Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of the Animal World, and their Relation to the Different Types of Man," inserted in Nott and Gliddon's " Types of Mankind.” In 1849 Dr. Nott published his work entitled " Biblical and Physical History of Man,” being the substance of two lectures delivered by him in New Orleans the previous year. In 1854 .Nott and Gliddon issued the book just mentioned on the " Types of Mankind.”

It was in this manner that the discussion of the question as to the unity of the human race was renewed, after a silence of two hundred years. The agitation of it on this side of the Atlantic drew attention to it on the other, and brought into the field a considerable number of able writers, most of whom, so far as I am aware, took ground in favor of the unity of the race as descended from the family of Noah.

According to Quatrefages, the chief interest of the discussion in this country grew out of its supposed bearings upon the institution of slavery. " Thus in America,” he says, " the anthropological question is complicated with that of slavery; and from reading the greater part of the writings that have come to us from beyond the sea, it is clear that there they are, before all, advocates or opponents of, that institution. But in the United States it is necessary always to be biblical; and hence came the particular shades which distinguish certain anthropological works in that country. The anti-slavists are generally outspoken monogenists, and accept the dogma of Adam as it is commonly understood. Such is, also, professedly the faith of a certain number of slavists. These latter, to justify their conduct toward their black brethren, refer to the history of Noah and his sons. Ham, say they, was cursed by his father, and condemned to be the servant of his brethren. The negroes descended from Ham; therefore, in reducing them to slavery, we are obeying Holy Writ. But America reckons some beside slavists who are polygenists. These latter have again placed in honor, under different forms and in support of modern knowledge, the doctrine of La Peyrère, of which otherwise they say but little. All, speaking highly of the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, endeavor to demonstrate, by linguistic, geographical, and historical researches, that the biblical accounts relative to the origin and affiliation of men apply only to the white races. . Thus put at ease, they have regarded the different groups as so many distinct species.” *

By far the most distinguished of this latter class of writers is Professor Agassiz. His opinions I will cite at length from the essay before referred to,

* Quatrefages, p. 11.

published in the " Christian 'Examiner” for July, 1850.

“ The circumstance that, wherever we find a human race naturally circumscribed, it is connected in its limitation with what we call, in natural history, a zoological and botanical province, — that is to say, with a natural limitation of a particular association of animals and plants,

— shows most unequivocally the intimate relation existing between mankind and the animal kingdom in their adaptation to the physical world. The Arctic race of men, covering the treeless region near the Arctics, in Europe, Asia, and America, is circumscribed, in the three continents, within limits very similar to those occupied by that particular combination of animals which are peculiar to the same tracts of land and sea.

“ The region inhabited by the Mongolian race is also a natural zoological province, covered by a combination of animals naturally circumscribed within the same regions. The Malay race covers also a natural zoological province. New Holland again constitutes a very peculiar zoological province, in which we have another particular race of men. And it is further remarkable, in this con'nection, that the plants and animals now living on the continent of Africa, south of the Atlas, within the same range within which the Negroes are naturally circumscribed, have a character differing widely from that of the plants and animals of the northern shores of Africa and

the valley of Egypt; while the Cape of Good Hope, · within the limits inhabited by Hottentots, is characterized

by a vegetation and a fauna equally peculiar, and differing in its features from that over which the African race is spread.

“ Such identical circumscriptions between the limits of two series of organized beings, so widely differing as man, and animals, and plants, and so entirely unconnected in point of descent, would, to the mind of a naturalist, amount to a demonstration that they originated together within the districts which they now inhabit. We say that such an accumulation of evidence would amount to demonstration; for how could it, on the contrary, be supposed that man alone would assume peculiarities and features so different from his primitive characteristics, while the animals and plants circumscribed within the same limits, would continue to preserve their natural relations to the fauna and flora of other parts of the world?

“ If the Creator of one set of these living beings had not been also the Creator of the other, and if we did not trace the same general laws throughout nature, there might be room for the supposition that, while men inhabiting different parts of the world originated from a common center, the plants and animals now associated with them in the same countries originated on the spot. But such inconsistencies do not occur in the laws of nature.

“The coincidences of the geographical distribution of the human races with that of animals, the disconnection of the climatic conditions where we have similar races, and the connection of climatic conditions where we have different human races, show, further, that the adaptation

« PreviousContinue »