Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/569

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
549
PHYSICAL CHARACTERS OF THE RACES.

you can convince yourself, as I have often done during my rides in the omnibus.

Judging by the crania that we possess, prognathism is characteristic of a population incontestably European which lives at the south of the Baltic, the Esthonians. This people is, furthermore, the remains of the most ancient race of Western Europe. It is this race, without doubt, which, mixing its blood with new-comers, has left in the midst of our great cities those indications of a prognathous race to which I have just referred.

After studying the cranium and face separately, we must examine the head in its ensemble. From this also we draw important characters. I will only mention one, which has a certain real value, but the signification of which some have exaggerated and falsified.

Camper, an anatomist of Holland, studied comparatively the Greek and Roman medallions and statues, and struck with the air of majesty, presented by the Greeks, gave for a reason that the facial angle was greater than in the Romans. This angle is formed by two lines which meet at the extremity of the front teeth, and of which one passes by the middle of the orifice of the ear, while the second is tangent to the forehead.

Pushing these researches much further, Camper believed that he discovered a regular decrease of the facial angle in the human race, so that he could characterize a race by its facial angle. Going further, and applying it to animals, he placed in a descending scale, man, monkeys, carnivora, birds, all characterized by smaller and smaller angles. Whence, to conclude that the facial angle measures, so to say, the intelligence, is but a step, which was taken without hesitation.

As this conclusion gives great interest to the measurement of the facial angle, many processes and many instruments have been proposed to obtain it with all possible exactitude. The goniometre, invented by my assistant M. Docteur Jacquart, attained this end better than any other.

Jacquart did not stop with making this instrument. He used it; and, in a beautiful work, he shows among other things that the right angle exists in the white race, contrary to what Camper believed; that we may observe it, without doubt, in intelligent persons, but who are, however, not sensibly superior to others whose angle is much less considerable. The facial angle cannot, then, be considered as measuring the intelligence, the reach of the mind.

M. Jacquart shows, besides, that, in the single population of Paris, the angular differences of which we are speaking are much more considerable than those that Camper regarded as characterizing races. He shows that here, again, there is from race to race that entanglement of characters which I have so many times pointed out. Yet, here as elsewhere, the average furnishes good characters to determine human groups.