Quote: Martin on the difficulties of reconstructing human migrations

For a writing project, I’ve been looking at some pre-Darwinian accounts of human origins and relationships. One of the most detailed was published in 1841 by William Martin, “A General Introduction to the Natural History of Mammiferous Animals”.This is a haphazard book, something like a rambling Dickensian biology textbook, but I thought it was worth sharing this paragraph on the difficulty of examining the relationships of humans:

Let it also be remembered, that the migrations of Man are, for the most part, not single acts, performed by one tribe, and, so to speak, finished at once; but they have generally been like the waves of the advancing tide---the way once open, swarm has followed swarm, the movement has been general, and years have passed, till, at length, the flood has either ceased to roll on, or has taken some new direction. Meanwhile the invaders have become amalgamated with the more ancient possessors of the soil, and their commingled descendants again with other invaders, in their turn. Most nations, besides, if even relics of their early history be by chance preserved, have fondly claimed for themselves a romantic or heroic origin---a descent from gods, or god-like men---have blended facts with fables, between which it is not a little difficult to separate, and have assigned the most extravagant antiquity to their commencement. Hence, then, the difficulty of forming a clear digest of the subject, and of tracing the branches and offsets to their primitive stocks; hance the uncertainty which attends the most plausible hypotheses.