James Bryce Bryce.

The relations of the advanced and the backward races of mankind : delivered in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, June 7, 1902 online

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe relations of the advanced and the backward races of mankind : delivered in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, June 7, 1902 → online text (page 2 of 3)
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did, with the aborigines of America. I have been
struck by hearing men in the Rocky Mountains, who
would have concealed any infusion of negro blood,
mention that their mothers or grandmothers had
been Indians. The Spaniards have been still less
fastidious. All over Central and South America
they have become commingled with the aborigines,
especially, as was natural, with the more advanced
tribes. In Mexico, with a -population of about thir-
teen millions, more than one-third are of mixed

B 2


The Relations of the Advanced and

Spanish and native race, and not over one-sixth (if so
many) pure Spanish 1 .

Broadly speaking, one may say that while the
phenomena of Spanish and Portuguese America are
enough to show that the admixture of advanced
European peoples with races very far behind them
in the arts of life, and also (as regards the negro
but not the Indian) in natural mental force, is one of
the results which may follow a contact of races, and
a result that may go even further in the future, the
phenomena of those vast regions which are ruled by
Teutonic peoples in Asia, Africa, and America show
that this result is unlikely to arrive in other and still
more populous areas. Where Americans, Englishmen, \
and Germans rule, there is no intermarriage with the
coloured races, and consequently no prospect of
ultimate race-fusion.

Where two coloured races come into contact there
is usually some repulsion, but one less strong than
white men feel. The American aborigines do inter-
marry with the negro, but in some regions hardly
more frequently than do the whites. The Chinese
and the Red men or Mexicans seem rather more
willing to unite, possibly because the two stocks are
less dissimilar. The Malays and Chinese intermarry
in the Eastern Archipelago with one another, and
apparently also with the darker races. The Berbers
of North Africa, arid the mixed race formed from

1 Accurate statistics on such a matter are of course unattain-
able: I give the impression which I derived on the spot from
the best data I could find.

Backward Races of Mankind 21

Arab and Berber blood, unite themselves with the
blacks of Sudan and Central Africa. In Morocco one
sees every type of feature and every shade of colour,
from the light yellowish-brown pure Arab to the jet-
black negro, and all seem to stand on the same social
level. But this result is largely due to religion, of
which a word must now be said.

Religion, which in some countries has forbidden and
in others has encouraged the mingling of diverse stocks,
is an influence far less powerful than colour. It seldom
creates a feeling of personal repulsion \ Like language,
it can be changed ; and when one race is so far beneath
the other that the man can force the woman to embrace
his faith, it becomes a very slight obstacle. In the
ancient world people changed their gods lightly, because
polytheism permits one to adopt new deities without
abjuring the old onesr When a woman quitted her
tribe, she passed naturally to the worship of the tribe
she entered, as Ruth says to Naomi : ' Thy people
shall be my people, and thy God my God.'

In the pre-Christian world, everybody respected
everybody else's religion, save in extreme cases, such
as that of those Egyptian Beast-gods, whom the philo-
sophic Roman found disgusting. When monotheistic
or metaphysical religions came on the scene, things
altered. To one who holds such a faith, other faiths
are false or pernicious. He will have no dealings with
them. The Fire- Worshippers of Iran were the first

1 Perhaps it may be thought to have done so in the case of the
Spaniards and the Moriscoes, or as between Muslims and the
Persian Fire-Worshippers.

22 The Relations of the Advanced and

persecutors. Christianity slowly followed. Islam pro-
pagated itself by the sword, though leaving their lives
to the * peoples of the Book/ Where Muhamadans
came in contact with polytheists or with a race that,
like the Bantus, has not reached the stage of having
deities at all, intermarriage is not excluded, because
when the conqueror takes a wife or concubine of the
inferior race, she becomes ipso facto a Muhamadan.
But when Muslims and Christians or Jews dwell side
by side, each race so cleaves to its own faith as to stand
sharply apart from the other. Thus in the Turkish
and Persian and Arab East there is practically no inter-
marriage, save when a Christian girl is abducted and
forced into Islam. It is Religion that has in those
regions forbidden the mixture of races, and created
that apparently insoluble problem which we call
'The Eastern Question/ There, Religion becomes
Race and Race means Religion. It is difference of
beliefs that has for many centuries kept Greeks,
Armenians, Nestorians, Maronites, Sunnite Turks,
Shiah Persians, 'Kizilbashes, Yezidis, and Druses from
ingling their blood to form one people 1 . Even in
hristian Europe, the Romans of Transylvania, clinging
to the C)rthodox CRurch, intermarry scarcely at all
with the Lutheran Saxons, or the Catholic or Calvinist
or Unitarian Magyars and Szeklers, who dwell among

Where two races stand in contact, and neither the
barrier of Colour nor that of Religion keeps them apart,

1 So in the East as also in Russia and Rumania the Jews
remain distinct.

Backward Races of Mankind 23

the naturajjtendeiicy to union has its way, and there
is formed by intermarriage a third race in which the
component elements are undistinguishably blent and lost.
Is this third race a new race ? If one of the elements
is greatly larger than the other, the resultant progeny
will be only the more numerous race slightly altered. But
even if the elements are numerically equal, the resultant
product may not be an evidently new race, unlike either
progenitor. There is a distinction to be drawn between
the physical and the intellectual characteristics of the
issue. The resultant race, being drawn in equal pro-
portions from each blood, may as respects physical
structure and aspect stand midway between the two
sources whence it springs ; as the average mulatto
presents in colour, hair and feature some of the charac-
teristics of each parent. But its mental type (including
under that term notions and modes of thinking) may be,
and often is, nearer to the type of the more advanced
than it is to that of the more backward race. This may
possibly be partly due to the fact that it js usually to the
higher race that the male parent belongs 1 . More white
men have married coloured or Indian women than
vice versa. But it is also ascribable to the fact that
the higher race has more to give, and that the lower
race wishes to receive. The ideas and habits of the
white man tell upon and permeate the offspring of
mixed marriages with all the greater force because that
offspring seeks to resemble its higher rather than its
inferior progenitor. I must not, however, attempt to

1 Whether the character of the male parent tends in such cases
to prevail does not appear to have been definitely ascertained.

24 The Relations of the Advanced and

pursue this line of inquiry, significant as it is for the
future of mixed races; nor can I stop to illustrate
the power of a strong intellectual type to stamp itself
upon other races from the two salient instances of
the Hellenization of Asia after Alexander the Great,
and the assimilation of new elements by the Anglo-
American race in the United States during the last
seventy years. But it is worth remarking that the
present mixed population of Mexico, though doubtless
drawn far more largely from native than from Spanish
sources, conforms more to the Spanish than to the
Indian type, even if it be less industrious and less
thrifty than the people of Old Spain.

The data we possess regarding the result of race-
mixture as between races of different colour are not
yet sufficient to enable us to speak positively on many
points. We cannot, for instance, predict what the
result may be on the American people, after another
half-century, of the great stream of non-English blood
which is being poured into its veins. The type may
remain, yet the national character may prove to have
been affected. If, however, one may venture on a
generalization, it will be to the following effect.

Where two races are physiologically near to one
another, the result of intermixture is good. Where
they are remote, it is less satisfactory, by which I mean
not only that it is below the level of the higher stock,
but that it is not generally and evidently better than
the lower stock. The people formed by the blending
of a Low German with a Norse or Danish stock in
the lands between the Trent and the Moray Firth,

Backward Races of Mankind 25

the peoples formed by the blending of Celts and
Teutons in Western Britain, in North-Eastern Ireland,
in North-Eastern France, and in Western Switzerland,
are at least equal, if not superior, to the purer Low
German or Norse, or Celtic peoples in other parts of
those countries. The same may be said of the admixture
of Slavs and Teutons in Northern and Eastern
Germany. But the mixture of whites and negroes,
or of whites and Hindus, or of the American aborigines
and negroes, seldom shows good results. The hybrid
stocks, if not inferior in physical strength to either of
those whence they spring, are apparently less per-
sistent, and might so at least some observers hold
die out if they did not marry back into one or other
of the parent-races. Usually, of course, they marry
back into the lower.

Now and then a man of brilliant gifts appears in one
of these mixed races. Alexandre Dumas, of whom one
may say that if his imagination was not of the highest
quality it was of almost unsurpassed fertility, was a
mulatto or at least a quadroon. At this moment there
is living in the United States the son of a white father
and negro mother, himself born in slavery, who is one
of the most remarkable personalities and perhaps the
most moving and persuasive orator in that nation of
eighty millions. Mexico has been ruled for a quarter
of a century with equal vigour and wisdom by a man
of mixed Indian and Spanish blood who ranks among
the five or six foremost figures of our time.

In forming general conclusions, however, we must
have regard not to single instances, however note-

26 The Relations of the Advanced and

worthy, but to the average result; and the two
general conclusions which the facts so far as known
suggest are these : that races of marked physical dis-
similarity do not tend to intermarry, and that when
and so far as they do, the average offspring is apt to
be physically inferior to the average of either parent
stock, and probably more beneath the average mental
level of the superior than above the average mental level

tne inferior.

This last point is open to doubt, and, if true, may be
more true of some hybrid stocks than of others. One
is surprised, when one comes to inquire into the
matter, to find how little positive evidence there is
bearing on it. An element of uncertainty is introduced
by the fact that in some cases it is the more vigorous,
in others the less vigorous sections of an advanced race
that have intermarried with the backward race, and that
the conditions, physical, social and political, under
which a mixed race grows up, are more favourable in
some regions than they are in others 1 . It has already
been observed that the Arabs have largely permeated,
and have doubtless improved, some of the African races.
Whether the most advanced branches of the native
race in Mexico might not have, had they remained
unmixed, reached as high a level as the mixed race,
is an interesting question, on which I will not hazard
an opinion.

1 This subject of race-mixture is one of extreme interest with
regard to which, so far as I know, comparatively few data for
positive conclusions exist. It deserves to be fully investigated
by men of science. The difficulties are obvious, because the
concomitant and perturbing conditions are so numerous.

Backward Races of Mankind 27

We have been considering one of the two methods
in which the problems presented by the contact of two
races, each strong enough to hold its ground against
the other, may be solved. This method, that of the
fusion of the two into one through intermarriage, has
in the eyes of the sociologist and the politician two
great merits. It is Natural and it is Final. It comes
by the ordinary working of human impulse, which
induces unions that bring the members of one race into
friendly relations with those of the other, make it
difficult for either to go on despising the other, and
ultimately bring down the humbler members of the
dominant race to the level of the theretofore subject,
while raising the stronger members of the subject race
to a level with the dominant. Slow it may be, though
its effect is usually seen in two or three generations,
but it is sure. And its power appears by this, that
while exclusive race aristocracies have generally tried
to preserve their supposed purity by discouraging inter-
marriage, they have never succeeded except where
either physical dissimilarity or religious sentiment sup-
ported their efforts. It is true that troubles originally
engendered by race-antagonism have sometimes (as in
our own islands and some parts of the East) outlasted
their origin and become the source of political dis-
sensions. But such troubles will always yield to
appropriate political remedies. Race-antagonism, an
evil more dangerous, because rooted in nature, than
any political enmities, cannot but vanish when the
races have been blent.

We have, however, seen that the method of Fusion

28 The Relations of the Advanced and

is not always applicable. Where physical repulsion,
usually grounded on a difference of colour, exists,
sometimes even where a sentimental repulsion grounded
on difference of faith exists, the two races will not mix
their blood, but remain confronting one another as
distinct and unfriendly bodies.

These cases of Contact without Fusion arise in three
ways. Sometimes an Advanced Race conquers a
territory inhabited by a race far beneath itself in military
force, and rules that territory as a dependency without
settling its own people there. This happens in the case
of tropical countries, which are either ill-suited to the
natives of cold climates or are already thickly peopled.
The conspicuous instance is India, to which England
sends no more of her children than are needed to
administer and to garrison it, to plead causes and
supervise commercial business. Java under the Dutch,
Madagascar under the French, East Africa under the
Germans, Luzon under the Americans, are other familiar

Another class of cases arises when into a country
already inhabited by a civilized people there come in
quest of work groups of immigrants belonging to a
much more backward race which has begun to overflow
its own borders. The influx of the Chinese into
Western America and Australia is the most familiar but
not the only instance.

Thirdly, there are the cases in which an Advanced
and a Backward race find themselves living side by
side in large masses upon the same soil, having entered
it at different times. Instances are found in the former

Backward Races of Mankind 29

Slave States of North America, where seven millions
of negroes and fourteen millions of whites dwell
together; in Algeria, in British South Africa, and in
Western South America, in both of which latter regions
the numerical preponderance of the Backward races is
very great, though for South America no trustworthy
statistics exist.

To whichever of these categories the contact of races
refusing to blend belongs, such contact is calculated
to give trouble, and the more frequently individual
members of the races come across one another, the
greater is that trouble likely to be. Where the two
races occupy different parts of the country, or
where one is mainly rural, the other mainly urban,
or where the habits of life are so dissimilar that oppor-
tunities for social intercourse occur but sparingly,
occasions for collision may be few. This has been the
case over most of Spanish America, and is to a great
extent true also of Algeria. But where the races live
in the same towns and villages, and follow the same
pursuits, antagonism is sure to arise. It arises from
Inequality, because as one of the races is stronger in
intelligence and will, its average members treat mem-
bers of the weaker race scornfully or roughly, when
they can do so with impunity. It arises from Dissimi-
larity of character, because neither race understands
the other's way of thinking and feeling, so that each
gives offence even without meaning it. It arises from
Distrust, because the sense of not comprehending one
another makes each suspect the other of faithlessness
or guile. The Backward race, being the weaker, is'

30 The Relations of the Advanced and

usually that which tries to protect itself by guile, while
the more advanced race relies upon the prestige of
its knowledge, the force of its will, and its ingrained
habit of dominance. Violence, when once it breaks
out, is apt to spread, because the men of each race
take sides in any tumult, and apt to be accompanied
by cruelty, because pity is blunter towards those who
stand outside the racial or social pale, and the passions
of a racial conflict sweep all but the gentlest natures
away. Every outrage on one side provokes an outrage
on the other: and if a series of outrages occur, each
race bands itself together for self-defence, awaiting
attack, and probably provoking attack by the alarm its
combination inspires. Nor are difficulties in the sphere
of industry wanting, for the more advanced race may
refuse to work in company with the Backward one, or
may seek to relegate the latter to the basest and worst-
paid kinds of work. So too the Backward race may
give offence by working for lower wages and thus
reducing the general scale of payment.

These troubles may be apprehended whatever the
form of government, for they spring out of the nature
of things. But others vex the political sphere. If one
race enjoys privileges denied to the other, it is likely
to abuse its power to the prejudice of the Backward
people, placing them, it may be, under civil as well as
political disabilities, or imposing heavier taxes upon
them, or refusing them their fair share of benefits from
the public revenue. If, on the other hand, both races
are treated alike, granted the same suffrage, made
eligible for the same offices, each will be disposed to

Backward Races of Mankind 31

organize itself separately for political purposes, so that
a permanent separation of parties will be created, which,
because irrespective of the issues that naturally arise
from time to time, may prevent those issues from being
dealt with on their merits, and may check the natural
ebbs and flows of political life. The nation will, in fact,
be rather two nations than one, may waste its force
on internal dissensions, may lose its unity of action
at moments of public danger. Evils of this order tend
to be more acute the more democratic a government
becomes. Two courses are open, but each will have
elements of danger. If political privileges are refused
to the Backward race, the contrast between principle
and practice, between a theoretic recognition of the
rights of man as man and the denial of them to
a section of the population, will be palpable and inde-
fensible. If that lower section be admitted to share
in the government, an element will be admitted the
larger part of which will be unfit for the suffrage, being
specially accessible to bribery and specially liable to
intimidation. So, too, though the evils described may
exist whatever be the condition of the lower race, they
will become, in one sense at least, more accentuated
the more that race advances in intelligence and know-
ledge. Slaves or serfs who have been bred up to look
upon subjection as their natural lot bear it as the
dispensation of Nature. When they have attained
a measure of independence, when they speak the
tongue and read the books and begin to share the ideas
of the dominant race, they resent the inferiority, be it
legal or social, to which they find themselves con-

32 The Relations of the Advanced and

demned. Discontent appears and social friction is
intensified, not only because occasions for it grow more
frequent, but because the temper of each race is more
angry and suspicious. These phenomena, present even
where the races are not very diverse in habits of life
or level of culture, as is the case with Greeks,
Armenians, and Turks in various parts of the East,
or with Moors and Jews in Morocco, may become of
graver import as between races so far apart as whites
and negroes in the Gulf States of North America, or
whites and Malays in the Philippine Isles, or Europeans
and native fellahin in Egypt.

Although the troubles which follow upon the contact
of peoples in different stages of civilization are more
serious in some countries and under some conditions
than they are likely to prove in others, they are
always serious enough to raise the question of the best
means of avoiding such a contact, if it can be avoided.

That contact can be averted by inducing European
peoples to forbear from annexing or settling in the
countries inhabited by the coloured races is not to^e
expected. The impulses which move those peoples
in the present will not be checked by the prospect of
evils in the future. Besides, the work of annexation is
practically done already 1 . Neither can it be suggested
that one of two disparate races already established
should be removed to leave the ground free to the
other. No one proposes that the French should quit
Algeria, or the English India, or the Russians Western

1 Except, as already observed, in the Near East and in China.

Backward Races of Mankind 33

Turkistan, not to add that the mischiefs likely to follow
such a withdrawal would be greater than the diffi-
culties which the presence of the conquerors at this
moment causes. Men talked at one time of deporting
the seven millions of negroes from the Southern States
of America to Africa, but this utterly impracticable
scheme has been dropped. The only case in which
the question of preventing contact arises in a practical
form is where immigrants of a Backward race are
found swarming into a country already peopled by
a European stock. Such a case has arisen in Cali-
fornia and British Columbia, whither Chinese have
migrated, as also in Australia as respects Chinese,
and Japanese, and Indian coolies, and in Natal. In
all these cases statutes have been passed intended
to arrest or to limit the influx of the Backward race :
and in California and Australia, where the methods
have been most stringent, the desired result is being

Our first impulse is to condemn such a course,
partly because it is apt to be accompanied (as in
California) by rough treatment of the strangers, partly
because it seems prompted by scorn or hatred of a
branch of our fellow men, partly because we have
a feeling that the whole earth belongs to mankind as
a whole, who should be suffered to move freely over
it, and that restrictions on the natural movements of
population are prima facie wrong. Nature may be
supposed to know better than we do; and the efforts
of man to check her have been often foolish and mostly
ineffective. Yet the Californian and the Australian,


34 The Relations of the Advanced and

crudely selfish as some of their arguments may appear,
seem to be right in believing that a large influx of
Chinese labour would mean the reduction of the
standard of life, and with that the standard of leisure
and mental cultivation, among their artisan class. The
Chinaman, though he does only two-thirds of the
work of a white navvy, does it for half the white
man's wage, so that his competition would in time
lower the scale of wages by that margin which means
comfort and ease to the worker. Add to this considera-
tion the evils already described which the presence of
an alien and politically untrained element breeds in
a democratic community, and we may pause before
condemning the policy the Americans and Australians
have adopted. Each case must be judged on its own
merits. But there are cases in which the exclusion
of the Backward race seems justified, in the interests
of humanity at large, by the consideration that to
admit that race would involve more of loss to the


Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe relations of the advanced and the backward races of mankind : delivered in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, June 7, 1902 → online text (page 2 of 3)