Page images

indicate an early affinity, and to serve as the badges of a common origin. The words of the sacred historian appear to be in direct confirmation of this view of our subject : “ Vayehi khol haarets saphah e'hath," " and the whole earth was of one lip.” This expression “was of one lip,” is a remarkable one, and would seem to allude to a similarity of pronunciation; and when we are informed, therefore, that God “ confounded the lip,” (balal sephath,) of men at Babel, the meaning evidently is, that a change was effected by the sudden introduction of various dialects, (for what is a dialect but a different mode of pronouncing the same language ?) not that any radical change took place in the language itself. It is worthy of notice, too, that the literal import of the Hebrew word, which in our received translation is made to signify “confounded,” refers merely to a mixing or blending together, which cannot of course, mean any thing more than a commingling or confounding of the sounds of a language ; while the corresponding term in Arabic is sometimes employed with the meaning of "to stammer," which would seem to point at once to a dialectic variety.

The collateral questions to which this branch of our subject gives rise, respecting the so-called varieties of mankind, and the difference of color by which some of these varieties are characterised, it would be foreign to our purpose to discuss, as they fall properly within the domain of the physiologist. We may, however, so far allude to them, as to state the results to which the reasoning of others has conducted, without presuming to enter upon any extended argument ourselves. To the sincere believer in Scripture, the subject presents itself divested of many of its difficulties. The varieties of race, and the differences of color, which now attract attention, could not possibly in his opinion have existed before the flood, since otherwise they would all have been found, at the period of that visitation, in the immediate family of Noah, when immured within the ark. He assigns them therefore to a subsequent period, and regards these peculiarities as the result of time, and the gradual influence of climate, which produced eventually, when they had reached the maximum of change, a fixed and settled type.*

To him the hue of the Hindoo

* The remark of Prichard on this point, deserves to be quoted : “It may be true, that particular varieties, once established in the stock, and transmitted for many generations, though originally resulting in a certain degree from the ir fluence of local causes, will nevertheless continue permanent, even long after the race has been removed from the climate in which they originated." (Physical History of Mankind, Vol. 2. p. 583.) This remark may serve as an answer to those who ask why the negro does not change to a fairer hue when transferred to a temperate clime.

appears to have been that of our first parents, and the transition becomes an easy one, in his mind, to the white complexion of a northern, and the black of a southern sky. Nor is he disposed to reject the argument, slight though it may appear, which some adduce in favor of his opinion from the Hebrew language itself, even without admitting this to be a primitive tongue ; for the name Adam, derived from a term signifying “ to be red," would seem to have immediate reference to the primative color of our race. To him, in fact, the color and the texture of the skin in the African appear intended to accommodate the latter to the burning sky of the torrid zone, where the whiter portion of our race would inevitably sicken and perish, and where they have been known to do so; and he can hardly imagine that what has been meant by Providence as a means of health and safety, should have been also intended as a badge of degradation. On examining, too, into the question of climate, and its bearing upon particular varieties of our race, he arrives at the following singular and well authenticated results.*

He finds the intertropical region of the earth to be the principal seat of the black race of men, and the regions remote from the tropics to be the abode of the white. He finds also, that the climates approaching to the tropics are generally inhabited by nations which are neither of the darkest nor of the fairest complexion, but of an intermediate one. Even in Africa itself, he observes a difference of color, evidently the result of situation, and which may be measured by the tropics. Between these lines, the native races are in general either black, or of a very deep color, while beyond them, the complexion of the inhabitants of this continent is much lighter, and either brown, or red. The Hottentots, for example, though a woolly-haired race, are of a light brown color; and on the northern side a light brown shade appears among the Tuaric of the Zahara. Nay, even within the tropics, in some very elevated regions, as in the forests of Harraza, and in the mountains where the Senegal and Gambia rise, the races are of a red, or copper color. On following the equator round the globe, he finds the majority of races under it nearly black. In India we have the black tribes, in Malabar the dark complexioned Hindoos of the Deccan, and the equally dark inhabitants of Ceylon. In the islands of the Indian Ocean, the aborigines are a sort of negroes, resembling the Africans, with woolly hair, or else black people with lank hair, while on the main-land, we have the Samang, or tribes of black savages, in the interior of Malaya. In the New

* Prichard's Physical History of Mankind, Vol 2. p. 576, segg.

World, the chain of the Cordilleras is so elevated, in the intertropical zone, as to produce a climate quite different from that of equatorial countries in general. In Mexico we have no negroes among the native inhabitants, but in the low flat countries of California, which is near the northern tropic, the people are black. It has often been said, that the complexions of the native races of America bear no relation whatever to the degrees of temperature and of latitude. There is, however, no part perhaps of the Old Continent where the varieties of color are more coincident with this relation than the western coast of North America. We shall find that the northernmost nations, those who inhabit the cold country behind Nootka, and the tracts further northward, above mount St. Elias, are white; while the natives of the low maritime countries of California, which perhaps, more than any other parts of the New World, resemble the climate of Africa, are black, or nearly so, and the inhabitants of the high table-land of Mexico, where the heat of the equatorial sun is moderated by the elevation of the land, are of an intermediate hue.

On the other hand, to the scientific inquirer, as he is pleased to call himself, under which denomination many may be ranked, who confound true knowledge with the most stubborn and reckless scepticism, the topic under consideration presents a fertile theme for speculation and doubt. Rejecting of course the simple narrative of Scripture, they deem it far more rational to make the several varieties of mankind spring each from a separate source, whether the agency of Deity be called in to produce such a result, or whether, as too many of them are inclined to believe, it be effected without this aid. It is difficult to conceive, however, what we are to gain by adopting this supposition, and by making separate creations of parts of our race to have occurred, instead of bringing all the human family from common progenitors. The varieties

of color, and the different configurations of the skull, remain still to be accounted for ; and, as the Deity always operates by secondary causes, they can only be accounted for on physical grounds; while the curious and striking affinities in language, which become so powerful an auxiliary in substantiating the narrative of the sacred writings, offer to the opponents of that narrative a difficulty which they cannot surmount.

The strongest arguments, however, in favor of the opinion, that extraneous circumstances have occasioned, in the lapse of ages, the varieties which now mark the great family of mankind, are those derived from the changes which have occurred in the case of many of the inferior animals. If, for example, the dog

in its native state, exhibits always nearly the same characteristics, and yet when domesticated forms so many various species, may not this furnish us with a clue to our present inquiry ?* The effect of civilization and refinement on the human race would seem to be precisely analogous to that of domestication on the inferior animals; and a remarkable instance of this kind of influence is said to be perceptible among the natives of Hindostan, where the rigid division into castes has operated for centuries, and where the same condition of life, and the same occupations are continued without change through successive generations. The artisans, who are of a superior class, are of a much lighter complexion than the tillers of the soil ; and in many of the islands of Polynesia the same difference exists between the classes as in Hindostant.

If, however, this question is ever to be settled conclusively, it must be by the aid of Linguistic science, and to those who are anxious to make themselves acquainted with the leading principles of this most interesting study, we cannot do better than recommend the perusal of the volume, the title of which is prefixed to the present article. They will find in it all that is requisite for them to know in the outset of their career, and they must trust for the rest to their own sagacity and their habits of patient discrimination.

Art. VI.–Natural Theology. By Thomas CHALMERS, D.D.,

Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, and Corresponding Member of the Royal Institute of France. In two volumes. New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co. 1836.

The author of this work has long and deservedly held a prominent station in the world of letters. Perhaps there is no religious writer living whose works have been more widely circulated, or who has received a larger tribute of applause. His admirers are to be found among all classes of readers, for

* In Malabar and Guinea, in both of which countries the human species is black, it is worthy of observation that there are also several races of animals remarkably black. In Guinea, the breeds of dogs and of gallinaceous fowls, are black.' On the coast of Malabar, it has been remarked, not only that the human species is black, but that the monkeys of that country are of the same color, and that the gallinaceous fowls are termed “ 'blackamoor pullens," having not only their plumage but also their skin and even bones as black as jet. Prichard, vol. 2. p. 562.

+ Dunglisons Physiology, rol. 2. p. 475.


there are in his works marks of genius enough to command the respect of men of intellect, and expansion and repetition enough to render their perusal easy to undisciplined minds. A warm glow of imagination is thrown over the whole, and is by no means one of the least efficient causes of his popularity. All critics agree in regarding his style as in some respects exceedingly vicious ; still

, it is so strongly tinged with the enthusiasm of his mind, that it is often read without offence and even with pleasure by men of correct and cultivated taste, provided they are at leisure to proceed as slowly in quest of thought as the author's feats of amplification necessarily require. His style appears to us to be a picture of the workings of his mind, and hence, according to the definition of some, it must be a good

He seems to give the natural history of every idea, from its first dawning upon the mind till by dint of expanding and rolling it, he has given it some degree of distinctness and precision. After this, he contents himself with merely an occasional repetition, sometimes in language which shows, that when he has fairly possessed himself of an idea, he can express it without abusing too greatly the license of sporting with the authentic English language. But this power is very sparingly exercised, in order, we suppose, that he may exhibit the surpassing copiousness of the Chalmerico-English tongue. We think he was not, in his younger days, rebuked with sufficient severity for his sins against taste. Delighted with the splendor of his imagination, and impressed with the force of his reasonings, critics gave themselves wholly to admiration. Had they exercised their prerogative aright, perhaps he might have been taught to respect the time and patience of his readers, and the purity and precision of the English language. It is now too late to look for a change. Indeed, judging from some portions of the work before us, we should think matters are rather growing worse. We must, therefore, content ourselves with separating his valuable thoughts from their superfluous drapery, and indulge his exuberant diction as one of the characteristics of his genius.

Notwithstanding our sense of Dr. Chalmers' faults as a writer, we are always glad to meet with the productions of his pen. His mind, if not of the first, is of a very superior order. With such it is most profitable to commune. Even when the teachings of such a mind are mingled with error, they may be more profitable than the accurate writings of lesser intellects. There is a spirit imbibed which leads to progress. The writer who furnishes the greatest number of discovered truths is not the most profitable, but the one that gives excitement and direc. tion to the mind in the discovery of truth for itself.

« PreviousContinue »