Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

(vol. I. p. 450.) deserves particular reprehension. We freely acknowledge, that the plan of education at our schools is liable 10 many just exceptions ; but the censures of Lord K. are by no means pertinent to the subject: and what he says of the youth at Eton school receiving vales from strangers, is such a caricature of a sketch as will do but little credit to his Lordship’s pencil.

That the work, however, upon the whole, has a very confi- . derable degree of merit, cannot, without manifest injustice, bę denied. A love of liberty, and of mankind appears throughout; the Author's views are enlarged, his knowledge is extensive, and many of bis remarks are extremely acute and ingenious: in a word, both the Philosopher and the Politician may derive no small advantage from an attentive perusal of his performance; for though both the philosophical and the political reader will, no doubt, often differ from him in opinion, yet the hints which he throws out occasionally, may open new views to each, and lead to very useful and important enquiries.

· The following work, (says he, in his Preface) is the substance of various speculations, that occasionally amused the Author, and enlivened his leisure hours. It is not intended for the learned ; they are above it: nor for the vulgar; they are below it. It is intended for men, who, equally removed from the corruption of opulence, and from the depresion of bodily labour, are bent on useful knowledge ; who, even in the delirium of youth, feel the dawn of patriotism, and who in riper years enjoy its meridian warnith. To such men this work is dedicated; and that they may profit by it, is the Author's ardent with, and probably wilt be while any spirit remains in him to form a wish.

· May not he hope, that this work, child of his grey hairs, will survive, and bear teltimony for him to good men, that even a labo. rious calling, which left him not many leisure-hours, never banished from his mind, that he would little deserve to be of the human species, were he indifferent about his fellow-creatures :

Hanco fum: humani nihil a me alienum puro. · Most of the subjects handled in the following theers, admit bat of probable reasoning ; which is not a little slippery, as with respect to many reasonings of that kind, it is difficult to pronounce, what degree of conviction they ought to produce. It is easy to form plaukble arguments; but to form such as will stand the teft of tinie, is not always easy. I could amuse the reader with numerous examples of conjectural arguments, which, fair at a distant view, vanish like a cloud on a near approach. In the first sketch of this book, not to go farther, he will find recorded more than one example. The dread of being milled by such arguments, filled the author with anxiety; and after his utmot attention, he can but faintly hope, that he has noc ofien wandered far from truth.

* Above thirty years ago, he began to collect materials for a natural history of man; and in the vigour of youth, did not think the F13

under

uşdertaking too bold, even for a single hand. He has discovered of late,' that his utmost abilities are scarce fufficient for executing a few imperfect ketches.'

Our Author divides his work into three books, the first of which is introduced with an enquiry, whether there be different races of men, or whether all men be of one race, without any difference but what proceeds from climate or other accidental causes.

• Plants, says he, were created of different kinds to fit them for different climates, and so were brute animals. Certain it is, that all men are not fitted equally for every climate. There is scarce a climate but what is natural to fome men, where they prosper and flourilh ; and there is not a climate but where fome men degenerate. Doth not then analogy lead us to conclude, that as there are different climates on the face of this globe, so there are different races of men Gited for these different climates?'

He observes further upon this head, that the natural productions of each climate make the most wholesome food for the pe ple who are fitted to live in it that there are many nations which differ so widely from each other, not only in complexion, in features, in shape, and in other external circumstances, but in temper and dispotition, particularly in two capital articles, courage and the treatment of strangers, that even the certainty of there being different races could not make one expect more ftriking differences that the very frame of the human body clearly thews, that there must be different races of men fitted for different climates—and that were all men of one fpecies, there never could have existed, without a miracle, different kinds, such as exist at present.

From there, and some other particulars, our ingenious Author thinks it evident, beyond any rational doubt, that there are different șaces or kinds of men, and that these races or kinds are naturally fitted for different climates; whence we have reafon, he thinks, to conclude, that originally each kind was placed in its proper climate, whatever change may have happened in latter times by war or commerce.

• There is a remarkable fact, continues he, that confirms the foregoing conjetures. As far back as history goes, or tradition kept alive by history, the earth was inhabited by favages divided into many small tribes, each tribe having a language peculiar to itself. Is it not natural to suppose, that these original tribes were different races of men, placed in proper climates, and left to form their own language?

Upon fumming up the whole particulars mentioned above, would one hesitate a moment to adopt the following opinion, were there no counterbalancing evidence, viz. " That God created many pairs of the human race, differing from each other boch externally and internally; that he fitced these pairs for different climates, and placed each pair in its proper climate; that the peculiarities of the

6

original

original pairs were preserved entire in their descendents; who, having no aslistance but their natural talents, were left to gather knowledge from experience, and in particular were left (each tribe) to form a language for itself; that signs were sufficient for the original pairs, without any language but what nature suggests; and that a language was formed gradually, as a tribe increased in numbers, and in different occupations, to make speech necessary ?" Bat this opinion, however plausible, we are not permitted to adopt; being taught a different leffon by revelation, viz. That God created but a single pair of the human species. Tho' we cannot doubt of the aathority of Moses, yet his account of the creation of man is not a little puzzling, as it seems to contradict every one of the facts mentioned above. According to that account, different races of men were not formed, nor were men formed originally for different cli: mates. All men must have spoken the fame language, viz. that of our first parents. And what of all seems the most contradictory to that account, is the savage fate : Adam, as Moses informs us, was endued by his Maker with an eminent degree of knowledge; and he certainly was an excellent preceptor to his children and their progeny, among whom he lived many, generations. Whence then the degeneracy of all men unto the favage state? To account for that dilmal catastrophe, mankind must have suffered some terrible convulfion.

• That terrible convulsion is revealed to us in the history of the tower of Babel, contained in the 11th chapter of Genesis, which is, That for many centuries after the deluge, the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech; that they united to build a city on a plain in the land of Shinar, with a tower whose top might reach unto heaven; that the Lord beholding the people to be one, and to have all one language, and that nothing would be restrained from them which they imagined to do, confounded their language, that they might not under:tand one another; and scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Here light breaks forth in the midst of darkness. By confounding the language of men, and scattering them abroad upon the face of all the earth, they were rendered fa. vages. And to harden them for their new habitations, it was necessary that they Mhould be divided into different kinds, fitted for different climates. Without an immediate change of constitution, the builders of Babel could not possibly have subfilted in the burning region of Guinea, nor in the frozen region of Lapland; houses not being prepared, nor any other convenience to protect them against a destructive climate. Against this bittory it has indeed been urged, " that the circumstances mentioned evince it to be purely an allegory; that men never were so frantic as to think of building a tower whose top might reach to heaven; and that it is grossly absurd, taking the matter literally, that the Almighty was afraid of men, and reduced to the necessity of saving himself by a miracle.” Buc that this is a real history, muft neceffarily be admitted, as the confufion of Babel is the only known fact that can reconcile sacred and profane history,

[blocks in formation]

And this leads us to confider the diversity of languages. If the common language of men had not been confounded upon their artempting the tower of Babel, I afirm, that there never could have been but one language. Antiquaries conttantly suppose a migrating spirit in the original inhabitants of this earth ; not only without evi. dence, but contrary to all probability. Men never desert their con. nections nor their country without neceffity : fear of enemies and of wild beasts, as well as the attraction of society, are more than fufficient to reftrain them from wandering ; not to mention that savages are peculiarly fond of their natal foiltThe first migrations were

As the social flate is essential to man, and speech to the social ftate, the wisdom of providence in fitting men for acquiring that ne. cessary art, deserves more attention than is commonly bestowed on it. The Orang Outang has the external organs of speech in perfection ; and many are puzzled to account why it never speaks. But the external organs of speech make but a small part of the necessary apparatus. The faculty of imitating sounds is an essential part; and wonderful would that faculty appear, were it not rendered familiar by practice: a child of two or three years, is able, by nature alone without the least instruction, to adapt its organs of speech to every articulate found; and a child of four or five years can pitch its windpipe so as to emit a sound of any elevation, which enables it with an ear to imitate the songs it hears. But above all the other parts, sense and understanding are essential to speech. A parrot can pronounce articulate founds, and it has frequently an inclination to speak; but, for want of understanding, none of the kind can form a fingle sentence. Has an Orang Outang understanding to form a mental proposition ? has he a faculty to express that proposition in founds ? and.supposing him able to express what he sees and hears, what would he make of the connective and disjunctive particles

+ With respect to the supposed migrating fpirit, even Bechart muft yield to Kempfer in boldness of conjecture. After proving, from difference of language, and from other circumstances, that Japan was not peopled by the Chinese, Kempfer without the leaft hesitation settles a colony there of those who attempted the tower of Babel. Nay, he traces most minutely their road to Japan; and concludes, that they must have travelled with great expedition, because their language has no tincture of any other. He did not think it neccffary to explain, what temptation they had to wander fo far from home; nor why they settled in an illand, pot preferable either in foil or climate to many countries they must have iraversed.

An ingenious French Writer observes, that plaufible reafons would lead one to conjecture, that men were more early polished in islands than in continents; as people, crowded together, foon find the necefity of laws to reftrain them from mischief. And yet, says he, the manners of islanders and their laws are commonly the latest formed. A very simple reflection would have unfolded the mystery. Many inany centuries did men exist without thinking of navigation. I hat art was not invented till men, straitened in their quarters upon the continent, thought of occupying adjacent illands,

probably

[ocr errors]

probably occafioned by factions and civil wars; the next by commerce. Greece affords instances of the former, Phenicia of the latter. Unless upon such occasions, members of a family or of a tribe will never retire farther from their fellows than is necessary for food; and by retiring gradually, they lose neither their connections nor their manners, far less their language, which is in constant exercise. As far back as history carries us, tribes without number are discovered, each having a language peculiar to itself. Strabo reports, that the Albanians were divided into several tribes, differing in external appearance and in language. Cæsar found in Gaul several such tribes ; and Tacitus records the names of many tribes in Germany. There are a multitude of American tribes that to this day continue distinct from each other, and have each a different language. The mother tongues at present, tho' numerous, bear no proportion to what formerly exilted. We find original cribes gradually enlarging; by conqueit frequently, and more frequently by the union of weak tribes for mutual defence. Such events promote one language instead of many. The Celtic tongue, once extensive, is at present confined to the highlands of Scotland, to Wales, to Britanny, and to a part of Ireland In a few centuries, it will Mhare the fate of many other original tongues: it will be totally forgotten.

If men had not been scattered every where upon the confusion of Babel, another particular must have occurred, differing not less from what has really happened than that now mentioned. As paradise is conjectured to have been situated in the heart of Asia, the surrounding regions, for the reason above given, must have been first peopled; and the civilization and improvements of the mother-country were undoubtedly carried along to every new settlement. In particular, the colonies planted in America, the South-sea iflands, and the Terra Australis incognita, must have been highly polished ; because, being at the greatest distance, they probably were the latest. And yet these and other remole people, the Mexicans and Peruvians excepted, remain to this day in the original lavage itate of hunting and fishing

Thus, had not men wildly attempted to build a tower whose top might reach to heaven, ail men would not only have spoken the same language, but would have made the same progress toward maturity, of knowledge and civilization. That deplorable event reversed all nature : by scattering men over the face of all the earth, it deprived them of fociety, and rendered them favages. From that ftate of degeneracy, they have been emerging gradually. Some nations, stimulated by their own nature, or by their climaie, have made a rapid progress :* some have proceeded more slowly; and some continue savages. To trace out that progreis toward maturity in different nations, is the subject of the prefent undertaking.'

Though what our Author advances in this Skeich, in fupport of his opinion of there being different races of men, is far from conclufive or satisfactory, yet it will contribute greatly 10 the Reader's entertainment, as it contains many curious fact, vouched by late Travellers and Writers of credit. # Book ii.

Our

« ForrigeFortsett »