Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/492

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488
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Egyptians on the walls of the tombs of the kings of Thebes. In other words, 4,000 years of changing religions, ever-shifting political conditions, and the inroads of commerce and war with their continual introduction of alien blood have not served to materially alter that physical type, which, during the countless ages of prehistoric time, had been gradually evolved as best adapted to the climatic conditions of the valley of the Nile. It may then be concluded that the influence of immigration upon our physical type will, in the long run, be nil. That type of man best adapted physically to the climate and soil will, in the point of numbers, eventually predominate in spite of all restrictive legislation or man-made laws of any kind.

When we come to consider the question of the influence of racial amalgamation upon our habits of thought, upon our morals, and upon our institutions—upon our spiritual selves, we are confronted with a much graver problem, and one over which we have at least some little power of control. This is really the serious problem which we have to solve, for, after all, it is not so much difference of blood relations that produces enmity among the component peoples of a nation, as it is the difference of political and social ideals, and history is replete with instances where nations have lost their own peculiar form of civilization and political institutions on account of overwhelming alien influence. That the influence of the alien in the United States is enormous, and that it is becoming yearly more and more important, is an almost self-evident proposition.

In order to arrive at a fairly intelligent opinion as to whether or not this influx of foreign thought and social habit will ever change sufficiently to conform to our own standards, we should study the history of the nations from which it comes, and whose ideals it has already helped to form. Is there anything in the past history of the countries from which our immigrants are now being chiefly recruited to justify the belief that they will eventually sympathize with our political institutions and with those Anglo-Saxon habits of thought which we must insist upon as necessary to good citizenship in a great republic? A brief study of the leading alien type will demonstrate the principle upon which the research necessary to answer this question should be conducted.

Let us first consider the case of the Italian. Here we may be tempted to at once pass an unfavorable opinion on the ground that he is, by virtue of previous training and habits of thought, at entire variance with republican ideals. Such a judgment will be hasty and hardly warranted by the premises. When we remember what the Italian has accomplished for himself at home since 1820, when the first real agitation for a free and united Italy may have been said to have commenced, it should encourage us in the belief that he is capable of sustained and intelligent efforts for the common good.