|RACE AND LANGUAGE.|
ETHNOLOGY has been defined, briefly, as "the science of the races of men," and, more fully, as "the science which treats of man as a member of a tribe or nation, and of his culture, morals, and language." Many treatises on this science have been given to the world by scholars of the first eminence, from the days of Camper and Blumenbach to our own time. But, when we examine their works, we are struck by the fact that no two of them are agreed on the mere elements or fundamentals of the science. If we inquire, for example, the number of the races of men, we find that Virey is satisfied with two, and Cuvier with three—that Linnæus makes four, Blumenbach five, Buffon six, Peschel seven, Agassiz eight, Pickering eleven, Friedrich Müller twelve, Bory de St. Vincent fifteen—while Morton increases the number to twenty-two, Crawford to sixty, and Burke to sixty-three. If we seek the criteria by which the races are distinguished, we discover that one high authority proposes the color of the skin, another the texture of the hair, another the shape of the skull, and a fourth mere geographical location—while others combine with one or more of these distinctions the minor characteristics (as they deem them) of language, stature, and mental traits. On the most important question of all, the question whether the races of men are distinct species or simply varieties, the votaries of the science are divided into opposing camps. In the latest works of the most distinguished anthropologists, we find the views of the monogenists and the polygenists as far apart and as decided as they were fifty years ago.
The question naturally arises whether a study which has no established principles and no accepted classification can rightly be dignified with the name of a science. Writers whose opinion on such a question must be received with respect have been inclined to answer it in the negative. Eminent among these, from the position which he holds, must be ranked the distinguished chief of the American Bureau of Ethnology. "There is," declares Major Powell, in a late number of "Science" (June 24, 1887), "a science of anthropology, composed of subsidiary sciences," which he enumerates. "There is," he continues, "a science of sociology, which includes all the institutions of mankind; there is a science of philology, which includes the languages of mankind; and there is a science of philosophy, which includes the opinions
- This paper (under the title of "The True Basis of Ethnology") was read, in part, before the Section of Anthropology, at the last meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, when it called forth an interesting discussion. It is now presented in a fuller form, with additional evidence and arguments, which may answer some of the questions then raised.