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ON THE VARIETY OF COMPLEXION, FIGURE, &C.
IN THE HUMAN SPECIES. '
THE unity of the human race, notwithstanding the diversity of colour, and form under which it appears in different portions of the globe, is a doctrine, independently of the authority of divine revelation, much more consistent with the principles of sound philosophy, than any of those numerous hypotheses which have referred its varieties to a radical and original diversity of species, adapted by the Creator, or by the necessary laws of the material world, to the respective climates which they were destined to inhabit. As there are several species of animals which seem to be confined by the physical laws of their constitution to a limited range of climate, and which either catinot exist, or do not attain the perfection of their nature, in regions either much farther to the
North or to the South than those in which the Crea
tor has planted them, superficial observers have been ready to conclude, from analogy, that different species of the human kind must have been originally circumscribed, by the forming hand of nature, within certain climatical limits, in which she has placed them, whence have sprung those varieties in external aspect, and in mental endowments, which distinguish the respective tribes of men from one another. But in contradiction to this principle, experience demonstrates that man is not exclusively confined in his range to any definite lines upon the earth. Although the fineness of texture, and delicacy of organization of the human constitution, renders it ex
The tremely susceptible of the impressions of climate, as well as of all other causes which act upon the animal frame, its peculiar flexibility, at the same time, enables it to adapt itself with wonderful facility, and without materially injuring the organs of life, to every degree of temperature from the extreme heats of the torrid, to the perpetual rigors of the frozen zone. We see commerce and war, ambition and avarice, transfer the same people to every clime upon the globe ; and the American and European sailor reside equally at the pole, and under the equator.
While the spirit of fanaticism carries the sun-burnt Saracen to the North, the love of war, and of plunder transplants the Tartar from the snows of Scythia to the burning plains of India.-Why then should we, without necessity, assume the hypothesis that originally there existed different species of the human kind? And not only without necessity, but contrary to the principles of true philosophy, since all its varieties may be accounted for, which I hope to demonstrate in the course of this essay, by the known operation of natural causes.
Different species must be subject to different laws both in the physical and moral constitution of their
The whole philosophy of man, therefore, is confounded by that hypothesis which divides the kind into various species, radically different from one another. The laws of morals designed to regulate the mutual intercourse of mankind, we derive from examining our own nature, or collecting the common sentiments of men in society, united together by a common system of feelings and ideas. But how shall we apply rules, derived from these sources, to different nations, and to different individuals whose moral principles, resulting, in like manner, from the constitution of their natures, respective
ly, may be as various as their several aspects. Can they, indeed, be universally applied to fix an inyariable moral code even for the same nation in different ages, after conquest, or commerce may have produced among them the most complicated mixture of species? Varieties may be created in the same species either in the animal or vegetable kingdom, by varying their culture, and, sometimes, by transferring them to a different soil, or climate ; but to all these varieties, where there is no radical diversity of kind, the same general laws will still apply. To man, in like manner, may be applied the same general principles of moral and physical action, if it be ascertained that all their differences indicate only one ori. ginal species. But, destroy this unity, and no certain and universal principles of human nature remain. We have no general and infallible standard by which to judge of the moral ideas and habits of different nations, or even of different men.--Besides, if human nature actually embraces different species of men, by what criterion shall we distinguish them? What is their number? Where do they now exist pure
and unmixed ?
Philosophers have never been able to give to these questions such precise and definite solutions as are
sufficient to satisfy an inquisitive and discriminating mind. That criterion of identity of species first suggested by the English naturalist, Ray, and afterwards more largely insisted on by Buffon, has been, since his age, most generally received ; that is, the power of procreating an offspring, that shall be itself endued with similar prolific powers. The horse and the ass can produce a mule ; but the mule being barren, shews that the sire and dam are of different species. It is acknowledged, however, that experiments on the procreative virtue of animals, never have been, and probably never will be made, in sufficient number, or with sufficient accuracy, to establish the criterion of Ray and Buffon as a certain and universal fact. If it were entitled to the rank of an incontrovertible principle in natural science, there could no longer be any doubt concerning the unity of the human species under all the various forms and appearances in which it has existed in the different regions of the globe.
Dr. Blumenbach observes that “animals ought to be ranked in the same species when their general form and properties resemble one another, and the differences which subsist among them may be derived from some degenerating cause.” According to