Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

have served him as models, and, by copying these instruments with his own hand and with strict exactness, he has drawn from them sounds which have restored to life musical systems buried in oblivion for thirty centuries. These remarkable researches require, no doubt, the control of criticism and the sanction of time, but it may confidently be said that even now they open to science a resource not only suggestive but wholly new. Not that we are to hope that the study of musi.al systems can ever acquire an historical and ethnological value equal to that of linguistics. Music is a mode of expression less rich and far less precise than articulate language, and can only furnish terms of comparison much more restricted. It is certain, moreover, that it is less closely connected with the life of the people, with their nationality, and the facts cited by M. Fétis himself prove that nations whose languages pertain to stocks entirely distinct have adopted the same musical system. But the means of investigation with which anthropology has been thus endowed are not the less valuable, since they reveal to us at once the artistic aptitudes of certain races and the communications which have been established between them in times previous to history.

I have thought proper to dwell somewhat on these researches, so new and so interesting, of which our society has enjoyed the first fruits, and which make, for the first time, their appearance in science. Arriving now at subjects if not more classic, at least more commonly known, I may restrict myself to more summary statements.

General anthropology has occupied, as usual, a large space in your labors. The question of the influence of climatio mediums which gave rise, three years ago, to so extended and complete a discussion, presented itself anew on occasion of the important memoir of M. Carlier on acclimation in America. No one could treat this subject more competently than the author of the Histoire du peuple Américain. Although his long researches have borne principally on the populations of North America, M. Carlier has also studied the acclimation of the negro race in the Antilles and in Brazil. That the races of the old world are acclimated in the States of the Union is demonstrated by the rapidity with which the population has there increased; but to appreciate the signification of this movement, it is necessary to distinguish the intrinsic increase from that which is due. to immigration. This is what M. Carlier has done, and we cannot too highly praise the sagacity with which he has availed himself of all the statistical documents, unfortunately incomplete, which have been collected in the United States since the beginning of the century. From these laborious researches it results that the intrinsic increase of the population has sensibly slackened for 20 years past. The inquiries of our learned colleague have moreover established, contrary to the generally received opinion, that three-fourths of the immigrants are foreign to the Anglo-Saxon race. The ethnical importance of this fact is considerable. M. Rameau, struck, like many other observers, with the differences which exist between the English of Europe and the Anglo-Americans, has attributed these modifications to the influence of climatic mediums, while, according to M. Carlier, they are due principally to the influence of cross-breeding. The interesting discussion which arose on this subject between our two colleagues seems to have left the subject undecided as regards the 13 primitive colonies which, at the close of the last century, founded the American Union. But for the 23 States which have been formed since then, and several of which date but from yesterday, it is difficult to invoke a climatic influence which can only have been exerted on two or at most three generations. M. Carlier has insisted that the modifications produced by climate cannot be manifested in so short a lapse of time.

To complete his investigation, our colleague has studied the acclimation of the negro, not only in the United States but also in the Antilles and Brazil. This part of his memoir procured us some interesting communications from M. Martin de Moussy on the state of the negroes in South America, and from M. Simonot on the questions of hybridity suggested by the study of the mulattoes. If the

population of persons of color increases considerably in certain countries, it is not, according to M. Simonot, from its own fecundity but through the reinforcements it incessantly receives from continnal crossings of the whites and blacks. To the numerous and weighty facts which M. Périer has brought together in his learned memoir on the cross-breeding of human races, and which authorize a doubt of the validity and fecundity of many hybrid populations, M. Simonot adds another which, according to his own observation, would oppose a still more decisive obstacle to the formation of mixed racos: the tendency, namely, which, after the lapse of some generations, restores gradually the descendants of hybrids to the type of one or other of the mother races. These phenomema of atavism have become difficult to be distinguished from the effects of crossings in a recurrent direction, because hybrids of different bloods pair and mix on all sides, whether with one another or with individuals of pure race. But this complication can be easily avoided in experiments made upon the domestic animals: hence M. Sanson has been enabled to take his stand upon many precise facts in order to demonstrate the instability of the characters of hybrids. M. Pruner-bey pointed out, however, that conclusions drawn from the study of certain crossings might not be applicable to other crossings different from the former in the nature of the races or species, or in the conditions of the medium in which they are effected.

It is very probable, in effect, that these different circumstances have an influence on the results of cross-breeding. It is necessary, above all, to take account of the degree of proximity of the races; and what results most clearly from the researches of M. Périer is, that the disadvantages of cross-breeding are the more decided as the two mother races are more unlike. If the similarity of the parents constitutes a favorable condition, it is natural to think that, all things else being equal and abstraction being made of hereditary pathological influences, consanguineous unions cannot become detrimental from the sole fact of consanguinity. It is thus that M. Perier has been logically led to connect the opposite, but yet reciprocally dependent, questions of hybridity and consanguinity.

These two questions have, from the origin of the society, given rise to a great number of memoirs and discussions in which contradictory opinions have been brought to light. But I should speak here only of the facts which have been adduced within two years past. I shall not recur, therefore, to the debates which were maintained somo years ago, between MM. Boudin and de Rance, adversaries of consanguineous unions, and MM. Bourgeois, Périer, Dally, who denied the harmfulness of those unions. No one contested the reality of certain facts alleged against consanguinity; all acknowledged that in families infected with constitutional vices or hereditary diatheses, marriage between cousins leads to unfortunate results; but these results were attributed by the one party to the consanguinity itself, while the other considered them but as a particular case of the accidents of inheritance. These last gave expression to their opinion by saying that healthy consanguinity is exempt from bad effects. The question being stated in this form, it was no longer competent to seek here and there for sporadic examples which might appear more or less favorable to one or the other thesis. To avoid the chances of error resulting from individual accidents, it was necessary to study the effects of consanguinity in some restricted and well-circmscribed populations, in which unions between relations are habitual. This bas been done with the greatest precision by our colleague, M. Voisin. The commune of Batz, situated on a small peninsula north of the mouth of the Loire, comprises a population of 3,300 souls, devoted exclusively to the cultivation of tho salt marshes. The special nature of this industry offers little attraction to strangers; hence it is very rare for an inhabitant to marry beyond his commune, while consanguineous unions, even within the degree prohibited by the church, are extremely frequent. Thus, in the year 1865, there took place between consins-german or their issue 15 marriages, for which it was necessary to ask ecclesiastical dispensation. It was in the midst of this consanguineous population that M. Voisin collected his observations. He did not content himself with verifying in a general manner the physical prosperity of the inhabitants. He has recorded the history of each household, examined the parents and children, studied the births and deaths, and in a word prepared very complete genealogical tables, in which is summed up all the information relating to 46 consanguineous marriages. In studying these tables, published at the end of the memoir, we cannot help recognizing with M. Voisin, that in a healthy population, consanguinity, even when superposed, involves none of the deterioration which has been attributed to it. After having sojourned at Batz an entire month, and passed in review all the families, our colleague has ascertained that“ neither vices of conformation, mental maladies, idiocy, cretinism, surdo-mutism, epilepsy, albinism, nor blindness from pigmentary retinitis, exists in any individual, whether the issue or not of consanguineous parents."

Analogous observations have been collected by M. Dally in the little isle of Bréhat, (Côtes-du-Nord,) and by M. Duchenne of Boulogne among the population of Portel. They are less rigorous, indeed, than those of M. Voisin, since they are not accompanied by genealogical tables, but they are still very important; they are moreover confirmed by the zootechnical observations of which M. Sanson has presented us a summary, and which are due to M. Renard of Issoire, and M. Legrain of Brussels. M. Legrain has especially turned his attention to the production of albinism in rabbits; it results from his experiments, divided into several series and conducted with great sagacity, that consanguinity never produces albinism among those animals when they are reared under good hygienic conditions; but that albinism manifests itself at the end of some generations when the rabbits are ill-fed and lodged in dark and unclean warrens. Nothing could better justify the distinction advanced by M. Périer between healthy and morbid consanguinity than this example.

The questions of consanguinity and hybridity, and the discussions to which they have given rise, naturally lead me to consider the numerous communications of M. Sanson on the characteristics of race and of species. It is, in effect, the study of the phenomena of generation, direct or crossed, which serves as a basis to the doctrine sustained with so much conviction by our colleague.

The authors who have occupied themselves with the determination of species may be divided into two classes: one, and by far the more numerous class, makes specific distinctions rest on the ensemble of the morphological and anatomical characters; the other, after the example of Ray, Buffon, and M. Flourens, admits as a criterion of species only one sole and unique character purely physiological, namely, the perfect fecundity of sexual unions. M. Sanson accepts at once both these zoological methods, which heretofore have disputed the suffrages of savants; he holds them both as valid, but applies them to different cases. He employs the physiological method for constituting the group called species, and avails himself exclusively of the anatomical method for the determination of the races of each species. These races are not, in his view, varieties résulting from the subdivision more or less tardy of a species previously uniform and homogeneous. They are primordial, or, in other words, as ancient as the species itself; they are moreover permanent and immutable; that is to say, neither the influence of climatic mediums, nor crossings, nor selection can cause them to deviate in a durable manner from their primitive type. In other terms, as M. Lagneau has expressed it, M. Sanson attributes to each of the races which compose a species the properties and characters hitherto attributed by classic naturalists to the species itself; a sense which M. Sanson himself elsewhere conveys in saying that it was his object “to introduce a substitution of race for species as the last term of natural classification."

The doctrine of our colleague is in the end, therefore, but an emphatic and absolute form of polygenism. But the discussion to which it has given rise in

this society has turned only upon general principles, and the special question of the permanance of human races has not been broached. While M. Gaussin contested the value of the exclusive physiological character on which M. Sanson relies for the determination of species, MM. Lartet and Lagneau suggested doubts respecting the absolute permanence of races, and cited facts tending to demonstrate the formation of new races in domestic species, and even in wild species; and M. de Mortillet, relying chiefly on paleontology, went so far as to deny not only the permanence of races, but also that of species. The convictions of M. Sanson have not, however, been shaken by these objections, and his opponents themselves have acknowledged the talent which he has displayed in this difficult line of inquiry. Questions of this class are among those which will be long, doubtless, the subject of controversy; but the discussion elicted by M. Sanson has not been without its fruits: it has shown, in the first place, that the standard idea of species, considered as a natural, primordial, and permanent group, is far from sufficing to the actual needs of science; it has shown also that races to which it has been the custom to attribute a variability much too great, tend, on the contrary, for the most part, to maintain and perpetuate themselves without durable change; that the innumerable varieties obtained by crossings, selection, or culture have in general only a factitious existence, and that, left to themselves, they disappear if not always, at least almost always, whether from the want of fecundity or from the effect of the law of atavism, which, after a while, causes types momentarily effaced to reappear.

I must pass in silence, but not without regret, a considerable number of ethnological facts, simply descriptive, which would lead to analytic details of too special a nature. As a subject of more commanding interest, and one which has always asserted a paramount claim to the attention of the society, I proceed to notice its discussions respecting craniology...

As the skulls presented to the society and destined to enrich its museum become more numerous, the more need is manifested of a recurrence to rigorous processes of measurement in order to institute truly scientific comparisons between the different series. For geometric diagrams, for angular measures and triangulations, special instruments are indispensable; they enable the observer to detect shades of difference which would otherwise escape the most practiced eye, and furnish moreover numerical data for the calculation of mean terms. Hence the commissioners to whom the society has intrusted the charge of preparing instructions for craniometry have applied themselves particularly to the improvement of instruments for study. They have already presented us a new goniometer, light and not costly; a new craniograph qualified to delineate completely, by way of geometric projection, all the details of the surface of the cranium; and a small and very simple instrument, the sphenoidal crotchet (crochet), by means of which the sphenoid angle of Welcker may be measured without sawing the skull. Our colleague, M. Grenet, (de Barbezieux,) has also communicated a new process of triangulation of the skull and face, an ingenious expedient, the utility of which has been shown by M. Bertillon in his dissertation on cephalic angles. In this memoir, in which are collected all known facts relating to the facial angle of Camper and its derivatives, as well as the auricular angles and the angle of Welcker, M. Bertillon has recorded moreover the numerous observations made by himself on the different series of our museum, and has pointed out all the advantages to be derived from the judicious employment of statistical calculations, for correcting the errors or rather the divergencies which result from the diversity of the processes of mensuration.

It was not the first time that the results of craniometry had been submitted before the society to the correction of mathematical methods. M. Gaussin had already applied algebraic formulas to the determination of the relations which exist between the three diameters of the skull, and had expressed these relations by the help of graphic constructions based on the system of rectilinear co-ordinates.

Taking as a point of departure the measurements which he had executed on the great series of crania known by the name of skulls of the city, he deduced a formula which he has since tested by its application to the craniometrical tables prepared, from series the most diverse, by M. Pruner-bey, by MM. His and Rutimeyer, and by myself. Now, such is the precision of his calculations, that in every case where the formula applied to series of skulls of the same type appeared to indicate divergencies, it has been ascertained that these depended on the difference of the processes employed by the different observers for the measurement of the vertical diameter. The way opened by M. Gaussin in this remarkable memoir may be easily enlarged, for all the craniometrical elements may be made auxiliary to the same researches ; nor can it be necessary to point out the importance of a method which permits of reducing to the same standard observations collected according to different processes, and even of correcting what astronomers call the personal error.

Our distinguished colleague, M. de Khanikof, also, bringing to the study of anthropology the aid of the exact sciences, has successfully applied the formula of M. Gaussin to the cephalometric measurements reported from Persia by M. Duhousset, who, operating on the living man, had only been able to obtain by approximation the length of the vertical diameter. In conformity with the general instructions published by the society, M. Duhousset has taken, to replace that diameter, the height of the plane of the vertex above the auditory orifice. But the situation of this orifice in relation to the plane of the base of the cranium sensibly varies according to races. We might expect, therefore, to recognize a certain divergence between the results of the cephalometric observations of M. Duhousset and the craniometric formula of M. Gaussin. This divergence has, however, proved very small; in four out of six series of observations the result has been less than one millimeter and a half. The two series of Kurds and Hindoos alone have presented divergencies of three and four inillimeters, which depend, doubtless, on variations in the position of the auditory canal. On this occasion M. Khanikof communicated to us the notes which he had collected in the museum of St. Petersburg on the height of the orifice above the plane of the occipital orifice. He has consigned them to a valuable table, in which figure most of the populations of Asia.

But it is impossible to speak of craniometric tables without immediately recalling those with which our former president, M. Pruner-bey, has enriched our memoirs and bulletins. Thanks to him, we can now pursue, in the closet, the most precise study of the constitution of the skull and face of the greater number of the human races. The three great tables which accompany his memoir, entitled Résultats de crâniométrie, comprise more than 15,000 measurements taken on skulls derived from all quarters. Among them we find 117 African skulls, 165 from Oceanica, 82 American, 58 Asiatic, and 105 European skulls, ancient or modern. It would be in vain to seek elsewhere an equal amount of documents collected after uniform processes by the same observer. These three tables present us, in a condensed form, the results of many years of circumstantial researches, and when we think of the immense labor they have cost we cannot but wonder how our colleague has found time to execute his great works in linguistics, and to treat, moreover, with so much competence the highest questions of general and philosopbic anthropology. The secret consists in his having enjoyed the happy privilege of preserving, in the maturity of age, the indefatigable ardor and the sacred fire of youth. Let us add that he is one of those rare men of science who have the good fortune to be able to devote themselves entirely to the study, or rather the religious culture, of anthropology. May the example he gives us find frequent imitators!

It is not here that I can hope to recapitulate all the craniological facts which have been communicated to the society. Rare it is for a single sitting to pass without an offering of new skulls. Among those which have come from foreign

« AnteriorContinuar »