. On returning from a voyage, the canoes are not left in the water, but drawn on shore, and suspended by the two ends till they are dry, in which state they are so light, that two men can easily carry them on their shoulders. Different causes have operated in forming the peculiar characters of different nations. The narrowness and poverty of the land inhabited by the Phoenicians and Tyrians, combining with their natural genius for traffic, rendered them the first nation of navigators among the ancients. Lebanon and the other neighbouring mountains supplying them with excellent wood for ship-building, they were in possession of a numerous fleet, before other nations had acquired any knowledge in the

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