Chap. XI.

Of the same.

A SECOND opinion there is, that this complexion was first a curse of God derived unto them from Cham, upon whom it was inflicted for discovering the nakedness of Noah.[1] Which notwithstanding is sooner affirmed then proved, and carrieth with it sundry improbabilities. For first, if we derive the curse on Cham, or in general upon his posterity, we shall denigrate a greater part of the earth then was ever so conceived; and not onely paint the Æthiopians and reputed sons of Cush, but the people also of Egypt, Arabia, Assyria, and Chaldea; for by his race were these Countries also peopled. And if concordantly unto Berosus, the fragment of Cato de Originibus, some things of Halicarnasseus, Macrobius, and out of them of Leandro and Annius, we shall conceive of the travels of Camese or Cham; we may introduce a generation of Negroes as high as Italy; which part was never culpable of deformity, but hath produced the magnified examples of beauty.

Secondly, The curse mentioned in Scripture was not denounced upon Cham, but Canaan his youngest son, and the reasons thereof are divers. The first, from the Jewish Tradition, whereby it is conceived, that Canaan made the discovery of the nakedness of Noah, and notified it unto Cham. Secondly, to have cursed Cham had been to curse all his posterity, whereof but one was guilty of the fact. And lastly, he spared Cham, because he had blessed him before.2 Now if we confine this curse unto Canaan, and think the same fulfilled in his posterity; then do we induce this complexion on the Sidonians, then was the promised land a tract of Negroes; For from Canaan were descended the Canaanites, Jebusites, Amorites, Gergazites, and Hivites, which were possessed of that land.

Thirdly, Although we should place the original of this curse upon one of the sons of Cham, yet were it not known from which of them to derive it. For the particularity of their descents is imperfectly set down by accountants, nor is it distinctly determinable from whom thereof the Æthiopians are proceeded. For, whereas these of Africa are generally esteemed to be the Issue of Chus, the elder son of Cham, it is not so easily made out. For the land of Chus, which the Septuagint translates Æthiopia, makes no part of Africa, nor is it the habitation of Blackmores, but the Country of Arabia, especially the Happy and Stony, possessions and Colonies of all the sons of Chus, excepting Nimrod, and Havilah: possessed and planted wholly by the children of Chus, that is, by Sabtah and Raamah, Sabtacha, and the sons of Raamah, Dedan, and Sheba, according unto whose names the Nations of those parts have received their denominations, as may be collected from Pliny and Ptolomy;[3] and as we are informed by credible Authors, they hold a fair Analogy in their names, even unto our days. So the wife of Moses translated in Scripture an Æthiopian, and so confirmed by the fabulous relation of Josephus,[4] was none of the daughters of Africa, nor any Negroe of Æthiopia, but the daughter of Jethro, Prince and Priest of Madian,[5] which was a part of Arabia the stony, bordering upon the Red Sea. So the Queen of Sheba came not unto Solomon out of Æthiopia, but from Arabia, and that part thereof which bore the name of the first planter, the son of Chus.[6] So whether the Eunuch which Philip the Deacon baptised, were servant unto Candace Queen of the African Æthiopia[7] (although Damianus à Goes, Codignus, and the Æthiopick relations averr) is yet by many, and with strong suspicions doubted. So that Army of a million, which Zerah King of Æthiopia is said to bring against Asa,[8] was drawn out of Arabia, and the plantations of Chus, not out of Æthiopia, and the remote habitations of the Moors. For it is said that Asa pursuing his victory, tooke from him the city of Gerar; now Gerar was no City in or near Æthiopia, but a place between Cadesh and Zur, where Abraham formerly sojourned.[9] Since therefore these African Æthiopians are not convinced by the common acception to be the sons of Chus, whether they be not the posterity of Phut, or Mizraim, or both, it is not assuredly determined. For Mizraim, he possessed Egypt, and the East parts of Africa. From Lubym his son came the Lybians, and perhaps from them the Æthiopians. Phut possessed Mauritania, and the Western parts of Africa and from these perhaps descended the Moors of the West, of Mandinga, Meleguette and Guinie. But from Canaan, upon whom the curse was pronounced, none of these had their original; for he was restrained unto Canaan and Syria; although in after Ages many Colonies dispersed, and some thereof upon the coasts of Africa, and prepossessions of his elder brothers.

Fourthly, To take away all doubt or any probable divarication, the curse is plainly specified in the Text, nor need we dispute it, like the mark of Cain;[10] Servus servorum erit fratribus suis, Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren; which was after fulfilled in the conquest of Canaan, subdued by the Israelites, the posterity of Sem. Which Prophecy Abraham well understanding, took an oath of his servant not to take a wife for his son Isaac out of the daughters of the Canaanites;[11] and the like was performed by Isaac in the behalf of his Son Jacob.[12] As for Cham and his other sons this curse attained them not; for Nimrod the son of Chus set up his kingdom in Babylon, and erected the first great Empire;[13] Mizraim and his posterity grew mighty Monarchs in Elgypt;[14] and the Empire of the Æthiopians hath been as large as either. Nor did the curse descend in generall upon the posterity of Canaan: for the Sidonians, Arkites, Hamathites, Sinites, Arvadites, and Zemarites seem exempted. But why there being eleven Sons, five only were condemned and six escaped the malediction, is a secret beyond discovery.[15]

Lastly, Whereas men affirm this colour was a Curse, I cannot make out the propriety of that name, it neither seeming so to them, nor reasonably unto us; for they take so much content therein, that they esteem deformity by other colours, describing the Devil, and terrible objects, white.[16] And if we seriously consult the definitions of beauty, and exactly perpend what wise men determine thereof, we shall not apprehend a curse, or any deformity therein. For first, some place the essence thereof in the proportion of parts, conceiving it to consist in a comely commensurability of the whole unto the parts, and the parts between themselves: which is the determination of the best and learned Writers.[17] Now hereby the Moors are not excluded from beauty: there being in this description no consideration of colours, but an apt connexion and frame of parts and the whole. Others there be, and those most in number, which place it not only in proportion of parts, but also in grace of colour. But to make Colour essential unto Beauty, there will arise no slender difficulty: For Aristotle in two definitions of pulchritude, and Galen in one, have made no mention of colour.[18] Neither will it agree unto the Beauty of Animals: wherein notwithstanding there is an approved pulchritude. Thus horses are handsome under any colour, and the symmetry of parts obscures the consideration of complexions. Thus in concolour animals and such as are confined unto one colour we measure not their Beauty thereby; for if a Crow or Black-bird grow white, we generally account it more pretty: And in almost a monstrosity descend not to opinion of deformity. By this way likewise the Moors escape the curse of deformity: there concurring no stationary colour, and sometimes not any unto Beauty.

The Platonick contemplators reject both these descriptions founded upon parts and colours, or either: as M. Leo the Jew hath excellently discoursed in his Genealogy of Love, defining beauty a formal grace, which delights and moves them to love which comprehend it. This grace say they, discoverable outwardly, is the resplendor and Ray of some interiour and invisible Beauty, and proceedeth from the forms of compositions amiable. Whose faculties if they can aptly contrive their matter, they beget in the subject an agreeable and pleasing beauty; if over-ruled thereby, they evidence not their perfections, but run into deformity. For seeing that out of the same materials, Thersites and Paris, Beauty and monstrosity may be contrived; the forms and operative faculties introduce and determine their perfections. Which in natural bodies receive exactness in every kind, according to the first Idea of the Creator, and in contrived bodies the phancy of the Artificer. And by this consideration of Beauty, the Moors also are not excluded, but hold a common share therein with all mankind.

Lastly, In whatsoever its Theory consisteth, or if in the general, we allow the common conceit of symmetry and of colour, yet to descend unto singularities, or determine in what symmetry or colour it consisted, were a slippery designation. For Beauty is determined by opinion, and seems to have no essence that holds one notion with all; that seeming beauteous unto one, which hath no favour with another; and that unto every one, according as custome hath made it natural, or sympathy and conformity of minds shall make it seem agreeable. Thus flat noses seem comely unto the Moor, an Aquiline or hawked one unto the Persian, a large and prominent nose unto the Romane; but none of all these are acceptable in our opinion. Thus some think it most ornamental to weare their Bracelets on their Wrests, others say it is better to have them about their Ancles; some think it most comely to wear their Rings and Jewels in the Ear, others will have them about their Privities; a third will not think they are compleat except they hang them in their lips, cheeks, or noses. Thus Homer to set off Minerva calleth her γλαυκῶπις, that is gray or light-blew eyed:[19] now this unto us seems far less amiable then the black. Thus we that are of contrary complexions accuse the blackness of the Moors as ugly: But the Spouse in the Canticles excuseth this conceit, in that description of hers, I am black, but comely.[20] And howsoever Cerberus, and the furies of hell be described by the Poets under this complexion, yet in the beauty of our Saviour blackness is commended, when it is said, his locks are bushie and black as a Raven.[21] So that to inferr this as a curse, or to reason it as a deformity, is no way reasonable; the two foundations of beauty, Symmetry and complexion, receiving such various apprehensions; that no deviation will be expounded so high as a curse or undeniable deformity, without a manifest and confessed degree of monstrosity.

Lastly, It is a very injurious method unto Philosophy, and a perpetual promotion of Ignorance, in points of obscurity, nor open unto easie considerations, to fall upon a present refuge unto Miracles; or recurr unto immediate contrivance, from the insearchable hands of God. Thus in the conceit of the evil odor of the Jews,[22] Christians without a farther research into the verity of the thing, or inquiry into the cause, draw up a judgement upon them from the passion of their Saviour. Thus in the wondrous effects of the clime of Ireland, and the freedom from all venemous creatures, the credulity of common conceit imputes this immunity unto the benediction of S. Patrick, as Beda and Gyraldus have left recorded.[23] Thus the Ass having a peculiar mark of a cross made by a black list down his back, and another athwart, or at right angles down his shoulders; common opinion ascribes this figure unto a peculiar signation; since that beast had the honour to bear our Saviour on his back. Certainly this is a course more desperate then Antipathies, Sympathies, or occult qualities; wherein by a final and satisfactive discernment of faith, we lay the last and particular effects upon the first and general cause of all things; whereas in the other, we do but palliate our determinations; until our advanced endeavours do totally reject, or partially salve their evasions.


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}.

1 [Gen. 9:24-26. Wren: "Possevine {Jesuit scholar, 1534?-1611, in his Bibliotheca selecta of 1593; note the recent date of this particular heresy}, in his 2 tom. and 252 page, does much applaud himself as the first inventor of this conceit. But Scaliger, in his 244 exercitation, shifting that quere of Cardan, why those that inhabit the hither side of the river Senega, in Affrick, are dwarfish and ash colour; those on the other side are tall and Negroes; rejects all arguments drawn from naturall reasons of the soile, &c. and concludes that the Asanegi on this side the river formerly inhabited on both sides of it, but were driven out of their country into this side of the river by the black Moores, drawne thither by the richness of the soil on the further side. And doubtless considering that the maritime Moors of Barbary, who lie 900 miles on this side the tropick, are blacker then those of the posterity of Chus, in Arabia, which lies under the tropick; we must needs conclude that this is but a poor conceit, not unlike many other roving fancies wherein the Jesuit is wont to vaunt himself."]

2 Cap. 9. [In Gen. 9:1, with Noah and all his sons, not with Cham particularly.]

3 [The careers of the children of Cush (or Chus) are detailed in Gen. 10:7 ff; Pliny V(53) etc. talks about peoples on the Nile; Ptolomy (ref to be supplied). It should always be borne in mind when discussing "Africa" in the context of ancient history that its borders were inconstant; Egypt, parts of Libya, and sometimes even Æthiopia were commonly not considered part of Africa; the dividing line could be anywhere from our modern line at the Red Sea to the Nile to the border of Libya, which itself is not fixed. Further, "Africa" may not even refer to all of the land inside this border, but only to parts of it. Such considerations are difficult for modern readers, accustomed as we are to pictures of the world "as it really is"; ancients did not commonly have such maps. Thus did Alexander reputedly believe the Ganges to be connected to the Nile, because crocodiles grew in both; no mental picture of the geography he had traversed prevented this, because he probably had no such picture.]

4 [In Ant. Jud. II.10.2, when Moses is besieging the Ethiopians on behalf of the Egyptian Pharaoh: "However, while Moses was uneasy at the army's lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened: — Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtility of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians' success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land." This wife is before the marriage to Jethro's daughter. If by "fabulous" Browne means "fictitious", there is no particular reason to accept the adjective (except for a few flying snakes).]

5 [Reuel or Jethro, Exo. 2:10]

6 [The Queen of Sheba, 2 Chron. 9 and 1 Kings 10, neither of which specifies where she comes from (or goes back to), but Seba and Sheba are descendants of Cush (Gen. 10:7), so the name certainly seems to apply to Cushites or Arabs. She is nevertheless traditionally represented as black, in part because of Solomon 1:5.]

7 [Acts 8:26-38, where he is described as "a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace".]

8 [2 Chron. 14:9]

9 [Any army so far from home would need to capture and hold supply points, cities, roads, and such, on to which they would fall back in defeat. The fact that Asa devastates the surrounding countryside before going back to Jerusalem is a slight argument in favor of Browne's position. It is, of course, possible that the city and its environs were allies of the invading army rather than actually constituting the army — perhaps because they were related, either by race or by a common enemy. The KJV, ASV, RSV, and Vulgate all refer to the soldiers of Zerah as "Ethiopians", not as the Ethiopian army; Webster calls them "Cushites". On the whole, it's better to assume that they are exactly what the text says they are. On Gerar, see Gen. 10:19, 20:1]

10 [Gen. 4:15, where the nature of the mark is not specified.]

11 [Gen. 24:2-4; Abraham specifies both that she should not be a Canaanite, and that she should come from Abraham's native land.]

12 [Gen. 28:1; Isaac likewise specifies both that Jacob's wife should be not a Canaanite and that she should come from Laban.]

13 [Gen. 10:10]

14 [Gen. 10:13 and following, with a good deal of fanciful interpretation.]

15 [Another mystery is how the curse worked: If the Canaanites were doomed to be servants unto the other tribes, how could they be such if they were separated from them? And indeed, the injunctions of Abraham and Isaac mentioned above preclude such a separation; for why should it be specified both that the wife not be a Canaanite and that she be a compatriot if there were no mixture of populations?]

16 [Wilkin's note in Chapter X deals with this subject: "Not only have the Negroes deemed themselves 'fairer', describing the devil and all terrible objects as being white; but they have contended that our first progenitor was, like themselves, black. Job Ben Solomon, an African prince, when in England, was in company with Dr. Watts. The Dr. enquiring of him why he and his countrymen were black, since Adam was white? Job answered 'How you know Adam white? We think Adam black; and we ask how you came to be white?' A question which it is not probable the Dr. was able to answer. [Mo. Rev. xxxviii, p. 541] Mr. Payne Knight, in his work On Taste, p. 15, is of the same opinion, that Adam in Paradise was an African Black." Consider also the iconography of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, commonly picturing Jesus and especially Mary with Ethiopian features and coloring.]

17 [Not only of his day, but of ours as well; recent research has "revealed" a very strong relation between symmetry of body parts and attractiveness, not only in humans, but in flies, penguins, and other animal as well; see the Newsweek article reproduced at this site, which presents a résumé of then current research on the question.]

18 [Aristotle, Metaphysics xiii.3 (1078a) and Poetics vii.7 1450b-1451a; Galen (he's not on line...). ]

19 [In I.206; Loeb translates it as "bright-eyed". It is not at all clear that Homer intends this to be an "amiable" feature.]

20 [1:5]

21 [Prophetically, in Canticles 5:11; in 5:10 he is described as both "white" and "ruddy".]

22 [Dismissed in Book IV, Chapter X.]

23 [Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of England, Chapter I: "No noxious reptile is seen there, and no snake can live; for snakes have often been brought out of Britain for an experiment, and have been found dead as soon as the ships in which they were came near enough to the shore for them to be affected by the atmosphere. On the contrary, almost every thing which is brought from that island is an antidote against poison. In short, we have seen that when some persons have been stung by serpents, the scrapings of leaves of books that were brought out of Ireland, being put into water, and given them to drink, they immediately dispelled all the force of the spreading poison, and assuaged and took away all the tumours caused by the stings." He does not attribute this property to St. Patrick, however, at least not in this work.]

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