By M. A. DE QUATREFAGES.
THE movement of expansion which followed the geographical discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries has resulted in transporting to a host of points on the globe not only the European white but also the African negro, who was first carried away into slavery. Everywhere the two races have crossed with each other and with the natives of the place; and everywhere, in consequence of these unions of the two races, mixed populations have appeared, having in varied proportions the blood of the whites, the negroes, and the local races. This is a remarkable fact, which has engaged the attention of travelers, but which the founders of anthropology—Buffon, Blumenbach, and Prichard—and most of their successors, seem to have passed over. I have often pointed out this singular omission, and indicated the causes of it, the chief of which is that those writers were without the documents bearing on the subject which we possess now. I have also tried to fill the gap in the investigation, and, after having studied the phenomena from a general point of view, have shown, I believe, how the study of what has passed and of what is passing now throws light on the origin of populations which are often considered as of a pure race, and how an attentive study may enable us to discover traces of a crossing sometimes too ancient for the remembrance of it to survive, sometimes on the contrary recent enough to permit us to recover historical evidence of it. I have endeavored also to indicate what may be the consequences in the future of contemporary facts.
The conclusions to which this study has led me are in direct disagreement with those of some anthropologists, and in particular with the doctrines advanced by Dr. Nott, the Count de Gobineau, Dr. Perrier, Messrs. David, Turnham, Knox, etc. Without repeating the considerations I have already advanced concerning these differences of opinion, I will here point out what the differences are. Those who disagree with me affirm more or less explicitly that crossing between human races is of itself a cause of decline, and that, when two unequal races intermarry, the mixed population is fatally inferior to both. In the crossing of unequal races the superior is depressed, they say, without raising the inferior. The mixed race is more or less degraded physically, and is deprived of all disposition to work, of all moral force.
Most of the adversaries of crossing still maintain that the formation of a new race resulting from the union of two other races is really impossible. Populations originating thus can not be kept up, they
- Translated and abridged from the "Revue Scientifique."