Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/209

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Chap. VII.
The Formation of Races.

present homes, does not coincide with corresponding differences of climate. Some little weight may be given to such cases as that of the Dutch families, who, as we hear on excellent authority,[1] have not undergone the least change of colour after residing for three centuries in South Africa. An argument on the same side may likewise be drawn from the uniform appearance in various parts of the world of gipsies and Jews, though the uniformity of the latter has been somewhat exaggerated.[2] 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.[3]

Various facts, which I have given elsewhere, 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 from the deadly influence of the miasma of their native countries, during a long series of generations.

I afterwards found that this same idea had long ago occurred to Dr. Wells.[4] It has long been known that negroes, and even mulattoes are almost completely exempt from the yellow fever, so destructive in tropical America.[5] 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.[6] This immunity in the negro seems to be partly inherent, depending on some unknown peculiarity of constitution, and partly the result of acclimatisation. Pouchet[7]

  1. Sir Andrew Smith, as quoted by Knox, 'Races of Man,' 1850, p. 473.
  2. See De Quatrefages on this head, 'Revue des Cours Scientifiques,' Oct. 17, 1868, p. 731.
  3. Livingstone's 'Travels and Researches in S. Africa,' 1857, pp. 338, 339. D'Orbigny, as quoted by Godron, 'De l'Espece,' vol. ii., p. 266.
  4. See a paper read before the Royal Soc. in 1813, and published in his Essays in 1818. I have given an account of Dr. Wells' views in the "Historical Sketch" (p. xvi) to my 'Origin of Species'. Various cases of colour correlated with constitutional peculiarities are given in my 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. ii., pp. 227, 335.
  5. See, for instance, Nott and Gliddon, 'Types of Mankind,' p. 68.
  6. Major Tulloch in a paper read before the Statistical Society, April 20, 1840, and given in the 'Athenaeum,' 1840, p. 353.
  7. 'The Plurality of the Human Race' (translat.), 1864, p. 60.