Popular Science Monthly/Volume 32/January 1888/Race and Language
|RACE AND LANGUAGE.|
ETHNOLOGY has been defined, briefly, as "the science of the races of men," and, more fully, as "the science which treats of man as a member of a tribe or nation, and of his culture, morals, and language." Many treatises on this science have been given to the world by scholars of the first eminence, from the days of Camper and Blumenbach to our own time. But, when we examine their works, we are struck by the fact that no two of them are agreed on the mere elements or fundamentals of the science. If we inquire, for example, the number of the races of men, we find that Virey is satisfied with two, and Cuvier with three—that Linnæus makes four, Blumenbach five, Buffon six, Peschel seven, Agassiz eight, Pickering eleven, Friedrich Müller twelve, Bory de St. Vincent fifteen—while Morton increases the number to twenty-two, Crawford to sixty, and Burke to sixty-three. If we seek the criteria by which the races are distinguished, we discover that one high authority proposes the color of the skin, another the texture of the hair, another the shape of the skull, and a fourth mere geographical location—while others combine with one or more of these distinctions the minor characteristics (as they deem them) of language, stature, and mental traits. On the most important question of all, the question whether the races of men are distinct species or simply varieties, the votaries of the science are divided into opposing camps. In the latest works of the most distinguished anthropologists, we find the views of the monogenists and the polygenists as far apart and as decided as they were fifty years ago.
The question naturally arises whether a study which has no established principles and no accepted classification can rightly be dignified with the name of a science. Writers whose opinion on such a question must be received with respect have been inclined to answer it in the negative. Eminent among these, from the position which he holds, must be ranked the distinguished chief of the American Bureau of Ethnology. "There is," declares Major Powell, in a late number of "Science" (June 24, 1887), "a science of anthropology, composed of subsidiary sciences," which he enumerates. "There is," he continues, "a science of sociology, which includes all the institutions of mankind; there is a science of philology, which includes the languages of mankind; and there is a science of philosophy, which includes the opinions of mankind; but there is no science of ethnology, for the attempt to classify mankind in groups has failed on every hand."
No one who reviews the latest works on this subject can deny that the opinion which Major Powell thus expresses, with a conscientious frankness that does him honor, is fully justified by their contents. And it should be added that he has not been the only one, or the first, to express this opinion. Among those who have written on this subject, no one has achieved a higher reputation than Oscar Peschel, whose too early death deprived the world of a master in this branch of study. In his well-known work on "The Races of Men and their Geographical Distribution"—a work unsurpassed for wide research and acute insight—he passes in review all the physical traits which have been proposed as means of race-distinction, and finds them all insufficient. He concludes his chapter on the subject in terms as decided as those of Major Powell. "In summing up," he says, "we must needs confess that neither the shape of the skull nor any other portion of the skeleton has afforded distinguishing marks of the human races; that the color of the skin likewise displays only various gradations of darkness; and that the hair alone comes to the aid of our systematic attempts, and even this not always, and never with sufficient decisiveness. Who, then," he adds, "can presume to talk of the immutability of racial types? To base a classification of the human race on the character of the hair only, as Haeckel has done, was a hazardous venture, and could but end as all other artificial systems have ended."
If all artificial systems of classifying human races have ended in failure, shall we renounce all attempts at such classification, and affirm that there is no such science as ethnology? Or shall we endeavor to discover some natural method by which the numerous varieties that we all recognize in the populations of the globe can be clearly and positively distinguished and classified? We have a notable example set before us in the history of another science, which from a crude and hopeless chaos—made by centuries of the acutest study and observation only more confused, irrational, and perplexing—was suddenly, by a single discovery, transformed into one of the clearest, most regular, and most fruitful of sciences. When Aristotle pronounced that all substances were derived from four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, the science of chemistry may be said to have been as far advanced as was that of ethnology when Linnæus made his four divisions of humankind into the white European, the brown Asiatic, the red American, and the black African. Nearly twenty-two centuries passed from the time of Aristotle before Lavoisier, Berthollet, Gay-Lussac, and, above all, Dalton, discerned the true physical elements and their modes of combination, and thus made chemistry a science.
Many scholars have sought to find in language the basis of a natural classification of the races of men. Their attempts have thus far been frustrated by various causes. One of these has been the ignorance which has until lately prevailed in regard to the number and true character of the existing linguistic stocks. It is not very long since most philologists seemed unable to extend their views beyond the Aryan, Semitic, and Chinese families of speech. All other idioms were looked upon as little better than formless gabbles, unworthy of serious study. Duponceau, the father of American philology, was the first to bring to the notice of scholars the important fact that among the languages of America there are some which in happiness of construction and in power of expression deserve to rank as high as the Indo-European tongues, and far higher than the Chinese or even the best of the Semitic languages. His assertions, though confirmed by abundant evidence, were long in overcoming the earlier prejudices. But they are now accepted by the highest authorities. More than fifty years after the date of Duponceau's first treatise, Professor Max Müller expressed his surprise that "this most tempting and promising field of philological research has been allowed to lie almost fallow in America—as if these languages could not tell us quite as much of the growth of the human mind as Chinese or Hebrew or Sanscrit." And to emphasize his meaning he adds: "To my mind the structure of such a language as the Mohawk is quite sufficient evidence that those who worked out such a work of art were powerful reasoners and accurate classifiers." Not less decided is the opinion expressed by Professor Whitney, in his "Life and Growth of Language," concerning the Algonkin speech. "There are," he writes, "infinite possibilities of expressiveness in such a structure; and it would only need that some native-American Greek race should arise, to fill it full of thought and fancy, and to put it to the uses of a noble literature, and it would be rightly admired as rich and flexible, perhaps, beyond anything else that the world knew." Nor is it only in America that languages of this superior quality are found. Dr. R. N. Cust, in his work on the "Modern Languages of Africa," has given us the opinions expressed by the able French and English and American missionaries and grammarians who have written on the remarkable Mpongwe language, spoken on the western coast of that continent, near the equator. They speak, with one accord, of its "beauty and capability," its "elaborate structure and musical tone," its "regularity, exactness, and precision," its "order and philosophical arrangement," and especially its "wonderful capacity for conveying new ideas," making it needless for the missionaries to borrow foreign words in their biblical translations.
It is true that the objectors, though partially silenced by such authorities, are not altogether convinced. There is still an objection occasionally urged, founded not on fact but on an error in reasoning. The Iroquois, Algonkins, and Mpongwes, we are reminded, are barbarous peoples, and can only have barbarous languages; which is about as philosophical as it would be to affirm that barbarous tribes must necessarily have barbarous complexions, barbarous hair, and barbarous lungs. Careful comparison of all the known facts will show that the structure and capabilities of a language depend entirely on the natural capacity of the people with whom it originated, and not at all upon their degree of culture. Are we to forget that our own Teutonic and Celtic ancestors were barbarians?
Another difficulty, and perhaps the greatest which has stood in the way of the linguistic classification, has been that wbich has arisen from the mixture of races. The negroes of the Southern States and of the West Indies speak not African, but Indo-European languages. Berbers in North Africa speak Arabic. Iberians in Spain speak a Latin tongue. Black and woolly-baired tribes in Melanesia speak Malaisian dialects. Throughout the globe these transfusions and comminglings of language and race have been going on for ages. How, then, can we employ as a means of distinction an element, like the linguistic, which is continually varying?
The answer to this objection is plain and conclusive. It is precisely the same answer that a chemist (to revert to our former comparison) would give to a similar objection. "How can your pretended elements," be might be asked, "be made the foundation of a science, when they are constantly occurring in new combinations and strange forms, where they can not be recognized? Your oxygen and hydrogen gases, put together, become a liquid in which no quality of either can be traced. Your carbon is at one time a diamond, and at another time a coal. Do you really mean to offer these constantly-varying substances as the first elements and bases of a science?" "Certainly I do," he would reply; "and it is in these very combinations and changes of form that a careful analysis has found the clearest evidences and the true value of our science."
Such is exactly the answer of the ethnologist. Analyze carefully the dialects, nominally English, French, or Spanish, which are spoken by the negro populations of America, and we find in them the best possible evidence of the origin of the people who speak them. We find the European words presented in a corrupt state, broken, distorted, often hardly recognizable, the pronunciation strange, the grammar peculiar. Looking still more carefully, we find many words of African origin scattered through the speech. If history were silent, these facts alone would satisfy us that there is here a combination of languages, of which we could detect the various origins. A further experience would show us that in every such case, where a mixture of language exists, there has been invariably a mixture of blood. Whenever a negro or Indian community speaks a dialect which is mainly English or French or Spanish, we may be certain that there is in that community a considerable infusion of English or French or Spanish blood. And though, in such a mingling, the blood of one race and the language of another may preponderate, yet even this fact is not perplexing. Apart from history, the speech alone, rightly studied, will indicate with sufficient clearness the origin and the circumstances of the mixture.
A striking and indeed crucial test of the decisive value of language in ethnological classification is found in the case of Madagascar. In seeking the origin of its inhabitants we should naturally turn first to Africa; and there, in fact, we find, among the Nubians and the Hamitic tribes of the eastern coast, people bearing sufficient resemblance in shape, features, complexion, and hair, to the natives of Madagascar, to warrant the opinion of their relationship, in the absence of any stronger evidence to the contrary. Remembering, however, that the Arabians in early times had much intercourse with the great African island, we turn to their country and find in the tribes of Yemen a similar resemblance. We then, perhaps, consider how readily the swarthy and curly-haired Dravidians of Southern Hindostan might have found their way to Madagascar, with the help of the northeast monsoon. To decide from which of these probable sources the ancestors of the Madagascar natives were derived, we have recourse to their language; and we ascertain, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they were neither Africans nor Arabians nor Dravidians, but Malays. To reach their new abode they had to cross the entire width of the Indian Ocean, a distance of three thousand miles. This origin is a fact which no ethnologist now thinks of questioning; and the only decisive evidence to establish it is the language of the islanders. It is true, that when we have ascertained this fact by the linguistic evidence, we find ample material in the character and customs of the people to confirm it; but without the positive test of language this subsidiary evidence would be altogether insufficient as proof of such derivation. No one who considers the case of Madagascar can reasonably doubt that in language, and language only, resides the true distinction of races.
From the great number and the marked peculiarities of the linguistic stocks of this continent, America may be considered to offer by far the best field for the study of scientific ethnology. This fact was early apparent to that remarkable group of philologists, among whom Duponceau, Gallatin, and Pickering were the most conspicuous, who fifty years ago laid the foundation of American ethnology, basing it entirely on language. Albert Gallatin, applying to the study of linguistics the penetrating sagacity which had resolved the most intricate questions of national diplomacy and finance, framed on this basis his great work, the "Synopsis of the Indian Tribes east of the Rocky Mountains," which, published in 1836, still remains the highest authority on the subject. Later investigators have followed in the same line. Hayden, in his "Ethnography and Philology of the Indian Tribes of the Missouri Valley"; Dall, in his treatises on the "Tribes of Alaska and of Washington Territory"; Powers, in his "Tribes of California"; Stoll, in his "Ethnography of Guatemala"; and Gatschet, in his account of the "Southern Families of Indians," have all been inevitably led to the linguistic classification as the only scientific method. The greatest of living historians has given to this method the weight of his authority. The latest revision of Bancroft's "History of the United States" (1887) comprises a succinct but minutely accurate enumeration of the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. He finds that there is "no method of grouping them into families but by their languages"; and he has accordingly named and classed the various groups according to their linguistic relations, as fixed by the best authorities. But the profoundest scholar can not be complete in all specialties. It did not occur to the illustrious historian that the distinction of language was significant of a similar distinction in character and customs; and thus, in his subsequent general description of the Indians, he has, like many other writers, been induced to ascribe to them common usages and traits to a greater extent than the facts will fairly warrant. It is true that similar surroundings, together with close intercourse continued for ages, had made a certain superficial resemblance among the various groups of American aborigines within the earlier limits of the United States; but more careful inquiry discloses the radical unlikeness, as decided in many other characteristics as in language. It was inevitable that a special acquaintance with the tribes of the far extended Algonkin family, with which the English colonists were first and longest in contact, should have colored all their ideas of the Indians. Thus the native habitation which Bancroft describes with his usual graphic clearness—but ascribing it to all the tribes—was simply the slight and temporary shelter of the restless Algonkin rovers. "With long poles fixed in the ground, and bent toward each other at the top, covered with birch or chestnut bark, and hung on the inside with embroidered mats, having no door but a loose skin, no hearth but the ground, no chimney but an opening in the roof, the wigwam was quickly constructed and as easily removed." Widely unlike this flimsy Algonkin tent was the permanent "long-house" of the Huron-Iroquois towns—a regularly-framed dwelling, having firm sidewalls and raftered roof, and sometimes extended to the length of a hundred feet, the capacious habitation of many families. Utterly unlike both of these was the original dwelling of the Dakota race, as seen among the Mandans and Minnetarees, a spacious semicircular structure, partly sunk in the ground, strongly framed and roofed with timber, and covered thickly with earth.
In their religious beliefs the Indians of the several stocks differed as widely from one another as the Arabs differ from the Hindoos, or the Malays from the Japanese. The principal divinity of the Algonkin tribes, known under various names, Glooskap among the Penobscots and Micmacs of the far east, Nanabush and Manabosho among the Delawares and Ojibways, Napiu (the Old One) among the Blackfeet of the Northwestern plains, is everywhere the same, and is certainly one of the strangest creations of any mythology—a sort of Jupiter-Scapin, half god and half buffoon, who could only have originated among a people in whom the sense of mirthfulness was stronger than the spirit of reverence. Of a totally different character is the grand tutelary deity of the grave Huron-Iroquois people, known as Taron-hiawagon (Holder of the Heavens), or Rawenniyo (our Great Master)—a deity nobler in character and attributes than any of the Aryan divinities. Singularly unlike both the Algonkin and the Iroquois mythologies is that of the fanciful and intensely religious Dakotas, as we find it described in the excellent work of the Rev. S. R. Riggs, "The Bible among the Dakotas." No more remarkable set of deities, and no more surprising contrast to those of their nearest neighbors, the light-hearted Ojibways, could well be imagined than these extraordinary beings—the Oon-ktay-he, or gods of "vital energy"; the Takoo-shkan-shkan, or "moving god," who is "too subtile to be perceived by the senses," who "is everywhere present," who "exerts a controlling influence over instinct, intellect, and passion"; and the Ha-yo-ka, or "anti-natural god," with whom all things work by the rule of contrary—to whom joy seems grief, and misery brings joy—who shivers in summer and swelters in winter—to whom good is evil, and evil is good. Equally evident to any close observer, but too numerous to be now described, are the wide differences in modes of government, in social systems, and in domestic habits among the Indian communities belonging to the different stocks. Finally—or perhaps it should be said, primarily—each stock has its own psychology, or special traits of intellect and character, of which language, religion, government, and social usages are the natural and necessary manifestations.
We conclude, then, that the true elements and bases of ethnological science are found in linguistic stocks. The number of these is not yet fully ascertained, but is probably not less than three hundred, of which the greater portion belong to the Western Hemisphere. The origin of these stocks is a much-disputed question; but every theory which has been proposed respecting it recognizes the fact that the tribe or people who first spoke the mother-tongue of each stock must have had a common origin, and must have been for a considerable time isolated from all other tribes. During this long period of early isolation, not only was a language formed distinct in vocabulary and grammar from all others, but a peculiar mental and moral character was developed. Each stock had also its special religion, a fact, in America, now recognized by the most experienced observers. Of course, there has been a great mixture of religions, as there has been a great mixture of languages. Most of the Aryan nations, outside of Hindostan, have adopted some form of the Semitic religion; and most of the Dravidian tribes in the south of India have adopted an Aryan religion; but these changes do not prevent us from recognizing the fact that the Aryan, Semitic, and Dravidian religions were originally distinct.
Language, character, and religion do not alone distinguish an original stock. While these characteristics were forming, others not less important were developed. In ea-'-h stock there was a peculiar social organization, suited to the character and circumstances of the people. Each stock had its own frame of society and government, its own modes of life, and its own industrial and decorative arts. It will, of course, be understood that along with the differences arising from this separate origin there would be resemblances, springing from similarity of circumstances and from the common principles of the human character and intellect. This truth has been well expressed by Professor Putnam, in his recent essay on "Conventionalism in Ancient American Art." "There is now," he remarks, "sufficient evidence to show that the artistic powers of man, like the languages, were developed in distinct centers, from primitive forms of expression, which had necessarily principles in common." We know, also, that arts and institutions are much more readily adopted from other communities than languages; but skilled and scientific observers, like Putnam, Brinton. Mason, Gushing, Dall, Boas, and the many other able investigators who, on our continent, are now engaged in this research, will usually be able to detect these transferences, and to trace back each invention to its peculiar center.
The assertion which is often made, that language is more variable than physical traits, does not stand the test of facts. Language varies little, if at all, through the influences of climate, while physical characteristics—color, hair, stature, and the like—vary widely and rapidly from this cause. The Aryan languages, from Hindostan to Iceland, are radically the same; but the physical differences in the people who speak them are very great. It may be said that these differences are due to minglings with other races, which to a certain extent is doubtless true; but the striking and significant fact remains that the complexion varies throughout very closely in accordance with the climate. The physical differences among the widely-scattered tribes of the Malayo-Polynesian family, from Madagascar to Hawaii, are far more strongly marked than the differences in their dialects. In Africa, the tribes of the Hamitic family, speaking allied languages, vary notably with the climate. The Gallas and Somalis, near the equator, have dark-brown skins and frizzly hair, while their kindred, the Berbers of North Africa, have, in the plains, olive complexions and wavy brown or black hair—and in the mountain valleys, where the climate reminds one of Germany, often display fair skins and reddish or blonde hair, which take our thoughts back to the same country. Here, too, admixtures of negro. Vandal, and other races have been needlessly suggested, to account for facts which the differences of climate sufficiently explain.
But we have examples before our eyes. The differences which have been caused solely by climate, in two or three centuries, between Anglo-Americans and Englishmen, and between Spanish-Americans and Spaniards, are certainly much greater than the differences of language. In Australia, while the language remains unaltered, two generations have sufficed to give rise to a distinct variety of the English "breed of men." It is somewhat surprising that with these examples in full view, and with the many like instances which have been accumulated by Pritchard, Darwin, Quatrefages, and other writers—and in face, too, of the well-known facts that the Semitic, the Chinese, and the Aryan tongues have remained radically unaltered for thousands of years—the delusive notion should still be entertained that physical traits are more permanent than language.
Those who deny the necessary connection of race and language argue that an individual can not change the physical traits which show his origin, while be can, and often does, change his language. But it should be remembered that an individual never thus adopts a new language unless when residing among the people who speak it, and among whom, if be remains and has descendants, these must become intermingled and absorbed. In like manner a community, as has been shown, never adopts a new language except under the direct pressure of a stronger population, with which it ultimately becomes united in one people of mixed blood. If, in this mingled race, one element is much stronger than the other, the weaker element is finally absorbed, leaving perhaps little or no apparent trace, either in the language or the aspect of the population. If both elements are strong, the aspect of the people and the form of the language alike show evidence of the mixture. The fact, therefore, remains that language is the indication, and the only sure indication, of the origin of a community.
But how, then, it may be asked, are we to determine the position of those prehistoric populations, of whom such remarkable traces have been brought to light—the "river-drift men," the "cave men," the lake-dwellers, the mound-builders, the cliff-dwellers—whose languages are utterly unknown? The answer is, that this is a matter which belongs solely to anthropology, and in no manner to ethnology. Much can be learned, of the highest interest and importance, about the men of these vanished tribes—their form and stature, their arts, their mental capacity, their state of civilization; but the races, ethnologically speaking, to which they belonged, can not be ascertained, except by other data than those which we now possess. Whether they were Aryan, Iberian, Uralian, Semitic, Eskimo, Algonkin, Dakotan, Zuñi, Navajo, or whether they belonged, as Prof. Boyd Dawkins supposes of the river-drift men, to a race now utterly extinct, will never be known, unless, as in the case of the Assyrian mounds, some relics are discovered from which their speech can be ascertained. Until this is learned, their affiliations of race will be merely matter of conjecture; and conjecture is not science. As soon as the language is determined, the race will be known. The instant assent which every ethnologist will give to this assertion proves at once, without need of further argument, the truth of the proposition that language is the sole test of race. As the proper deductions from the foregoing facts and arguments, the following propositions are presented for the consideration of anthropologists:
1. The only sure and scientific method of grouping the tribes of men, to show their descent and affiliations, is by the evidence of language. The grouping of men by their languages constitutes the science of ethnology.
2. Ethnologically speaking, the terms "race" and "linguistic stock" are synonymous. The people of each linguistic stock, in their original and unmixed condition, are distinguished from those of other stocks by various peculiarities of physical traits and character, as well as of religion, customs, and arts. The physical differences may, in certain cases, be comparatively slight, as among the American aborigines, and the stocks of Central Africa; but to a practiced eye they are always apparent. When the differences in this respect between two stocks are slight, the inference is simply that, since those stocks originated, the climatic and other influences which affect the physical type have been nearly the same for both.
3. Whenever a mixture of races is indicated in any community by peculiarities of physical traits which can not be ascribed to climate or other natural causes, the language, on a careful analysis, will always show traces of a corresponding mixture; and, on the other hand, a mixture of languages belonging to different linguistic stocks is an invariable indication of a mixture of blood.
To sum up briefly our conclusions, a scientific treatise on ethnology will commence, like a treatise on chemistry, with the primary elements, which, as has been said, are the linguistic stocks. It will determine, as far as possible, the mother-tongue and the original geographical center of each stock. It will describe the moral and intellectual traits and the physical characteristics of the people. It will ascertain their mythology, their social system, their industries, and arts. It will trace their migrations, their interminglings with other septs, and the moral and physical changes caused by these wanderings and mixtures, and by climate, soil, food, manner of life, and all other influences. And finally, from ascertaining what has been, it will seek to determine what is to come, and to show us something of the future which the human species, in its various divisions, may expect to attain.
And this brings us to the important question of the practical value of the science. However highly we may think of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, the common judgment of mankind will require that every science which claims its attention and regard shall justify the claim by results, or, in the Baconian phrase, by its "fruit." What, then, have been the fruits of this science of what may be termed "linguistic ethnology," even in its present condition of imperfect development? We may take two notable examples; the one of the benefit it has yielded, the other of the penalty which has followed its neglect.
When the people of Hindostan, in the last century, came under the British power, they were regarded as a debased and alien race. Their complexion reminded their conquerors of Africa. Their divinities were hideous monsters. Their social system was anti-human and detestable. Suttee, thuggee. Juggernaut, all sorts of cruel and shocking abominations, seemed to characterize and degrade them. The proudest Indian prince was, in the sight and ordinary speech of the rawest white subaltern, only a "nigger." This universal contempt was retorted with a hatred as universal, and threatening in the future most disastrous consequences to the British rule. Then came an unexpected and wonderful discovery. European philologists, studying the language of the conquered race, discovered that the classic mother-tongue of Northern Hindostan was the elder sister of the Greek, the Latin, the German, and the Celtic languages. At the same time a splendid literature was unearthed, which filled the scholars of Europe with astonishment and delight. The despised Asiatics became not only the blood-relations, but the teachers and exemplars, of their conquerors. The revulsion of feeling on both sides was immense. Mutual esteem and confidence, to a large extent, took the place of repulsion and distrust. Even in the mutiny which occurred while the change was yet in progress, a very large proportion of the native princes and people refused to take part in the outbreak. Since that time the good-will has steadily grown with the fellowship of common studies and aims. It may fairly be affirmed, at this day, that the discovery of the Sanskrit language and literature has been of more value to England, in the retention and increase of her Indian Empire, than an army of a hundred thousand men.
In an opposite quarter the teachings of ethnology have been unhappily misunderstood and disregarded. The Celtic language is known to be, in the main, an Aryan speech, one of the sisters, as has just been said, of the Sanskrit, the Greek, and the German. But politicians have failed to heed the warning which philologists have given them, that the Celts themselves are a mixed race. Their language bears evidence of this fact, as clearly as the speech of Hispaniola. The broken and distorted vocables, the imperfect and irregular grammar, with many non-Aryan words, show plainly enough that an allophylian people have here adopted the tongue of Aryan intruders, with whom they have amalgamated. This aboriginal people, according to all the evidence we possess, was of Iberian blood; and what the Iberians were we know very well, from their history in Northern Spain and Southern France. Of all the European communities they have displayed the spirit of independence in the strongest degree. Their attachment to their "fueros," or communal rights, has been a steady and unquenchable flame. Under the most absolute of the Spanish sovereigns, their right of self-government was usually respected. Any infringement of it awoke indignation, which, if it smoldered for a time, was sure in the end to break out in a fury of rebellion. Such were the people whose national traits form the groundwork of the Celtic character, more especially in Ireland, where the aboriginal tribes were the strongest. A wise statesmanship, dealing with such a people, would, above all things, have sought to gratify their passion for local self-government and for personal independence. How utterly this sentiment has been disregarded, and with what deplorable consequences, the world knows too well. It would be easy to cite many other examples of the importance of ethnological teachings, shown alike when they are received and when they are rejected. But the ethnology which thus undertakes to teach must be the genuine science, which is based on the only sure foundation—that of language. Anything else which may style itself ethnology is a mere collection of empirical facts, leading to no assured conclusions—and, however entertaining and instructive in some , is not really entitled to the name of a science. The true ethnology, on the other hand, is a genuine science of the highest value. Every educated man should be familiar with its principles and their application. It is indispensable alike to the historian who would trace the past of a nation, and to the politician who in any capacity aspires to direct its future.
- This paper (under the title of "The True Basis of Ethnology") was read, in part, before the Section of Anthropology, at the last meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, when it called forth an interesting discussion. It is now presented in a fuller form, with additional evidence and arguments, which may answer some of the questions then raised.
- From a letter of Professor Max Müller to the writer, quoted in "The Iroquois Book of Rites" (1883), vol. ii of Brinton's "Library of Aboriginal American Literature."
- Against this comparison of the linguistic stocks with the chemical elements (which is offered, of course, merely as an illustration, and not as an exact parallel), it may be objected that, according to the latest theory, these elements are all merely allotropic forms of a single substance. But, in fact, if the truth of this theory should be established, it will only serve to make the force of the illustration still more striking. In a "vice-presidential address," on the "Origin of Languages," delivered before the section of Anthropology in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (and published in the "Proceedings" of the Association for 1886), I endeavored to show in what manner all the linguistic stocks have probably originated from a single primitive language. Both theories, it may be added, simply exemplify the tendency of science to trace back all varieties to unity.