Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

of the Black Sea, given unto Pontus Euxinus; the name of Xanthus, or the Yellow River of Phrygia; and the name of Mar Vermeio, or the Red Sea in America.

CHAPTER X.

Of the Blackness of Negroes. It is evident, not only in the general frame of nature, that things most manifest ‘unto sense, have proved obscure unto the understanding ; but even in proper and appropriate objects, wherein we affirm the sense cannot err, the faculties of reason most often fail us. Thus of colours in general, under whose gloss and varnish all things are seen, few or none have yet beheld the true nature, or positively set down their incontrollable causes. Which while some ascribe unto the mixture of the elements, others to the graduality of opacity and light, they have left our endeavours to grope them out by twilight, and by darkness almost to discover that whose existence is evidenced by light. The chemists have laudably reduced their causes unto sal, sulphur, and mercury, and had they made it out so well in this as in the objects of smell and taste, their endeavours had been more acceptable : for whereas they refer sapor unto salt, and odor unto sulphur, they vary much concerning colour; some reducing it unto mercury; some to sulphur; others unto salt. Wherein indeed the last conceit doth not oppress the former; and though sulphur seem to carry the master-stroke, yet salt may have a strong co-operation. For beside the fixed and terrestrious salt, there is in natural bodies a sal nitre referring unto sulphur; there is also a volatile or armoniack salt retaining unto mercury ; by which salts the colours of bodies are sensibly qualified, and receive degrees of lustre or obscurity, superficiality or profundity, fixation or volatility.

Their general or first natures being thus obscure, there will be greater difficulties in their particular discoveries ; for being farther removed from their simplicities, they fall into more complexed considerations; and so require a subtiler act of reason to distinguish and call forth their natures. Thus although a man understood the general nature of colours, yet were it no easy problem to resolve, why grass is green? Why garlic, molyes, and porrets have white roots, deep green leaves, and black seeds ? Why several docks and sorts of rhubarb with yellow roots, send forth purple flowers ? Why also from lactory or milky plants, which have a white and lacteous juice dispersed through every part, there arise flowers blue and yellow? moreover, beside the special and first digressions ordained from the creation, which might be urged to salve the variety in every species, why shall the marvel of Peru produce its flowers of different colours, and that not once, or constantly, but every day, and variously? Why tulips of one colour produce some of another, and running through almost all, should still escape a blue?? And lastly, why some men, yea and they a mighty and considerable part of mankind, should first acquire and still retain the gloss and tincture of blackness ? Which whoever strictly enquires, shall find no less of darkness in the cause, than in the effect itself; there arising unto examination no such satisfactory and unquarrellable reasons, as may confirm the causes generally received, which are but two in number;—the heat and scorch of the sun, or the curse of God on Cham and his posterity. .

The first was generally received by the ancients, who in obscurities had no higher recourse than unto nature; as may appear by a discourse concerning this point in Strabo : by Aristotle it seems to be implied, in those problems which enquire, why the sun makes men black, and not the fire ? why it whitens wax, yet blacks the skin ? by the word Ethiops itself, applied to the memorablest nations of negroes, that is, of a burnt and torrid countenance. The fancy of the fable infers also the antiquity of the opinion; which deriveth the complexion from the deviation of the sun : and the conflagration of all things under Phaeton. But this opinion, though generally embraced, was I perceive rejected by Aristobulus, a very ancient geographer, as is discovered by Strabo. It hath been doubted by several modern writers, particularly by Ortelius; but amply and satisfactorily discussed as we know by no man. We shall therefore endeavour a full delivery hereof, declaring the grounds of doubt, and reasons of denial, which rightly understood, may, if not overthrow, yet shrewdly shake the security of this assertion.

7 should still escape a blue.] Dr. Shaw remarks, in his Panorama of Nature, p. 619, that shells are of almost all colours but blue. The reason seems to be the effects of salt water on that colour.-- Jeff.

And first, many which countenance the opinion in this reason, do tacitly and upon consequence overthrow it in another. For whilst they make the river Senega to divide and bound the Moors, so that on the south side they are black, on the other only tawny, they imply a secret causality herein from the air, place, or river; and seem not to derive it from the sun, the effects of whose activity are not precipitously abrupted, but gradually proceed to their cessations.

Secondly, if we affirm that this effect proceeded, or as we will not be backward to concede, it may be advanced and fomented from the fervour of the sun ; yet do we not hereby. discover a principle sufficient to decide the question concerning other animals; nor doth he that affirmeth that heat makes man black, afford a reason why other animals in the same habitations maintain a constant and agreeable hue unto those in other parts, as lions, elephants, camels, swans, tigers, ostriches, which, though in Ethiopia, in the disadvantage of two summers, and perpendicular rays of the sun, do yet make good the complexion of their species, and hold a colourable correspondence unto those in milder regions. Now did this complexion proceed from heat in man, the same would be communicated unto other animals, which equally participate the influence of the common agent. For thus it is in the effects of cold, in regions far removed from the sun; for therein men are not only of fair complexions, gray-eyed, and of light air; but many creatures exposed to the air, deflect in extremity from their natural colours; from brown, russet, and black, receiving the complexion of winter, and turning perfect white. Thus Olaus Magnus relates, that after the autumnal equinox, foxes begin to grow white; thus Michovius reporteth, and we want not ocular confirmation, that hares and partridges turn white in the winter; and thus a white crow, a proverbial rarity with us, is none unto them; but that inseparable accident of porphyry is separated in many hundreds.

Thirdly, if the fervour of the sun, or intemperate heat of clime did solely occasion this complexion, surely a migration or change thereof might cause à sensible, if not a total mutation; which notwithstanding experience will not admit.

For Negroes transplanted, although into cold and phlegmatick habitations, continue their hue both in themselves, and also their generations, except they mix with different complexions; whereby, notwithstanding there only succeeds a remission of their tinctures, there remaining unto many descents a strong shadow of originals, and if they preserve their copulations entire, they still maintain their complexions. Ás is very remarkable in the dominions of the Grand Signior, and most observable in the Moors in Brasilia, which, transplanted about an hundred years past, continue the tinctures of their fathers unto this day. And so likewise fair or white people translated into hotter countries receive not impressions amounting to this complexion, as hath been observed in many Europeans who have lived in the land of Negroes : and as Edvardus Lopez testifieth of the Spanish plantations, that they retained their native complexions unto his days.

Fourthly, if the fervour of the sun were the sole cause hereof in Ethiopia or any land of Negroes, it were also reasonable that inhabitants of the same latitude, subjected unto the same vicinity of the sun, the same diurnal arch, and direction of its rays, should also partake of the same hue and complexion; which notwithstanding they do not. For the inhabitants of the same latitude in Asia are of a different complexion, as are the inhabitants of Cambogia and Java ; insomuch that some conceive the Negro is properly a native of Africa, and that those places in Asia, inhabited now by Moors, are but the intrusions of Negroes, arriving first from Africa, as we generally conceive of Madagascar, and the adjoining islands, who retain the same complexion unto this day. But this defect is more remarkable in America; which although subjected unto both the tropicks, yet are not the inhabitants black between, or near, or under either: neither to the southward in Brasilia, Chili, or Peru; nor yet to the northward in Hispaniola, Castilia, del Oro, or Nicaragua. And although in many parts thereof there be at present swarms of Negroes serving under the Spaniard, yet were they all transported from Africa, since the discovery of Columbus; and are not indigenous or proper natives of America.

Fifthly, we cannot conclude this complexion in nations

from the vicinity or habitude they hold unto the sun; for even in Africa they be Negroes under the southern tropick, but are not all of this hue either under or near the northern. So the people of Gualata, Agades, Garamantes, and of Goaga, all within the northern tropicks, are not Negroes; but on the other side Capo Negro, Cefala, and Madagascar, they are of a jetty black.

Now if to salve this anomaly we say, the heat of the sun is more powerful in the southern tropick, because in the sign of Capricorn falls out the perigeum or lowest place of the sun in his eccentric, whereby he becomes nearer unto them than unto the other in Cancer, we shall not absolve the doubt. And if any insist upon such niceties, and will presume a different effect of the sun, from such a difference of place or vicinity: we shall balance the same with the concernment of its motion, and time of revolution, and say he is more powerful in the northern hemisphere, and in the apogeum : for therein his motion is slower, and so is his heat respectively unto those habitations, as of more duration, so also of more effect. For though he absolve his revolution in 365 days, odd hours and minutes, yet by reason of eccentricity, his motion is unequal, and his course far longer in the northern semicircle, than in the southern; for the latter he passeth in 178 days, but the other takes him 187, that is, nine days more. So is his presence more continued unto the northern inhabitants; and the longest day in Cancer is longer unto us than that in Capricorn unto the southern habitator. Beside, hereby we only infer an inequality of heat in different tropicks, but not an equality of effects in other parts subjected to the same. For in the same degree, and as near the earth he makes his revolution unto the American, whose inhabitants, notwithstanding, partake not of the same effect. And if herein we seek a relief from the dog-star, we shall introduce an effect proper unto a few, from a cause common unto many : for upon the same grounds that star should have as forcible a power upon America and Asia ; and although it be not vertical unto any part of Asia, but only passeth by Beach, in Terra Incognita ; yet is it so unto America, and vertically passeth over the habitations of Peru and Brasilia.

Sixthly, and which is very considerable, there are Negroes

« AnteriorContinuar »