A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 787 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17.
and uses, which could not be acquired in a short time; that their instruments and household utensils differ greatly from those of any other nation, and are made with an extraordinary degree of neatness and dexterity, which implies that they are both of their own invention, and have been long in arriving at so great perfection; that, antecedently to the arrival of the Russians and Cossacks among them, they had not the smallest knowledge of any people, except the Koreki; that it is but of late they had an intercourse with the Kuriles, and still later (and happened by means of a vessel being shipwrecked on their coast) that they knew any thing of the Japanese; and, lastly, that the country was very populous at the time the Russians first got footing in it.

The reasons he alleges for supposing them to be originally descended from the Mungalians, are, That many words in their language have terminations similar to those of the Mungalian Chinese, such as, ong, ing, oing, tching, tcha, tchoing, ksi, ksung, &c.; and, moreover, that the same principle of inflexion or derivation obtains in both languages; that they are in general under-sized, as are the Mungalians; that their complexion, like theirs, is swarthy; that they have black hair, little beard, the face broad, the nose short and flat, the eyes small and sunk, the eye-brows thin, the belly pendant, the legs small; all which are peculiarities that are to be found among the Mungalians.  From the whole of which he draws this conclusion, that they fled for safety to this peninsula, from the rapid advances of the Eastern conquerors; as the Laplanders, the Samoides, &c. were compelled to retreat to the extremities of the north by the Europeans.

The Russians having extended their conquests, and established posts and colonies along that immense extent of coast of the Frozen Sea, from the Jenesei to the Anadir, appointed commissaries for the purpose of exploring and subjecting the countries still farther eastward.  They soon became acquainted with the wandering Koriacs, inhabiting the north and north-east coast of the sea of Okotzk, and, without difficulty, made them tributary.  These being the immediate neighbours of the Kamtschadales, and likewise in the habits of bartering with them, a knowledge of Kamtschatka followed of course.

The honour of the first discovery is given to Feodot Alexeieff, a merchant, who is said to have sailed from the river Kovyma, round the peninsula of the Tschutski, in company with seven other vessels, about the year 1648.  The tradition goes, that, being separated from the rest by a storm, near the Tschukotskoi Noss, he was driven upon the coast of Kamtschatka, where he wintered; and the summer following coasted round the promontory of Lopatka, into the sea of Okotzk, and entered the mouth of the Tigil; but that he and his companions were cut off by the Koriacs, in endeavouring to pass from thence by land to the Anadirsk.  This, in part, is corroborated by the accounts of Simeon Deshneff, who commanded one of the seven vessels, and was thrown on shore at the mouth of the Anadir.  Be this as it may, since these discoverers, if such they were, did not live to make any report of what they had done, Volodimir Atlassoff, a Cossack, stands for the first acknowledged discoverer of Kamtschatka.[78]

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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