« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
mities. The inhabitant of Mexico and Peru, and the Indian of the Ganges, attract in a very different manner from the Chinese or Japanese the attention of an observer endowed with sensibility. Such is the interest which the misfortune of a vanquished people inspires, that it renders us frequently unjust towards the descendants of the conquerors.
To give an accurate idea of the indigenous inhabitants of New Spain, it is not enough to paint them in their actual state of degradation and misery; we must go back to a remote period, when, governed by its own laws, the nation could display its proper energy; and we must consult the hieroglyphical paintings, buildings of hewn stone, and works of sculpture still in preservation, which, though they attest the infancy of the arts, bear, however, a striking analogy to several monuments of the most civilized people. These researches are reserved for the historical account of our expedition to the tropics. The nature of this work does not permit us to enter into such details, however interesting they may be, both for the history and the psychological study of our species. We shall merely point out here a few of the most prominent features of the immense picture of American indigenous population.
The Indians of New Spain bear a general resemblance to those who inhabit Canada, Florida, Peru, and Brasil. They have the same swarthy and copper colour, flat and smooth hair, small beard, squat body, long eye, with the corner directed upwards towards the temples, prominent cheek bones, thick lips, and an expression of gentleness in the mouth, strongly contrasted with a gloomy and severe look. The American race, after the hyperborean race, is the least numerous; but it occupies the greatest space on the globe. Over a million and a half of square leagues, from the Terra del Fuego islands to the river St. Laurence and Baring's straits, we are struck at the first glance with the general resemblance in the features of the inhabitants. We think we perceive that they all descend from the same stock, notwithstanding the enormous diversity of language which separates them from one another. However, when we reflect more seriously on this family likeness, after living longer among the indigenous Americans, we discover that celebrated travellers, who could only observe a few individuals on the coasts, have singularly exaggerated the analogy of form among the Americans.
Intellectual cultivation is what contributes the most to diversify the features. In barbarous nations there is rather a physiognomy peculiar to the tribe or horde than to any individual. When we compare our domestic animals with those which inhabit bur forests we make the same observation. But an European, when he decides on the great resemblance among the copper-coloured races, is subject to a particular illusion. He is struck with a complexion so different from our own, and the uniformity of this complexion conceals for a long time Irom him the diversity of individual features. The new colonist can hardly at first distinguish the indigenous, because his eyes are less fixed on the gentle melancholic or ferocious expression of the countenance than on the red coppery colour and dark luminous and coarse and glossy hair, so glossy indeed that we should believe it to be in a constant state of humectation.
In the faithful portrait which an excellent observer, M. Volney, has drawn of the Canada Indians, we undoubtedly recognize the tribes scattered in the meadows of the Rio Apure and the Carony. The same style of feature exists no doubt in both Americas; but those Europeans who have sailed on the great rivers Orinoco and Amazons, and have had occasion to see a great number of tribes assembled under the monastical hierarchy in the missions, must have observed that the American race contains nations whose features differ as essentially from one another, as the numerous varieties of the race of Caucasus, the Circassians, Moors, and Persians, differ from one another. The tall form of the Patagonians, who inhabit the southern extremity of the new continent, is again found by us, as it were, among the Caribs who dwell in the plains from the Delta of the Orinoco
to the sources of the Rio Blanco. What a difference between the figure, physiognomy, and physical constitution of these Caribs *, who ought to be accounted one of the most robust nations on the face of the earth, and are not to be confounded with the degenerate Zambos, formerly called Caribs in the island of St. Vincent, and the squat bodies of the Chayma Indians of the province of Cumana! What a difference of form between the Indians of Tlascala and the Lipans and Chichimecs of the northern part of Mexico! / The Indians of New Spain have a more swarI thy complexion than the inhabitants of the warmest climates of South America. This fact is so much the more remarkable, as in the race of Caucasus, which may be also called the European Arab race, the people of the south have not so fair a skin as those of the north. Though many of the Asiatic nations who inundated Europe in the sixth century had a very dark complexion, it appears, however, that the shades of colour observable among the white race are less owing to their origin or mixture than to the local influence of the climate. This influence appears to
* The great nation of the Caribs, or Caraibs, who, after having exterminated the Cabres, conquered a considerable part of South America, extended in the 16th century from the equator to the Virgin Islands. The few families who existed in our times in the Caribbee Islands, recently transported by the English, were a mixture of true Caribs and negros.
VoL. I« U
have almost no effect on the Americans and negros. These races, in which there is an abundant deposition of carburetted hydrogen in the corpus mucosum or rcticulatum of Malpighi, resist in a singular manner the impressions of the ambient air. The negros of the mountains of Upper Guinea are not less black than those who live on the coast. There are, no doubt, tribes of a colour by no means deep among the Indians of the new continent, whose complexion approaches to that of the Arabs or Moors. ■We found the people of the Rio Negro swarthier than those of the Lower Orinoco, and yet the banks of the first of these rivers enjoy a much cooler climate than the more northern regions. In the forests of Guiana, especially near the sources of the Orinoco, are several tribes of a whitish complexion, the Guaicas, Guajaribs, and Arigues, of whom several robust individuals, exhibiting no symptom of the asthenical malady which characterises albinos, have the appearance of true Mestizoes. Yet these tribes have never mingled with Europeans, and are surrounded with other tribes of a dark brown hue. The Indians in the torrid zone who inhabit the most elevated plains of the Cordillera of the Andes, and those who under the 45° of south latitude live by fishing among the islands of the archipelago of Chonos, have as coppery a complexion as those who under a burning climate cultivate bananas in the nar