The Relations of the Advanced and the Backward Races of Mankind

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Relations of the Advanced and the Backward Races of Mankind  (1902) 
by James Bryce
The Romanes Lecture for 1902.












The Relations of the

Advanced and the Backward

Races of Mankind





JUNE 7, 1902





Price Two Shillings net








In the paeans that were chanted when at the opening of a new century the achievements of the century preceding were reviewed, it was chiefly the progress of the physical sciences, the enlargement of knowledge, and the control obtained over the forces of nature that filled our thoughts. But the exploration of the area, with the ascertainment of the character and resources; both actual and potential, of the globe we inhabit, was a scarcely less notable result of the nineteenth century. In one aspect it was even more remarkable, because it represented the all but final closing of one great chapter of history, the completion of one great task which Man had to do. Scientific knowledge will, we may hope, go on increasing steadily and rapidly. But the exploration of this earth is now all but finished. Civilized man knows his home in a sense in which he never knew it before. He knows how high are the mountains and how deep the seas, what are the currents that keep the ocean in salutary unrest, and what the winds which bring rain or heat with them, and those movements of the tide wave which the ancient poet longed to comprehend

Qua vi maria alta tumescant
Obicibus ruptis rursusque in se ipsa residant.

He knows what soils are fertile, what climates genial, and (to a large extent) where mineral wealth is to be found. Moreover he knows the inhabitants of the earth, and not only the Races as they are, but the conditions which have determined the progress of each of them in the past and may affect them in the future, their natural aptitudes, their habits of industry or indolence, the features of the land wherein each dwells, and the influence of those features upon the increase or decay of population, upon the forms which industrial effort takes. Much, no doubt, still remains to be ascertained, for further discoveries in the sphere of biology may render regions healthy which have been heretofore haunted by disease, as further investigation of the forces of nature may plant industries in spots hitherto neglected. Still, broadly speaking, a point has been reached at which the conditions likely to affect the relative development of the various branches of mankind have become so far known, that students may begin to deal with them in a positive and practical way. They have passed from the chaos of conjecture into the cosmos of science.

With this incomparably fuller and more exact knowledge of the families of Man there has come a far closer and more widespread contact of those various families with one another, and in particular of the more advanced and civilized races with the more backward, a contact so much closer and more widespread than ever in the past that it may be deemed to mark a crisis in the history of the world, which will profoundly affect the destiny of all mankind. It is of the phenomena of that contact and the problems which it raises that I propose to speak to you to-day. Upon some points it is too soon to advance any positive conclusions, for the data are still insufficient. But data are daily accumulating, and though the time has not yet arrived for answering certain momentous questions, the time has arrived for formulating them. As the mists rise, the outlines of the landscape begin to appear, and we may venture to ask in what direction the movement of humanity will tend, and by what paths the obstacles that seem to bar or encumber its advance will be surmounted.

To describe the phenomena of race-contact in our own time as marking a crisis may seem a strong expression, for such contact has been never interrupted since our palaeolithic ancestors roamed hither and thither in search of wild fruits or wild creatures. There have been epochs, such as that of Alexander the Great, or that of Attila, or that which followed the discoveries made by Christopher Columbus, in which there was a great impingement of some peoples upon other peoples which created new relations between them by way of conquest or settlement. But our own time stands eminent and peculiar in this, that it marks the completion of a process by which all the races of the world have been affected, and all the backward ones placed in a more or less complete dependence upon the more advanced. India, Northern Asia, almost the whole of Africa, Madagascar, the Indian and Polynesian archipelagoes, and the Philippine Islands now own civilized masters of European stock, as do all the aboriginal races of America. Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, Siam, and in a sense even China, are now overshadowed by European Powers, and prevented from passing under the control of some one or more of these only by the jealous vigilance of the others. The same forces or motives have worked to bring this result about which induced the conquests of earlier days. But two new factors have been more active and pervasive than ever before—the desire of civilized producers of goods to secure savage or semi-civilized consumers by annexing the regions they inhabit, and the rivalry of the great civilized States, each of which has been spurred on by the fear that the others would appropriate markets which it might win for itself. The process has been much swifter than was desirable in the interest of either conqueror or conquered. But we can now see that it became inevitable, so soon as the progress of Science had prodigiously increased the cheapness both of production and of transportation.

The Completion of this World-process is a specially great and fateful event, because it closes a page for ever. The conditions that are now vanishing can never recur. The uncivilized and semi-civilized races cannot relapse into their former isolation. In passing under the influences of civilized Powers they have indeed given to the world a new kind of unity. They have become in a new sense economic factors in its progress, and they must affect more powerfully than before the economic conditions of labour and production among the advanced races. It is hardly too much to say that for economic purposes all mankind is fast becoming one people, in which the hitherto backward nations are taking a place analogous to that which the unskilled workers have held in each one of the civilized nations. Such an event opens a new stage in World-history, a stage whose significance has perhaps been as yet scarcely realized either by the thinker or by the man of action, because the historical thinker sometimes overlooks the present in his study of the past, while the man of action may be so much occupied by the present as to forget what the past has to teach him.

I do not, however, propose to-day to discuss this new economic stage, but rather the conditions which precede it and will give a character to it, viz. the phenomena that attend the contact of the civilized and uncivilized races, whether by way of conquest, or of trade, or of settlement on the same ground.

We may pass by the question of what constitutes racial difference, merely observing that stress must not be laid upon linguistic affinities; nor need we inquire how far the present backwardness of a race indicates inferior natural capacity, being content to take the existing state of things as we find it. Let us go straight to the facts and problems which the contact of diverse races brings into being.

When two races differing in strength, that is to say, either in numbers, or in physical capacity, or in mental capacity, or in material advancement, or in military resources, come into political or social contact some one of four possible results follows. Either the weaker race dies out before the stronger, or it is absorbed into the stronger, the latter remaining practically unaffected, or the two become commingled into something different from what either was before, or, finally, the two continue to dwell together unmixed, each preserving a character of its own.

Let us consider each of these possible cases. Where the backward race is either small in numbers or of weak physical stamina, and is still in the savage stage, it vanishes quickly. This need not be the fault of the stronger race. Sometimes, no doubt, the invader or immigrant kills off the natives, who resent the seizure of their hunting-grounds or prove themselves thievish neighbours. Sometimes the conqueror reduces the natives to a slavery under which the latter perish, as in the awful instance of the extermination of the Indians of the Greater Antilles under Spanish rule, an extermination practically complete within half a century after Columbus discovered them. Sometimes the introduction of new diseases, which the bodies of the natives cannot resist, sweeps them off in vast numbers, as nearly the whole Hottentot nation died of small-pox, and a considerable part of the Fijian islanders of measles. Alcoholic drinks are specially pernicious to an aboriginal race, because it is usually wanting in self-control, and is supplied with liquor more fiery and poisonous than Europeans consume. Sometimes the mere change of habits of life induces physical decline, as when the pursuit of wild creatures ceases to be possible, or when pasture lands have been enclosed for cultivation by the stronger immigrant. Even a change in housing or clothing may prove deadly. I was told in Hawaii that the reduction of the native population from about 300,000 in Captain Cook's time to about 30,000 in 1883 was largely due to the substitution of wooden houses for the old wigwams, whose sides, woven of long grass, had secured natural ventilation, and to the use of clothes, which the native, accustomed to nothing more than a loincloth, did not think of changing or drying when drenched with rain. Moreover, many primitive races are always on the verge of want; and when a famine occurs, they may be brought so low that the survivors scatter and disappear. Some of the hill-tribes of north-western and middle India, as for instance certain Bhil communities, are said to have been practically extinguished by the recent famines. It is through one or more of these causes—for they often act simultaneously—that the Red Indians have almost vanished from North America east of the Rocky Mountains (a few tribes having, however, been, peaceably transported to new seats); that the aborigines of Tasmania died out thirty years ago; that those of Australia have gone from the civilized south-eastern corner of that continent, and may soon be confined to its northern coasts; that the Ainos are diminishing in Northern Japan, as the Ostiaks and Tunguses are in Siberia; that the Bushmen are practically extinct in South Africa, and that the Veddas of Ceylon had, long before Europeans reached that isle, been driven into the recesses of the forests, where now only a handful are left.

From cases of Destruction I pass to cases of Absorption. When the aborigines among whom a stronger immigrant race comes are neither low savages nor physically feeble, it may befall them to be imperceptibly blent with and lost among the stronger and more numerous or more prolific race. This is of course most likely to happen when the interval between the peoples is not a wide one. Probably it was thus that the Celts of Britain absorbed, being perhaps modified by, their so-called Iberian predecessors, as the Russian settlers are to-day absorbing some of the tribes they have found in Siberia. The Yakut learns to speak Russian and becomes a sort of Christian, while the Russian, though he adopts the Yakut dress and way of life, does not sink into a savage; and the population ends by being Russian. So those natives who in the Canary Isles survived the strife with the Spanish settlers became in the end for all purposes Spaniards. So in India Hinduism has for many centuries been slowly spreading among the aboriginal hill-tribes, turning them into Hindus like those of the plains, and obliterating their distinctive tongues and customs. So in the Caucasus tiny peoples that had for ages dwelt apart in upland valleys, with mighty glaciers above them and forest gorges beneath, have now been brought under the yoke of Russia, and are losing their ancient faiths and modes of speech to become, if not Russians, yet Georgians or Imeritians of the low country. There are cases in which Absorption may proceed not so much by mixture of blood as by the imposition on the less civilized race of the type characteristic of the more advanced. The Slavs who entered Hellas in and after the eighth century have become Greeks; and the Albanian Toskhs who moved southward later are now also virtually Greeks, though so far south as Eleusis they spoke Albanian into our own time.

The race that accepts an alien type may be the stronger race in everything but intelligence and culture. Sometimes strength, if it take the form of a dogged persistence in its ancient ways, is the undoing of a people. Many of the Red Indian tribes have perished off the earth because they could not or would not adjust themselves to the conditions which the advent of the whites imposed. The black man submits and survives.

Through these two processes of Extinction and Absorption an enormous change has passed upon the population of the globe. More than half of the tribes or peoples that existed when authentic history begins would seem to have vanished. There must have been, at a remote epoch, a process of differentiation, whereby first the great families of mankind, and then the subdivisions of those families, were under the influence of their physical environment acquiring those definite characteristics which distinguish from one another those that still remain. This process must have required untold ages: and it doubtless continued in some parts of the world, while in others the opposite process of reducing the number of types through the killing off or assimilation of the weaker had already begun. For the last three thousand years this latter process has been the prevailing tendency over all or nearly all the earth. It is more energetic to-day than ever before, for barbarism was not more pitiless than is civilization, even where civilization may wish to spare.

We all remember the many nations or tribes enumerated by Herodotus as inhabiting Scythia and Libya. How few could a geographer enumerate in the same regions now! In Europe and its isles (excluding Russia) there are now about thirty languages spoken, and of course still fewer of those national types, or aggregates referable to a definite type, which we call nationalities. In the time of Herodotus the number must have been three or four times as large. The mountain fastnesses of the Caucasus have preserved about ten peoples, dissimilar in speech, aspect, and habits. A century hence scarcely one of these may be left.

I have referred to the hill-tribes of India, singular relics of an unrecorded past, singular evidence of what the primitive world must have been. On the rolling upland of the Nilghiri Hills in the Presidency of Madras, I saw one of these tribes, the Todas, not a feeble race, for the men are tall and handsome. There are to-day not 2,000 of them all told. But they are wholly unlike all their neighbours, not only in speech, but in appearance, in customs, in their pastoral way of life—a tiny nation, standing alone in the world, and likely in a few generations to vanish for ever. The same thing is happening over most of the earth. Every decade sees some little race or tribe engulfed in the rising tide of the great peoples. Within two centuries there may be less than forty languages left remaining, and less than twenty nationalities, that is to say, branches of mankind using the same tongue and deeming themselves members of the same stock.

So far we have been mainly concerned with races conspicuously differing in strength. But I now come to those cases in which the colliding peoples are so nearly matched that neither yields to and sinks beneath the other. It is here that we find the greatest variety of phenomena and the most difficult problems. It is here that the interest of the future lies, because these stronger races will be factors in history for some generations or centuries to come.

The elements of strength present in two diverse races brought into contact need not be the same elements. One race may have physical strength and courage, the other may be strong through patient industry. One may be gifted with a highly developed brain and store of knowledge: the other may possess that prolific quality which ensures an abundant offspring. Accordingly I use the term 'strength' not as implying either physical or intellectual or volitional excellence, but rather to denote the capacity of a stock to maintain itself in the struggle for life against other stocks.

When two strong races come into contact, be it hostile or pacific, there are two possible issues. The races may become mixed by intermarriage, or they may remain separate, necessarily influencing one another but not mingling their blood.

All the great peoples of the world are the result of a mixing of races. Taking our own continent, we see that in France Gauls, Iberians, and Teutons; in Germany, Teutons, Slavs, and doubtless also Celts; in Russia Slavs, Finns, and (to a less extent) tribes of Turkic or Mongolic stock, have been blent to form one nation. The Basques and the Lapps, and the four Scandinavian peoples seem to be of comparatively pure race, but may seem so only because we know little of their early history. In India three or four great stocks have been commingled, and the same thing has apparently happened in Eastern Asia. The original source of the largest of all civilized nations, that which inhabits the temperate parts of North America, was not only itself the product of diverse sources before it crossed the ocean, but has within the last seventy years received such enormous accretions from Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, and the Slavs of Central Europe, that it is becoming the most mixed of all the peoples we know[1].

Conquest and colonization have in modern times been the chief factors in the process of race-blending. In the ancient world, however, another cause of extraordinary and long-continued potency was at work, viz. the importation of forced labour, whether war-captives brought from a distance, or barbarians brought from the countries outside civilization into places where work-people, and especially field-workers, were scarce. From the sixth century B.C. to the fifth A.D. a vast stream of slaves steadily flowed into the Greco-Italic world, replacing the losses which the original population suffered through war, pestilence, and various social and economic causes. It may well be that in the days of Diocletian two-thirds of the blood flowing in the veins of his subjects had come from a servile source.

But although we see no cases in which a large nation can claim pure blood, we also see cases in which races whose close juxtaposition would permit them to mix do not in fact mix. The question follows: What are the causes which favour or check intermarriage between races brought into contact?

For intermarriage to take place, it is not necessary that the races should stand on the same or nearly the same level of civilization, still less be equal in mental gifts or physical force. Two colliding races are seldom equal, as indeed conquerors are presumably superior in force, colonizers presumably more active and enterprising. Neither does language form a serious bar. Neither have ethnological affinities, as measured by linguistic affinities, much to do with the matter. The Finnic peoples of North-eastern Europe have blent easily and naturally with the Teutonic Swedes and the Slavonic Russians, though the ethnographer would place them far from both these races. So in Hungary, both Germans and men of Jewish stock intermarry freely with the Magyars, ethnologically remote from both, and the offspring are usually ardently Magyar in sentiment. Celts, Teutons, and Slavs are so far from being repelled by differences of race that the difference frequently operates as an attraction, making the union complementary.

Nothing really arrests intermarriage except physical repulsion, and physical repulsion exists only where there is a marked difference in physical aspect, and especially in colour[2]. Roughly speaking (and subject to certain exceptions to be hereafter noted), we may say that while all the races of the same, or a similar, colour intermarry freely, those of one colour intermarry very little with those of another.

This is most marked as between the white and the black races. The various white races are, however, by no means equally averse to such unions. Among Arabs and Turks the sense of repulsion from negroes is weakest, partly no doubt owing to the influence of Islam, on which a word must be said hereafter. The South European races, though disinclined to such unions, do not wholly eschew them. In the ancient world we hear little of any repugnance in the Roman Empire to the dark-skinned Africans, for the contemptuous references to Egyptians seem to spring from dislike rather to the character and religion than to the colour of that singular people. In modern times the Spanish settlers in the Antilles and South America, and the Portuguese in Brazil, as well as on the East and West coasts of Africa, have formed many unions with negro women, as the Spaniards have done with the Malayan Tagals in the Philippines, and the Portuguese with the Hindus in Malabar. There is to-day a negro strain in many of the whites of Cuba, and a still stronger one in the whites of Brazil. The aversion to colour reaches its maximum among the Teutons. The English in North America and the West Indies did, indeed, during the days of slavery, become the parents of a tolerably large mixed population, as did the Dutch in South Africa. But they scarcely ever intermarried with free coloured people: and when slavery came to an end, illicit unions practically ceased in all these countries. One is assured in the Southern States of America that hardly any children are now born from a white father and a coloured mother. (So the English in India have felt a like aversion to marriages with native women, and even such illicit connexions as were not rare a century ago are now seldom found.

Where a white race comes into contact with a so-called 'red' or 'yellow' race—I use these terms as convenient though not exact—the sense of repulsion is much less pronounced. The English settlers intermarry, though less frequently than the French did, with the aborigines of America. I have been struck by hearing men in the Rocky Mountains, who would have concealed any infusion of negro blood, mention that their mothers or grandmothers had been Indians. The Spaniards have been still less fastidious. All over Central and South America they have become commingled with the aborigines, especially, as was natural, with the more advanced tribes. In Mexico, with a population of about thirteen millions, more than one-third are of mixed Spanish and native race, and not over one-sixth (if so many) pure Spanish[3].

Broadly speaking, one may say that while the phenomena of Spanish and Portuguese America are enough to show that the admixture of advanced European peoples with races very far behind them in the arts of life, and also (as regards the negro but not the Indian) in natural mental force, is one of the results which may follow a contact of races, and a result that may go even further in the future, the phenomena of those vast regions which are ruled by Teutonic peoples in Asia, Africa, and America show that this result is unlikely to arrive in other and still more populous areas. Where Americans, Englishmen, and Germans rule, there is no intermarriage with the coloured races, and consequently no prospect of ultimate race-fusion.

Where two coloured races come into contact there is usually some repulsion, but one less strong than white men feel. The American aborigines do intermarry with the negro, but in some regions hardly more frequently than do the whites. The Chinese and the Red men or Mexicans seem rather more willing to unite, possibly because the two stocks are less dissimilar. The Malays and Chinese intermarry in the Eastern Archipelago with one another, and apparently also with the darker races. The Berbers of North Africa, and the mixed race formed from Arab and Berber blood, unite themselves with the blacks of Sudan and Central Africa. In Morocco one sees every type of feature and every shade of colour, from the light yellowish-brown pure Arab to the jet-black negro, and all seem to stand on the same social level. But this result is largely due to religion, of which a word must now be said.

Religion, which in some countries has forbidden and in others has encouraged the mingling of diverse stocks, is an influence far less powerful than colour. It seldom creates a feeling of personal repulsion[4]. Like language, it can be changed; and when one race is so far beneath the other that the man can force the woman to embrace his faith, it becomes a very slight obstacle. In the ancient world people changed their gods lightly, because polytheism permits one to adopt new deities without abjuring the old ones. When a woman quitted her tribe, she passed naturally to the worship of the tribe she entered, as Ruth says to Naomi: 'Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'

In the pre-Christian world, everybody respected everybody else's religion, save in extreme cases, such as that of those Egyptian Beast-gods, whom the philosophic Roman found disgusting. When monotheistic or metaphysical religions came on the scene, things altered. To one who holds such a faith, other faiths are false or pernicious. He will have no dealings with them. The Fire-Worshippers of Iran were the first persecutors. Christianity slowly followed. Islam propagated itself by the sword, though leaving their lives to the 'peoples of the Book.' Where Muhamadans came in contact with polytheists or with a race that, like the Bantus, has not reached the stage of having deities at all, intermarriage is not excluded, because when the conqueror takes a wife or concubine of the inferior race, she becomes ipso facto a Muhamadan. But when Muslims and Christians or Jews dwell side by side, each race so cleaves to its own faith as to stand sharply apart from the other. Thus in the Turkish and Persian and Arab East there is practically no intermarriage, save when a Christian girl is abducted and forced into Islam. It is Religion that has in those regions forbidden the mixture of races, and created that apparently insoluble problem which we call 'The Eastern Question.' There, Religion becomes Race and Race means Religion. It is difference of beliefs that has for many centuries kept Greeks, Armenians, Nestorians, Maronites, Sunnite Turks, Shiah Persians, Kizilbashes, Yezidis, and Druses from mingling their blood to form one people[5]. Even in Christian Europe, the Rumans of Transylvania, clinging to the Orthodox Church, intermarry scarcely at all with the Lutheran Saxons, or the Catholic or Calvinist or Unitarian Magyars and Szeklers, who dwell among them.

Where two races stand in contact, and neither the barrier of Colour nor that of Religion keeps them apart, the natural tendency to union has its way, and there is formed by intermarriage a third race in which the component elements are undistinguishably blent and lost. Is this third race a new race? If one of the elements is greatly larger than the other, the resultant progeny will be only the more numerous race slightly altered. But even if the elements are numerically equal, the resultant product may not be an evidently new race, unlike either progenitor. There is a distinction to be drawn between the physical and the intellectual characteristics of the issue. The resultant race, being drawn in equal proportions from each blood, may as respects physical structure and aspect stand midway between the two sources whence it springs; as the average mulatto presents in colour, hair and feature some of the characteristics of each parent. But its mental type (including under that term notions and modes of thinking) may be, and often is, nearer to the type of the more advanced than it is to that of the more backward race. This may possibly be partly due to the fact that it is usually to the higher race that the male parent belongs[6]. More white men have married coloured or Indian women than vice versa. But it is also ascribable to the fact that the higher race has more to give, and that the lower race wishes to receive. The ideas and habits of the white man tell upon and permeate the offspring of mixed marriages with all the greater force because that offspring seeks to resemble its higher rather than its inferior progenitor. I must not, however, attempt to pursue this line of inquiry, significant as it is for the future of mixed races; nor can I stop to illustrate the power of a strong intellectual type to stamp itself upon other races from the two salient instances of the Hellenization of Asia after Alexander the Great, and the assimilation of new elements by the Anglo-American race in the United States during the last seventy years. But it is worth remarking that the present mixed population of Mexico, though doubtless drawn far more largely from native than from Spanish sources, conforms more to the Spanish than to the Indian type, even if it be less industrious and less thrifty than the people of Old Spain.

The data we possess regarding the result of race-mixture as between races of different colour are not yet sufficient to enable us to speak positively on many points. We cannot, for instance, predict what the result may be on the American people, after another half-century, of the great stream of non-English blood which is being poured into its veins. The type may remain, yet the national character may prove to have been affected. If, however, one may venture on a generalization, it will be to the following effect.

Where two races are physiologically near to one another, the result of intermixture is good. Where they are remote, it is less satisfactory, by which I mean not only that it is below the level of the higher stock, but that it is not generally and evidently better than the lower stock. The people formed by the blending of a Low German with a Norse or Danish stock in the lands between the Trent and the Moray Firth, the peoples formed by the blending of Celts and Teutons in Western Britain, in North-Eastern Ireland, in North-Eastern France, and in Western Switzerland, are at least equal, if not superior, to the purer Low German or Norse, or Celtic peoples in other parts of those countries. The same may be said of the admixture of Slavs and Teutons in Northern and Eastern Germany. But the mixture of whites and negroes, or of whites and Hindus, or of the American aborigines and negroes, seldom shows good results. The hybrid stocks, if not inferior in physical strength to either of those whence they spring, are apparently less persistent, and might—so at least some observers hold—die out if they did not marry back into one or other of the parent-races. Usually, of course, they marry back into the lower.

Now and then a man of brilliant gifts appears in one of these mixed races. Alexandre Dumas, of whom one may say that if his imagination was not of the highest quality it was of almost unsurpassed fertility, was a mulatto or at least a quadroon. At this moment there is living in the United States the son of a white father and negro mother, himself born in slavery, who is one of the most remarkable personalities and perhaps the most moving and persuasive orator in that nation of eighty millions. Mexico has been ruled for a quarter of a century with equal vigour and wisdom by a man of mixed Indian and Spanish blood who ranks among the five or six foremost figures of our time.

In forming general conclusions, however, we must have regard not to single instances, however noteworthy, but to the average result; and the two general conclusions which the facts so far as known suggest are these: that races of marked physical dissimilarity do not tend to intermarry, and that when and so far as they do, the average offspring is apt to be physically inferior to the average of either parent stock, and probably more beneath the average mental level of the superior than above the average mental level the inferior.

This last point is open to doubt, and, if true, may be more true of some hybrid stocks than of others. One is surprised, when one comes to inquire into the matter, to find how little positive evidence there is bearing on it. An element of uncertainty is introduced by the fact that in some cases it is the more vigorous, in others the less vigorous sections of an advanced race that have intermarried with the backward race, and that the conditions, physical, social and political, under which a mixed race grows up, are more favourable in some regions than they are in others[7]. It has already been observed that the Arabs have largely permeated, and have doubtless improved, some of the African races. Whether the most advanced branches of the native race in Mexico might not have, had they remained unmixed, reached as high a level as the mixed race, is an interesting question, on which I will not hazard an opinion.

We have been considering one of the two methods in which the problems presented by the contact of two races, each strong enough to hold its ground against the other, may be solved. This method, that of the fusion of the two into one through intermarriage, has in the eyes of the sociologist and the politician two great merits. It is Natural and it is Final. It comes by the ordinary working of human impulse, which induces unions that bring the members of one race into friendly relations with those of the other, make it difficult for either to go on despising the other, and ultimately bring down the humbler members of the dominant race to the level of the theretofore subject, while raising the stronger members of the subject race to a level with the dominant. Slow it may be, though its effect is usually seen in two or three generations, but it is sure. And its power appears by this, that while exclusive race aristocracies have generally tried to preserve their supposed purity by discouraging intermarriage, they have never succeeded except where either physical dissimilarity or religious sentiment supported their efforts. It is true that troubles originally engendered by race-antagonism have sometimes (as in our own islands and some parts of the East) outlasted their origin and become the source of political dissensions. But such troubles will always yield to appropriate political remedies. Race-antagonism, an evil more dangerous, because rooted in nature, than any political enmities, cannot but vanish when the races have been blent.

We have, however, seen that the method of Fusion is not always applicable. Where physical repulsion, usually grounded on a difference of colour, exists, sometimes even where a sentimental repulsion grounded on difference of faith exists, the two races will not mix their blood, but remain confronting one another as distinct and unfriendly bodies.

These cases of Contact without Fusion arise in three ways. Sometimes an Advanced Race conquers a territory inhabited by a race far beneath itself in military force, and rules that territory as a dependency without settling its own people there. This happens in the case of tropical countries, which are either ill-suited to the natives of cold climates or are already thickly peopled. The conspicuous instance is India, to which England sends no more of her children than are needed to administer and to garrison it, to plead causes and supervise commercial business. Java under the Dutch, Madagascar under the French, East Africa under the Germans, Luzon under the Americans, are other familiar examples.

Another class of cases arises when into a country already inhabited by a civilized people there come in quest of work groups of immigrants belonging to a much more backward race which has begun to overflow its own borders. The influx of the Chinese into Western America and Australia is the most familiar but not the only instance.

Thirdly, there are the cases in which an Advanced and a Backward race find themselves living side by side in large masses upon the same soil, having entered it at different times. Instances are found in the former Slave States of North America, where seven millions of negroes and fourteen millions of whites dwell together; in Algeria, in British South Africa, and in Western South America, in both of which latter regions the numerical preponderance of the Backward races is very great, though for South America no trustworthy statistics exist.

To whichever of these categories the contact of races refusing to blend belongs, such contact is calculated to give trouble, and the more frequently individual members of the races come across one another, the greater is that trouble likely to be. Where the two races occupy different parts of the country, or where one is mainly rural, the other mainly urban, or where the habits of life are so dissimilar that opportunities for social intercourse occur but sparingly, occasions for collision may be few. This has been the case over most of Spanish America, and is to a great extent true also of Algeria. But where the races live in the same towns and villages, and follow the same pursuits, antagonism is sure to arise. It arises from Inequality, because as one of the races is stronger in intelligence and will, its average members treat members of the weaker race scornfully or roughly, when they can do so with impunity. It arises from Dissimilarity of character, because neither race understands the other's way of thinking and feeling, so that each gives offence even without meaning it. It arises from Distrust, because the sense of not comprehending one another makes each suspect the other of faithlessness or guile. The Backward race, being the weaker, is usually that which tries to protect itself by guile, while the more advanced race relies upon the prestige of its knowledge, the force of its will, and its ingrained habit of dominance. Violence, when once it breaks out, is apt to spread, because the men of each race take sides in any tumult, and apt to be accompanied by cruelty, because pity is blunter towards those who stand outside the racial or social pale, and the passions of a racial conflict sweep all but the gentlest natures away. Every outrage on one side provokes an outrage on the other: and if a series of outrages occur, each race bands itself together for self-defence, awaiting attack, and probably provoking attack by the alarm its combination inspires. Nor are difficulties in the sphere of industry wanting, for the more advanced race may refuse to work in company with the Backward one, or may seek to relegate the latter to the basest and worst-paid kinds of work. So too the Backward race may give offence by working for lower wages and thus reducing the general scale of payment.

These troubles may be apprehended whatever the form of government, for they spring out of the nature of things. But others vex the political sphere. If one race enjoys privileges denied to the other, it is likely to abuse its power to the prejudice of the Backward people, placing them, it may be, under civil as well as political disabilities, or imposing heavier taxes upon them, or refusing them their fair share of benefits from the public revenue. If, on the other hand, both races are treated alike, granted the same suffrage, made eligible for the same offices, each will be disposed to organize itself separately for political purposes, so that a permanent separation of parties will be created, which, because irrespective of the issues that naturally arise from time to time, may prevent those issues from being dealt with on their merits, and may check the natural ebbs and flows of political life. The nation will, in fact, be rather two nations than one, may waste its force on internal dissensions, may lose its unity of action at moments of public danger. Evils of this order tend to be more acute the more democratic a government becomes. Two courses are open, but each will have elements of danger. If political privileges are refused to the Backward race, the contrast between principle and practice, between a theoretic recognition of the rights of man as man and the denial of them to a section of the population, will be palpable and indefensible. If that lower section be admitted to share in the government, an element will be admitted the larger part of which will be unfit for the suffrage, being specially accessible to bribery and specially liable to intimidation. So, too, though the evils described may exist whatever be the condition of the lower race, they will become, in one sense at least, more accentuated the more that race advances in intelligence and knowledge. Slaves or serfs who have been bred up to look upon subjection as their natural lot bear it as the dispensation of Nature. When they have attained a measure of independence, when they speak the tongue and read the books and begin to share the ideas of the dominant race, they resent the inferiority, be it legal or social, to which they find themselves condemned. Discontent appears and social friction is intensified, not only because occasions for it grow more frequent, but because the temper of each race is more angry and suspicious. These phenomena, present even where the races are not very diverse in habits of life or level of culture, as is the case with Greeks, Armenians, and Turks in various parts of the East, or with Moors and Jews in Morocco, may become of graver import as between races so far apart as whites and negroes in the Gulf States of North America, or whites and Malays in the Philippine Isles, or Europeans and native fellahin in Egypt.

Although the troubles which follow upon the contact of peoples in different stages of civilization are more serious in some countries and under some conditions than they are likely to prove in others, they are always serious enough to raise the question of the best means of avoiding such a contact, if it can be avoided.

That contact can be averted by inducing European peoples to forbear from annexing or settling in the countries inhabited by the coloured races is not to be expected. The impulses which move those peoples in the present will not be checked by the prospect of evils in the future. Besides, the work of annexation is practically done already[8]. Neither can it be suggested that one of two disparate races already established should be removed to leave the ground free to the other. No one proposes that the French should quit Algeria, or the English India, or the Russians Western Turkistan, not to add that the mischiefs likely to follow such a withdrawal would be greater than the difficulties which the presence of the conquerors at this moment causes. Men talked at one time of deporting the seven millions of negroes from the Southern States of America to Africa, but this utterly impracticable scheme has been dropped. The only case in which the question of preventing contact arises in a practical form is where immigrants of a Backward race are found swarming into a country already peopled by a European stock. Such a case has arisen in California and British Columbia, whither Chinese have migrated, as also in Australia as respects Chinese, and Japanese, and Indian coolies, and in Natal. In all these cases statutes have been passed intended to arrest or to limit the influx of the Backward race: and in California and Australia, where the methods have been most stringent, the desired result is being attained.

Our first impulse is to condemn such a course, partly because it is apt to be accompanied (as in California) by rough treatment of the strangers, partly because it seems prompted by scorn or hatred of a branch of our fellow men, partly because we have a feeling that the whole earth belongs to mankind as a whole, who should be suffered to move freely over it, and that restrictions on the natural movements of population are prima facie wrong. Nature may be supposed to know better than we do; and the efforts of man to check her have been often foolish and mostly ineffective. Yet the Californian and the Australian, crudely selfish as some of their arguments may appear, seem to be right in believing that a large influx of Chinese labour would mean the reduction of the standard of life, and with that the standard of leisure and mental cultivation, among their artisan class. The Chinaman, though he does only two-thirds of the work of a white navvy, does it for half the white man's wage, so that his competition would in time lower the scale of wages by that margin which means comfort and ease to the worker. Add to this consideration the evils already described which the presence of an alien and politically untrained element breeds in a democratic community, and we may pause before condemning the policy the Americans and Australians have adopted. Each case must be judged on its own merits. But there are cases in which the exclusion of the Backward race seems justified, in the interests of humanity at large, by the consideration that to admit that race would involve more of loss to the higher race than of gain to the lower.

Where the contact already exists, a further question arises: Can the evils incident to it be mitigated through leading the Advanced and the Backward races to blend by intermarriage, a method slow but sure, and one by which many nations have been brought to unity and strength out of elements originally hostile? This is a question which Nature usually answers, settling the matter by the attractions or repulsions she implants. Yet legislation may so far affect it as to make it deserve to be pondered by those who are confronted by such a problem.

We have already noted that races which are near one another in physical aspect and structure tend to mix, and that the race produced by their mixture is equal or superior to either of the progenitors.

We have also noted that where races are dissimilar in aspect, and especially in colour, one at least is generally repelled by the other, so that there is little admixture by intermarriage. This is more plainly the case as regards whites (especially North European whites) and blacks than it is as regards other races.

We have further been led to conclude, though more doubtfully, for the data are imperfect, that the mixture of races very dissimilar, and especially of European whites with blacks, tends rather to lower than to improve the resultant stock. That it should be lower than the higher progenitor seems natural. But does it show a marked improvement upon the inferior progenitor? May not the new mixed race stand, not halfway between the two parent stocks, but nearer the lower than the higher?

Should this view be correct, it dissuades any attempt to mix races so diverse as are the white Europeans and the negroes. The wisest men among the coloured people of the Southern States of America do not desire the intermarriage of their race with the whites. They prefer to develop it as a separate people, on its own lines, though of course by the help of the whites. The negro race in America is not wanting in intelligence. It is fond of learning. It has already made a considerable advance. It will cultivate self-respect better by standing on its own feet than by seeking blood alliances with whites, who would usually be of the meaner sort[9].

In India, some sections of the native population are equal in intellectual aptitude to their European rulers, and may pride themselves upon even longer traditions of intellectual culture. One cannot call this part of the population a Backward race. Yet it does not seem desirable that they and the whites should become fused by intermarriage; nor do they themselves appear to desire that result.

The matter ought to be regarded from the side neither of the white nor of the black, but of the future of mankind at large. Now for the future of mankind nothing is more vital than that some races should be maintained at the highest level of efficiency, because the work they can do for thought and art and letters, for scientific discovery, and for raising the standard of conduct, will determine the general progress of humanity. If therefore we were to suppose the blood of the races which are now most advanced to be diluted, so to speak, by that of those most backward, not only would more be lost to the former than would be gained to the latter, but there would be a loss, possibly an irreparable loss, to the world at large.

It may therefore be doubted whether any further mixture of Advanced and Backward races is to be desired. In some regions, however, that mixture seems probable. Brazil may see the Portuguese whites and the blacks blent into one after some centuries. The Spaniards of Central and South America (except perhaps Uruguay and Argentina, where there are very few natives, and Chile) may be absorbed into the Indian population, who will have then become a sort of Spaniards. In the Far East there may be a great mixing of Chinese and Malays, and in Central Africa a further mixture of the Sudanese Arabs with the negroes. But the Teutonic races, as well as the French, seem likely to keep their blood quite distinct from all the coloured races, whether in Asia, in Africa, or in America.

It remains to consider what can be done to minimize the evils and reduce the friction which are incident to the contact of an Advanced and a Backward race, and which may sometimes become more troublesome with the forward movement of the latter.

On the legal side of this question, one thing is clear. The Backward race ought to receive all such private civil rights as it can use for its own benefit. It ought to have as full a protection in person and property, as complete an access to all professions and occupations, as wide a power of entering into contracts, as ready an access to the courts, as the more advanced race enjoys. The only distinctions should be those which may be needed for its own defence against fraud, or to permit the continuance of the old customs (so far as harmless) to which it clings. This is the policy which the Romans followed in extending citizenship over their dominions. It has been followed with admirable consistency and success by the English in India, as well as by the French in Algeria, and by the Americans when they liberated the slaves during and after the Civil War. It has the two great merits of creating a respect for the lower race among the higher one, and of soothing the lower one by the feeling that in all that touches the rights of private life they are treated with strict justice.

When we pass to the sphere of politics more debatable questions emerge. Equality of rights might seem to be here also that which is fairest and most likely to make for unity and peace. But the Backward race may be really unfit to exercise political power, whether from ignorance, or from an indifference that would dispose it to sell its votes, or from a propensity to sudden and unreasoning impulses. The familiar illustration of the boy put to drive a locomotive engine might in some communities be no extreme way of describing the risks a democracy runs when the suffrage is granted to a large mass of half-civilized men.

Those who rule subject races on despotic methods, as the Russians rule Transcaucasia and the English India, or as the Hispano-American minorities virtually rule the native Indians in most of the so-called republics of Central and South America, do not realize all the difficulties that arise in a democracy. The capital instance is afforded by the history of the Southern States since the Civil War. Those States have passed through four stages. The first was that of leaving the political status of the coloured people to be dealt with by State laws, coupled with a measure of military authority. This proved unsatisfactory; so a second stage was ushered in by the grant to the coloured population of full political rights. Disorders and outrages on the negroes became frequent, which the State Governments, though based on negro suffrage, and the Federal army could not repress. After a time the Federal troops were withdrawn, and the white population regained control of the State Governments. The outrages diminished, but the coloured citizens were henceforth, in this third stage, prevented, at first chiefly by force, and afterwards chiefly by fraud, from exercising their right of suffrage. And now a fourth stage has arrived, in which several State Constitutions have been so altered as practically to exclude the vast majority of the negro voters, evading the amendment of 1870 to the Federal Constitution which was enacted for their benefit. These voters have now generally acquiesced in their position: and the political side of the question attracts less notice than the frequent cases in which negroes are lynched, sometimes with circumstances of hideous cruelty, for offences (not always proved) which excite peculiar horror.

The moral to be drawn from the case of the Southern States seems to be that you must not, however excellent your intentions and however admirable your sentiments, legislate in the teeth of facts. The great bulk of the negroes were not fit for the suffrage; nor under the American Federal system was it possible (without incurring other grave evils) to give them effective protection in the exercise of the suffrage. It would, therefore, have been better to postpone the bestowal of this dangerous boon. True it is that rocks and shoals were set thick round every course: true that it is easier to perceive the evils of a course actually taken than to realize other evils that might have followed some other course. Nevertheless, the general opinion of dispassionate men has come to deem the action taken in A.D. 1870 a mistake.

The social relations of two races which cannot be fused raise problems even more difficult, because incapable of being regulated by law. Law may attempt to secure equal admission to public conveyances or public entertainments. But the look of scorn, the casual blow, the brutal oath thrown at one who dare not resent it—these are injuries which cannot be prevented where the sentiment of the dominant race allows them. Impunity corrupts the ordinary man; and even the better sort suffer from the consciousness of their own superiority not merely in rank, but also in strength and volition. One must have lived among a weaker race in order to realize the kind of irritation which its defects produce in those who deal with it, and how temper and self-control are strained in resisting temptations to harsh or arbitrary action. It needs something more than the virtue of a philosopher—it needs the tenderness of a saint to preserve the same courtesy and respect towards the members of a backward race as are naturally extended to equals.

Where ordinary virtue fails, one may ask,—Why does not religion come in to bridge the gulf between two races, both of whom, as in the Southern States, worship the same God? Christianity has proclaimed in the most solemn and exalted terms the absolute equality and brotherhood of all men. 'There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all and in all.' The precepts Christianity delivers might have been expected to soften the feelings and tame the pride of the stronger race. It must, however, be admitted that in all or nearly all the countries where white men and black men dwell together, Christianity, though it has brought from without not only devoted missionaries but such a band of noble and self-sacrificing women as went after the war to the Southern States to teach the newly liberated negroes, has failed to impress the lesson of human equality and brotherhood upon the whites established in the country. Their sense of scornful superiority resists its precepts. This seems the more strange when one remembers how successful Islam has been in creating a sentiment of equality in those who obey it. The common faith of Muslims not only unites them against all who stand outside, but extinguishes distinctions of personal status among them, softening slavery, and making the free negro the equal of Arab or Persian or Turk. To what causes is this difference between the influence of the two great faiths to be ascribed? Can one of those causes be that Christianity achieved less because it aimed at more? It said, 'Love your fellow man, for God is his Father and your Redeemer died for him.' Islam said, 'Recognize as an equal every one who worships God and acknowledges His Prophet.' Christians, of course with many noble exceptions, have failed to rise to the level of the higher teaching, while Muslims have risen to the level of the lower.

It is worth remarking that in respect if not of their practical treatment of the Backward races, yet of their attitude towards them, Roman Catholics have been more disposed to a recognition of equality than have Protestants. The Spaniard is the proudest of mankind. He treated the aborigines of the New World as harshly as ever the Teutonic peoples have done. But he does not look down upon, nor hold himself aloof from, the negro or the Indian as the Teutons do. May this be partly owing to the powers of the Catholic priesthood and the doctrine of Transubstantiation? An Indian or a negro priest—and in Mexico the priests are mostly Indians—is raised so high by the majesty of his office that he lifts his race along with him.

The tremendous problem presented by the Southern States of America, and the likelihood that similar problems will have to be solved elsewhere, as, for instance, in South Africa and the Philippine Isles, bid us ask, What should be the duty and the policy of a dominant race where it cannot fuse with a backward race? Duty and policy are one, for it is equally to the interest of both races that their relations should be friendly[10].

The answer seems to be that as regards political rights, race and blood should not be made the ground of discrimination. Where the bulk of the coloured race are obviously unfit for political power, a qualification based on property and education might be established which should permit the upper section of that race to enjoy the suffrage. Such a qualification would doubtless exclude some of the poorest and most ignorant whites, and might on that ground be resisted. But it is better to face this difficulty than to wound and alienate the whole of the coloured race by placing them without the pale of civic functions and duties.

As regards social relations, law can do but little save in the way of expressing the view the State takes of how its members should behave to one another. Good feeling and good manners cannot be imposed by statute. The best hope lies in the slow growth of a better sentiment. When the educated sections of the dominant race have come to realize how essential it is to the future of their country that the backward race should be helped forward and rendered friendly, their influence will by degrees filter down through the masses of the people and efface the scorn they feel for the weaker race. The philosopher may say, 'Let who will make the laws if I make the manners'; for where manners are wholesome, the laws will be just, and will be justly administered. Manners depend upon sentiment, and sentiment changes slowly. Still it changes. It has changed as regards torture. It has changed as regards slavery.

Let me sum up the conclusions to which we have been led:

The races of mankind have been and are being reduced in number by Extinction, by Absorption, and by Admixture.

The races that remain, fewer in number, but nearly every one of them larger, are being brought into a closer contact with one another, and the lower races are being raised in the arts of life, in knowledge, and in intelligence.

The various races may, if friendly, help one another, more than ever before, and so accelerate the progress of the world.

But closer contact and the increase of population bring with them a more severe economic struggle for life between races, and may bring hostile conflicts, in which the Backward races may prove less conspicuously weaker than heretofore.

What can be done to mitigate antagonism and to reduce the risks of collision?

A larger philosophy may do much. A deeper and more earnest faith, which should strive to carry out in practice that sense of human brotherhood which Christianity inculcates, might do still more.

In dealing with the topic which has occupied us to-day, I have proceeded upon the basis of the conditions which now actually prevail in the world. But, before closing, a word or two needs to be said as to the changes in those conditions which may come about within the next few generations, and which may materially affect the existing relations of races, by making their contact, especially in the tropics, either more or less general and close than it is now. I will mention a few of these possible changes.

The power of white races to work and to multiply in tropical countries may be increased by discoveries in medical science extinguishing or providing more effective remedies for certain diseases. The recent expulsion of yellow fever from Cuba by the American physicians and officers opens a wide and interesting field of hope. So, too, the rate of the increase or decrease of population among races inhabiting countries into which they have recently come may rise or fall. The South European races may be found capable of settling North Africa or parts of the torrid zone; some of the tropical races may maintain their prolific quality in climates more severe than they have hitherto known.

Scientific discovery and mechanical inventions may enable the forces of Nature to be more effectively and cheaply used to supersede manual labour in countries hitherto deemed too hot for white men to work in, and may thus increase the afflux of white work-people to those countries.

Some of the races now deemed backward may show a capacity for intellectual and moral progress greater than they have been credited with. The differences between them and the advanced races lie not so much in intelligence as in force of will and tenacity of purpose. How far these latter qualities can be developed with a developing intellect is still doubtful, for the future will bring new opportunities.

The present system of great States and the desire of such States to acquire and rule territories beyond their national limits may not be permanent factors. That the chief world-languages will extend their range, that the number of nationalities will diminish, that the population of such countries as Britain, Germany, and Italy will continue, for a good while to come, to spread out into new lands, and that a keen commercial rivalry between producing countries will continue—these things may perhaps be assumed. But it is not safe to assume that the process by which the huge political aggregates we now see have been built up during the last few centuries will also continue. Causes may even be imagined which would break up existing nations into smaller political units.

Questions relating to the future of the great religions lead us into a still vaster and still darker field of uncertainty, a field in which forces reign whose action we can neither calculate nor foretell. Conceive what a difference it might make if Islam were within two centuries to disappear from the earth! The thing is not impossible: perhaps not even improbable.

I have sought to call your attention to a great secular process in the history of the world, a process the steps in which are reckoned by centuries, and whose magnitude transcends the political or commercial questions that claim our thoughts from day to day. It is a process which has now entered a critical phase, and we see opening before us a long vista in which there appear possibilities of an immense increase in the productive powers of the earth and man, possibilities also of trouble and strife between races now being brought into a closer and more general contact. As always, elements of peril are balanced by elements of hope. The sentiment of race-pride, the keenness of race-rivalry, have been intensified. But the sense of a common humanity has grown stronger. When we think of the problems which are now being raised by the contact of races, clouds seem to hang heavy on the horizon of the future; yet light streams in when we remember that the spirit in which civilized States are preparing to meet those problems is higher and purer than it was when, four centuries ago, the great outward movement of the European peoples began.

  1. I omit the negro element, as it is really a different nation, dwelling beside or among but not intermingled with the white nation.
  2. Where other conspicuous physical dissimilarities are found there is always a difference, and usually a marked difference, in colour also.
  3. Accurate statistics on such a matter are of course unattainable: I give the impression which I derived on the spot from the best data I could find.
  4. Perhaps it may be thought to have done so in the case of the Spaniards and the Moriscoes, or as between Muslims and the Persian Fire-Worshippers.
  5. So in the East as also in Russia and Rumania the Jews remain distinct.
  6. Whether the character of the male parent tends in such cases to prevail does not appear to have been definitely ascertained.
  7. This subject of race-mixture is one of extreme interest with regard to which, so far as I know, comparatively few data for positive conclusions exist. It deserves to be fully investigated by men of science. The difficulties are obvious, because the concomitant and perturbing conditions are so numerous.
  8. Except, as already observed, in the Near East and in China
  9. Intermarriage is forbidden by law in all the old Slave States.
  10. New Zealand seems to have handled the problem of its Maori population with remarkable success. The Maoris have received political rights, and are at present on friendly terms with the whites. They are represented in both houses of the legislature. It is however to be observed that they are comparatively few in number (though now increasing), that they live pretty much by themselves on their own reserved lands, and that they are a race which has always inspired respect.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1922, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.