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CHAP. VIII. - Thomas Clarkson, An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species 
An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African, translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was Honoured with the First Prize, in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, with Additions (London: J. Phillips, 1786).
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The second argument, by which it is attempted to be proved, “that the Africans are an inferiour link of the chain of nature, and are designed for slavery,” is drawn from colour, and from those other marks, which distinguish them from the inhabitants of Europe.
To prove this with the greater facility, the receivers divide in opinion. Some of them contend that the Africans, from these circumstances, are the descendants of * Cain: others, that they are the posterity of Ham; and that as it was declared by divine inspiration, that these should be servants to the rest of the world, so they are designed for slavery; and that the reducing of them to such a situation is only the accomplishment of the will of heaven: while the rest, considering them from the same circumstances as a totally distinct species of men, conclude them to be an inferiour link of the chain of nature, and deduce the inference described.
To answer these arguments in the clearest and fullest manner, we are under the necessity of making two suppositions, first, that the scriptures are true; secondly, that they are false.
If then the scriptures are true, it is evident that the posterity of Cain were extinguished in the flood. Thus one of the arguments is no more.
With respect to the curse of Ham, it appears also that it was limited; that it did not extend to the posterity of all his sons, but only to the * descendants of him who was called Canaan: by which it was foretold that the Canaanites, a part of the posterity of Ham, should serve the posterity of Shem and Japhet. Now how does it appear that these wretched Africans are the descendants of Canaan?—By those marks, it will be said, which distinguish them from the rest of the world.—But where are these marks to be found in the divine writings? In what page is it said, that the Canaanites were to be known by their colour, their features, their form, or the very hair of their heads, which is brought into the account?—But alas! so far are the divine writings from giving any such account, that they shew the assertion to be false. They shew that the‡ descendants of Cush were of the colour, to which the advocates for slavery allude; and of course, that there was no such limitation of colour to the posterity of Canaan, or the inheritors of the curse.
Suppose we should now shew, upon the most undeniable evidence, * that those of the wretched Africans, who are singled out as inheriting the curse, are the descendants of Cush or Phut; and that we should shew farther, that but a single remnant of Canaan, which was afterwards ruined, was ever in Africa at all.—Here all is consternation.—
But unfortunately again for the argument, though wonderfully for the confirmation that the scriptures are of divine original, the whole prophecy has been completed. A part of the descendants of Canaan were hewers of wood and drawers of water, and became tributary and subject to the Israelites, or the descendants of Shem. The Greeks afterwards, as well as the Romans, who were both the descendants of Japhet, not only subdued those who were settled in Syria and Palestine, but pursued and conquered all such as were then remaining. These were the Tyrians and Carthaginians: the former of whom were ruined by Alexander and the Greeks, the latter by Scipio and the Romans.
It appears then that the second argument is wholly inapplicable and false: that it is false in its application, because those, who were the objects of the curse, were a totally distinct people: that it is false in its proof, because no such distinguishing marks, as have been specified, are to be found in the divine writings: and that, if the proof could be made out, it would be now inapplicable, as the curse has been long completed.
With respect to the third argument, we must now suppose that the scriptures are false; that mankind did not all spring from the same original; that there are different species of men. Now what must we justly conclude from such a supposition? Must we conclude that one species is inferiour to another, and that the inferiority depends upon their colour, or their features, or their form?—No—We must now consult the analogy of nature, and the conclusion will be this: “that as she tempered the bodies of the different species of men in a different degree, to enable them to endure the respective climates of their habitation, so she gave them a variety of colour and appearance with a like benevolent design.”
To sum up the whole. If the scriptures are true, it is evident that the posterity of Cain are no more; that the curse of Ham has been accomplished; and that, as all men were derived from the same stock, so this variety of appearance in men must either have proceeded from some interposition of the Deity; or from a co-operation of certain causes, which have an effect upon the human frame, and have the power of changing it more or less from its primitive appearance, as they happen to be more or less numerous or powerful than those, which acted upon the frame of man in the first seat of his habitation. If from the interposition of the Deity, then we must conclude that he, who bringeth good out of evil, produced it for their convenience. If, from the co-operation of the causes before related, what argument may not be found against any society of men, who should happen to differ, in the points alluded to, from ourselves?
If, on the other hand, the scriptures are false, then it is evident, that there was neither such a person as Cain, nor Ham, nor Canaan; and that nature bestowed such colour, features, and form, upon the different species of men, as were best adapted to their situation.
Thus, on which ever supposition it is founded, the whole argument must fall. And indeed it is impossible that it can stand, even in the eye of common sense. For if you admit the form of men as a justification of slavery, you may subjugate your own brother: if features, then you must quarrel with all the world: if colour, where are you to stop? It is evident, that if you travel from the equator to the northern pole, you will find a regular gradation of colour from black to white. Now if you can justly take him for your slave, who is of the deepest die, what hinders you from taking him also, who only differs from the former but by a shade. Thus you may proceed, taking each in a regular succession to the poles. But who are you, that thus take into slavery so many people? Where do you live yourself? Do you live in Spain, or in France, or in Britain? If in either of these countries, take care lest the whiter natives of the north should have a claim upon yourself.—But the argument is too ridiculous to be farther noticed.
Having now silenced the whole argument, we might immediately proceed to the discussion of other points, without even declaring our opinion as to which of the suppositions may be right, on which it has been resuted; but we do not think ourselves at liberty to do this. The present age would rejoice to find that the scriptures had no foundation, and would anxiously catch at the writings of him, who should mention them in a doubtful manner. We shall therefore declare our sentiments, by asserting that they are true, and that all mankind, however various their appearance, are derived from the same stock.
To prove this, we shall not produce those innumerable arguments, by which the scriptures have stood the test of ages, but advert to a single fact. It is an universal law, observable throughout the whole creation, that if two animals of a different species propagate, their offspring is unable to continue its own species. By this admirable law, the different species are preserved distinct; every possibility of confusion is prevented, and the world is forbidden to be over-run by a race of monsters. Now, if we apply this law to those of the human kind, who are said to be of a distinct species from each other, it immediately fails. The mulattoe is as capable of continuing his own species as his father; a clear and irrefragable proof, that the † scripture account of the creation is true, and that “God, who hath made the world, hath made of * one blood all the nations of men that dwell on all the face of the earth.”
But if this be the case, it will be said that mankind were originally of one colour; and it will be asked at the same time, what it is probable that the colour was, and how they came to assume so various an appearance? To each of these we shall make that reply, which we conceive to be the most rational.
As mankind were originally of the same stock, so it is evident that they were originally of the same colour. But how shall we attempt to ascertain it? Shall we Englishmen say, that it was the same as that which we now find to be peculiar to ourselves?—No—This would be a vain and partial consideration, and would betray our judgment to have arisen from that false fondness, which habituates us to suppose, that every thing belonging to ourselves is the perfectest and the best. Add to this, that we should always be liable to a just reproof from every inhabitant of the globe, whose colour was different from our own; because he would justly say, that he had as good a right to imagine that his own was the primitive colour, as that of any other people.
How then shall we attempt to ascertain it? Shall we look into the various climates of the earth, see the colour that generally prevails in the inhabitants of each, and apply the rule? This will be certainly free from partiality, and will afford us a better prospect of success: for as every particular district has its particular colour, so it is evident that the complexion of Noah and his sons, from whom the rest of the world were descended, was the same as that, which is peculiar to the country, which was the seat of their habitation. This, by such a mode of decision, will be found a dark olive; a beautiful colour, and a just medium between white and black. That this was the primitive colour, is highly probable from the observations that have been made; and, if admitted, will afford a valuable lesson to the Europeans, to be cautious how they deride those of the opposite complexion, as there is great reason to presume, that the purest*white is as far removed from the primitive colour as the deepest black.
We come now to the grand question, which is, that if mankind were originally of this or any other colour, how came it to pass, that they should wear so various an appearance? We reply, as we have had occasion to say before, either by the interposition of the Deity; or by a co-operation of certain causes, which have an effect upon the humanframe, and have the power of changing it more or less from its primitive appearance, as they are more or less numerous or powerful than those, which acted upon the frame of man in the first seat of his habitation.
With respect to the Divine interposition, two epochs have been assigned, when this difference of colour has been imagined to have been so produced. The first is that, which has been related, when the curse was pronounced on a branch of the posterity of Ham. But this argument has been already refuted; for if the particular colour alluded to were assigned at this period, it was assigned to the descendants of Canaan, to distinguish them from those of his other brothers, and was therefore limited to the former. But the descendants of *Cush, as we have shewn before, partook of the same colour; a clear proof, that it was neither assigned to them on this occasion, nor at this period.
The second epoch is that, when mankind were dispersed on the building of Babel. It has been thought, that both national features and colour might probably have been given them at this time, because these would have assisted the confusion of language, by causing them to disperse into tribes, and would have united more firmly the individuals of each, after the dispersion had taken place. But this is improbable: first, because there is great reason to presume that Moses, who has mentioned the confusion of language, would have mentioned these circumstances also, if they had actually contributed to bring about so singular an event: secondly, because the confusion of language was sufficient of itself to have accomplished this; and we cannot suppose that the Deity could have done any thing in vain: and thirdly, because, if mankind had been dispersed, each tribe in its peculiar hue, it is impossible to conceive, that they could have wandered and settled in such a manner, as to exhibit that regular gradation of colour from the equator to the poles, so conspicuous at the present day.
These are the only periods, which there has been even the shadow of a probability for assigning; and we may therefore conclude that the preceding observations, together with such circumstances as will appear in the present chapter, will amount to a demonstration, that the difference of colour was never caused by any interposition of the Deity, and that it must have proceeded therefore from that incidental co-operation of causes, which has been before related.
What these causes are, it is out of the power of human wisdom positively to assert: there are facts, however, which, if properly weighed and put together, will throw considerable light upon the subject. These we shall submit to the perusal of the reader, and shall deduce from them such inferences only, as almost every person must make in his own mind, on their recital.
The first point, that occurs to be ascertained, is, “What part of the skin is the seat of colour?” The old anatomists usually divided the skin into two parts, or lamina; the exteriour and thinnest, called by the Greeks Epidermis, by the Romans Cuticula, and hence by us Cuticle; and the interiour, called by the former Derma, and by the latter Cutis, or true skin. Hence they must necessarily have supposed, that, as the true skin was in every respect the same in all human subjects, however various their external hue, so the seat of colour must have existed in the Cuticle, or upper surface.
Malphigi, an eminent Italian physician, of the last century, was the first person who discovered that the skin was divided into three lamina, or parts; the Cuticle, the true skin, and a certain coagulated substance situated between both, which he distinguished by the title of Mucosum Corpus; a title retained by anatomists to the present day: which coagulated substance adhered so firmly to the Cuticle, as, in all former anatomical preparations, to have come off with it, and, from this circumstance, to have led the ancient anatomists to believe, that there were but two lamina, or divisible portions in the human skin.
This discovery was sufficient to ascertain the point in question: for it appeared afterwards that the Cuticle, when divided according to this discovery from the other lamina, was semi-transparent; that the cuticle of the blackest negroe was of the same transparency and colour, as that of the purest white; and hence, the true skins of both being invariably the same, that the mucosum corpus was the seat of colour.
This has been farther confirmed by all subsequent anatomical experiments, by which it appears, that, whatever is the colour of this intermediate coagulated substance, nearly the same is the apparent colour of the upper surface of the skin. Neither can it be otherwise; for the Cuticle, from its transparency, must necessarily transmit the colour of the substance beneath it, in the same manner, though not in the same degree, as the cornea transmits the colour of the iris of the eye. This transparency is a matter of ocular demonstration in white people. It is conspicuous in every blush; for no one can imagine, that the cuticle becomes red, as often as this happens: nor is it less discoverable in the veins, which are so easy to be discerned; for no one can suppose, that the blue streaks, which he constantly sees in the fairest complexions, are painted, as it were, on the surface of the upper skin. From these, and a variety of other * observations, no maxim is more true in physiology, than that on the mucosum corpus depends the colour of the human body; or, in other words, that the mucosum corpus being of a different colour in different inhabitants of the globe, and appearing through the cuticle or upper surface of the skin, gives them that various appearance, which strikes us so forcibly in contemplating the human race.
As this can be incontrovertibly ascertained, it is evident, that whatever causes co-operate in producing this different appearance, they produce it by acting upon the mucosum corpus, which, from the almost incredible manner in which the † cuticle is perforated, is as accessible as the cuticle itself. These causes are probably those various qualities of things, which, combined with the influence of the sun, contribute to form what we call climate. For when any person considers, that the mucous substance, beforementioned, is found to vary in its colour, as the climates vary from the equator to the poles, his mind must be instantly struck with the hypothesis, and he must adopt it without any hesitation, as the genuine cause of the phænomenon.
This fact, *of the variation of the mucous substance according to the situation of the place, has been clearly ascertained in the numerous anatomical experiments that have been made; in which, subjects of all nations have come under consideration. The natives of many of the kingdoms and isles of Asia, are found to have their corpus mucosum black. Those of Africa, situated near the line, of the same colour. Those of the maritime parts of the same continent, of a dusky brown, nearly approaching to it; and the colour becomes lighter or darker in proportion as the distance from the equator is either greater or less. The Europeans are the fairest inhabitants of the world. Those situated in the most southern regions of Europe, have in their corpus mucosum a tinge of the dark hue of their African neighbours: hence the epidemick complexion, prevalent among them, is nearly of the colour of the pickled Spanish olive; while in this country, and those situated nearer the north pole, it appears to be nearly, if not absolutely, white.
These are * facts, which anatomy has established; and we acknowledge them to be such, that we cannot divest ourselves of the idea, that climate has a considerable share in producing a difference of colour. Others, we know, have invented other hypotheses, but all of them have been instantly refuted, as unable to explain the difficulties for which they were advanced, and as absolutely contrary to fact: and the inventors themselves have been obliged, almost as soon as they have proposed them, to acknowledge them deficient.
The only objection of any consequence, that has ever been made to the hypothesis of climate, is this, that people under the same parallels are not exactly of the same colour. But this is no objection in fact: for it does not follow that those countries, which are at an equal distance from the equator, should have their climates the same. Indeed nothing is more contrary to experience than this. Climate depends upon a variety of accidents. High mountains, in the neighbourhood of a place, make it cooler, by chilling the air that is carried over them by the winds. Large spreading succulent plants, if among the productions of the soil, have the same effect: they afford agreeable cooling shades, and a moist atmosphere from their continual exhalations, by which the ardour of the sun is considerably abated. While the soil, on the other hand, if of a sandy nature, retains the heat in an uncommon degree, and makes the summers considerably hotter than those which are found to exist in the same latitude, where the soil is different. To this proximity of what may be termed burning sands, and to the sulphurous and metallick particles, which are continually exhaling from the bowels of the earth, is ascribed the different degree of blackness, by which some African nations are distinguishable from each other, though under the same parallels. To these observations we may add, that though the inhabitants of the same parallel are not exactly of the same hue, yet they differ only by shades of the same colour; or, to speak with more precision, that there are no two people, in such a situation, one of whom is white, and the other black. To sum up the whole—Suppose we were to take a common globe; to begin at the equator; to paint every country along the meridian line in succession from thence to the poles; and to paint them with the same colour which prevails in the respective inhabitants of each, we should see the black, with which we had been obliged to begin, insensibly changing to an olive, and the olive, through as many intermediate colours, to a white: and if, on the other hand, we should complete any one of the parallels according to the same plan, we should see a difference perhaps in the appearance of some of the countries through which it ran, though the difference would consist wholly in shades of the same colour.
The argument therefore, which is brought against the hypothesis, is so far from being an objection, that we shall consider it as one of the first arguments in its favour: for if climate has really an influence on the mucous substance of the body, it is evident, that we must not only expect to see a gradation of colour in the inhabitants from the equator to the poles, but also * different shades of the same colour in the inhabitants of the same parallel.
To this argument, we shall add one that is incontrovertible, which is, that when the black inhabitants of Africa are transplanted to colder, or the white inhabitants of Europe to hotter climates, their children, born there, are of a different colour from themselves; that is, lighter in the first, and darker in the second instance.
As a proof of the first, we shall give the words of the Abbé Raynal, in his admired publication. * “The children,” says he, which they, (the Africans) procreate in America, are not so black as their parents were. After each generation the difference becomes more palpable. It is possible, that after a numerous succession of generations, the men come from Africa would not be distinguished from those of the country, into which they may have been transplanted.”
This circumstance we have had the pleasure of hearing confirmed by a variety of persons, who have been witnesses of the fact; but particularly by many † intelligent Africans, who have been parents themselves in America, and who have declared that the difference is so palpable in the northern provinces, that not only they themselves have constantly observed it, but that they have heard it observed by others.
Neither is this variation in the children from the colour of their parents improbable. The children of the blackest Africans are*born white. In this state they continue for about a month, when they change to a pale yellow. In process of time they become brown. Their skin still continues to increase in darkness with their age, till it becomes of a dirty, sallow black, and at length, after a certain period of years, glossy and shining. Now, if climate has any influence on the mucous substance of the body, this variation in the children from the colour of their parents is an event, which must be reasonably expected: for being born white, and not having equally powerful causes to act upon them in colder, as their parents had in the hotter climates which they left, it must necessarily follow, that the same effect cannot possibly be produced.
Hence also, if the hypothesis be admitted, may be deduced the reason, why even those children, who have been brought from their country at an early age into colder regions, have been * observed to be of a lighter colour than those who have remained at home till they arrived at a state of manhood. For having undergone some of the changes which we mentioned to have attended their countrymen from infancy to a certain age, and having been taken away before the rest could be completed, these farther changes, which would have taken place had they remained at home, seem either to have been checked in their progress, or weakened in their degree, by a colder climate.
We come now to the second and opposite case; for a proof of which we shall appeal to the words of Dr. Mitchell, in the Philosophical Transactions.* “The Spaniards who have inhabited America under the torrid zone for any time, are become as dark coloured as our native Indians of Virginia, of which, I myself have been a witness; and were they not to intermarry with the Europeans, but lead the same rude and barbarous lives with the Indians, it is very probable that, in a succession of many generations, they would become as dark in complexion.”
To this instance we shall add one, which is mentioned by a ‡ late writer, who describing the African coast, and the European settlements there, has the following passage. “There are several other small Portuguese settlements, and one of some note at Mitomba, a river in Sierra Leon. The people here called Portuguese, are principally persons bred from a mixture of the first Portuguese discoverers with the natives, and now become, in their complexion and woolly quality of their hair, perfect negroes, retaining however a smattering of the Portuguese language.”
These facts, with respect to the colonists of the Europeans, are of the highest importance in the present case, and deserve a serious attention. For when we know to a certainty from whom they are descended; when we know that they were, at the time of their transplantation, of the same colour as those from whom they severally sprung; and when, on the other hand, we are credibly informed, that they have changed it for the native colour of the place which they now inhabit; the evidence in support of these facts is as great, as if a person, on the removal of two or three families into another climate, had determined to ascertain the circumstance; as if he had gone with them and watched their children; as if he had communicated his observations at his death to a successor; as if his successor had prosecuted the plan, and thus an uninterrupted chain of evidence had been kept up from their first removal to any determined period of succeeding time.
But though these facts seem sufficient of themselves to confirm our opinion, they are not the only facts which can be adduced in its support. It can be shewn, that the members of the very same family, when divided from each other, and removed into different countries, have not only changed their family complexion, but that they have changed it to as many different colours as they have gone into different regions of the world. We cannot have, perhaps, a more striking instance of this, than in the Jews. These people are scattered over the face of the whole earth. They have preserved themselves distinct from the rest of the world by their religion; and, as they never intermarry with any but those of their own sect, so they have no mixture of blood in their veins, that they should differ from each other: and yet nothing is more true, than that the *English Jew is white, the Portuguese swarthy, the Armenian olive, and the Arabian copper; in short, that there appear to be as many different species of Jews, as there are countries in which they reside.
To these facts we shall add the following observation, that if we can give credit to the ancient historians in general, a change from the darkest black to the purest white must have actually been accomplished. One instance, perhaps, may be thought sufficient. *Herodotus relates, that the Colchi were black, and that they had crisped hair. These people were a detachment of the Æthiopian army under Sesostris, who followed him in his expedition, and settled in that part of the world, where Colchis is usually represented to have been situated. Had not the same author informed us of this circumstance, we should have thought it † strange, that a people of this description should have been found in such a latitude. Now, as they were undoubtedly settled there, and as they were neither so totally destroyed, nor made any such rapid conquests, as that history should notice the event, there is great reason to presume, that their descendants continued in the same, or settled in the adjacent country; from whence it will follow, that they must have changed their complexion to that, which is observable in the inhabitants of this particular region at the present day; or, in other words, that the black inhabitant of Colchis must have been changed into the *fair Circassian.
As we have now shewn it to be highly probable, from the facts which have been advanced, that climate is the cause of the difference of colour which prevails in the different inhabitants of the globe, we shall now shew its probability from so similar an effect produced on the mucous substance before-mentioned by so similar a cause, that though the fact does not absolutely prove our conjecture to be right, yet it will give us a very lively conception of the manner, in which the phænomenon may be caused.
This probability may be shewn in the case of freckles, which are to be seen in the face of children, but of such only, as have the thinnest and most transparent skins, and are occasioned by the rays of the sun, striking forcibly on the mucous substance of the face, and drying the accumulating fluid. This accumulating fluid, or perspirable matter, is at first colourless; but being exposed to violent heat, or dried, becomes brown. Hence, the mucosum corpus being tinged in various parts by this brown coagulated fluid, and the parts so tinged appearing through the cuticle, or upper surface of the skin, arises that spotted appearance, observable in the case recited.
Now, if we were to conceive a black skin to be an universal freckle, or the rays of the sun to act so universally on the mucous substance of a person’s face, as to produce these spots so contiguous to each other that they should unite, we should then see, in imagination, a face similar to those, which are daily to be seen among black people: and if we were to conceive his body to be exposed or acted upon in the same manner, we should then see his body assuming a similar appearance; and thus we should see the whole man of a perfect black, or resembling one of the naked inhabitants of the torrid zone. Now as the seat of freckles and of blackness is the same; as their appearance is similar; and as the cause of the first is the ardour of the sun, it is therefore probable that the cause of the second is the same: hence, if we substitute for the word “sun,” what is analogous to it, the word climate, the same effect may be supposed to be produced, and the conjecture to receive a sanction.
Nor is it unlikely that the hypothesis, which considers the cause of freckles and of blackness as the same, may be right. For if blackness is occasioned by the rays of the sun striking forcibly and universally on the mucous substance of the body, and drying the accumulating fluid, we can account for the different degrees of it to be found in the different inhabitants of the globe. For as the quantity of perspirable fluid, and the force of the solar rays is successively increased, as the climates are successively warmer, from any given parallel to the line, it follows that the fluid, with which the mucous substance will be stained, will be successively thicker and deeper coloured; and hence, as it appears through the cuticle, the complexion successively darker; or, what amounts to the same thing, there will be a difference of colour in the inhabitants of every successive parallel.
From these, and the whole of the preceding observations on the subject, we may conclude, that as all the inhabitants of the earth cannot be otherwise than the children of the same parents, and as the difference of their appearance must have of course proceeded from incidental causes, these causes are a combination of those qualities, which we call climate; that the blackness of the Africans is so far ingrafted in their constitution, in a course of many generations, that their children wholly inherit it, if brought up in the same spot, but that it is not so absolutely interwoven in their nature, that it cannot be removed, if they are born and settled in another; that Noah and his sons were probably of an olive complexion; that those of their descendants, who went farther to the south, became of a deeper olive or copper; while those, who went still farther, became of a deeper copper or black; that those, on the other hand, who travelled farther to the north, became less olive or brown, while those who went still farther than the former, became less brown or white; and that if any man were to point out any one of the colours which prevails in the human complexion, as likely to furnish an argument, that the people of such a complexion were of a different species from the rest, it is probable that his own descendants, if removed to the climate to which this complexion is peculiar, would, in the course of a few generations, degenerate into the same colour.
Having now replied to the argument, “that the Africans are an inferiour link of the chain of nature,” as far as it depended on their capacity and colour, we shall now only take notice of an expression, which the receivers before-mentioned are pleased to make use of, “that they are made for slavery.”
Had the Africans been made for slavery, or to become the property of any society of men, it is clear, from the observations that have been made in the second part of this Essay, that they must have been created devoid of reason: but this is contrary to fact. It is clear also, that there must have been many and evident signs of the inferiority of their nature, and that this society of men must have had a natural right to their dominion: but this is equally false. No such signs of inferiority are to be found in the one, and the right to dominion in the other is incidental: for in what volume of nature or religion is it written, that one society of men should breed slaves for the benefit of another? Nor is it less evident that they would have wanted many of those qualities which they have, and which brutes have not: they would have wanted that spiritof liberty, that *sense of ignominy and shame, which so frequently drives them to the horrid extremity of finishing their own existence. Nor would they have been endowed with a contemplative power; for such a power would have been unnecessary to people in such a situation; or rather, its only use could have been to increase their pain. We cannot suppose therefore that God has made an order of beings, with such mental qualities and powers, for the sole purpose of being used as beasts, or instruments of labour. And here, what a dreadful argument presents itself against you receivers? For if they have no understandings as you confess, then is your conduct impious, because, as they cannot perceive the intention of your punishment, your severities cannot make them better. But if, on the other hand, they have had understandings, (which has evidently appeared) then is your conduct equally impious, who, by destroying their faculties by the severity of your discipline, have reduced men, who had once the power of reason, to an equality with the brute creation.
[* ]Genesis, ch. iv. 15.
[* ]Genesis, ch. ix. 25, 26, 27.
[‡ ]Jeremiah says, ch. xiii. 23, “Can the Æthiopian change his colour, or the leopard his spots?” Now the word, which is here translated Æthiopian, is in the original Hebrew “the descendant of Cush,” which shews that this colour was not confined to the descendants of Canaan, as the advocates for slavery assert.
[* ]It is very extraordinary that the advocates for slavery should consider those Africans, whom they call negroes, as the descendants of Canaan, when few historical facts can be so well ascertained, as that out of the descendants of the four sons of Ham, the descendants of Canaan were the only people, (if we except the Carthaginians, who were a colony of Canaan, and were afterwards ruined) who did not settle in that quarter of the globe. Africa was incontrovertibly peopled by the posterity of the three other sons. We cannot shew this in a clearer manner, than in the words of the learned Mr. Bryant, in his letter to Mr. Granville Sharp on this subject.
[† ]When America was first discovered, it was thought by some, that the scripture account of the creation was false, and that there were different species of men, because they could never suppose that people, in so rude a state as the Americans, could have transported themselves to that continent from any parts of the known world. This opinion however was refuted by the celebrated Captain Cooke, who shewed that the traject between the continents of Asia and America, was as short as some, which people in as rude a state have been actually known to pass. This affords an excellent caution against an ill-judged and hasty censure of the divine writings, because every difficulty which may be started, cannot be instantly cleared up.
[* ]The divine writings, which assert that all men were derived from the same stock, shew also, in the same instance of Cush, p. 180, that some of them had changed their original complexion.
[* ]The following are the grand colours discernible in mankind, between which there are many shades;
[* ]See note, p. 180. To this we may add, that the rest of the descendants of Ham, as far as they can be traced, are now also black, as well as many of the descendants of Shem.
[* ]Diseases have a great effect upon the mucosum corpus, but particularly the jaundice, which turns it yellow. Hence, being transmitted through the cuticle, the yellow appearance of the whole body. But this, even as a matter of ocular demonstration, is not confined solely to white people; negroes themselves, while affected with these or other disorders, changing their black colour for that which the disease has conveyed to the mucous substance.
[† ]The cutaneous pores are so excessively small, that one grain of sand, (according to Dr. Lewenhoeck’s calculations) would cover many hundreds of them.
[* ]We do not mean to insinuate that the same people have their corpus mucosum sensibly vary, as often as they go into another latitude, but that the fact is true only of different people, who have been long established in different latitudes.
[* ]We beg leave to return our thanks here to a gentleman, eminent in the medical line, who furnished us with the abovementioned facts.
[* ]Suppose we were to see two nations, contiguous to each other, of black and white inhabitants in the same parallel, even this would be no objection, for many circumstances are to be considered. A black people may have wandered into a white, and a white people into a black latitude, and they may not have been settled there a sufficient length of time for such a change to have been accomplished in their complexion, as that they should be like the old established inhabitants of the parallel, into which they have lately come.
[* ]Justamond’s Abbé Raynal, v. 5. p. 193.
[† ]The author of this Essay made it his business to inquire of the most intelligent of those, whom he could meet with in London, as to the authenticity of the fact. All those from America assured him that it was strictly true; those from the West-Indies, that they had never observed it there; but that they had found a sensible difference in themselves since they came to England.
[* ]This circumstance, which always happens, shews that they are descended from the same parents as ourselves; for had they been a distinct species of men, and the blackness entirely ingrafted in their constitution and frame, there is great reason to presume, that their children would have been born black.
[* ]This observation was communicated to us by the gentleman in the medical line, to whom we returned our thanks for certain anatomical facts.
[* ]Philos. Trans. No. 476. sect. 4.
[‡ ]Treatise upon the Trade from Great Britain to Africa, by an African merchant.
[* ]We mean such only as are natives of the countries which we mention, and whose ancestors have been settled there for a certain period of time.
[* ]Herodotus. Euterpe. p. 80. Editio Stephani, printed 1570.
[† ]This circumstance confirms what we said in a former note, p. 201, that even if two nations were to be found in the same parallel, one of whom was black, and the other white, it would form no objection against the hypothesis of climate, as one of them might have been new settlers from a distant country.
[* ]Suppose, without the knowledge of any historian, they had made such considerable conquests, as to have settled themselves at the distance of 1000 miles in any one direction from Colchis, still they must have changed their colour. For had they gone in an Eastern or Western direction, they must have been of the same colour as the Circassians; if to the north, whiter; if to the south, of a copper. There are no people within that distance of Colchis, who are black.
[* ]There are a particular people among those transported from Africa to the colonies, who immediately on receiving punishment, destroy themselves. This is a fact which the receivers are unable to contradict.