Mr Stanley and the Pigmies.
Of all the discoveries made by Mr Stanley in his recent wonderful journey, the most striking, perhaps, is that of the race of pigmies inhabiting the great Congo forest. The discovery may be regarded as confirming the remarkable story of Herodotus, about which a good deal of doubt has naturally been entertained. The Congo forest is probably the most extraordinary region on the face of the earth. Mr Stanley estimates it as covering an area of 224,000,000 acres, and containing some 10,752,000,000 trees. Its greatest length is 621 English miles, and its average breadth 517 miles. The trees vary from 20ft bo 200 ft high, and form an umbrageous canopy that is absolutely impenetrable to sunshine. It is only fit and proper that such a strange world should have strange inhabitants, and accordingly it is studded with villages of pigmies, the smallest race of men known, their height ranging from 3ft Sin to a little over 4ft. Their settlements are nine of ten miles apart, each settlement comprising from four to eight villages, and each village containing from 20 to 100 families. In common with the oLher natives of the forest, the pigmies live chiefly on bananas and plantains, which grow with unrivalled luxuriance. It seems at first sight rather strange that such a feeble race or mortals should manage to exist among the more savage and powerful tribes of the forest, but they make themselves useful to these, and are apparently unmolested. Tho origin and history of these strange little mortals are oF course wrapped in mystery, and ifc 1 is hardly to be wondered at that their discoverer should indulge in an outburst of enthusiasm in contemplating their supposed antiquity. But, although any actual statements of fact by Mr Stanley are entitled to respectful consideration, his speculations are not necessarily to be accepted. When he tells us that these pigmies are the oldest race in the world, and have a history of 5000 years behind them, we can hardly help inquiring what is the evidence for such a statement. Even admitting them to be identical with the pigmies of Herodotus, which is not improbable, we are able to trace them back only a little over 2000 years, and the Egyptian remains show that the negro has a considerably longer history than this. It is likely enough that they are a very ancient people, and an in: teresting question arises—do they represent a primitive type of man from which the races of larger stature have developed, or are they the descendants of ordinary sized men who have dwindled under the strange and depressing conditions under which they have so long lived? These are problems that will doubtless be amply discussed when we have obtained some further knowledge of this Lilliputian race.
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Mr Stanley and the Pigmies., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2461, 8 July 1890
Mr Stanley and the Pigmies. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2461, 8 July 1890
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