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The African Race.
angels : how glorious then is his calling, whose work it is to prevent her fall or to raise her fallen! Truly the lawyer, while the servant of earth, is the minister of Heaven ; while he labors for the good of his fellow-men, he works none other than the work of God.” We deem it not irrelevant to quote these words as we close this notice of Charles J. Fox.
ART. III. — THE AFRICAN RACE.
AMONG the natural divisions which separate various tribes and nations, we recognise three more general and comprehensive than any other. Cuvier, in seeking for a classification which shall include all the human varieties, resolves them at length into what he calls the fair or Caucasian, the yellow or Mongolian, and the black or Ethiopian, But we shall find that the Ethiopian is not necessarily nor uniformly black.* Vary the terms a little, so as to make the classification assume no false position; call these three varieties the Caucasian, the Indian, and the African; and we have a division which is founded in nature. We will not assume that all the others can be resolved into these three, but these three evidently cannot be resolved into each other. Select individuals from each and compare them together, and we recognise mental and physical characteristics so strongly marked, and standing out with so much boldness, that they cannot be confounded. We shall see at once that the original types from which these three natures were impressed and indented, were essentially different.
The original causes of this difference cannot be clearly ascertained. That question would lead us at least a thousand years beyond the extreme limits of historical knowledge. But when we ask, why this diversity of races ? we derive an answer much more full and satisfactory. It is quite conceivable, that a single one of the races, instead of three, (or five, as the case may be,) should have peopled the
The word Ethiopian, from aida to burn, and öyıs the face, may denote almost any hue from light brown to perfect black.
earth, that the traveller should have met with no varieties of character beyond those of which the Caucasian is susceptible, and that men wherever produced should have worn the same features and attributes; but in such monotony, how wide were the departure from all analogies in the universe. A human nature which should present to view but one uniform surface, could not reveal all the grandeur and all the charms of that Divine Nature whose light might fall upon it. It is the glass with trilateral form, which brings out all the colors of the solar beams; and if human nature lacked one of its original varieties, the complement in the colors of the spectrum could never be filled up. Take any one of the races. Take the Caucasian, which has led the way in all modern improvement and civilization, and ask whether in all its history and its well-known features of character it ever did, or probably ever will, develop such a humanity as to exhibit the various graces and virtues in all-blending proportion and harmony. In the whole history of this race power has prevailed over gentleness, and in almost all its forms of worship and religion the Divine anger has gleamed fiercely in the foreground, while the Divine mercy has scarcely been apprehended in the shade. The nations of this division have been sufficiently active in asserting their rights and avenging their wrongs, but it is Mr. Burke's remark, that the good offices of kindness and civility which one of their nations has done towards another would not fill ten pages of history, though spun out with the wire-drawn amplification of a Guiccardini himself. The innate propensity of this race is, and ever was, to enterprise and fierce activity; and even when held or guided by justice, it has lacked the softer and more assuaging qualities of charity and mercy. It has furnished that ground of human nature, which has reflected the red rays the fiercer colors, but the milder and sweeter ones have been wanting. Where is the race and people, by whom these softer and lovelier of the moral qualities shall be brought forth in their greatest perfection and lustre ?
Let the eye glance for a moment over the peninsula of Africa. Mark its population. Its northern and north-western shores are skirted by a population of Moors and Arabs. Along the western and eastern shores there is a line of European settlements, but they have penetrated a little way
Character and Destiny.
only into its deserts and mountains. The north-western portion, or Egypt, is held by the Coptic race — the degenerate sons of great and glorious ancestors. All else the whole interior, is occupied for the most part by a pure African population. It comprises at least fifty millions, radiating everywhere from the inland regions till coming in contact with foreign settlements at the surrounding shores. It is a race which we cannot look over without feelings of the liveliest interest, which the Christian cannot regard without feeling his bosom heave with pity and his cheek tinged with shame. The first reflection which is forced upon us is, that the Ethiopian population, and that alone, is indigenous. All the rest is foreign. Moreover, the evidence now rises to complete demonstration, that no influences of climate, but original differences of physical and moral constitution, have separated them from the rest of mankind and made them a peculiar people. The Arab has lived for ages in the same climate. In the sixth century Moslemism spread like a lightning-flash over the northern part of Africa, and finally found its way along the whole southern and western coast. So that when the Portugese near the close of the fifteenth century circumnavigated Africa, they found Arabian settlements, and even cities not without refinement and splendor, scattered along the shores. They had been there more than five centuries, but they were Arabs still, and assimilated not at all to the native population. An African sun had poured its rays upon these people and African breezes had fanned them century after century, but they were neither changed into Africans nor did they discover the least tendency to such transformation. In these settlements the Arab was supplanted by the Portuguese, but the descendants of the first Moslem invaders inhabit other parts of Africa to the present day. Yet the influences of climate through twelve centuries have had no effect whatever in effacing the strong original lines of character, or moulding their natures into the Negro form. Still the Arab is an Arab, and the African is an African. And he continues such in every age and in every country, and in conformity with organic laws, which climate did not make and which climate can never dissolve.
What is the character, and what the destiny of this race? A people, even in the lowest state of barbarism, always
indicate more or less distinctly that kind of civilization to which they are destined. Our English civilization, yea, the rough sketch of our very institutions, is found far back among the piratical race out of which we sprang - the Teutonic tribes, which in the time of Tacitus occupied the dark forests of Germany and the coasts of the German and Baltic seas. When a people rise out of barbarism, they preserve still the outlines of their original character, though indeed changed and transfigured, and reflecting the light of science, religion and refinement.
The peculiar genius and susceptibilities of a people are shown in two ways. First, in their history. This is the safest and the surest, for here their genius goes out into its results and we see them in enterprise and action. Or if a people have had no history, we may divine to some extent what it would be, should their nature be developed on the theatre of events; and this we may do by their physical and moral constitution.
Has the African any history? He has; and one in which gleams of grandeur and glory struggle forth from the long night of ages.
On this subject, those who attempt to divest the African of his humanity and rank him with things and animals, manifest an ignorance as disgraceful to their characters as men of intelligence, as is their code of cruelty and blood to their characters as Christian men. The idea that Africa has only presented a dead level of barbarism, or that the imbruted countenance of the Negro slave is the only index of his susceptibilities and powers, every scholar, if not every person of common information, knows, or should know, to be false. The African, we have said, never loses that peculiar type of character which belongs to his race, unless it be by amalgamation with other races. But he shows a nature as flexible, and susceptibilities as various, as belong to the Caucasian. The range of qualities and compass of powers which are found on the part of the Saxon, from the grim worshippers of Odin in the woods of Germany to the Christian communities of this nineteenth century, are hardly more varied than are to be found in the history of the African nations through a series of ages.
Professor Heeren* has exhibited the results both of
* Reflections on the Politics, Intercourse and Trade of the Ancient Nations of Africa.
Nations of Africa.
ancient and modern discovery within the borders of Africa. He has summoned before him every traveller from Herodotus down to Champollion and Lander, till the country, with its teeming and varied population, emerges out of obscurity, and lies before his mental vision in the soft sunlight of peace.” Sometimes the African passes before him with black and stolid features, the brow retreating far away, the nose flattened and the lower part of the face projecting forward, on which the lowest appetites have left their most disgusting image. Again, in other circumstances and with a more favorable mental development, the animal is lost and the graceful mien of the man rises and reappears; the mouth retreats and the forehead advances, proclaiming the supremacy of the higher powers over appetite, and the form and features assume a Grecian symmetry and beauty. There is a nation called Tuaricks, who inhabit the oases and southern borders of the great desert, whose occupation is commerce and where caravans ply between the Negro countries and Fezzan. They are described by two travellers, Hornemann and Lyon. The western tribes of this nation are white, so far as the climate and their habits will allow. Others are of a yellow cast; others, again, are swarthy; and in the neighborhood of Soudan, there is said to be a tribe completely black. All speak the same dialect, and it is a dialect of the original African tongue. There is no reasonable doubt of their being aboriginal. Lyon says they are the finest race of men he ever saw; “tall, straight, and handsome, with a certain air of independence and pride, which is very imposing.”* Farther east, between the Sahara and Lybian deserts and on the borders of both, is a nation called the Tibboos, who seem to have originated south and migrated northward. Their color is of “the brightest black;" they have “aquiline noses, fine teeth, and lips formed like those of Europeans.”+ Along the upper valleys of the Nile are found the people of Nubia, a nation once hardy and independent, who resisted with heroic courage the armies of the Pasha of Egypt, but were nearly extirpated in the conflict. Burkhardt calls them "a handsome race; » their features noble, their native color “a dark red brown," the face oval, the nose
Heeren, Vol. I. p. 297.