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MADAGASCAR.

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about, whether by colonization from the Malayan peninsula, the darker race being aboriginal to the island, or else introduced by emigration from the African continent, or perhaps brought in as slaves by the Malay settlers, or by Arab traders, we are left solely to conjecture.

As a means of throwing some light upon this subject, the language of the people is the only one upon which we can at present rely. It belongs, beyond a doubt, to that class of languages frequently denominated Malayan, but to which the term Polynesian appears far more appropriate. The fact that there was a great similarity in all the languages spoken in the islands of the eastern seas had been remarked by Cook and other voyagers, and from the commercial and political ascendency formerly held by the Malays in those parts, the name “Malayan” was given to all which resembled that language. A more extensive acquaintance, however, with them, has led to the conclusion that these dialects are not to be regarded as descended from the Malay, but as sustaining the relation of sisterhood to it, and to each other.

The living Malay language now spoken, or the vernacular dialect in the Malayan peninsula, and other parts of the Eastern Archipelago, is itself only related to the great and comprehensive Polynesian language, just as that of New Zealand, Tahiti, or Madagascar, may be related to it. The two most remarkable circumstances, belonging to this Polynesian language are, the wide extent to which it has been carried and the tenacity with which it has retained its hold, even in the contiguity of other more copious and cultivated languages, spoken by immensely larger numbers, such as the Arabic, Hindoo, Chinese, and Indo-Chinese.

With regard to the extent of region over which it has traversed, and still prevails, it is scarcely needful to do more than to glance at the fact, that from Madagascar in the West, to Easter Island in the East, embracing more than half the circumference of the globe at the equator, and from the Sandwich Islands in the North, to the extremity of New Zealand in the South, being 4,000 miles of latitude, there is a manifest connection between many of the words by which the inhabitants of these islands express their simple perceptions, and in some instances of places the most remote from each other, a striking affinity; insomuch that we may pronounce the various dialects, in a collective sense, substantially one great language. One original language seems in a very remote period to have per-