Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

in other instances of the mixed breeds, straight, and almost invariably black. Some authors carry the genealogy of these hybrid races into the fourth generation, but I deem it unnecessary. The hair, as it grows and is nourished by the common integuments, is constantly connected with them in many points, by a close kind of sympathy. Every gradation of colour, from the fair to the black, is accompanied by its correspondent alterations in the hair. This is true, not only of nations, but of individuals.

A light complexion is accompanied with red or fair hair, and a dark complexion with black hair, almost invariably, even in individuals of the same family; a difference, which, according to the philosophy of some writers, would be sufficient ground for classing them in a different species.

The other properties of the hair vary as well as its colour; and these changes may be brought under the four following varieties; 1st. Brownish, or red, deviating into yellow and black: this is copious, soft and long, and slightly undulated: it obtains in most of temperate climates of Europe, and was formerly particularly noticed in the Germans. 2d. Black, strong, straight and thin; occuring in the Mongolian and native American (or Indian) races. 3d. Black and crisp, so as generally to be called wooly; common to all the Ethiopians. The above divisions, although sufficient for general purposes, are not uniformly the case. For the woolly hair is not confined entirely to the Ethiopian, nor is a black colour invariably found in all the three last varieties.Some tribes of the Africans have long hair, and other red coloured people, as those of the Duke of York’s island, have it woolly. The New Hollanders form so complete a medium between the woolly haired African, and the copious curling hair of the other South Sea islanders, that it is impossible completely to class them. Many instances are recorded of red hair in individuals of such varieties as commonly have it black, as in some South Sea islanders.

Some facts from analogy will shew that climate and mode of life may have considerable influence on the hair. In Asia Minor, the sheep, goats, cats and rabbits are said to have uncommonly fine, soft, and long hair; the common sheep in warm climates are covered with hair instead of wool. A great difference in the wool of the sheep is well known; and a person, who was acquainted with the covering of the goat in European and American climates, would hardly believe it possible that the material, from which the precious shawls of Cashmere are manufactured could be

pro. duced from the same animal.

Colour of the eye. It is well known that the colour of the eye depends much on the skin; and that these organs are blue or Tight in fair, and dark in dark skin persons; hence newly born children from white parents in these climates, have generally blueish eyes and light hair; and the colour of both changes to gether at a subsequent period in the individuals whose complexion is dark. And in the same way when the hair loses its colour in old age, the pigment of the eye becomes lighter.

There are three principal varieties in the colour of the eye, first blue, second gray, and third brown tending to black. These may all occur in different individuals of the same race; and again, they are sometimes confined to the different tribes of the same country, within the boundary of a few degrees.

The Albino. We shall now introduce our observations on that singular variety of the human species termed the Albino. There are two peculiar circumstances in these individuals. The skin has an unnatural whiteness, often seeming to approach to a slight degree of leprosy, and the hair of all parts of the body has the same character. The latter has not the snowy whiteness of old age, nor the elegant light yellow or flaxen colour of the fair haired in our climate, but is rather to be compared to the appearance of cream; neither is the colour of the skin like that of the European, but approaching to that of milk or a while horse. There is also a general deficiency of colouring to be observed in the eye as well as that of the skin and hair. There is . also generally weakness of the organ of vision, in consequence of which, a strong light cannot be borne, hence they are described in Java and the Isthmus of Darien as going about chiefly in the night, when they see best. This peculiarity always exists from the birth; it never changes afterwards, and it is sometimes hereditary. It was observed first in the African, as the great difference of colour would render the variation more striking; and hence the individuals were termed white negroes. From their avoiding the light the Dutch gave them the name of Kackerlacken, and the Spanish called them Albinos. National features we shall not detail, as this subject has already occupied as great space as at first assigned it. It may however be remarked that, although two individuals are hardly to be met with possessing exactly the same features, yet there is generally a certain cast of countenance common to peculiar races of men and often to the inhabitants of particular countries.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IV.

VARIATION IN THE FORM AND SIZE OF CERTAÍN PARTS OF THE BODY.

The ears are moveable, and stand at some distance from the head in many of the savages, where they have not been confined by dress. Many travellers have remarked, that the breasts are long and pendulous in several savage tribes in Africa and the South Sea islands; but some of the accounts appear to be exaggerated, and the circumstance does not in any case seem common to a whole tribe or nation. The cause seems to consist in long continued suckling, and in the habit of suckling the child at the back of the mother. In some cases, artificial means of elongating these parts are employed, from peculiar notions of beauty.

Stature. No part of our subject has been more exaggerated by fables and hyperbolical divisions than the present; not to mention the pigmies and giants of antiquity, the bones of large animals ascribed to human subjects of immoderate stature, even by such men as Buffon, sufficiently proves our assertion.

All the remains of antiquity, which afford us any inferences on the subject of stature, such as mummies, human bones, and particularly teeth taken from the oldest burial places, and urns, armour, &c. as we are informed, concur in proving, that the ancients did not exceed the moderns in this respect. Yet among the latter

there are obvious national differences. The Patagonians or Tehules, which occupy the south-east part of the extremity of South America, seem to be the tallest of the human race, but their height has been much exaggerated, Piga-fetta who accompanied Magellan on his voyage round the world, asserted that they were twice as 'tall as Europeans, and the accounts of subsequent navigators have been very extraordinary. They seem, indeed, from the best of authors, to be a tall, though not a gigantic people, and to possess a muscular frame. Their ordinary height may be considered to be six feet, and none to exceed six feet seven inches, a stature not so very remarkable, since other native tribes of the same continent have been remarked for height.

The Laplanders and Nova Zemblians, in Europe; Samoiedes, Ostiacs, Yakuts and Tungooses, in Asia; Greenlanders and Esquimaux, of America; all, in short, who inhabit bigh northern latitudes, are low in stature, measuring from four to five feet, and they agree remarkably in other characters, although occupying

such distant countries. This accordance must be explained by exposure to the same causes; living in a barren and in hospitable climate, and exposed equally to its rigour, feeling the same wants, and having the same means of gratifying them, should we not expect a similarity of stature, colour, countenance, &c.? It seems rather doubtful, whether the miserable Pescherais, who wander naked over the rocks of Terra-del-Fuego, are also diminutive; but Barrow informs us, that the Boshemen, who adjoin them, scarcely exceed four feet nine inches.

That climate possesses an influence, seems to be proved from the circumstance of the Laplanders and Hungarians, who differ so widely in stature and formation, having descended from a common source. Physiological considerations render it probable that food will be efficacious in increasing or diminishing stature. The earees or nobles of Otaheite and the Society Islands exceed the other natives in stature and personal beauty; and this is ascribed by Foster, to their enjoying more copious and luxurious food. The use of ardent spirits is thought by some to have diminished the size of the native Americans in some instances. We must remember, that the stature of any tribe or nation will be gradually changed in all the aforesaid respects by intermarriages with others; and in none shall we find them preserved pure, only by avoiding such intercourse. That hereditary disposition has great influence on the size of the body, is undeniably proved by numerous examples of families remarkable for their tallness or lowness of stature,

CHAPTER V.

FACULTIES OF THE MIND.

The different progress of various nations in general civilization, and the culture of the arts and sciences, the different characters and degrees of excellence in their literary productions, their varied forms of government, and many other considerations, must convince us, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the races of mankind are no less characterized by diversity of mental endowments, than by those differences of organization which we have already considered. Such, however, has been the effect of education, of laws, of peculiar habits and customs, and of the

different forms of government, &c. in modifying the mind and character of man, that we cannot now discern what should be ascribed to original difference, and what should be referred to the operation of these external causes. That climate will exert a powerful influence on the mind may be very reasonably expected; and it has an analogous influence on the animal creation. We areinformed that the dog in Kamtschatka, instead of being faithful and attached to his master, is malignant, treacherous and full of deceit; he does not bark in the hot parts of Africa, nor in Greenland; and in the latter country loses his docility so as not to be fit for hunting. Yet we are decidedly of opinion, that the differences of intellect are not sufficient, in any instance, to warrant us in referring a particular race to an originally different species; and we particularly protest against the sentiment of those, who would either deny to the Africans the enjoyment of reason, or who ascribe to them such vicious, malignant, and treacherous propensities, as would degrade them even below the level of the brute. It can be proved most clearly, and the preceding observations will suffice for this purpose, that there is no circumstance of bodily structure so peculiar to the Negro as not to be found also in other far distant nations; no character, which does not run into those of other races by the same insensible gradations as those which connect together all the varieties of mankind. We cannot but admire the reasoning and humanity of those, who, after tearing the African from his native soil, carrying him to distant climes and dooming him there to perpetual labour, complain that his understanding shews no sign of improvement, and that his temper and disposition are incorrigibly perverse, faithless, and treacherous. Let us, however, observe him in a somewhat more favourable state than in those dreadful receptacles of human misery, the crowded decks of the slave ship, or in the less openly shocking, but constrained and extorted labours of the sugar plantations. The acute and accurate Barbot, in his large work on Africa says, “The blacks have sufficient sense and understanding, their conceptions are quick and accurate, and their memory possesses extraordinary strength. For, although they can neither read nor write, they never fall into confusion or error in the greatest hurry of trade and traffic. Their experience of the knavery of Europeans has put them completely on their guard in transactions of exchange: they carefully examine all our goods, piece by piece, to ascertain if their quality and measure are correctly stated; and shew as much sagacity and elearness in these transactions as any European tradesman could do.” Of those imitative arts, in which perfection can be attained only in an improved state of society, it is natural to suppose that

« ZurückWeiter »