Charles Darwin. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Vol. I.
Table of Contents:
- Part I. THE DESCENT OR ORIGIN OF MAN.
- CHAPTER I. The Evidence of the Descent of Man from someLower Form.
- CHAPTER II. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and theLower Animals.
- CHAPTER III. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and theLower Animals—continued.
- CHAPTER IV. On the Manner of Development of Man from somelower Form.
- CHAPTER V. On the Development of the Intellectual and MoralFaculties during Primeval and Civilised T
- CHAPTER VI. On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man.
- CHAPTER VII. On the Races of Man.
- Part II.—SEXUAL SELECTION.
- CHAPTER VIII. Principles of Sexual Selection.
- CHAPTER IX. Secondary Sexual Characters in the Lower Classes ofthe Animal Kingdom.
- CHAPTER X. Secondary Sexual Characters of Insects.
- CHAPTER XI. Insects, continued.—Order Lepidoptera.
- LIST OF POPULAR WORKS.
CHAPTER VII. On the Races of Man.
The nature and value of specific characters—Application to the races of man—Arguments in favour of, and opposed to, ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species—Sub-species—Monogenists and polygenists—Convergence of character—Numerous points of resemblance in body and mind between the most distinct races of man—The state of man when he first spread over the earth—Each race not descended from a single pair—The extinction of races—The formation of races—The effects of crossing—Slight influence of the direct action of the conditions of life—Slight or no influence of natural selection—Sexual selection.
It is not my intention here to describe the several so-called races of men; but to inquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point of view, and how they have originated. In determining whether two or more allied forms ought to be ranked as species or varieties, naturalists are practically guided by the following considerations; namely, the amount of difference between them, and whether such differences relate to few or many points of structure, and whether they are of physiological importance; but more especially whether they are constant. Constancy of character is what is chiefly valued and sought for by naturalists. Whenever it can be shewn, or rendered probable, that the forms in question have remained distinct for a long period, this becomes an argument of much weight in favour of treating them as species. Even a slight degree of sterility between any two forms when first crossed, or in their offspring, is generally considered as a decisive215 test of their specific distinctness; and their continued persistence without blending within the same area, is usually accepted as sufficient evidence, either of some degree of mutual sterility, or in the case of animals of some repugnance to mutual pairing.
Independently of blending from intercrossing, the complete absence, in a well-investigated region, of varieties linking together any two closely-allied forms, is probably the most important of all the criterions of their specific distinctness; and this is a somewhat different consideration from mere constancy of character, for two forms may be highly variable and yet not yield intermediate varieties. Geographical distribution is often unconsciously and sometimes consciously brought into play; so that forms living in two widely separated areas, in which most of the other inhabitants are specifically distinct, are themselves usually looked at as distinct; but in truth this affords no aid in distinguishing geographical races from so-called good or true species.
Now let us apply these generally-admitted principles to the races of man, viewing him in the same spirit as a naturalist would any other animal. In regard to the amount of difference between the races, we must make some allowance for our nice powers of discrimination gained by the long habit of observing ourselves. In India, as Elphinstone remarks,282 although a newly-arrived European cannot at first distinguish the various native races, yet they soon appear to him extremely dissimilar; and the Hindoo cannot at first perceive any difference between the several European nations. Even the most distinct races of man, with the exception of certain negro tribes, are much more like each other in form 216than would at first be supposed. This is well shewn by the French photographs in the Collection Anthropologique du Muséum of the men belonging to various races, the greater number of which, as many persons to whom I have shown them have remarked, might pass for Europeans. Nevertheless, these men if seen alive would undoubtedly appear very distinct, so that we are clearly much influenced in our judgment by the mere colour of the skin and hair, by slight differences in the features, and by expression.
There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,—as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body,283 the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain.284 But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of structural difference. The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation, and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual, faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans,285 who live 217under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.
We will first consider the arguments which may be advanced in favour of classing the races of man as distinct species, and then those on the other side. If a naturalist, who had never before seen such beings, were to compare a Negro, Hottentot, Australian, or Mongolian, he would at once perceive that they differed in a multitude of characters, some of slight and some of considerable importance. On inquiry he would find that they were adapted to live under widely different climates, and that they differed somewhat in bodily constitution and mental disposition. If he were then told that hundreds of similar specimens could be brought from the same countries, he would assuredly declare that they were as good species as many to which he had been in the habit of affixing specific names. This conclusion would be greatly strengthened as soon as he had ascertained that these forms had all retained the same character for many centuries; and that negroes, apparently identical with existing negroes, had lived at least 4000 years ago.286 He would also hear from an excellent observer, 218 Dr. Lund,287 that the human skulls found in the caves of Brazil, entombed with many extinct mammals, belonged to the same type as that now prevailing throughout the American Continent.
Our naturalist would then perhaps turn to geographical distribution, and he would probably declare that forms differing not only in appearance, but fitted for the hottest and dampest or driest countries, as well as for the arctic regions, must be distinct species. He might appeal to the fact that no one species in the group next to man, namely the Quadrumana, can resist a low temperature or any considerable change of climate; and that those species which come nearest to man have never been reared to maturity, even under the temperate climate of Europe. He would be deeply impressed with the fact, first noticed by Agassiz,288 that the different races of man are distributed over the world in the same zoological provinces, as those inhabited by undoubtedly distinct species and genera of mammals. This is manifestly the case with the Australian, Mongolian, and Negro races of man; in a less well-marked manner with the Hottentots; but plainly with the Papuans and Malays, who are separated, as Mr. Wallace has shewn, by nearly the same line which divides the great Malayan and Australian zoological provinces. The aborigines of America range throughout the Continent; and this at first appears opposed to the above rule, for most of the productions of the Southern and Northern halves differ widely; yet some few living forms, as the 219opossum, range from the one into the other, as did formerly some of the gigantic Edentata. The Esquimaux, like other Arctic animals, extend round the whole polar regions. It should be observed that the mammalian forms which inhabit the several zoological provinces, do not differ from each other in the same degree; so that it can hardly be considered as an anomaly that the Negro differs more, and the American much less, from the other races of man than do the mammals of the same continents from those of the other provinces. Man, it may be added, does not appear to have aboriginally inhabited any oceanic island; and in this respect he resembles the other members of his class.
In determining whether the varieties of the same kind of domestic animal should be ranked as specifically distinct, that is, whether any of them are descended from distinct wild species, every naturalist would lay much stress on the fact, if established, of their external parasites being specifically distinct. All the more stress would be laid on this fact, as it would be an exceptional one, for I am informed by Mr. Denny that the most different kinds of dogs, fowls, and pigeons, in England, are infested by the same species of Pediculi or lice. Now Mr. A. Murray has carefully examined the Pediculi collected in different countries from the different races of man;289 and he finds that they differ, not only in colour, but in the structure of their claws and limbs. In every case in which numerous specimens were obtained the differences were constant. The surgeon of a whaling ship in the Pacific assured me that when the Pediculi, with which some Sandwich Islanders on board swarmed, strayed on to the bodies of the English sailors, they died in the course of three or four days. These Pediculi 220were darker coloured and appeared different from those proper to the natives of Chiloe in South America, of which he gave me specimens. These, again, appeared larger and much softer than European lice. Mr. Murray procured four kinds from Africa, namely from the Negroes of the Eastern and Western coasts, from the Hottentots and Caffres; two kinds from the natives of Australia; two from North, and two from South America. In these latter cases it may be presumed that the Pediculi came from natives inhabiting different districts. With insects slight structural differences, if constant, are generally esteemed of specific value: and the fact of the races of man being infested by parasites, which appear to be specifically distinct, might fairly be urged as an argument that the races themselves ought to be classed as distinct species.
Our supposed naturalist having proceeded thus far in his investigation, would next inquire whether the races of men, when crossed, were in any degree sterile. He might consult the work290 of a cautious and philosophical observer, Professor Broca; and in this he would find good, evidence that some races were quite fertile together; but evidence of an opposite nature in regard to other races. Thus it has been asserted that the native women of Australia and Tasmania rarely produce children to European men; the evidence, however, on this head has now been shewn to be almost valueless. The half-castes are killed by the pure blacks; and an account has lately been published of eleven half-caste youths murdered and burnt at the same time, whose remains were found by the police.291 Again, it has often 221been said that when mulattoes intermarry they produce few children; on the other hand, Dr. Bachman of Charlestown292 positively asserts that he has known mulatto families which have intermarried for several generations, and have continued on an average as fertile as either pure whites or pure blacks. Inquiries formerly made by Sir C. Lyell on this subject led him, as he informs me, to the same conclusion. In the United States the census for the year 1854 included, according to Dr. Bachman, 405,751 mulattoes; and this number, considering all the circumstances of the case, seems small; but it may partly be accounted for by the degraded and anomalous position of the class, and by the profligacy of the women. A certain amount of absorption of mulattoes into negroes must always be in progress; and this would lead to an apparent diminution of the former. The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spoken of in a trustworthy work293 as a well-known phenomenon; but this is a different consideration from their lessened fertility; and can hardly be advanced as a proof of the specific distinctness of the parent races. No doubt both animal and vegetable hybrids, when produced from extremely distinct species, are liable to premature death; but the parents of mulattoes cannot be put under the category of extremely distinct species. The common Mule, so notorious for long life and vigour, and yet so sterile, shews how little necessary connection 222there is in hybrids between lessened fertility and vitality: other analogous cases could be added.
Even if it should hereafter be proved that all the races of men were perfectly fertile together, he who was inclined from other reasons to rank them as distinct species, might with justice argue that fertility and sterility are not safe criterions of specific distinctness. We know that these qualities are easily affected by changed conditions of life or by close inter-breeding, and that they are governed by highly complex laws, for instance that of the unequal fertility of reciprocal crosses between the same two species. With forms which must be ranked as undoubted species, a perfect series exists from those which are absolutely sterile when crossed, to those which are almost or quite fertile. The degrees of sterility do not coincide strictly with the degrees of difference in external structure or habits of life. Man in many respects may be compared with those animals which have long been domesticated, and a large body of evidence can be advanced in favour of the Pallasian doctrine294 that domestication tends to eliminate the 223sterility which is so general a result of the crossing of species in a state of nature. From these several considerations, it may be justly urged that the perfect fertility of the intercrossed races of man, if established, would not absolutely preclude us from ranking them as distinct species.
Independently of fertility, the character of the offspring from a cross has sometimes been thought to afford evidence whether the parent-forms ought to be ranked as species or varieties; but after carefully studying the evidence, I have come to the conclusion that no general rules of this kind can be trusted. Thus with mankind the offspring of distinct races resemble in all respects the offspring of true species and of varieties. This is shewn, for instance, by the manner in which the characters of both parents are blended, and by one form absorbing another through repeated crosses. In this latter case the progeny both of crossed species and varieties retain for a long period a tendency to revert to their ancestors, especially to that one which is prepotent in transmission. When any character has suddenly appeared in a race or species as the result of a 224single act of variation, as is general with monstrosities,295 and this race is crossed with another not thus characterised, the characters in question do not commonly appear in a blended condition in the young, but are transmitted to them either perfectly developed or not at all. As with the crossed races of man cases of this kind rarely or never occur, this may be used as an argument against the view suggested by some ethnologists, namely that certain characters, for instance the blackness of the negro, first appeared as a sudden variation or sport. Had this occurred, it is probable that mulattoes would often have been born, either completely black or completely white.
We have now seen that a naturalist might feel himself fully justified in ranking the races of man as distinct species; for he has found that they are distinguished by many differences in structure and constitution, some being of importance. These differences have, also, remained nearly constant for very long periods of time. He will have been in some degree influenced by the enormous range of man, which is a great anomaly in the class of mammals, if mankind be viewed as a single species. He will have been struck with the distribution of the several so-called races, in accordance with that of other undoubtedly distinct species of mammals. Finally he might urge that the mutual fertility of all the races has not as yet been fully proved; and even if proved would not be an absolute proof of their specific identity.
On the other side of the question, if our supposed naturalist were to enquire whether the forms of man kept distinct like ordinary species, when mingled to225gether in large numbers in the same country, he would immediately discover that this was by no means the case. In Brazil he would behold an immense mongrel population of Negroes and Portuguese; in Chiloe and other parts of South America, he would behold the whole population consisting of Indians and Spaniards blended in various degrees.296 In many parts of the same continent he would meet with the most complex crosses between Negroes, Indians, and Europeans; and such triple crosses afford the severest test, judging from the vegetable kingdom, of the mutual fertility of the parent-forms. In one island of the Pacific he would find a small population of mingled Polynesian and English blood; and in the Viti Archipelago a population of Polynesians and Negritos crossed in all degrees. Many analogous cases could be added, for instance, in South Africa. Hence the races of man are not sufficiently distinct to co-exist without fusion; and this it is, which in all ordinary cases affords the usual test of specific distinctness.
Our naturalist would likewise be much disturbed as soon as he perceived that the distinctive characters of every race of man were highly variable. This strikes every one when he first beholds the negro-slaves in Brazil, who have been imported from all parts of Africa. The same remark holds good with the Polynesians, and with many other races. It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant. Savages, even within the limits of the same tribe, are not nearly so uniform in character, as has often been said. Hottentot women offer certain 226peculiarities, more strongly marked than those occurring in any other race, but these are known not to be of constant occurrence. In the several American tribes, colour and hairyness differ considerably; as does colour to a certain degree, and the shape of the features greatly, in the Negroes of Africa. The shape of the skull varies much in some races;297 and so it is with every other character. Now all naturalists have learnt by dearly-bought experience, how rash it is to attempt to define species by the aid of inconstant characters.
But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having intercrossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other organic being, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke.298 This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
Every naturalist who has had the misfortune to under227take the description of a group of highly varying organisms, has encountered cases (I speak after experience) precisely like that of man; and if of a cautious disposition, he will end by uniting all the forms which graduate into each other as a single species; for he will say to himself that he has no right to give names to objects which he cannot define. Cases of this kind occur in the Order which includes man, namely in certain genera of monkeys; whilst in other genera, as in Cercopithecus, most of the species can be determined with certainty. In the American genus Cebus, the various forms are ranked by some naturalists as species, by others as mere geographical races. Now if numerous specimens of Cebus were collected from all parts of South America, and those forms which at present appear to be specifically distinct, were found to graduate into each other by close steps, they would be ranked by most naturalists as mere varieties or races; and thus the greater number of naturalists have acted with respect to the races of man. Nevertheless it must be confessed that there are forms, at least in the vegetable kingdom,299 which we cannot avoid naming as species, but which are connected together, independently of intercrossing, by numberless gradations.
Some naturalists have lately employed the term “sub-species” to designate forms which possess many of the characteristics of true species, but which hardly deserve so high a rank. Now if we reflect on the weighty arguments, above given, for raising the races of man to the dignity of species, and the insuperable difficulties on the other side in defining them, the term “sub-species”228 might here be used with much propriety. But from long habit the term “race” will perhaps always be employed. The choice of terms is only so far important as it is highly desirable to use, as far as that may be possible, the same terms for the same degrees of difference. Unfortunately this is rarely possible; for within the same family the larger genera generally include closely-allied forms, which can be distinguished only with much difficulty, whilst the smaller genera include forms that are perfectly distinct; yet all must equally be ranked as species. So again the species within the same large genus by no means resemble each other to the same degree: on the contrary, in most cases some of them can be arranged in little groups round other species, like satellites round planets.300
The question whether mankind consists of one or several species has of late years been much agitated by anthropologists, who are divided into two schools of monogenists and polygenists. Those who do not admit the principle of evolution, must look at species either as separate creations or as in some manner distinct entities; and they must decide what forms to rank as species by the analogy of other organic beings which are commonly thus received. But it is a hopeless endeavour to decide this point on sound grounds, until some definition of the term “species” is generally accepted; and the definition must not include an element which cannot possibly be ascertained, such as an act of creation. We might as well attempt without any definition to decide whether a certain number of houses should be called a village, or town, or city. We have a practical illustration of the difficulty in the never-229ending doubts whether many closely-allied mammals, birds, insects, and plants, which represent each other in North America and Europe, should be ranked species or geographical races; and so it is with the productions of many islands situated at some little distance from the nearest continent.
Those naturalists, on the other hand, who admit the principle of evolution, and this is now admitted by the greater number of rising men, will feel no doubt that all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock; whether or not they think fit to designate them as distinct species, for the sake of expressing their amount of difference.301 With our domestic animals the question whether the various races have arisen from one or more species is different. Although all such races, as well as all the natural species within the same genus, have undoubtedly sprung from the same primitive stock, yet it is a fit subject for discussion, whether, for instance, all the domestic races of the dog have acquired their present differences since some one species was first domesticated and bred by man; or whether they owe some of their characters to inheritance from distinct species, which had already been modified in a state of nature. With mankind no such question can arise, for he cannot be said to have been domesticated at any particular period.
When the races of man diverged at an extremely remote epoch from their common progenitor, they will have differed but little from each other, and been few in number; consequently they will then, as far as their distinguishing characters are concerned, have had less claim to rank as distinct species, than the existing so230-called races. Nevertheless such early races would perhaps have been ranked by some naturalists as distinct species, so arbitrary is the term, if their differences, although extremely slight, had been more constant than at present, and had not graduated into each other.
It is, however, possible, though far from probable, that the early progenitors of man might at first have diverged much in character, until they became more unlike each other than are any existing races; but that subsequently, as suggested by Vogt,302 they converged in character. When man selects for the same object the offspring of two distinct species, he sometimes induces, as far as general appearance is concerned, a considerable amount of convergence. This is the case, as shewn by Von Nathusius,303 with the improved breeds of pigs, which are descended from two distinct species; and in a less well-marked manner with the improved breeds of cattle. A great anatomist, Gratiolet, maintains that the anthropomorphous apes do not form a natural sub-group; but that the orang is a highly developed gibbon or semnopithecus; the chimpanzee a highly developed macacus; and the gorilla a highly developed mandrill. If this conclusion, which rests almost exclusively on brain-characters, be admitted, we should have a case of convergence at least in external characters, for the anthropomorphous apes are certainly more like each other in many points than they are to other apes. All analogical resemblances, as of a whale to a fish, may indeed be said to be cases of convergence; but this term has never been applied to superficial and adaptive resemblances. It 231would be extremely rash in most cases to attribute to convergence close similarity in many points of structure in beings which had once been widely different. The form of a crystal is determined solely by the molecular forces, and it is not surprising that dissimilar substances should sometimes assume the same form; but with organic beings we should bear in mind that the form of each depends on an infinitude of complex relations, namely on the variations which have arisen, these being due to causes far too intricate to be followed out,—on the nature of the variations which have been preserved, and this depends on the surrounding physical conditions, and in a still higher degree on the surrounding organisms with which each has come into competition,—and lastly, on inheritance (in itself a fluctuating element) from innumerable progenitors, all of which have had their forms determined through equally complex relations. It appears utterly incredible that two organisms, if differing in a marked manner, should ever afterwards converge so closely as to lead to a near approach to identity throughout their whole organisation. In the case of the convergent pigs above referred to, evidence of their descent from two primitive stocks is still plainly retained, according to Von Nathusius, in certain bones of their skulls. If the races of man were descended, as supposed by some naturalists, from two or more distinct species, which had differed as much, or nearly as much, from each other, as the orang differs from the gorilla, it can hardly be doubted that marked differences in the structure of certain bones would still have been discoverable in man as he now exists.
Although the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet if their whole organisation be taken232 into consideration they are found to resemble each other closely in a multitude of points. Many of these points are of so unimportant or of so singular a nature, that it is extremely improbable that they should have been independently acquired by aboriginally distinct species or races. The same remark holds good with equal or greater force with respect to the numerous points of mental similarity between the most distinct races of man. The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans differ as much from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Fuegians on board the “Beagle,” with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.
He who will carefully read Mr. Tylor’s and Sir J. Lubbock’s interesting works304 can hardly fail to be deeply impressed with the close similarity between the men of all races in tastes, dispositions and habits. This is shewn by the pleasure which they all take in dancing, rude music, acting, painting, tattooing, and otherwise decorating themselves,—in their mutual comprehension of gesture-language—and, as I shall be able to shew in a future essay, by the same expression in their features, and by the same inarticulate cries, when they are excited by various emotions. This similarity, or rather identity, is striking, when contrasted with the different expressions which may be observed in distinct species of monkeys. There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of 233mankind, yet the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world and manufactured at the most remote periods, are, as Nilsson has shewn,305 almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers. The same observation has been made by archæologists306 with respect to certain widely-prevalent ornaments, such as zigzags, &c.; and with respect to various simple beliefs and customs, such as the burying of the dead under megalithic structures. I remember observing in South America,307 that there, as in so many other parts of the world, man has generally chosen the summits of lofty hills, on which to throw up piles of stones, either for the sake of recording some remarkable event, or for burying his dead.
Now when naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous small details of habits, tastes and dispositions between two or more domestic races, or between nearly-allied natural forms, they use this fact as an argument that all are descended from a common progenitor who was thus endowed; and consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man.
As it is improbable that the numerous and unimportant points of resemblance between the several races of man in bodily structure and mental faculties (I do not here refer to similar customs) should all have been independently acquired, they must have been inherited from progenitors who were thus characterised. We thus gain some insight into the early state of man, 234before he had spread step by step over the face of the earth. The spreading of man to regions widely separated by the sea, no doubt, preceded any considerable amount of divergence of character in the several races; for otherwise we should sometimes meet with the same race in distinct continents; and this is never the case. Sir J. Lubbock, after comparing the arts now practised by savages in all parts of the world, specifies those which man could not have known, when he first wandered from his original birthplace; for if once learnt they would never have been forgotten.308 He thus shews that “the spear, which is but a development of the knife-point, and the club, which is but a long hammer, are the only things left.” He admits, however, that the art of making fire probably had already been discovered, for it is common to all the races now existing, and was known to the ancient cave-inhabitants of Europe. Perhaps the art of making rude canoes or rafts was likewise known; but as man existed at a remote epoch, when the land in many places stood at a very different level, he would have been able, without the aid of canoes, to have spread widely. Sir J. Lubbock further remarks how improbable it is that our earliest ancestors could have “counted as high as ten, considering that so many races now in existence cannot get beyond four.” Nevertheless, at this early period, the intellectual and social faculties of man could hardly have been inferior in any extreme degree to those now possessed by the lowest savages; otherwise primeval man could not have been so eminently successful in the struggle for life, as proved by his early and wide diffusion.
From the fundamental differences between certain 235languages, some philologists have inferred that when man first became widely diffused he was not a speaking animal; but it may be suspected that languages, far less perfect than any now spoken, aided by gestures, might have been used, and yet have left no traces on subsequent and more highly-developed tongues. Without the use of some language, however imperfect, it appears doubtful whether man’s intellect could have risen to the standard implied by his dominant position at an early period.
Whether primeval man, when he possessed very few arts of the rudest kind, and when his power of language was extremely imperfect, would have deserved to be called man, must depend on the definition which we employ. In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term “man” ought to be used. But this is a matter of very little importance. So again it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man are thus designated, or are ranked as species or sub-species; but the latter term appears the most appropriate. Finally, we may conclude that when the principles of evolution are generally accepted, as they surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.
One other question ought not to be passed over without notice, namely, whether, as is sometimes assumed, each sub-species or race of man has sprung from a single pair of progenitors. With our domestic animals a new race can readily be formed from a single pair possessing some new character, or even from a single individual thus characterised, by carefully match236ing the varying offspring; but most of our races have been formed, not intentionally from a selected pair, but unconsciously by the preservation of many individuals which have varied, however slightly, in some useful or desired manner. If in one country stronger and heavier horses, and in another country lighter and fleeter horses, were habitually preferred, we may feel sure that two distinct sub-breeds would, in the course of time, be produced, without any particular pairs or individuals having been separated and bred from in either country. Many races have been thus formed, and their manner of formation is closely analogous with that of natural species. We know, also, that the horses which have been brought to the Falkland Islands have become, during successive generations, smaller and weaker, whilst those which have run wild on the Pampas have acquired larger and coarser heads; and such changes are manifestly due, not to any one pair, but to all the individuals having been subjected to the same conditions, aided, perhaps, by the principle of reversion. The new sub-breeds in none of these cases are descended from any single pair, but from many individuals which have varied in different degrees, but in the same general manner; and we may conclude that the races of man have been similarly produced, the modifications being either the direct result of exposure to different conditions, or the indirect result of some form of selection. But to this latter subject we shall presently return.
On the Extinction of the Races of Man.—The partial and complete extinction of many races and sub-races of man are historically known events. Humboldt saw in South America a parrot which was the sole living creature that could speak the language of a lost tribe.237 Ancient monuments and stone implements found in all parts of the world, of which no tradition is preserved by the present inhabitants, indicate much extinction. Some small and broken tribes, remnants of former races, still survive in isolated and generally mountainous districts. In Europe the ancient races were all, according to Schaaffhausen,309 “lower in the scale than the rudest living savages;” they must therefore have differed, to a certain extent, from any existing race. The remains described by Professor Broca310 from Les Eyzies, though they unfortunately appear to have belonged to a single family, indicate a race with a most singular combination of low or simious and high characteristics, and is “entirely different from any other race, ancient or modern, that we have ever heard of.” It differed, therefore, from the quaternary race of the caverns of Belgium.
Unfavourable physical conditions appear to have had but little effect in the extinction of races.311 Man has long lived in the extreme regions of the North, with no wood wherewith to make his canoes or other implements, and with blubber alone for burning and giving him warmth, but more especially for melting the snow. In the Southern extremity of America the Fuegians survive without the protection of clothes, or of any building worthy to be called a hovel. In South Africa the aborigines wander over the most arid plains, where dangerous beasts abound. Man can withstand the deadly influence of the Terai at the foot of the Himalaya, and the pestilential shores of tropical Africa.
Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race. Various checks are always in action, as specified in a former chapter, which serve to keep down the numbers of each savage tribe,—such as periodical famines, the wandering of the parents and the consequent deaths of infants, prolonged suckling, the stealing of women, wars, accidents, sickness, licentiousness, especially infanticide, and, perhaps, lessened fertility from less nutritious food, and many hardships. If from any cause any one of these checks is lessened, even in a slight degree, the tribe thus favoured will tend to increase; and when one of two adjoining tribes becomes more numerous and powerful than the other, the contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and absorption. Even when a weaker tribe is not thus abruptly swept away, if it once begins to decrease, it generally goes on decreasing until it is extinct.312
When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race. Of the causes which lead to the victory of civilised nations, some are plain and some very obscure. We can see that the cultivation of the land will be fatal in many ways to savages, for they cannot, or will not, change their habits. New diseases and vices are highly destructive; and it appears that in every nation a new disease causes much death, until those who are most susceptible to its destructive influence are gradually weeded out;313 and so it may be with the evil effects from spirituous liquors, as well as with the unconquerably strong taste for them shewn by so many savages. It further appears, mysterious as is 239the fact, that the first meeting of distinct and separated people generates disease.314 Mr. Sproat, who in Vancouver Island closely attended to the subject of extinction, believes that changed habits of life, which always follow from the advent of Europeans, induces much ill-health. He lays, also, great stress on so trifling a cause as that the natives become “bewildered and dull by the new life around them; they lose the motives for exertion, and get no new ones in their place.”315
The grade of civilisation seems a most important element in the success of nations which come in competition. A few centuries ago Europe feared the inroads of Eastern barbarians; now, any such fear would be ridiculous. It is a more curious fact, that savages did not formerly waste away, as Mr. Bagehot has remarked, before the classical nations, as they now do before modern civilised nations; had they done so, the old moralists would have mused over the event; but there is no lament in any writer of that period over the perishing barbarians.316
Although the gradual decrease and final extinction of the races of man is an obscure problem, we can see that it depends on many causes, differing in different places and at different times. It is the same difficult problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals—of the fossil horse, for instance, which disappeared from South America, soon afterwards to be replaced, within the same districts, by countless troops of the Spanish horse. The New Zealander seems 240conscious of this parallelism, for he compares his future fate with that of the native rat almost exterminated by the European rat. The difficulty, though great to our imagination, and really great if we wish to ascertain the precise causes, ought not to be so to our reason, as long as we keep steadily in mind that the increase of each species and each race is constantly hindered by various checks; so that if any new check, or cause of destruction, even a slight one, be superadded, the race will surely decrease in number; and as it has everywhere been observed that savages are much opposed to any change of habits, by which means injurious checks could be counterbalanced, decreasing numbers will sooner or later lead to extinction; the end, in most cases, being promptly determined by the inroads of increasing and conquering tribes.
On the Formation of the Races of Man.—It may be premised that when we find the same race, though broken up into distinct tribes, ranging over a great area, as over America, we may attribute their general resemblance to descent from a common stock. In some cases the crossing of races already, distinct has led to the formation of new races. The singular fact that Europeans and Hindoos, who belong to the same Aryan stock and speak a language fundamentally the same, differ widely in appearance, whilst Europeans differ but little from Jews, who belong to the Semitic stock and speak quite another language, has been accounted for by Broca317 through the Aryan branches having been largely crossed during their wide diffusion by various indigenous tribes. When two races in close contact 241cross, the first result is a heterogeneous mixture: thus Mr. Hunter, in describing the Santali or hill-tribes of India, says that hundreds of imperceptible gradations may be traced “from the black, squat tribes of the mountains to the tall olive-coloured Brahman, with his intellectual brow, calm eyes, and high but narrow head;” so that it is necessary in courts of justice to ask the witnesses whether they are Santalis or Hindoos.318 Whether a heterogeneous people, such as the inhabitants of some of the Polynesian islands, formed by the crossing of two distinct races, with few or no pure members left, would ever become homogeneous, is not known from direct evidence. But as with our domesticated animals, a crossed breed can certainly, in the course of a few generations, be fixed and made uniform by careful selection,319 we may infer that the free and prolonged intercrossing during many generations of a heterogeneous mixture would supply the place of selection, and overcome any tendency to reversion, so that a crossed race would ultimately become homogeneous, though it might not partake in an equal degree of the characters of the two parent-races.
Of all the differences between the races of man, the colour of the skin is the most conspicuous and one of the best marked. Differences of this kind, it was formerly thought, could be accounted for by long exposure under different climates; but Pallas first shewed that this view is not tenable, and he has been followed by almost all anthropologists.320 The view has been 242rejected chiefly because the distribution of the variously coloured races, most of whom must have long inhabited their present homes, does not coincide with corresponding differences of climate. Weight must also be given to such cases as that of the Dutch families, who, as we hear on excellent authority,321 have not undergone the least change of colour, after residing for three centuries in South Africa. The uniform appearance in various parts of the world of gypsies and Jews, though the uniformity of the latter has been somewhat exaggerated,322 is likewise an argument on the same side. A very damp or a very dry atmosphere has been supposed to be more influential in modifying the colour of the skin than mere heat; but as D’Orbigny in South America, and Livingstone in Africa, arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions with respect to dampness and dryness, any conclusion on this head must be considered as very doubtful.323
Various facts, which I have elsewhere given, prove that the colour of the skin and hair is sometimes correlated in a surprising manner with a complete immunity from the action of certain vegetable poisons and from the attacks of certain parasites. Hence it occurred to me, that negroes and other dark races might have acquired their dark tints by the darker individuals escaping during a long series of generations from the deadly influence of the miasmas of their native countries.
I afterwards found that the same idea had long ago 243occurred to Dr. Wells.324 That negroes, and even mulattoes, are almost completely exempt from the yellow-fever, which is so destructive in tropical America, has long been known.325 They likewise escape to a large extent the fatal intermittent fevers that prevail along, at least, 2600 miles of the shores of Africa, and which annually cause one-fifth of the white settlers to die, and another fifth to return home invalided.326 This immunity in the negro seems to be partly inherent, depending on some unknown peculiarity of constitution, and partly the result of acclimatisation. Pouchet327 states that the negro regiments, borrowed from the Viceroy of Egypt for the Mexican war, which had been recruited near the Soudan, escaped the yellow-fever almost equally well with the negroes originally brought from various parts of Africa, and accustomed to the climate of the West Indies. That acclimatisation plays a part is shewn by the many cases in which negroes, after having resided for some time in a colder climate, have become to a certain extent liable to tropical fevers.328 The nature of the climate under which the white races have long resided, likewise has some influence on them; for during the fearful epidemic of yellow-fever in Demerara during 1837, Dr. Blair found that the death-rate of the immigrants was proportional 244to the latitude of the country whence they had come. With the negro the immunity, as far as it is the result of acclimatisation, implies exposure during a prodigious length of time; for the aborigines of tropical America, who have resided there from time immemorial, are not exempt from yellow-fever; and the Rev. B. Tristram states, that there are districts in Northern Africa which the native inhabitants are compelled annually to leave, though the negroes can remain with safety.
That the immunity of the negro is in any degree correlated with the colour of his skin is a mere conjecture: it may be correlated with some difference in his blood, nervous system, or other tissues. Nevertheless, from the facts above alluded to, and from some connection apparently existing between complexion and a tendency to consumption, the conjecture seemed to me not improbable. Consequently I endeavoured, with but little success,329 to ascertain how far it held good. The 245late Dr. Daniell, who had long lived on the West Coast of Africa, told me that he did not believe in any such relation. He was himself unusually fair, and had withstood the climate in a wonderful manner. When he first arrived as a boy on the coast, an old and experienced negro chief predicted from his appearance that this would prove the case. Dr. Nicholson, of Antigua, after having attended to this subject, wrote to me that he did not think that dark-coloured Europeans escaped the yellow-fever better than those that were light-coloured. Mr. J. M. Harris altogether denies330 that Europeans with dark hair withstand a hot climate better than other men; on the contrary, experience has taught him in making a selection of men for service on the coast of Africa, to choose those with red hair. As far, therefore, as these slight indications serve, there seems no foundation for the hypothesis, which has been accepted by several writers, that the colour of the black races may have resulted from darker and darker individuals having survived in greater numbers, during their exposure to the fever-generating miasmas of their native countries.
Although with our present knowledge we cannot account for the strongly-marked differences in colour between the races of man, either through correlation with constitutional peculiarities, or through the direct action of climate; yet we must not quite ignore the 246latter agency, for there is good reason to believe that some inherited effect is thus produced.331
We have seen in our third chapter that the conditions of life, such as abundant food and general comfort, affect in a direct manner the development of the bodily frame, the effects being transmitted. Through the combined influences of climate and changed habits of life, European settlers, in the United States undergo, as is generally admitted, a slight but extraordinarily rapid change of appearance. There is, also, a considerable body of evidence shewing that in the Southern States the house-slaves of the third generation present a markedly different appearance from the field-slaves.332
If, however, we look to the races of man, as distributed over the world, we must infer that their characteristic differences cannot be accounted for by the direct action of different conditions of life, even after exposure to them for an enormous period of time. The Esquimaux live exclusively on animal food; they are clothed in thick fur, and are exposed to intense cold and to prolonged darkness; yet they do not differ in any extreme degree from the inhabitants of Southern China, who live entirely on vegetable food and are exposed almost naked to a hot, glaring climate. The unclothed Fuegians live on the marine productions of their inhospitable shores; the Botocudos of Brazil wander 247about the hot forests of the interior and live chiefly on vegetable productions; yet these tribes resemble each other so closely that the Fuegians on board the “Beagle” were mistaken by some Brazilians for Botocudos. The Botocudos again, as well as the other inhabitants of tropical America, are wholly different from the Negroes who inhabit the opposite shores of the Atlantic, are exposed to a nearly similar climate, and follow nearly the same habits of life.
Nor can the differences between the races of man be accounted for, except to a quite insignificant degree, by the inherited effects of the increased or decreased use of parts. Men who habitually live in canoes, may have their legs somewhat stunted; those who inhabit lofty regions have their chests enlarged; and those who constantly use certain sense-organs have the cavities in which they are lodged somewhat increased in size, and their features consequently a little modified. With civilised nations, the reduced size of the jaws from lessened use, the habitual play of different muscles serving to express different emotions, and the increased size of the brain from greater intellectual activity, have together produced a considerable effect on their general appearance in comparison with savages.333 It is also possible that increased bodily stature, with no corresponding increase in the size of the brain, may have given to some races (judging from the previously adduced cases of the rabbits) an elongated skull of the dolichocephalic type.
Lastly, the little-understood principle of correlation will almost certainly have come into action, as in the case of great muscular development and strongly pro248jecting supra-orbital ridges. It is not improbable that the texture of the hair, which differs much in the different races, may stand in some kind of correlation with the structure of the skin; for the colour of the hair and skin are certainly correlated, as is its colour and texture with the Mandans.334 The colour of the skin and the odour emitted by it are likewise in some manner connected. With the breeds of sheep the number of hairs within a given space and the number of the excretory pores stand in some relation to each other.335 If we may judge from the analogy of our domesticated animals, many modifications of structure in man probably come under this principle of correlated growth.
We have now seen that the characteristic differences between the races of man cannot be accounted for in a satisfactory manner by the direct action of the conditions of life, nor by the effects of the continued use of parts, nor through the principle of correlation. We are therefore led to inquire whether slight individual differences, to which man is eminently liable, may not have been preserved and augmented during a long series of generations through natural selection. But here we are at once met by the objection that beneficial variations alone can be thus preserved; and as far as we are enabled to judge (although always liable to error on this head) not one of the external differences between the races of man are of any direct or 249special service to him. The intellectual and moral or social faculties must of course be excepted from this remark; but differences in these faculties can have had little or no influence on external characters. The variability of all the characteristic differences between the races, before referred to, likewise indicates that these differences cannot be of much importance; for, had they been important, they would long ago have been either fixed and preserved, or eliminated. In this respect man resembles those forms, called by naturalists protean or polymorphic, which have remained extremely variable, owing, as it seems, to their variations being of an indifferent nature, and consequently to their having escaped the action of natural selection.
We have thus far been baffled in all our attempts to account for the differences between the races of man; but there remains one important agency, namely Sexual Selection, which appears to have acted as powerfully on man, as on many other animals. I do not intend to assert that sexual selection will account for all the differences between the races. An unexplained residuum is left, about which we can in our ignorance only say, that as individuals are continually born with, for instance, heads a little rounder or narrower, and with noses a little longer or shorter, such slight differences might become fixed and uniform, if the unknown agencies which induced them were to act in a more constant manner, aided by long-continued intercrossing. Such modifications come under the provisional class, alluded to in our fourth chapter, which for the want of a better term have been called spontaneous variations. Nor do I pretend that the effects of sexual selection can be indicated with scientific precision; but it can be shewn that it would be an inexplicable fact if man had not been modified by this agency, which has250 acted so powerfully on innumerable animals, both high and low in the scale. It can further be shewn that the differences between the races of man, as in colour, hairyness, form of features, &c., are of the nature which it might have been expected would have been acted on by sexual selection. But in order to treat this subject in a fitting manner, I have found it necessary to pass the whole animal kingdom in review; I have therefore devoted to it the Second Part of this work. At the close I shall return to man, and, after attempting to shew how far he has been modified through sexual selection, will give a brief summary of the chapters in this First Part.