Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/49

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39
THE PROBLEMS OF COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY.

form contributes to the development of the sentiments of kinship, family pride, altruism, and many social virtues. We thus have reason to connect education, family government, together with the rich emotional capabilities, the complex intellectual powers that follow in their train, with the apparently insignificant fact that the human infant enters life in a much less mature condition than the young of other species.

We have thus far been occupied in comparing stages of animal with stages of human development; we shall now test the validity of the same train of thought in the comparison of different stages of human progress. It would appear that among less civilized peoples there is a shortening of the pre-adult period, a precocity of development, an earlier abandonment by the parent, an earlier independence of the young. Mr. Spencer tells us that in equatorial Africa the children are described as "absurdly precocious," that among the west Africans the youth are "remarkably sharp when under puberty—that epoch, as among the Hindus, seeming to addle their brains." An interesting result of this difference is the early wane of the powers of receiving new ideas, and the consequent limitations of the mental horizon. The civilized mind at first lags behind the uncivilized, but the latter soon comes nearly to a standstill, and is then immeasurably outstripped by the continued growth of the former. Thus—still drawing upon Mr. Spencer's facts—of the Australians it is said that "after twenty their mental vigor seems to decline, and at the age of forty seems nearly extinct"; of the Sandwich-Islanders, "that in all the early parts of their education they are exceedingly quick, but not in the higher branches; that they have excellent memories, and learn by rote with wonderful rapidity, but will not exercise their thinking faculties"; of New-Zealanders, that "at ten years of age [they] are more intelligent than English boys, but as a rule few New-Zealanders could be taught to equal Englishmen in their highest faculties." Sir Samuel Baker says of the negro in Africa, that in childhood he is in advance in intellectual quickness of the white child of the same age, "but the mind does not expand—it promises fruit, but does not ripen"; and the educators of the negro in this country have encountered similar difficulties—great aptitude at beginnings, but inability to go on to original thinking.

The comparison regarding the uniformity of minds whose period of development is relatively brief will apply to widely differing human races. There can be little doubt that primitive people are more like one another than are individuals belonging to a higher mental type, and in the different classes of a civilized community there is greater individuality among the educated than among the uneducated, and this can hardly be unrelated to the postponement of independence, the longer education, which the