Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

the midst of us shall be accounted worthy of honor; but perish the spirit that in the contest for the practical forgets the spiritual or even the aesthetic in our nature; that will enslave men like Keats to editing “ People's Journals," and writing “ Voices from the Crowd.” Minds that cannot be influenced by the latter, may be drawn by the high, calm beauty of the former. There are spirits all the way from Heaven to Hell, and all methods of influence must be employed to lead them upward. True Genius is always religious. It never works in vain, but leaves in the world something that shall eventually vindicate its title to the love of men. Honor to the apostle of outward beauty. Let him sing his song and move all within his reach; and for those who are too high to be elevated by his notes, one greater shall be sent; for wherever there is spiritual want, there is omnipresent Deity employing its eternal agencies in furnishing the supply.

ART. III. - The Natural History of Man; comprising in

quiries into the modifying influence of physical and moral agencies on the different tribes of the human family. By J. C. PRICHARD, M. D., F. R. S., &c. Second edition, enlarged. With forty-four colored and five plain illustrations engraved on steel, and ninety-seven engravings on wood. London: Hippolyte Bailliére. 1845.

A decided impulse to the study of Ethnology has manifested itself in every scientific circle. It does not need stimulus so much as direction: the various parties who are foraging on this extensive field have become embarrassed by the facts they have collected. They are not yet certain whether facts that belong to separate groups have been illegally mixed, or whether all the facts of a single group have been obtained. Every conclusion is therefore still held in abeyance by the consciousness that new facts, or new relations of old facts, may mo'lify it. The science is hardly large enough yet to go alone. But the facts already possessed point to such remarkable developments, and the field is found to be so unexpectedly fruitful, that a superior avidity of investigation is shown in no other direction. Travellers and historians are questioned and collated, their true ethnological residue is rapidly extracted, physical geog.

raphers surrender their mountain-ranges and inland seas to modify the complexion and constitution of races; and even the old literalist eagerly spreads his Mosaic of texts, as if brooding and warming over Genesis would finally engender the authentic origin of man. Dr. Prichard believes in the unity of the human race on account of the facts he has col. lected. His reviewers deem him to be one of the few religious investigators; for a belief in books called sacred with many men passes for Religion. Professor Agassiz thinks that his facts support the theory of a quintuple origin : but he is very careful to surmise that only one of these is mentioned in Genesis. Every investigator has his wrench at that ancient document; and with many the object seems to be, not to study Ethnology, but to construct a Mosaic equation out of the only facts which will balance the texts. Even if it were prob. able that the human race have all descended from a single primeval pair, it can be fairly proved to be so only by those who conduct their investigations independent of tradition.

Dr. Prichard's book, whose title heads this notice, is a reduced and popular statement of his great argument for the genealogical unity of mankind, as it exists in his five previous volumes of “Researches.” It is illustrated by beautiful and characteristic plates, drawn from authentic sources. They are true to nature ; many plates embellish, these illustrate. The special types of human varieties are kept distinct, and yet their analogical gradation is quite evident. It is altogether a beautiful volume.

The argument, of which we proceed to give a brief analysis, suffers from its reduced condition; and the student will not be satisfied unless the volumes of Researches are within his reach. But it is quite sufficient to give a general idea of the bulk and kind of material existing in support of the theory, that all the different races of men, with their varieties, sprang from a single pair.

I. A generalization based upon facts observed among plants and animals. The perpetuation of hybrids, so as to produce new and intermediate tribes, is impossible. The same, then, ought to be true of mankind, if all its varieties, like the tribes of plants and animals, sprang from distinct stocks. But this is not true of mankind. All races and varieties are equally capable of propagating their offspring by intermarriages, however dissimilar the varieties may be. He instances hybrid human races that continue to propagate : the Grigua Hottentots, from Dutch and Hottentots; the Brazilian Cafusos, from native Americans and imported Negroes; the Papuas of New-Guinea and the adjacent islands, from Papuan Negroes and Malays. Opponents must prove, then, that human races are an exception to the universally prevalent law of organized nature. If they are not, the propagation of hybrids proves that all the tribes of men are of one family.

II. Argument from facts relative to the nature and origination of animal varieties : whether the diversities which exist between races of men are specific, or only examples of devia tions like those which occur among animals who are domesticated, or transported to more or less genial climates, or confined to novel nutriment. He instances very curious and striking varieties of the hog, horse, ass, sheep, goat, cow, dog, cat, and gallinaceous fowls. Their variations include modifications in external properties, physiological changes as to the laws of the animal economy, and psychological changes in the instincts, habits, and powers of perception and intellect. These last changes are sometimes brought about by training: are sometimes permanently fixed in the breed so long as it remains unmixed, and are possible only to a limited extent, always preserving a particular type, which is that of the spe cies. He then proceeds to generalize : races of men are more subject to the agencies of climate than almost any race of animals. Civilization, and the influence of mind, conspire to produce great modifications. “A priori, we might expect to discover in the psychological characters of human races changes similar in kind, but infinitely greater in degree." The bulk of the volume is occupied with a survey of the diversities displayed by man, from three points of view: modifications in external properties; physiological changes ; psychological alterations.

III. 1. Modifications in external properties. Varieties in the complexion and in the structure of the skin. There is no organic difference of skin, but only transitions from race to race, and varieties in single races exist. Instance of the porcupine-man in England, who, if his children had propagated, since they were like him, might have been mistaken for the first man of a distinct species. Jews become black in Southern India; dark races grow light as they ascend table-lands and mountains; blue eyes and red hair are found among Af ghanistans; and gradations of color are perceptible down the sides of the Himalayan and Cordillerean ranges, also from

[ocr errors]

province to province in Africa. A comparison of the Negro's hair with the wool of animals proves that he has hair proper, and that wool is confined to animals. The differences noticed in human hair are attributed to different degrees of crispation. (We regret this argument for Unity, for the sake of those among our Orthodox brethren who at the same time believe in the divine origin of Genesis, and establish slavery upon physical distinctions. Is Moses right, and yet is there no wool, is there no special tibia, no special generic negreity divinely postulating slavery? Would it not be more economical to swear by Agassiz than by Prichard ?) Varieties of structure of the skull and skeleton do not amount to specific distinctions, because, 1. “none of the differences in question exceed the limits of individual variety, or are greater than the diversities found within the circle of one nation or family.” 2. “ The varieties of form in human races are by no means so considerable, in many points of view, as the instances of variation which are known to occur in different tribes of animals belonging to the same stock, there being scarcely one domesticated species which does not display much more considerable deviation from the typical character of the tribe.”

Distribution of Nations. He shows the relationship of the ancient Egyptians to the people of Africa, and sums up thus :

“ If it be admitted that the Egyptians display some traces of approximation in physical character to the other nations of Africa, a fact which was striking to Ledyard and to Denon; and if it be supposed that these traits are the results of physical agencies on a race subjected during thousands of years to their influence, it may be supposed, with great probability, that similar causes operating upon tribes of people in the rudest condition of existence, and so much the more subjected to the influence of climate, and to other agencies which modify the moral and physical character of human races, would produce a much greater and more general effect.”

He notices the remarkable influence of climate upon branches of the Hindoo family, and then passes to the Indo-European nations, “who speak languages of cognate origin, and who are proved by that connecting bond to be the descendants of one original stock.” They are spread from the mouth of the Ganges to the northern extremity of Scandinavia. The present characteristics of these races do not agree entirely with those given by ancient writers. Therefore they must have become changed or modified through the lapse of time, and the influence of external agencies.

He then attempts to group the five great Nomadic races, and founds their identity, not decisively, but with much probability, upon an analysis of their languages. From these races the Indo-Chinese are descended by regular gradations.

In proceeding to classify the aboriginal races of India, that is, races distinct from the Hindoos, and with languages quite different from the Sanscrit, he remarks: “It must be allowed that the constituting of such a department of nations indicates the imperfection of ethnology.” These races are the Singhalese, the Tamulian, tribes in the Dekhan, and petty barbarous tribes between the Indian and the Indo-Chinese peninsulas. All these are supposed to have descended from the northeast before the time when the Hindoos, of Indo-European descent, crossed the Indus.

The Caucasian languages indicate marks of ancient connection with the dialects of Northern Siberia. It is also supposed that the Georgian language is reducible into the Indo-European family of languages. The language of the Libyans is Semitic. But our analysis of his “ Distribution of Nations” will degenerate into a mere catalogue of tribes. It forms a cumulative argument, whose force and bearing upon the theory of unity he displays in a chapter entitled “General Observations deduced from the preceding survey of human races.” Before proceeding to that we will notice only some of the most striking facts that he has collected. He proves, for instance, the identity of the Fulah race of Senegambia with the Felatahs of Central Africa. To substantiate such facts is important in proportion to the existing dissimilarity of the races. It shows how possible it is that the widest extremes may have issued from a common origin ; consequently the direction of such facts is favorable to the establishment of unity of origin for all human varieties, since no counteracting tendency has been discovered. He proves that the African nations agree in no particular character which might indicate for them a special origin, that is, origin from a distinct and appropriate pair ; but the continent presents zones of varieties which shade off into each other like the colors of the spectrum. In fact, he attempts to create a sliding scale of variety, on every degree of which a characteristic may be placed, giving, by its total effect, the impression that circumstances have been the fertile cause of all human diversities.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »