Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

On the first point, it is to be regretted that the author has not attempted some:hing more definite than the determination of "wo or more species," since this word more includes the chief difficulty in the question of plurality of species. If there were only two forms among inen, distin. guished by marks as well defined as those, which separate the Caucasian and Negro, there would be a very strong presumption, in the absence of positive testimony to the contrary, in favor of the theory of distinct species. We sincerely hope, if Dr. Nott is to favor “the world” with more speculations upon this subject, that he will discuss the whole question, and endeavor accurately to determine the exact number of species, and their true specific characters. This is the true knot to be unlied.

On the second point,-"that physical causes cannot change a White man into a Negro,"— we shall have a word to say farther on.

On the third point, he is certainly correct in saying, that the assertion of a “direct act of Providence” in affecting such a change, "is an assumption which cannot be proven," because there is no record of any such act. It might still be true however. When the true cause of any fact is unknown, we have a right to assume any adequate possible cause as the probable true one, until it be disproved. Many things are possibly and probably true, which are not demonstratively true, and such seems to be the principle on which our author's fifth and sixth propositions are based. But when he asserts, that such "a direci act of Providence,” is “contrary to the great chain of nature's laws,” (for we presume he does not mean, that the "assumptionis “contrary," etc., when groundless assumptions are things of every day occurrence,) he seems to us to be ultering but an identical proposition. It implies no more, than that such an act would be a miracle, which is readily granted. In his fourth proposition, he himself maintains, that "the creative power of the Almighty is still exercised, whenever circumstances are ready for it;” and we would fain know, if in these "circumstances," the "direct act of Providence” is not equally “contrary to the great chain of nature's laws"? Or, as in his sixth proposition, we inight ask,-has God anywhere said, that he never intended to change a White man into a Negro, or that other varieties were not produced “in distant parts of the globe”? Again we "would ask, after all these 29

VOL. VII.-NO. 14.

admitted truths, is there any thing so revolting in the idea, that a” White man may have been changed into a Negro “by a direct act of Providence," when the peculiar "circumstances” of his position in respect to climate and country, were “ready for it"? We can see no absurdity in attributing the change to such a cause ; and our author, who relies so much upon suppositions, ought not to complain of those, who, being wearied with the common speculations upon the subject, prefer a direct resort to Almighty agency for the solution of this “vexed question.” We should certainly adopt this theory rather than that of a plurality of species in the human race. But believing in the propriety of the rule, “nec Deus intersit nisi nodus vindice dignas,” we have no intention of escaping from the difficulties of the subject, by calling in the aid of a miraculous agency. On the contrary, we are well persuaded, that natural causes are fully competent to the production of all the varieties of the human fa. mily. It is true, that the subject is involved in some obscurities, which it is difficult to penetrate ; still, a sufficient probability may be gathered from facts and analogies, for furnishing a strong and well grounded presumption of the truth of our opinion.

Lecture I. opens with a preliminary excursus upon chro nology, and the origin of the Egyptian race. The author says,

"I must show that the Caucasian or White, and the Negro races, were distinct at a very remote date, and that the Egyptians were Caucasians. Unless this point can be established, the contest must be abandoned.” p. 8. This does not look much as if it was “a question appertain. ing to Natural History,” as we are informed in the first page of the Introduction. But we do not think the author has here done his subject justice, for we do not conceive it to be quite so straitened as he intimates. If by “this point," Dr. Nott refers to the last point mentioned, viz.: that the Egyptians were Caucasians ; we cannot see how, if the contrary were proven, his theory must needs be abandoned, since the Negroes would still remain with an antiquity as remote, as upon the other supposition, and would present the same materials which his Lectures are composed of, for argument against their specific unity with the White race. And if he refers to the former, viz.: that "the Caucasian and

Negro races were distinct at a very remote date,"_even then, upon the grounds assumed by the author, that “physical causes cannot change a White man into a Negro," and that such a change was not effected by a direct act of Providence," we cannot perceive how he is forced to abandon “the contest." But we know not, that we are under any obligation to assist him in maintaining his theory, and we shall therefore pass to the consideration of other matters.

The lecturer then proceeds to consider briefly, too briefly as we have before intimated, “the diversity of chronological computations” upon the Old Testament history. All this we should readily pass over as having little, if any pertinence to the main question, were it not for an appearance of unfairness in his treatment of it, which would have been easily removed by a little more detail, for which he had material at hand. The author does not seem to be aware of the reasons for such diversity of computations,—that the dates of Scripture events have frequently to be determined by plausible conjecture, and with little, often no aid from contemporaneous history,—that there is not a perfectly corrected and well defined series of dates in the Biblical history, blanks sometimes occurring which chronologists must fill up by conjecture,—that through the carelessness of transcribers, and perhaps wilful alteration, and from occasional obscurity of inanuscripts, palpable errors have crept into the text; all which render it quite difficult, if not impossible, to attain precision, and which leave abundant scope for va. rying computations. Nor does he seem at all aware, that the present state of the Hebrew text, affords ample means for a far higher chronology than that of Usher, which, in about twenty points of contact (all that are susceptible of it,) with Manetho, the Ptolemic Canon, and the Parian Chronicle, presents no greater variation than three years, and that too in a period of 2470 years !*

The chief diversities in Biblical chronology, occur in the periods from the Creation to the Deluge, and from the latter io the birth of Abraham. Dr. Nott, who seems to be well aware, that Archbp. Usher was not "inspired,”—that the

See a very able and interesting exhibition of this subject, in a small pamphlet entitled, “Ancient Chronology Harmonized; or The perfect Agreement of the true Biblical, Egyptian and Chaldean Chronologies proved. By A. B. Chapin, A. M., etc. etc." "First published in the Quarterly Christian Speciator, Noy. 1838,"

British Parliament, which sanctioned his scheme of chronology, is not “distinguished either for inspiration or piety," — and that there have been “other divines as learned" as the archbishop, ought, in justice to so grave a subject and to himself, to have adopted in his own computation some one of the systems of these other learned men, which he belier. ed to be nearer the truth than that of Usher. But instead of this, he attempts to disprove the latter, which had been much more ably done long before, without himself adopting a better, which would harmonize with the supposed antiquity of Egyptian history. Why does he never mention, that the Septuagint chronology is as authoritative as Usher's, and that many learned men, as Hayes, Jackson and Hales, have discarded the latter and furnished standard works upon the subject, which assume a higher chronology corresponding nearly with that of the Septuagint and Josephus? Why does he assume the year 2348 (B. C.), as "our date of the Deluge, as if we were necessarily committed to it, and thus leave the unlearned to infer that Menes, whose era he puts at 2750 (B. C.), must have reigned in Egypt 400 years before the Deluge, when by the Septuagint chronology, his time would be 500 years after the Deluge? By the latter computation, there is certainly time enough for Mizraim and "his companions,” to have gone "from the banks of the Euphrates-to Lower Egypi," (p. 12.) and prepared the way for the first Egyptian dynasty. The venerable Bede in the eighth century, was the first Christian writer who adopted the lower chronology, and it found very little favor among others until about the time of the Reformation.*

From all the “diversity of chronological computations” there is one obvious inference, which is all that can be derived from it, viz. : that the chronology of remote ages is very uncertain. This can be predicated, though Dr. N. does not seem to know it, as well of the Egyptian as of the Biblical chronology. The time of Menes cannot be positively determined within five hundred years. But we hope no one would further infer, that the uncertainty of the time necessarily involves the uncertainty of the fact.

"Moses has left no data, nor is there any thing in the history of Egypt, by which His time can be determined.” pp. 8, 9.

banks in and a.putatiold be 56. When

* We believe it was authoritatively sanctioned by the Council of Trent. Surely then, it is not surprising if learned men should differ so much about it, when they have nothing but conjecture to guide them. Yet Dr. N. has by some means found out *his time," for he tells us on the same page, that “Moses dwelt in Egypt some 1500 years B. C.” But Moses has left data, by which we can determine his time. He describes himself, as the leader of the Israelites in the Exodus, and says, (Ex. 7: 7.) that he was fourscore years old at the time. Mr. Gliddon informs us that Ramses III., the Pharaoh of the Exodus, died 1499 B. C., and Usher's date of the Exodus is 1491 B. C. Now as the history of the Israel. ites dovetails so exactly with that of the Hykshos' dynasty and the restoration of the Egyptian kings, we cannot justify our author in quite so broad a statement as he has here made. We refer the reader to the letter of Champollion, before quoted, and to the remarks in connexion. We think there are data in the writings of Moses, and in the history of Egypt, by which we can approximate very nearly, if not exactly to "his time," and that the chronological parallel can be made out with sufficient accuracy. We are not wedded to any particular scheme of chronology, but have thus far assumed that of the Septuagint, in order to avoid a long disquisition upon details, which would have been neces. sary to illustrate any particular system, but which would be wholly impertinent to the discussion before us. We wish barely to show, that Scripture is not falsified by the records of Egyptian monuments, but it is rather confirmed by them. But the obscurities still hanging over the monumental chro. nology, must be cleared up before such positive assertions, as sorne are pleased to make, can be used in derogation even of the lower chronology of Scripture. The hierologists must themselves agree, before they can properly demand our assent to a higher scheme. Dr. Nott seems to intimate, that the records on Egyptian monuments can as easily be read, and the dates all be determined with as inuch certainty of succession and serial connection, as in the most complete modern history, and as if it were quite impossible that the hierologists may be sometimes extravagant. This is far from being the case. For why do they differ among themselves? Why have they sometimes changed their opinions on particular points? Why does Rossellini assume the Biblical chronology as the necessary basis for determining the Egyptian? And wherefore has our au

« ПредишнаНапред »