Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/563

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543
PHYSICAL CHARACTERS OF THE HUMAN RACES.

timent of good and of evil; he alone believes in a future existence succeeding this actual life; he alone believes in beings superior to himself, that he has never seen, and that are capable of influencing his life for good or evil.

In other words, man alone is endowed with morality and religion. These two faculties are revealed by his acts, by his institutions, by facts that differ from one group to another, from one race to another. From these is drawn a third class of characters—that of moral and religions characters.

Let us attend to-day to the physical characters, to those furnished by the body.

In man, as in animals, the body is made up of organs. We can not only study the exterior of the body, but we can also penetrate the interior and discover its anatomy. Indeed, this is the only means of finding out its most important organs. In this study we can stop with the form, the arrangement, or we can go further, and seek to understand the actions of the parts, the functions they perform. We thus pass from anatomy to physiology. But these functions may be disturbed by many maladies that cannot be neglected, and which are the province of pathology.

In our present study, we must not neglect any of these orders of facts. You see how we are led to draw, from the body alone, four categories of characters, namely: 1. Exterior characters; 2. Anatomic characters; 3. Physiological characters; 4. Pathological characters.

 
PHYSICAL CHARACTERS.

I. Exterior Characters.—When we see a man or an animal, the first thing that strikes us is its size. Our domestic species are made of great and small races, and it is the same with man.

The extreme dimensions of the human form, whether great or small, have been very much exaggerated. Everywhere there has been a belief in the existence of races of dwarfs and races of giants. For instance, the Greeks believed in the existence of a people, called by them pigmies, whose country they placed sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another, but always beyond the limits of the world they truly knew. These were little men about fourteen inches in height, who, it was believed, were obliged to pluck down the corn with strokes of the axe, and who passed a part of their time defending themselves against the cranes. In the last century this fable of the pigmies was, so to speak, renewed and applied to the kymos, who were said to inhabit Madagascar. It is needless to add that, since we have seen them more closely, pigmies and kymos have disappeared.

The fables relative to giants are the contrary of the preceding. Among these fables there are some modern ones, for a time believed to be founded on real observation. The first voyagers who doubled