« PreviousContinue »
JAMES COWLES PRICHARD, M.D. F.R.S. M.R.I.A.
CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FRANCE,
MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY,
MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINK OF PARIS.
VOL. III.-PART I.
RESEARCHES INTO THE ETHNOGRAPHY OF EUROPE.
SHERWOOD, GILBERT, AND PIPER,
RESEARCHES INTO THE ETHNOGRAPHY
OF EUROPE AND ASIA.
In laying before the public that portion of my
work which comprises the ethnography of Europe and Asia, by far the most important regions of the world in respect to the origin of nations and the history of mankind, I feel a strong impression that some apology is due from me for the imperfect manner in which I have executed the task. I am ready to hope that a sufficient excuse will be found in the difficulties connected with the undertaking, and that these difficulties are so obvious in their nature as to render it needless to do more than briefly to mention them. In the first place I may advert to the great extent of the field which I have been called upon to survey, and to the great number of questions that came before me successively, while examining the relations of the numerous
tribes of people spread through the great continent of the Old World. To this I must add the fact, that no former writer has surveyed the same ground, or any great part of it, from a similar point of view. If we except the learned and ingenious treatise of Dr. Edwards of Versailles, there is no work extant in which an attempt has been made to investigate, with accurate historical research, the physical and moral characters of nations in connection with the races from which they are descended, and the nature of the countries which they inhabit; and Dr. Edwards has professedly restricted his inquiries to some particular European stems, though he has incidentally thrown rays of light upon more remote points. The lucubrations of Herder and other diffuse writers of the same description, while some of them possess a merit of their own, are not conceived in the same design or directed towards the same scope. Their object is to pourtray national character as resulting from combined influences, physical, moral, and political. They abound in generalisations, often in the speculative flights of a discursive fancy, and afford little or no aid for the close induction from facts, which is the aim of the present work. Nor have these inquiries often come within the view of writers on geography, though the history of the globe is very incomplete without that of its human inhabitants. Even Malte-Brun has meagre notices on the history of human tribes. No deficiency, however, in this or in
any other department can be laid to the charge of Professor Ritter, whose admirable “Erdkunde” combines an amazing mass of information on every topic connected with his vast undertaking. His work is yet incomplete, but the parts already published are invaluable from the great extent of the resources which the author had everywhere at his command, and the successful manner in which he has availed himself of them. It will be seen that I have derived no small advantage from the “Erdkunde von Asien,” especially in reference to the physical geography of that region.
It may be thought by some of my readers that I have devoted too great a portion of my work to inquiries relative to the ancient history and antiquities and languages of particular nations, and especially to their early literature and mythology. These subjects may be deemed too remote from the researches into physical history which are my professed object. It must be remembered that similar investigations afford
instances the only means of establishing on tolerably secure grounds inferences as to the mutual relationship of particular tribes. By these inquiries we sometimes discover proofs of ancient affinity be