Графични страници
PDF файл

and shrine together, to wonder and adore as we view the gorgeous splendor and awful majesty of works, which reveal the hand of an Almighty Power and a Wisdom that is infinite.

These Lectures seem to have been received with no less favor by the reading public, than by the audience to which they were first delivered. They probably present the most satisfactory exhibition of evidence for the truth of Divine Revelation, as derived from science, which is any where to be found within the same compass. Although in some cases obliged to use the language of the learned, the author has so far succeeded in rendering the subjects intelligible, that they will be readily comprehended by readers of ordinary intelligence. He has also surceeded so well in a skilful selection and arrangement of topics, that a perusal of the Lectures can scarcely fail of awakening new interest in the reader, and of strengthening his conviction of the authenticity of the Scriptures. It is no less satisfactory to the inquirer, ihat all the subjects discussed, having been strongly urged by sceptics as infallible proofs of the falsity of Christianity, are here shown by later and fuller discovery to be valuable supports to the temple of our faith, and striking illustrations of the truth of our holy religion.

The first two Lectures are "on the comparative study of Languages,"—more technically called Ethnography, Comparative Philology, and, by the French, Linguistique. This is a study of modern date, and may be said to be yet almost in its infancy. Still, many and important discoveries have been made, which foster the expectation of more splendid triumphs. By this study, nations which were before supposed to be severed by irreconcilable dissimilarities, have been proved to have originated in a common stock; and every advance in it, diminishes the number of distinct and independent languages and tribes of people. Perhaps the most interesting fact thus far developed, having come within the range of what has probably supplied the most copious materials for examination, is derived from the comparison of what are called the Indo-Germanic languages :

"It is clearly demonstrated,” says Dr. Wiseman, “that one speech, essentially so called, pervaded a considerable portion of Europe and Asia, and stretching across in a broad sweep from Ceylon to Iceland, united in a bond of union nations professing the most irreconcilable religions, possessing the most dissimilar institutions, and bearing but a slight resemblance in physiognomy and color.” p. 31.

It is found, therefore, that Hindoos, Persians, Kurds, Affghans, Armenians, and all the nations of Europe, except those belonging to the Biscayan and Finnish tribes, are members of one great family, and are shown, by the affinity of their languages, to have descended from one common stock. When we find, then, that such a variety of nations, so widely separated, geographically, historically and constitutionally, and whose languages were but lately deemed wholly independent of each other, are now proved to be of common origin, we may confidently expect that research and comparison will still more diminish the number of now apparent discrepancies in the languages of the remaining nations. It will not, then, be the utterance of too credulous expectation, if we say with Alex. von Humboldt, "However insulated certain languages may at first appear,-however singular their caprices and their idioms,-all have an analogy among them, and their numerous relations will be more perceived, in proportion as the philosophical history of nations, and the study of languages, shall be brought to perfection." Klaproth maintains, that by his investigations, "the universal affinity of languages is placed in so strong a light, that it must be considered by all as completely demonstrated. This does not appear explicable on any other hypothesis, than that of admitting fragments of a primary language yet to exist through all the languages of the old and new world." Herder also contends that "the human race, and language therewith, go back to one common stock,--to a first man,and not to several, dispersed in different parts of the world." Certainly, when so much has been accomplished, in so short a period, it were rank presumption and scepticism to assert that the judgments of these men will not be eventually suistained. No greater marvel remains to be effected in this direction, than has already been realized in the demonstrated affinity of the numerous Indo-Germanic families,—the connexion of these with the Semitic through the Coptic or ancient Egyptian tongue,-the affinity of the Malayan with the multiplied dialects of the Pacific Islands, which were once regarded as wholly distinct, as well as their probable relation with the Transgangetic languages,—and the fundamental unity of the numerous American dialects, and their evident derivation from the Asiatic.

"In Africa, too,” says Wiseman, “the dialects whereof have been comparatively but little studied, every new research displays connex

ions between tribes extended over vast tracts, and often separated by intermediate nations; in the north, between the languages spoken by the Berbers and Tuariks, from the Canaries to the Oasis of Siwa; in Central Africa, between the dialects of the Fellatahs and Foulahs, who occupy nearly the whole interior ; in the south, among the tribes across the whole continent, from Caffraria and Mozambique to the Atlantic Ocean.” p. 43.

It will at once be seen, that a demonstration of the common origin of the several languages of the earth, involves of necessity a demonstration of the unity of the human race, and will so far afford collateral proof of the truth of the sacred narrative. At the same time, if the common origin of languages should never be ascertained,nay, is a radical difference should be demonstrated among theni,—the fact could never be brought to bear forcibly against the unity of the human family. From what we know of the rapid changes that have befallen sone languages, and the extreme differences which exist in others known to have sprung from one source, we should not have a right to infer, nor could we a priori suppose, that the lapse of several thousand years would not have wrought such material alterations in their fundamental character, as would completely destroy every vestige of their original character. Besides, there is no positive proof in the history of the confusion of tongues at Babel, that there was not an entire and radical change of language, which would be no greater miracle than the sudden change of a primitive language into several unintelligible dialects. Let it not be supposed that we are endeavoring to make out a forced case. We only desire to exhibit the true bearing and relations of this subject, and to show in what direction its advantages lie. There are many facts which afford important evidence upon a subject, the absence of which would not imply its falsity nor an opposite truth. Evident traces of a universal flood upon the earth, might be strong confirmation of the fact of the Noachian Deluge, while the entire absence of such traces would be no proof that it never occurred. The question is merely one of cumulative testimony.

Whatever may be the final result of the universal comparison of languages as to a demonstration of their fundamental unity, we are inclined to think that the investigations already made go far to establish the unity of the human race. An affiliation has been traced in the languages of nations so diverse in habit, form and color, that, while we cannot doubt

their common origin, we are forced to the belief, not only of the possibility, but of the fact, of such extreme physical changes in the human constitution, as will justify the inference of specific unity in the whole human family.

The following remarkable fact, derived from Humboldt, is given by Dr. Wiseman, in evidence of the Asiatic origin of our Aborigines :

“The computation of time among the Americans, affords too marked a coincidence, in matters of mere caprice, with that of Eastern Asia, to be purely accidental. The division of time into greater cycles of years, again subdivided into smaller portions, each whereof bears a certain name, is, with trifling difference, the plan followed among the Chinese, Japanese, Kalmucks, Monguls and Mantcheons, as well as among the Tolteks, Azteks, and other American nations; and the character of their respective methods is precisely the same, particularly if those of the Mexicans and Japanese be compared. Put a comparison of the zodiac, as existing among the Tibetans, Monguls and Japanese, with the names given by this American nation to the days of the month, will, I think, satisfy the most incredulous. The identical signs are, the tiger, hare, serpent, ape, dog and bird, in all which it is plain there is no natural aptitude that could have suggested their adoption in both continents. This strange coincidence is still further enhanced by the curious fact, that several of the Mexican signs, wanting in the Tartar zodiac, are found in the Hindoo Shastras, exactly in corresponding positions. These are no less arbitrary than the former, being a house, a cane, a knife, and three foot-prints." p. 83.

Lectures III. and IV. are "on the Natural History of the Human Race." The families into which mankind are generally divided by Ethnographers, and to which the various tribes are all referred, are, the Caucasian, Mongul, American, Malay and Negro. The Caucasian, sometimes called the Circassian, race, is for the most part characterized by a white complexion, although including people of a very dark color. It comprises all the nations of Europe, except the Laplanders, Finlanders and Hungarians, and also the population of Western Asia and Northern Africa. The Negro, or black race, takes in nearly all the population of Africa, except the Barbary States and Egypt. These are the two extremes of the human family, both in form and color. Between them are the Malay race, comprising the inhabitants of Malacca, and of Australia and Polynesia, generally designated as the Papuan or Oceanic farnily; the Mongul, embracing all the Asiatics not included in the Caucasian and Malay races, the Finlanders, Laplanders and Hungarians of Europe, and the

Esquimaux of North-America; and the American, which includes all the Aborigines of this continent, except the Esquimaux.

The Mongul forms a link between the Caucasian and American races, and is probably the immediate parent of the latter. Some writers include the Malay family within the Mongolian, and refer the Papuan tribes to the Negro. It would be difficult to multiply the races of men any farther than is done in the above enumeration, although it is very far from specifying the great number of varieties of form, size and color, to be found in the different nations of the world; but these are adopted as types to which all the varieties may be referred. Beyond this number, it would be as easy to establish twenty-five species as ten or eight, for it would then be necessary to assume but slight variations as the grounds of distinction, but which no one acquainted with science would be likely to adopt. It should be borne in niind, then, that while these several terms have been assumed to designate the races of men as distinguished by certain constitutional peculiarities, and of each of which some particular nation has been taken as the type, there are still found numerous and striking shades of difference among the various nations which are referred to one and the other. It would not surprise any one, therefore, to learn, that it is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to classify those tribes which recede farthest froin their type, and approximate to the extremes of some other, to which they may bear as palpable a likeness as to their own. Such is the case with the Oceanic tribes, some of whom approach the Negro, and others the Mongul race. The Mongul is also brought in contact with the Caucasian, through the Kirghish, Tartars and Finns. These transitions are constantly presented, in our attempts to distinguish the several tribes and races of men by any clear and specific definitions.

Our author takes a brief notice of the accounts left by some ancient writers of the races of men then known, as well as the speculations of several modern authors, both for and against the unity of the human race, and explains the methods of classification devised by those who have treated of the subject,-for all which we must refer the reader to his Lectures. From the history and principles of the study, he proceeds, in a happy manner, to give the results, of which the following may be taken as a summary :

"I think we may say, after looking through all that has been done

« ПредишнаНапред »