Page:National Life and Character.djvu/45

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have been covered with a population of several millions, such as no modern European power would have attempted to displace. We may say even more certainly of the Red Indians, that if they had chosen to learn agriculture from the first European settlers, they would soon have been numerous enough to bar all progress to the West. The Indians of Mexico, of Central America, and of Peru, who had attained to this level were not exterminated, though they were treated for generations with the most atrocious cruelty. At this moment pure or half-caste Indians predominate in all the Spanish colonies that lie to the north of Chili, and their predominance is becoming more marked every year. Without wishing to deny or depreciate the fine qualities of a race that has produced such men as Juarez and Mejia, and the heroes who fought at Humaita, we may surely say that the Indians whom Cortez and Pizarro conquered were not civilised up to the level of modern Hindoos or Chinamen, and had not the physical stamina of the negro race. All the more remarkable is it that they have survived and multiply.

How far climate has co-operated in circumscribing the spread of the European race in America seems difficult to determine. We can hardly suppose it is accidental that the proportion of pure whites should be smallest in the tropical parts of America, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and largest in temperate latitudes. At the same time, considering the great flexibility of the human constitution, and the fact that whites can and do labour in Texas, in Mexico, and in the districts of the Lower Plate, we may probably say, that the character of the population of America has been determined more by the varying adaptability of its primitive races