The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:32 am


Here I must enter on a digression vital to my argument. At every turn I am using a word involving a circle of ideas which it is very necessary to define. I am continually speaking of "civilization," and cannot help doing so; for it is only by the existence in some measure, or the complete absence, of this attribute that I can gauge the relative merits of the different races. I refer both to European civilization and to others which may be distinguished from it. I must not leave the slightest vagueness on this point, especially as I differ from the celebrated writer who alone in France has made it his special business to fix the meaning and province of this particular word.

Guizot, if I may be allowed to dispute his great authority, begins his book on "Civilization in Europe" by a confusion of terms which leads him into serious error. He calls civilization an event.

The word event must be used by Guizot in a less positive and accurate way than it usually is — in a wide, uncertain, elastic sense that it never bears; otherwise, it does not properly define the meaning of the word civilization at all. Civilization is not an event, it is a series, a chain of events linked more or less logically together and brought about by the inter-action of ideas which are often themselves very complex. There is a continual bringing to birth of further ideas and events. The result is sometimes incessant movement, sometimes stagnation. In either case, civilization is not an event, but an assemblage of events and ideas, a state in which a human society subsists, an environment with which it has managed to surround itself, which is created by it, emanates from it, and in turn reacts on it.

This state is universal in a sense in which an event never is. It admits of many variations which it could not survive if it were merely an event. Further, it is quite independent of all forms of government; it makes as much progress under a despotism as under the freest democracy, and it does not cease to exist when the conditions of political life are modified or even absolutely changed by civil war.

This does not mean that we may more or less neglect the forms of government. They are intimately bound up with the health of the social organism; its prosperity is impaired or destroyed if the choice of government is bad, favoured and developed if the choice is good. But we are not concerned here with mere questions of prosperity. Our subject is more serious. It deals with the very existence of peoples and of civilization; and civilization has to do with certain elemental conditions which are independent of politics, and have to look far deeper for the motive-forces that bring them into being, direct, and expand them, make them fruitful or barren and, in a word, mould their whole life. In face of such root-questions as these, considerations of government, prosperity, and misery naturally take a second place. The first place is always and everywhere held by the question "to be or not to be," which is as supreme for a people as for an individual. As Guizot does not seem to have realized this, civilization is to him not a state or an environment, but an event; and he finds its generating principle in another event, of a purely political character.

If we open his eloquent and famous book, we shall come upon a mass of hypotheses calculated to set his leading idea into relief. After mentioning a certain number of situations to which human societies might come, the author asks "whether common instinct would recognize in these the conditions under which a people civilizes itself, in the natural sense of the word."

The first hypothesis is as follows: "Consider a people whose external life is easy and luxurious. It pays few taxes, and is in no distress. Justice is fairly administered between man and man. In fact, its material and moral life is carefully kept in a state of inertia, of torpor, I will not say of oppression, because there is no feeling of this, but at any rate of repression. The case is not unexampled. There have been a large number of little aristocratic republics, where the subjects have been treated in this way, like sheep, well looked after and, in a material sense, happy, but without any intellectual or moral activity. Is this civilization? And is such a people civilizing itself?"

I do not know whether it is actually civilizing itself; but certainly the people of whom he speaks might be very "civilized." Otherwise, we should have to rank among savage tribes or barbarians all the aristocratic republics, of ancient and modern times, which Guizot confessedly includes as instances of his hypothesis. The general instinct would certainly be offended by a method that forbids not only the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, and the Spartans to enter the temple of civilization, but also the Venetians, the Genoese, the Pisans, and all the free Imperial cities of Germany, in a word all the powerful municipalities of the last few centuries. This conclusion seems in itself too violently paradoxical to be admitted by the common sense to which it appeals; but besides this, it has, I think, to face a still greater difficulty. These little aristocratic States which, owing to their form of government, Guizot refuses to accept as capable of civilization, have never, in most cases, possessed a special and unique culture. However powerful many of them may have been, they were in this respect assimilated to peoples who were differently governed, but very near them in race; they merely shared in a common civilization. Thus, though the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians were at a great distance from each other, they were nevertheless united by a similar form of culture, which had its prototype in Assyria. The Italian republics took part in the movement of ideas and opinions which were dominant in the neighbouring monarchies. The Imperial towns of Swabia and Thuringia were quite independent politically, but were otherwise wholly within the sweep of the general progress or decadence of the German race. Hence while Guizot is distributing his orders of merit among the nations according to their degree of political liberty and their forms of government, he is really making cleavages, within races, that he cannot justify, and assuming differences that do not exist. A more detailed discussion of the point would hardly be in place here, and I pass on. If I did open such an argument, I should begin (and rightly I think) by refusing to admit that Pisa, Genoa, Venice, and the rest were in any way inferior to towns such as Milan, Naples, and Rome.

Guizot himself anticipates such an objection. He does not allow that a people is civilized, "which is governed mildly, but kept in a state of repression"; yet he also refuses civilization to another people " whose material life is less easy and luxurious, though still tolerable, yet whose moral and intellectual needs have not been neglected. ... In the people I am supposing," he says, "pure and noble sentiments are fostered. Their religious and ethical beliefs are developed to a certain degree, but the idea of freedom is extinct. Every one has his share of truth doled out to him; no one is allowed to seek it for himself. This is the condition into which most of the Asiatic nations, the Hindus, for example, have fallen; their manly qualities are sapped by the domination of the priests."

Thus into the same limbo as the aristocratic peoples must now be thrust the Hindus, the Egyptians, the Etruscans, the Peruvians, the Tibetans, the Japanese, and even the districts subject to modern Rome.

I will not touch on Guizot's last two hypotheses, for the first two have so restricted the meaning of civilization that scarcely any nation of the earth can rightly lay claim to it any more. In order to do so a people would have to live under institutions in which power and freedom were equally mingled, and material development and moral progress co-ordinated in one particular way. Government and religion would have strict limits drawn round them, beyond which they would not be allowed to advance. Finally, the subjects would necessarily possess rights of a very definite kind. On such an assumption, the only civilized peoples would be those whose government is both constitutional and representative. Thus, I should not be able to save any of the European nations from the indignity of being thrust into barbarism; and, as I should be always measuring the degree of civilization with reference to one single and unique political standard, I should gradually come to reject even those constitutional states that made a bad use of their Parliaments, and keep the prize exclusively for those which used them well. In the end I should be driven to consider only one nation, of all that have ever lived, as truly civilized — namely, the English.

I am, of course, full of respect and admiration for the great people whose power and prodigious deeds are witnessed in every corner of the world by their victories, their industry, and their commerce. I do not, however, feel that I am bound to respect and admire no other. It seems to me a confession altogether too cruel and humiliating to mankind, to say that, since the beginning of the ages, it has only succeeded in producing the full flower of civilization on a little island in the western ocean, and that even there the true principle was not discovered before the reign of William and Mary. Such a conception seems, you must allow, a little narrow. And then consider its danger. If civilization depends on a particular form of government, then reason, observation, and science will soon have no voice in the question at all; party-feeling alone will decide. Some bold spirits will be found to follow their own preferences, and refuse to the British institutions the honour of being the ideal of human perfection; all their enthusiasm will be given to the system established at Petrograd or Vienna. Many people, perhaps the majority of those living between the Rhine and the Pyrenees, will hold that, in spite of some defects, France is still the most civilized country in the world. The moment that a decision as to culture becomes a matter of personal feeling, agreement is impossible. The most highly developed man will be he who holds the same views as oneself as to the respective duties of ruler and subjects; while the unfortunate people who happen to think differently will be barbarians and savages. No one, I suppose, will question the logic of this, or dispute that a system that can lead to such a conclusion is, to say the least of it, very incomplete.

For my own part, Guizot's definition seems to me inferior even to that given by William von Humboldt: "Civilization is the humanizing of peoples both in their outward customs and institutions, and in the inward feelings that correspond to these."* [W. von Humboldt, Uber die Kawi-sprache auf der Insel Java, Introduction, vol. i, p. 37.]

The defect here is the exact opposite of that which I have ventured to find in Guizot's formula. The cord is too loose, the field of application too wide. If civilization is acquired merely by softness of temper, more than one very primitive tribe will have the right to claim it in preference to some European nation that may be rather rough in its character. There are some tribes, in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean and elsewhere, which are very mild and inoffensive, very easy of approach; and yet no one, even while praising them, has ever dreamed of setting them above the surly Norwegians, or even at the side of the ferocious Malays, who are clad in flaming robes made by themselves, who sail the seas in ships they have cleverly built with their own hands, and are the terror, and at the same time the most intelligent agents, of the carrying trade to the Eastern ports of the Indian Ocean. So eminent a thinker as von Humboldt could not fail to see this; by the side, therefore, of civilization, and just one grade above it, he places culture. "By culture," he says, "a people which is already humanized in its social relations attains to art and science."

According to this hierarchy, we find the second age of the world* [I.e. the world in its second stage of improvement.] filled with affectionate and sympathetic beings, poets, artists, and scholars. These, however, in their own nature, stand outside the grosser forms of work; they are as aloof from the hardships of war as they are from tilling the soil or practising the ordinary trades.

The leisure-time allowed for the exercise of the pure intellect is very small, even in times of the greatest happiness and stability; and there is an incessant struggle going on with Nature and the laws of the universe to gain even the bare means of subsistence. This being so, we can easily see that our Berlin philosopher is less concerned with describing realities than with taking certain abstractions which seem to him great and beautiful (as indeed they are) , endowing them with life, and making them act and move in a sphere as ideal as they are themselves. Any doubts that might remain on this point are soon dispelled when we come to the culminating-point of the system, which consists of a third grade, higher than the others. Here stands the "completely formed man," in whose nature is "something at once higher and more personal, a way of looking at the universe by which all the impressions gathered from the intellectual and moral forces at work around him are welded harmoniously together and taken up into his character and sensibility."

In this rather elaborate series the first stage is thus the "civilized man," that is, the softened or humanized man; the next is the "cultured man," the poet, artist, and scholar, and the last is the highest point of development of which our species is capable, the "completely formed man," — of whom (if I understand the doctrine aright) we can gain an exact idea from what we are told of Goethe and his "Olympian calm." The principle at the base of this theory is merely the vast difference which von Humboldt sees between the general level of a people's civilization and the stage of perfection reached by a few great individuals. This difference is so great that civilizations quite foreign to our own — that of the Brahmans, for instance — have been able, so far as we know, to produce men far superior in some ways to those that are most admired among ourselves.  

I quite agree with von Humboldt on this point. It is quite true that our European society gives us neither the most sublime thinkers, nor the greatest poets, nor even the cleverest artists. I venture to think, however, in spite of the great scholar's opinion, that, in order to define and criticize civilization generally, we must, if only for a moment, be careful to shake off our prejudices with regard to the details of some particular type. We must not cast our net so widely as to include the man in von Humboldt's first stage, whom I refuse to call civilized merely because he happens to be mild in character. On the other hand we must not be so narrow as to reject every one but the philosopher of the third stage. This would limit too strictly the scope of all human endeavour after progress, and present its results as merely isolated and individual.

Von Humboldt's system does honour to the width and subtlety of a noble mind, and may be compared, in its essentially abstract nature, with the frail worlds, imagined by the Hindu philosophers, which are born from the brain of a sleeping god, rise into the aether like the rainbow-coloured bubbles blown by a child, and then break and give place to others according to the dreams that lightly hover round the Divine slumber.

The nature of my investigations keeps me on a lower and more prosaic level; I wish to arrive at results that are a little more within the range of practical experience. The restricted angle of my vision forbids me to consider, as Guizot does, the measure of prosperity enjoyed by human societies, or to contemplate, with von Humboldt, the high peaks on which a few great minds sit in solitary splendour; my inquiries concern merely the amount of power, material as well as moral, that has been developed among the mass of a people. It has made me uneasy, I confess, to see two of the most famous men of the century losing themselves in by-ways; and if I am to trust myself to follow a different road from theirs, I must survey my ground, and go back as far as possible for my premises, in order to reach my goal without stumbling. I must ask the reader to follow me with patience and attention through the winding paths in which I have to walk, and I will try to illuminate, as far as I can, the inherent obscurity of my subject.

There is no tribe so degraded that we cannot discover in it the instinct to satisfy both its material and its moral needs. The first and most obvious difference between races lies in the various ways in which the two sides of this instinct are balanced. Among the most primitive peoples they are never of equal intensity. In some, the sense of the physical need is uppermost, in others, the tendency to contemplation. Thus the brutish hordes of the yellow race seem to be dominated by the needs of the body, though they are not quite without gleams of a spiritual world. On the other hand to most of the negro tribes that have reached the same stage of development, action is less than thought, and the imagination gives a higher value to the things unseen than those that can be handled. From the point of view of civilization, I do not regard this as a reason for placing the negroes on a higher level; for the experience of centuries shows that they are no more capable of being civilized than the others. Ages have passed without their doing anything to improve their condition; they are all equally powerless to mingle act and idea in sufficient strength to burst their prison walls and emerge from their degradation. But even in the lowest stages of human progress I always find this twofold stream of instinct, in which now one, now the other current predominates; and I will try to trace its path as I go up the scale of civilization.

Above the Samoyedes, as above some of the Polynesian negroes, come the tribes that are not quite content with a hut made of branches or with force as the only social relation, but desire something better. These tribes are raised one step above absolute barbarism. If they belong to those races to whom action is more than thought, we shall see them improving their tools, their arms, and their ornaments, setting up a government in which the warriors are more important than the priests, developing ideas of exchange, and already showing a fair aptitude for commerce. Their wars will still be cruel, but will tend more and more to become mere pillaging expeditions; in fact, material comfort and physical enjoyment will be the main aim of the people. I find this picture realized in many of the Mongolian tribes; also, in a higher form, among the Quichuas and Aymaras of Peru. The opposite condition, involving a greater detachment from mere bodily needs, will be found among the Dahomeys of West Africa, and the Kaffirs.

I now continue the journey upwards, and leave the groups in which the social system is not strong enough to impose itself over a large population, even after a fusion of blood. I pass to those in which the racial elements are so strong that they grip fast everything that comes within their reach, and draw it into themselves; they found over immense tracts of territory a supreme dominion resting on a basis of ideas and actions that are more or less perfectly co-ordinated. For the first time we have reached what can be called a civilization. The same internal differences that I brought out in the first two stages appear in the third; they are in fact far more marked than before, as it is only in this third stage that their effects are of any real importance. From the moment when an assemblage of men, which began as a mere tribe, has so widened the horizon of its social relations as to merit the name of a people, we see one of the two currents of instinct, the material and the intellectual, flowing with greater force than before, according as the separate groups, now fused together, were originally borne along by one or the other. Thus, different results will follow, and different qualities of a nation will come to the surface, according as the power of thought or that of action is dominant. We may use here the Hindu symbolism, and represent what I call the "intellectual current" by Prakriti, the female principle, and the "material current" by Purusha, the male principle. There is, of course, no blame or praise attaching to either of these phrases; they merely imply that the one principle is fertilized by the other.* [Klemm (Allgemeine Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit) divides the races of men into "active" and "passive." I do not know his book, and so cannot tell if his idea agrees with my own. But it is natural that if we follow the same path we should light upon the same truth.]

Further, we can see, at some periods of a people's existence, a strong oscillation between the two principles, one of which alternately prevails over the other. These changes depend on the mingling of blood that inevitably takes place at various times. Their consequences are very important, and sensibly alter the character of the civilization by impairing its stability.

I can thus divide peoples into two classes, as they come predominantly under the action of one or other of these currents; though the division is, of course, in no way absolute. At the head of the "male" category I put the Chinese; the Hindus being the prototype of the opposite class.

After the Chinese come most of the peoples of ancient Italy, the Romans of the Early Republic, and the Germanic tribes. In the opposite camp are ranged the nations of Egypt and Assyria. They take their place behind the men of Hindustan.

When we follow the nations down the ages, we find that the civilization of nearly all of them has been modified by their oscillation between the two principles. The peoples of Northern China were at first almost entirely materialistic. By a gradual fusion with tribes of different blood, especially those in the Yunnan, their outlook became less purely utilitarian. The reason why this development has been arrested, or at least has been very slow, for centuries past, is because the "male" constituents of the population are far greater in quantity than the slight "female" element in its blood.

In Northern Europe the materialistic strain, contributed by the best of the Germanic tribes, has been continually strengthened by the influx of Celts and Slavs. But as the white peoples drifted more and more towards the south, the male influences gradually lost their force and were absorbed by an excess of female elements, which finally triumphed. We must allow some exceptions to this, for example in Piedmont and Northern Spain.

Passing now to the other division, we see that the Hindus have in a high degree the feeling of the supernatural, that they are more given to meditation than to action. As their earliest conquests brought them mainly into contact with races organized along the same lines as themselves, the male principle could not be sufficiently developed among them. In such an environment their civilization was not able to advance on the material side as it had on the intellectual. We may contrast the ancient Romans, who were naturally materialistic, and only ceased to be so after a complete fusion with Greeks, Africans, and Orientals had changed their original nature and given them a totally new temperament. The internal development of the Greeks resembled that of the Hindus.

I conclude from such facts as these that every human activity, moral or intellectual, has its original source in one or other of these two currents, "male" or "female"; and only the races which have one of these elements in abundance (without, of course, being quite destitute of the other) can reach, in their social life, a satisfactory stage of culture, and so attain to civilization.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:43 am

Part 1 of 2


When a nation, belonging to either the male or female series, has the civilizing instinct so strongly that it can impose its laws on vast multitudes of men; when it is so fortunate as to be able to satisfy their inner needs, and appeal to their hearts as well as their heads; from this moment a culture is brought into being. This general appeal is the essential note of the civilizing instinct, and its greatest glory. This alone makes it a living and active force. The interests of individuals only flourish in isolation; and social life always tends, to some extent, to mutilate them. For a system of ideas to be really fruitful and convincing, it must suit the particular ways of thought and feeling current among the people to whom it is offered.

When some special point of view is accepted by the mass of a people as the basis of their legislation, it is really because it fulfils, in the main, their most cherished desires. The male nations look principally for material well-being, the female nations are more taken up with the needs of the imagination; but, I repeat, as soon as the multitudes enrol themselves under a banner, or — to speak more exactly — as soon as a particular form of administration is accepted, a civilization is born.

Another invariable mark of civilization is the need that is felt for stability. This follows immediately from what I have said above; for the moment that men have admitted, as a community, that some special principle is to govern and unite them, and have consented to make individual sacrifices to bring this about, their first impulse is to respect the governing principle — as much for what it brings as for what it demands — and to declare it unshakable. The purer a race keeps its blood, the less will its social foundations be liable to attack; for the general way of thought will remain the same. Yet the desire for stability cannot be entirely satisfied for long. The admixture of blood will be followed by some modifications in the fundamental ideas of the people, and these again by an itch for change in the building itself. Such change will sometimes mean real progress, especially in the dawn of a civilization, when the governing principle is usually rigid and absolute, owing to the exclusive predominance of some single race. Later, the tinkering will become incessant, as the mass is more heterogeneous and loses its singleness of aim; and the community will not always be able to congratulate itself on the result. So long, however, as it remains under the guidance of the original impulse, it will not cease, while holding fast to the idea of bettering its condition, to follow a chimera of stability. Fickle, unstable, changing every hour, it yet thinks itself eternal, and marches on, as towards some goal in Paradise. It clings to the doctrine (even while continually denying it in practice) that one of the chief marks of civilization is to borrow a part of God's immutability for the profit of man. When the likeness obviously does not exist, it takes courage, and consoles itself by the conviction that soon, at any rate, it will attain to the Divine attribute.

By the side of stability, and the co-operation of individual interests, which touch each other without being destroyed, we must put a third and a fourth characteristic of civilization, sociability, and the hatred of violence — in other words the demand that the head, and not the fists, shall be used for self-defence.

These last two features are the source of all mental improvement, and so of all material progress; it is to these especially that we look for the evidence as to whether a society is advanced or not.*
[It is also in connexion with these that we find the main cause of the false judgments passed on foreign peoples. Because the externals of their civilization are unlike the corresponding parts of our own, we are often apt to infer hastily that they are either barbarians or of less worth than ourselves. Nothing could be more superficial, and so more doubtful, than a conclusion drawn from such premises.]

I think I may now sum up my view of civilization by defining it as a state of relative stability, where the mass of men try to satisfy their wants by peaceful means, and are refined in their conduct and intelligence.

In this formula are comprised all the peoples whom I have mentioned up to now as being civilized, whether they belong to one or the other class. Assuming that the conditions are fulfilled, we must now inquire whether all civilizations are equal. I think not. The social needs of the chief peoples are not felt with the same intensity or directed towards the same objects; thus their conduct and intelligence will show great differences in kind, as well as in degree. What are the material needs of the Hindu? Rice and butter for his food, and a linen cloth for his raiment. We may certainly be tempted to ascribe this simplicity to conditions of climate. But the Tibetans live in a very severe climate, and are yet most remarkable for their abstinence. The main interest of both these peoples is in their religious and philosophical development, in providing for the very insistent demands of the mind and the spirit. Thus there is no balance kept between the male and female principles. The scale is too heavily weighted on the intellectual side, the consequence being that almost all the work done under this civilization is exclusively devoted to the one end, to the detriment of the other. Huge monuments, mountains of stone, are chiselled and set up, at a cost of toil and effort that staggers the imagination. Colossal buildings cover the ground — and with what object? to honour the gods. Nothing is made for man — except perhaps the tombs. By the side of the marvels produced by the sculptor, literature, with no less vigour, creates her masterpieces. The theology, the metaphysics, are as varied as they are subtle and ingenious, and man's thought goes down, without flinching, into the immeasurable abyss. In lyric poetry feminine civilization is the pride of humanity.

But when I pass from the kingdom of ideals and visions to that of the useful inventions, and the theoretical sciences on which they rest, I fall at once from the heights into the depths, and the brilliant day gives place to night. Useful discoveries are rare; the few that appear are petty and sterile; the power of observation practically does not exist.
While the Chinese were continually inventing, the Hindus conceived a few ideas, which they did not take the trouble to work out. Again the Greeks had, as we know from their literature, many scientific notions that were unworthy of them; while the Romans, after passing the culminating-point in their history, could not advance very far, although they did more than the Greeks; for the mixture of Asiatic blood, that absorbed them with startling rapidity, denied them the qualities which are indispensable for a patient investigation of nature. Yet their administrative genius, their legislation, and the useful buildings that were set up throughout the Empire are a sufficient witness to the positive nature of their social ideas at a certain period; they prove that if Southern Europe had not been so quickly covered by the continual stream of colonists from Asia and Africa, positive science would have won the day, and the Germanic pioneers would, in consequence, have lost a few of their laurels.

The conquerors of the fifth century brought into Europe a spirit of the same order as that of the Chinese, but with very different powers. It was equipped, to a far greater extent, with the feminine qualities, and united the two motive-forces far more harmoniously. Wherever this branch of the human family was dominant, the utilitarian tendencies, though in a nobler form, are unmistakable. In England, North America, Holland, and Hanover, they override the other instincts of the people. It is the same in Belgium, and also in the north of France, where there is always a wonderfully quick comprehension of anything with a practical bearing. As we go further south these tendencies become weaker. This is not due to the fiercer action of the sun, for the Catalans and the Piedmontese certainly live in a hotter climate than the men of Provence or Bas-Languedoc; the sole cause is the influence of blood.

The female or feminized races occupy the greater part of the globe, and, in particular, the greater part of Europe. With the exception of the Teutonic group and some of the Slavs, all the races in our part of the world have the material instincts only in a slight degree; they have already played their parts in former ages and cannot begin again.

When a race is born, the forms are ensouled by a certain group of spirits and have inherent capability of evolving to a certain stage of completion and no further. There can be no standing still in nature, therefore when the limit of attainment has been reached, the bodies or forms of that race begin to degenerate, sinking lower and lower until at last the race dies out.

-- The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception: An Elementary Treatise Upon Man's Past Evolution, Present Constitution and Future Development, by Max Heindel (1909)

The masses, in their infinite gradations from Gaul to Celtiberian, from Celtiberian to the nameless mixture of Italians and other Latin races, form a descending scale, so far as the chief powers (though not all the powers) of the male principle are concerned.

Our civilization has been created by the mingling of the Germanic tribes with the races of the ancient world, the union, that is to say, of pre-eminently male groups with races and fragments of races clinging to the decayed remnants of the ancient ideas. The richness, variety, and fertility of invention for which we honour our modern societies, are the natural, and more or less successful, result of the maimed and disparate elements which our Germanic ancestors instinctively knew how to use, temper, and disguise.

The Original Semites were the fifth and most important of the seven Atlantean Races, because in them we find the first germ of the corrective quality of Thought. Therefore the Original Semitic Race become the "seed race" for the seven races of the present Aryan Epoch....

The Original Semites regulated their desires to some extent by the mind, and instead of mere desires, came cunning and craftiness -- the means by which those people sought to attain their selfish ends. Though they were a very turbulent people, they learned to curb their passions to a great extent and accomplish their purposes by the use of cunning, as being more subtle and potent than mere brute strength. They were the first to discover that "brain" is superior to "brawn."...

Under the guidance of a great Entity, the Original Semitic Race was led eastward from the continent of Atlantis, over Europe, to the great waste in Central Asia which is known as the Gobi Desert. There it prepared them to be the seed of the seven Races of the Aryan Epoch, imbuing them potentially with the qualities to be evolved by their descendants...

Out of all who were chosen as "seed" for the new Race, few remained faithful. Most of them were rebellious and, so far as they were concerned, entirely frustrated the purpose of the Leader by intermarrying with the other Atlantean Races, thus bringing inferior blood into their descendants. That is what is meant in the Bible where the fact is recorded that the sons of God married the daughters of men. For that act of disobedience were they abandoned and "lost." Even the faithful died, according to the body, in the Desert of Gobi (the "Wilderness") in Central Asia, the cradle of our present Race. They reincarnated, as their own descendants of course, and thus inherited the "Promised Land," the Earth as it is now. They are the Aryan Races, in whom Reason is being evolved to perfection.

The rebellious ones who were abandoned are the Jews.

-- The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception: An Elementary Treatise Upon Man's Past Evolution, Present Constitution and Future Development, by Max Heindel (1909)

Our own kind of culture has two general marks, wherever it is found; it has been touched, however superficially, by the Germanic element, and it is Christian. This second characteristic (to repeat what I have said already) is more marked than the other, and leaps first to the eye, because it is an outward feature of our modern State, a sort of varnish on its surface; but it is not absolutely essential, as many nations are Christian — and still more might become Christian — without forming a part of our circle of civilization. The first characteristic is, on the contrary, positive and decisive. Where the Germanic element has never penetrated, our special kind of civilization does not exist.

This naturally brings me to the question whether we can call our European societies entirely civilized; whether the ideas and actions that appear on the surface have the roots of their being deep down in the mass of the people, and therefore whether their effects correspond with the instincts of the greatest number. This leads to a further question: do the lower strata of our populations think and act in accordance with what we call European civilization?

Many have admired, and with good reason, the extraordinary unity of ideas and views that guided the whole body of citizens in the Greek states of the best period. The conclusions on every essential point were often hostile to each other; but they all derived from the same source. In politics, some wanted more or less democracy, some more or less oligarchy. In religion, some chose to worship the Eleusinian Demeter, others Athene Parthenos. As a matter of literary taste, AEschylus might be preferred to Sophocles, Alcaeus to Pindar. But, at bottom, the ideas discussed were all such as we might call national; the disputes turned merely on points of proportion. The same was the case at Rome, before the Punic Wars; the civilization of the country was uniform and unquestioned. It reached the slave through the master; all shared in it to a different extent, but none shared in any other.

From the time of the Punic Wars among the Romans, and from that of Pericles, and especially of Philip, among the Greeks, this uniformity tended more and more to break down. The mixture of nations brought with it a mixture of civilizations. The result was a very complex and learned society, with a culture far more refined than before. But it had one striking disadvantage; both in Italy and in Hellas, it existed merely for the upper classes, the lower strata being left quite ignorant of its nature, its merits, and its aims. Roman civilization after the great Asiatic wars was, no doubt, a powerful manifestation of human genius; but it really embraced none but the Greek rhetoricians who supplied its philosophical basis, the Syrian lawyers who built up for it an atheistic legal system, the rich men who were engaged in public administration or money-making, and finally the leisured voluptuaries who did nothing at all. By the masses it was, at all times, merely tolerated. The peoples of Europe understood nothing of its Asiatic and African elements, those of Egypt had no better idea of what it brought them from Gaul and Spain, those of Numidia had no appreciation of what came to them from the rest of the world. Thus, below what we might call the social classes, lived innumerable multitudes who had a different civilization from that of the official world, or were not civilized at all. Only the minority of the Roman people held the secret, and attached any importance to it. We have here the example of a civilization that is accepted and dominant, no longer through the convictions of the peoples who live under it, but by their exhaustion, their weakness, and their indifference.

In China we find the exact contrary. The territory is of course immense, but from one end to the other there is the same spirit among the native Chinese — I leave the rest out of account—- and the same grasp of their civilization. Whatever its principles may be, whether we approve of its aims or not, we must admit that the part played by the masses in their civilization shows how well they understand it. The reason is not that the country is free in our sense, that a democratic feeling of rivalry impels all to do their best in order to secure a position guaranteed them by law. Not at all; I am not trying to paint an ideal picture. Peasants and middle classes alike have little hope, in the Middle Kingdom at any rate, of rising by sheer force of merit. In this part of the Empire, in spite of the official promises with regard to the system of examinations by which the public services are filled, no one doubts that the places are all reserved for members of the official families, and that the decision of the professors is often affected more by money than by scholarship;* ["It is still only in China that a poor student can offer himself for the Imperial examination and come out a great man. This is a splendid feature of the social organization of the Chinese, and their theory is certainly better than any other. Unfortunately, its application is far from perfect. I am not here referring to the errors of judgment and corruption on the part of the examiners, or even to the sale of literary degrees, an expedient to which the Government is sometimes driven in times of financial stress ..." (F. J. Mohl, "Annual Report of the Societe Asiatique," 1846).] but though shipwrecked ambitions may bewail the evils of the system, they do not imagine that there could be a better one, and the existing state of things is the object of unshakable admiration to the whole people.

Education in China is remarkably general and widespread
; it extends to classes considerably below those which, in France, might conceivably feel the want of it. The cheapness of books,* [John F. Davis, "The Chinese" (London, 1840): "Three or four volumes of any ordinary work of the octavo size and shape may be had for a sum equivalent to two shillings. A Canton bookseller's manuscript catalogue marked the price of the four books of Confucius, including the commentary, at a price rather under half-a-crown. The cheapness of their common literature is occasioned partly by the mode of printing, but partly also by the low price of paper."] the number and the low fees of the schools, bring a certain measure of education within the reach of everybody. The aims and spirit of the laws are generally well understood, and the government is proud of having made legal knowledge accessible to all.

Education during the Qing dynasty was dominated by provincial academies, which did not charge tuition fees and gave stipends to preselected students. They were dedicated to the pursuit of independent study of the classics and literature, rather than to the preparation for governance, as was the case with imperial academies. Professors rarely lectured students, instead offering advice and criticizing research.

The near total neglect of engineering, mathematics, and other applied science education by the state contributed to a vast gap in military power between China and the European empires, as evidenced by the outcomes of the First and Second Opium Wars and the Sino–French War amongst others. In response, the Qing embarked on a self-strengthening movement, founding the Tongwen Guan in 1861, which hired foreign teachers to teach European languages, mathematics, astronomy and chemistry.

-- History of education in China, by Wikipedia

There is a strong instinct of repulsion against radical changes in the Government. A very trustworthy critic on this point, Mr. John F. Davis, the British Commissioner in China, who has not only lived in Canton but has studied its affairs with the closest application, says that the Chinese are a people whose history does not show a single attempt at a social revolution, or any alteration in the outward forms of power. In his opinion, they are best described as "a nation of steady conservatives."

• Lülin (綠林) or Lülin Force (綠林兵) refers, as an umbrella term, to one of the two major agrarian rebellion movements against Wang Mang's Xin dynasty in the modern southern Henan and northern Hubei region who banded together to pool their strengths, and whose collective strength eventually led to the downfall of the Xin dynasty and the establishment of a temporary reinstatement of the Han dynasty under Liu Xuan (Gengshi Emperor). Many Lülin leaders became important members of Gengshi Emperor's government, but infighting and incompetence (both of the emperor and his officials) in governing the empire led to the fall of the regime after only two years, paving the way for the eventual rise for Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu). The name Lülin came from the Lülin Mountains (in modern Yichang, Hubei), where the rebels had their stronghold for a while.
• Chimei (赤眉) refers, as an umbrella term, to one of the two major agrarian rebellion movements against Wang Mang's Xin dynasty, initially active in the modern Shandong and northern Jiangsu region, that eventually led to Wang Mang's downfall by draining his resources, allowing the leader of the other movement (the Lülin), Liu Xuan (Gengshi Emperor) to overthrow Wang and temporarily establish an incarnation of the Han dynasty under him. Eventually, Chimei forces overthrew Gengshi Emperor and placed their own puppet emperor, Liu Penzi, on the throne briefly, before the Chimei leaders' incompetence in ruling the territories under their control, which matched their brilliance on the battlefield, caused the people to rebel against them, forcing them to try to withdraw home. When their path was blocked by Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu)'s newly established Eastern Han regime, they surrendered to him.
• The Yellow Turban Rebellion or Yellow Scarves Rebellion (t 黃巾之亂; s 黄巾之乱, Huángjīnzhī Luàn; AD 184) was a peasant rebellion against Emperor Ling. It is named for the scarves the rebels wrapped around their heads. They were associated with secret Taoist societies, and the rebellion marked an important point in the history of Taoism. The rebellion is the opening event in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong.
• Li Zicheng's rebellion was a peasant rebellion aimed at the overthrow of the Ming dynasty; it led to the establishment of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. Li Zicheng began recruiting troops at Xi'an in Shaanxi province, and later went on to gain power throughout northeastern China. From 1620, towards the end of the Wanli Emperor's reign, social and economic conditions under Ming rule worsened drastically. Li Zicheng did not become the emperor, but he paved the way for the rising of the new Qing dynasty, after overthrowing the Ming emperor by capturing Beijing. The Qing troops, arriving from the northeast (originally from Manchuria) were allied with Wu Sangui, a former Ming general, an alliance which eventually led to the defeat of Li Zicheng, though the impact of his rebellion was tremendous....

-- List of rebellions in China, by Wikipedia

The contrast is very striking, when we turn to the civilization of the Roman world, where changes of government followed each other with startling rapidity right up to the coming of the northern peoples. Everywhere in this great society, and at every time, we can find populations so detached from the existing order as to be ready for the wildest experiments. Nothing was left untried in this long period, no principle respected. Property, religion, the family were all called in question, and many, both in the North and South, were inclined to put the novel theories into practice. Absolutely nothing in the Graeco-Roman world rested on a solid foundation, not even the unity of the Empire, so necessary one would think for the general safety. Further, it was not only the armies, with their hosts of improvised Caesars, who were continually battering at this Palladium of society; the emperors themselves, beginning with Diocletian, had so little belief in the monarchy, that they established of their own accord a division of power. At last there were four rulers at once. Not a single institution, not a single principle, was fixed, in this unhappy society, which had no better reason for continuing to exist than the physical impossibility of deciding on which rock it should founder; until the moment came when it was crushed in the vigorous arms of the North, and forced at last to become something definite.

Thus we find a complete opposition between these two great societies, the Celestial and the Roman Empires. To the civilization of Eastern Asia I will add that of the Brahmans, which is also of extraordinary strength and universality. If in China every one, or nearly every one, has reached a certain level of knowledge, the same is the case among the Hindus. Each man, according to his caste, shares in a spirit that has lasted for ages, and knows exactly what he ought to learn, think, and believe.

Benediction on a King at his inauguration

1 May Indra, Pūshan, Varuria, Mitra, Agni, benignant Gods,
maintain this man in riches.
May the Ādityas and the Vive Devas set and support him in
supremest lustre.
2 May light, O Gods, be under his dominion, Agni, the Sun, all;
that is bright and golden.
Prostrate beneath our feet his foes and rivals. Uplift him to the
loftiest cope of heaven.
3 Through that most mighty prayer, O Jātavedas, wherewith thou
broughtest milk to strengthen Indra,
Even therewith exalt this man, O Agni, and give him highest rank
among his kinsmen.
4 I have assumed their sacrifice, O Agni, their hopes, their glory,
and their riches' fulness.
Prostrate beneath our feet his foes and rivals. Uplift him to the
loftiest cope of heaven...

A prayer to Agni for aid against an enemy

1 Burn thou, O Agni, with that heat of thine against the man
who hates us, whom we hate.
2 Flame thou, O Agni, with that flame of thine against the man
who hates us, whom we hate.
3 Shine out, O Agni, with that sheen of thine against the man who
hates us, whom we hate.
4 Blaze thou, O Agni, with that blaze of thine against the man
who hates us, whom we hate.
5 O Agni, with the splendour that is thine darken the man who
hates us, whom we hate...

A charm against all sorts of worms

1 With Indra's mighty millstone, that which crushes worms of
every sort,
I bray and bruise the worms to bits like vetches on the grinding
2 The Seen and the Invisible, and the Kurūru have I crushed:
Alāndus, and all Chhalunas, we bruise to pieces with our spell.
3 I kill Alāndus with a mighty weapon: burnt or not burnt they
now have lost their vigour.
Left or not left, I with the spell subdue them: let not a single
worm remain uninjured.
4 The worm that lives within the ribs, within the bowels, in the
Avaskava and Borer, these we bruise to pieces with the spell.
5 Worms that are found on mountains, in the forests, that live in
plants, in cattle, in the waters,
Those that have made their way within our bodies,—these I
destroy, the worms' whole generation...

A prayer or charm for the defeat and destruction of enemies in battle

1 Let the wise Agni go against our foemen, burning against ill-will
and imprecation
Let him bewilder our opponents' army, Let Jātavedas smite and
make them handless.
2 Mighty are ye for such a deed, O Maruts. Go forward, overcome
them and destroy them.
The Vasus slew, and these were left imploring. Wise Agni as our
messenger assail them!
3 O Maghavan, O Indra, thou who slayest fiends, and, Agni, thou,
Burn, both of you, against these men, the foeman's host that
threatens us.
4 Shot down the slope, with thy two tawny coursers, forth go thy
bolt, destroying foes, O Indra!
Slay those who fly, slay those who stand and follow.
On every side fulfil these men's intention.
5 Indra, bewilder thou the foemen's army.
With Agni's, Vāta's furious rush drive them away to every side.
6 Let Indra daze their army. Let the Maruts slay it with their
Let Agni take their eyes away, and let the conquered host

A man's love-charm

1 Let the Impeller goad thee on. Rest not in peace upon thy bed.
Terrible is the shaft of Love: therewith I pierce thee to the
2 That arrow winged with longing thought, its stem Desire, its
neck, Resolve,
Let Kāma, having truly aimed, shoot forth and pierce thee in
the heart.
3 The shaft of Kāma, pointed well, that withers and consumes the
With hasty feathers, all aglow, therewith I pierce thee to the
4 Pierced through with fiercely-burning heat, steal to me with thy
parching lips,
Gentle and humble, all mine own, devoted, with sweet words of
5 Away from mother and from sire I drive thee hither with a
That thou mayst be at my command and yield to every wish of
6 Mitra and Varuna, expel all thought and purpose from her
Deprive her of her own free will and make her subject unto me...

A charm consigning an enemy to the serpents for punishment

1 Agni is regent of the East, its warder is Asita, the Ādityas are
the arrows.
Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we
2 Indra is regent of the South, its warder Tiraschirāji, and the
shafts the Fathers.
Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we
3 Of the West region Varuna is ruler, Pridāku warder, Nourishment the arrows.
Worship, etc. [Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we
4 Soma is ruler of the Northern region, Svaja the warder, lightning's flash the arrows.
Worship, etc. [Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we
5 Vishnu is ruler of the firm-set region, Kalmāshagriva warder,
Plants the arrows.
Worship, etc. [Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we
6 Brihaspati controls the topmost region, Svitra is warder, and
the Rain the arrows.
Worship to these the regents, these the warders, and to the
arrows, yea, to these be worship!
Within your jaws we lay the man who hateth us and whom we

Glorification and benediction of cows

1 The kine have come and brought good fortune: let them rest in
the cow-pen and be happy near us.
Here let them stay prolific, many-coloured, and yield through
many morns their milk for Indra.
2 Indra aids him who offers sacrifice and praise: he takes not what
is his, and gives him more thereto.
Increasing ever more and ever more his wealth, he makes the
pious dwell within unbroken bounds.
3 These are ne'er lost, no robber ever injures them: no evil-minded
foe attempts to harass them.
The master of the kine lives a long life with these, the Cows
whereby he pours his gifts and serves the Gods...

A hymn to Manyu or Wrath

1 Borne on with thee, O Manyu girt by Maruts, let our brave men,
impetuous, bursting forward,
March on, like flames of fire in form, exulting, with pointed
arrows, sharpening their weapons.
2 Flashing like fire, be thou, O conquering Manyu, invoked, O
victor, as our army's leader.
Slay thou our foes, distribute their possession: show forth thy
vigour, scatter those who hate us.
3 O Manyu, overcome those who assail us. On! breaking, slaying,
crushing down the foemen.
They have not hindered thine impetuous vigour: mighty! sole
born! reduce them to subjection.
4 Alone of many thou art worshipped, Manyu: sharpen the spirit
of each clan for combat.
With thee to aid, O thou of perfect splendour, we raise the
glorious battle-shout for conquest.
5 Unyielding, bringing victory like Indra, O Manyu be thou here
our sovran ruler.
To thy dear name. O victor, we sing praises: we know the
spring from which thou art come hither.
6 Twin-borne with power, destructive bolt of thunder the highest
conquering might is thine, subduer!
Be friendly to us in thy spirit, Manyu! O much-invoked, in
shock of mighty battle!
7 For spoil let Varuna and Manyu give us the wealth of both sides
gathered and collected;
And let our enemies with stricken spirits, o'er-whelmed with
terror, sling away defeated...

A charm for success in gambling

1 Hither I call the Apsaras, victorious, who plays with skill,
Her who comes freely forth to view, who wins the stakes in games
of dice.
2 Hither I call that Apsaras who scatters and who gathers up.
The Apsaras who plays with skill and takes her winnings in the
3 Dancing around us with the dice, winning the wager by her
May she obtain the stake for us and gain the victory with skill.
May she approach us full of strength: let them not win this
wealth of ours.
4 Hither I call that Apsaras, the joyous, the delightful one—
Those nymphs who revel in the dice, who suffer grief and yield
to wrath...

-- The Hymns of the Atharvaveda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:59 am

Part 2 of 2

Among the Buddhists of Tibet and other parts of Upper Asia, nothing is rarer than a peasant who cannot read. Every one has similar convictions on the important matters of life.

Education is not widely diffused in Tibet. In the neighborhood of Shigatze children are taught comparatively well the three subjects of writing, arithmetic and reading, but in other places no provision exists for teaching children, except at monasteries, so that the boys and girls of ordinary people are generally left uneducated, especially the latter.

As might naturally be expected, educational establishments are few and far between. The only institutions worthy of the name are found on the premises of the Palace at Lhasa, and of the Tashi Lhunpo monasteries in Shigatze; all the rest are only ‘family schools’.

From the important position which priests command in Tibet, the system of training them is pretty well developed, and it is only at religious schools that one can obtain even a comparatively advanced education. Sons of ordinary people can enjoy the benefit of that education only by joining the order, for otherwise they are refused admission to Government schools.

The doors of those schools are, of course, shut against boys of humble origin. In Tibet there exists one class which is the lowest in the scale of social gradation. This lowest grade is subdivided into fishermen, ferry-men, smiths, and butchers. Smiths are relegated to this grade in Tibet just as in India, and for the same reason—that they pursue an objectionable occupation in making edged tools used for slaughtering living things, the most sinful occupation of all. People of this lowest grade are even prohibited from becoming priests, and if ever they enter the privileged order it is by some surreptitious means and by concealing[436] their real rank. In this way some men of the lowest origin have become priests at places remote from their native villages. Compared with these despised classes, the ordinary people may be said to enjoy a great advantage.

The classes who are entitled to enter the Government institutions are only four:

1. Ger-pa, Peers; 2. Ngak-pa, the manṭra clan, 3. Bon-bo, the Old Sect clan; 4. Shal-ngo, families of former chieftains...

As I have mentioned before, lads belonging to the higher ranks are entitled to enter Government schools, but the subjects taught there are at best imperfect. The lessons consist only of learning by memory, penmanship and counting. The first subject is the most important, next comes penmanship, the latter receiving even a larger allotment of hours than the other. Counting is a primitive affair, being taught by means of pebbles, pieces of wood, or shells. The subject matters of learning by memory are Buddhist Texts, the elements of grammar, and lastly rhetoric. This last is a subject of great ambition for Tibetan scholars, who are just like Chinese in their fondness for grandiloquent expressions. Documents to be presented to the Dalai Lama and other high personages bristle with high-flown phraseology and with characters rarely used in ordinary writing, and not found even in Buddhist Texts. The fact is that Tibetan scholars at present hold strange ideas about writing, being of opinion that they should aim at composing in a style unintelligible to ordinary persons. The more characters they can use which cannot easily be understood by others, the better proof, they think, have they given of the profundity of their scholarship. The most scholarly compositions are practically hierographic so far as their incomprehensibility is concerned.


The birch-rod is considered to be the most useful implement in teaching; not exactly a birch-rod, however, but a flat piece of bamboo. The cramming of difficult passages of rhetoric being the principal mode of learning imposed on pupils, their masters are invariably of opinion that they must make free use of the rod in order to quicken their pupils’[444] progress. The relation between masters and pupils does not differ much from that between gaolers and convicts. The latter, poor fellows, hold their masters in such dread that they find it exceedingly trying, at the sight of them and their formidable pedagogic weapons, to compose their minds and to go on unfalteringly with their lessons. They cower with fear, and are filled with the perturbing thought that the rod is sure to descend upon them for the slightest stumble they make in the path of learning. The ordinary way of using the rod is to give thirty blows with it on the left palm of the pupil. Prudence counsels the pupil to stretch out his hand with alacrity at the bidding of his hard master, for in case he hesitates to do so the penalty is generally doubled, and sixty blows instead of thirty are given. It is a cruel sight to see a little pupil holding out his open hand and submitting to the punishment with tearful eyes. Surely this is not education but mere cruelty...

Abuse is also considered as an efficient means of educating boys. “Beast,” “beggar,” “devil,” “ass,” “eater of parents’ flesh,” are epithets applied to backward boys by their teachers, and this custom of using foul language is naturally handed on from teachers to pupils, who when they grow up are sure to pass on those slanderous appellations to the next generation.

While the education of the sons of laymen is conducted with such severity, that of boy disciples by Lama priests is extremely lenient, and is quite in contrast to that of the others. The disciples are not even reprimanded, much less chastised, when they neglect their work. The priests generally leave them to do as they like, much as uxorious husbands do towards their wilful wives, so that it is no wonder that the disciples of Lamas very seldom make any good progress in learning. They are spoiled by the excessive indulgence of their masters. Some of these masters own the evil of their way of education, and are careful not to spoil the youthful pupils placed under their care, and it is precisely from among these latter disciples that priests of learning and ability may be expected.

The memorising part of the Tibetan system of education, as mentioned above, is a heavy burden on the pupils. To give some idea of what an important part this work occupies in their system, I may note that a young acolyte, who has grown to fifteen or sixteen years old, has to commit to memory, from the oral instruction of his teachers, from three hundred to five hundred pages of Buḍḍhist texts in the course of a year. He has then to undergo an examination on what he has learned. Even for a lad of weak memory, the number of pages is not less than one hundred in a year. For those who have grown older, that is for those whose age ranges between eighteen and thirty, the task imposed is still more formidable, being five to eight hundred and even one thousand pages. I was amazed at this mental feat of the Tibetan priests, for I could barely learn fifty sheets in six months, that being the minimum limit allotted for aspirants of poor memory.

-- Three Years in Tibet, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

Do we find the same uniformity among Europeans? The question is not worth asking. The Graeco-Roman civilization has no definitely marked colour, either throughout the nations as a whole, or even within the same people. I need not speak of Russia or most of the Austrian States; the proof would be too easy. But consider Germany or Italy (especially South Italy); Spain shows a similar picture, though in fainter lines; France is in the same position as Spain.

Take the case of France. I will not confine myself to the fact, which always strikes the most superficial observer, that between Paris and the rest of France there is an impassable gulf, and that at the very gates of the capital a new nation begins, which is quite different from that living within the walls. On this point there is no room for doubt, and those who base their conclusions, as to the unity of ideas and the fusion of blood, on the formal unity of our Government, are under a great illusion.

Not a single social law or root-principle of civilization is understood in the same way in all our departments. I do not refer merely to the peoples of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Limousin, Gascony, and Provence; every one knows how little one is like the other, and how they vary in their opinions. The important point is that, while in China, Tibet, and India the ideas essential to the maintenance of civilization are familiar to all classes, this is not at all the case among ourselves. The most elementary and accessible facts are sealed mysteries to most of our rural populations, who are absolutely indifferent to them; for usually they can neither read nor write, and have no wish to learn. They cannot see the use of such knowledge, nor the possibility of applying it. In such a matter, I put no trust in the promises of the law, or the fine show made by institutions, but rather in what I have seen for myself, and in the reports of careful observers. Different governments have made the most praiseworthy attempts to raise the peasants from their ignorance; not only are the children given every opportunity for being educated in their villages, but even adults, who are made conscripts at twenty, find in the regimental schools an excellent system of instruction in the most necessary subjects. Yet, in spite of these provisions, and the fatherly anxiety of the Government, in spite of the compelle intrare* ["Force them to enter."] which it is continually dinning into the ears of its agents, the agricultural classes learn nothing whatever. Like all those who have lived in the provinces, I have seen how parents never send their children to school without obvious reluctance, how they regard the hours spent there as a mere waste of time, how they withdraw them at once on the slightest pretext and never allow the compulsory number of years to be extended. Once he leaves school, the young man's first duty is to forget what he has learnt. This is, to a certain extent, a point of honour with him; and his example is followed by the discharged soldiers, who, in many parts of France, are not only ashamed of having learnt to read and write, but even affect to forget their own language, and often succeed in doing so. Hence I could more easily approve all the generous efforts that have been so fruitlessly made to educate our rural populations, if I were not convinced that the knowledge put before them is quite unsuitable, and that at the root of their apparent indifference there is a feeling of invincible hostility to our civilization. One proof lies in their attitude of passive resistance; but the spectre of another and more convincing argument appears before me, as soon as I see any instance of this obstinacy being overcome, under apparently favourable circumstances. In some respects the attempts at education are succeeding better than before. In our eastern departments and the great manufacturing towns there are many workmen who learn of their own accord to read and write. They live in a circle where such knowledge is obviously useful. But as soon as they have a sufficient grasp of the rudiments, how do they use them? Generally as a means of acquiring ideas and feelings which are now no longer instinctively, but actively, opposed to the social order. The only exception is to be found in the agricultural and even the industrial population of the Northwest, where knowledge up to an elementary point is far more widespread than in any other part, and where it is not only retained after the school time is over, but is usually made to serve a good end. As these populations have much more affinity than the others to the Germanic race, I am not surprised at the result. We see the same phenomenon in Belgium and the Netherlands.

If we go on to consider the fundamental beliefs and opinions of the people, the difference becomes still more marked. With regard to the beliefs we have to congratulate the Christian religion on not being exclusive or making its dogmas too narrow. If it had, it would have struck some very dangerous shoals. The bishops and the clergy have to struggle, as they have done for these five, ten, fifteen centuries, against the stream of hereditary tendencies and prejudices, which are the more formidable as they are hardly even admitted, and so can neither be fought nor conquered. There is no enlightened priest who does not know, after his mission-work in the villages, the deep cunning with which even the religious peasant will continue to cherish, in his inmost heart, some traditional idea that comes to the surface only at rare moments, in spite of himself. His complete confidence in his parish priest just stops short of what we might call his secret religion. Does he mention it to him? he denies it, will admit no discussion, and will not budge an inch from his convictions. This is the reason of the taciturnity that, in every province, is the main attitude of the peasant in face of the middle classes; it raises too an insuperable barrier between him and even the most popular landowners in his canton. With this view of civilization on the part of the majority of the people who are supposed to be most deeply attached to it, I can well believe that an approximate estimate of ten millions within our circle of culture, and twenty-six millions outside it, would be, if anything, an under-statement.

If our rural populations were merely brutal and ignorant, we might not take much notice of this cleavage, but console ourselves with the delusive hope of gradually winning them over, and absorbing them in the multitudes that are already civilized. But these peasants are like certain savage tribes: at first sight they seem brutish and unthinking, for they are outwardly self-effacing and humble. But if one digs even a little beneath the surface, into their real life, one finds that their isolation is voluntary, and comes from no feeling of weakness. Their likes and dislikes are not a matter of chance; everything obeys a logical sequence of definite ideas. When I spoke just now of religion, I might also have pointed out how very far removed our moral doctrines are from those of the peasants,* [A nurse of Touraine put a bird into the hands of the three-year-old boy of whom she was in charge, and encouraged him to pull out its wings and feathers. When the parents blamed her for teaching such wickedness, she replied, "It is to make him proud." This answer, given in 1847, goes back directly to the educational maxims in vogue at the time of Vercingetorix.] what a different sense they give to the word delicacy, how obstinately they cling to their custom of regarding every one who is not of peasant stock in the same way as the men of remote antiquity viewed the foreigner. It is true they do not murder him, thanks to the strange and mysterious terror inspired by laws they have not themselves made; but they do not conceal their hatred and distrust of him, and they take great pleasure in annoying him, if they can do it without risk. Does this mean that they are ill-natured? No, not among themselves — we may continually see them doing each .other little kindnesses. They simply look on themselves as a race apart, a race (if we may believe them) which is weak and oppressed, and obliged to deal crookedly, but which also keeps its stiff-necked and contemptuous pride. In some of our provinces the workman thinks himself of far better blood and older stock than his former master. Family pride, in some of the peasants, is at least equal to that of the nobility of the Middle Ages.* [A very few years ago there was a question of electing a churchwarden in a little obscure parish of French Brittany, that part of the old province which the true Bretons call the "Welsh," or "foreign," country. The church council, composed of peasants, deliberated for two days without being able to make up their minds; for the candidate before them, though rich and well esteemed as a good man and a good Christian, was a "foreigner." The council would not move from its opinion, although the "foreigner's" father, as well as himself, had been born in the district; it was still remembered that his grandfather, who had been dead for many years and had never known any member of the council, was an immigrant from another part of the country. The daughter of a peasant-proprietor makes a mesalliance if she marries a tailor or a miller or even a farmer, if he works for wages. It does not matter whether the husband is richer than she is; her crime is often punished, just the same, by a father's curse. Is not this case exactly like that of the churchwarden?]

We cannot doubt it; the lower strata of the French people have very little in common with the surface. They form an abyss over which civilization is suspended, and the deep stagnant waters, sleeping at the bottom of the gulf, will one day show their power of dissolving all that comes in their way. The most tragic crises of her history have deluged the country with blood, without the agricultural population playing any part except that which was forced on it. Where its immediate interests were not engaged, it let the storms pass by without troubling itself in the least. Those who are astonished and scandalized by such callousness say that the peasant is essentially immoral — which is both unjust and untrue. The peasants look on us almost in the light of enemies. They understand nothing of our civilization, they share in it unwillingly, and think themselves justified in profiting, as far as they can, by its misfortunes. If we put aside this antagonism, which is sometimes active but generally inert, we need not hesitate to allow them some high moral qualities, however strangely these may, at times, be manifested.

I may apply to the whole of Europe what I have just said of France, and conclude that modern civilization includes far more than it absorbs; in this it resembles the Roman Empire. Hence one cannot be confident that our state of society will last; and I see a clear proof of this in the smallness of its hold even over the classes raised a little above the country population. Our civilization may be compared to the temporary islands thrown up in the sea by submarine volcanoes. Exposed as they are to the destructive action of the currents, and robbed of the forces that first kept them in position, they will one day break up, and their fragments will be hurled into the gulf of the all-conquering waves. It is a sad end, and one which many noble races before ourselves have had to meet. The blow cannot be turned aside; it is inevitable. The wise man may see it coming, but can do nothing more. The most consummate statesmanship is not able for one moment to counteract the immutable laws of the world.

The reason is not far to seek. New race bodies are particularly flexible and plastic, affording great scope for the Egos who are reborn in them to improve these vehicles and progress thereby. The most advanced Egos are brought to birth in such bodies and improve them to the best of their ability. These Egos, however, are only apprentices as yet, and they cause the bodies to gradually crystallize and harden until the limit of improvement of that particular kind of body has been reached. Then forms for another new race are created, to afford the advancing Egos further scope for more extended experience and greater development. They discard the old race bodies for the new, their discarded bodies becoming the habitations for less advanced Egos who, in their turn, use them as stepping-stones on the path of progress. Thus the old race bodies are used by Egos of increasing inferiority, gradually degenerating until at last there are no Egos low enough to profit by rebirth in such bodies. The women then become sterile and the race-forms die.

We may easily trace this process by certain examples. The Teutonic-Anglo-Saxon race (particularly the American branch of it) has a softer, more flexible body and a more high-strung nervous system than any other race on earth at the present time. The Indian and Negro have much harder bodies and, because of the duller nervous system, are much less sensitive to lacerations. An Indian will continue to fight after receiving wounds the shock of which would prostrate or kill a white man, whereas the Indian will quickly recover. The Australian aborigines or Bushmen furnish an example of a race dying out on account of sterility, notwithstanding all that the British government is doing to perpetuate them. It has been said by white men against the white race, that wherever it goes the other races dies out. The whites have been guilty of fearful oppression against those other races, having in many cases massacred multitudes of the defenseless and unsuspecting natives -- as witness the conduct of the Spaniards towards the ancient Peruvians and Mexicans, to specify but one of many instances. The obligations resulting from such betrayal of confidence and abuse of superior intellect will be paid -- yea, the last, least iota! -- by those incurring them. It is equally true, however, that even had the whites not massacred, starved, enslaved, expatriated and otherwise maltreated those older races, the latter would nevertheless have died out just as surely, though more slowly, because such is the Law of Evolution -- the Order of Nature. At some future time the white race-bodies when they become inhabited by the Egos who are now embodied in red, black, yellow or brown skins, will have degenerated so far that they also will disappear, to give place to other and better vehicles.

Science speaks only of evolution. It fails to consider the lines of degeneration which are slowly but surely destroying such bodies as have crystallized beyond possibility of improvement.

-- The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception: An Elementary Treatise Upon Man's Past Evolution, Present Constitution and Future Development, by Max Heindel (1909)

But though thus unknown, despised, or hated by the majority of those who live under its shadow, our civilization is yet one of the most glorious monuments ever erected by the genius of man. It is certainly not distinguished by its power of invention; but putting this aside, we may say that it has greatly developed the capacity for understanding, and so for conquest. To mistake nothing is to take everything. If it has not founded the "exact sciences," it has at least made them exact, and freed them from errors to which, curiously enough, they were more liable than any other branch of knowledge. Thanks to its discoveries, it knows the material world better than all the societies which have gone before. It has guessed some of its chief laws, it can describe and explain them, and borrow from them a marvellous strength that passes a hundredfold the strength of a man. Little by little, by a skilful use of induction, it has reconstructed large periods of history of which the ancients never suspected the existence. The further we are from primitive times, the more clearly can we see them, and penetrate their mysteries. This is a great point of superiority, and one which we must, in fairness, allow to our civilization.

But when we have admitted this, should we be right in concluding, as is usually done, without reflexion, that it is superior to all the civilizations that have ever existed, and to all those that exist at the present day? Yes and no. Yes, because the extreme diversity of its elements allows it to rest on a powerful basis of comparison and analysis, and so to assimilate at once almost anything; yes, because this power of choice is favourable to its development in many different directions; yes again, because, thanks to the impulse of the Germanic element (which is too materialistic to be a destructive force) it has made itself a morality, the wise prescriptions of which were generally unknown before. If, however, we carry this idea of its greatness so far as to regard it as having an absolute and unqualified superiority, then I say no, the simple fact being that it excels in practically nothing whatever.

In politics, we see it in bondage to the continual change brought about by the different requirements of the races which it includes
. In England, Holland, Naples, and Russia, its principles are still fairly stable, because the populations are more homogeneous, or at any rate form groups of the same kind, with similar instincts. But everywhere else, especially in France, Central Italy, and Germany — where variations of race are infinite — theories of government can never rise to the rank of accepted truths, and political science is a matter of continual experiment. As our civilization is unable to have any sure confidence in itself, it is without the stability that is one of the most important qualities mentioned in my definition. This weakness is to be found neither in the Buddhist and Brahman societies, nor in the Celestial Empire; and these civilizations have in this respect an advantage over ours. The whole people is at one in its political beliefs. When there is a wise government, and the ancient institutions are bearing good fruit, every one is glad. When they are in clumsy hands, and injure the commonwealth, they are pitied by the citizens as a man pities himself; but they never cease to be respected. There is sometimes a desire to purify them, but never to sweep them away or replace them by others. It does not need very keen eyes to see here a guarantee of long life which our civilization is very far from possessing.

In art, our inferiority to India, as well as to Egypt, Greece, and America, is very marked. Neither in sublimity nor beauty have we anything to compare with the masterpieces of antiquity. When our day has drawn to its close, and the ruins of our towns and monuments cover the face of the land, the traveller will discover nothing, in the forests and marshes that will skirt the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine, to rival the gorgeous ruins of Philse, Nineveh, Athens, Salsette, and the valley of Tenochtitlan.
If future ages have something to learn from us in the way of positive science, this is not the case with poetry, as is clearly proved by the despairing admiration that we so justly feel for the intellectual wonders of foreign civilizations.

So far as the refinement of manners is concerned, we have obviously changed for the worse. This is shown by our own past history; there were periods when luxury, elegance, and sumptuousness were understood far better and practised on a far more lavish scale than to-day. Pleasure was certainly confined to a smaller number. Comparatively few were in what we should call a state of well-being. On the other hand, if we admit (as we must) that refinement of manners elevates the minds of the multitudes who look on, as well as ennobling the life of a few favoured individuals, that it spreads a varnish of beauty and grandeur over the whole country, and that these become the common inheritance of all — then our civilization, which is essentially petty on its external side, cannot be compared to its rivals.

I may add, finally, that the active element distinguishing any civilization is identical with the most striking quality, whatever it may be, of the dominant race. The civilization is modified and transformed according to the changes undergone by this race, and when the race itself has disappeared, carries on for some time the impulse originally received from it. Thus the kind of order kept in any society is the best index to the special capacities of the people and to the stage of progress to which they have attained: it is the clearest mirror in which their individuality can be reflected.

I see that the long digression, into which I have strayed, has carried me further than I expected. I do not regret it, for it has enabled me to vent certain ideas that the reader might well keep in mind. But it is now time to return to the main course of my argument, the chain of which is still far from being complete.

I established first that the life or death of societies was the result of internal causes. I have said what these causes are, and described their essential nature, in order that they may be more easily recognized. I have shown that they are generally referred to a wrong source; and in looking for some sign that could always distinguish them, and indicate their presence, I found it in the capacity to create a civilization. As it seemed impossible to discover a clear conception of this term, it was necessary to define it, as I have done. My next step must be to study the natural and unvarying phenomenon which I have identified as the latent cause of the life and death of societies. This, as I have said, consists in the relative worth of the different races. Logic requires me to make clear at once what I understand by the word race. This will be the subject of the following chapter.  
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:27 am

CHAPTER X: SOME ANTHROPOLOGISTS REGARD MAN AS HAVING A MULTIPLE ORIGIN* [This chapter was, of course, written before the appearance of the "Origin of Species" or the "Descent of Man"; see author's preface. — Tr.]

We must first discuss the word race in its physiological sense.

A good many observers, who judge by first impressions and so take extreme views, assert that there are such radical and essential differences between human families that one must refuse them any identity of origin.* [These views are quoted by Flourens (Eloge de Blumenbach, Memoire de l'Academie des Sciences), who himself dissents from them.] The writers who adhere to such a notion assume many other genealogies by the side of that from Adam. To them there is no original unity in the species, or rather there is no single species; there are three or four, or even more, which produce perfectly distinct types, and these again have united to form hybrids.

The supporters of this theory easily win belief by citing the clear and striking differences between certain human groups. When we see before us a man with a yellowish skin, scanty hair and beard, a large face, a pyramidal skull, small stature, thick-set limbs, and slanting eyes with the skin of the eyelids turned so much outwards that the eye will hardly open* [This and the other illustrations in this chapter are taken from Prichard, "Natural History of Man."] — we recognize a very well-marked type, the main features of which it is easy to bear in mind.

From him we turn to another — a negro from the West Coast of Africa, tall, strong-looking, with thick-set limbs and a tendency to fat. His colour is no longer yellowish, but entirely black; his hair no longer thin and wiry, but thick, coarse, woolly, and luxuriant; his lower jaw juts out, the shape of the skull is what is known as prognathous. "The long bones stand out, the front of the tibia and the fibula are more convex than in a European, the calves are very high and reach above the knee; the feet are quite flat, and the heel-bone, instead of being arched, is almost in a straight line with the other bones of the foot, which is very large. The hand is similarly formed."

When we look for a moment at an individual of this type, we are involuntarily reminded of the structure of the monkey, and are inclined to admit that the negro races of West Africa come from a stock that has nothing in common, except the human form, with the Mongolian.

We come next to tribes whose appearance is still less flattering to the self-love of mankind than that of the Congo negro. Oceania has the special privilege of providing the most ugly, degraded, and repulsive specimens of the race, which seem to have been created with the express purpose of forming a link between man and the brute pure and simple. By the side of many Australian tribes, the African negro himself assumes a value and dignity, and seems to derive from a nobler source. In many of the wretched inhabitants of this New World, the size of the head, the extreme thinness of the limbs, the famished look of the body, are absolutely hideous. The hair is flat or wavy, and generally woolly, the flesh is black on a foundation of grey.

When, after examining these types, taken from all the quarters of the globe, we finally come back to the inhabitants of Europe, and of South and West Asia, we find them so superior in beauty, in just proportion of limb and regularity of feature, that we are at once tempted to accept the conclusions of those who assert the multiplicity of races. Not only are these peoples more beautiful than the rest of mankind, which is, I confess, a pestilent congregation of ugliness;* [Meiners was so struck with the repulsive appearance of the greater part of humanity that he imagined a very simple system of classification, containing only two categories — the beautiful, namely the white race, and the ugly, which includes all the others (Grundriss der Geschichte der Menschheit). The reader will see that I have not thought it necessary to go through all the ethnological theories. I only mention the most important.] not only have they had the glory of giving the world such admirable types as a Venus, an Apollo, a Farnese Hercules; but also there is a visible hierarchy of beauty established from ancient times even among themselves, and in this natural aristocracy the Europeans are the most eminent, by their grace of outline and strength of muscular developement. The most reasonable view appears to be that the families into which man is divided are as distinct as are animals of different species. Such was the conclusion drawn from simple observation, and so long as only general facts were in question, it seemed irrefutable.

Camper was one of the first to reduce these observations to some kind of system. He was no longer satisfied with merely superficial evidence, but wished to give his proofs a mathematical foundation; he tried to define anatomically the differences between races. He succeeded in establishing a strict method that left no room for doubt, and his views gained the numerical accuracy without which there can be no science. His method was to take the front part of the skull and measure the inclination of the profile by means of two lines which he called the facial lines. Their intersection formed an angle, the size of which gave the degree of elevation attained by the race to which the skull belonged. One of these lines connected the base of the nose with the orifice of the ear; the other was tangential to the most prominent part of the forehead and the jut of the upper jaw. On the basis of the angle thus formed, he constructed a scale including not only man but all kinds of animals. At the top stood the European; and the more acute the angle, the further was the distance from the type which, according to Camper, was the most perfect. Thus birds and fishes showed smaller angles than the various mammals. A certain kind of ape reached 42, and even 50. Then came the heads of the African negro and the Kalmuck, which touched 70. The European stood at 80°, and, to quote the inventor's own words, which are very flattering to our own type, "On this difference of 10°the superior beauty of the European, what one might call his 'comparative beauty,' depends; the 'absolute beauty' that is so striking in some of the works of ancient sculpture, as in the head of Apollo and the Medusa of Sosicles, is the result of a still greater angle, amounting in this instance to 100."* [Prichard, op. cit. (2nd edition, 1845), p. 112.]

This method was attractive by its simplicity. Unhappily, the facts are against it, as against so many systems. By a series of accurate observations, Owen showed that, in the case of monkeys, Camper had studied the skulls only of the young animals; but since, in the adults, the growth of the teeth and jaws, and the development of the zygomatic arch, were not accompanied by a corresponding enlargement of the brain, the numerical difference between these and human skulls was much greater than Camper had supposed, since the facial angle of the black orang-outang or the highest type of chimpanzee was at most 30°or 35. From this to the 70°of the negro and the Kalmuck the gap was too great for Camper's scale to have any significance.

Camper's theory made considerable use of phrenology. He attempted to discover a corresponding development of instinct as he mounted his scale from the animals to man. But here too the facts were against him. The elephant, for example, whose intelligence is certainly greater than the orang-outang's, has a far more acute facial angle; and even the most docile and intelligent monkeys do not belong to the species which are 'the "highest" in Camper's series.

Beside these two great defects, the method is very open to attack in that it does not apply to all the varieties of the human race. It leaves out of account the tribes with pyramidally shaped heads, who form, however, a striking division by themselves.

Blumenbach, who held the field against his predecessor, elaborated a system in his turn; this was to study a man's head from the top. He called his discovery norma verticalis, the "vertical method." He was confident that the comparison of heads according to their width brought out the chief differences in the general configuration of the skull. According to him, the study of this part of the body is so pregnant with results, especially in its bearing on national character, that it is impossible to measure all the differences merely by lines and angles; to reach a satisfying basis of classification, we must consider the heads from the point of view in which we can take in at one glance the greatest number of varieties. His idea was, in outline, as follows: "Arrange the skulls that you wish to compare in such a way that the jaw-bones are on the same horizontal line; in other words, let each rest on its lower jaw. Then stand behind the skulls and fix the eye on the vertex of each. In this way you will best see the varieties of shape that have most to do with national character; these consist either (i1 in the direction of the jaw-bone and maxillary, or (2) in the breadth or narrowness of the oval outline presented by the top half of the skull, or (3) in the flattened or vaulted form of the frontal bone."* [Prichard, p. 116.]

Blumenbach's system resulted in the division of mankind into five main categories, which were in their turn subdivided into a certain number of types and classes.

This classification was of very doubtful value. Like that of Camper, it overlooked many important characteristics. It was partly to escape such objections that Owen proposed to examine skulls, not from the top, but from the bottom. One of the chief results of this new method was to show such a strong and definite line of difference between a man and an orang-outang that it became for ever impossible to find the link that Camper imagined to exist between the two species. In fact, one glance at the two skulls, from Owen's point of view, is enough to bring out their radical difference. The diameter from front to back is longer in the orang-outang than in man; the zygomatic arch, instead of being wholly in the front part of the base, is in the middle, and occupies just a third of its diameter. Finally the position of the occipital orifice, which has such a marked influence on general structure and habits, is quite different. In the skull of a man, it is almost at the centre of the base; in that of an orang-outang, it is a sixth of the way from the hinder end.* [Ibid, pp. 117-18.]

Owen's observations have, no doubt, considerable value; I would prefer, however, the most recent of the craniological systems, which is at the same time, in many ways, the most ingenious, I mean that of the American scholar Morton, adopted by [Carl Gustav] Carus.* [Carus, op. cit., from which the following details are taken.] In outline this is as follows:

To show the difference of races, Morton and Carus started from the idea, that the greater the size of the skull, the higher the type to which the individual belonged, and they set out to investigate whether the development of the skull is equal in all the human races.

To solve this question, Morton took a certain number of heads belonging to whites, Mongols, negroes, and Redskins of North America. He stopped all the openings with cotton, except the foramen magnum, and completely filled the inside with carefully dried grains of pepper. He then compared the number of grains in each. This gave him the following table:

[Race] / Number of skulls measured / Average number of grains / Maximum number of grains / Minimum number of grains.

White races / 52 / 87 / 109 / 75
Yellow Races (Mongols) / 10 / 83 / 93 / 69
Yellow Races (Malays) / 18 / 81 / 89 / 64
Redskins / 147 / 82 / 100 / 60
Negroes / 29 / 78 / 94 / 65

The results set down in the first two columns are certainly very curious. On the other hand, I attach little importance to those in the last two; for if the extraordinary variations from the average in the second column are to have any real significance, Morton should have taken a far greater number of skulls, and further, have given details as to the social position of those to whom the skulls belonged. He was probably able to procure, in the case of the whites and the Redskins, heads which had belonged to men at any rate above the lowest level of society, while it is not likely that he had access to the skulls of negro chiefs, or of Chinese mandarins. This explains how he has been able to assign the number 100 to an American Indian, while the most intelligent Mongol whom he has examined does not rise above 93, and is thus inferior even to the negro, who reaches 94. Such results are a mere matter of chance. They are quite in- complete and unscientific; in such questions, however, one cannot be too careful to avoid judgments founded merely on individual cases. I am inclined therefore to reject altogether the second half of Morton's calculations.

I must also question one detail in the other half. In the second column, there is a clear gradation from the number 87, indicating the capacity of the white man's skull, to the numbers 83 and 78 for the yellow and black man respectively. But the figures 83, 81, 82, for the Mongols, Malays, and Redskins, give average results which evidently shade into one another; all the more so, because Carus does not hesitate to count the Mongols and Malays as the same race, and consequently to put the numbers 83 and 81 together. But, in that case, why allow the number 82 to mark a distinct race, and thus create arbitrarily a fourth great division of mankind?

This anomaly, however, actually buttresses the weak point in Carus' system. He likes to think that, just as we see our planet pass through the four stages of day and night, evening and morning twilight, so there must be in the human species four subdivisions corresponding to these. He sees here a symbol, which is always a temptation for a subtle mind. Carus yields to it, as many of his learned fellow-countrymen would have done in his place. The white races are the nations of the day; the black those of the night; the yellow those of the Eastern, and the red those of the Western twilight. We may easily guess the ingenious comparisons suggested by such a picture. Thus, the European nations, owing to the brilliance of their scientific knowledge and the clear outlines of their civilization, are obviously in the full glare of day, while the negroes sleep in the darkness of ignorance, and the Chinese live in a half-light that gives them an incomplete, though powerful, social development. As for the Redskins, who are gradually disappearing from the earth, where can we find a more beautiful image of their fate than the setting sun?

Unhappily, comparison is not proof, and by yielding too easily to this poetic impulse, Carus has a little damaged his fine theory. The same charge also may be levelled at this as at the other ethnological doctrines; Carus does not manage to include in a systematic whole the various physiological differences between one race and another.* [There are some apparently trivial differences which are, however, very characteristic. A certain fullness at the side of the lower lip, that we see among Germans and English, is an example. This mark of Germanic origin may also be found in some faces of the Flemish School, in the Rubens Madonna at Dresden, in the Satyrs and Nymphs in the same collection, in a Lute-player of Mieris, &c. No craniological method can take account of such details, though they have a certain importance, in view of the mixed character of our races.]

The supporters of the theory of racial unity have not failed to seize on this weak point, and to claim that, where we cannot arrange the observations on the shape of the skull in such a way as to constitute a proof of the original separation of types, we must no longer consider the variations as pointing to any radical difference, but merely regard them as the result of secondary and isolated causes, with no specific relevance.

The cry of victory may be raised a little too soon. It may be hard to find the correct method, without being necessarily impossible. The "unitarians," however, do not admit this reservation. They support their view by observing that certain tribes that belong to the same race show a very different physical type. They cite, for instance, the various branches of the hybrid Malayo-Polynesian family, without taking account of the proportion in which the elements are mingled in each case. If groups (they say) with a common origin can show quite a different conformation of features and skull, the unity of the human race cannot be disproved along these lines at all. However foreign the negro or Mongol type may appear to European eyes, this is no evidence of their different origin; the reasons why the human families have diverged will be found nearer to hand, and we may regard these physiological deviations merely as the result of certain local causes acting for a definite period of time.* [Job Ludolf, whose data on this subject were necessarily very incomplete and inferior to those we have now, is none the less opposed to the opinion accepted by Prichard. His remarks on the black race are striking and unanswerable, and I cannot resist the pleasure of quoting them: "It is not my purpose to speak here about the blackness of the Ethiop; most people may, if they will, attribute it to the heat of the sun and the torrid zone. Yet even within the sun's equatorial path there are peoples who, if not white, are at least not quite black. Many who live outside either tropic are further from the Equator than the Persians or Syrians — for instance, the inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope, who, however, are absolutely black. If you say that blackness belongs solely to Africa and the sons of Ham, you must still allow that the Malabars and the Cingalese and other even more remote peoples of Asia are equally black. If you regard the climate and soil as the reason, then why do not white men become black when they settle down in these regions? If you take refuge in 'hidden qualities,' you would do better to confess your ignorance at once" (Jobus Ludolfus, Commentarium ad Historiam AEthiopicam). I will add a short and conclusive passage of Mr. Pickering. He speaks of the regions inhabited by the black race in these words: "Excluding the northern and southern extremes, with the tableland of Abyssinia, it holds all the more temperate and fertile parts of the Continent." Thus it is just where we find most of the pure negroes that it is least hot . . . (Pickering, ''The Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution." The essay is to be found in the " Records of the United States' Exploring Expedition during the Years 1838-42," vol. ix).]

In face of so many objections, good and bad, the champions of multiplicity tried to extend the sphere of their arguments. Relying no longer on the mere study of skulls, they passed to that of the individual man as a whole. In order to prove (as is quite true) that the differences do not merely lie in the facial appearance and the bony conformation of the head, they brought forward other important differences with regard to the shape of the pelvis, the proportions of the limbs, the colour of the skin, and the nature of the capillary system.

Camper and other anthropologists had already recognized that the pelvis of the negro showed certain peculiarities. Dr. Vrolik pushed these inquiries further, and observed that the difference between the male and female pelvis was far less marked in the European, while in the negro race he saw in the pelvis of both sexes a considerable approximation to the brute. Assuming that the configuration of the pelvis necessarily affected that of the embryo, he inferred a difference of origin.* [Prichard, p. 124.]

Weber attacked this theory, with little result. He had to recognize that some formations of the pelvis were found in one race more frequently than in another; and all he could do was to show that there were some exceptions to Vrolik's rule, and that certain American, African, and Mongolian specimens showed formations that were usually confined to Europeans. This does not prove very much, especially as, in speaking of these exceptions, Weber does not seem to have inquired whether the peculiar configuration in question might not result from a mixture of blood.

With regard to the size of the limbs, the opponents of a common origin assert that the European is better proportioned. The answer — which is a good one — is that we have no reason to be surprised at the thinness of the extremities in peoples who live mainly on vegetables or have not generally enough to eat. But as against the argument from the extraordinary development of the bust among the Quichuas, the critics who refuse to recognize this as a specific difference are on less firm ground. Their contention that the development among the mountaineers of Peru is explained by the height of the Andes, is hardly serious. There are many mountain-peoples in the world who are quite differently constituted from the Quichuas.* [Neither the Swiss nor the Tyrolese, nor the Highlanders of Scotland, nor the Balkan Slavs, nor the Himalaya tribes have the same hideous appearance as the Quichuas.]

The next point is the colour of the skin. The unitarians deny this any specific influence, first because the colour depends on facts of climate, and is not permanent — a very bold assertion; secondly because the colour is capable of infinite gradation, passing insensibly from white to yellow, from yellow to black, without showing a really definite line of cleavage. This proves nothing but the existence of a vast number of hybrids, a fact which the unitarians are continually neglecting, to the great prejudice of their theory.

As to the specific character of the hair, Flourens is of opinion that this is no argument against an original unity of race.

After this rapid review of the divergent theories I come to the great scientific stronghold of the unitarians, an argument of great weight, which I have kept to the end — I mean the ease with which the different branches of the human family create hybrids, and the fertility of these hybrids.

The observations of naturalists seem to prove that, in the animal or vegetable world, hybrids can be produced only from allied species, and that, even so, they are condemned to barrenness. It has also been observed that between related species intercourse, although possibly fertile, is repugnant, and usually has to be effected by trickery or force. This would tend to show that in the free state the number of hybrids is even more limited than when controlled by man. We may conclude that the power of producing fertile offspring is among the marks of a distinct species.

As nothing leads us to believe that the human race is outside this rule, there is no answer to this argument, which more than any other has served to hold in check the forces opposed to unity. We hear, it is true, that in certain parts of Oceania the native women who have become mothers by Europeans are no longer fitted for impregnation by their own kind. Assuming this to be true, we might make it the basis of a more profound inquiry; but, so far as the present discussion goes, we could not use it to weaken the general principle of the fertility of human hybrids and the infertility of all others; it has no bearing on any conclusions that may be drawn from this principle.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:53 am


The unitarians say that the separation of the races is merely apparent, and due to local influences, such as are still at work, or to accidental variations of shape in the ancestor of some particular branch. All mankind is, for them, capable of the same improvement; the original type, though more or less disguised, persists in unabated strength, and the negro, the American savage, the Tungusian of Northern Siberia, can attain a beauty of outline equal to that of the European, and would do so, if they were brought up under similar conditions. This theory cannot be accepted.

We have seen above that the strongest scientific rampart of the unitarians lay in the fertility of human hybrids. Up to now, this has been very difficult to refute, but perhaps it will not always be so; at any rate, I should not think it worth while to pause over this argument if it were not supported by another, of a very different kind, which, I confess, gives me more concern. It is said that Genesis does not admit of a multiple origin for our species.

If the text is clear, positive, peremptory, and incontestable, we must bow our heads; the greatest doubts must yield, reason can only declare herself imperfect and inferior, the origin of mankind is single, and everything that seems to prove the contrary is merely a delusive appearance. It is better to let darkness gather round a point of scholarship, than to enter the lists against such an authority. But if the Bible is not explicit, if the Holy Scriptures, which were written to shed light on quite other questions than those of race, have been misunderstood, and if without doing them violence one can draw a different meaning from them, then I shall not hesitate to go forward.

We must, of course, acknowledge that Adam is the ancestor of the white race. The scriptures are evidently meant to be so understood, for the generations deriving from him are certainly white. This being admitted, there is nothing to show that, in the view of the first compilers of the Adamite genealogies, those outside the white race were counted as part of the species at all. Not a word is said about the yellow races, and it is only an arbitrary interpretation of the text that makes us regard the patriarch Ham as black. Of course the translators and commentators, in calling Adam the common ancestor of all men, have had to enrol among his descendants all the peoples who have lived since his time. According to them, the European nations are of the stock of Japhet, hither Asia was occupied by the Semites, and the regions of Africa by the Hamites, who are, as I say, unreasonably considered to be of negro origin. The whole scheme fits admirably together — for one part of the world. But what about the other part? It is simply left out.

For the moment, I do not insist on this line of argument. I do not wish to run counter to even literal interpretations of the text, if they are generally accepted. I will merely point out that we might, perhaps, doubt their value, without going beyond the limits imposed by the Church; and then I will ask whether we may admit the basic principle of the unitarians, such as it is, and yet somehow explain the facts otherwise than they do. In other words, I will simply ask whether independently of any question of an original unity or multiplicity, there may not exist the most radical and far-reaching differences, both physical and moral, between human races.

The racial identity of all the different kinds of dog is admitted by Frederic Cuvier among others;* [Annales du Museum, vol. xi, p. 458.] but no one would say that in all dogs, without distinction of species, we find the same shapes, instincts, habits, and qualities. The same is true of horses, bulls, bears, and the like. Everywhere we see identity of origin, diversity of everything else, a diversity so deep that it cannot be lost except by crossing, and even then the products do not return to a real identity of nature. On the other hand, so long as the race is kept pure, the special characteristics remain unchanged, and are reproduced for generations without any appreciable difference.

This fact, which is indisputable, has led some to ask whether in the various kinds of domestic animals we can recognize the shapes and instincts of the primitive stock. The question seems for ever insoluble. It is impossible to determine the form and nature of a primitive type, and to be certain how far the specimens we see to-day deviate from it. The same problem is raised in the case of a large number of vegetables. Man especially, whose origin offers a more interesting study than that of all the rest, seems to resist all explanation, from this point of view.

The different races have never doubted that the original ancestor of the whole species had precisely their own characteristics. On this point, and this alone, tradition is unanimous. The white peoples have made for themselves an Adam and an Eve that Blumenbach would have called Caucasian; whereas in the "Arabian Nights " — a book which, though apparently trivial, is a mine of true sayings and well-observed facts — we read that some negroes regard Adam and his wife as black, and since these were created in the image of God, God must also be black and the angels too, while the prophet of God was naturally too near divinity to show a white skin to his disciples.

Unhappily, modern science has been able to provide no clue to the labyrinth of the various opinions. No likely hypothesis has succeeded in lightening this darkness, and in all probability the human races are as different from their common ancestor, if they have one, as they are from each other. I will therefore assume without discussion the principle of unity; and my only task, in the narrow and limited field to which I am confining myself, is to explain the actual deviation from the primitive type.  

The causes are very hard to disentangle. The theory of the unitarians attributes the deviation, as I have already said, to habits, climate, and locality. It is impossible to agree with this.* [The unitarians are continually bringing forward comparisons between man and the animals in support of their theory; I have just been using such a line of argument myself. It only applies, however, within limits, and I could not honestly avail myself of it in speaking of the modification of species by climate. In this respect the difference between man and the animals is radical and (one might almost say) specific. There is a geography of animals, as there is of plants; but there is no geography of man. It is only in certain latitudes that certain vegetables, mammals, reptiles, fishes, and molluscs can exist; man, in all his varieties, can live equally well everywhere. In the case of the animals this fully explains a vast number of differences in organization; and I can easily believe that the species that cannot cross a certain meridian or rise to a certain height above sea-level without dying are very dependent upon the influence of climate and quick to betray its effects in their forms and instincts. It is just, however, because man is absolutely free from such bondage that I refuse to be always comparing his position, in face of the forces of nature, with that of the animals.] Changes have certainly been brought about in the constitution of races, since the dawn of history, by such external influences; but they do not seem to have been important enough to be able to explain fully the many vital divergences that exist. This will become clear in a moment.

I will suppose that there are two tribes which still bear a resemblance to the primitive type, and happen to be living, the one in a mountainous country in the interior of a continent, the other on an island in the midst of the ocean. The atmosphere and the food conditions of each will be quite different. I will assume that the one has many ways of obtaining food, the other very few. Further, I will place the former in a cold climate, the second under a tropical sun. By this means the external contrast between them will be complete. The course of time will add its own weight to the action of the natural forces, and there is no doubt that the two groups will gradually accumulate some special characteristics which will distinguish them from each other. But even after many centuries no vital or organic change will have taken place in their constitution. This is proved by the fact that we find peoples of a very similar type, living on opposite sides of the world and under quite different conditions, of climate and everything else. Ethnologists are agreed on this point and some have even believed that the Hottentots are a Chinese colony — a hypothesis impossible on other grounds — on account of their likeness to the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire.* [Barrow is the author of this theory, which he bases on certain points of resemblance in the shape of the head and the yellowish colour of the skin in the natives of the Cape of Good Hope. A traveller, whose name I forget, has even brought additional evidence by observing that the Hottentots usually wear a head-dress like the conical hat of the Chinese.] In the same way, some have seen a great resemblance between the portraits we have of the ancient Etruscans and the Araucans of South America. In features and general shape the Cherokees seem almost identical with many of the Italian peoples, such as the Calabrians. The usual type of face among the inhabitants of Auvergne, especially the women, is far less like the ordinary European's than that of many Indian tribes of North America. Thus when we grant that nature can produce similar types in widely separated countries, under different conditions of life and climate, it becomes quite clear that the human races do not take their qualities from any of the external forces that are active at the present day.

I would not, however, deny that local conditions may favour the deepening of some particular skin-colour, the tendency to obesity, the development of the chest muscles, the lengthening of the arms or the lower limbs, the increase or decrease of physical strength. But, I repeat, these are not essential points; and to judge from the very slight difference made by the alteration of local conditions in the shape of the body, there is no reason to believe that they have ever had very much influence. This is an argument of considerable weight.

Although we do not know what cataclysmal changes may have been effected in the physical organization of the races before the dawn of history, we may at least observe that this period extends only to about half the age attributed to our species. If for three or four thousand years the darkness is impenetrable, we still have another period of three thousand years, of which we can go right back to the beginning in the case of certain nations. Everything tends to show that the races which were then known, and which have remained relatively pure since that time, have not greatly changed in their outward appearance, although some of them no longer live in the same places, and so are no longer affected by the same external causes. Take, for example, the Arabs of the stock of Ishmael. We still find them, just as they are represented in the Egyptian monuments, not only in the parched deserts of their own land, but in the fertile, and often damp, regions of Malabar and the Coromandel Coast, in the islands of the Indies, and on many points of the north coast of Africa, where they are, as a fact, more mixed than anywhere else. Traces of them are still found in some parts of Roussillon, Languedoc, and the Spanish coast, although almost two centuries have passed away since their invasion. If the mere influence of environment had the power, as is supposed, of setting up and taking away the limits between organic types, it would have not allowed these to persist so long. The change of place would have been followed by a corresponding change of form.

After the Arabs, I will mention the Jews, who are still more remarkable in this connexion, as they have settled in lands with very different climates from that of Palestine, and have given up their ancient mode of life. The Jewish type has, however, remained much the same; the modifications it has undergone are of no importance and have never been enough, in any country or latitude, to change the general character of the race. The warlike Rechabites of the Arabian desert, the peaceful Portuguese, French, German, and Polish Jews — they all look alike. I have had the opportunity of examining closely one of the last kind. His features and profile clearly betrayed his origin. His eyes especially were unforgettable. This denizen of the north, whose immediate ancestors had lived, for many generations, in the snow, seemed to have been just tanned by the rays of the Syrian sun. The Semitic face looks exactly the same, in its main characteristics, as it appears on the Egyptian paintings of three or four thousand years ago, and more; and we find it also, in an equally striking and recognizable form, under the most varied and disparate conditions of climate. The identity of descendant and ancestor does not stop at the features; it continues also in the shape of the limbs and the temperament. The German Jews are usually smaller and more slender in build than the men of European race among whom they have lived for centuries. Further, the marriageable age is much earlier among them than among their fellow-countrymen of another race.* [Muller, Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen, vol. ii, p. 639.]

This, by the way, is an assertion diametrically opposed to the opinion of Prichard, who in his zeal for proving the unity of the species, tries to show that the age of puberty, for the two sexes, is the same everywhere and in all races.* [Prichard, "Natural History of Man," 2nd edition, pp. 484 et sqq.] The reasons which he advances are drawn from the Old Testament in the case of the Jews, and, in the case of the Arabs, from the religious law of the Koran, by which the age of marriage is fixed, for girls, at fifteen, and even (in the opinion of Abu- Hanifah) at eighteen.

These two arguments seem very questionable. In the first place, the Biblical evidence is not admissible on this point, as it often includes facts that contradict the ordinary course of nature. Sarah, for example, was brought to bed of a child in extreme old age, when Abraham himself had reached a hundred years;* [Genesis xxi, 5.] to such an event ordinary reasoning cannot apply. Secondly, as to the views and ordinances of the Mohammedan law, I may say that the Koran did not intend merely to make sure of the physical fitness of the woman before authorizing the marriage. It wished her also to be far enough advanced in education and intelligence to be able to understand the serious duties of her new position. This is shown by the pains taken by the prophet to prescribe that the girl's religious instruction shall be continued to the time of her marriage. It is easy to see why, from this point of view, the day should have been put off as long as possible and why the law-giver thought it so important to develop the reasoning powers, instead of being as hasty in his ordinances as nature is in hers. This is not all. Against the serious evidence brought forward by Prichard, there are some conclusive arguments, though of a lighter nature, that decide the question in favour of my view.

The poets, in their stories of love, are concerned merely with showing their heroines in the flower of their beauty, without thinking of their moral development; and the Oriental poets have always made their girl-lovers younger than the age prescribed by the Koran. Zuleika and Leila are certainly not yet fourteen. In India, the difference is still more marked. Sakuntala would be a mere child in Europe. The best age of love for an Indian girl is from nine to twelve years. It is a very general opinion, long accepted and established among the Indian, Persian, and Arab races, that the spring of life, for a woman, flowers at an age that we should call a little precocious. Our own writers have for long followed the lead, in this matter, of their Roman models. These, like their Greek teachers, regarded fifteen as the best age. Since our literature has been influenced by Northern ideas,* [We must make an exception in the case of Shakespeare, who is painting a picture of Italy. Thus in Romeo and Juliet Capulet says: "My child is yet a stranger in the world; She hath not seen the change of fourteen years; Let two more summers wither in their pride; Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride." To which Paris answers: "Younger than she are happy mothers made."] we have seen in our novels nothing but girls of eighteen, or even older.

Returning now to more serious arguments, we find them equally abundant. In addition to what I have said about the German Jews, it may be mentioned that in many parts of Switzerland the sexual development of the people is so slow that, in the case of the men, it is not always complete at twenty. The Bohemians, or Zingaris, yield another set of results, which are easily verified. They show the same early development as the Hindus, who are akin to them; and under the most inclement skies, in Russia and in Moldavia, they still keep the expression and shape of the face and the physical proportions, as well as the ideas and customs, of the pariahs.* [According to Krapff, a Protestant missionary in East Africa, the Wanikas marry at twelve, boys and girls alike (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, vol. iii, p. 317). In Paraguay the Jesuits introduced the custom, which still holds among their disciples, of marrying the boys at thirteen and the girls at ten. Widows of eleven and twelve are to be seen in this country (A. d'Orbigny, L'Homme americain, vol. i, p. 40). In South Brazil the women marry at ten or eleven. Menstruation both appears and ceases at an early age (Martius and Spix, Reise in Brasilien vol. i, p. 382). Such quotations might be infinitely extended; I will only cite one more. In the novel of Yo-kiao-Li the Chinese heroine is sixteen years old, and her father is in despair that at such an age she is not yet married!]

I do not, however, mean to oppose Prichard on every point. One of his conclusions I gratefully adopt, namely that "difference of climate occasions very little, if any, important diversity as to the periods of life and the physical changes to which the human constitution is subject."* [Prichard, p. 486.] This remark is very true, and I would not dream of contesting it. I merely add that it seems to contradict to some slight extent the principles otherwise upheld by the learned American physiologist and antiquary.

The reader will not fail to see that the question on which the argument here turns is that of the permanence of types. If we have shown that the human races are each, as it were, shut up in their own individuality, and can only issue from it by a mixture of blood, the unitarian theory will find itself very hard-pressed. It will have to recognize that, if the types are thus absolutely fixed, hereditary, and permanent, in spite of climate and lapse of time, mankind is no less completely and definitely split into separate parts, than it would be if specific differences were due to a real divergence of origin.

It now becomes an easy matter for us to maintain this important conclusion, which we have seen to be amply supported, in the case of the Arabs, by the evidence of Egyptian sculpture, and also by the observation of Jews and gipsies. At the same time there is no reason for rejecting the valuable help given by the paintings in the temples and underground chambers in the valley of the Nile, which equally show the permanence of the Negro type, with its woolly hair, prognathous head, and thick lips. The recent discovery of the bas-reliefs at Khorsabad confirm what was already known from the sculptured tombs of Persepolis, and themselves prove, with absolute certainty, that the Assyrians are physiologically identical with the peoples who occupy their territory at the present day.

If we had a similar body of evidence with regard to other races still living, the result would be the same. The fact of the permanence of types would merely be more fully demonstrated. It is enough however to have established it in all the cases where observation was possible. It is now for those who disagree to propose objections.

They have no means of doing so, and their line of defence shows them either contradicting themselves from the start, or making some assertion quite contrary to the obvious facts. For example, they say that the Jewish type has changed with the climate, whereas the facts show the opposite. They base their argument on the existence in Germany of many fair-haired Jews with blue eyes.* [It has been since discovered that this fairness, in certain Jews, is due to a mixture of Tartar blood; in the 9th century a tribe of Chasars went over to Judaism and intermarried with the German-Polish Jews (Kutschera, Die Chasaren). — Tr.] For this to have any value from the unitarian point of view, climate would have to be regarded as the sole, or at any rate the chief, cause of the phenomenon; whereas the unitarians themselves admit that the colour of the skin, eyes, and hair in no way depends either on geographical situation or on the influence of cold or heat.* [Edinburgh Review, "Ethnology or the Science of Races," October 1848, pp. 444-8: ''There is probably no evidence of original diversity of race which is so generally relied upon as that derived from the colour of the skin and the character of the hair . . . but it will not, we think, stand the test of a serious examination. . . . ] They rightly mention the presence of blue eyes and fair hair among the Cingalese;* [Ibid., p. 453: "The Cingalese are described by Dr. Davy as varying in colour from light brown to black. The prevalent hue of their hair and eyes is black, but hazel eyes and brown hair are not very uncommon; grey eyes and red hair are occasionally seen, though rarely, and sometimes the light blue or red eye and flaxen hair of the Albino."] they even notice a considerable variation from light brown to black. Again, they admit that the Samoyedes and Tungusians, although living on the borders of the Arctic Ocean, are very swarthy.* [Edinburgh Review, "The Samoyedes, Tungusians, and others living on the borders of the Icy Sea have a dirty brown or swarthy complexion."] Thus the climate counts for nothing so far as the colouring of the skin, hair, and eyes is concerned. We must regard them either as having no significance at all, or as vitally bound up with race. We know, for example, that red hair is not, and never has been, rare in the East; and so no one need be surprised to find it to-day in some German Jews. Such a fact has no influence, one way or the other, on the theory of the permanence of types.

The unitarians are no more fortunate when they call in history to help them. They give only two instances to prove their theory — the Turks and the Magyars. The Asiatic origin of the former is taken as self-evident, as well as their close relation to the Finnish stocks of the Ostiaks and the Laplanders. Hence they had in primitive times the yellow face, prominent cheek- bones, and short stature of the Mongols. Having settled this point, our unitarian turns to their descendants of to-day; and finding them of a European type, with long thick beards, eyes almond-shaped, but no longer slanting, he concludes triumphantly, from this utter transformation of the Turks, that there is no permanence in race.* [Ibid., p. 439.] "Some people," he says in effect, "have certainly supposed in them a mixture of Greek, Georgian, and Circassian blood. But this mixture has been only partial. Not all Turks have been rich enough to buy wives from the Caucasus; not all have had harems filled with white slaves. On the other hand, the hatred felt by the Greeks towards their conquerors, and religious antipathy in general, have been unfavourable to such alliances; though the two peoples live together, they are just as much separated in spirit at the present time as on the first day of the conquest."* [Ibid., p. 439 (summarized).]

These reasons are more specious than solid. We can only admit provisionally the Finnish origin of the Turkish race. Up to now, it has been supported only by a single argument, the affinity of language. I will show later how the argument from language, when taken alone, is peculiarly open to doubt and criticism. Assuming however that the ancestors of the Turkish people belonged to the yellow race, we can easily show that they had excellent reasons for keeping themselves apart from it.

From the time when the first Turanian hordes descended from the north-east to that when they made themselves masters of the city of Constantine, a period comprising many centuries, great changes passed over the world; and the Western Turks suffered many vicissitudes of fortune. They were in turn victors and vanquished, slaves and masters; and very diverse were the peoples among whom they settled. According to the annalists,* [Hammer, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reichs, vol. i, p. 2.] the Oghuzes, their ancestors, came down from the Altai Mountains, and, in the time of Abraham lived in the immense steppes of Upper Asia that extend from the Katai to Lake Aral, from Siberia to Tibet. This is the ancient and mysterious domain that was still inhabited by many Germanic peoples,* [Ritter, Erdkunde, Asien, vol. i, pp. 433, 1115, &c.; Tassen, Zeitschrift fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. ii, p. 65; Benfey, Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopddie, Indien, p. 12. A. von Humboldt calls this fact one of the most important discoveries of our time (Asie centrale, vol. ii, p. 639). From the point of view of historical science this is absolutely true.] It is a curious fact that as soon as Eastern writers begin to speak of the peoples of Turkestan, they praise their beauty of face and stature.* [Nushirwan, who reigned in the first half of the sixth century A.D., married Sharuz, daughter of the Turkish Khan. She was the most beautiful woman of her time (Hanebcrg, Zeitschrift fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. i, p. 187). The Shahnameh gives many facts of the same kind.] Hyperbolic expressions are the rule, in this connexion; and as these writers had the beautiful types of the ancient world before their eyes, as a standard, it is not very likely that their enthusiasm should have been aroused by the sight of creatures so incontrovertibly ugly and repulsive as the ordinary specimens of the Mongolian race. Thus in spite of the linguistic argument, which may itself be wrongly used,* [Just as the Scythians, a Mongolian race, had adopted an Aryan tongue, so there would be nothing surprising in the view that the Oghouzes were an Aryan race, although they spoke a Finnish dialect. This theory is curiously supported by a naive phrase of the traveller Rubruquis, who was sent by St. Louis to the ruler of the Mongols. "I was struck," says the good monk, "by the likeness borne by this prince to the late M. Jean de Beaumont, who was equally ruddy and fresh-looking." Alexander von Humboldt, interested, as he well might be, by such a remark, adds with no less good sense, "This point of physiognomy is especially worth noting if we remember that the family of Tchingiz was probably Turkish, and not Mongolian." He confirms his conclusion by adding that "the absence of Mongolian characteristics strikes us also in the portraits which we have of the descendants of Baber, the rulers of India" (Asie centrale, vol. i, p. 248 and note).] we might still make out a good case for our view. But we will concede the point, and admit that the Oghuzes of the Altai were really a Finnish people; and we will pass on to the Mohammedan period, when the Turkish tribes were established, under different names and varied circumstances, in Persia and Asia Minor.

The Osmanlis did not as yet exist, and their ancestors, the Seljukians, were already closely connected in blood with the races of Islam. The chiefs of this people, such as Gayaseddin- Keikosrev, in 1237, freely intermarried with Arab women. They did better still; for Aseddin, the mother of another line of Seljukian princes, was a Christian. In all countries the chiefs watch more jealously than the common people over the purity of their race; and when a chief showed himself so free from prejudice, it is at least permissible to assume that his subjects were not more scrupulous. As the continual raids of the Seljukians offered them every opportunity to seize slaves throughout the vast territory which they overran, there is no doubt that, from the thirteenth century, the ancient Oghuz stock, with which the Seljukians of Rum claimed a distant kinship, was permeated to a great extent with Semitic blood.

From this branch sprang Osman, the son of Ortoghrul and father of the Osmanlis. The families that collected round his tent were not very numerous. His army was no more than a robber-band; and if the early successors of this nomad Romulus were able to increase it, they did so merely by following the practice of the founder of Rome, and opening their tents to anyone who wished to enter.

It may be assumed that the fall of the Seljukian Empire helped to send recruits of their own race to the Osmanlis. It is clear that this race had undergone considerable change; besides, even these new resources were not enough, for from this time the Turks began to make systematic slave-raids, with the express object of increasing their own population. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, Urkan, at the instance of Khalil Chendereli the Black, founded the Guard of Janissaries. At first these were only a thousand strong. But under Mohammed IV the new guard numbered 140,000; and as up to this time the Turks had been careful to fill up the ranks only with Christian children taken from Poland, Germany, and Italy, or from European Turkey itself, and then converted to Islam, there were in four centuries at least 5000 heads of families who infused European blood into the veins of the Turkish nation.

The racial admixture did not end here. The main object of the piracy practised on such a large scale throughout the Mediterranean was to fill up the harems. Further (a still more conclusive fact) there was no battle, whether lost or won, that did not increase the number of the Faithful. A considerable number of the males changed their religion, and counted henceforth as Turks. Again, the country surrounding the field of battle was overrun by the troops and yielded them all the women they could seize. The plunder was often so abundant that they had difficulty in disposing of it; the most beautiful girl was bartered for a jack-boot.* [Hammer, op. cit., vol. i, p. 448: "The battle against the Hungarians was hotly contested and the booty considerable. So many boys and girls were seized that the most beautiful female slave was exchanged for a jackboot, and Ashik-Pacha-Zadeh, the historian, who himself took part in the battle and the plunder, could not sell five boy-slaves at Skopi for more than 500 piastres."] When we consider this in connexion with the population of Asiatic and European Turkey, which has, as we know, never exceeded twelve millions, we see clearly that the arguments for or against the permanence of racial type find no support whatever in the history of such a mixed people as the Turks. This is so self-evident, that when we notice, as we often do, some characteristic features of the yellow race in an Osmanli, we cannot attribute this directly to his Finnish origin; it is simply the effect of Slav or Tartar blood, exhibiting, at second hand, the foreign elements it had itself absorbed.

Having finished my observations on the ethnology of the Ottomans, I pass to the Magyars.

The unitarian theory is backed by such arguments as the following: "The Magyars are of Finnish origin, and allied to the Laplanders, Samoyedes, and Eskimos. These are all people of low stature, with wide faces and prominent cheek-bones, yellowish or dirty brown in colour. The Magyars, however, are tall and well set up; their limbs are long, supple and vigorous, their features are of marked beauty, and resemble those of the white nations. The Finns have always been weak, unintelligent, and oppressed. The Magyars take a high place among the conquerors of the world. They have enslaved others, but have never been slaves themselves. Thus, since the Magyars are Finns, and are so different, physically and morally, from all the other branches of their primitive stock, they must have changed enormously."* ["Ethnology," &c, p. 439: "The Hungarian nobility ... is proved by historical and philological evidence to have been a branch of the great Northern Asiatic stock, closely allied in blood to the stupid and feeble Ostiaks and the untamable Laplanders."]

If such a change had really taken place, it would be so extraordinary as to defy all explanation, even by the unitarians, however great the modifications that may be assumed in these particular types; for the transformation-scene would have taken place between the end of the ninth century and the present day, that is, in about 800 years. Further, we know that in this period St. Stephen's fellow countrymen have not intermarried to any great extent with the nations among whom they live. Happily for common sense, there is no need for surprise, as the argument, though otherwise perfect, makes one vital mistake — the Hungarians are certainly not Finns.

In a well-written article, A. de Gerando* [Essai historique sur I'origine des Hongrois (Paris, 1844).] has exploded the theories of Schlotzer and his followers. By weighty arguments drawn from Greek and Arab historians and Hungarian annalists, by facts and dates that defy criticism, he has proved the kinship of the Transylvanian tribe of the Siculi with the Huns, and the identity in primitive times of the former with the last invaders of Pannonia. Thus the Magyars are Huns.

Here we shall no doubt be met by a further objection, namely that though this argument may point to a different origin for the Magyars, it connects them just as intimately as the other with the yellow race. This is an error. The name "Huns" may denote a nation, but it is also, historically speaking, a collective word. The mass of tribes to which it refers is not homogeneous. Among the crowd of peoples enrolled under the banner of Attila's ancestors, certain bands, known as the " White Huns," have always been distinguished. In these the Germanic element predominated. [The current opinions about the peoples of Central Asia will, it seems, have to be greatly modified. It can no longer be denied that the blood of the yellow races has been crossed more or less considerably by a white strain. This fact was not suspected before, but it throws a doubt on all the ancient notions on the subject, which must now be revised in the light of it. Alexander von Humboldt makes a very important observation with regard to the Kirghiz-Kasaks, who are mentioned by Menander of Byzantium and Constantine Porphyrogenetes. He rightly shows that when the former speaks of a Kirghiz ([x]) concubine given by the Turkish Shagan Dithubul to Zemarch, the envoy of the Emperor Justin II, in 569, he is referring to a girl of mixed blood. She corresponds exactly to the beautiful Turkish girls who are so praised by the Persians, and who were as little Mongolian in type as this Kirghiz (Asie centrale, vol. i, p. 237, &c.; vol. ii, pp. 130-31).]

Contact with the yellow races had certainly affected the purity of their blood. There is no mystery about this; the fact is betrayed at once by the rather angular and bony features of the Magyar. The language is very closely related to some Turkish dialects. Thus the Magyars are White Huns, though they have been wrongly made out to be a yellow race, a confusion caused by their intermarriages in the past (whether voluntary or otherwise) with Mongolians. They are really, as we have shown, cross-breeds with a Germanic basis. The roots and general vocabulary of their language are quite different from those of the Germanic family; but exactly the same was the case with the Scythians, a yellow race speaking an Aryan dialect,* [Schaffarik, Slavische Altertumer, vol. i, p. 279 et pass.] and with the Scandinavians of Neustria, who were, after some years of conquest, led to adopt the Celto-Latin dialect of their subjects. [Aug. Thierry, Histoire de la Conquete d'Angleterre, vol. i, p. 155.] Nothing warrants the belief that lapse of time, difference of climate, or change of customs should have turned a Laplander or an Ostiak, a Tungusian or a Permian, into a St. Stephen. I conclude, from this refutation of the only arguments brought forward by the unitarians, that the permanence of racial types is beyond dispute; it is so strong and indestructible that the most complete change of environment has no power to overthrow it, so long as no crossing takes place.

Whatever side, therefore, one may take in the controversy as to the unity or multiplicity of origin possessed by the human species, it is certain that the different families are to-day absolutely separate; for there is no external influence that could cause any resemblance between them or force them into a homogeneous mass.

The existing races constitute separate branches of one or many primitive stocks. These stocks have now vanished. They are not known in historical times at all, and we cannot form even the most general idea of their qualities. They differed from each other in the shape and proportion of the limbs, the structure of the skull, the internal conformation of the body, the nature of the capillary system, the colour of the skin, and the like; and they never succeeded in losing their characteristic features except under the powerful influence of the crossing of blood.

This permanence of racial qualities is quite sufficient to generate the radical unlikeness and inequality that exists between the different branches, to raise them to the dignity of natural laws, and to justify the same distinctions being drawn with regard to the physiological life of nations, as I shall show, later, to be applicable to their moral life.

Owing to my respect for a scientific authority which I cannot overthrow, and, still more, for a religious interpretation that I could not venture to attack, I must resign myself to leaving on one side the grave doubts that are always oppressing me as to the question of original unity; and I will now try to discover as far as I can, with the resources that are still left to me, the probable causes of these ultimate physiological differences.

As no one will venture to deny, there broods over this grave question a mysterious darkness, big with causes that are at the same time physical and supernatural. In the inmost recesses of the obscurity that shrouds the problem, reign the causes which have their ultimate home in the mind of God; the human spirit feels their presence without divining their nature, and shrinks back in awful reverence. It is probable that the earthly agents to whom we look for the key of the secret are themselves but instruments and petty springs in the great machine. The origins of all things, of all events and movements, are not infinitely small, as we are often pleased to say, but on the contrary so vast, so immeasurable by the poor foot-rule of man's intelligence, that while we may perhaps have some vague suspicion of their existence, we can never hope to lay hands on them or attain to any sure discovery of their nature. Just as in an iron chain that is meant to lift up a great weight it frequently happens that the link nearest the object is the smallest, so the proximate cause may often seem insignificant; and if we merely consider it in isolation, we tend to forget the long series that has gone before. This alone gives it meaning, but this, in all its strength and might, derives from something that human eye has never seen. We must not therefore, like the fool in the old adage, wonder at the power of the roseleaf to make the water overflow; we should rather think that the reason of the accident lay in the depths of the water that filled the vessel to overflowing. Let us yield all respect to the primal and generating causes, that dwell far off in heaven, and without which nothing would exist; conscious of the Divine power that moves them, they rightly claim a part of the veneration we pay to their Infinite Creator. But let us abstain from speaking of them here. It is not fitting for us to leave the human sphere, where alone we may hope to meet with certainty. All we can do is to seize the chain, if not by the last small link, at any rate by that part of it which we can see and touch, without trying to catch at what is beyond our reach — a task too difficult for mortal man. There is no irreverence in saying this; on the contrary, it expresses the sincere conviction of a weakness that is insurmountable.

Man is a new-comer in this world. Geology — proceeding merely by induction, but attacking its problems in a marvellously systematic way — asserts that man is absent from all the oldest strata of the earth's surface. There is no trace of him among the fossils. When our ancestors appeared for the first time in an already aged world, God, according to Scripture, told them that they would be its masters and have dominion over everything on earth. This promise was given not so much to them as to their descendants; for these first feeble creatures seem to have been provided with very few means, not merely of conquering the whole of nature, but even of resisting its weakest attacks.* [Lyell, "Principles of Geology," vol. i, p. 178.] The ethereal heavens had seen, in former epochs, beings far more imposing than man rise from the muddy earth and the deep waters. Most of these gigantic races had, no doubt, disappeared in the terrible revolutions in which the inorganic world had shown a power so immeasurably beyond that possessed by animate nature. A great number, however, of these monstrous creatures were still living. Every region was haunted by herds of elephants and rhinoceroses, and even the mastodon has left traces of its existence in American tradition.* [Link, Die Urwelt und das Altertum, vol. i, p. 84.]

These last remnants of the monsters of an earlier day were more than enough to impress the first members of our species with an uneasy feeling of their own inferiority, and a very modest view of their problematic royalty. It was not merely the animals from whom they had to wrest their disputed empire. These could in the last resort be fought, by craft if not by force, and in default of conquest could be avoided by flight. The case was quite different with Nature, that immense Nature that surrounded the primitive families on all sides, held them in a close grip, and made them feel in every nerve her awful power.* [Link, op. cit., vol. i, p. 91.] The cosmic causes of the ancient cataclysms, although feebler, were always at work. Partial upheavals still disturbed the relative positions of earth and ocean. Sometimes the level of the sea rose and swallowed up vast stretches of coast; sometimes a terrible volcanic eruption would vomit from the depths of the waters some mountainous mass, to become part of a continent. The world was still in travail, and Jehovah had not calmed it by "seeing that it was good."

This general lack of equilibrium necessarily reacted on atmospheric conditions. The strife of earth, fire, and water brought with it complete and rapid changes of heat, cold, dryness, and humidity. The exhalations from the ground, still shaken with earthquake, had an irresistible influence on living creatures. The causes that enveloped the globe with the breath of battle and suffering could not but increase the pressure brought to bear by nature on man. Differences of climate and environment acted on our first parents far more effectively than to-day. Cuvier, in his "Treatise on the revolutions of the globe," says that the inorganic forces of the present day would be quite incapable of causing convulsions and upheavals, or new arrangements of the earth's surface, such as those to which geology bears witness. The changes that were wrought in the past on her own body by the awful might of nature would be impossible to-day; she had a similar power over the human race, but has it no longer. Her omnipotence has been so lost, or at least so weakened and whittled away, that in a period of years covering roughly half the life of our species on the earth, she has brought about no change of any importance, much less one that can be compared to that by which the different races were for ever marked off from each other.* [Cuvier, op. cit. Compare also, on this point, the opinion of Alexander von Humboldt: ''In the epochs preceding the existence of the human race the action of the forces in the interior of the globe must, as the earth's crust increased in thickness, have modified the temperature of the air and made the whole earth habitable by the products which we now regard as exclusively tropical. Afterwards the spatial relation of our planet to the central body (the sun) began, by means of radiation and cooling down, to be almost the sole agent in determining the climate at different latitudes. It was also in these primitive times that the elastic fluids, or volcanic forces, inside the earth, more powerful than they are to-day, made their way through the oxidized and imperfectly solidified crust of our planet" (Asie centrale, vol. i, p. 47).]

Two points are certain: first that the main differences between the branches of our race were fixed in the earliest epoch of our terrestrial life; secondly, that in order to imagine a period when these physiological cleavages could have been brought about, we must go back to the time when the influence of natural causes was far more active than it is now, under the normal and healthy conditions. Such a time could be none other than that immediately after the creation, when the earth was still shaken by its recent catastrophes and without any defence against the fearful effects of their last death-throes.

Assuming the unitarian theory, we cannot give any later date for the separation of types.

No argument can be based on the accidental deviations from the normal which are sometimes found in certain individual instances, and which, if transmitted, would certainly give rise to important varieties. Without including such deformities as a hump-back, some curious facts have been collected which seem, at first sight, to be of value in explaining the diversity of races. To cite only one instance, Prichard* [Second edition, pp. 92-4. The man was born in 1727.] quotes Baker's account of a man whose whole body, with the exception of his face, was covered with a sort of dark shell, resembling a large collection of warts, very hard and callous, and insensible to pain; when cut, it did not bleed. At different periods this curious covering, after reaching a thickness of three-quarters of an inch, would become detached, and fall off; it was then replaced by another, similar in all respects. Four sons were born to him, all resembling their father. One survived; but Baker, who saw him in infancy, does not say whether he reached manhood. He merely infers that since the father has produced such offspring, "a race of people may be propagated by this man, having such rugged coats and coverings as himself; and if this should ever happen, and the accidental original be forgotten, it is not improbable they might be deemed a different species of mankind."

Such a conclusion is possible. Individuals, however, who are so different as these from the species in general, do not transmit their characteristics. Their posterity either returns to the regular path or is soon extinguished. All things that deviate from the natural and normal order of the world can only borrow life for a time; they are not fitted to keep it. Otherwise, a succession of strange accidents would, long before this, have set mankind on a road far removed from the physiological conditions which have obtained, without change, throughout the ages. We must conclude that impermanence is one of the essential and basic features of these anomalies. We could not include in such a category the woolly hair and black skin of the negro, or the yellow colour, wide face, and slanting eyes of the Chinaman. These are all permanent characteristics; they are in no way abnormal, and so cannot come from an accidental deviation.

We will now give a summary of the present chapter.

In face of the difficulties offered by the most liberal interpretation of the Biblical text, and the objection founded on the law regulating the generation of hybrids, it is impossible to pronounce categorically in favour of a multiplicity of origin for the human species.

We must therefore be content to assign a lower cause to those clear-cut varieties of which the main quality is undoubtedly their permanence, a permanence that can only be lost by a crossing of blood. We can identify this cause with the amount of climatic energy possessed by the earth at a time when the human race had just appeared on its surface. There is no doubt that the forces that inorganic nature could bring into play were far greater then than anything we have known since, and under their pressure racial modifications were accomplished which would now be impossible. Probably, too, the creatures exposed to these tremendous forces were more liable to be affected by them than existing types would be. Man, in his earliest stages, assumed many unstable forms; he did not perhaps belong, in any definite manner, to the white, red, or yellow variety. The deviations that transformed the primitive characteristics of the species into the types established to-day were probably much smaller than those that would now be required for the black race, for example, to become assimilated to the white, or the yellow to the black. On this hypothesis, we should have to regard Adamite man as equally different from all the existing human groups; these would have radiated all around him, the distance between him and any group being double that between one group and another. How much of the primitive type would the peoples of the different races have subsequently retained? Merely the most general characteristics of our species, the vague resemblances of shape common to the most distant groups, and the possibility of expressing their wants by articulate sounds — but nothing more. The remaining features peculiar to primitive man would have been completely lost, by the black as well as the non-black races; and although we are all originally descended from him, we should have owed to outside influences everything that gave us our distinctive and special character. Henceforth the human races, the product of cosmic forces as well as of the primitive Adamic stock, would be very slightly, if at all, related to each other. The power of giving birth to fertile hybrids would certainly be a perpetual proof of original connexion; but it would be the only one. As soon as the primal differences of environment had given each group its isolated character, as a possession for ever — its shape, features, and colour — from that moment the link of primal unity would have been suddenly snapped; the unity, so far as influence on racial development went, would be actually sterile. The strict and unassailable permanence of form and feature to which the earliest historical documents bear witness would be the charter and sign-manual of the eternal separation of races.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Sun Apr 11, 2021 5:20 am


The question of cosmic influences is one that ought to be fully cleared up, as I am confining myself to arguments based on it. The first problem with which I have to deal is the following: — "How could men, whose common origin implies a single starting-point, have been exposed to such a diversity of influences from without?" After the first separation of races, the groups were already numerous enough to be found under totally different conditions of climate; how then, considering the immense difficulties they had to contend against, the vast forests and marshy plains they had to cross, the sandy or snowy deserts, the rivers, lakes, and oceans — how, with all these obstacles, did they manage to cover distances which civilized man to-day, with all his developed power, can only surmount with great toil and trouble? To answer these objections, we must try to discover where the human species had its original home.

A very ancient idea, adopted also by some great modern minds, such as Cuvier, is that the different mountain-systems must have served as the point of departure for certain races. According to this theory, the white races, and even certain African varieties whose skull is shaped like our own, had their first settlement in the Caucasus. The yellow race came down from the ice-bound heights of the Altai. Again, the tribes of prognathous negroes built their first huts on the southern slopes of Mount Atlas, and made this the starting-point of their first migrations. Thus, the frightful places of the earth, difficult of access and full of gloomy horror — torrents, caverns, icy mountains, eternal snows, and impassable abysses — were actually more familiar to primitive ages than any others; while all the terrors of the unknown lurked, for our first ancestors, in the uncovered plains, on the banks of the great rivers, on the coasts of the lakes and seas.

The chief motive urging the ancient philosophers to put forward this theory, and the moderns to revive it, seems to have been the idea that, in order to pass successfully through the great physical crises of the world, mankind must have collected on the mountain heights, where the floods and inundations could not reach them. This large and general interpretation of the tradition of Ararat may suit perhaps the later epochs, when the children of men had covered the face of the earth; but it is quite inapplicable to the time of relative calm that marked their first appearance. It is also contrary to all theories as to the unity of the species. Again, mountains from the remotest times have been the object of profound terror and religious awe. On them has been set, by all mythologies, the abode of the gods. It was on the snowy peak of Olympus, it was on Mount Meru that the Greeks and the Brahmans imagined their divine synods. It was on the summit of the Caucasus that Prometheus suffered the mysterious punishment of his still more mysterious crime. If men had begun by making their home in the remote heights, it is not likely that their imagination would have caused them to raise these to the height of heaven itself. We have a scant respect for what we have seen and known and trodden underfoot. There would have been no divinities but those of the waters and the plains. Hence I incline to the opposite belief, that the flat and uncovered regions witnessed the first steps of man. This is, by the way, the Biblical notion.* [See Genesis ii, 8, 10, 15.] After the first settlements were made in these parts, the difficulties of accounting for migrations are sensibly diminished; for flat regions are generally cut by rivers and reach down to the sea, and so there would have been no need to undertake the difficult task of crossing forests, deserts, and great marshes.

There are two kinds of migrations, the voluntary and the unexpected. The former are out of the question in very early times. The latter are more possible, and more probable too, among shiftless and unprepared savages than among civilised nations. A family huddled together on a drifting raft, a few unfortunate people surprised by an inrush of the sea, clinging to trunks of trees, and caught up by the currents — these are enough to account for a transplantation over long distances. The weaker man is, the more is he the sport of inorganic forces. The less experience he has, the more slavishly does he respond to accidents which he can neither foresee nor avoid. There are striking examples of the ease with which men can be carried, in spite of themselves, over considerable distances. Thus, we hear that in 1696 two large canoes from Ancorso, containing about thirty savages, men and women, were caught in a storm, and after drifting aimlessly some time, finally arrived at Samal, one of the Philippine Islands, three hundred leagues from their starting-point. Again, four natives of Ulea were carried out to sea in a canoe by a sudden squall. They drifted about for eight months, and reached at last one of the Radack Islands, at the eastern end of the Caroline Archipelago, after an involuntary voyage of 550 leagues. These unfortunate men lived solely on fish, and carefully collected every drop of rain they could. When rain failed them, they dived into the depths of the sea and drank the water there, which, they say, is less salt. Naturally, when they reached Radack, the travellers were in a deplorable state; but they soon rallied, and were eventually restored to health.* [Lyell, "Principles of Geology," vol. ii, p. 119.]

These two examples are a sufficient witness for the rapid diffusion of human groups in very different regions, and under the most varied local conditions. If further proofs were required, we might mention the ease with which insects, plants, and testaceans are carried all over the world; it is, of course, unnecessary to show that what happens to such things may, a fortiori, happen more easily to man.* [Alexander von Humboldt does not think that this hypothesis can apply to the migration of plants. "What we know," he says, "of the deleterious action exerted by sea-water, during a voyage of 500 or 600 leagues, over the reproductive power of most grains, does not favour the theory of the migration of vegetables by means of ocean currents. Such a theory is too general and comprehensive " (Examen critique de l'histoire de la geographic du nouveau continent, vol. ii, p. 78).] The land-testaceans are thrown into the sea by the destruction of the cliffs, and are then carried to distant shores by means of currents. Zoophytes attach themselves to the shells of molluscs or let their tentacles float on the surface of the sea, and so are driven along by the wind to form distant colonies. The very trees of unknown species, the very sculptured planks, the last of a long line, which were cast up on the Canaries in the fifteenth century, and by providing a text for the meditations of Christopher Columbus paved the way for the discovery of the New World — even these probably carried on their surface the eggs of insects; and these eggs were hatched, by the heat engendered by new sap, far from their place of origin and the land where lived the others of their kind.

Thus there is nothing against the notion that the first human families might soon have been separated, and lived under very different conditions of climate, in regions far apart from each other. But it is not necessary, even under present circumstances, for the places to be far apart, in order to ensure a variation in the temperature, and in the local conditions resulting from it. In mountainous countries like Switzerland, the distance of a few miles makes such a difference in the soil and atmosphere, that we find the flora of Lapland and Southern Italy practically side by side; similarly in Isola Madre, on Lago Maggiore, oranges, great cacti, and dwarf palms grow in the open, in full view of the Simplon. We need not confine ourselves to mountains; the temperature of Normandy is lower than that of Jersey, while in the narrow triangle formed by the Western coasts of France, the vegetation is of the most varied character.* [ Alexander von Humboldt gives the law determining these facts in the following passage (Asie centrale, vol. iii, p. 23): " The foundation of the science of climatology is the accurate knowledge of the inequalities of a continent's surface (hypsometry). Without this knowledge we are apt to attribute to elevation what is really the effect of other causes, acting, in low-lying regions, on a surface of which the curve is continuous with that of the sea, along the isothermic lines (i.e. lines along which the temperature is the same)." By calling attention to the multiplicity of influences acting on the temperature of any given geographical point, Von Humboldt shows how very different conditions of climate may exist in places that are quite near each other, independently of their height above sea-level. Thus in the north-east of Ireland, on the Glenarn coast, there is a region, on the same parallel of latitude as Konigsberg in Prussia, which produces myrtles growing in the open air quite as vigorously as in Portugal; this region is in striking contrast with those round it. " There are hardly any frosts in winter, and the heat in summer is not enough to ripen the grapes. . . . The pools and small lakes of the Faroe Islands are not frozen over during the winter, in spite of the latitude (62 ). . . . In England, on the Devonshire coast, the myrtle, the camelia iaponica, the fuchsia coccinea, and the Boddleya globosa flourish in the open, unsheltered, throughout the winter. ... At Salcombe the winters are so mild that orange-trees have been seen, with fruit on them, sheltered by a wall and protected merely by screens " (pp. 147-48).]  

The contrasts must have been tremendous, even over the smallest areas, in the days that followed the first appearance of our species on the globe. The selfsame place might easily become the theatre of vast atmospheric revolutions, when the sea retreated or advanced by the inundation or drying up of the neighbouring regions; when mountains suddenly rose in enormous masses, or sank to the common level of the earth, so that the plains covered what once was their crests; and when tremors, that shook the axis of the earth, and by affecting its equilibrium and the inclination of the poles to the ecliptic, came to disturb the general economy of the planet.

We may now consider that we have met all the objections, that might be urged as to the difficulty of changing one's place and climate in the early ages of the world. There is no reason why some groups of the human family should not have gone far afield, while others were huddled together in a limited area and yet were exposed to very varied influences. It is thus that the secondary types, from which are descended the existing races, could have come into being. As to the type of man first created, the Adamite, we will leave him out of the argument altogether; for it is impossible to know anything of his specific character, or how far each of the later families has kept or lost its likeness to him. Our investigation will not take us further back than the races of the second stage.

I find these races naturally divided into three, and three only — the white, the black, and the yellow.* [I will explain in due course the reasons why I do not include the American Indian as a pure and primitive type. I have already given indications of my view on p. 112. Here I merely subscribe to the opinion of Flourens, who also recognizes only three great subdivisions of the species — those of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The names call for criticism but the divisions are in the main correct.] If I use a basis of division suggested by the colour of the skin, it is not that I consider it either correct or happy, for the three categories of which I speak are not distinguished exactly by colour, which is a very complex and variable thing; I have already said that certain facts in the conformation of the skeleton are far more important. But in default of inventing new names — which I do not consider myself justified in doing — I must make my choice from the vocabulary already in use. The terms may not be very good, but they are at any rate less open to objection than any others, especially if they are carefully defined. I certainly prefer them to all the designations taken from geography or history, for these have thrown an already confused subject into further confusion. So I may say, once for all, that I understand by white men the members of those races which are also called Caucasian, Semitic, or Japhetic. By black men I mean the Hamites; by yellow the Altaic, Mongol, Finnish, and Tatar branches. These are the three primitive elements of mankind. There is no more reason to admit Blumenbach's twenty-eight varieties than Prichard's seven; for both these schemes include notorious hybrids. It is probable that none of the three original types was ever found in absolute simplicity. The great cosmic agents had not merely brought into being the three clear-cut varieties; they had also, in the course of their action, caused many sub-species to appear. These were distinguished by some peculiar features, quite apart from the general character which they had in common with the whole branch. Racial crossing was not necessary to create these specific modifications; they existed before any interbreeding took place at all. It would be fruitless to try to identify them to-day in the hybrid agglomeration that constitutes what we call the "white race." It would be equally impossible with regard to the yellow race. Perhaps the black type has to some extent kept itself pure; at any rate it has remained nearer its original form, and thus shows at first sight what, in the case of the other great human divisions, is not given by the testimony of our senses, but may be admitted on the strength of historical proof.

The negroes have always perpetuated the original forms of their race, such as the prognathous type with woolly hair, the Hindu type of the Kamaun and the Deccan, and the Pelagian of Polynesia. New varieties have certainly been created from their intermixture; this is the origin of what we may call the "tertiary types," which are seen in the white and yellow races, as well as the black.

Much has been made of a noteworthy fact, which is used to-day as a sure criterion for determining the racial purity of a nation. This fact is the resemblance of face, shape, and general constitution, including gesture and carriage. The further these resemblances go, the less mixture of blood is there supposed to be in the whole people. On the other hand, the more crossing there has been, the greater differences we shall find in the features, stature, walk, and general appearance of the individuals. The fact is incontestable, and valuable conclusions may be drawn from it; but the conclusions are a little different from those hitherto made.

The first series of observations by which the fact was discovered was carried out on the Polynesians. Now, these are far from being of pure race; they come from mixtures, in different proportions, of yellow and black. Hence the complete transmission of the type that we see to-day among the Polynesians shows, not the purity of the race, but simply that the more or less numerous elements of which it is composed have at last been fused in a full and homogeneous unity. Each man has the same blood in his veins as his neighbour, and so there is no reason why he should differ physically from him. Just as brothers and sisters are often much alike, as being produced from like elements, so, when two races have been so completely amalgamated that there is no group in the resulting people in which either race predominates, an artificial type is established, with a kind of factitious purity; and every new-born child bears its impress.

What I have defined as the "tertiary type" might in this way easily acquire the quality that is wrongly appropriated to a people of absolutely pure race — namely the likeness of the individual members to each other. This could be attained in a much shorter time at this stage, as the differences between two varieties of the same type are relatively slight. In a family, for example, where the father and mother belong to different nations, the children will be like one or the other, but there will be little chance of any real identity of physical characteristics between them. If, however, the parents are both from the same national stock, such an identity will be easily produced.

We must mention another law before going further. Crossing of blood does not merely imply the fusion of the two varieties, but also creates new characteristics, which henceforth furnish the most important standpoint from which to consider any particular sub-species. Examples will be given later; meanwhile I need hardly say that these new and original qualities cannot be completely developed unless there has previously been a perfect fusion of the parent-types; otherwise the tertiary race cannot be considered as really established. The larger the two nations are, the greater will naturally be the time required for their fusion. But until the process is complete, and a state of physiological identity brought about, no new sub-species will be possible, as there is no question of normal development from an original, though composite source, but merely of the confusion and disorder that are always engendered from the imperfect mixture of elements which are naturally foreign to each other.

Our actual knowledge of the life of these tertiary races is very slight. Only in the misty beginnings of human history can we catch a glimpse, in certain places, of the white race when it was still in this stage — a stage which seems to have been everywhere short-lived. The civilizing instincts of these chosen peoples were continually forcing them to mix their blood with that of others. As for the black and yellow types, they are mere savages in the tertiary stage, and have no history at all.* [[Carl Gustav] Carus gives his powerful support to the law I have laid down, namely that the civilizing races are especially prone to mix their blood. He points out the immense variety of elements composing the perfected human organism, as against the simplicity of the infinitesimal beings on the lowest step in the scale of creation. He deduces the following axiom: "Whenever there is an extreme likeness between the elements of an organic whole, its state cannot be regarded as the expression of a complete and final development, but is merely primitive and elementary" (uber die ungleiche Befahigkeit der verschiedenen Menschheitstamme fur hohere geistige Entwickelung, p. 4). In another place he says: "The greatest possible diversity (i.e. inequality) of the parts, together with the most complete unity of the whole, is clearly, in every sphere, the standard of the highest perfection of an organism." In the political world this is the state of a society where the governing classes are racially quite distinct from the masses, while being themselves carefully organised into a strict hierarchy.]

To the tertiary races succeed others, which I will call "quaternary." The Polynesians, sprung from the mixture of black and yellow,* [Flourens (Eloge de Blumenbach, p. xi) describes the Polynesian race as "a mixture of two others, the Caucasian and the Mongolian." Caucasian is probably a mere slip; he certainly meant black.] the mulattoes, a blend of white and black, — these are among the peoples belonging to the quaternary type. I need hardly say, once more, that the new type brings the characteristics peculiar to itself more or less into harmony with those which recall its two-fold descent.

When a quaternary race is again modified by the intervention of a new type, the resulting mixture has great difficulty in becoming stable; its elements are brought very slowly into harmony, and are combined in very irregular proportions. The original qualities of which it is composed are already weakened to a considerable extent, and become more and more neutralized. They tend to disappear in the confusion that has grown to be the main feature of the new product. The more this product reproduces itself and crosses its blood, the more the confusion increases. It reaches infinity, when the people is too numerous for any equilibrium to have a chance of being established — at any rate, not before long ages have passed. Such a people is merely an awful example of racial anarchy. In the individuals we find, here and there, a dominant feature reminding us in no uncertain way that blood from every source runs in their veins. One man will have the negro's hair, another the eyes of a Teuton, a third will have a Mongolian face, a fourth a Semitic figure; and yet all these will be akin! This is the state in which the great civilized nations are to-day; we may especially see proofs of it in their sea-ports, capitals, and colonies, where a fusion of blood is more easily brought about. In Paris, London, Cadiz, and Constantinople, we find traits recalling every branch of mankind, and that without going outside the circle of the walls, or considering any but the so-called " native population." The lower classes will give us examples of all kinds, from the prognathous head of the negro to the triangular face and slanting eyes of the Chinaman; for, especially since the Roman Empire, the most remote and divergent races have contributed to the blood of the inhabitants of our great cities. Commerce, peace, and war, the founding of colonies, the succession of invasions, have all helped in their turn to increase the disorder; and if one could trace, some way back, the genealogical tree of the first man he met, he would probably be surprised at the strange company of ancestors among whom he would find himself.* [The physiological characteristics of the ancestors are reproduced in their descendants according to fixed rules. Thus we see in South America that though the children of a white man and a negress may have straight soft hair, yet the crisp woolly hair invariably appears in the second generation (A. d'Orbigny, l' Homme americain, vol. i, p. 143).]

We have shown that races differ physically from each other; we must now ask if they are also unequal in beauty and muscular strength. The answer cannot be long doubtful.

I have already observed that the human groups to which the European nations and their descendants belong are the most beautiful. One has only to compare the various types of men scattered over the earth's surface to be convinced of this. From the almost rudimentary face and structure of the Pelagian and the Pecheray to the tall and nobly proportioned figure of Charlemagne, the intelligent regularity of the features of Napoleon, and the imposing majesty that exhales from the royal countenance of Louis XIV, there is a series of gradations; the peoples who are not of white blood approach beauty, but do not attain it.

Those who are most akin to us come nearest to beauty; such are the degenerate Aryan stocks of India and Persia, and the Semitic peoples who are least infected by contact with the black race.* [It may be remarked that the happiest blend, from the point of view of beauty, is that made by the marriage of white and black. We need only put the striking charm of many mulatto, Creole, and quadroon women by the side of such mixtures of yellow and white as the Russians and Hungarians. The comparison is not to the advantage of the latter. It is no less certain that a beautiful Rajput is more ideally beautiful than the most perfect Slav.] As these races recede from the white type, their features and limbs become incorrect in form; they acquire defects of proportion which, in the races that are completely foreign to us, end by producing an extreme ugliness. This is the ancient heritage and indelible mark of the greater number of human groups. We can no longer subscribe to the doctrine (reproduced by Helvetius in his book on the "Human Intellect ") which regards the idea of the beautiful as purely artificial and variable. All who still have scruples on that point should consult the admirable "Essay on the Beautiful " of the Piedmontese philosopher, Gioberti; and their doubts will be laid to rest. Nowhere is it better brought out that beauty is an absolute and necessary idea, admitting of no arbitrary application. I take my stand on the solid principles established by Gioberti, and have no hesitation in regarding the white race as superior to all others in beauty; these, again, differ among themselves in the degree in which they approach or recede from their model. Thus the human groups are unequal in beauty; and this inequality is rational, logical, permanent, and indestructible.

Is there also an inequality in physical strength? The American savages, like the Hindus, are certainly our inferiors in this respect, as are also the Australians. The negroes, too, have less muscular power;* [See (among other authorities), for the American aborigine, Martius and Spix, Reise in Brasilien, vol. i, p. 259; for the negroes, Pruner, Der Neger, eine aphoristische Skizze aus der medizinischen Topographie von Cairo, in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, vol. i, p. 131; for the muscular superiority of the white race over all the others, Carus, op. cit., p. 84.] and all these peoples are infinitely less able to bear fatigue. We must distinguish, however, between purely muscular strength, which merely needs to spend itself for a single instant of victory, and the power of keeping up a prolonged resistance. The latter is far more typical than the former, of which we may find examples even in notoriously feeble races. If we take the blow of the fist as the sole criterion of strength, we shall find, among very backward negro races, among the New Zealanders (who are usually of weak constitution), among Lascars and Malays, certain individuals who can deliver such a blow as well as any Englishman. But if we take the peoples as a whole, and judge them by the amount of labour that they can go through without flinching, we shall give the palm to those belonging to the white race.

The different groups within the white race itself are as unequal in strength as they are in beauty, though the difference is less marked. The Italians are more beautiful than the Germans or the Swiss, the French or the Spanish. Similarly, the English show a higher type of physical beauty than the Slav nations.

In strength of fist, the English are superior to all the other European races; while the French and Spanish have a greater power of resisting fatigue and privation, as well as the inclemency of extreme climates. The question is settled, so far as the French are concerned, by the terrible campaign in Russia. Nearly all the Germans and the northern troops, accustomed though they were to very low temperatures, sank down in the snow; while the French regiments, though they paid their awful tribute to the rigours of the retreat, were yet able to save most of their number. This superiority has been attributed to their better moral education and military spirit. But such an explanation is insufficient. The German officers, who perished by hundreds, had just as high a sense of honour and duty as our soldiers had; but this did not prevent them from going under. We may conclude that the French have certain physical qualities that are superior to those of the Germans, which allow them to brave with impunity the snows of Russia as well as the burning sands of Egypt.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:39 am


In order to appreciate the intellectual differences between races, we ought first to ascertain the degree of stupidity to which mankind can descend. We know already the highest point that it can reach, namely civilization.

Most scientific observers up to now have been very prone to make out the lowest types as worse than they really are.

Nearly all the early accounts of a savage tribe paint it in hideous colours, far more hideous than the reality. They give it so little power of reason and understanding, that it seems to be on a level with the monkey and below the elephant. It is true that we find the contrary opinion. If a captain is well received in an island, if he meets, as he believes, with a kind and hospitable welcome, and succeeds in making a few natives do a small amount of work with his sailors, then praises are showered on the happy people. They are declared to be fit for anything and capable of everything; and sometimes the enthusiasm bursts all bounds, and swears it has found among them some higher intelligences.

We must appeal from both judgments — harsh and favourable alike. The fact that certain Tahitians have helped to repair a whaler does not make their nation capable of civilization. Be- cause a man of Tonga-Tabu shows goodwill to strangers, he is not necessarily open to ideas of progress. Similarly, we are not entitled to degrade a native of a hitherto unknown coast to the level of the brute, just because he receives his first visitors with a flight of arrows, or because he is found eating raw lizards and mud pies. Such a banquet does not certainly connote a very high intelligence or very cultivated manners. But even in the most hideous cannibal there is a spark of the divine fire, and to some extent the flame of understanding can always be kindled in him. There are no tribes so low that they do not pass some judgments, true or false, just or unjust, on the things around them; the mere existence of such judgments is enough to show that in every branch of mankind some ray of intelligence is kept alive. It is this that makes the most degraded savages accessible to the teachings of religion and distinguishes them in a special manner, of which they are themselves conscious, from even the most intelligent beasts.

Are however these moral possibilities, which lie at the back of every man's consciousness, capable of infinite extension? Do all men possess in an equal degree an unlimited power of intellectual development? In other words, has every human race the capacity for becoming equal to every other? The question is ultimately concerned with the infinite capacity for improvement possessed by the species as a whole, and with the equality of races. I deny both points.

The idea of an infinite progress is very seductive to many modern philosophers, and they support it by declaring that our civilization has many merits and advantages which our differently trained ancestors did not possess. They bring forward all the phenomena that distinguished our modern societies. I have spoken of these already; but I am glad to be able to go through them again.

We are told that our scientific opinions are truer than they were; that our manners are, as a rule, kindly, and our morals better than those of the Greeks and Romans. Especially with regard to political liberty, they say, have we ideas and feelings, beliefs and tolerances, that prove our superiority. There are even some hopeful theorists who maintain that our institutions should lead us straight to that garden of the Hesperides which was sought so long, and with such ill-success, since the time when the ancient navigators reported that it was not in the Canaries. . . .

A little more serious consideration of history will show what truth there is in these high claims.  

We are certainly more learned than the ancients. This is because we have profited by their discoveries. If we have amassed more knowledge than they, it is merely because we are their heirs and pupils, and have continued their work. Does it follow that the discovery of steam-power and the solution of a few mechanical problems have brought us on the way to omniscience? At most, our success may lead us to explore all the secrets of the material world. Before we achieve this conquest, there are many things to do which have not even been begun, nay of which the very existence is not yet suspected; but even when the victory is ours, shall we have advanced a single step beyond the bare affirmation of physical laws? We shall, I agree, have greatly increased our power of influencing nature and harnessing her to our service. We shall have found different ways of going round the world, or recognized definitely that certain routes are impossible. We shall have learnt how to move freely about in the air, and, by mounting a few miles nearer the limits of the earth's atmosphere, discovered or cleared up certain astronomical or other problems; but nothing more. All this does not lead us to infinity. Even if we had counted all the planetary systems that move through space, should we be any nearer? Have we learnt a single thing about the great mysteries that was unknown to the ancients? We have, merely, so far as I can see, changed the previous methods of circling the cave where the secret lies. We have not pierced its darkness one inch further.

Again, admitting that we are in certain directions more en- lightened, yet we must have lost all trace of many things that were familiar to our remote ancestors. Can we doubt that at the time of Abraham far more was known about primeval history than we know to-day? How many of our discoveries, made by chance or with great labour, are merely re-discoveries of forgotten knowledge! Further, how inferior we are in many respects to those who have lived before us! As I said above, in a different connexion, can one compare even our most splendid works to the marvels still to be seen in Egypt, India, Greece, and America? And these bear witness to the vanished magnificence of many other buildings, which have been destroyed far less by the heavy hand of time than by the senseless ravages of man. What are our arts, compared with those of Athens? What are our thinkers, compared with those of Alexandria and India? What are our poets, by the side of Valmiki, Kalidasa, Homer, and Pindar?

Our work is, in fact, different from theirs. We have turned our minds to other inquiries and other ends than those pursued by the earlier civilized groups of mankind. But while tilling our new field, we have not been able to keep fertile the lands already cultivated. We have advanced on one flank, but have given ground on the other. It is a poor compensation; and far from proving our progress, it merely means that we have changed our position. For a real advance to have been made, we should at least have preserved in their integrity the chief intellectual treasures of the earlier societies, and set up, in addition, certain great and firmly based conclusions at which the ancients had aimed as well as ourselves. Our arts and sciences, using theirs as the starting-point, should have discovered some new and profound truths about life and death, the genesis of living creatures, and the basic principles of the universe. On all these questions, modern science, as we imagine, has lost the visionary gleam that played round the dawn of antiquity, and its own efforts have merely brought it to the humiliating confession, "I seek and do not find." There has been no real progress in the intellectual conquests of man. Our power of criticism is certainly better than that of our forefathers. This is a considerable gain, but it stands alone; and, after all, criticism merely means classification, not discovery.

As for our so-called new ideas on politics, we may allow ourselves to be more disrespectful to them than to our sciences.

The same fertility in theorizing, on which we so pride ourselves, was to be found at Athens after the death of Pericles. Anyone may be convinced of this by reading again the comedies of Aristophanes, and allowing for satirical exaggeration; they were recommended by Plato himself as a guide to the public life of the city of Athene. We have always despised such comparisons, since we persuaded ourselves that a fundamental difference between our present social order and the ancient Greek State was created by slavery. It made for a more far-reaching demagogy, I admit; but that is all. People spoke of slaves in the same way as one speaks to-day of workmen and the lower classes; and, further, how very advanced the Athenians must have been, when they tried to please their servile population after the battle of Arginusae!  

Let us now turn to Rome. If you open the letters of Cicero, you will find the Roman orator a moderate Tory of to-day. His republic is exactly like our constitutional societies, in all that relates to the language of parties and Parliamentary squabbles. There too, in the lower depths, seethed a population of degraded slaves, with revolt ever in their hearts, and sometimes in their fists also. We will leave this mob on one side; and we can do it the more readily as the law did not recognize their civil existence. They did not count in politics, and their influence was limited to times of uproar. Even then, they merely carried out the commands of the revolutionaries of free birth.

Regarding, then, the slaves as of no account, does not the Forum offer us all the constituents of a modern social State? The populace, demanding bread and games, free doles and the right to enjoy them; the middle class, which succeeded in its aim of monopolizing the public services; the patriciate, always being transformed and giving ground, always losing its rights, until even its defenders agreed, as their one means of defence, to refuse all privileges and merely claim liberty for all; — have we not here an exact correspondence with our own time?

Does anyone believe that of the opinions we hear expressed to-day, however various they may be, there is a single one, or any shade of one, that was not known at Rome? I spoke above of the letters written from the Tusculan Villa: they contain the thoughts of a Conservative with progressive leanings. As against Sulla, Pompeius and Cicero were Liberals. They were not liberal enough for Caesar, and were too much so for Cato. Later, under the Principate, we find a moderate Royalist in Pliny the Younger, though one who loved tranquillity. He was against excessive liberty for the people, and excessive power for the Emperor. His views were positivist; he thought little of the vanished splendours of the age of the Fabii, and preferred the prosaic administration of a Trajan. Not everyone agreed with him. Many feared another insurrection like that of Spartacus, and thought that the Emperor could not make too despotic a use of his power. On the other hand, some of the provincials asked for, and obtained, what we should call constitutional guarantees; while Socialist opinions found so highly placed a representative as the Gallic Emperor Gaius Junius Postumus, who set down, among his subjects for declamation, Dives et pauper inimici, "The rich and the poor are natural enemies."

In fact, every man who had any claim to share in the enlightenment of the time strongly asserted the equality of the human race, the right of all men to have their part in the good things of this world, the obvious necessity of the Graeco-Roman civilization, its perfection and refinement, its certainty of a future progress even beyond its present state, and, to crown all, its existence for ever. These ideas were not merely the pride and consolation of the pagans; they inspired also the firm hopes of the first and most illustrious Fathers of the Church, of whose views Tertullian was the self-constituted interpreter.* [Amedee Thierry, Histoire de la Gaule sous l' administration romaine, vol. i, p. 241.]

Finally — to complete the picture with a last striking trait — the most numerous party of all was formed by the indifferent, the people who were too weak or timid, too sceptical or contemptuous, to find truth in the midst of all the divergent theories that passed kaleidoscopically before their eyes; who loved order when it existed, and (so far as they could) endured disorder when it came; who were always wondering at the progress of material comforts unknown to their fathers, and who, without wishing to think too much of the other side, consoled themselves by repeating over and over again, "Wonderful are the works of to-day!"

There would be more reason to believe that we have made improvements in political science, if we had invented some machinery that was unknown, in its essentials, before our time. Such a glory is not ours. Limited monarchies, for example, have been familiar to every age, and curious instances can be seen among certain American tribes, which in other respects have remained savage. Democratic and aristocratic republics of all kinds, balanced in the most various ways, have existed in the New as well as the Old World. Tlaxcala is just as good an example as Athens, Sparta, and Mecca before Mohammed's time. Even if it were shown that we had ourselves made some secondary improvements in the art of government, would this be enough to justify such a sweeping assertion as that the human race is capable of unlimited progress? Let us be as modest as that wisest of kings, when he said, " There is nothing new under the sun." * [One is sometimes led to consider the government of the United States of America as an original creation, peculiar to our time; its most remarkable feature is taken to be the small amount of opportunity left for Government initiative or even interference. Yet if we cast our eyes over the early years of all the States founded by the white race, we shall find exactly the same phenomenon. "Self-government" is no more triumphant in New York to-day, than it was in Paris, at the time of the Franks. It is true that the Indians are treated far less humanely by the Americans than the Gallo-Romans were by the nobles of Chlodwig. But we must remember that the racial difference between the enlightened Republicans of the New World and their victims is far greater than that between the Germanic conqueror and those he conquered. In fact, all Aryan societies began by exaggerating their independence as against the law and the magistrates. The power of political invention possessed by the world cannot, I think, travel outside the boundaries traced by two particular peoples, one of them living in the north-east of Europe, the other on the banks of the Nile, in the extreme south of Egypt. The Government of the first of these peoples (in Bolgari, near Kazan) was accustomed to " order men of intelligence to be hanged " as a preventive measure. We owe our knowledge of this interesting fact to the Arabian traveller Ibn Foszlan (A. von Humboldt, Asie centrale, vol. i, p. 494). In the other nation, living at Fazoql, whenever the king did not give satisfaction, his relations and ministers came and told him so. They informed him that since he no longer pleased " the men, women, children, oxen, asses," &c, the best thing he could do was to die; they then proceeded to help him to his death as speedily as possible (Lepsius, Briefe aus Agypten, Athiopien, und der Halbinsel des Sinai; Berlin, 1852).]

We come now to the question of manners. Ours are said to be gentler than those of the other great human societies; but this is very doubtful.

There are some rhetoricians to-day who would like to abolish war between nations. They have taken this theory from Seneca. Certain wise men of the East had also, on this subject, views that are precisely similar to those of the Moravian brotherhood. But even if the friends of universal peace succeeded in making Europe disgusted with the idea of war, they would still have to bring about a permanent change in the passions of mankind. Neither Seneca nor the Brahmans obtained such a victory. It is doubtful whether we are to succeed where they failed; especially as we may still see in our fields and our streets the bloody traces left by our so-called "humanity."

I agree that our principles are pure and elevated. Does our practice correspond to them?

Before we congratulate ourselves on our achievements, let us wait till our modern countries can boast of two centuries of peace, as could Roman Italy,* [Amedee Thierry, op. cit., vol. i, p. 241.] the example of which has unfortunately not been followed by later ages; for since the beginning of modern civilization fifty years have never passed without massacres.

The capacity for infinite progress is, thus, not shown by the present state of our civilization. Man has been able to learn some things, but has forgotten many others. He has not added one sense to his senses, one limb to his limbs, one faculty to his soul. He has merely explored another region of the circle in which he is confined, and even the comparison of his destiny with that of many kinds of birds and insects does not always inspire very consoling thoughts as to his happiness in this life.

The bees, the ants, and the termites have found for themselves, from the day of their creation, the land of life that suited them. The last two, in their communities, have invented a way of building their houses, laying in their provisions, and looking after their eggs, which in the opinion of naturalists could be neither altered nor improved.* [Martius and Spix, Reise in Brasilien, vol. iii, p. 950, &c.] Such as it is, it has always been sufficient for the small wants of the creatures who use it. Similarly the bees — with their monarchical government, which admits of the deposition of the sovereign but not of a social revolution — have never for a single day turned aside from the manner of life that is most suitable to their needs. Metaphysicians were allowed for a long time to call animals machines, and to assign the cause of their movements to God, who was the "soul of the brutes," anima brutomm. Now that the habits of these so-called automata are studied in a more careful way, we have not merely given up this contemptuous theory; we have even recognized that instinct has a capacity that raises it almost to the dignity of reason.

In the bee-kingdom, we see the queens a prey to the anger of their subjects; this implies either a spirit of mutiny in the latter, or the inability of the former to fulfil their lawful obligations. We see too the termites sparing their conquered enemies, and then making them prisoners, and employing them in the public service by giving them the care of the young. What are we to conclude from such facts as these?

Our modern States are certainly more complicated, and satisfy our needs in larger measure: but when I see the savage wandering on his way, fierce, sullen, idle, and dirty, lazily dragging his feet along his uncultivated ground, carrying the pointed stick that is his only weapon, and followed by the wife whom he has bound to him by a marriage-ceremony consisting solely in an empty and ferocious violence;* [In many tribes of Oceania the institution of marriage is conceived as follows: — A man sees a maiden, who, he thinks, will suit him. He obtains her from her father, by means of a few presents, among which a bottle of brandy, if he has been able to get one, holds the most distinguished place. Then the young suitor proceeds to conceal himself in a thicket, or behind a rock. The maiden passes by, thinking no harm. He knocks her down with a blow of his stick, beats her until she becomes unconscious, and carries her lovingly to his house, bathed in her blood. The formalities have been complied with, and the legal union is accomplished.] when I see the wife carrying her child, whom she will kill with her own hands if he falls ill, or even if he worries her;* [D'Orbigny tells how Indian mothers love their children to distraction, and take such care of them as to be really their slaves. If however the child annoys the mother at any time, then she drowns him or crushes him to death, or abandons him in the forest, without any regret. I know no other example of such an extraordinary change (D'Orbigny, L'Homme americain, vol. ii, p. 232).] when I see this miserable group under the pressure of hunger, suddenly stop, in its search for food, before a hill peopled by intelligent ants, gape at it in wonder, put their feet through it, seize the eggs and devour them, and then withdraw sadly into the hollow of a rock, — when I see all this, I ask myself whether the insects that have just perished are not more highly gifted than the stupid family of the destroyer, and whether the instinct of the animals, restricted as it is to a small circle of wants, does not really make them happier than the faculty of reason which has left our poor humanity naked on the earth, and a thousand times more exposed than any other species to the sufferings caused by the united agency of air, sun, rain, and snow. Man, in his wretchedness, has never succeeded in inventing a way of providing the whole race with clothes or in putting them beyond the reach of hunger and thirst. It is true that the knowledge possessed by the lowest savage is more extensive than that of any animal; but the animals know what is useful to them, and we do not. They hold fast to what knowledge they have, but we often cannot keep what we have ourselves discovered. They are always, in normal seasons, sure of satisfying their needs by their instincts. But there are numerous tribes of men that from the beginning of their history have never been able to rise above a stinted and precarious existence. So far as material well-being goes, we are no better than the animals; our horizon is wider than theirs, but, like theirs, it is still cramped and bounded.

I have hardly insisted enough on this unfortunate tendency of mankind to lose on one side what it gains on the other. Yet this is the great fact that condemns us to wander through our intellectual domains without ever succeeding, in spite of their narrow limits, in holding them all at the same time. If this fatal law did not exist, it might well happen that at some date in the dim future, when man had gathered together all the wisdom of all the ages, knowing what he had power to know and possessing all that was within his reach, he might at last have learnt how to apply his wealth, and live in the midst of nature, at peace with his kind and no longer at grips with misery; and having gained tranquillity after all his struggles, he might find his ultimate rest, if not in a state of absolute perfection, at any rate in the midst of joy and abundance.

Such happiness, with all its limitations, is not even possible for us, since man unlearns as fast as he learns; he cannot gain intellectually and morally without losing physically, and he does not hold any of his conquests strongly enough to be certain of keeping them always.

We moderns believe that our civilization will never perish, because we have discovered printing, steam, and gunpowder. Has printing, which is no less known to the inhabitants of Tonkin and Annam* ["The native Indian trade in books is very active, and many of the works produced are never seen in the libraries of Europeans, even in India. Sprenger says, in a letter, that in Lucknow alone there are thirteen lithographic establishments occupied purely in printing school-books, and he gives a considerable list of works of which probably not one has reached Europe. The same is the case at Delhi, Agra, Cawnpore, Allahabad, and other towns" (Mohl, Rapport annuel a la Societe asiatique, 1851, p. 92).] than in Europe, managed to give them even a tolerable civilization? They have books, and many of them — books which are sold far cheaper than ours. How is it that these peoples are so weak and degraded, so near the point where civilized man, strengthless, cowardly, and corrupted, is inferior in intellectual power to any barbarian who may seize the opportunity to crush him?* ["The Siamese are the most shameless people in the world. They are at the lowest point of Indo-Chinese civilization; and yet they can all read and write" (Ritter, Erdkunde, Asien, vol. iii, p. 1152).] The reason is, that printing is merely a means and not an end. If you use it to disseminate healthy and vigorous ideas, it will serve a most fruitful purpose and help to maintain civilization. If, on the other hand, the intellectual life of a people is so debased that no one any longer prints such works of philosophy, history, and literature, as can give strong nourishment to a nation's genius; if the degraded press merely serves to multiply the unhealthy and poisonous compilations of enervated minds, if its theology is the work of sectaries, it's politics of libellers, its poetry of libertines, — then how and why should the printing-press be the saviour of civilization?

Because copies of the great masterpieces can be easily multiplied, it is supposed that printing helps to preserve them; and that in times of intellectual barrenness, when they have no other competitors, printing can at least make them accessible to the nobler minds of the age. This is of course true. Yet if a man is to trouble himself about an ancient book at all, or gain any improvement from it, he must already have the precious gift of an enlightened mind. In evil times, when public virtue has left the earth, ancient writings are of little account, and no one cares to disturb the silence of the libraries. A man must be already worth something before he thinks of entering these august portals; but in such times no one is worth anything. . . .

Further, the length of life assured by Gutenberg's discovery to the achievements of the human mind is greatly exaggerated. With the exception of a few works which are from time to time reprinted, all books are dying to-day, as manuscripts died in the old days. Scientific works especially, which are published in editions of a few hundred copies, soon disappear from the common stock. They can still be found, though with difficulty, in large collections. The intellectual treasures of antiquity were in exactly the same case; and, I repeat, learning will not save a people which has fallen into its dotage.

What have become of the thousands of admirable books published since the first printing-press was set up? Most of them have been forgotten. Many of those that are still spoken of have no longer any readers, while the very names of the authors who were in demand fifty years ago are gradually fading from memory.

In the attempt to heighten the influence of printing, too little stress has been laid on the great diffusion of manuscripts that preceded it. At the time of the Roman Empire, opportunities for education were very general, and books must have been very common indeed, if we look at the extraordinary number of out-at-elbows grammarians, whose poverty, licentiousness, and passionate search for enjoyment live for us in the Satyricon of Petronius. They swarmed even in the smallest towns, and may be compared to the novelists, lawyers, and journalists of our own age. Even when the decadence was complete, anyone who wanted books could get them. Virgil was read everywhere. The peasants who heard his praises took him for a dangerous enchanter. The monks copied him. They copied also Pliny, Dioscorides, Plato, Aristotle, even Catullus and Martial. From the great number of mediaeval manuscripts that remain after so much war and pillage, after the burning of so many castles and abbeys, we may guess that far more copies than one thinks were made of contemporary works, literary, scientific, and philosophical. We exaggerate the real services done by printing to science, poetry, morality, and civilization; it would be better if we merely touched lightly on these merits and spoke more of the way in which the invention of printing is continually helping all kinds of religious and political interests. Printing, I say again, is a marvellous tool; but when head and hand fail, a tool cannot work by itself.

Gunpowder has no more power than printing to save a society that is in danger of death. The knowledge of how to make it will certainly never be forgotten. I doubt, however, whether the half-civilized peoples who use it to-day as much as we do ourselves, ever look upon it from any other point of view than that of destruction.

As for steam-power and the various industrial discoveries, they too, like printing, are most excellent means, but not ends in themselves. I may add that some processes which began as scientific discoveries ended as matters of routine, when the intellectual movement that gave them birth had stopped for ever, and the theoretical secrets at the back of the processes had been lost. Finally, material well-being has never been anything but an excrescence on civilization; no one has ever heard of a society that persisted solely through its knowledge of how to travel quickly and make fine clothes.

All the civilizations before our own have thought, as we do, hat they were set firmly on the rock of time by their unforgettable discoveries. They all believed in their immortality. The Incas and their families, who travelled swiftly in their palanquins on the excellent roads, fifteen hundred miles long, that still link Cuzco to Quito, were certainly convinced that their conquests would last for ever. Time, with one blow of his wing, has hurled their empire, like so many others, into the uttermost abyss. These kings of Peru also had their sciences, their machinery, their powerful engines, at the work of which we still stand amazed without being able to guess their construction. They too knew the secret of carrying enormous masses from place to place. They built fortresses by piling, one upon the other, blocks of stone thirty-eight feet long and eighteen wide, such as may be seen in the ruins of Tihuanaco, to which these gigantic building-materials must have been brought from a distance of many miles. Do we know the means used by the engineers of this vanished people to solve such a problem? No more than we know how the vast Cyclopean walls were constructed, the ruins of which, in many parts of Southern Europe, still defy the ravages of time.

We must not confuse the causes of a civilization with its results. The causes disappear, and the results are forgotten, when the spirit that gave them birth has departed. If they persist, it is because of a new spirit that takes hold of them, and often succeeds in giving quite a new direction to their activities. The human mind is always in motion. It runs from one point to another, but cannot be in all places at once. It exalts what it embraces, and forgets what it has abandoned. Held prisoner for ever within a circle whose bounds it may not overstep, it never manages to cultivate one part of its domain without leaving the others fallow. It is always at the same time superior and inferior to its forbears. Mankind never goes beyond itself, and so is not capable of infinite progress.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Mon Apr 12, 2021 2:07 am


If the human races were equal, the course of history would form an affecting, glorious, and magnificent picture. The races would all have been equally intelligent, with a keen eye for their true interests and the same aptitude for conquest and domination. Early in the world's history, they would have gladdened the face of the earth with a crowd of civilizations, all flourishing at the same time, and all exactly alike. At the moment when the most ancient Sanscrit peoples were founding their empire, and, by means of religion and the sword, were covering Northern India with harvests, towns, palaces, and temples; at the moment when the first Assyrian Empire was crowning the plains of the Tigris and Euphrates with its splendid buildings, and the chariots and horsemen of Nimroud were defying the four winds, we should have seen, on the African coast, among the tribes of the prognathous negroes, the rise of an enlightened and cultured social state, skilful in adapting means to ends, and in possession of great wealth and power.

The Celts, in the course of their migrations, would have carried with them to the extreme west of Europe the necessary elements of a great society, as well as some tincture of the ancient wisdom of the East; they would certainly have found, among the Iberian peoples spread over the face of Italy, in Gaul and Spain and the islands of the Mediterranean, rivals as well schooled as themselves in the early traditions, as expert as they in the arts and inventions required for civilization.

Mankind, at one with itself, would have nobly walked the earth, rich in understanding, and founding everywhere societies resembling each other. All nations would have judged their needs in the same way, asked nature for the same things, and viewed her from the same angle. A short time would have been sufficient for them to get into close contact with each other and to form the complex network of relations that is everywhere so necessary and profitable for progress. The tribes that were unlucky enough to live on a barren soil, at the bottom of rocky gorges, on the shores of ice-bound seas, or on steppes for ever swept by the north winds— these might have had to battle against the unkindness of nature for a longer time than the more favoured peoples. But in the end, having no less wisdom and understanding than the others, they would not have been backward in discovering that the rigours of a climate has its remedies. They would have shown the intelligent activity we see to-day among the Danes, the Norwegians, and the Icelanders. They would have tamed the rebellious soil, and forced it, in spite of itself, to be productive. In mountainous regions, we should have found them leading a pastoral life, like the Swiss, or developing industries like those of Cashmere. If their climate had been so bad, and its situation so unfavourable, that there was obviously nothing to be done with it, then the thought would have struck them that the world was large, and contained many valleys and kindly plains; they would have left their ungrateful country, and soon have found a land where they could turn their energy and intelligence to good account.

Then the nations of the earth, equally enlightened and equally rich, some by the commerce of their seething maritime cities, some by the agriculture of their vast and flourishing prairies, others by the industries of a mountainous district, others again by the facilities for transport afforded them by their central position— all these, in spite of the temporary quarrels, civil wars, and seditions inseparable from our condition as men, might soon have devised some system of balancing their conflicting interests. Civilizations identical in origin would, by a long process of give and take, have ended by being almost exactly alike; one might then have seen established that federation of the world which has been the dream of so many centuries, and which would inevitably be realized if all races were actually gifted, in the same degree, with the same powers.

But we know that such a picture is purely fantastic. The first peoples worthy of the name came together under the inspiration of an idea of union which the barbarians who lived more or less near them not only failed to conceive so quickly, but never conceived at all. The early peoples emigrated from their first home and came across other peoples, which they conquered; but these again neither understood nor ever adopted with any intelligence the main ideas in the civilization which had been imposed on them. Far from showing that all the tribes of mankind are intellectually alike, the nations capable of civilization have always proved the contrary, first by the absolutely different foundations on which they based their states, and secondly by the marked antipathy which they showed to each other. The force of example has never awakened any instinct, in any people, which did not spring from their own nature. Spain and the Gauls saw the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians, set up flourishing towns, one after the other, on their coasts. But both Spain and the Gauls refused to copy the manners and the government of these great trading powers. When the Romans came as conquerors, they only succeeded in introducing a different spirit by filling their new dominions with Roman colonies. Thus the case of the Celts and the Iberians shows that civilization cannot be acquired without the crossing of blood.

Consider the position of the American Indians at the present day. They live side by side with a people which always wishes to increase in numbers, to strengthen its power. They see thousands of ships passing up and down their waterways. They know that the strength of their masters is irresistible. They have no hope whatever of seeing their native land one day delivered from the conqueror; their whole continent is henceforth, as they all know, the inheritance of the European. A glance is enough to convince them of the tenacity of those foreign institutions under which human life ceases to depend, for its continuance, on the abundance of game or fish. From their purchases of brandy, guns, and blankets, they know that even their own coarse tastes would be more easily satisfied in the midst of such a society, which is always inviting them to come in, and which seeks, by bribes and flattery, to obtain their consent. It is always refused. They prefer to flee from one lonely spot to another; they bury themselves more and more in the heart of the country, abandoning all, even the bones of their fathers. They will die out, as they know well; but they are kept, by a mysterious feeling of horror, under the yoke of their unconquerable repulsion from the white race, and although they admire its strength and general superiority, their conscience and their whole nature, in a word, their blood, revolts from the mere thought of having anything in common with it.

In Spanish America less aversion is felt by the natives towards their masters. The reason is that they were formerly left by the central Government under the rule of their Caciques. The Government did not try to civilize them; it allowed them to keep their own laws and customs, and, provided they became Christians, merely required them to pay tribute. There was no question of colonization. Once the conquest was made, the Spaniards showed a lazy tolerance to the conquered, and only oppressed them spasmodically. This is why the Indians of South America are less unhappy than those of the north, and continue to live on, whereas the neighbours of the Anglo-Saxons will be pitilessly driven down into the abyss.

Civilization is incommunicable, not only to savages, but also to more enlightened nations. This is shown by the efforts of French goodwill and conciliation in the ancient kingdom of Algiers at the present day, as well as by the experience of the English in India, and the Dutch in Java. There are no more striking and conclusive proofs of the unlikeness and inequality of races.

We should be wrong to conclude that the barbarism of certain tribes is so innate that no kind of culture is possible for them. Traces may be seen, among many savage peoples, of a state of things better than that obtaining now. Some tribes, otherwise sunk in brutishness, hold to traditional rules, of a curious complexity, in the matter of marriage, inheritance, and government. Their rites are unmeaning to-day, but they evidently go back to a higher order of ideas. The Red Indians are brought forward as an example; the vast deserts over which they roam are supposed to have been once the settlements of the Alleghanians.* [Prichard, "Natural History of Man," sec. 41.] Others, such as the natives of the Marianne Islands, have methods of manufacture which they cannot have invented themselves. They hand them down, without thought, from father to son, and employ them quite mechanically.

When we see a people in a state of barbarism, we must look more closely before concluding that this has always been their condition. We must take many other facts into account, if we would avoid error.

Some peoples are caught in the sweep of a kindred race; they submit to it more or less, taking over certain customs, and following them out as far as possible. On the disappearance of the dominant race, either by expulsion, or by a complete absorption in the conquered people, the latter allows the culture, especially its root principles, to die out almost entirely, and retains only the small part it has been able to understand. Even this cannot happen except among nations related by blood. This was the attitude of the Assyrians towards the Chaldean culture, of the Syrian and Egyptian Greeks towards the Greeks of Europe, of the Iberians, Celts, and Illyrians in face of the Roman ideas. If the Cherokees, the Catawhas, the Muskhogees, the Seminoles, the Natchez, and the like, still show some traces of the Alleghanian intelligence, I cannot indeed infer that they are of pure blood, and directly descended from the originating stock — this would mean that a race that was once civilized can lose its civilization; — I merely say that if any of them derives from the ancient conquering type as its source, the stream is a muddy one, and has been mingled with many tributaries on the way. If it were otherwise, the Cherokees would never have fallen into barbarism. As for the other and less gifted tribes, they seem to represent merely the dregs of the indigenous population, which was forced by the foreign conquerors to combine together to form the basic elements of a new social state. It is not surprising that these remnants of civilization should have preserved, without understanding them, laws, rites, and customs invented by men cleverer than themselves; they never knew their meaning or theoretical principles, or regarded them as anything but objects of superstitious veneration. The same argument applies to the traces of mechanical skill found among them. The methods so admired by travellers may well have been ultimately derived from a finer race that has long disappeared. Sometimes we must look even further for their origin. Thus, the working of mines was known to the Iberians, Aquitanians, and the Bretons of the Scilly Isles; but the secret was first discovered in Upper Asia, and thence brought long ago by the ancestors of the Western peoples in the course of their migration.

The natives of the Caroline Islands are almost the most interesting in Polynesia. Their looms, their carved canoes, their taste for trade and navigation put a deep barrier between them and the other negroes. It is not hard to see how they come to have these powers. They owe them to the Malay blood in their veins; and as, at the same time, their blood is far from being pure, their racial gifts have survived only in a stunted and degraded form.

We must not therefore infer, from the traces of civilization existing among a barbarous people, that it has ever been really civilized. It has lived under the dominion of another tribe, of kindred blood but superior to it; or perhaps, by merely living close to the other tribe, it has, feebly and humbly, imitated its customs. The savage races of to-day have always been savage, and we are right in concluding, by analogy, that they will continue to be so, until the day when they disappear.

Their disappearance is inevitable as soon as two entirely unconnected races come into active contact; and the best proof is the fate of the Polynesians and the American Indians.

The preceding argument has established the following facts:

(i) The tribes which are savage at the present day have always been so, and always will be, however high the civilizations with which they are brought into contact.

(ii) For a savage people even to go on living in the midst of civilization, the nation which created the civilization must be a nobler branch of the same race.

(iii) This is also necessary if two distinct civilizations are to affect each other to any extent, by an exchange of qualities, and give birth to other civilizations compounded from their elements. That they should ever be fused together is of course out of the question.

(iv) The civilizations that proceed from two completely foreign races can only touch on the surface. They never coalesce, and the one will always exclude the other. I will say more about this last point, as it has not been sufficiently illustrated.

The fortune of war brought the Persian civilization face to face with the Greek, the Greek with the Roman, the Egyptian with both Roman and Greek; similarly the modern European civilization has confronted all those existing to-day in the world, especially the Arabian.

The relations of Greek with Persian culture were manifold and inevitable. A large part of the Hellenic population — the richest, if not the most independent — was concentrated in the towns of the Syrian littoral, and in the colonies of Asia Minor and the Euxine. These were, soon after their foundation, absorbed in the dominions of the Great King; the inhabitants lived under the eye of the satrap, though to a certain extent they retained their democratic institutions. Again, Greece proper, the Greece that was free, was always in close contact with the cities of the Asiatic coast.

Were the civilizations of the two countries ever fused into one? We know they were not. The Greeks regarded their powerful enemies as barbarians, and their contempt was probably returned with interest. The two nations were continually coming into contact, but their political ideas, their private habits, the inner meaning of their public rites, the scope of their art, and the forms of their government, remained quite distinct. At Ecbatana only one authority was recognized; it was hereditary, and limited in certain traditional ways, but was otherwise absolute. In Hellas the power was subdivided among a crowd of different sovereigns. The government was monarchical at Sparta, democratic at Athens, aristocratic at Sicyon, tyrannic in Macedonia — a strange medley! Among the Persians, the State-religion was far nearer to the primitive idea of emanation; it showed the same tendency to unity as the government itself did, and had a moral and metaphysical significance that was not without a certain philosophic depth. The Greek symbolism, on the other hand, was concerned merely with the various outward appearances of nature, and issued in a glorification of the human form. Religion left the business of controlling a man's conscience to the laws of the State; as soon as the due rites were performed, and his meed of honour paid to the local god or hero, the office of faith was complete. Further, the rites themselves, the gods, and the heroes, were different in places a few miles apart. If, in some sanctuaries like Olympia or Dodona, we seem to find the worship, not of some special force of nature, but of the cosmic principle itself, such a unity only makes the diversity of the rest more remarkable; for this kind of worship was confined to a few isolated places. Besides, the oracle of Dodona and the cult of the Olympian Zeus were foreign importations.

As for the private customs of the Greeks, it is hardly necessary to show how much they differed from those of the Persians. For a rich, pleasure-loving, and cosmopolitan youth to imitate the habits of rivals far more luxurious and outwardly refined than the Greeks, was to bring himself into public contempt. Until the time of Alexander — in other words, during the great, fruitful and glorious period of Hellenism — Persia, in spite of its continual pressure, could not convert Greece to its civilization.

With the coming of Alexander, this was curiously confirmed. Men believed for a moment, when they saw Hellas conquering the kingdom of Darius, that Asia was about to become Greek, or, still better, that the acts of violence wrought in the madness of a single night by the conqueror against the monuments of the country were, in their very excess, a proof of contempt as well as hatred. But the burner of Persepolis soon changed his mind. The change was so complete that his design at last became apparent; it was to substitute himself purely and simply for the dynasty of the Achaemenidae, and to rule like his predecessor or the great Xerxes, with Greece as an appanage of his empire. In this way, the Persian social system might have absorbed that of the Greeks.

In spite, however, of all Alexander's authority, nothing of the kind happened. His generals and soldiers never became used to seeing him in his long clinging robe, wearing a turban on his head, surrounded by eunuchs and denying his country. After his death, his system was continued by some of his successors; they were, however, forced to mitigate it. And why, as a fact, were they able to find the middle term which became the normal condition of the Asiatics of the coast and the Graeco-Egyptians? Simply because their subjects consisted of a mixed population of Greeks, Syrians, and Arabs, who had no reason to refuse the compromise. Where, however, the races remained distinct, all terms of union were impossible, and each country held to its national culture.

Similarly, right up to the last days of the Roman Empire, the hybrid civilization that was dominant ail over the East, including Greece proper, had become much more Asiatic than Greek, owing to the great preponderance of Asiatic blood in the mass of the people. The intellectual life, it is true, took pride in being Hellenic. But it is not hard to find, in the thought of the time, an Oriental strain vitalizing all the products of the Alexandrian school, such as the "centralized state" idea of the Graeco-Syrian jurists. We see how the different racial elements were balanced, and to which side the scale inclined.

Other civilizations may be compared in the same way; and before ending this chapter, I will say a few words about the relation between Arab culture and our own.

No one can doubt their mutual repulsion. Our mediaeval ancestors had opportunities of seeing at close quarters the marvels of the Mussulman State, when they willingly sent their sons to study in the schools of Cordova. Yet nothing Arabian remains in Europe outside the nations that have a tinge of Ishmaelitish blood. Brahmanic India showed no more eagerness than ourselves to come to terms with Islam, and has, like us, resisted all the efforts of its Mohammedan masters.

To-day, it is our turn to deal with the remains of Arab civilization. We harry and destroy the Arabs, but we do not succeed in changing them, although their civilization is not itself original, and so should have less power of resistance. It is notorious that the Arabian people, itself weak in numbers, continually incorporated the remnants of the races it had conquered by the sword. The Mussulmans form a very mixed population, with an equally hybrid culture, of which it is easy to disentangle the elements. The conquering nucleus did not, before Mohammed, consist of a new or unknown people. Its traditions were held in common with the Semite and Hamite families from which it was originally derived. It was brought into conflict with the Phoenicians and the Jews, and had the blood of both in its veins. It played a middleman's part in their Red Sea trade, and on the eastern coasts of India and Africa. It did the same, later, for the Persians and the Romans. Many Arab tribes took part in the political life of Persia under the Arsacidae and Sassanidae, while some of their princes, like Odenathus,* [King of Palmyra in Syria, and husband of Zenobia. He was recognized by the Emperor Gallienus as co-regent of the East in 267, and was murdered in the same year. — Tr.] were proclaimed Caesar, some of their princesses, like Zenobia, daughter of Amru and Queen of Palmyra, won a glory that was distinctively Roman, and some of their adventurers, like Philip, even raised themselves to the Imperial purple. Thus this hybrid nation had never ceased, from the most ancient times, to make itself felt among the powerful societies among which it lived. It had associated itself with their work, and like a body half sunk in water, half exposed to the sun, contained at one and the same time elements of barbarism and of an advanced civilization.

Mohammed invented the religion that was best fitted to the mental state of his people, where idolatry found many followers, but where Christianity, distorted by heretics and Judaizers, made just as many proselytes. In the religious system of the Prophet of Koresh the reconciliation between the law of Moses and the Christian faith was more complete than in the doctrines of the Church. This problem had greatly exercised the minds of the early Catholics, and was always present to the Oriental conscience. Hence Mohammed's gift had already an appetizing appearance, and besides, any theological novelty had a good chance of gaining converts among the Syrians and Egyptians. To crown all. the new religion came forward sword in hand; this was another guarantee of success among the masses, who had no common bond of union, other than the strong conviction of their helplessness.

It was thus that Islam came forth from the desert. Arrogant, uninventive, and with a civilization that was already, for the most part, Graeco-Asiatic, it found the ground prepared for it. Its recruits, on the East and South coasts of the Mediterranean, had already been saturated with the complex product which it was bringing to them, and which in turn it reabsorbed. The new cult, that had borrowed its doctrines from the Church, the Synagogue, and the garbled traditions of the Hedjaz and the Yemen, extended from Bagdad to Montpellier; and with the cult came its Persian and Roman laws, its Graeco-Syrian * ["The impulse towards this science given them by their kinship with the Graeco-Syrians made them capable of really absorbing the Greek language and spirit; for the Arabs preferred to confine themselves to the purely scientific results of Greek speculation " (W. von Humboldt, Uber die Kawi-Sprache, Introduction, p. cclxiii).] and Egyptian science, and its system of administration, which was tolerant from the first, as is natural where there is no unity in the State organism. We need not be astonished at the rapid progress in refinement made by the Mussulmans. The greater part of the people had merely changed their habits for the time being. When they began to play the part of apostles in the world, their identity was not at once recognized; they had not been known under their old names for some time. Another important point must be remembered. In this varied collection of peoples, each no doubt contributed its share to the common welfare. But which of them had given the first push to the machine, and which directed its motion for the short time it lasted? Why, the little nucleus of Arab tribes that had come from the interior of the peninsula, and consisted, not of philosophers, but of fanatics, soldiers, conquerors, and rulers.

Arab civilization was merely the old Graeco-Syrian civilization, modified by Persian admixture, and revived and rejuvenated by the new, sharp breath of a genius. Hence, although ready to make concessions, it could not come to terms with any form of society that had a different origin from its own, any more than the Greek culture could with the Roman, although these were so near to each other and lived side by side for so many centuries within the same Empire.

The preceding paragraphs are enough to show how impossible it is that the civilizations belonging to racially distinct groups should ever be fused together. The irreconcilable antagonism between different races and cultures is clearly established by history, and such innate repulsion must imply unlikeness and inequality. If it is admitted that the European cannot hope to civilize the negro, and manages to transmit to the mulatto only a very few of his own characteristics; if the children of a mulatto and a white woman cannot really understand anything better than a hybrid culture, a little nearer than their father's to the ideas of the white race, — in that case, I am right in saying that the different races are unequal in intelligence.

I will not adopt the ridiculous method that is unhappily only too dear to our ethnologists. I will not discuss, as they do, the moral and intellectual standing of individuals taken one by one.

I need not indeed speak of morality at all, as I have already admitted the power of every human family to receive the light of Christianity in its own way. As to the question of intellectual merit, I absolutely refuse to make use of the argument, "every negro is a fool."* [The severest judgment on the negro that has perhaps been passed up to now comes from one of the pioneers of the doctrine of equality. Franklin defines the negro as "an animal who eats as much, and works as little, as possible."] My main reason for avoiding it is that I should have to recognize, for the sake of balance, that every European is intelligent; and heaven keep me from such a paradox!

I will not wait for the friends of equality to show me such and such passages in books written by missionaries or sea-captains, who declare that some Yolof is a fine carpenter, some Hottentot a good servant, that some Kaffir dances and plays the violin, and some Bambara knows arithmetic.

I am ready to admit without proof all the marvels of this kind that anyone can tell me, even about the most degraded savages. I have already denied that even the lowest tribes are absolutely stupid. I actually go further than my opponents, as I have no doubt that a fair number of negro chiefs are superior, in the wealth of their ideas, the synthetic power of their minds, and the strength of their capacity for action, to the level usually reached by our peasants, or even by the average specimens of our half-educated middle class. But, I say again, I do not take my stand on the narrow ground of individual capacity. It seems to me unworthy of science to cling to such futile arguments. If Mungo Park or Lander have given a certificate of intelligence to some negro, what is to prevent another traveller, who meets the same phoenix, from coming to a diametrically opposite conclusion? Let us leave these puerilities, and compare together, not men, but groups. When, as may happen some day, we have carefully investigated what the different groups can and cannot do, what is the limit of their faculties and the utmost reach of their intelligence, by what nations they have been dominated since the dawn of history — then and then only shall we have the right to consider why the higher individuals of one race are inferior to the geniuses of another. We may then go on to compare the powers of the average men belonging to these types, and to find out where these powers are equal and where one surpasses the other. But this difficult and delicate task cannot be performed until the relative position of the different races has been accurately, and to some extent mathematically, gauged. I do not even know if we shall ever get clear and undisputed results, if we shall ever be free to go beyond a mere general conclusion and come to such close grips with the minor varieties as to be able to recognize, define, and classify the lower strata and the average minds of each nation. If we can do this, we shall easily be able to show that the activity, energy, and intelligence of the least gifted individuals in the dominant races, are greater than the same qualities in the corresponding specimens produced by the other groups.* [I have no hesitation in regarding the exaggerated development of instinct among savage races as a specific mark of intellectual inferiority. The sharpening of certain senses can only be gained by the deterioration of the mental facilities. On this point, compare what Lesson says of the Papuans, in a paper printed in the Annales des sciences naturelles, vol. x.]

Mankind is thus divided into unlike and unequal parts, or rather into a series of categories, arranged, one above the other, according to differences of intellect.

In this vast hierarchy there are two great forces always acting on each member of the series. These forces are continually setting up movements that tend to fuse the races together; they are, as I have already indicated,* [See p. 139.] (i) resemblance in general bodily structure and (ii) the common power of expressing ideas and sensations by the modulation of the voice.

I have said enough about the first of these, and have shown the true limits within which it operates.

I will now discuss the second point, and inquire what is the relation between the power of a race and the merit of its language; in other words, whether the strongest races have the best idioms, and if not, how the anomaly may be explained.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:06 am


If a degraded people, at the lowest rung of the racial ladder, with as little significance for the "male" as for the "female" progress of mankind, could possibly have invented a language of philosophic depth, of aesthetic beauty and flexibility, rich in characteristic forms and precise idioms, fitted alike to express the sublimities of religion, the graces of poetry, the accuracy of physical and political science, — such a people would certainly possess an utterly useless talent, that of inventing and perfecting an instrument which their mental capacity would be too weak to turn to any account.

We should have, in such a case, to believe that our observation has been suddenly brought to a stop, not by something unknown or unintelligible (as often happens) but by a mere absurdity.

At first sight, this tantalizing answer seems the correct one. If we take the races as they are to-day, we must admit that the perfection of idiom is very far from corresponding, in all cases, to the degree of civilization reached. The tongues of modern Europe, to speak of no others, are unequal in merit, and the richest and most beautiful do not necessarily belong to the most advanced people. Further, they are one and all vastly inferior to many languages which have been at different times spoken in the world.

A still more curious fact is that the languages of whole groups of peoples which have stopped at a low level of culture may be of considerable merit. Thus the net of language, with its varied meshes, might seem to have been cast over mankind at random, the silk and the gold sometimes covering rude, ferocious, and miserable tribes, while wise and learned peoples are still caught in the hemp, the wool, and the horsehair. Happily, this is so only in appearance. If, with the aid of history, we apply our doctrine of the difference of races, we shall soon find that our proofs of their intellectual inequality are even strengthened.

The early philologists were doubly in error, when they thought, first that all languages are formed on the same principle, secondly that language was invented merely under the stress of material needs. In the former point they were influenced by the unitarian doctrine that all human groups have a common origin.

With regard to language, doubt is not even possible. The modes of formation are completely different; and whether the classifications of philology require revision or not, we cannot believe for a moment that the Altaic, Aryan, and Semitic families were not from the first absolutely foreign to each other. Nothing is the same. The vocabulary has its own peculiar character in each of these groups. There is a different modulation of the voice in each. In one, the lips are used to produce the sounds; in another, the contraction of the throat; in another the nasal passage and the upper part of the head. The composition of the parts of speech, according as they confuse or distinguish the various shades of thought, points equally to a difference of origin. The most striking proof of the divergence in thought and feeling between one group and another are seen in the inflexions of the substantive and the conjugations of the verb. When, therefore, the philosopher tries to give an account of the origin of language by a process of purely abstract conjecture, and begins by conceiving an "original man," without any specific racial or linguistic character, he starts from an absurdity, and continues on the same lines. There is no such being as "man" in the abstract; and I am especially sure that he will not be discovered by the investigation of language. I cannot argue on the basis that mankind started from some one point in its creation of idiom. There were many points of departure, because there were many forms of thought and feeling.* [W. von Humboldt, in one of the most brilliant of his minor works, has admirably expressed this fact, in its essentials. "In language," he says, "the work of time is helped everywhere [by national idiosyncrasies. The characteristic features in the idioms of the warrior hordes of America and Northern Asia were not necessarily those of the primitive races of India and Greece. It is not possible to trace a perfectly equal, and as it were natural, development of any language, whether it was spoken by one nation or many " (W. von Humboldt, Uber das Entstehen der grammatischen Formen, und ihren Einfluss auf die Ideenentwickelung).]

The second view, I think, is just as false. According to this theory, there would have been no development save as dictated by necessity. The result would be that the "male" races would have a richer and more accurate language than the "female"; further, as material needs are concerned with objects apprehended by the senses, and especially with actions, the main factor of human speech would be vocabulary.

There would be no necessity for the syntax and grammatical structure to advance beyond the simplest and most elementary combinations. A series of sounds more or less linked together is always enough to express a need; and a gesture, as the Chinese know well, is an obvious form of commentary, when the phrase is obscure without it.* [W. von Humboldt, Uber die Kawi-Sprache, Introduction.] Not only would the synthetic power of language remain undeveloped; it would also be the poorer for dispensing with harmony, quantity, and rhythm. For what is the use of melody when the sole object is to obtain some positive result? A language, in fact, would be a mere chance collection of arbitrary sounds.

Certain questions are apparently cleared up by such a theory. Chinese, the tongue of a masculine race, seems to have been at first developed with a purely utilitarian aim. The word has never risen above a mere sound, and has remained monosyllabic. There is no evolution of vocabulary, no root giving birth to a family of derivatives. All the words are roots; they are not modified by suffixes, but by each other, according to a very crude method of juxtaposition. The grammar is extremely simple; which makes the phraseology very monotonous. The very idea of aesthetic value is excluded, at any rate for ears that are accustomed to the rich, varied, and abundant forms, the inexhaustible combinations of happier tongues. We must however add that this may not be the impression produced on the Chinese themselves; and their spoken language certainly aims at some kind of beauty, since there are definite rules governing the melodic sequence of sounds. If it does not succeed in being so euphonious as other languages, we must still recognize that it aims at euphony no less than they. Further, the primary elements of Chinese are something more than a mere heaping together of useful sounds.* [I am inclined to believe that the monosyllabic quality of Chinese is not really a specific mark of the language at all; and though a striking characteristic, it does not seem to be an essential one. If it were, Chinese would be an "isolating" language, connected with others having the same structure. We know that this is not so. Chinese belongs to the Tatar or Finnish system, of which some branches are polysyllabic. On the other hand, we find monosyllabic languages among groups with quite a different origin. I do not lay any stress on the example of Othomi. a Mexican dialect which, according to du Ponceau, has the monosyllabic quality of Chinese, and yet in other respects belongs to the American family among which it is found, as Chinese does to the Tatar group (see Morton, "An Inquiry into the Distinctive Characteristics of the aboriginal race of America," Philadelphia, 1844). My reason for neglecting this apparently important example is that these American languages may one day be recognized as forming merely a vast branch of the Tatar family; and thus any conclusion I might draw from them would simply go to confirm what I have said as to the relation of Chinese to the surrounding dialects, a relation which is in no way disproved by the peculiar character of Chinese itself. I find therefore a more conclusive instance in Coptic, which will not easily be shown to have any relation to Chinese. But here also every syllable is a root; and the simple affixes that modify the root are so independent that even the determining particle that marks the time of the verb does not always remain joined to the word. Thus hon means "to command"; a-hon, "he commanded"; but a Moyses hon, "Moses commanded" (see E. Meier, Hebrdisches Wurzelworterbuch). Thus it seems possible for monosyllabism to appear in every linguistic family. It is a kind of infirmity produced by causes which are not yet understood; it is not however a specific feature, separating the language in which it occurs from the rest, and setting it in a class by itself.]

I admit that the masculine races may be markedly inferior in aesthetic power to the others,* [Goethe says in Wilhelm Meister: "Few Germans, and perhaps few men of modern nations, have the sense of an aesthetic whole. We only know how to praise and blame details, we can only show a fragmentary admiration."] and their inferiority may be reproduced in their idioms. This is shown, not merely by the relative poverty of Chinese, but also by the careful way in which certain Western races have robbed Latin of its finest rhythmic qualities, and Gothic of its sonority, The inferiority of our modern languages, even the best of them, to Sanscrit, Greek, and Latin, is self-evident, and corresponds exactly to the mediocrity of the Chinese civilization and our own, so far as art and literature are concerned. I admit that this difference, alone with others, may serve to mark off the languages of the masculine races. They still, however, have a feeling for rhythm (less than that of the ancient tongues, but still powerful), and make a real attempt to create and obey laws of correspondence between sounds and the forms by which thought is modified in speech. I conclude that even in the languages of masculine races there still flickers the intellectual spark, the feeling for beauty and logic; this feeling, as well as that of material need, must preside at the birth of every language.

I said above that if material need had reigned alone, a set of any chance sounds would have been enough for human necessities, in the first ages of man's existence. Such a theory cannot be maintained.

Sounds are not assigned to ideas by pure chance. The choice is governed by the instinctive recognition of a certain logical relation between noises heard outwardly by man's ear and ideas that his throat or tongue wishes to express. In the eighteenth century men were greatly struck by this truth. Unfortunately, it was caught in the net of etymological exaggeration so characteristic of the time; and its results were so absurd that they justly fell into disrepute. For a long time the best minds were warned off the land that had been so stupidly exploited by the early pioneers. They are now beginning to return to it again, and if they have learnt prudence and restraint in the bitter school of experience, they may arrive at valuable conclusions. Without pushing a theory, true in itself, into the realm of chimeras, we may allow that primitive speech knew how to use as far as possible the different impressions received by the ear, in order to form certain classes of words; in creating others it was guided by the feeling of a mysterious relation between certain abstract ideas and some particular noises. Thus, for example, the sound of e seems to suggest death and dissolution, that of v or w, vagueness in the moral or physical realm, vows, wind, and the like; s suggests starkness and standing fast, m maternity, and so on.* [Cf. W. von Humboldt, Uber die Kawi-Sprache, Introduction, p. xcv: " We may call the sound that imitates the meaning of a word symbolic, although the symbolic element in speech goes far deeper than this. . . . This kind of imitation undoubtedly had a great, and perhaps exclusive, influence over the early attempts at word-building."] Such a theory is sufficiently well founded for us to take it seriously, if kept within due limits. But it must be used with great circumspection, if we are not to find ourselves in the dark paths where even common sense is soon led astray.

The last paragraph may show, however imperfectly, that material need is not the only element that produces a language, but that the best of man's powers have helped in the task. Sounds were not applied arbitrarily to ideas and objects, and in this respect men followed a pre-established order, one side of which was manifested in themselves. Thus the primitive tongues, however crude and poor they may have been, contained all the elements from which their branches might at a later time be developed in a logical and necessary sequence.

W. von Humboldt has observed, with his usual acuteness, that every language is independent of the will of those who speak it. It is closely bound up with their intellectual condition, and is beyond the reach of arbitrary caprice. It cannot be altered at will, as is curiously shown by the efforts that have been made to do so.

The Bushmen have invented a system of changing their language, in order to prevent its being understood by the un- initiated. We find the same custom among certain tribes of the Caucasus. But all their efforts come to no more than the mere insertion of a subsidiary syllable at the beginning, middle, or end of words. Take away this parasitic element, and the language remains the same, changed neither in forms nor syntax.

De Sacy has discovered a more ambitious attempt, in the language called "Balaibalan." This curious idiom was invented by the Sufis, to be used in their mystical books, with the object of wrapping the speculations of their theologians in still greater mystery. They made up, on no special plan, the words that seemed to them to sound most strangely to their ears. If however this so-called language did not belong to any family and if the meaning given to its sounds was entirely arbitrary, yet the principles of euphony, the grammar and the syntax, everything in fact which gives a language its special character, bore the unmistakable stamp of Arabic and Persian. The Sufis produced a jargon at once Aryan and Semitic, and of no importance what- ever. The pious colleagues of Djelat-Eddin-Rumi were not able to invent a language; and clearly this power has not been given to any single man.* [There is probably another jargon of the same kind as Balaibalan. This is called "Afnskoe," and is spoken by the pedlars and horse-dealers of Greater Russia, especially in the province of Vladimir. It is confined to men. The grammar is entirely Russian, though the roots are foreign. (See Pott, Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopadie, Indogermanischer Sprachstamm, p. 110.)]

Hence the language of a race is closely bound up with its intelligence, and has the power of reflecting its various mental stages, as they are reached. This power may be at first only implicit.* [C. O. Muller, in an admirable passage which I cannot resist the temptation of transcribing, shows the true nature of language: "Our age has learnt, by the study of the Hindu and especially the Germanic languages, that the laws of speech are as fixed as those of organic life. Between different dialects, developing independently after their separation, there are still mysterious links, which reciprocally determine the sounds and their sequences. Literature and science set limits to this growth, and arrest perhaps some of its richer developments; but they cannot impose any law on it higher than that ordained by nature, mother of all things. Even a long time before the coming of decadence and bad taste, languages may fall sick, from outward or inward causes, and suffer vast changes; but so long as life remains in them, their innate power is enough to heal their wounds, to set their torn limbs, and to restore unity and regularity, even when the beauty and perfection of the noble plants has almost entirely disappeared " (Die Etrusker, p. 65).]

Where the mental development of a race is faulty or imperfect, the language suffers to the same extent. This is shown by Sanscrit, Greek, and the Semitic group, as well as by Chinese, in which I have already pointed out a utilitarian tendency corresponding to the intellectual bent of the people. The super-abundance of philosophical and ethnological terms in Sanscrit corresponds to the genius of those who spoke it, as well as its richness and rhythmic beauty. The same is the case with Greek; while the lack of precision in the Semitic tongues is exactly paralleled by the character of the Semitic peoples.

If we leave the cloudy heights of the remoter ages, and come down to the more familiar regions of modern history, we shah be, as it were, presiding at the birth of many new tongues; and this will make us see with even greater clearness how faithfully language mirrors the genius of a race.

As soon as two nations are fused together, a revolution takes place in their respective languages; this is sometimes slow, sometimes sudden, but always inevitable. The languages are changed and, after a certain time, die out as separate entities. The new tongue is a compromise between them, the dominant element being furnished by the speech of the race that has contributed most members to the new people.* [Pott, op. cit., p. 74.] Thus, from the thirteenth century, the Germanic dialects of France have had to yield ground, not to Latin, but to the lingua romana, with the revival of the Gallo-Roman power.* [That the mixture of idioms is proportionate to that of the races constituting a nation had already been noticed before philology, in the modern sense, existed at all. Kampfer for example says in his "History of Japan" (published in 1729): "We may take it as a fixed rule that the settlement of foreigners in a country will bring a corresponding proportion of foreign words into the language; these will be naturalized by degrees, and become as familiar as the native words themselves."] Celtic, too, had to retreat before the Italian colonists. It did not yield to Italian civilization; in fact, one might say, that, thanks to the number of those who spoke it, Celtic finally gained a kind of victory. For after the complete fusion of the Gauls, the Romans, and the northern tribes, it was Celtic that laid the foundations of modern French syntax, abolished the strong accentuation of Germanic as well as the sonority of Latin, and introduced its own equable rhythm. The gradual development of French is merely the effect of this patient labour, that went on, without ceasing, under the surface. Again, the reason why modern German has lost the striking forms to be seen in the Gothic of Bishop Ulfilas lies in the presence of a strong Cymric element in the midst of the small Germanic population that was still left to the east of the Rhine,* [Keferstein shows that German is merely a hybrid language made up of Celtic and Gothic (Ansichten uber die keltischen Altertumer, Halle, 1846-51; Introduction, p. xxxviii). Grimm is of the same opinion.] after the great migrations of the sixth and following centuries of our era.

The linguistic results of the fusion of two peoples are as individual as the new racial character itself. One may say generally that no language remains pure after it has come into close contact with a different language. Even when their structures are totally unlike each other, the vocabulary at any rate suffers some changes. If the parasitic language has any strength at all, it will certainly attack the other in its rhythmic quality, and even in the unstable parts of its syntax. Thus language is one of the most fragile and delicate forms of property; and we may often see a noble and refined speech being affected by barbarous idioms and passing itself into a kind of relative barbarism. By degrees it will lose its beauty; its vocabulary will be impoverished, and many of its forms obsolete, while it will show an irresistible tendency to become assimilated to its inferior neighbour. This has happened in the case of Wallachian and Rhaetian, Kawi and Birman. The two latter have been leavened with Sanscrit elements; but in spite of this noble alliance, they have been declared by competent judges to be inferior to Delaware.* [W. von Humboldt says: "Languages, that are apparently crude and unrefined, may show some striking qualities in their structure, and often do so. In this respect they may quite possibly surpass more highly developed tongues. The comparison of Birman with Delaware, not to speak of Mexican, can leave no doubt of the superiority of the latter; yet a strand of Indian culture has certainly been interwoven into Birman by Pali" (Uber die Kawi-Sprache, Introduction, p. xxxiv).]

The group of tribes speaking this dialect are of the Lenni-Lenapes family, and they originally ranked higher than the two yellow peoples who were caught in the sweep of Hindu civilization. If, in spite of their primitive superiority, they are now inferior to the Asiatics, it is because these live under the influence of the social institutions of a noble race and have profited by them, though in themselves they are of slight account. Contact with the Hindus has been enough to raise them some way in the scale, while the Lenapes, who have never been touched by any such influence, have not been able to rise above their present civilization. In a similar way (to take an obvious example) the young mulattoes who have been educated in London or Paris may show a certain veneer of culture superior to that of some Southern Italian peoples, who are in point of merit infinitely higher; for once a mulatto, always a mulatto, When therefore we come upon a savage tribe with a language better than that of a more civilized nation, we must examine carefully whether the civilization of the latter really belongs to it, or is merely the result of a slight admixture of foreign blood. If so, a low type of native language helped out by a hybrid mixture of foreign idioms may well exist side by side with a certain degree of social culture.* [This difference of level between the intellect of the conqueror and that of the conquered is the cause of the "sacred languages" that we find used in the early days of an empire; such as that of the Egyptians, or the Incas of Peru. These languages are the object of a superstitious veneration; they are the exclusive property of the upper classes, and often of a sacerdotal caste, and they furnish the strongest possible proof of the existence of a foreign race that has conquered the country where they are found.]

I have already said that, as each civilization has a special character, we must not be surprised if the poetic and philosophic sense was more developed among the Hindus and the Greeks than among ourselves; whereas our modern societies are marked rather by their practical, scientific, and critical spirit. Taken as a whole, we have more energy and a greater genius for action than the conquerors of Southern Asia and Hellas. On the other hand, we must yield them the first place in the kingdom of beauty, and here our languages naturally mirror our humble position. The style of the Indian and Ionian writers takes a more powerful flight towards the sphere of the ideal. Language, in fact, while being an excellent index of the general elevation of races, is in a special degree the measure of their aesthetic capacities. This is the character it assumes when we use it as a means of comparing different civilizations.

To bring out this point further, I will venture to question a view put forward by William von Humboldt, that in spite of the obvious superiority of the Mexican to the Peruvian language, the civilization of the Incas was yet far above that of the people of Anahuac.* [W. von Humboldt, Uber die Kawi-Sprache, Introduction, p. xxxiv.]

The Peruvian customs were certainly more gentle than the Mexican; and their religious ideas were as inoffensive as those of Montezuma's subjects were ferocious. In spite of this, their social condition was marked by far less energy and variety. Their crude despotism never developed into more than a dull kind of communism; whereas the Aztec civilization had made various political experiments of great complexity. Its military system was far more vigorous; and though the use of writing was equally unknown in both empires, it seems that poetry, history, and ethics, which were extensively studied at the time of Cortes, would have advanced further in Mexico than in Peru, the institutions of which were coloured by an Epicurean indifferentism that was highly unfavourable to intellectual progress. Clearly we must regard the more active people as superior.

Von Humboldt's view is simply a consequence of the way in which he defines civilization.* [See p. 82 above.] Without going over the same ground again, I was yet bound to clear up this point; for if two civilizations had really been able to develop in inverse ratio to the merits of their respective languages, I should have had to give up the idea of any necessary connexion between the intelligence of a people and the value of the language spoken by it. But I cannot do this, in view of what I have already said about Greek and Sanscrit, as compared with English, French, and German.

It would be, however, a very difficult task to assign a reason, along these lines, for the exact course taken by the language of a hybrid people. We have seldom sufficient knowledge either of the quantity or quality of the intermixture of blood to be able properly to trace its effects. Yet these racial influences persist, and if they are not unravelled, we may easily come to false conclusions. It is just because the connexion between race and language is so close, that it lasts much longer than the political unity of the different peoples, and may be recognized even when the peoples are grouped under new names. The language changes with their blood, but does not die out until the last fragment of the national life has disappeared. This is the case with modern Greek. Sadly mutilated, robbed of its wealth of grammar, impoverished in the number of its sounds, with the pure stream of its vocabulary troubled and muddy, it has none the less retained the impress of its original form.* [Ancient Greece contained many dialects, but not so many as the Greece of the sixteenth century, when seventy were counted by Simeon Kavasila; further we may notice (in connexion with the following paragraph) that in the thirteenth century French was spoken throughout Greece, and especially in Attica (Heilmayer, quoted by Pott, op. cit., p. 73).] In the intellectual world it corresponds to the sullied and deflowered 'Parthenon, which first became a church for the Greek popes, and then a powder-magazine; which had its pediments and columns shattered in a thousand places by the Venetian bullets of Morosini; but which still stands, for the wonder and adoration of the ages, as a model of pure grace and unadorned majesty.

Not every race has the power of being faithful to the tongue of its ancestors. This makes our task still more difficult, when we try to determine the origin or relative value of different human types by the help of philology. Not only do languages change without any obvious reason, at any rate from the racial point of view; but there are also certain nations which give up their own language altogether, when they are brought for some time into contact with a foreign race. This happened, after the conquests of Alexander, in the case of the more enlightened nations of Western Asia, such as the Carians, Cappadocians, and Armenians. The Gauls are another instance, as I have already said. Yet all these peoples brought a foreign element into the conquering tongue, which was transformed in its turn. Thus they could all be regarded as using their own intellectual tools, though to a very imperfect extent; while others, more tenacious of theirs, such as the Basques, the Berbers of Mount Atlas, and the Ekkhilis of Southern Arabia, speak even at the present day the same tongue as was spoken by their most primitive ancestors. But there are certain peoples, the Jews for example, who seem never to have held to their ancestral speech at all; and we can discover this indifference from the time of their earliest migrations. When Terah left the land of his fathers, Ur of the Chaldees, he certainly had not learnt the Canaanitish tongue that henceforth became the national speech of the children of Israel. It was probably influenced to some extent by their earlier recollections, and in their mouth became a special dialect of the very ancient language which was the mother of the earliest Arabic we know, and the lawful inheritance of tribes closely allied to the black Hamites.* [The Hebrews themselves did not call their language "Hebrew"; they called it, quite properly, the "language of Canaan" (Isaiah xix, 18). Compare Roediger's preface to the Hebrew grammar of Gesenius (16th edition, Leipzig, 1851, p. 7 et passim).] Yet not even to this language were the Jews to remain faithful. The tribes who were brought back from captivity by Zerubbabel had forgotten it during their short stay of sixty-two years by the rivers of Babylon. Their patriotism was proof against exile, and still burned with its original fire; but the rest had been given up, with remarkable facility, by a people which is at the same time jealous of its own traditions and extremely cosmopolitan. Jerusalem was rebuilt, and its inhabitants reappeared, speaking an Aramaic or Chaldaean jargon, which may have had some slight resemblance to the speech of the fathers of Abraham.

At the time of Christ, this dialect offered only a feeble resistance to the invasion of Hellenistic Greek, which assailed the Jewish mind on all sides. Henceforth all the works produced by Jewish writers appeared in the new dress, which fitted them more or less elegantly, and copied to some extent the old Attic fashions. The last canonical books of the Old Testament, as well as the works of Philo and Josephus, are Hellenistic in spirit.

When the Holy City was destroyed, and the Jewish nation scattered, the favour of God departed from them, and the East came again into its own. Hebrew culture broke with Athens as it had broken with Alexandria, and the language and ideas of the Talmud, the teaching of the school of Tiberias, were again Semitic, sometimes in the form of Arabic, sometimes in that of the "language of Canaan," to use Isaiah's phrase. I am speaking of what was henceforth to be the sacred language of religion and the Rabbis, and was regarded as the true national speech. In their everyday life, however, the Jews used the tongue of the country where they settled; and, further, these exiles were known everywhere by their special accent. They never succeeded in fitting their vocal organs to their adopted language, even when they had learnt it from childhood. This goes to confirm what William von Humboldt says as to the connexion between race and language being so close that later generations never get quite accustomed to pronounce correctly words that were unknown to their ancestors.* [This is also the view of W. Edwards ("Physical Characteristics of the Human Races").]

Whether this be true or not, we have in the Jews a remarkable proof of the fact that one must not always assume, at first sight, a close connexion between a race and its language, for the language may not have belonged to it originally.* [Besides the Jews, I might also mention the Gipsies. There is, further, the case where a people speaks two languages. In Grisons almost all the peasants of the Engadine speak Roumansch and German with equal facility, the former among themselves, the latter to foreigners. In Courland there is a district where the peoples speak Esthonian (a Finnish dialect) to each other and Lithuanian to every one else (Pott, op. cit., p. 104).]

We see how cautiously we must tread if we attempt to infer an identity of race from the affinity, or even the resemblance, of languages. Not only have most of the nations of Western Asia and nearly all those of Southern Europe merely adapted the speech of others to their own use, while leaving its main elements untouched; but there are also some who have taken over languages absolutely foreign to them, to which they have made no contribution whatever. The latter case is certainly rarer, and may even be regarded as an anomaly. But its mere existence is enough to make us very careful in admitting a form of proof in which such exceptions are possible. On the other hand, since they are exceptions, and are not met with so often as the opposite case, of a national tongue being preserved for centuries by even a weak nation; since we also see how a language is assimilated to the particular character of the people that has created it, and how its changes are in exact proportion to the successive modifications in the people's blood; since the part played by a language in forming its derivatives varies with the numerical strength, in the new groups, of the race that speaks it, we may justly conclude that no nation can have a language of greater value than itself, except under special circumstances. As this point is of considerable importance, I will try to bring it out by a new line of proof.

We have already seen that the civilization of a composite people does not include all its social classes.* [See pp. 97-102.] The racial influences that were at work in the lower strata from the first still go on; and they prevent the directing forces of the national culture from reaching the depths at all, — if they do, their action is weak and transitory. In France, about five-eighths of the total population play merely an unwilling and passive part in the development of modern European culture, and that only by fits and starts. With the exception of Great Britain, of which the insular position produces a greater unity of type, the proportion is even higher in the rest of the Continent. I will speak of France at greater length, as an instance of the exact correspondence between language and racial type; for in France we have a particular instance that strikingly confirms our main thesis.

We know little, or rather we have no real evidence at all, of the phases which Celtic and rustic Latin* [The way was not so long from rustic Latin, lingua rustica Romanorum, to the lingua romana and thence to corruption, as it was from the classical tongue, the precise and elaborate forms of which offered more resistance to decay. We may add that, as every foreign legionary brought his own provincial patois into the Gallic colonies, the advent of a common dialect was hastened, not merely by the Celts, but by the immigrants themselves.] passed through before they met and coalesced. Nevertheless, St. Jerome and his contemporary Sulpicius Severus tell us (the former in his "Commentaries" on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, the second in his "Dialogue on the virtues of the Eastern Monks") that in their time at least two languages were generally spoken in Gaul. There was, first, Celtic, which was preserved on the banks of the Rhine in so pure a form, that it remained identical with the language spoken by the Galatians of Asia Minor, who had been separated from their mother country for more than six centuries.* [Sulp. Severus, Dial. I de virtutibus monachorum orientalium.] Secondly, there was the language called "Gallic," which according to a commentator, can only have been a form, already broken down, of Popular Latin. This fourth century dialect, while different from the Gallic of Treves, was spoken neither in the West nor in Aquitaine. It was found only in the centre and south of what is now France, and was itself probably split up into two great divisions. It is the common source of the currents, more or less Latinized, which were mingled with other elements in different proportions, and formed later the langue d'oil and the lingua romana, in the narrower sense. I will speak first of the latter.

In order to bring it into being, all that was necessary was a slight alteration in the vocabulary of Latin, and the introduction of a few syntactical notions borrowed from Celtic and other languages till then unknown in the West of Europe. The Imperial colonies had brought in a fair number of Italian, African, and Asiatic elements. The Burgundian, and especially the Gothic, invasions added another, which was marked by consider- able harmony, liveliness, and sonority. Its vocabulary was further increased after the inroads of the Saracens. Thus the lingua romana became, in its rhythmic quality, quite distinct from Gallic, and soon assumed a character of its own. It is true that we do not find this in its perfection, in the "Oath of the Sons of Ludwig the Pious," as we do later in the poems of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras or Bertran de Born.* [Both troubadours who flourished in the latter half of the twelfth century. — Tr.] Yet even in the "Oath" we can recognize the language for what it is; it has already acquired its main features, and its future path is clearly mapped out. It formed henceforth (in its different dialects of Limousin, Provencal, and Auvergnat) the speech of a people of as mixed an origin as any in the world. It was a refined and supple language, witty, brilliant, and satirical, but without depth or philosophy. It was of tinsel rather than gold, and had never been able to do more than pick up a few ingots on the surface of the rich mines that lay open to it. Without any serious principles, it was destined to remain an instrument of indifference, of universal scepticism and mockery. It did not fail to be used as such. The people cared for nothing but pleasure and parade. Brave to a fault, beyond measure gay, spending their passion on a dream, and their vitality on idle toys, they had an instrument that was exactly suited to their character, and which, though admired by Dante, was put to no better use in poetry than to tag satires, love-songs, and challenges, and in religion to support heresies such as that of the Albigenses, a pestilent Manicheism, without value even for literature, from which an English author, in no way Catholic in his sympathies, congratulates the Papacy on having delivered the Middle Ages.* [Macaulay, "History of England," ad init. The Albigenses are the special favourites of revolutionary writers, especially in Germany (see Lenau's poem, Die Albigenser). Nevertheless the sectaries of Languedoc were recruited mainly from the knightly orders and the dignitaries of the Church. Their doctrines were indeed antisocial; and for this reason much may be pardoned to them.] Such was the lingua romana of old, and such do we find it even to-day. It is pretty rather than beautiful, and shows on the surface how little it is fitted to serve a great civilization.

Was the langue d'oil formed in a similar way? Obviously not. However the Celtic, Latin, and Germanic elements were fused (for we cannot be certain on this point, in the absence of records going back to the earliest period of the language * [See the curious remarks of Genin in his preface to the Chanson de Roland (edited 1851).]), it is at any rate clear that it rose from a strongly marked antagonism between the three tongues, and that it would thus have a character and energy quite incompatible with such compromises and adaptations as those which gave birth to the lingua romana. In one moment of its life, the langue d'oil was partly a Germanic tongue. In the written remains that have survived, we find one of the best qualities of the Aryan languages, the power of forming com- pounds. This power, it is true, is limited; and though still considerable, is less than in Sanscrit, Greek, and German. In the nouns, we find a system of inflexion by suffix, and, in con- sequence, an ease in inverting the order which modern French has lost, and which the language of the sixteenth century retained only to a slight extent, its inversions being gained at the expense of clearness. Again, the vocabulary of the langue d'oil included many words brought in by the Franks.* [See Hickes, Thesaurus litteratures septentrionalis; also L'Histoire litteraire de France, vol. xvii, p. 633.] Thus it began by being almost as much Germanic as Gallic; Celtic elements appeared in its second stage, and perhaps fixed the melodic principles of the language. The best possible tribute to its merits is to be found in the successful experiment of Littre,* [Published in the Revue des Deux Mondes.] who translated the first book of the "Iliad" literally, line for line, into French of the thirteenth century. Such a tour de force would be impossible in modern French.

Such a language belonged to a people that was evidently very different from the inhabitants of Southern Gaul. It was more deeply attached to Catholicism; its politics were permeated by a lively idea of freedom, dignity, and independence, its institutions had no aim but utility. Thus the mission set before the popular literature was not to express the fancies of the mind or heart, the freakishness of a universal scepticism, but to put together the annals of the nation, and to set down what was at that time regarded as the truth. It is to this temper of the people and their language that we owe the great rhymed chronicles, especially "Garin le Loherain," which bear witness, though it has since been denied, to the predominance of the North. Unfortunately, since the compilers of these traditions, and even their original authors, mainly aimed at preserving historical facts or satisfying their desire for positive and solid results, poetry in the true sense, the love of form and the search for beauty, does not always bulk as large as it should in their long narratives. The literature of the langue d'oil was, above all, utilitarian; and so the race, the language, and the literature were in perfect harmony.

The Germanic element in the race, however, being far less than the Gallic basis or the Roman accretions, naturally began to lose ground. The same thing took place in the language; Celtic and Latin advanced, Germanic retreated. That noble speech, which we know only at its highest stage, and which might have risen even higher, began to decline and become corrupted towards the end of the thirteenth century. In the fifteenth, it was no more than a patois, from which the Germanic elements had completely disappeared. The treasury was exhausted; and what remained was an illogical and barbarous anomaly in the midst of the progress of Celtic and Latin. Thus in the sixteenth century the revival of classical studies found the language in ruins, and tried to remodel it on the lines of Greek and Latin. This was the professed aim of the writers of this great age. They did not succeed, and the seventeenth century, wisely seeing that the irresistible march of events could in no wise be curbed by the hand of man, set itself merely to improve the language from within; for every day it was assuming more and more the forms best suited to the dominant race, trie forms, in other words, into which the grammatical life of Celtic had formerly been cast.

Although both the langue d'oil and French proper are marked by a greater unity than the lingua romana (since the mixture of races and languages that gave birth to them was less complex) yet they have produced separate dialects which survive to this day. It is not doing these too much honour to call them dialects, not patois. They arose, not from the corruption of the dominant type, with which they were at least contemporary, but from the different proportions in which the Celtic, Latin, and Germanic elements, that still make up the French nationality, were mingled. To the north of the Seine, we find the dialect of Picardy; this is, in vocabulary and rhythmic quality, very near Flemish, of which the Germanic character is too obvious to be dwelt upon. Flemish, in this respect, shows the same power of choice as the langue d'oil, which could in a certain poem, without ceasing to be itself, admit forms and expressions taken bodily from the language spoken at Arras.* [P. Paris, Garin le Loherain, preface.]

As we go south of the Seine towards the Loire, the Celtic elements in the provincial dialects grow more numerous. In Burgundian, and the dialects of Vaud and Savoy, even the vocabulary has many traces of Celtic; these are not found in French, where the predominant factor is rustic Latin.* [It may however be observed that the accent of Vaud and Savoy has a southern ring, strongly reminiscent of the colony of Aventicum.]

I have shown above* [See p. 43.] how from the sixteenth century the influence of the north had given ground before the growing preponderance of the peoples beyond the Loire. The reader has merely to compare the present sections on language with my former remarks on blood to see how close is the relation between the speech of a people and its physical constitution.* [Pott brings out very well the fact that the different dialects maintain the balance between the blood of a race and its language, when he says,  Dialects are the diversity in unity, the prismatic sections of the monochromatic light and the primordial One " (Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopadie, p. 66). The phraseology is obscure; but it shows his meaning clearly enough.]

I have dealt in detail with the special case of France, but the principle could easily be illustrated from the rest of Europe; and it would be seen, as a universal rule, that the successive changes and modifications of a language are not, as one usually hears, the work of centuries. If they were, Ekkhili, Berber, Euskara, and Bas-Breton would long have disappeared; and yet they still survive. The changes in language are caused by corresponding changes in the blood of successive generations, and the parallelism is exact.

I must here explain a phenomenon to which I have already referred, namely the renunciation by certain racial groups (under pressure of special necessity, or their own nature) of their native tongue in favour of one which is more or less foreign to them. I took the Jews and the Parsees as examples. There are others more remarkable still; for we find, in America, savage tribes speaking languages superior to themselves.

In America, by a curious stroke of fate, the most energetic nations have developed, so to speak, in secret. The art of writing was unknown to them, and their history proper begins very late and is nearly always very obscure. The New World contains a great number of peoples which, though they are neighbours and derive in different directions from a common origin, have very little resemblance to each other.

According to d'Orbigny, the so-called "Chiquitean group" in Central America is composed of tribes, of which the largest contain about 1500 souls, and the least numerous 50 and 300. All these, even the smallest, have distinct languages. Such a state of things can only be the result of a complete racial anarchy.

On this hypothesis, I am not at all surprised to see many of these tribes, like the Chiquitos, in possession of a complicated and apparently scientific language. The words used by the men are sometimes different from those of the women; and in every case when a man borrows one of the women's phrases, he changes the terminations. Where such luxury in vocabulary is possible, the language has surely reached a very refined stage. Unfortunately, side by side with this we find that the table of numerals does not go much further than ten. Such poverty, in the midst of so much careful elaboration, is probably due to the ravaging hand of time, aided by the barbarous condition of the natives to-day. When we see anomalies like these, we cannot help recalling the sumptuous palaces, once marvels of the Renaissance, which have come, by some revolution, into the hands of rude peasants. The eye may rove with admiration over delicate columns, elegant trellis-work, sculptured porches, noble staircases, and striking gables — luxuries which are useless to the wretchedness that lives under them; for the ruined roofs let in the rain, the floors crack, and the worm eats into the mouldering walls.

I can now say with certainty that, with regard to the special character of races, philology confirms all the facts of physiology and history. Its conclusions however must be handled with extreme care, and when they are all we have to go upon, it is very dangerous to rest content with them. Without the slightest doubt, a people's language corresponds to its mentality, but not always to its real value for civilization. In order to ascertain this, we must fix our eyes solely on the race by which, and for which, the language was at first designed. Now with the exception of the negroes, and a few yellow groups, we meet only quaternary races in recorded history. All the languages we know are thus derivative, and we cannot gain the least idea of the laws governing their formation except in the comparatively later stages. Our results, even when confirmed by history, cannot be regarded as infallibly proved. The further we go back, the dimmer becomes the light, and the more hypothetical the nature of any arguments drawn from philology. It is exasperating to be thrown back on these when we try to trace the progress of any human family or to discover the racial elements that make it up. We know that Sanscrit and Zend are akin. That is something; but their common roots are sealed to us. The other ancient tongues are in the same case. We know nothing of Euskara except itself. As no analogue to it has been discovered up to now, we are ignorant of its history, and whether it is to be regarded as itself primitive or derived. It yields us no positive knowledge as to whether the people who speak it are racially simple or composite.

Ethnology may well be grateful for the help given by philology. But the help must not be accepted unconditionally, or any theories based on it alone.* [This caution applies only when the history of a single people is in question, not that of a group of peoples. Although one nation may sometimes change its language, this never happens, and could not happen, in the case of a complex of nationalities, racially identical though politically-independent. The Jews have given up their national speech; but the Semitic nations as a whole can neither lose their native dialects nor acquire others.]

This rule is dictated by a necessary prudence. All the facts, however, mentioned in this chapter go to prove that, originally, there is a perfect correspondence between the intellectual virtues of a race and those of its native speech; that languages are, in consequence, unequal in value and significance, unlike in their forms and basic elements, as races are also; that their modifications, like those of races, come merely from intermixture with other idioms; that their qualities and merits, like a people's blood, disappear or become absorbed, when they are swamped by too many heterogeneous elements; finally, that when a language of a higher order is used by some human group which is unworthy of it, it will certainly become mutilated and die out. Hence, though it is often difficult to infer at once, in a particular case, the merits of a people from those of its language, it is quite certain that in theory this can always be done.

I may thus lay it down, as a universal axiom, that the hierarchy of languages is in strict correspondence with the hierarchy of races.
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Re: The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau

Postby admin » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:21 am


I have shown the unique place in the organic world occupied by the human species, the profound physical, as well as moral, differences separating it from all other kinds of living creatures. Considering it by itself, I have been able to distinguish, on physiological grounds alone, three great and clearly marked types, the black, the yellow, and the white. However uncertain the aims of physiology may be, however meagre its resources, however defective its methods, it can proceed thus far with absolute certainty.

The negroid variety is the lowest, and stands at the foot of the ladder. The animal character, that appears in the shape of the pelvis, is stamped on the negro from birth, and foreshadows his destiny. His intellect will always move within a very narrow circle. He is not however a mere brute, for behind his low receding brow, in the middle of his skull, we can see signs of a powerful energy, however crude its objects. If his mental faculties are dull or even non-existent, he often has an intensity of desire, and so of will, which may be called terrible. Many of his senses, especially taste and smell, are developed to an extent unknown to the other two races.* [Taste and smell in the negro are as powerful as they are undiscriminating. He eats everything, and odours which are revolting to us are pleasant to him" (Pruner).]

The very strength of his sensations is the most striking proof of his inferiority. All food is good in his eyes, nothing disgusts or repels him. What he desires is to eat, to eat furiously, and to excess; no carrion is too revolting to be swallowed by him. It is the same with odours; his inordinate desires are satisfied with all, however coarse or even horrible. To these qualities may be added an instability and capriciousness of feeling, that cannot be tied down to any single object, and which, so far as he is concerned, do away with all distinctions of good and evil. We might even say that the violence with which he pursues the object that has aroused his senses and inflamed his desires is a guarantee of the desires being soon satisfied and the object forgotten. Finally, he is equally careless of his own life and that of others: he kills willingly, for the sake of killing; and this human machine, in whom it is so easy to arouse emotion, shows, in face of suffering, either a monstrous indifference or a cowardice that seeks a voluntary refuge in death.

The yellow race is the exact opposite of this type. The skull points forward, not backward. The forehead is wide and bony, often high and projecting. The shape of the face is triangular, the nose and chin showing none of the coarse protuberances that mark the negro. There is further a general proneness to obesity, which, though not confined to the yellow type, is found there more frequently than in the others. The yellow man has little physical energy, and is inclined to apathy; he commits none of the strange excesses so common among negroes. His desires are feeble, his will-power rather obstinate than violent; his longing for material pleasures, though constant, is kept within bounds. A rare glutton by nature, he shows far more discrimination in his choice of food. He tends to mediocrity in everything; he understands easily enough anything not too deep or sublime.* [Carus, op. cit., p. 60.] He has a love of utility and a respect for order, and knows the value of a certain amount of freedom. He is practical, in the narrowest sense of the word. He does not dream or theorize; he invents little, but can appreciate and take over what is useful to him. His whole desire is to live in the easiest and most comfortable way possible. The yellow races are thus clearly superior to the black. Every founder of a civilization would wish the backbone of his society, his middle class, to consist of such men. But no civilized society could be created by them; they could not supply its nerve-force, or set in motion the springs of beauty and action.

We come now to the white peoples. These are gifted with reflective energy, or rather with an energetic intelligence. They have a feeling for utility, but in a sense far wider and higher, more courageous and ideal, than the yellow races; a perseverance that takes account of obstacles and ultimately finds a means of overcoming them; a greater physical power, an extraordinary instinct for order, not merely as a guarantee of peace and tranquillity, but as an indispensable means of self-preservation. At the same time, they have a remarkable, and even extreme, love of liberty, and are openly hostile to the formalism under which the Chinese are glad to vegetate, as well as to the strict despotism which is the only way of governing the negro.

The white races are, further, distinguished by an extraordinary attachment to life. They know better how to use it, and so, as it would seem, set a greater price on it; both in their own persons and those of others, they are more sparing of life. When they are cruel, they are conscious of their cruelty; it is very doubtful whether such a consciousness exists in the negro. At the same time, they have discovered reasons why they should surrender this busy life of theirs, that is so precious to them. The principal motive is honour, which under various names has played an enormous part in the ideas of the race from the beginning. I need hardly add that the word honour, together with all the civilizing influences connoted by it, is unknown to both the yellow and the black man.

On the other hand, the immense superiority of the white peoples in the whole field of the intellect is balanced by an inferiority in the intensity of their sensations. In the world of the senses, the white man is far less gifted than the others, and so is less tempted and less absorbed by considerations of the body, although in physical structure he is far the most vigorous.* [Martius observes that the European is superior to the coloured man in the pressure of the nervous fluid (Reise in Brasilien, vol. i, p. 259).]

Such are the three constituent elements of the human race. I call them secondary types, as I think myself obliged to omit all discussion of the Adamite man. From the combination, by intermarriage, of the varieties of these types come the tertiary groups. The quaternary formations are produced by the union of one of these tertiary types, or of a pure-blooded tribe, with another group taken from one of the two foreign species.

Below these categories others have appeared — and still appear. Some of these are very strongly characterized, and form new and distinct points of departure, coming as they do from races that have been completely fused. Others are incomplete, and ill-ordered, and, one might even say, anti-social, since their elements, being too numerous, too disparate, or too barbarous, have had neither the time nor the opportunity for combining to any fruitful purpose. No limits, except the horror excited by the possibility of infinite intermixture, can be assigned to the number of these hybrid and chequered races that make up the whole of mankind.

It would be unjust to assert that every mixture is bad and harmful. If the three great types had remained strictly separate, the supremacy would no doubt have always been in the hands of the finest of the white races, and the yellow and black varieties would have crawled for ever at the feet of the lowest of the whites. Such a state is so far ideal, since it has never been beheld in history; and we can imagine it only by recognizing the undisputed superiority of those groups of the white races which have remained the purest.

It would not have been all gain. The superiority of the white race would have been clearly shown, but it would have been bought at the price of certain advantages which have followed the mixture of blood. Although these are far from counter-balancing the defects they have brought in their train, yet they are sometimes to be commended. Artistic genius, which is equally foreign to each of the three great types, arose only after the intermarriage of white and black. Again, in the Malayan variety, a human family was produced from the yellow and black races that had more intelligence than either of its ancestors. Finally, from the union of white and yellow, certain intermediary peoples have sprung, who are superior to the purely Finnish tribes as well as to the negroes.

I do not deny that these are good results. The world of art and great literature that comes from the mixture of blood, the improvement and ennoblement of inferior races — all these are wonders for which we must needs be thankful. The small have been raised. Unfortunately, the great have been lowered by the same process; and this is an evil that nothing can balance or repair. Since I am putting together the advantages of racial mixtures, I will also add that to them is due the refinement of manners and beliefs, and especially the tempering of passion and desire. But these are merely transitory benefits, and if I recognize that the mulatto, who may become a lawyer, a doctor, or a business man, is worth more than his negro grandfather, who was absolutely savage, and fit for nothing, I must also confess that the Brahmans of primitive India, the heroes of the Iliad and the Shahnameh, the warriors of Scandinavia — the glorious shades of noble races that have disappeared — give us a higher and more brilliant idea of humanity, and were more active, intelligent, and trusty instruments of civilization and grandeur than the peoples, hybrid a hundred times over, of the present day. And the blood even of these was no longer pure.

However it has come about, the human races, as we find them in history, are complex; and one of the chief consequences has been to throw into disorder most of the primitive characteristics of each type. The good as well as the bad qualities are seen to diminish in intensity with repeated intermixture of blood; but they also scatter and separate off from each other, and are often mutually opposed. The white race originally possessed the monopoly of beauty, intelligence, and strength. By its union with other varieties, hybrids were created, which were beautiful without strength, strong without intelligence, or, if intelligent, both weak and ugly. Further, when the quantity of white blood was increased to an indefinite amount by successive infusions, and not by a single admixture, it no longer carried with it its natural advantages, and often merely increased the confusion already existing in the racial elements. Its strength, in fact, seemed to be its only remaining quality, and even its strength served only to promote disorder. The apparent anomaly is easily explained. Each stage of a perfect mixture produces a new type from diverse elements, and develops special faculties. As soon as further elements are added, the vast difficulty of harmonizing the whole creates a state of anarchy. The more this increases, the more do even the best and richest of the new contributions diminish in value, and by their mere presence add fuel to an evil which they cannot abate. If mixtures of blood are, to a certain extent, beneficial to the mass of mankind, if they raise and ennoble it, this is merely at the expense of mankind itself, which is stunted, abased, enervated, and humiliated in the persons of its noblest sons. Even if we admit that it is better to turn a myriad of degraded beings into mediocre men than to preserve the race of princes whose blood is adulterated and impoverished by being made to suffer this dishonourable change, yet there is still the unfortunate fact that the change does not stop here; for when the mediocre men are once created at the expense of the greater, they combine with other mediocrities, and from such unions, which grow ever more and more degraded, is born a confusion which, like that of Babel, ends in uttere impotence, and leads societies down to the abyss of nothingness whence no power on earth can rescue them.

Such is the lesson of history. It shows us that all civilizations derive from the white race, that none can exist without its help, and that a society is great and brilliant only so far as it preserves the blood of the noble group that created it, provided that this group itself belongs to the most illustrious branch of our species.

Of the multitude of peoples which live or have lived on the earth, ten alone have risen to the position of complete societies. The remainder have gravitated round these more or less independently, like planets round their suns. If there is any element of life in these ten civilizations that is not due to the impulse of the white races, any seed of death that does not come from the inferior stocks that mingled with them, then the whole theory on which this book rests is false. On the other hand, if the facts are as I say, then we have an irrefragable proof of the nobility of our own species. Only the actual details can set the final seal of truth on my system, and they alone can show with sufficient exactness the full implications of my main thesis, that peoples degenerate only in consequence of the various admixtures of blood which they undergo; that their degeneration corresponds exactly to the quantity and quality of the new blood, and that the rudest possible shock to the vitality of a civilization is given when the ruling elements in a society and those developed by racial change have become so numerous that they are clearly moving away from the homogeneity necessary to their life, and it therefore becomes impossible for them to be brought into harmony and so acquire the common instincts and interests, the common logic of existence, which is the sole justification for any social bond whatever. There is no greater curse than such disorder, for however bad it may have made the present state of things, it promises still worse for the future.

Note. — The "ten civilizations" mentioned in the last paragraph are as follows. They are fully discussed in the subsequent books of the "Inequality of Races," of which the present volume forms the first.

I. The Indian civilization, which reached its highest point round the Indian Ocean, and in the north and east of the Indian Continent, south-east of the Brahmaputra. It arose from a branch of a white people, the Aryans.

II. The Egyptians, round whom collected the Ethiopians, the Nubians, and a few smaller peoples to the west of the oasis of Ammon. This society was created by an Aryan colony from India, that settled in the upper valley of the Nile.

III. The Assyrians, with whom may be classed the Jews, the Phoenicians, the Lydians, the Carthaginians, and the Hymiarites. They owed their civilizing qualities to the great white invasions which may be grouped under the name of the descendants of Shem and Ham. The Zoroastrian Iranians who ruled part of Central Asia under the names of Medes, Persians, and Bactrians, were a branch of the Aryan family.

IV. The Greeks, who came from the same Aryan stock, as modified by Semitic elements.

V. The Chinese civilization, arising from a cause similar to that operating in Egypt. An Aryan colony from India brought the light of civilization to China also. Instead however of becoming mixed with black peoples, as on the Nile, the colony became absorbed in Malay and yellow races, and was reinforced, from the north-west, by a fair number of white elements, equally Aryan but no longer Hindu.

VI. The ancient civilization of the Italian peninsula, the cradle of Roman culture. This was produced by a mixture of Celts, Iberians, Aryans, and Semites.

VII. The Germanic races, which in the fifth century transformed the Western mind. These were Aryans.

VIII. -X. The three civilizations of America, the Alleghanian, the Mexican, and the Peruvian.

Of the first seven civilizations, which are those of the Old World, six belong, at least in part, to the Aryan race, and the seventh, that of Assyria, owes to this race the Iranian Renaissance, which is, historically, its best title to fame. Almost the whole of the Continent of Europe is inhabited at the present time by groups of which the basis is white, but in which the non-Aryan elements are the most numerous. There is no true civilization, among the European peoples, where the Aryan branch is not predominant.

In the above list no negro race is seen as the initiator of a civilization. Only when it is mixed with some other can it even be initiated into one.

Similarly, no spontaneous civilization is to be found among the yellow races; and when the Aryan blood is exhausted stagnation supervenes.
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