CHAPTER VIII. IBRAHIM's RETURN.
Ibrahim returned from Gondokoro, bringing with him a large supply of ammunition. A wounded man of Chenooda's people also arrived, the sole relic of the fight with the Latookas; he had been left for dead, but had recovered, and for days and nights he had wandered about the country, in thirst and hunger, hiding like a wild beast from the sight of human beings, his guilty conscience marking every Latooka as an enemy. As a proof of the superiority of the natives to the Khartoumers, he had at length been met by some Latookas, and not only was well treated and fed by their women, but they had guided him to Ibrahim's camp.
The black man is a curious anomaly, the good and bad points of human nature bursting forth without any arrangement, like the flowers and thorns of his own wilderness. A creature of impulse, seldom actuated by reflection, the black man astounds by his complete obtuseness, and as suddenly confounds you by an unexpected exhibition of sympathy. From a long experience with African savages, I think it is as absurd to condemn the negro in toto, as it is preposterous to compare his intellectual capacity with that of the white man. It is unfortunately the fashion for one party to uphold the negro as a superior being, while the other denies him the common powers of reason. So great a difference of opinion has ever existed upon the intrinsic value of the negro, that the very perplexity of the question is a proof that he is altogether a distinct variety. So long as it is generally considered that the negro and the white man are to be governed by the same laws and guided by the same management, so long will the former remain a thorn in the side of every community to which he may unhappily belong. When the horse and the ass shall be found to match in double harness, the white man and the African black will pull together under the same regime. It is the grand error of equalizing that which is unequal, that has lowered the negro character, and made the black man a reproach.
In his savage home, what is the African? Certainly bad; but not so bad as white men would (I believe) be under similar circumstances. He is acted upon by the bad passions inherent in human nature, but there is no exaggerated vice, such as is found in civilized countries. The strong takes from the weak, one tribe fights the other - do not perhaps we in Europe? - these are the legitimate acts of independent tribes, authorized by their chiefs. They mutually enslave each other - how long is it since America and WE OURSELVES ceased to be slaveholders? He is callous and ungrateful - in Europe is there no ingratitude?
He is cunning and a liar by nature - in Europe is all truth and sincerity? Why should the black man not be equal to the white? He is as powerful in frame, a why should he not be as exalted in mind?
In childhood I believe the negro to be in advance, in intellectual quickness, of the white child of a similar age, but the mind does not expand - it promises fruit, but does not ripen; and the negro man has grown in body, but not advanced in intellect.
The puppy of three months old is superior in intellect to a child of the same age, but the mind of the child expands, while that of the dog has arrived at its limit. The chicken of the common fowl has sufficient power and instinct to run in search of food the moment that it leaves the egg, while the young of the eagle lies helpless in its nest; but the young eagle outstrips the chicken in the course of time. The earth presents a wonderful example of variety in all classes of the human race, the animal and vegetable kingdoms. People, beasts, and plants belonging to distinct classes, exhibit special qualities and peculiarities. The existence of many hundred varieties of dogs cannot interfere with the fact that they belong to one genus: the greyhound, pug, bloodhound, pointer, poodle, mastiff, and toy terrier, are all as entirely different in their peculiar instincts as are the varieties of the human race. The different fruits and flowers continue the example; - the wild grapes of the forest are grapes, but although they belong to the same class, they are distinct from the luscious "Muscatel;" and the wild dog-rose of the hedge, although of the same class, is inferior to the moss-rose of the garden.
From fruits and flowers we may turn to insect life, and, watch the air teeming with varieties of the same species, the thousands of butterflies and beetles, the many members of each class varying in instincts and peculiarities. Fishes, and even shellfish, all exhibit the same arrangement, - that every group is divided into varieties all differing from each other, and each distinguished by some peculiar excellence or defect.
In the great system of creation that divided races and subdivided them according to mysterious laws, apportioning special qualities to each, the varieties of the human race exhibit certain characters and qualifications which adapt them for specific localities. The natural character of those races will not alter with a change of locality, but the instincts of each race will be developed in any country where they may be located. Thus, the English are as English in Australia, India, and America, as they are in England, and in every locality they exhibit the industry and energy of their native land; even so the African will remain negro in all his natural instincts, although transplanted to other soils; and those natural instincts being a love of idleness and savagedom, he will assuredly relapse into an idle and savage state, unless specially governed and forced to industry.