Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/755

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733
CHINESE IMMIGRATION.

improving to the highest degree those suggestions which we have received from them.

As they have taught us many useful arts in the past, it is not improbable that we may learn from them still others in the future. But inventions may be adopted by those who wish them; customs are acquired by contact with those who practice them. Arts may be learned from a distance, or by the casual contact of travel, with equal certainty and greater safety than by a union of the societies. Inventions and arts are regulated in their distribution, rather as commerce is, by the laws of supply and demand, than by the involuntary influence of social contact.

The most complete account of the customs and institutions of the Chinese would but add to the testimony here presented of the wonderfully conservative character of their civilization. The development of a society from a single race, under one government, with constantly similar surroundings and but little subject to the influence of foreign races or nations, has produced a homogeneous society, which is constant in the repetition, for generation after generation, of the characters which marked it at its commencement.

The nations of the West, on the other hand, have developed, with ever-varying surroundings, and under the influence of various nations and races. We have our language from India, our alphabet from Phœnicia, and our religion from Israel. Our civilization bears the impress of the various peoples who have spread around the Mediterranean Sea, from the builders of the pyramids of Egypt to the Moorish philosophers of Cordova.

In government, the Chinese have always been well content with a monarchy; with the Aryan nations there has been an ever-increasing tendency to democracy. This difference of civilizations is made intelligible only by that theory which is an explanation also of the physical varieties of races. It is the effect of development through ages, under the influence of different environments. There is more than an analogy between this development of the civilization and the physical characters of a race. It is the same relation that exists between the mind and the brain; they can not be separated. The mental characters which determine the genius of a civilization are thus but a manifestation of the physical organization of the individuals composing the society. The characters of the civilization and of the physical organization must, therefore, be controlled by the operation of the same laws. A change in one is the cause or the effect of a change in the other.

The application of the law of heredity, that older characters are more constant than those of later development, we find is exemplified in the unparalleled persistence of the ancient habits and institutions of the Chinese; and to such a degree is this extended, that it seems an illustration of that persistence of characters, once beneficial, after