Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Gmelin has pursued the same general divisions, but has merely distinguished the respective races; and accordingly his five definitions are the white, brown, copper-coloured or red, black, and tawny man.

I. The most symmetrical, and therefore the most elegant variety of the human form, is that which I have called EUROPEAN, in consequence of its being traced in the European division of the globe more largely than in any other; and the most perfect lineaments of this variety are those of the region of Asia Minor, on the borders of Europe, the parent spot from which it has been imported— lineaments which we find distributed among the Georgians, Circassians, Mingrelians, Armenians, Persians, and other nations that skirt the southern foot of the vast chain of the Caucasus. And it is on this account that M. Blumenbach has given the name of the CAUCASIAN variety to the European form in general. It is remarkable that in this spot of the globe man was first created : here he first received the breath of life, and arose in the image of his Maker. The die has not yet lost its divine impress : for here we still meet, and in all ages have met (so far as relates to the exterior graces), with the most exquisite models of symmetry and beauty

The general colour of the EUROPEAN or GEORGIAN variety, the WHITE division of Gmelin, is fair; that of the cheeks more or less red; the head globular; the face straight and oval, with the features moderately distinct; the forehead slightly flattened; the nose narrow, and slightly aquiline; the cheek-bones unprominent; the mouth small; the lips a little turned out, especially the under one; the chin full and rounded; the eyes and hair variable, but the former, for the most part, blue, and the latter yellow, or brown and flowing.

JI. The colour of the Asiatic, or MONGOLIAN, the BrowN-MAN of Gmelin, is yellowish brown or olive, with scarcely ever an appearance of red in the cheeks, which seems to be confined to the European variety; the head, instead of being globular, is nearly square; the cheek-bones wide ; and the general face flat; the eyes are black and small; the chin rather prominent; and the hair blackish and scanty.

III. The AMERICAN, or RED-MAN of Gmelin, is of an obscure orange, rusty-iron, or copper colour; the head is less square, the cheek-bones less expanded, and the face less flattened than in the Asiatic; the eyes are deeply seated; and the hair is black, straight, and thick. This variety seems to form a middle point between the European and the Asiatic.

IV. The colour of the African, the ETHIOPIAN of Blumenbach, and BLACKMAN of Gmelin, varies from a deep tawny to a pitch or perfect jet. The head is narrow; the face narrow, projecting towards the lower part: the forehead arched; the eyes projecting; the nose thick, almost intermixed with the cheeks; the lips, particularly the upper one, very thick; the jaws prominent; the chin retracted; the hair black, frizzled, and woolly. The countenance in this variety recedes farther than in any other from the European, and approaches much nearer than in any other that of the monkey.

V. The AUSTRALIAN, or inhabitant of New South Wales, and the numerous clusters of islands that begirt that prodigious range of unexplored country, together with the South Sea islands in general, constituting the Malay of Blumenbach, and the TAwNY-MAN of Gmelin, is of blackish-brown or mahogany colour: the head is somewhat narrowed at its upper part; the forehead somewhat expanded; the upper jaw slightly prominent; and the nose broad, but distinct; the hair harsh, coarse, long, and curly. This variety seems to form a middle point between the European and the African; as the American does between the European and the Asiatic. So that, in a more compendious view of the human race, we might contract the five varieties into three :-the European, Asiatic, and African; and regard the other two as mere intervening shades of variety.

In this general classification of mankind, however, there are two observations that are peculiarly worthy of attention. The first is, that although these distinctive characters will hold in the main, it is not to be expected that they will apply to every individual of the particular division to which they

refer; nor that they belong so exclusively to such division as never to be traced, even by a natural introduction, among other divisions. The second is, that from the restless or inquiring spirit of several of the divisions, and the migrations which have hence ensued, we ought to expect to meet occasionally with the distinctive characters of such divisions among other divisions, and in regions to which they do not naturally appertain.

A perfect jet of the skin has never, perhaps, been und in our own country, in any person of genuine English race; but a dark, swarthy, and even copper-colour is by no means uncommon; and an equal difference is observable in the globularity of the head, and the flatness or sharpness of the face. In like manner the skin is occasionally found fair among the red tribes of America ;* and black among the tawny tribes of Australia, and even the olive nations of India. So Captain Cook informs us that, among the natives of the Friendly Islands, he saw hundreds of European faces, and not a few genuine Roman noses. And Adanson asserts that he was struck with the general beauty and proportion of several Senegambian semales, in spite of their colour: while Vailant and Le Maire give a similar testimony concerning the Caffre women, and the negresses of Gambia and Senegal.

The most inquiring and consequently the most migratory of the five divi. sions under which we are contemplating the race of man, is unquestionably the European. And hence we have reason to expect that we shall meet with more numerous establishments of the European form in regions to which it does not naturally belong than of any of the others. And experience confirms this expectation. It is, in truth, the migratory spirit of this peculiar division that has filled Europe itself; for, as I have already had occasion to remark, the division in its earliest state was confined to the southern foot of the Caucasus, and branched out into Europe from this region. And thus, in the west of Africa, extending from Fez to the Zaāra, we discover considerable patches of the same lineage, the progenitors of which have either shot ihrough the isthmus of Suez or crossed the Mediterranean; while every one knows that, from a similar spirit of migration, America, both North and South, and India in its southern promontory of the Deccan, have for several centuries past exhibited patches of a similar kind.

The Asiatic race, properly so called, have in like manner had their migra. tions; and hence we trace the form and features of this family, spreading southerly through the whole of Egypt and Abyssinia ; northerly from the Imaus or Caff of the Caucasus towards the Arctic boundaries of Europe and America, amid the Laplanders and Nova Zemblians of the former, and the Greenlanders and Iskimos or (as we have it from the French writers) Esquimaux of the latter; and westerly from the north of Persia along the banks of the Euxine, in successive waves, and chiefly under the different denomi. nations of Fins, Goths, Alans, and Huns; the last two uniting on various occasions, and especially under the triumphant banners of Attila, and overrunning great part of Germany, and consequently intermixing with the European race; at the same time driving the Fins into higher northern lati. tudes, along the shores of the Baltic, where they at length intermingled with the Laplanders. Among both these nations, therefore, whether blended or separate, we still meet with very strong marks of the true, genuine Asiatic face, flat, wide, and of a sallow or olive hue; the eyes being small, and the hair dark and scanty.

It is probable, also, that the more polished nations of America, as the Toltecs and Mexicans that belong to the northern, and the Peruvians and Araucans that belong to the southern division of this continent, have originated from an Asiatic source. De Guignes, Forster, and Humboldt concur in believing them to have been of Chinese or Japanese descent; while the mass of the numerous tribes that constitute the chief population of this continent, and are altogether distinguished in external and internal character from the preceding nations, seems to have issued, in various migrations, from some of

• Sco M. Humboldt; Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagno. Paris, 1808 1808

the red or copper-coloured tribes with lank hair, which have of late years been traced in particular parts of Africa. It is also probable that Australia has in like manner been peopled by successive waves of rovers from both these continents : for we trace proofs of both sources, sometimes separate, and sometimes mixed. But the theories that have been offered upon this subject are too numerous, and for the most part too fanciful for a minute detail, and helong rather to the geographer than to the physiologist.

There are some philosophers who have assigned several other distinctive characters to the different families of mankind than any thus far dwelt upon; and which are chiefy derived from the stature, the shape of a particular limb, or the intellect: thus the gigantic height of the Patagonian has been adverted to as a very prominent feature; the pigmy form of the Esquimaux; and the still more pigmy form of the Kimos of Madagascar, if any reliance may be placed on the testiinony of Commerson, now that it has been corroborated by Modave, and still more lately by the Abbé de Rochon ; the curved leg of the Calmuc race; the long leg of the Indian ; and the high calf and flat foot of the Ethiopian. But it appears to me that all such distinctions are upon too narrow a scale, and perhaps too much dependent upon particularcircumstances, for an admission into the lines of a broad and original demarcation. To the different powers of the intellect, which are still less to the point than even these corporeal peculiarities, I shall have occasion to advert presently.

Omitting, then, the consideration of these subordinate points, whence have proceeded those striking and far stronger characteristics which we have noticed in the preceding divisions? Are the different distributions of man mere varieties of one common species, or distinct species merely connected under an imaginary genus? Has the human race proceeded from one source or from many ?

In a country prosessing the Christian religion, and appealing to the records of Moses, as an established and veritable authority, I ought, perhaps, to blush at proposing such a question in public : but the insinuations which have in various ways been thrown out against this authority demand it, and I hasten to rescue, so far as I am able, the first and most interesting account we possess of the creation of man, from the philosophical doubts which have been thrown upon it, and to reconcile it with the natural history of man in our own day.

The Mosaic statement has met with two distinct classes of opponents, each of which has pretended to a different ground of objection. The one has regarded this statement as altogether untrue, and never intended to be believed; as a mere allegory or fiction ;-a beautiful mythos often indulged in by other oriental writers in the openings of their respective histories ;-as an enliven. ing frontispiece to a book of instruction. The other class has been in some degree more guarded in iis attack; and has rather complained that the state. ment is inexplicit than that it is untrue. These last philosophers have found out that in its common interpretation it does not accord with the living volume of nature; and they hence contend that the common interpretation is incorrect; they perceive, or think they perceive, a variety of chasms in the sacred text which it is necessary to fill up before it can be made to harmopize with natural facts and appearances.

At the head of the former class stand the names of some of the first natural historians and scholars of modern times, as Linnæus, Buffon, Helvetius, Monboddo, and Darwin. And from whom do these philosophers, thus departing from the whole letter and spirit of the Mosaic history, pretend to derive the race of man? The four former from the race of monkeys; and the last, to complete the absurdity, from the race of oysters; for Dr. Darwin seriously conjectures that as aquatic animals appear to have been produced before terrestrial, and every living substance to have originated from a form or nucleus exquisitely simple and minute, and to have been perpetually developing and expanding its powers, and progressively advancing towards perfection, man himself must have been of the aquatic order on his first creation : at that time, indeed, imperceptible from his exility, but in process of years, or rather of ages, acquiring a visible or oyster-like form, with little gills, instead of lungs, and, like the oyster, produced spontaneously, without disa tinction into sexes ; that, as reproduction is always favourable to improvement, the aquatic or oyster mannikin, by being progressively accustomed to seek its food on the nascent shores or edges of the primæval ocean, must have grown, after a revolution of countless generations, first into an amphibious, and then into a terrestrial animal; and, in like manner, from being without sex, first also into an androgynous form, and thence into distinct male and female.*

It is not necessary to notice this dream of a poetizing philosopher, which had also been dreamed of long before his own day, any farther than to remark that it is in every respect inferior to the opinion of two of the most celebrated schools of ancient Greece, the Epicurean and the Stoic; who, though they disagreed on almost every other point, concurred in their dogma concerning the origin of man; and believed him to have sprung, equally with plants and animals of every kind, from the tender soil of the new-formed earth, at that time infinitely more powerful and prolific ; produced in myriads of little wombs that rose, like mole-hills, over the surface of the ground, and were afterward transformed, for his nourishment, into myriads of glandular and milky bulbs, so as to form a marvellous substitute for the human breast.

In the correct and elegant description of Lucretius,

Terra cibum pueris, vestem vapor, herba cubile
Præbebat, multa et molli lanugine abundans.t

Earth fed the nursling. the warm ether clothed.
And the soft downy grass his couch composed.

And frivolous as such a theory may appear in the present day, it was the only one which was current among the Grecian or Roman philosophers, except that which supposed mankind to have been propagated by eternal generation, and of course the universe, like himself, to be eternal and self-existent: compared with which, an origin from the dust of the earth, even after the manner of vegetables, is incomparably less monstrous and absurd.

Let us now pass on to the hypothesis of those modern philosophers who would associate the tribes of man with the tribes of the monkey, and originate both from one common stock, in the same manner as the ox and buffalo are said to be derived from the bison, and the different varieties of sheep from the argali.

There are a few wonderful histories afloat of wild men and wild women found in the woods of Germany and France; some of which are said to have been dumb, others to have had the voice of sheep or of oxen, and others again to have walked on all-fours. And from these few floating tales, not amounting, in modern times, to more than nine or ten, Linnæus thought proper to introduce the orang-otang into the human family, and to regard such instances of wild men as the connecting species between this animal and mankind in a state of civilized society. Whence Lord Monboddo has amused us with legends of men found in every variation of barbarism ; in some instances even ungregarious or solitary; in others, uniting, indeed, into small hordes, but so scanty even in natural or inarticulate language, as to be obliged to assist their own meaning by signs and gestures; and, consequently, to be incapable of conversing in the dark; of a third sort who have in some degree improved upon their natural language, but have still so much of the savage beast belonging to them, as to employ their teeth and nails, which last are not less than an inch long, as weapons of desence; and of a fourth sort, found in an island of the Indian seas, with the full possession of speech, but with tails like those of cats or monkeys; a set of dreadful cannibals, which at one time killed and devoured every Dutchman they could lay their hands upon.

It is truly wonderful that a scholar of Lord Monboddo's accomplishments could have allowed himself to be for one moment imposed upon by a mass of trash so absurd and extravagant as not to be worth the trouble of confuting. Such romances are certainly in existence; but they are nothing more than the fabled news of a few low and illiterate mariners, whose names were never sufficient to give them the slightest degree of authority, even when they were first uttered; and which, for the most part, dropped successively into an obscure, and ignominous grave on the moment of their birth, and would have silently mouldered away into their elemental nothingness, had not this very singular writer chosen to rake up their decomposing atoms, in order to support an hypothesis which sufficiently proves its own weakness by the scouted and extravagant evidence to which it is compelled to appeal.

* See Temple of Nature, Cant. i. p. 26. 29, ii. p. 54, iv. 158, and the additional notes on Spontaneous Vitality and Reproduction.

1 De Rer. Nat. v. 603.

of the wild men and wild women of Linnæus, some appear to have been ideots, escaped from their keepers; a few exaggerated accounts of stray children from some wretched hovel of Lithuanian peasants ; and one of them, a young negress, who, during a shipwreck on the French coast, had swam on shore, and at once saved herself from death, and, what is worse than death, from slavery. She is said to have been found in the woods of Champagne, about the middle of the last century, and was at first exhibited under the name of la fille sauvage and la belle sauvage; and had the honour, soon afterward, of being painted as a sign-post to one of our most celebrated inns in this metropolis, which is still known by the name of the Bell Savage. This young negress was instructed in the French language by the family into whose hospitable hands she fell, and was afterward, from some unaccountable whim, denominated Mademoiselle Le BLANC.*

In order, however, to settle this question completely, let me mention a few of the anatomical points in which the orang-otang differs from the human form, and which cannot possibly be the effect of a mere variety, but must necessarily flow from an original and inherent distinction. More might be added, but what I shall offer will be sufficient; and if I do not touch upon a comparison of the interior faculties, it is merely because I will neither insult your understandings nor degrade my own, by bringing them into any kind of contact.

Both the orang and pongo, which of all the monkey tribes make the nearest approach to the structure of the human skeleton, have three vertebræ fewer than man. They have a peculiar membranous pouch connected with the larynx or organ of the voice, which belongs to no division of man whatever, white or black. The larynx itself is, in consequence of this, so peculiarly constructed as to render it less capable even of inarticulate sounds than that of almost every other kind of quadruped : and, lastly, they have no proper feet; for what are so called are, in reality, as directly hands as the terminal organs of the arms: the great toe in man, and that which chiefly enables him to walk in an erect position, being a perfect thumb in the orang-otang. Whence this animal is naturally formed for climbing : and its natural position in walking, and the position which it always assumes excepting when under discipline, is that of all-fours; the body being supported on four hands, instead of on four feet as in quadrupeds. And it is owing to this wide and essential difference, as, indeed, we had occasion to observe in our last study, that M. Cuvier, and other zoologists of the present day, have thought it expedient to invent a new name by which the monkey and maucauco tribes may be distinguished from all the rest; and, instead of QUADRUPEDS, have called them QUADRUMANA, or QUADRUMANUALS; by which they are at the same time equally distinguished from every tribe of the human race, which are uniformly, and alone, BIMANUAL.

But throwing the monkey kind out of the question, as in no respect related to the race of man, it must at least be admitted, contend the second class of philosophers before us, that the wide differences in form, and colour, and degree of intellect, which the several divisions of mankind exhibit, as you

• Soo Monboddo on the Origin of Language, &c. vol. 1. p. 193, 480.

« AnteriorContinuar »