Imagens das páginas

We are aware that M. Courtet talks much of treating historically the science of man. But we have many proofs, within the small compass of the present volume, that it is a task far beyond his

grasp. Sorry are we to be obliged to avow it, but he cannot quote an ordinary writer without making him say what he never dreamed of saying. We will give a single instance, that we may not incur the charge of condemning unjustly. “Pliny," says he, fancied that the negroes blackened their skin, and made their bair curl by bathing in a river in Thessaly, which had the strange property of thus transforming the characters he believed common to the whole race of mankind."* This wonderful river was the far-famed Peneus. But how, it


be asked, came the negroes there? The question occurred to ourselves, and we were satisfied at once by a reference to the original, which runs thus :In Falisco omnis aqua pota candidos boves facit: in Bæotia amnis Melas oves nigrus: Cephissus, ex eodem lacu profluens, albas: rursus nigras Peneus: rufasque juxta Ilium Xanthus, unde et nomen umni.Plin. Hist. Nat. ii. 106.) Pliny is talking of wonderful springs and rivers; “ The water drank in the fountain Faliscus,” says he, "turns oxen white: in Boeotia, the river Melas turns sheep black; the Cephissus, issuing from the same lake, turns them (the sheep) white; the Peneus, again, turns them black; and the Xanthus, near Ilium, turns them red, and hence its name.” Although we do not deny that M. Courtet has as much right to take sheep for men as he has to take men for oran-outangs, yet we consider it a grave infraction of his own system, to turn the men into negroes, and then to curl their hair gratuitously.

When the reasoning is false, the conclusion need scarcely be examined; the foundations destroyed, the building naturally falls to the ground. We shall, therefore, pass quickly over the remainder of M. Courtet's treatise. Having, as he believes, established the doctrine that man is an animal divided into different species, radically distinct from each other, a new question presents itself, Whether there be not different gradations of intelligence, equally and as radically distinct from each other; in other words, whether the mind is not as material a member of the body as the arm or the foot, and whether, therefore, it is not “ by the original law of creation," greater or longer in some species of the genus Man than in others.

This question, discussed in the seventh chapter of the first section, is resolved in the affirmative,

* “Pline le naturaliste avait imaginé que les nègres teignaient leurs corps et crêpaient leurs cheveux en se baignant dans un fleuve de Thessalie qui avait l'étrange propriété de transformer ainsi les caractères qu'il supposait communs à toute l'espèce.”-pot.

and it appears to us somewhat unceremoniously. The sum of M. Courtet’s argument may be given in very few words; it amounts simply to this, that a man who has little brains cannot have much sense. It has been proved, he argues, that in the negro, for instance, the forehead is by an immutable law, namely, the law of his creation, depressed; therefore there is no room for brains; therefore a negro has no brains; therefore he pos-sesses, by the law of his creation, a low species of intellect. It cannot be concealed, however, that in this argument there is an error in principio. The depression of the organs does not necessarily show a want of brain, but a want of development. The mind may be there, but uncultivated; a long state of entire barbarism, rendering it, like some of our peerages, dormant. Experience, however, shows us that education, like the royal prerogative, can, though gradually, restore the long-slumbering faculties; and as the intellect is awakened, the organs being developed, even the depression might disappear in the course of a generation or two. But besides the error in principio, religion and consciousness come forward and tell us that there is an error also in tolo; that the mind is neither arm nor foot; that it is the action of an immaterial and immortal soul, which, except in this state, where its energies are clogged and fettered by its mortal tenement, acknowledges no physical inequality; in fine, that the reasonings of M. Courtet are triflings unworthy of a Christian, whatever they may be of the mere genus Man, species European, variety Frenchman, in which he is so proud of ranging himself.

In the second section of his book, M. Courtet applies the principles which he has set down in the preceding, to the science of politics; and he deduces thence the doctrine, that the different species of the genus man were not formed to live apart, like different species of animals, but that they are naturally made to lord it one over the other; and that to one race of people was given by “the original law of creation” the right to trample down and enslave its fellow race. And thus be goes on to explain the origin of the different forms of society; in India and other countries, a distinction of castes; in America, a more brutal distinction of master and slave; in the middle ages, a feudal servitude ; and also how in France, there is now, or there is fast approaching, a state of no distinction at all, but pure égalité. In all this he treats us with arguments of the same stamp as those we have examined, and behaves towards Aristotle much in the way he had already done towards Pliny and Buffon. It is by no means our intention to follow himn into this division of the subject. His theory is, that all states have been formed by the conjunction of species of the genus man, who were made to be slaves, or little better; and of species of the same genus, who were made to command, and who commonly, though apparently not always, held the upper band by right of conquest. We may here observe, that if we followed the application of this doctrine closely and far, we should, perhaps, find some such curious vagaries of the original law of creation” as would not a little surprise M. Courtet; portions of one species here, in their natural place of masters, and there, at the mercy of an inferior genus; at one time up and at another down; nay, in some instances, we might even find separated portions of one body meeting without recognizing the law of affinity, and overthrowing all rights of the

original law," by lording it over their own blood. In England, bound, or rather separated by our feudal feelings, we have kept up the game

of master and man even unto the present day: but not so in France : there, M. Courtet informs us, the different species of man crossed so often, that by degrees the whole community was reduced to a kind of half breed, which has been approaching nearer and nearer to an universal equality, until now it is hard to say which ought to be above and which below. In America, on the contrary, where the two extreme links of the genus are brought in contact, the species European with the species Negro, the former is justified, and has a right by “ the original law of creation,” to flog the negro to bis work, in the same way that one beats a dog to teach him good manners. Such is the system of politics which M. Courtet founds upon the science of man!

Be it ever remembered to the glory of England, that land polluted by feudal despotism, and where the two species have not yet produced a half breed to set up the cry of égalité, that she has held out her hand to the negro, proclaimed the great Christian principle of equality of mankind, and told him that he shall be enslaved no more, since the “nation of shopkeepers” has sacrificed millions in order that the poor slave should participate in the blessings of freedom and instruction. And her glory is none the less in that, cold-hearted as her neighbours call her, she bas not yielded a corner for planting that cold and chilling philosophy which bas amongst them found so many disciples. If the emancipation of slaves is a measure requiring to be proceeded in with caution, this necessity does not arise out of the inequality of races and intelligences established by “the original law of creation;" but out of the well-kuown fact of the slow progress of society, by which progress both the intellectual and physical characters of men are modified and changed. If to our forefathers of the thirteenth century had been suddenly given the political rights and privileges enjoyed by their descendants in the nineteenth, the result must have been confusion: to reduce the people of the nineteenth century to the political position of those of the thirteenth would be impossible. "To place the slave, who has been subject to the whip, suddenly in a position of equality with his master, would, doubtless, be a dangerous experiment, until he had gradually and duly learnt to estimate the situation he was now called upon to fill.

Art. IV. - 1. Niklas Medviezhia Lapa, Ataman Kontraban

distov, 8c. R. Zotova. (Nicholas Bearspaw, the Smuggler Chieftain; or, Traits of the Life of Frederick the Great. An Historical Romance by R. Zotov.) 3 vols. St. Petersburg,

1837. 2. Poviesti Alexandra Veltmana. (Tales by Alex. Veltman.)

Moscow, 1837. 3. Sovremennik, Literaturnii Zhurnal. (The Contemporary.)

St. Petersburg, 1837. Some time has elapsed since we noticed any productions of Russian literature,--for the paper in our last Number on the “Gazette of the Fine Arts” can hardly claim to be regarded as doing so,—and even now we must speak of what little better than chance has thrown in our way. We can, however, speak most decidedly as to the incorrectness of the statement given at page 450 of the same Number, reported to have been made by a “ Russian critic,” and copied from a Russian periodical. With nothing more than that brief extract for our information, we do not pretend to judge what may be the writer's animus in drawing so very unfavourable a picture of his countrymen’s labours; possibly, he was actuated by a desire to try the effect of ridicule, in inducing them to devote more time and thought to literary composition, instead of coming hurriedly before the public as authors so soon as they have put together enough to pass muster as a book. Be his intention what it may, he certainly does greatly exaggerate when he would impress us with the notion that Russian novels do not average above fifty pages per volume; or else we have been singularly fortunate, perhaps the contrary, in never having encountered any of such slender dimensions. The one we are about to notice extends to 1183 goodly pages, while Bulgarin's “ Dimitrii” (reviewed in our 8th volume), consists of upwards of 1400. But then a great deduction, we are assured, must be made on account of the awful length of the words, owing to which “ 150 Russian printed pages would not make more than 60 to 80 French or English." Were such really the case, books translated from other languages would be greatly swelled in bulk, and many a scanty, widely-printed English volume would be improved by the process into a very portly tome. We would, therefore, recommend some writers nearer home by all means to make interest at St. Petersburg, and get themselves, or, what they may conceive to be the better part of themselves-their books, into good condition by being translated and decked in the costume of Russian typography. Some of the writings of Miss Edgeworth, Washington Irving, and Bulwer, besides those of Sir Walter Scott, have already undergone such metamorphosis, with what result we cannot undertake to say, never having met with them so disguised; but we are rather obstinately sceptical as to the asserted dimensions, for it so happens, that there is now lying on our table a work in Russian and French, printed in opposite pages, where the latter occupies more space than the former; frequently almost doubling the number of words to express in the one idiom the meaning of the other. In fact, we are almost tempted to call the “ Russian critic," a mere impostor, and no Russian at all, but an egregious ignoramus, if merely for talking of ten-syllable words. Undoubtedly to English newspaper readers Russian names do appear of most startling length, barbarous, and almost unpronounceable, especially when dressed out according to German orthography, which renders one character, at least, a complete phalanx of consonants, such as the schtscht. Greek itself would be thought exceedingly uncouth and barbarous in Roman characters. But the Russian is so far from being a harsh language, that in his comparison and estimate of the various European tongues, Jenisch places it next to the Italian for softness and musical qualities.

We have, perhaps, bestowed much more notice on the flippant • Russian critic” than he is entitled to on his own account, though not more than necessary to undeceive those who may have taken his sneering hyperboles for sober truth. Such extravagant assertions can be boldly denied : would that we could with equal confidence, declare the works alluded to generally as good in point of quality as of quantity. In itself the charge of deficiency in the latter respect, would, if correct, be reproachful chiefly as leaving it to be inferred that in prose works of fiction nothing has yet been attempted, beyond sketches which do not afford space for much combination of incidents, or development of manners and character; and which, therefore, unless they happen to display unusual ingenuity or power,--strong vivid delineation, either comic or pathetic, inake but a very slight and transi

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