THE CHARACTER OF RACES

CHAPTER I RACIAL CHARACTER AND NATURAL SELECTION

A CENTURY or two ago it was widely held that all races and even all individuals are equally endowed by nature. Physically there might indeed be enormous diversity, but differences in character and mentality were supposed to be due entirely to training. Then there arose a school of thinkers Who violently combated this idea. They Wrote books like The Inequality of

. Races, by Gobineau,* in order to convince the World that men- 2 tally as Well as physically one race actually differs from another. A The theory of evolution reinforced their conclusions; according A to that theory it is almost inevitable not only that different races

should be in different stages of mental as Well as physical devel- opment, but that they should develop along different and diver- gent lines. Then came Mendel with his explanation of the mechanism by Which individual traits are passed from parent to child, and Galton with his insistence on the importance of hered- ity. At last the idea of racial differences became so firmly estab- lished that a leading scientist could say: “Race has played a far larger part than either language or nationality in moulding the destinies of man.” (Osborn, in The Passing of the Great Race, by Madison Grant.)

Then the problem of race left the realm of scientific discussion and flared up as an idea belonging to the people as a Whole. In our own day scores of Writers have declared or implied that racial ‘inheritance is the most potent of all forces. It, and it alone, we are sometimes told, has determined the rise and fall of nations. It is even asserted that no great and permanent advance in civ-

* See list of references preceding the index. 1