Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

170

The Ethnology of Europe.

ent states of civilisation as to render amalgamation impossible,-and even in this case only when the inferior race is so intractable as to resist all obedience to the superior. Displacement-which is obsolete now, since advancing civilisation has rendered conquest political only—was pretty common two thousand years ago, when Europe was thinly and nomadically peopled, and tribes migrated en masse. In this way, for example, the Cimbri wedged themselves in among the Celts in Northern Gaul, and took possession of a large tract in Northern Italy. But soon after the Christian era Belga-chiefly in consequence of the increasing density and settled habits of the population-conquest ceased to produce either extermination or displacement, and consisted merely in the overlaying of one population by another much less numerous but more powerful. Thus the Normans in England and the Franks in Gaul were but a handful compared to the conquered population; and consequently, though they might give their laws and even their name to the country, they could not materially alter the physical character of the people.

sive and sometimes widely-severed
movements. Three centuries after-
wards we find the Cimbri on the
shores of the Northern Ocean in Jut-
land; and between the years 113 and
101 B.C., we find the race all on the
move, and setting out on that south-
ward career of devastation which
eventually brought them into Gaul,
Spain, and Italy. The Belgians seem
to have been a Cimbrian tribe which
had preceded the main body; for
when, in this invasion, the Cimbri
reached Northern Gaul, the Belgæ
immediately joined them as allies
against the Celts,-and it seems also
proven that the Cimbri and
spoke dialects of the same language.
The Celts, routed by the invaders,
were impelled to the south and east,
doubtless trespassing in turn upon
the dark-skinned Iberians. It was im-
mediately after this inroad that Cæsar
and his Romans entered Gaul, and
commenced his Commentaries with
the well-known statement:-"All
Gaul is divided into three parts, of
which one is inhabited by the Bel-
gians, [or Cimbri, in the north]-
another by the Aquitanians [or Iberi-
ans, in the south-west],-and the
third [or eastern], by those who in
their own language, call themselves
Celts, and who in our tongue are
called Gael (Galli). These races
differ among themselves by their
language, their manners, and their
laws." Previous to this time the
Teutons had settled in central Europe,
and in alliance with Celtic tribes
made incursions into Italy.

The chief influence which, in the case of two races mingling, determines the preservation or extinction of types or national features, is simply the numerical proportion existing between the two races thus amalgamating. When races meet and mix on equal terms, and with no natural repugnance to each other (in other words, cæteris paribus), the relative number of the two races decides the question be--the type of the smaller number, in this hypothetical case, inevitably disTake, for appearing in the long run. example, a thousand white families and fifty black ones-place them on an island, and let them regularly intermarry; and the result would be, that in the course of time the black type would disappear, although there is reason to believe that traces of it. would "crop out" during a very long period. And if two fair-skinned races were brought into contact in a similar manner, and in similar proportions, the extermination of the less numerous one would be even sooner effected. The operation of this law is well illustrated in the lower animals. Cross two domestic animals of different

We have now reached a period at which the population of Europe comes greatly mixed, in consequence of the constant rovings and incursions of the various races and tribes of which it was composed. It is interesting to note the effect of such a state of things upon the physical characteristics of the people. And first it is to be observed, that, with extremely rare exceptions, conquest is not attended by extermination.

When one people, even in semi-barbarous times, conquers another, it does not annihilate and rarely displaces, but for the most part only overlays it. The annihilating process, of which a sample may be seen in America, only takes place in the rare case of the meeting of two nations, in such widely differ

breeds-take the offspring and cross it with one of the parent stocks, and continue this process for a few generations, and the result is that the one becomes swallowed up in the other. This is the theory; but in the actual world races never intermarry with such theoretical regularity and indifference. Each community of mankind has, as its conservative element, a tendency to form unions within its own limits; and if a foreign element is once introduced into a population, the operation of this predilection tends to preserve the type of the lesser number for a much longer period than mere theory would assign to it. The stranger-hating and obstinate-tempered Bretons and Basques, for instance, by intermarrying among themselves, have thus preserved the type of the old Iberians through three thousand years, although surrounded on all sides by the fair-haired Celts. In the case of a conquering race like the Franks and Normans, there is generally less isolation than this; but then, the way in which the amalgamation between the conquerors and the conquered takes place, is such as to give a great advantage to the former. The sons of the conquerors may wed the daughters of the conquered, for the sake of their lands; but it is comparatively seldom that the daughters of the invaders will condescend to tarnish their scutcheon by becoming wedded to and merged in the class of the vanquished. The principle of caste is all-pervading, even when nominally repudiated; and thus, as the male ever influences most directly the type of the offspring, a small number of conquerors may for long perpetuate their line in comparative purity, even though surrounded by myriads of a different race.

From all this it results, that when a small body of foreigners is shot into the middle of a large population, as it were in virtue of a mere casual impetus, and not owing to higher qualities and organisation on the part of the aliens, the new-comers are quickly absorbed into the general mass of the population, and their type, in course of time, wholly disappears. The his

tory of Italy throws important light upon this subject. Successive hordes of barbarians broke into and overran that country, powerful from their rude energy, but numerically weak, and inferior in mental condition to the conquered race. Again and again did human waves of Visigoths, Vandals, Huns, Herules, Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Normans roll in succession over the Italian plains; and even the Saracens for a time held possession of some of its fairest provinces; yet what vestiges remain in Italy of these barbarian surges? The first three passed over it like tornados; the two next, after contending with the Goths, were expelled from the land; and of the whole conglomerate mass but small fragments were left, too insignificant to materially influence the native Italic types. The Lombards, indeed, remained, and implanted their name on a portion of the peninsula; but, with this fragmentary exception, the aboriginal population of Italy has remained unaltered in blood and features since the early times when the Celts and Cimbri made settlements in its northern provinces. And thus the normal law is fulfilled, in the invaders being swallowed up in the mass of the native population,- leavening it, of course, more or less, but ever tending towards ultimate extinction.

When a really conquering race, however-one superior alike in physical and mental power to the subjugated population-invades a country, and, instead of being expelled, or passing onwards like a transient whirlwind, continues to hold the realm in virtue of superior power, such a race, as we have said, may long and almost indelibly perpetuate their features in the land. In such a case they in reality, if not in name, form a caste; each one of the invaders becomes a noble; and when they make exceptions to the practice of intermarrying among themselves, it is only that they may more widely diffuse their lineaments, by forming matrimonial or other unions with the female portion of the native race.* Thus the feudalism of the all-conquering Normans was a system of caste, by means

*It is not improbable that the old feudal law, which placed the person of a female vassal at the disposal of the seigneur on her wedding-night, originated in political motives as well as in a tyrannous sensuality.

of which they long maintained the purity and pre-eminence of their race in the countries which they conquered; as may best be seen in French history, where the vieux noblesse, even in 1789, were the lineal descendants of the soldiers of Clovis; and where the distinction between noble and roturier was kept up with such rigid and antiquated pertinacity, that at length the Celtic population, becoming more and more developed alike in intellect and resources, threw off the whole foreign system like an incubus, and returned to those principles of equality and volatility in government which distinguished their ancestors of old Gaul.

We may remark in conclusion, on this topic, that the ascendancy of certain families of mankind is due not only to their superior physical, but even more to their superior mental organisation, which ever keeps them uppermost, and enables them to mate themselves with whom they please. It is a remarkable fact, as illustrative of the native vigour of some races, that there is not a head in Christendom which legitimately wears a crown -not a single family in Europe whose blood is acknowledged to be royal, but traces its genealogy to that Norman colossus, WILLIAM the CONQUEROR. This has been well shown by M. Paulmier;* but we may add, as a curiosity which lately attracted our own notice, when looking at the portrait of the Conqueror-namely, that a strong resemblance exists between his fine and massive features and those of the present Czar of Russia. Both are distinguished by the same broad brow and arched eyebrows (not each forming a semicircle, as seems to be the meaning of the term "arched" when applied to eyebrows nowadays, but both combining to form an oval curve, vaulting over the under part of the face, as was the meaning among the Greeks), the same thick straight nose, and the same massive and beautiful conformation in the bones of the jaw and chin. The face of the Czar, however, we must add, is not equal in solid strength and intellect to that of his great progenitor.

*

The operation of these physiological laws upon the population of Europe has been interestingly illustrated by the recent researches of a French naturalist of high reputation, M. Edwards. This gentleman, after perusing Thierry's History of the Gauls, made a tour through France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, engaged in careful study of the present popula tion in relation to the ancient settlers; and he asserts that now, after the lapse of two thousand years, the types of the Cimbri, the Celts, and Iberians are still distinctly traceable among their living descendants, in the very localities where history first descries these early families. Of the inland eastern parts of France, tenanted of old by the Gauls proper, and which were never penetrated into by the Cimbri, who took quiet possession of their outskirts, M. Edwards thus speaks:- "In traversing, from north to south, the part of France which corresponds to Oriental Gaul―viz., Burgundy, Lyons, Dauphiny, and Savoy-I have distinguished that type, so well marked, which ethnographers have assigned to the Gauls." That is to say, "the head is so round as to approach the spherical form; the forehead is moderate, slightly protuberant, and receding towards the temples; eyes large and open; the nose, from its depression at its commencement to its termination, almost straight-that is to say, without any marked curve; its extremity is rounded, as well as the chin; the stature medium;-the features thus being quite in harmony with the form of the head." Of the northern part of ancient Gaul, the principal seat of the Belgæ or Cimbri, he says:-"I traversed a great part of the Gallia Belgica of Cæsar, from the mouth of the Somme to that of the Seine; and here I distinguished for the first time the assemblage of features which constitutes the other type, and often to such an exaggerated degree that I was very forcibly struck, the long head, the broad high forehead, the curved nose, with the point below, and the wings tucked up; the chin boldly developed; and the stature tall." In

[ocr errors]

Aperçus Genealogiques sur les Descendants de Guillaume. Rev. Archéol. 1845,

p. 794.

[ocr errors]

the other parts of France (exclusive of the south and west, anciently occupied by the Iberians), M. Edwards found that the Cimbrian type had been overcome by the round heads and straight noses of the Gauls, who were the more numerous because the more ancient race in those parts, and had covered the whole country before the arrival of the Cymbrians.

Passing into Italy, he continues his examinations. "Whatever may have been the anterior state of matters," he says, “it is certain, from Thierry's researches and the unanimous accord of all historians, that the Peuples Gaulois have predominated in the north of Italy, between the Alps and the Apennines. We find them established there at the first dawn of history; and the most anthentic testimony represents them with all the character of a great nation, from this remote period down to a very advanced point of Roman history. This is all I need to trouble myself about. I know the features of their compatriots in Transalpine Gaul-I find them again in Cisalpine Gaul." The old "Gallic" settlers in northern Italy appear to have been Cimbrian. After describing the well-known head of Dante-which is long and narrow, with a high and developed forehead, nose long and curved, with sharp point and elevated wings-M. Edwards says that he was struck by the great frequency of this type in Tuscany (although a mixed Roman type is there the prevailing one) among the peasantry; in the statues and busts of the Medici family; and also amongst the effigies and bas-reliefs of the illustrious men of the republic of Florence. This type is well marked since the time of Dante, as doubtless long before. It extends to Venice; and in the ducal palace, M. Edwards had occasion to observe that it is common among the doges. The type became more predominant as he approached Milan, and thence he traced it as to its fountain into Transalpine Gaul. The physical characteristics of the present population, therefore, correspond with the statements of history, and show that the ancient type of this widespread people, the Cimbri, has survived the

lapse and vicissitudes of two thousand years.

In passing through Florence, M. Edwards took occasion to visit the Ducal Gallery, to study the ancient Roman type, selecting, by preference, the busts of the early Roman emperors, because they were descendants of ancient families. Augustus, Tiberius, Germanicus, Claudius, Nero, Titus, &c., exemplify this type in the Florentine collections; and the family resemblance is so close, and the style of features so remarkable, that they cannot be mistaken. The following is his description :-"The vertical diameter of the head is short, and, consequently, the face broad. As the summit of the cranium is flattened, and the lower margin of the jaw-bone almost horizontal, the contour of the head, when viewed in front, approaches a square. The lateral parts, above the ears, are protuberant; the forehead low; the nose truly aquiline--that is to say, the curve commences near the top and ends before it reaches the point, so that the base is horizontal; the chin is round; and the stature short." This is the characteristic type of a Roman; but we cannot expect now to meet with absolute uniformity in any race, however seemingly pure. Such a type M. Edwards subsequently found to predominate in Rome, and certain parts of Italy, at the present day. It is the original type of the central portions of the peninsula, and, however overlayed at times, has swallowed up all intrud

ers.

As a singular corroboration of the French ethnographer's observations, Mr J. C. Nott, an American surgeon and naturalist, says: -"A sailor came to my office, a few months ago, to have a dislocated arm set. When stripped and standing before me, he presented the type described by M. Edwards so perfectly, and moreover combined with such extraordinary development of bone and muscle, that there occurred to my mind at once the beau-ideal of a Roman soldier. Though the man had been an American sailor for twenty years, and spoke English without foreign accent, I could not help asking where he was born. He replied in a deep strong voice, 'In Rome, sir!'"*

* Types of Mankind. By T. C. WATT and G. R. GLIDDON. London: 1854.

In Greece the Hellenes and Pelasgi are two races identified with the earliest traditions of the country; but when we appeal to history for their origin, or seek for the part that each has played in the majestic drama of antiquity, there is little more than conjecture to guide us. Greece did not come fairly within the scope of M. Edwards' researches, yet he has ventured a few note-worthy observations in connection with this point. He thinks the same principles that governed his examination of Gaul may be applied to Greece; and that the Hellenes and Pelasgi might be followed ethnologically like the Celts and Cimbri. Perhaps the most important remark which he makes is that which refers to the differences between what he calls the heroic and historic-or what is generally termed the ideal and real types of the Greek countenance. The ancient monuments of art in Greece exhibit a wide diversity of types, and this at every period of their history. Of the two great classes into which these may be divided, M. Edwards says:

"Most of the divinities and personages of the heroic times are formed on that well-known model which constitutes what we term the beau-ideal. The forms and proportions of the head and countenance are so regular that we may describe them with mathematical precision. A perfect ly oval contour, forehead and nose straight, without depression between them, would suffice to distinguish this type. The harmony is such that the presence of these traits implies the others. But such is not the character of the personages of truly historic times. The philosophers, orators, warriors, and poets almost all differ from it, and form a group apart. It cannot be confounded with the rest it is sufficient to point it out, for one to recognise at once how far it is separated. It greatly resembles, on the contrary, the type which is seen in other countries of Europe, while the former is scarcely met with there."

This observation is just. The head of Alexander the Great is nearly allied to the pure classical or heroic type; but this case is an exceptionand the lineaments of Lycurgus, Eratosthenes, and most other specimens of old Greek portrait-sculpture, are, with the exception of the beard (if indeed such an exception is now re

quisite), very much like those which one meets with daily in our streets. "Were we to judge solely by the monuments of Greece," continues M. Edwards, "on account of this contrast, we should be tempted to regard the type of the fabulous or heroic personages as ideal. But imagination more readily creates monsters than models of beauty; and this principle alone will suffice to convince us that such a type has existed in Greece, and the countries where its population has spread, if it does not still exist there."

There are,

In corroboration of this conjecture, it may be stated that the learned travellers, MM. de Stackelberg and de Bronsted, who have journeyed through the Morea and closely examined the population, assert that the heroic type is still extant in certain localities. M. Poqueville likewise assures us that the models which inspired Phidias and Apelles are still to be found among the inhabitants of the Morea. "They are generally tall, and finely formed; their eyes are full of fire, and they have a beautiful mouth, ornamented with the finest teeth. however, degrees in their beauty, though all may be generally termed handsome. The Spartan woman is fair, of a slender make, but with a noble air. The women of Taygetus have the carriage of a Pallas when she wielded her formidable ægis in the midst of a battle. The Messenian woman is low of stature, and distinguished for her embonpoint," (this may be owing to a mixture with the primitive race of the Morea, who, as Helots, long existed as a distinct caste in Messenia); "she has regular features, large blue eyes, and long black hair. The Arcadian, in her coarse woollen garments, scarcely suffers the symmetry of her form to appear; but her countenance is expressive of innocence and purity of mind." In the time of Poqueville the Greek women were extremely ignorant and uneducated; but, he says, "music and dancing seem to have been taught them by nature." He speaks of the long flaxen hair of the women of Sparta, their majestic air and carriage, their elegant forms, the symmetry of their features, lighted up by large blue eyes, fringed and shaded with

« AnteriorContinuar »