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ALTHOUGH the following essay may seem, at first view, to propose nothing to itself but to amuse the public with a philosophical speculation; yét as its object is to establish the unity of the human species, by tracing its varieties to their natural causes, it has an obvious and intimate relation with religion, by bringing in science to confirm the verity of the Mosaic history. It has lately become a kind of cant with certain superficial smat, terers in physical science to speak of revealed religion, and of the spirit of piety as being hostile to profound researches into nature, lest they should be found to contradict the dogmas of revelation. We see these men, likewise, with equal ignorance and vanity, contemptuously insinuate that the friends of piety are always ready to rest their opinions, not on well ascertained facts, but on the supposed authority of Heaven, to save them the pains, and the hazard of enquiries so dangerous to contented superstition. These self-dubbed naturalists, vain of their own faint shadow of knowledge, because they know so Įittle, seem to have forgotten the existence of such men as Newton, or Boyle, Bacon or Mede, and a thousand others, equally distinguished for the depth of their enquiries into the mysteries of nature, and for their sublime and fervent piety to wards its Author. Genuine philosophy has ever been found the friend of true religion. They are only spurious pretences to science which have wantonly arrayed themselves against the holy scriptures. In a question of that nature which is discusse ed in the following essay, I would be far from introducing the authority of religion to silence enquiry, and equally far would I be from making it a substitute for proof. I appeal to the evidence of facts, and to conclusions resulting from these facts which I trust every genuine disciple of nature will acknowledge to be legitimately drawn from her own fountain.

If any person should enquire why a writer who has so many other duties to fulfil more immediately relative to the sacred functions of his profession, should devote so much time to studies which seem to be only remotely connected with the offices of piety peculiarly belonging to a christian minister, I hope it will be a satisfactory answer; that infidelity, driven from all her moral grounds of objection against the gospel, has lately bent her principal force to oppose the system of nature to that of revelation. From Natural Science, which has been cultivated with more than common ardor and success in the present age, she now forms her chief attacks against the doctrines, and the history of religion. And on this quarter she has pressed them with the greatest zeal. While others, therefore, are successfully defending the interior fortresses of religion, and extending her practical sway over the hearts of men, I thought that I might render a valuable service to the cause, by cooperating, in some degree, with those who are defending her outworks, and carrying their attacks into the enomy's eamp I have taken one point of defence, which was thought to be peculiarly vulnerable. And though certain artists may feel indignant, that a writer, whose pursuits are naturally supposed to be so widely different from theirs, should invade them in their own department, yet I hope the issue of the conflict will shew that religion has been able to repel one more assault, if she should not, in this instance obtain a decided victory.

This essay was first published in the year 1787. And although various writers had, at different times, treated on the same subject, it was esteemed by many ingenious and learned men not to be a superfluous addition to the disquisitions which had already appeared. Jerome Berioit Feijoo, a Spanish Bene. dictin, of whom the editors of the Theatro Critico,* as well as the authors of the Modern Universal History,t have pronounced the highest eulogies, as not being inferior to Cervantes in genius, and in the useful labor of destroying the prejudices of his countrymen, had entered on the question to considerable extent, and made many valuable and scientific observations on the influence of climate. He has not, however, carried his principles on that subject so far as is done in the essay; many important considerations he has omitted ; and the effects resulting from the state of society he has scarcely touched..

Dr. Blumenbach, one of the most celebrated naturalists, anatomists, and physicians of Germany, published in the year 1795, at Gottingen, the third edition, the only one which I have seen, of his famous treatise, De generis humani varietate

* Published in Vols. 14. Ann. 1742. Beroit Feijoo died in 1765.

* Vol. 9. n. 611.

nativa. Of this work I could consequently make no use in my first edition. I believe it had not then come to the public eye. But I am happy to find that the ideas of this learned writer on the subject of climate, and, particularly, on the effect of the bilious secretion on the colour of the skin, have so nearly corresponded with those which I had previously adopted. And I have not thought it improper, in the present edition, to avail myself of several elucidations of my subject from this valuable treatise. But I have to observe that he, like Feijoo, has almost wholly omitted the second topic which I have endeave oured to illustrate, the influence of the state of society in mula tiplying the varieties of mankind, which in this essay occupies so prominent a place.

A short treatise also of the celebrated Camper's upon this subject was published at Uthecht by his son in 1791. But it is formed on a plan, not contradictory indeed to that which I have adopted, but so different from it in its object, and the mode of conducting it that, if it had been published much earlier, I could have derived little aid from it. After a few general remarks at the beginning, the remainder of his ingenious dissertation, which, however, is combatted, in some of its most important principles, by Blumenbach, is calculated rather for painters than for the great body of even sensible, and well informed readers.

To the former edition I annexed some strictures on Lord Kaims', dissertation on the original diversity of mankind. Besides these, which I have thought proper to retain in the present, I have added some animadversions on certain remarks made on that edition, and on the general subject, by Mr. Charles White, in a series of discourses delivered by him before the literary and philosophical society of Manchester in England; and published in London in Quarto in 1799. · The whole I now commit to the judgment and candor of the literary and philosophic world.


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