Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/March 1898/The Racial Geography of Europe: Urban Problems XIV

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(Lowell Institute Lectures, 1896.)




THE extreme fluidity of our heterogeneous population is impressed upon us by every phenomenon of social life here in America. We imagine the people of Europe, on the other hand, after scores of generations of stable habitation, to have settled themselves permanently and contentedly into place. This is an entirely erroneous assumption. As a matter of fact, they are almost as mobile as our own American types. There are two ways in which demographic crystallization may have taken place. A people may have become rigid horizontally, divided into castes, or social strata; or it may be geographically segregated into localized communities, varying in size all the way from the isolated hamlet to the highly individualized nation. Both of these forms of crystallization are breaking down to-day under the pressure of modern industrialism and democracy, in Europe as well as in America. Nor is it true that the recency of our American social life has made the phenomena of change more marked here than abroad. In fact, with the relics of the old régime on every hand, the present tendencies in Europe are the more startling of the two by reason of the immediate contrast. Demographic processes are at work which promise mighty results for the future. These are not cataclysmic, like the French Revolution; but being well-nigh universal, the fact that they are slow-moving should not blind us to their ultimate effects. Such movements threaten to break up, not only the horizontal social stratification, but the vertical geographical cleavage of locality and nationality as well. Obviously any disturbance of these at once involves destruction of the racial individuality of the continent at the same time. For this reason, many phases of social analysis appertain directly to the sphere of natural science. The anthropologist and sociologist alike are called upon to take cognizance of the same phenomena. The physical and social sciences are equally involved in the determination of their laws. Certain problems of city life are foremost among these questions, which lie on the border line between what were once widely separate sciences.[1]

The most conservative societies in Europe are really to-day a seething mass of moving particles, viewed with the statistical eye. To borrow a familiar figure, a great population almost anywhere is like the atmosphere; even when apparently most quiescent, in the sunlight of investigation, revealing itself surcharged with myriad motes in ceaseless agitation. These particles, microscopic or human, as the case may be, are swept along in currents, determined both in their direction and intensity by definite causes. With men, the impelling forces are reducible mainly to economic and social factors. Most powerful of these movements of population to-day is the constant trend from the rural districts to the city. Its origin is perfectly apparent. Economically it is induced by the advantages of co-operation in labor; perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say, by the necessity of aggregation imposed by nineteenth-century industrialism. This economic incentive to migration to the towns is strengthened by the social advantages of urban life, the attractions of the crowd; often potent enough in themselves, as we know, to hold people to the tenement despite the opportunity for advancement, expansion, or superior comfort afforded elsewhere outside the city walls. The effect of these two combined motives, the economic plus the social, is to produce a steady drift of population toward the towns. This has a double significance. It promises to dissolve the bonds of geographical individuality—nay, even of nationality; for a political frontier is no bar against such immigration, provided the incentive be keen enough. At the same time it opens the way for an upheaval of the horizontal or social stratification of population; since in the city, advancement or degradation in the scale of living is alike possible, as nowhere else in the quiet life of the country.

The sudden growth of great cities is the first result of the phenomenon of immigration which we have to note. We think of this as essentially an American problem. We comfort ourselves in our failures of municipal administration with that thought. This is a grievous deception. Most of the European cities have increased in population more rapidly than in America. Shaw has emphasized the same fact in his brilliant work on Municipal Government in Europe. This is particularly true of great German urban centers.[2] Berlin has outgrown our own metropolis, New York, in less than a generation, having in twenty-five years added as many actual new residents as Chicago, and twice as many as Philadelphia. Hamburg has gained twice as many in population since 1875 as Boston; Leipsic has distanced St. Louis. The same demographic outburst has occurred in the smaller German cities as well. Cologne has gained the lead over Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburg, although in 1880 it was the smallest of the four. Magdeburg has grown faster than Providence in the last ten years. Düsseldorf has likewise outgrown St. Paul. Beyond the confines of the German Empire, from Norway to Italy, the same is true. Stockholm has doubled its population; Copenhagen has increased two and one half times; Christiania has trebled its numbers in a generation. Rome has increased from 184,000 in 1860 to 450,000 in 1894. Vienna, including its suburbs, has grown three times over within the same period. Paris from 1881 to 1891 absorbed four fifths of the total increase of population for all of France within the same period.

Contemporaneously with this marvelous growth of urban centers, we observe a progressive depopulation of the rural districts. What is going on in our New England States, especially in Massachusetts, is entirely characteristic of large areas in Europe. Take Prance, for example. Most of us are aware of the distressing demographic condition of affairs in that country. One of the finest populations in Europe is almost at a standstill numerically; nay, some years show an actual decrease of population. This is not due to emigration abroad, for the French are notably backward in this respect. Nor can it be ascribed to a heavy mortality. The death rate has appreciably fallen during this century, in conformity with the great advances made in hygiene and sanitation. The marriage rate is lower than usual. Yet for some reason children do not come to cheer the land. The practical result is that Germany, the great political rival, seems destined to control the European military situation in future.[3] Such is the condition, viewing the country as a whole. Studying it in detail, the evil is still more magnified; for, with a stationary population for the entire country, the cities continue to grow, draining the life blood of the rural districts year by year, with ever-increasing vigor. The towns are absorbing even more than the natural increment of country population; they are drawing off the middle-aged as well as the young. Thus great areas are being actually depopulated. For example, in the decade from 1881 to 1891, the French cities of 30,000 inhabitants or over added to their respective numbers more than three times as many as the total increase of population for the entire country. Even their due proportion of the abnormally slow increase was denied to the rural districts; the ten years left them less densely populated than before. In 1846 almost half of the eighty-eight departments in France had a larger population than they have to-day. Paris alone, the metropolis, has, as we have already observed, absorbed four fifths of the entire increase of the land; the remainder was added to the other large cities in proportion to their size. The British Isles exemplify the same tendency. More than half of the English towns with populations over 25,000 are the product of this century. Sixty out of one hundred and five of these cities have arisen since 1825. This is, of course, due to the extension of the factory system in great measure. The same depopulation of the rural districts is noted. Ten rural counties in England and Wales alone have fewer inhabitants than in 1851. The fact is that western Europe is being gradually transformed into a huge factory town. It is being fed less and less from the products of its own territory. The wheat fields of the Americas, India, and Australia are contributing what formerly was raised by the peasantry at home. It is not surprising that the trend is toward the cities; were it even more marked it would be no marvel.

This growth of city populations has, then, taken place largely at the expense of the country. It must be so, for the urban birth rates are not enough in excess of the mortality, save in a few cases, to account for more than a small part of the wonderful growth which we have instanced. The towns are being constantly recruited from without. Nor is it an indiscriminate flocking city-ward which is taking place. A process of selection is at work on a grand scale. The great majority to-day who are pouring into the cities are those who, like the emigrants to the United States in the old days of natural migration, come because they have the physical equipment and the mental disposition to seek a betterment of their fortunes away from home. Of course, an appreciable contingent of such migrant types is composed of the merely discontented, of the restless, and the adventurous; but in the main the best blood of the land it is which feeds into the arteries of city life.

Another more certain mode of proof is possible for demonstrating that the population of cities is largely made up either of direct immigrants from the country or of their immediate descendants. Dr. Amnion, of Carlsruhe, in a most suggestive work which we have constantly cited in these pages,[4] has carefully analyzed in detail the populations of certain representative cities in Baden. In Carlsruhe and Freiburg, for example, he found that among the conscripts examined for military service an overwhelming proportion of the residents were either immigrants themselves or else the children of immigrants. Less than eight per cent, in fact, were the children of city-born parents—that is to say, were the outcome of three generations of continued urban residence. In a similar investigation of other German cities, Hansen found that nearly one half their residents were of direct country descent. In London it has been shown that over one third of its population are immigrants; and in Paris the same is true. For thirty of the principal cities of Europe it has been calculated that only about one fifth of their increase is from the loins of their own people, the overwhelming majority being of country birth. One direct result of this state of affairs is that cities as a rule contain more than their due proportion of middle-aged adults. They do not immigrate until they have attained majority; they do not marry till comparatively late in life, so that children and young persons form an unusually small percentage of the entire population. The aged, moreover, often betake themselves to the country after the stress of life is abated. They return to their place of birth, there to spend the last days in peace. These latter, together with those who are driven back to their homes by the fierce competitions of city life, constitute a certain feeble counter current of migration from the city outward. Yet this is insignificant compared with the inflowing tide. Thousands are yearly pouring into the towns, while those who emerge may be numbered by hundreds, perhaps even by scores. The fact is that the great majority of these immigrants either fall by the way: or else their line, lacking vitality, dwindling in numbers either through late marriages and few children, or else the opposite extreme of overproduction and abnormal mortality, comes to naught in a few generations. Thus the steady influx of immigration goes on. Truly, cities are, as has been observed, "consumers of population." Our problem here is to determine whether such consumption is being applied equally to all our racial types; if not, the future of Europe, ethnically, can not but be profoundly affected. The future character of European peoples will be largely determined by this circumstance. From the point of view of relative increase, the German nation is undoubtedly in the lead, especially as compared with the French. Equally important, however, is it to consider the relative destruction which is annually being waged. If, as is asserted, these prolific Teutons are pre-eminently a city type, and if thereby they lay themselves open to decimation, the future balance of power in Europe may not be so completely disturbed after all.

These various social phenomena have been most ably correlated in a rather suggestive broad-line sketch of a mode of social selection given by Hansen.[5] Basing his hypothesis upon data derived in the main from the cities of Germany, he distinguishes in any given population what he designates as three degrees of vital and psychic capacity respectively. The vitality is measured in each class by the ratio of the birth to the death rate. The first vitality rank consists of the well-to-do country people, leading a tranquil existence, healthy in mind and body, free alike from dread or aspiration. This class increases rapidly by birth, and loses relatively few by premature mortality. It has enough and to spare in numbers. Both country and city alike depend upon it for future growth. Below this is a second vitality rank, composed of the middle classes in the towns. Herein we find a somewhat lower birth rate; ambition and possibility of social advancement become effective in limiting the size of families. Coincident with this is a low death rate, owing to material comfort and a goodly intelligence. This class holds its own in numbers, perhaps contributes slightly to swell the census returns from year to year. Below this lies the third vitality rank, composed of the great mass of the urban populations, the unskilled labor and the poorer artisans. Here occur an abnormally high birth rate, little self-restraint, and, through ignorance and poverty, an inordinately high rate of mortality. This is the portion of the city population continually recruited from the country or through rejects from the superior classes—those, that is to say, who fail in the intense competition of the upper grades of society. Measured by vitality alone, it would appear that the first rank we have described—the average country population—were the ideal one. Applying, however, the tests of intellectual capacity, Hansen discovers curious cross-cleavages. For the country population is being continually drained of its best blood; those who are energetic or ambitious in the majority of cases leaving their homes to seek success in the city. Thus an intellectual residuum is left on the soil, representing merely the average intelligence; perhaps, if near a great metropolis, even falling below the normal in this respect. Those in their turn who emigrate to the towns are speedily sorted by inexorable fate. Some achieve success; the majority perhaps go to swell the other middle classes; or else, entirely worsted in the struggle, land in a generation or two in the lowest ranks of all. Thus a continual tide of migration becomes necessary to insure stability in numbers in the entire population. This ingenious scheme, too simple of course to be entirely correct, as Giddings has suggestively pointed out,[6] does nevertheless contain a germ of truth. Our problem is to test its applicability to modern conditions by a study of purely anthropological facts.

The first physical characteristic of urban populations, as compared with those of country districts, which we have to note, is their tendency toward that elongated shape of head which is characteristic of two of our principal racial types, the Teutonic and the Mediterranean respectively.

It seems as if for some reason the broad-headed Alpine race was distinctly a rural type. This we might have expected from the persistency with which it clings, as we have seen, all over Europe, to the mountainous or otherwise isolated areas. Thirty years ago an observer in the ethnically Alpine district of south central France noted an appreciable difference between town and country in the head form of the people.[7] In a half dozen of the smaller cities his observations pointed to a greater prevalence of the long-headed type than in the country round about. In the same year, in the city of Modena in Italy, investigations of the town and country populations, instituted for entirely different purposes, brought the same peculiarity to light.[8] These facts escaped notice, however, for about a quarter of a century. In entire ignorance of them, in 1889, a gifted young professor in the university at Montpellier in southern France, having for some years been occupied in outlining various theories of social selection, stumbled upon a surprising natural phenomenon.[9] On examination of a considerable series of skulls, dating from various periods in the last two hundred years, which had been preserved in crypts at Montpellier, he found that the upper classes, as compared with the plebeian population, contained a much larger percentage of long-headed crania. These crania of the aristocracy, in other words, seemed to conform much more nearly to the head form of the Teutonic race than those of the common people. Additional interest was awakened in the following year by the researches of Dr. Ammon, of Carlsruhe, who, working again in entire independence upon measurements of thousands of conscripts of the Grand Duchy of Baden, discovered radical differences here between the head form in city and country, and between the upper and lower classes in the larger towns.[10] Several explanations for this were possible. The direct influence of urban life might conceivably have brought it about, acting through superior education, habits of life, and the like. There was no psychological basis for this assumption. Another tenable hypothesis was that in these cities, situated, as we have endeavored to show, in a land where two racial types of population were existing side by side, the city for some reason exerted superior powers of attraction upon the long-headed race. If this were true, then, by a combined process of social and racial selection, Carlsruhe, Freiburg, Mannheim, and the other towns would be continually drawing unto themselves that tall and blond Teutonic type of population which, as history teaches us, has dominated social and political affairs in Europe for centuries. This suggested itself as the probable solution of the question; and investigations all over Europe during the last five years have been directed to the further analysis of the matter. This was not an entirely new discovery even for Germany; the same fact had been previously noted in Würtemberg, that the peasantry were noticeably rounder-headed than the upper classes,[11] Yet Amnion undoubtedly first gave detailed proof of its existence, basing it upon a great number of physical measurements; and he undoubtedly first recognized its profound significance for the future. To him belongs the honor of the discovery of the so-called "Amnion's law," that the Teutonic race betrays almost everywhere a marked penchant for city life. This is all the more surprising as Tacitus tells us that the ancient Germans, unlike the Italians, were strongly imbued with a hatred of communal existence. We have no time to give in detail all the evidence which has been accumulated in favor of its validity. The fact of greater frequency of the long-headed type in town populations, as compared with rural districts, has been established by Lapouge in a great number of investigations all through central and southern France[12] and in Brittany.[13] Collignon, foremost authority upon the physical anthropology of France, gives in his adherence to it as a general rule, finding it applicable to Bordeaux and nearly all the cities of the southwest.[14] It seems to hold true in Vienna, which with its suburbs forms a little islet of Teutonic long-headedness in Austria.[15] In northern Italy the long-headedness is quite universally more prevalent in all the cities, although the opposite is more often true south of Rome.[16] It is true of Paris and Lyons especially, the department of the Seine being well below the average for France and for the neighboring departments.[17] In Spain the only indication of the law is offered by Madrid, where nearly seven hundred conscripts have been measured in detail.[18] In this latter country, as in the British Isles,[19] and in southern Italy, as we have observed, everywhere in fact on the outskirts of Europe where the Alpine broad-headed race is but sparsely represented, we find the contrasts in head form between city and country absent in great measure. Observations on four hundred and eighty-seven American college students have not yielded me any differences in this respect. Only where the Alpine race forms an appreciable element in the population does "Ammon's law" appear to hold true.

The circumstance which we have mentioned, that only in those portions of Europe where the Alpine broad-headed type is strongly in evidence do we find a more prevalent long-headedness in the city populations, suggests a criticism upon the somewhat extravagant claims to the universality of "Ammon's law" made by ardent disciples of the school of so-called "anthropo-sociologists." It is this: City populations are the inevitable result of great intermixture of blood; they of necessity contain a hodge-podge of all the ethnic elements which lie within the territory tributary to them, which, in other words, lie within what Lapouge has aptly termed their "spheres of attraction."[20]As a whole, one should not expect to find the extreme individuality of type in the cities, which can persist alone in the isolated areas free from ethnic intermixture. If, as in Baden, in Brittany, or along the Rhône Valley, an extremely broad-headed type of population is localized in the mountains, as we know it is all over Europe; while along the rivers and on the seacoast are found many representatives of an immigrant Teutonic long-headed people; it would not be surprising that cities located on the border line of the two areas should contain a majority of human types intermediate between the two extremes on either side. These city populations would naturally be longer-headed than the pure Alpine race behind them in the mountains, and coincidently broader-headed than the pure Teutons along the rivers and on the seacoast. The experience of Italy is instructive. In this country the transition from a pure Alpine broad-headed population in the north to an equally pure and long-headed Mediterranean type in the south is perfectly regular, as our maps in the October (1897) number of this series have made manifest. It has been established that while the cities in the north are less broad-headed than the country, in mid-Italy no appreciable difference between the two exists; and in the south, the cities being ever nearer the mean for the country as a whole, actually contain fewer long-headed individuals than the rural districts. This consideration, which no statistician can fail to keep in mind, seems, however, to be insufficient to account for the entire phenomenon, especially north of the Alps. We are forced to the conclusion, in other words, that there is some mental characteristic of the long-headed race or types, either their energy, ambition, or hardiness, which makes them peculiarly prone to migrate from the country to the city; or else, what would compass the same result, a peculiar disinclination on the part of the broad-headed Alpine race of central Europe thus to betake itself to the towns. The result in either case would be to leave the fate of the urban populations to be determined more and more by the long-headed type.

A second mode of proof of the peculiar tendency of the long-headed type to gravitate toward the city is based upon the detailed study of individuals, tracing each person from his place of birth, or from generation to generation from the rural origin to the final urban residence. Dr. Ammon divided his conscripts into three classes: The urban, those whose fathers were of city birth, as well as themselves; the semi-urban, comprising those born in cities, but whose fathers were immigrants from the country; and, thirdly, the semi-rural class, who, born in the country, had themselves taken up an abode in the city. Comparing these three classes with those who were still domiciled in the country, a regularly increasing long-headedness was apparent in each generation. Lapouge and his disciples in France are now collecting much valuable information upon this point which can not fail to be suggestive when accumulated in sufficient amount. Everything goes to prove a slight but quite general tendency toward this peculiar physical characteristic in the town populations, or in the migratory class, which has either the courage, the energy, or the physical ability to seek its fortunes at a distance from its rural birthplace.

Is this phenomenon, the segregation of a long-headed physical type in city populations, merely the manifestation of a restless tendency on the part of the Teutonic race to reassert itself in the new phases of nineteenth-century competition? All through history this type has been characteristic of the dominant classes, especially in military and political, perhaps rather than purely intellectual, affairs. All the leading dynasties of Europe have long been recruited from its ranks. The contrast of this type, whose energy has carried it all over Europe, with the persistently sedentary Alpine race is very marked. A certain passivity, or patience, is characteristic of the Alpine peasantry. This is true all the way from northwestern Spain, where Tubino (1877) notes its degeneration into morosity in the peasantry, as far as Russia, where the great inert Slavic horde of northeastern Europe submits with abject resignation to the political despotism of the house of the Romanoffs. Ordinarily a negative factor in politics, always socially conservative, this race when once aroused becomes irresistible. As a rule, not characterized by the domineering spirit of the Teuton, this Alpine type makes a comfortable and contented neighbor, a resigned and peaceful subject. Whether this rather negative character of the Alpine race is entirely innate: or whether it is in part, like many of its social phenomena, merely a reflection from the almost invariably inhospitable habitat in which it has long been isolated, we may not pretend to decide.

The peculiar temperament of the Alpine population comes to the surface in political affairs, being attested by great conservatism. This reactionary instinct is in the long run far more common to all human nature, I believe, than is generally supposed; in the Alpine Celt it is developed or conserved, if you please, to a marked degree. Socially, the peculiarities of disposition we have mentioned are of even greater importance, as we sought to impress in our preceding article. In fact, the future of the type depends largely upon this circumstance. The most persistent attribute of the Alpine Celt is his extreme attachment to the soil, or, perhaps, better, to locality. He seems to be a sedentary type par excellence; he seldom migrates, except after great provocation; so that, once settled, he clings to his patrimony through all persecution, climatic or human. If he migrates to the cities, as does the "mobile" Teuton, he generally returns home to the country to spend his last days in peace. Such re-emigration of the Alpine type late in life is in fact offered by Collignon[21] as the main explanation for the prevalence of the long-headed variety in the towns to-day. He inclines to this view rather than to the theory that it is due to the greater number of the immigrant Teutons, as Ammon and Lapouge are disposed to maintain. At all events, whichever explanation be true, the fact that mental differences between our racial types exist, if they become accentuated with the ever-increasing pressure of civilization, can not but profoundly affect the future complexion of European populations. A phase of racial or social competition of such magnitude that we hesitate to predict its possible effects, is at once suggested.

Let us now for a moment take up the consideration of a second physical characteristic of city populations—viz., stature. Some interesting points are concerned herein. The apparently contradictory testimony in this respect becomes in itself highly suggestive, I think, for the student of social problems. A few of the older observers found that city populations sometimes surpassed those of the country in the average of bodily height. Thus Quetelet[22] and Villermé (1829) discovered such a superiority of stature in the Belgian cities, amounting to several centimetres. From this coincidence Quetelet derived a law to the effect that the superior advantages of urban residence were directly reflected in the physical development of the people. This hypothesis is now definitely disproved by all the data available. If there be a law at all in respect of average statures, it demonstrates rather the depressing effects of city life than the reverse. For example, Hamburg is far below the average for Germany;[23] Dunant (1867) finds it true in Geneva; Pagliani observed it in Turin. The city of Madrid contains almost the shortest male population in all Spain; only one province, Valladolid, standing slightly below it. Residents of its poorer quarters are absolutely the shortest in the entire peninsula.[24] All over Britain there are indications of the same law, that town populations are on the average comparatively short of stature. The townsmen of Glasgow and Edinburgh are four inches or more shorter than the country folk roundabout, and thirty-six pounds on the average lighter in weight.[25] Dr. Beddoe, the great authority upon this subject, concludes his investigation of the population of Great Britain thus: "It may therefore be taken as proved that the stature of men in the large towns of Britain is lowered considerably below the standard of the nation, and as probable that such degradation is hereditary and progressive.[26] Not all authorities are able to find such differences, especially in the less industrially developed portions of Europe; as in Hungary, where Scheiber[27] could detect no variation between city and country at all. Ammon, in Baden, alone among modern observers, finds a higher average stature in the cities. He ascribes it to greater frequency of the tall Teutonic type.[28] Nevertheless, the trend of testimony is in favor of Beddoe's view, as a rule; especially when applied to the great modern factory towns, where contributory influences, such as professional selection and the like, come into operation.[29]

A most important point in this connection is the great variability of city populations in size. All observers comment upon this. It is of profound significance. The people of the west and east ends in each city differ widely. The population of the aristocratic quarters is often found to exceed in stature the people of the tenement districts. Manouvrier (1888) has analyzed the Parisians most suggestively in this respect, giving a map to show his results. In Madrid also it appears that the well-to-do people are nearly two inches taller on the average than the residents of the poorer quarters.[30] We should expect this, of course, as a direct result of the depressing influence of unfavorable environment. Yet there is apparently another factor underlying that—viz., social selection. While cities contain so large a proportion of degenerate physical types as on the average to fall below the surrounding country in stature, nevertheless they also are found to include an inordinately large number of very tall and well-developed individuals. In other words, compared with the rural districts where all men are subject to the same conditions of life, we discover in the city that the population has differentiated into the very tall and the very short. This is true in Hamburg;[31] it holds good in many of the cities of Switzerland, especially in Basle,[32] where it has been found that the percentage of tall men, over five feet seven inches in height, is nearly twice that in the country roundabout. At the same time the stunted individuals are in the same city two and a half times as frequent as outside the city walls. In Modena a similar frequency of very tall men has been noted.[33] The explanation is simple. The tall men are in the main those vigorous, mettlesome, presumably healthy individuals, who have themselves, or in the person of their fathers, come to the city in search of the prizes which urban life has to offer to the successful. On the other hand, the degenerate, the stunted, those who entirely outnumber the others, so far as to drag the average for the city as a whole below the normal, are the grist turned out by the city mill. They are the product of the tenement, the sweat shop, vice, and crime. Of course, normally developed men, as ever, constitute the main bulk of the population; but these two widely divergent classes attain a very considerable representation. As an example of the influence of such selection, Dr. Beddoe remarks upon the noticeably short stature of all the agricultural counties about London, being even less than in the metropolis itself.[34] On the other hand, the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science,[35] measuring more among the upper classes in London, found them to exceed both in height and weight the peasantry in Hertfordshire, near by. This need not disprove Dr. Beddoe's assertion. In fact, the contradictory evidence is very valuable for that reason. The only way to account for it is to suppose that the constant draft upon these suburban populations for their most powerful men, for service in the neighboring city as policemen, porters, firemen, and in other picked professions, has depleted the land of all its best specimens. Such an inflowing current always tends cityward. Everything points to the conclusion, on the other hand, that the final product of the continued residence of such sorted populations in the city is to divide them into the chosen few who succeed and rise socially, and the many who descend, in the social scale as well as in stature, until their line becomes extinct. As they differentiate thus, they migrate within the city. The few drift toward the West End, toward the Champs Elysées or Fifth Avenue, where they maintain the high physical standard of the quarter; the others gravitate no less irresistibly toward Cheapside and the Bowery.

We have seen thus far that evidence seems to point to an aggregation of the Teutonic long-headed population in the urban centers of Europe. Perhaps a part of the tall stature in some cities may be due to such racial causes. A curious anomaly now remains, however, to be noted. City populations appear to manifest a distinct tendency toward brunetteness—that is to say, they seem to comprise an abnormal proportion of brunette traits, as compared with the neighboring rural districts. The first notice of this is due to Mayr.[36] who, studying some 760,000 school children in Bavaria, stumbled upon it unexpectedly. Although blondes were in a very decided majority in the kingdom as a whole, the cities all contained a noticeable preponderance of brunette traits. This tendency was strikingly shown to characterize the entire German Empire when its six million school children were examined under Virchow's direction.[37] In twenty-five out of thirty-three of the larger cities were the brunette traits more frequent than in the country. In Metz alone was there a decided preponderance of blondes, due perhaps to the recent Germanization of Alsace-Lorraine as a result of political circumstances. Broadly viewed, all the larger cities, dating from the period prior to 1850, showed this brunette peculiarity in their school children. Quite independently Dr. Beddoe discovered the same fact in the Rhine cities, basing his conclusions, however, entirely upon adults.[38] Here again, as in the case of the head form, we must reckon with the fact that city populations are always, by reason of intermixture, a mean, intermediate between the extremes presented by the country at large. So in northern blond Hanover the cities should contain more dark traits than the country; in Bavaria, on the contrary, we should expect them, for this same reason, to be somewhat more blond. Nevertheless, this would not account for the dark hair in certain Prussian cities, which contain more than twice as many dark as there are light traits; and in Bavaria, as we have seen, the actual condition is exactly the reverse of what might have been statistically expected.

Austria offers confirmation of the same tendency toward brunetteness in twenty-four out of its thirty-three principal cities.[39] Farther south, in Italy, it was noted much earlier that cities contained fewer blondes than were common in the rural districts roundabout.[40] The rule has been corroborated for the greater part of the country, since Livi[41] finds that even in the thirty-two darkest provinces, where towns tending toward the mean for the country should contain more blondes than the suburban districts, twenty-one of the capital cities show the reverse relation, while only nine conform to statistical probability. For Switzerland alone the evidence is conflicting.[42] Applying the rule to the cities of the British Isles, Dr. Beddoe finds it to hold good especially in the color of the hair.[43] So uniform is the testimony in this direction that those who, like Ammon[44] and Lapouge,[45] have ascribed the long-headedness of city populations to a predominance of the Teutonic racial type, now acknowledge this tendency toward brunetteness in spite, in this case, of ethnic probabilities to the contrary. The relative frequency, in fact, of long-headedness and coincidently of brunette characteristics induced Lapouge to designate this combination the "foreordained urban type."[46] In conclusion, let us add, not as additional testimony, for the data are too defective, that among five hundred American students at the Institute of Technology in Boston roughly classified, there were nine per cent of pure brunette type among those of country birth and training, while among those of urban birth and parentage the percentage of such brunette type rose as high as fifteen. The arbitrary limit of twenty thousand inhabitants was here adopted as distinguishing city from suburban populations. Dark hair was noticeably more frequent in the last named group.

It is not improbable that there is in brunetteness, in the dark hair and eye, some indication of vital superiority. If this were so, it would serve as a partial explanation for the social phenomenon which we have been at so much pains to describe. If in the same community there were a slight vital advantage in brunetteness, we should expect to find that type slowly aggregating in the cities; for it requires energy and courage, physical as well as mental, not only to break the ties of home and migrate, but also to maintain one's self afterward under the stress of urban life. Selection thus would be doubly operative. It would determine the character both of the urban immigrants and, to coin a phrase, of the urban persistents as well. The idea is worth developing a bit.

Eminent authority stands sponsor for the theorem that pigmentation in the lower animals is an important factor in the great struggle for survival.[47] One proof of this is that albinos in all species are apt to be defective in keenness of sense, thereby being placed at a great disadvantage in the competition for existence with their fellows. Pigmentation, especially in the organs of sense, seems to be essential to their full development. As a result, with the coincident disadvantage due to their conspicuous color, such albinos are ruthlessly weeded out by the processes of natural selection; their non-existence in a state of Nature is noticeable. Darwin and others cite numerous examples of the defective senses of such non-pigmented animals. Thus, in Virginia, the white pigs of the colonists perished miserably by partaking of certain poisonous roots which the dark-colored hogs avoided by reason of keener sense discrimination. In Italy, the same exemption of black sheep from accidental poisoning, to which their white companions were subject, has been noted. Animals so far removed from one another as the horse and the rhinoceros are said to suffer from a defective sense of smell when they are of the albino type. It is a fact of common observation that white cats with blue eyes are quite often deaf.

Other examples might be cited of similar import. They all tend to justify Alfred Russel Wallace's conclusion that pigmentation, if not absolutely necessary, at least conduces to acuteness of sense; and that where abundantly present it is often an index of vitality.[48] This eminent naturalist even ventures to connect the aggressiveness of the male sex among the lower animals with its brilliancy of coloring.

Applying these considerations to man, evidence is not entirely wanting to support De Candolle's (1887) thesis that "pigmentation is an index of force." Disease often produces a change in the direction of blondness, as Dr. Beddoe has observed; asserting, as he does, that this trait in general is due to a defect of secretion. The case of the negro, cited by Ogle, whose depigmentation was accompanied by a loss of the sense of smell, is a pertinent one. The phenomenon of light-haired childhood and of gray-haired senility points to the same conclusion. A million soldiers observed during our civil war afforded data for Baxter's[49] assertion that the brunette type, on the whole, opposed a greater resistance to disease, and offered more hope of recovery from injuries in the field. Dr. Beddoe finds in Bristol that the dark-haired children are more tenacious of life, and asserts a distinct superiority of the brunette type in the severe competitions induced by urban life.[50] It is not for us to settle the matter here and now. The solution belongs to the physiologist. As statisticians it behooves us to note facts, leaving choice of explanations to others more competent to judge. It must be said in conclusion, however, that present tendencies certainly point in the direction of some relation between pigmentation and general physiological and mental vigor. If this be established, it will go far to explain some of these curious differences between country and city which we have noted.

From the preceding formidable array of testimony it appears that the tendency of urban populations is certainly not toward the pure blond, long-headed, and tall Teutonic type. The phenomenon of urban selection is something more complex than a mere migration of a single racial element in the population toward the cities. The physical characteristics of townsmen are too contradictory for ethnic explanations alone. A process of physiological and social rather than of ethnic selection seems to be at work in addition. To be sure, the tendencies are slight; we are not even certain of their universal existence at all. We are merely watching for their verification or disproof. There is, however, nothing improbable in the phenomena we have noted. Naturalists have always turned to the environment for the final solution of many of the great problems of Nature. In this case we have to do with one of the most sudden and radical changes of environment known to man. Every condition of city life, mental as well as physical, is at the polar extreme from those which prevail in the country. To deny that great modifications in human structure and functions may be effected by a change from one to the other is to gainsay all the facts of natural history.


Our long series of articles now draws to a close. It has been shown with what infinite pains, slowly through hundreds of generations, human beings in Europe have been shaping themselves to the conditions imposed by Nature. We have followed men in their migrations over the face of the continent; we have analyzed the forces making for change, which have played upon them; we have seen how tenaciously they have clung to the type of their ancestors throughout all the vicissitudes of ages. Whether twentieth-century urban life, with all the social changes which it implies, will finally eradicate all traces of ethnic descent remains to be seen. Certainly the pages of ethnic history, written in man's physical constitution, are rapidly blurring before our eyes. To be deciphered at all, they require the instant attention of European scientists. As for us in America, our field of investigation is mapped out with equal clearness. We know with some certainty, thanks to the unselfish and stupendous exertions of such men as Beddoe, Collingnon, Ranke, Livi, and a host of their fellows in Europe whose work we have been outlining, what is the raw material of which our heterogeneous American population is to be composed. They have analyzed the sources of the great human stream which is flowing continually westward to our shores. They have acquainted us with the physical character of the communities whence come those who, as immigrants, cast in their lot with America for good or ill. It behooves us at once to know whether we are drawing off the scum, the lees, or the pure waters in this inflowing tide. Then, again, we have to determine the effects of this novel life—its climate, its social conditions, its material prosperity, and, above all, its ceaseless intermingling of all strains and classes—upon the physical constitution of the original ethnic stocks. Such are the problems which confront us. May we take up the scientific burden where our European confrères must of necessity lay it down; and, in the same devotion to knowledge for its own pure sake, bear it a step further along the way!

  1. All footnote references in this article run to a Bibliography of the Anthropology and Ethnology of Europe to be published by the Boston Public Library. Full titles of all papers will be found under the proper authors and dates in that list.
  2. N. Bruckner. Die Entwickelung der grossstädtischen Bevölkerung im Gebiete des deutschen Reichs. Allgemeines statistisches Archiv, Tübingen, i, 1890, pp. 135-184.
  3. We have analyzed certain of these details in French demography in Publications of the American Statistical Association, iii, 1892, pp. 248 et seq.
  4. Die natürliche Auslese beim Menschen. Jena, 1893.
  5. Die drei Bevölkerungsstufen. München, 1889.
  6. Principles of Sociology, pp. 342 et seq.
  7. Durand de Gros, 1868 a, p. 228, 1868, and 1869.
  8. Calori, 1868; Lombroso, 1878, p. 128; Riccardi, 1883; and Livi, 1886, p. 274, have since confirmed it.
  9. Lapouge, 1889 b.
  10. Ammon, 1890; and 1893, p. 72.
  11. Von Hölder, 1876, p. 15.
  12. Lapouge, 1894, p. 483; 1896 a, p. 401; 1897. Closson has presented his work most acceptably to English readers.
  13. Lapouge, 1896 b, 91; also, Muffang, 1897.
  14. 1895, pp. 123-125; see also table in 1894 b, p. 19, on Limoges.
  15. Weisbach, 1895 b, p. 77, map.
  16. Livi, 1896 a, pp. 87-89, 147, 148, 151, 159, and 187.
  17. Lapouge, 1897, p 70.
  18. Oloriz, 1894 b, pp. 47 and 279; also pp. 173 and 224.
  19. Beddoe, 1894, p. 664.
  20. This point I have discussed at length, borrowing largely from Livi's superb work on Italy, in the Publications of the American Statistical Association, v, 1896, pp. 37 et seq.
  21. 1895, p. 125.
  22. 1869, p. 33.
  23. Meisner, 1889, p. 116. Reischel, 1889, pp. 139-142, notes it of smaller cities, as in Erfurt.
  24. Olóriz, 1896, pp. 42 and 60.
  25. British Association, Anthropometric Committee Report, 1883, pp. 273 circa.
  26. 1867, p. 180.
  27. 1881, p. 254.
  28. 1893, p. 116.
  29. These we have heretofore analyzed in our article on Stature in the May (1897) number of this present series.
  30. Olóriz, 1896, pp. 42 and 61.
  31. Meisner, 1889, p. 120.
  32. Chalumeau, 1896 a, p. 7.
  33. Riccardi, 1882, pp. 249-253.
  34. 1867, p. 178.
  35. 1883, p. 20.
  36. 1875, pp. 299 and 305, with tables.
  37. 1885 and 1886 b, pp. 320 et seq.
  38. 1885, p. 211.
  39. Schimmer, 1884, p. xiii. For Tyrol, see comparative table in Tolàt, 1894, and Virchow, 1886 b, p. 379.
  40. Raseri, 1879, p. 118.
  41. 1896 a, pp. 70 et seq.
  42. Studer, 1880, p. 59, says it holds good in Berne. Kollmann, 1883, p. 17, and Chalumeau, 1896 a, p. 8, affirm the cities to be more blond.
  43. 1893, p. 114. See also tables in 1885, p. 160.
  44. 1896 d, p. 796. Ammon, 1893, p. 99, found dark hair more frequent in cities in Baden, but in eyes more variation.
  45. 1897, p. 85.
  46. Collignon, 1895, p. 123, apparently acquiesces in this view.
  47. Dr. William Ogle, in Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, liii, 1870, pp. 263 et seq.
  48. Address in Transactions of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1876, pp. 100 et seq.
  49. 1875, i, pp. 61 and 72.
  50. 1885, p. 223, and 1893, p. 115.