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The races of Oceanica, great as their physical difference may be, are found to give complete proof of unity of descent; and their diversities cannot be explained without supposing that they were spontaneous. The Malays are shaded off into the Polynesians.
He dates the existence of the American tribes as a distinct and insulated race, as far back as the time when the inhabitants of the Old World were separated into nations, and each branch of them flaked off into its primitive language and individuality. The unity of descent of the American tribes is rendered highly probable by the similarity of grammatical construction that their languages present. This is a much more radical bond of union than those verbal analogies, often fanciful, which travellers draw up in columns. Similarity of construction proves relationship between two languages that have no word in common. Ethnography finds identities in the philological, as well as in all the other departments, where men previously saw only differences.
The Nootka-Columbian is shown to display a remote affinity with the Azteca-Mexican. The South-American tribes are shown to be peculiarly unlike each other: this is an important fact in his favor, since he has just proved their undoubted affinity. We may expect to see graver discrepancies resolve themselves into some ancient and abstruse unity. He has not given this argument the prominence that it deserves. Indeed, he has left it to be suggested by his narrative.
He displays a striking modification of physical structure in the case of the Quichua or Inca race. They inhabit table lands from 7,500 to 15,000 feet above the level of the sea. At such a height the air is so rarefied, that the lungs must inhale an additional volume at each inspiration : it follows that they have extraordinary dimensions. The cells are more dilated : “ this dilatation increases considerably the volume of the lungs, consequently they must have, to contain them, a larger cavity- therefore the chest has a capacity much larger than in the normal state, and finally, this great development of the chest elongates the trunk beyond its natural proportions, and places it almost out of harmony with the length of the extremities, this remaining the same as if the chest had preserved its natural dimensions." And yet the Quichuas are but a branch of the American family of nations. Physical diversities of less prominence need not, then, be ascribed to a special origin. NO. VIII.
In his chapter of General Results, above alluded to, he points out some inferences suggested by this ethnographical outline. We find that we have anticipated some of these : others we will briefly give.
“All the diversities which exist are variable, and pass into each other by insensible gradations; and there is, moreover, scarcely an instance in which the actual transition cannot be proved to have taken place."
Each particular type of the skeleton and skull undergoes deviations, and passes into other forms. “ The shape of the head varies in particular tribes of a nation, and even in the same tribe.”
“ With respect to color, it is still more easy to trace the greatest variations within the limits of one race. Under this head it would be quite fair to take the whole Indo-European family of nations as an example, since from one identical stock must have sprung the Gothic, the Iranian races, and the Arian stem of India, including the Xanthous Siah-Pôsh of Kafirstan, the yellow-haired and blue-eyed villagers of Jumnotri and Gangotri and the black Hindoos of Anu-gangam."
“In mankind we find the texture of the hair in every gradation of variety: and if we take the black tribes who are apparently of genuine native origin as one body, we shall discover among them every possible gradation, from the short, close curls of the Kafir to the crisp but bushy locks of the Berberine, and again to the flowing hair of the black Tuaryk, or Tibbo. In some instances, indeed, it appears that the change from one to the other may be shown in actual transition.”
This finishes his investigation of anatomical and external bodily characters.
III. 2. Physiological changes. “The average duration of human life is nearly the same in the different races of men. Even in different climates the tendency to exist for a given time is the same.”
“The specific temperature of the body is the same, or nearly so, in all the races of men. There is no remarkable difference in the frequency of the pulse, or any of the other vital functions, between different tribes."
The period appointed by nature for marriage does not vary in different climates. The periods of life at which the principal changes take place are just the same among Oriental nations, for instance, as in Europe.
“ The difference of climate occasions very little, if any, important diversity as to the periods of life and the physical changes to
which the human constitution is subject; and in all these great regulations of the animal economy, mankind, whether white or black, are placed by nature nearly on an equal footing.”
To show how transportation to a particular climate affects races alike, independently of their organization, he says:
“The natives of Sierra Leone sustain comparatively little inconvenience from their climate, though it is destructive to Europeans. That this is not owing to original organization, we collect from the fact, of which we are assured by an intelligent physician, long resident in the colony, that the free Negroes who were brought from Nova-Scotia, and whose ancestors had been generally resident for some generations in a very different climate from ihat of Sierra Leone, are subject to the same diseases as Europeans.” There are numerous examples of similar acclimatization.” process requires many generations to bring it about; but when once produced, the new characters are hereditary and impressed upon the race.”
This finishes the department of Physiological Changes.
III. 3. Psychological Alterations. “ One common mind, or psychical nature, belongs to the whole human family. When we consider that the babits of men are so changed, in some races whose past and present state comes within the sphere of history, the Russians and Germans, for instance, we cannot presume to determine that the universal differences may not have been the result of circumstances favoring the progressive development of one race, and, in other instances, preventing it, or forcing a tribe already civilized to return to the brutality of savage life.”
The most powerful argument for psychological unity resides in a comparison of the aboriginal superstitions and doctrines of the most widely separated tribes. Besides certain general traditions which have strangely ramified into the most remote places, there are certain radical doctrines or sentiments which are found to be universal. All men believe in spiritual agencies, and, with greater or less intelligence, propitiate them; there is a universal desire to perform some sacrifice. believe in a future state, and represent its conditions according to the degree of their enlightenment. All men believe in moral goodness, and aspire to possess certain tribal and characteristic virtues, that are, in truth, only stunted and neglected Beatitudes. It is evident that here is the material out of which a civilized and Christian character may be elaborated, with the modifications induced by hereditary and provincial
habits. Therefore we should expect to see the application of Christian truth in the hands of missionaries so far successful as to support the argument for psychological unity, by establishing a universal susceptibility. The argument is greatly strengthened if we consent to risk an examination of missionary experience among the most degraded and darkened races, rather than among those who possess a moderate intelligence. The result is very striking; the labors of the devoted Moravians among the Esquimaux and the Hottentots, two races which occupy the humblest places on the outposts of human life, and the former dwelling on the verge of mental as well as Arctic desolation, convince us that God has prepared mankind by a unity of capacity for a unity of life. The truth of the Gospel has found warm and germinative soil beneath the surface-frost; it has found the universal and homogeneous human heart, which underlies this zoned and many-colored map of life. It is the primitive formation which sustains numerous disruptions and strange collocations, the solid base upon which diversity depends. Psychological unity is cropping out everywhere
upon the surface, to assure us that we shall not quarry for our corner-stones in vain. In fact, the science of ethnol. ogy culminates in a truth that is no less practical for the moral worker than it is impressive to the scientific seeker: there are diversities of gifts but the same spirit.
It shall be our object to continue these ethnological researches, under the inspiration of that central truth. We consider that the science has been acclimatized to our journal by this brief analysis of Dr. Prichard's work; and we shall endeavour from time to time to indicate its direction, and to suggest certain practical terminations which it involves. No activity of the human mind contains more directly moral and regenerative purposes than this one. Almost every other human science is necessary to support its existence, and it exceeds them all, as it combines them all, by demonstrating the moral order of the universe. No other intelligent results of human thought have done so much to authenticate the words, There shall be one fold and one shepherd, — or to project upon them a character of universal prophecy; and no other science provides us with agencies that will more surely coöperate with abstract truth to produce that great result.
Before leaving the subject we wish to call the attention of our readers to “ The Ethnological Journal; a Magazine of Ethnography, Phrenology, and Archäology, considered as elements of the Science of Races. Edited by Luke Burke, Esq., London, and J. Wiley, New York.” It deserves a better notice than we can afford to give it now, but the patronage of all those who are interested in this science will doubtless be the most welcome thing to offer. We trust our readers are already acquainted with the two interesting and valuable volumes entitled “Transactions of the American Ethnological Society.”
Art. IV.- History of the Conquest of Mexico. With a
Preliminary View of the Ancient Mexican Civilization, and the Life of the Conqueror, Hernando Cortés. By WILLIAM H. PRESCOTT, author of the “ History of Ferdinand and Isabella,” &c., &c. In three volumes.
. New York. 1844.
AFTER Mr. Prescott had finished his History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, noticed in a former number of this journal,* several important subjects seemed naturally to claim his attention: these were the Discovery of America, and the Reign of Charles V. But the first of these had already been described by the graceful pen of Mr. Irving, adorning what it touches; the second had been treated by Dr. Robertson in a work of great though declining celebrity, and rendered attractive by a pleasing style, which often conceals the superficiality of the author's research, the shallowness of his political philosophy, and the inhumanity of his conclusions. Few men would wish to enter the literary career, and run the race with such distinguished rivals. A broader field yet remained, more interesting to the philosopher and the lover of mankind; namely, the Conquest and Colonization of America by the Spaniards. On this theme Mr. Prescott has written two independent works, of wide popularity. Of the first of these we now propose to speak, only premising what we said before in respect to the office and duty of an historian.
The new world was discovered in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella ; its islands and continents, though not for the
* No. VI., for March, 1849, p. 215 et seq.