« PreviousContinue »
those in the savage state. No peculiarity of this kind pertains to our Aborigines; but that uncivilized races have less muscular power than civilized men, is a fact that has been often observed, and one that we can confirm from extensive personal knowledge relative to the Creeks, Seminoles, and Cherokees. The experiments of the voyager, Peron, with the dynamometer, showed that Frenchmen and Englishmen have a physical superiority compared with the natives of the southern hemisphere. But these diversities are not specific, being merely variations arising from the operation of particular causes; as, for instance, the Hindoos, who live on a vegetable aliment exclusively, are less muscular and have arms and legs longer in proportion than Europeans; and hence, too, the miserable savages, who are never well fed, but are frequently depressed by absolute want, cannot be expected to equal, in physical strength, the industrious and well-fed middle classes of a civilized community. That none of these deviations amount to specific distinctions is apparent from two arguments, as laid down by Prichard :-“First, that none of the differences in question exceed the limits of in.. dividual variety, or are greater than the diversities found within the circle of one nation or family; secondly, the varieties of form in human races are by no means so considerable, in many points of view, as the instances of variation which are known to occur in different tribes of animals belonging to the same stock, there being scarcely one domesticated species which does not display much more considerable deviations from the typical character of the tribe.”
Among the physical characteristics of our Indian, we shall now consider that of color or complexion, the usual designation of which is copper-colored ; but this is considered by Dr. McCulloch as wholly inapplicable to the Americans as a race, having himself proposed the term “ cinnamon-colored." Dr. Morton thinks that, taken collectively, they would be most correctly designated as the “brown-race.” He adds—“Although the Americans possess a pervading and characteristic complexion, there are occasional and very remarkable deviations, including all the tints from a decided white to an unequivocally black skin."
In order to show that the complexion, as well as the color and texture of the hair, belonging to the American Aboriginal, are not distinctive but merely typical characteristics, it will be necessary to take a general survey of mankind. It will be found that these characteristics become so modified, altered, and evanescent, that to draw an absolute line of demarcation among five, or any other number of varieties of the human family, is totally impossible. The Negro and the European are the two extremes, which, as in every other particular in which the various tribes of human kind differ, pass into each other by insensible gradations. The terms, white and black races, can be used only in the general sense of Caucasian and Ethiopian va-' rieties. The complexion implies no distinction of species; for it can be readily shown that, in this respect, the African tribes vary much, that the American aboriginals exhibit the extremes of white and black, and that even the Caucasians, generally characterized as white, present nations decidedly black. In the frontispiece to the third volume of Prichard's " Researches into the Physical History of Man,” we have a striking specimen of a black Caucasian, being a portrait of Rahomun Roy“ a Brahmin of undoubtedly pure race." Among the Arabs, according to the country they inhabit, we discover the extremes of complexion." The general complexion of the Shegya Arabs,” says Mr. Waddington, “is a jet black.” He adds “ The Shegya, as I have already mentioned, are black-a clear, glossy, jet black, which appeared to my then unprejudiced eyes to be the finest color that could be selected for a huinan being. They are distinguished in every respect from the Negroes by the brightness of their color; by their hair and the regularity of their features; by the mild and dewy lustre of their eyes; and by the softness of their touch, in which last respect they yield not to Europeans.” As the Arabs on the Nile do not intermarry with the natives, as appears by the accounts given by Burckhardt and Ruppell, the blackness of their complexion can be ascribed to climate alone. In more northern, and particularly in more elevated regions, the hue of the Arab's skin is not less fair than that of the European. “The Arab women,” says Bruce, " are not black; there are even some exceedingly fair.” Among the Otaheitans, who have been long celebrated for their personal beauty, the skin of the lower orders has a brown tint, which becomes so gradually lost in those of a superior caste, that the complexion in the higher ranks is nearly white, or at least but slightly tinged with brown. On the cheek of the women, a blush may be readily observed. The usual color of the hair is black, but it is of a fine texture, and not unfrequently brown, flaxen, and even red. Of the natives of the
Marquesas, it has been said that “ in form they are, perhaps, the finest in the world,” and that their skin is naturally “ very fair;" while in the color of their hair, all the various shades found in the different tribes of the Caucasian race, are ex-, hibited.
Even among the American tribes, known the world over as the “red-man," the most remarkable diversities of complexion are presented, varying from a decided.white to an unequivocally black skin. Of so deep a hue are the Californians, tbat La Perouse compares them to the Negroes in the West Indies. “ The complexion of the Californians," he says, “very nearly resembles that of those Negroes whose hair is not woolly.” In contrast to these black Californians, we have, on our northwest coast, tribes with skins as white as the complexion of the natives of southern Europe. Captain Dixon describes a female whose “countenance had all the cheerful glow of an English milk-maid, and the healthy red which flushed her cheek, was even beautifully contrasted with the whiteness of her neck; her forehead was so remarkably clear that the translucent veins were seen meandering even in the minutest branches."
So far, then, we can discover no distinctive characteristics, by which the American Aboriginal "stands isolated from the rest of mankind.” But as difference of color is the most obvious diversity of human organization that meets the popular eye, we will present to our readers the conclusion of the learned Prichard on the same point.
“ That the different complexions of mankind," he says, "are not permanent characters, may be sufficiently proved by numerous facts collected from the physical history of particular races of men. It is hardly necessary, in this instance, to appeal to the infinite number of phenomena which are to be found, precisely analogous in all the circumstances of their origin and subsequent propagation and permanence in entire breeds, in the various tribes of animals, there being scarcely any tribe of warm-blooded creatures which are not subject to become thus diversified. The reader will find in the following outline of the history of particular tribes of the human family, instances of this variation of color,-of a change from white to black, and from black to white, or of both complexions actually subsisting in the undoubted progeny of the same stock; and these instances so multiplied and so well authenticated, as to leave no doubt as to the conclusion which we are obliged to draw in this part, at least, of the investigation before us, as to the great question of the unity or diversity of the human species.”
The hair of our Indian presents so little diversity from the rest of mankind, as to require no special notice; but as much stress has always been laid upon the national differences of the human hair, by those who hold that the Negro is of a distinct species from our own, a few general observations will not be deemed out of place. As regards the hair, beard, and color of the iris, we observe, indeed, strongly marked varieties, all these having a relation with the color of the skin. While the head of the Caucasian race is adorned with an ample growth of fine locks, and his face with a copious beard, the Negro's head presents short woolly knots, and that of the American or Mongolian, coarse and straight hair, all having nearly beardless faces; and with this diminution of the beard is combined a general smoothness of the whole body. That the coloring principle in the skin and hair is of a common nature, is evident from the fact, that among the white races every gradation from the fair to the dark is accompanied by a corresponding alteration in the tint of the hair. This remark applies equally to the colored varieties of men, for all these have black hair ; but among the spotted Africans, according to Bluinenbach, the hairs growing out of a white patch on the head are white.' These facts in connection with others observed among inferior animals, as the dog, sheep, and goat, prove sufficiently that a distinction of species cannot be established on the mere difference in the hair. Upon this point, Prichard very happily remarks :
“ That if this cuticular excrescence of the Negro were really not hair, but a fine wool,-if it were precisely analogous to the finest wool,—still this would by no means prove the Negro to be of a peculiar and separate stock, since we know that some tribes of animals bear wool, while others of the same species are covered with hair. It is true that in some instances this peculiarity depends immediately on climate, and is subject to vary when the climate is changed; but in others, it is deeply fixed in the breed, and almost amounts to a permanent variety.'
But the so-called woolly hair of the Negro is not wool in fact, but merely a curled and twisted hair. This has been proved by microscopic observation, upon the well-known law, that the character which distinguishes wool from hair consists in the serrated nature of its external surface, giving to it its felting property.
That the physical characters of nations have certain relations to climate, is an opinion warranted by facts, the erudite arguments of Lawrence to the contrary notwithstanding. Our remarks here, however, will be restricted mostly to the single question relative to the human complexion. The limits of Negroland, properly so called, seem to be confined to the intertropical regions of Africa. Now, if we proceed southward of Central Africa, we find the bue of the negro grow less black, as in the Caffres and Hottentots; and, on the other hand, we discover the same law north of the tropic of Cancer. Although some of the tribes in the Oases of the Great Desert are said to be black, yet they are generally brown or almost white; and when we reach the second system of highlands, which has a temperate clime, the inhabitants present the flowing bair and complexion of the southern Europeans. This general law, if the coroparison is extended to Europe, is confirmed. On comparing the three elevated tracts bounding and containing between them the Mediterranean and the Great Sahara, we find that the intermediate region, (Mount Atlas,) differs much less from the northern (the Alps and Pyrenees) than from the southern chain, (the Lunar Mountains.) The same law is evi. dent in each, as respects vegetation and the physical characters of the human races. While the mountains of Central Africa are inhabited by negroes, the Berbers of Mount Atlas-show but little difference of physical characters when compared with the Spaniards and Piedmontese. For the purpose of more extended comparison, Prichard divides Europe and Africa into eight zones, through which he traces a gradation in the physical characters of the human race. Within the tropics, as just observed, the inhabitants, if we confine ourselves to the low and plain countries, are universally black. South of this region are the red people of Caffreland; and, next to these, are the yellowish-brown Hottentots. North of Negroland, are the “gentes subfusci coloris" of Leo,--tribes of a brownish hue, but varying from this shade to a perfect black. The next zone is the region of the Mediterranean, including Spaniards, Moors, Greeks, Italians, etc., among whom we find black hair, dark eyes, and a brownishwhite complexion, predominant features. In the zone north of the Pyreno-Alpine line, the color of the hair is generally chesnut-brown, to which that of the skin and eyes bears a certain relation. Next come the races characterized by yellow hair, blue eyes, florid
and a Morid complexion, such as those of England, SECOND SERIES, VOL. X. NO. I.