Imágenes de páginas

of the child; the transmitted “something

something” is more affected by habits than it is by anything else : in time an ingrained type is sure to be formed, and sure to be passed on if only the causes I have specified be fully in action and without impediment.

As I have said, I am not explaining the origin of races but of nations, or if you like of tribes. I fully admit that no imitation of predominant manner or prohibitions of detested manners will of themselves account for the broadest contrasts of human nature. Such means would no more make a negro out of a Brahmin, or a red man out of an Englishman, than washing would change the spots of a leopard or the color of an Ethiopian. Some more potent causes must co-operate, or we should not have these enormous diversities. The minor causes I deal with made Greek to differ from Greek, but they did not make the Greek race; we cannot precisely mark the limit, but a limit there clearly is.

If we look at the earliest monuments of the human race, we find these race characters as decided as the race characters now. The earliest paintings or sculptures we anywhere have, give us the present contrasts of dissimilar types as strongly as present observation. Within historical memory no such differences have been created as those between negro and Greek, between Papuan and red Indian, between Eskimo and Goth. We start with cardinal diversities; we trace only minor modifications and we only see minor modifications, and it is very hard to see how any number of such modifications could change man as he is in one race type to man as he is in some other. Of this there are but two explanations. One, that these great types were originally separate creations as they stand; that the negro was made so, and the Greek made so. But this easy hypothesis of special creation has been tried so often, and has broken down so very often, that in no case probably do any great number of careful inquirers very firmly believe it: they may accept it provisionally, as the best hypothesis at present, but they feel about it as they cannot help feeling as to an army which has always been beaten; however strong it seems, they think it will be beaten again. What the other explanation is exactly, I cannot pretend to say; possibly as yet the data for a confident opinion are not before us: but by far the most plausible suggestion is that of Mr. Wallace, that these race marks are living records of a time when the intellect of man was not as able as it is now to adapt his life and habits to change of region; that consequently early mortality in the first wanderers was beyond conception great; that only those (so to say) hap-hazard individuals throve who were born with a protected nature, - that is, a nature suited to the climate and the country, fitted to use its advantages, shielded from its natural diseases. ACcording to Mr. Wallace, the negro is the remnant of the one variety of man who without more adaptiveness than then existed could live in interior Africa; immigrants died off till they produced him or something like him: and so of the Eskimo or the American.

Any protective habit also struck out in such a time would have a far greater effect than it could afterwards. A gregarious tribe, whose leader was in some imitable respects adapted to the struggle for life, and which copied its leader, would have an enormous advantage in the struggle for life: it would be sure to win and live, for it would be coherent and adapted, whereas in comparison competing tribes would be incoherent and unadapted. And I suppose that in early times, when those bodies did not already contain the records and the traces of endless generations, any new habit would more easily fix its mark on the heritable element, and would be transmitted more easily and more certainly. In such an age, man being softer and more pliable, deeper race marks would be more easily inscribed and would be more likely to continue legible.

But I have no pretense to speak on such matters : this paper, as I have so often explained, deals with nation-making and not with race-making. I assume a world of marked varieties of man, and only want to show how less marked contrasts would probably and naturally arise in each. Given large homogeneous populations, some negro, some Mongolian, some Aryan, I have tried to prove how small contrasting groups would certainly spring up within each, some to last and some to perish; these are the eddies in each race stream, which vary its surface and are sure to last till some new force changes the current. These minor varieties, too, would be infinitely compounded, not only with those of the same race but with those of others. Since the beginning of man, stream has been a thousand times poured into stream, - quick into sluggish, dark into pale, - and eddies and waters have taken new shapes and new colors, affected by what went before but not resembling it; and then on the fresh mass the old forces of composition and elimination again begin to act and create over the new surface another world. “Motley was the wear" of the world when Herodotus first looked on it and described it to us; and thus, as it seems to me, were its varying colors produced.

If it be thought that I have made out that these forces of imitation and elimination be the main ones, or even at all powerful ones, in the formation of national character, it will follow that the effect of ordinary agencies upon that character will be more easy to understand than it often seems and is put down in books. We get a notion that a change of government or a change of climate acts equally on the mass of a nation, and so are we puzzled-at least I have been puzzled-to conceive how it acts: but such changes do not at first act equally on all people in the nation, - on many for a very long time they do not act at all, — but they bring out new qualities and advertise the effects of new habits. A change of climate, say from a depressing to an invigorating one, so acts: everybody feels it a little, but the most active feel it exceedingly; they labor and prosper, and their prosperity invites imitation. Just so with the contrary change, from an animating to a relaxing place, the naturally lazy look so happy as they do nothing that the naturally active are corrupted. The effect of any considerable change on a nation is thus an intensifying and accumulating effect: with its maximum power it acts on some prepared and congenial individuals; in them it is seen to produce attractive results, and then the habits creating those results are copied far and wide. And as I believe, it is in this simple but not quite obvious way that the process of progress and of degradation may generally be seen to run.

[blocks in formation]

All theories as to the primitive man must be very uncertain. Granting the doctrine of evolution to be true, man must be held to have a common ancestor with the rest of the “Primates”; but then we do not know what their common ancestor was like. If ever we are to have a distinct conception of him, it can only be after long years of future researches and the laborious accumulation of materials scarcely the beginning of which now exists. But science has already done something for us: it cannot yet tell us our first ancestor, but it can tell us much of an ancestor very high up in the line of descent. We cannot get the least idea (even upon the full assumption of the theory of evolution) of the first man: but we can get a very tolerable idea of the paulo-prehistoric man, if I may so say; of man as he existed some short time (as we now reckon shortness) some ten thousand years — before history began. Investigators whose acuteness and diligence can hardly be surpassed — Sir John Lubbock and Mr. Tylor are the chiefs among them-have collected so much and explained so much that they have left a fairly vivid result.

That result is, or seems to me to be, if I may sum it up in my own words, that the modern prehistoric men-those of whom we have collected so many remains, and to whom are due the ancient strange customs of historical nations (the fossil customs we might call them, for very often they are stuck by themselves in real civilization, and have no

« AnteriorContinuar »