Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 “Let us turn again to the inorganic world. Do we there find oxygen blending by indefinite shadings with hydrogen, or with any other element? Is its combining number, its potential equivalent, a varying number — usually 8, but at times 8 and a fraction, 9, and so on? Far from this; the number is as fixed as the universe. There are no indefinite blendings of elements. There are combinations by multiples or sub-multiples, but these prove the dominance and fixedness of the combining numbers.

• But further than this, fixed numbers, definite in value and defiant of all destroying powers, are well known to characterize nature from its basement to its top-stone. We find them in combinations by volume as well as weight, that is, in all the relations of chemical attraction ; in the mathematical forms of crystals and the simple ratios in their modifications – evidence of a numerical basis to cohesive attraction; in the laws of light, heat, and sound. Indeed, as we have elsewhere said, the whole constitution of inorganic nature, and of our minds with reference to nature, involves fixed numbers; and the universe is not only based on mathematics, but on finite determinate numbers, in the very natures of all its elemental forces. Thus the temple of nature is made, we may say, of hewn and measured stones, so that, although reaching to the heavens, we may measure, and thus use the finite to rise toward the infinite.

“ This being true for inorganic nature, it is necessarily the law for all nature ; for the ideas that pervade the unipublished 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.

6. 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 of the different races of men to different parts of the world must be intentional, as well as that of other beings; that men were primitively located in the various parts they inhabit; and that they arose everywhere in those harmonious numeric proportions with other living beings, which would at once secure their preservation, and contribute to their welfare. To suppose that all men originated from Adam and Eve is to assume that the order of creation has been changed in the course of historical times, and to give to the Mosaic record a meaning that it was never intended to have. On that ground we would particularly insist upon the propriety of considering Genesis as chiefly relating to the history of the white race, with special reference to the history of the Jews.”

Notwithstanding thit the learned professor thus denies the common descent of mankind from Adam and Eve, he still insists that the race is but of one species. He remarks, –

66 There are two distinct questions involved in the subject which we have under discussion — the Unity of Mankind, and the Diversity of Origin of the Human Races. These are two distinct questions, having almost no connection with each other; but they are constantly confounded, as if they were but one.”* And again, “ We began by stating that the subject of unity and plurality of races involves two distinct questions — the question of the essential unity of mankind, and the question of the origin

* Christ. Exam. July, 1850, p. 110.

« PreviousContinue »