Page images

that is, when we are infants. Yet even then, this is no easy acquisition, but the effect of daily exercise continued for several years from morning to night. Were we never to attempt speech till we are grown up, there is reason to think ihal we should find it exceedingly difficult if not impracticable."

Mute savages have been found in deserts and forests who never could be taught to speak. In every language there are certain peculiar accents and articulate sounds which they only can pronounce with ease or accuracy, who have learned to do so when very young. “If, then, there ever was a time, when all mankind were mutum et turpe pecus, a dumb and brutal race of animals, all mankind must, in the ordinary course of things, have continued dumb to this day. -For, to such animals speech could not be necessary; as they are supposed to have existed for ages without it; and it is not to be imagined, that dumb and beastly savages would ever think of contriving unnecessary arts, whereof they had no example in the world around them.” Further, according to Dr. Johnson: “ Speech, if invented at all, must have been invented, either by children, who were incapable of invention, or by men, who were incapable of speech.” “And therefore reason, as well as history, intimates that mankind in all ages must have been speaking animals; the young having constantly acquired this art by imitating ihose who were elder. And we may warrantably suppose, that our first parents must have received it by immediate inspiration." (Beattie.)

Indeed, no other account of the origin of language is rational or philosophical, or even plausible,-to say nothing of Scripture. When it is said that our first parents must have received the art of speech by immediate inspiration, it is not necessary to suppose that the Creator inspired them with any particular original or primitive language; but that he made them fully sensible of the power with which they were endued of forming articulate sounds, gave them an impulse to exert it, and left the arbitrary imposition of words to their own choice. But however this might be, we find Adam in fact, as soon as created, giving names to all animals, and holding converse with his Maker, and with his Maker's “ last best gift," which alone constituted his beautiful Eden a perfect Paradise. We find him from the begin

ning a social, domestic, speaking and religious being. Man is called by Homer uegow, or articulate speaking; and cer. tainly there is no other characteristic at once more noble and more peculiarly his own.

That man, then, in his primeval state, had no affinity with any species of the brute creation, that he never was a quadruped, using his hands for feet—that he never possessed any of the ornamental or superfluous appendages peculiar to the wild beast of the forest—and that ne never could have been destitute of speech or language--the physiologist, the anatomist, the historian, the philologist, the Christian divine, with several even of the ancient sages and poets, unite in altesting. “Of standing facts there ought to be no controversy," says Dr. Johnson. "If there are men with tails, caich an homo caudatus." The Epicurcan theory, therefore, must be surrendered as utterly indefensible upon any rational ground.

Thus far, then, authority, as well as reason and facts, will sustain our doctrine ; or be found arrayed against the scheme so beautifully portrayed by Lucretius, and so speciously elaborated by Monboddo.

But the proposition, which it was our main design to demonstrate, is vastly more comprehensive. It is not enough to prove that men were not originally a dumb and brutish herd. Our object was to show that men were not origin. ally even savages; that they were not a wild, rude and barbarous race, like the ancient Gauls and Britons, or like the present Indians of America or Negroes of Africa.*

* Dr. Blair, in his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, which are studied, as orthodox, wherever the English language prevails, takes for granted, throughout, that the sarage was the primitive state of man. This is more especially apparent whenever he has occasion to trace to its origin any human art, science, invention, discovery, custom or opinion, which comes within the scope of his extensive and diversified speculations. See, in particular, his Lectures on the Rise and Progress of Language. In Lecture 38, on the nature of Poetry, he remarks: In order to explore the rise of poetry, we must have recourse to the deserts and the wilds; we must go back to the age of hunters and of shepherds; to the highest antiquity; and to the simplest form of manners among mankind." And that we may not be left in any doubt about his

We have already suggested the presumption which Reason, a priori, furnishes against this still almost universally prevalent theory. The reductio ad absurdum will apply to the latter with scarcely less propriety and effect, than to the revolting extravagances of the Epicurean school.

The argument from SCRIPTURE and HISTORY remains yel to be exhibited.

II. SCRIPTURE. Let us then appeal to the oldest written record in the world. Read the Mosaic account of man's creation. Behold the first pair in the garden of Eden; and appointed “to dress it, and to keep it" with "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Recollect that every thing was created in a state of perfection or maturity. All animals and vegetables were of full size and vigor. They required no time to grow. Ripe fruits were upon the trees: and every living creature was prepared at once to enter upon its destined career. Thus, too, was man created - vigorous and mature in all his faculties of body and mind; ready for every work and duty which his situation demanded; with God for his companion, friend and instructer. Horticulture was his first employment. This has never been the occupation of savage life. Hunting, then, or the chase could not have been the primitive mode of procuring a subsistence. Or, in other words, the hunting state is not the state of nature, or of man in his original, natural condition. And yet savages, in every age and country, have been and still are hunters. So that hunting may be assumed as a universal predicate or characteristic of savage life. Adam therefore was not a savage. He must have been an eminent naturalist

, at least zoulogist, if he gave appropriate and significant names to all animals. Of his first two sons, the one was a farmer, and the other a shepherd.

Cain, the first born of the human race, built a city, and called it Enoch after his own eldest son; and, of course,


opinion of the most ancient condition of our race, he ly adds: “It is chiefly in America, that we have had the opportunity of being made acquainted with men in their savage state,”-i. e. with men in their original or natural state. SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. II.


must have known all the arts which such an undertaking implies or requires. And that cities might have been very necessary, or at least very convenient, will appear sufficiently obvious, when we consider the amount of population which probably existed even at this early period. According to several profound biblical antiquaries and expositors, there might have been many hundreds of thousands. We do not vouch for the accuracy of any of the speculative calculations which lave appeared upon the subject of the antediluvian population. We may be sure, however, that none of the Malthusian obstacles to the rapid increase of the human species, could have been pleaded by old bachelors then as now, by way of apology for disobeying one of the first, most positive, and most reasonable commands of their Creator.

Lamech, the fifth in descent from Cain, was the father of Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain, who are represented by Moses as having been extraordinary proficients in several of the arts, both useful and ornamental. (About A. M. 500.) Jabal “ was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.” Or, he was a famous shepherd and tentmaker; and a teacher of others. Abel had been a shepherd long before. Jubal “ was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ,”-or all stringed and all wind instruments; the original terms being generic. Tubal-cain was "an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron;" the first smith on record;-a noted manufacturer of warlike instruments and domestic utensils ;--an ingenious artist, and a teacher of others. Agricultural implements, at least, must have been in use several centuries before. For Cain was "a tiller of the ground," and Adam a gardener. The former, too, had built a city; and of course, it may be presumed, made use of iron in sundry ways. Savages know nothing of iron.

Here, it might not be irrelevant to the general scope of our argument, to glance at several of the circumstances which were peculiarly favorable to the progress of the arts among the Antediluvians.

1. Their great age; and probably greater size and strength. Most of that very small number of individuals whose age is recorded by Moses, lived nearly a thousand

years; and others may have lived much longer, for aught we know to the contrary. What might have been achieved in science and the arts, by genius and perseverance, during a single life protracted through a period of eight or ten centuries, can only be conjectured from the efforts of modern intellect, since life has been limited to three score years and ten. “ There were giants in the earth in those days," (Gen. 6: 4,) that is, before the deluge—as there were soon after.

2. They had stronger inducements to the erection of superior, more costly, more durable and more capacious edifices and monuments, public and private, than exist at present. They might reasonably calculate on reaping the benefits of their labors and expenditures.

3. The immense population of the antediluvian world. Sundry very learned and judicious authors suppose that, upon a moderate computation, there were in this world at least two millions of millions of souls. Arts must flourish in the midst of such a population. Even the necessaries of mere animal existence could not be procured by such a multitude, in a savage or uncivilized state.

4. One language before the deluge. This peculiar distinction of the antediluvians, probably contributed more than any or all others, to their steady advancement in knowledge and the arts; and certainly to prevent their degeneracy into savages. *

* The most direct, efficient and obvious cause of the speedy: degeneracy of a large proportion of our race immediately after the general dispersion, was, no doubt, the 'confusion of tongues' which preceded and occasioned that event. This sudden and extraordinary multiplication of languages among the primitive inhabitants of the plains of Shinar, I believe, is not usually assigned as a cause of the savageism which ensued. At least, I have not met with it. It deserves a more prominent exhibition and development than it has hitherto obtained I once supposed it so easy a matter to account for the existing diversity in language, that I scarcely deemed a miracle necessary at the outset to effect it. My opinion on this subject is totally changed. Without a miracle, human language would have continued essentially one, after the flood, as it had been before ; and then the savage state would never have existed— at least in the ordinary course of human events. Language

« PreviousContinue »