Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/515

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LITERARY NOTICES.

"The Negro preadamic"—continued; VI., "Scheme of Prehistoric Times;" VII., "Retrospective of Primeval Man in Europe;" VIII., "Antiquity of Man;" IX., "Origin of Man;" X., "Patriarchal Chronology."

It will be gathered from these heads of his arguments that Prof. Winchell is considering the question of man's antiquity upon the earth from the point of view of the common Christian belief that the whole human race is descended from the Scripture Adam. This he denies, affirming that the black races have a much higher antiquity than the period to which Adam is historically assigned, and who, in so far as he was a progenitor of races, must be regarded as only the father of the white or superior races. In the first chapter, entitled "A Sagacious Dutchman," Prof. Winchell calls attention to a small book that appeared in Paris in 1665, written by a Dutch ecclesiastic, named La Peyrère, on the unheard-of subject, indicated by its title of "Præadamitæ." Prof. Winchell says that La Peyrère was the first to promulgate to the world the idea of preadamite men. Of course, the sciences of ethnology and anthropology were at that time unknown, and the inquiry was therefore conducted entirely as a theological one—all questions being Bible-questions, and the meaning of the Bible being extracted according to the canons of grammar. The case was strongly made out by the Dutch doctor, and, although it could be argued in no other way at the time, Prof. Winchell takes occasion to characterize the method because there are plenty of learned men with whom it is still in vogue. Upon this point he says:

"There are doctors high in authority among us at this day, who maintain that grammatical structure and Hebrew usage are sufficient to light the way to the meaning of the darkest passage's of revelation. I suppose a knowledge of Hebrew history and usages is admitted to shed its light upon interpretation, because the text is generally occupied with Jewish affairs. But the inspired writers have sometimes plunged into the midst of the profound and mysterious facts of science; why not, then, summon all our knowledge to the task of evoking the meaning of the text? I maintain, against the narrow and pernicious dogma that the Bible is sufficient everywhere to interpret itself, that, on the contrary, it was ordained to be interpreted under the concentrated light of all the learning which has been created by a God-given intelligence in man, I believe that the Bible was written for all time, and that its meaning is so deep and so rich that the accumulated learning of the latest generation of men will be unable to exhaust it."

Prof. Winchell then proceeds to discuss the question on its purely scientific basis, or in the light of modern facts, as disclosed by ethnological and archaeological research. He concludes that the profound divergency of the races of mankind, as now known, and the demonstrated divergency that had been reached in the earliest historic periods, make the conclusion impossible that, if all the races of men had one origin, that origin can be brought within anything like the usually assigned period of six thousand years. Scientific evidence "forces this alternative conclusion upon us. If human beings have existed but six thousand years, then the human races had separate beginnings, as Agassiz long since maintained—each race in its own geographical area. But if all human beings are descended from one stock, then the starting-point was more than six thousand years back, as Huxley and the evolutionists generally maintain, and the Duke of Argyll and other anti-evolutionists equally maintain."

"Now, every person remains free to contemn a logical difficulty, and commiserate the unfortunate facts for being opposed to his belief. But my training has been such that logic and facts still command a degree of respect. Nor am I enough of an actor to play the part of an idiot. If I can avoid a difficulty I shall not dash out my brains against it. Let us consider Adam the father of the white and dusky races. These, then, are Adamites; and have a chronology extending back about six thousand years—perhaps all the time we require. The black races, then, are preadamites; and there is no objection to allowing all the time requisite for their divergence from some common stock. This view recognizes the unity of man—the possession of 'one blood' by all the races, one moral and intellectual nature, and one destiny; it recognizes Adam as the progenitor of the nations which form the theme of biblical history; it explains sundry biblical allusions and implications—for instance, the wife found by Cain in the land of Nod; Cain's fear of violence from others when condemned to the life of a 'fugitive and a vagabond;' the antithesis of the 'sons of God' and the 'daughters of men;' it validates the biblical chronology; it satisfies the demands of facts. The only objection outstanding against this view is the authority of an opinion formed two or three thousand years ago, by men who also held the opinion that witches ride broomsticks through the air, and that the stars were created two days