Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/64

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Bounty, with their Polynesian wives, founded a small but not savage community on Pitcairn's Island.[1] The mixed Portuguese and native races of the East Indies and Africa lead a life below the European standard, but not a savage life.[2] The Gauchos of the South American Pampas, a mixed European and Indian race of equestrian herdsmen, are described as sitting about on ox-skulls, making broth in horns with hot cinders heaped round, living on meat without vegetables, and altogether leading a foul, brutal, comfortless, degenerate, but not savage life.[3] One step beyond this brings us to the cases of individual civilized men being absorbed in savage tribes and adopting the savage life, on which they exercise little influence for improvement; the children of these men may come distinctly under the category of savages. These cases of mixed breeds, however, do not show a low culture actually produced as the result of degeneration from a high one. Their theory is that, given a higher and a lower civilization existing among two races, a mixed race between the two may take to the lower or an intermediate condition.

Degeneration probably operates even more actively in the lower than in the higher culture. Barbarous nations and savage hordes, with their less knowledge and scantier appliances, would seem peculiarly exposed to degrading influences. In Africa, for instance, there seems to have been in modern centuries a falling off in culture, probably due in a considerable degree to foreign influence. Mr. J. L. Wilson, contrasting the 16th and 17th century accounts of powerful negro kingdoms in West Africa with the present small communities, with little or no tradition of their forefathers' more extended political organization, looks especially to the slave-trade as the deteriorating cause.[4]

  1. Barrow, 'Mutiny of the Bounty'; W. Brodie, 'Pitcairn's Island.'
  2. Wallace, 'Malay Archipelago,' vol. i. pp. 42, 471; vol. ii. pp. 11, 43, 48; Latham, 'Descr. Eth.,' vol. ii. pp. 492-5; D. and C. Livingstone, 'Exp. to Zambesi,' p. 45.
  3. Southey, 'History of Brazil,' vol. iii. p. 422.
  4. J. L. Wilson, 'W. Afr.,' p. 189.