Critiques and Addresses
Thomas Henry Huxley

Part 3 out of 6

hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of embryos, may, by this process of
partly active and partly passive migration, cover an immense surface
with its offspring. The masses of coral which may be formed by the
assemblages of polypes which spring by budding, or by dividing, from a
single polype, occasionally attain very considerable dimensions. Such
skeletons are sometimes great plates, many feet long and several feet
in thickness; or they may form huge half globes, like the brainstone
corals, or may reach the magnitude of stout shrubs, or even small
trees. There is reason to believe that such masses as these take a
long time to form, and hence that the age a polype tree, or polype
turf, may attain, may be considerable. But, sooner or later, the coral
polypes, like all other things, die; the soft flesh decays, while the
skeleton is left as a stony mass at the bottom of the sea, where it
retains its integrity for a longer or a shorter time, according as its
position affords it more or less protection from the wear and tear of
the waves.

The polypes which give rise to the white coral are found, as has been
said, in the seas of all parts of the world; but in the temperate and
cold oceans they are scattered and comparatively small in size,
so that the skeletons of those which die do not accumulate in any
considerable quantity. But it is otherwise in the greater part of the
ocean which lies in the warmer parts of the world, comprised within a
distance of about 1,800 miles on each side of the equator. Within the
zone thus bounded, by far the greater part of the ocean is inhabited
by coral polypes, which not only form very strong and large skeletons,
but associate together into great masses, like the thickets and the
meadow turf, or, better still, the accumulations of peat, to which
plants give rise on the dry land. These masses of stony matter, heaped
up beneath the waters of the ocean, become as dangerous to mariners
as so much ordinary rock, and to these, as to common rock ridges, the
seaman gives the name of "reefs."

Such coral reefs cover many thousand square miles in the Pacific and
in the Indian Oceans. There is one reef, or rather great series of
reefs, called the Barrier Reef, which stretches, almost continuously,
for more than 1,100 miles off the east coast of Australia. Multitudes
of the island in the Pacific are either reefs themselves, or are
surrounded by reefs. The Red Sea is in many parts almost a maze of
such reefs; and they abound no less in the West Indies, along the
coast of Florida, and even as far north as the Bahama Islands. But it
is a very remarkable circumstance that, within the area of what we may
call the "coral zone," there are no coral reefs upon the west coast of
America, nor upon the west coast of Africa; and it is a general fact
that the reefs are interrupted, or absent, opposite the mouths of
great rivers. The causes of this apparent caprice in the distribution
of coral reefs are not far to seek. The polypes which fabricate them
require for their vigorous growth a temperature which must not fall
below 68 degrees Fahrenheit all the year round, and this temperature
is only to be found within the distance on each side of the equator
which has been mentioned, or thereabouts. But even within the coral
zone this degree of warmth is not everywhere to be had. On the west
coast of America, and on the corresponding coast of Africa, currents
of cold water from the icy regions which surround the South Pole set
northward, and it appears to be due to their cooling influence that
the sea in these regions is free from the reef builders. Again, the
coral polypes cannot live in water which is rendered brackish by
floods from the land, or which is perturbed by mud from the same
source, and hence it is that they cease to exist opposite the mouths
of rivers, which damage them in both these ways.

Such is the general distribution of the reef-building corals, but
there are some very interesting and singular circumstances to be
observed in the conformation of the reefs, when we consider them
individually. The reefs, in fact, are of three different kinds; some
of them stretch out from the shore, almost like a prolongation of the
beach, covered only by shallow water, and in the case of an island,
surrounding it like a fringe of no considerable breadth. These are
termed "fringing reefs." Others are separated by a channel which may
attain a width of many miles, and a depth of twenty or thirty fathoms
or more, from the nearest land; and when this land is an island, the
reef surrounds it like a low wall, and the sea between the reef and
the land is, as it were, a moat inside this wall. Such reefs as these
are called "encircling" when they surround an island; and "barrier"
reefs, when they stretch parallel with the coast of a continent.
In both these cases there is ordinary dry land inside the reef, and
separated from it only by a narrower or a wider, a shallower or a
deeper, space of sea, which is called a "lagoon," or "inner passage."
But there is a third kind of reef, of very common occurrence in the
Pacific and Indian Oceans, which goes by the name of an "Atoll." This
is, to all intents and purposes, an encircling reef, without anything
to encircle; or, in other words, without an island in the middle
of its lagoon. The atoll has exactly the appearance of a vast,
irregularly oval, or circular, breakwater, enclosing smooth water in
its midst. The depth of the water in the lagoon rarely exceeds twenty
or thirty fathoms, but, outside the reef, it deepens with great
rapidity to 200 or 300 fathoms. The depth immediately outside the
barrier, or encircling, reefs, may also be very considerable; but, at
the outer edge of a fringing reef, it does not amount usually to more
than twenty or twenty-five fathoms; in other words, from 120 to 150

Thus, if the water of the ocean could be suddenly drained away, we
should see the atolls rising from the sea-bed like vast truncated
cones, and resembling so many volcanic craters, except that their
sides would be steeper than those of an ordinary volcano. In the case
of the encircling reefs, the cone, with the enclosed island, would
look like Vesuvius with Monte Nuovo within the old crater of Somma;
while, finally, the island with a fringing reef would have the
appearance of an ordinary hill, or mountain, girded by a vast parapet,
within which would lie a shallow moat. And the dry bed of the Pacific
might afford grounds for an inhabitant of the moon to speculate
upon the extraordinary subterranean activity to which these vast and
numerous "craters" bore witness!

When the structure of a fringing reef is investigated, the bottom of
the lagoon is found to be covered with fine whitish mud, which results
from the breaking up of the dead corals. Upon this muddy floor there
lie, here and there, growing corals, or occasionally great blocks of
dead coral, which have been torn by storms from the outer edge of
the reef, and washed into the lagoon. Shell-fish and worms of various
kinds abound; and fish, some of which prey upon the coral, sport in
the deeper pools. But the corals which are to be seen growing in the
shallow waters of the lagoon are of a different kind from those which
abound on the outer edge of the reef, and of which the reef is built
up. Close to the seaward edge of the reef, over which, even in calm
weather, a surf almost always breaks, the coral rock is encrusted with
a thick coat of a singular vegetable organism, which contains a great
deal of lime--the so-called _Nullipora_. Beyond this, in the part of
the edge of the reef which is always covered by the breaking waves,
the living, true, reef--polypes make their appearance; and, in
different forms, coat the steep seaward face of the reef to a depth of
100 or even 150 feet. Beyond this depth the sounding-lead rests, not
upon the wall-like face of the reef, but on the ordinary shelving
sea-bottom. And the distance to which a fringing reef extends from the
land corresponds with that at which the sea has a depth of twenty or
five-and-twenty fathoms.

If, as we have supposed, the sea could be suddenly withdrawn from
around an island provided with a fringing reef, such as the Mauritius,
the reef would present the aspect of a terrace, its seaward face,
100 feet or more high, blooming with the animal flowers of the coral,
while its surface would be hollowed out into a shallow and irregular
moat-like excavation.

The coral mud, which occupies the bottom of the lagoon, and with which
all the interstices of the coral skeletons which accumulate to form
the reef are filled up, does not proceed from the washing action of
the waves alone; innumerable fishes, and other creatures which prey
upon the coral, add a very important contribution of finely-triturated
calcareous matter; and the corals and mud becoming incorporated
together, gradually harden and give rise to a sort of limestone rock,
which may vary a good deal in texture. Sometimes it remains friable
and chalky, but, more often, the infiltration of water, charged with
carbonic acid, dissolves some of the calcareous matter, and deposits
it elsewhere in the interstices of the nascent rock, thus glueing
and cementing the particles together into a hard mass; or it may even
dissolve the carbonate of lime more extensively, and re-deposit it in
a crystalline form. On the beach of the lagoon, where the coral sand
is washed into layers by the action of the waves, its grains become
thus fused together into strata of a limestone, so hard that they
ring when struck with a hammer, and inclined at a gentle angle,
corresponding with that of the surface of the beach. The hard parts
of the many animals which live upon the reef become imbedded in this
coral limestone, so that a block may be full of shells of bivalves and
univalves, or of sea-urchins; and even sometimes encloses the eggs of
turtles in a state of petrifaction. The active and vigorous growth of
the reef goes on only at the seaward margins, where the polypes are
exposed to the wash of the surf, and are thereby provided with an
abundant supply of air and of food. The interior portion of the reef
may be regarded as almost wholly an accumulation of dead skeletons.
Where a river comes down from the land there is a break in the reef,
for the reasons which have been already mentioned.

The origin and mode of formation of a fringing reef, such as that just
described, are plain enough. The embryos of the coral polypes have
fixed themselves upon the submerged shore of the island, as far out as
they could live, namely, to a depth of twenty or twenty-five fathoms.
One generation has succeeded another, building itself up upon the dead
skeletons of its predecessor. The mass has been consolidated by
the infiltration of coral mud, and hardened by partial solution and
redeposition, until a great rampart of coral rock 100 or 150 feet high
on its seaward face has been formed all round the island, with only
such gaps as result from the outflow of rivers, in the place of

The structure of the rocky accumulation in the encircling reefs and
in the atolls is essentially the same as in the fringing reef. But, in
addition to the differences of depth inside and out, they present
some other peculiarities. These reefs, and especially the atolls, are
usually interrupted at one part of their circumference, and this part
is always situated on the leeward side of the reef, or that which is
the more sheltered side. Now, as all these reefs are situated within
the region in which the trade-winds prevail, it follows that, on the
north side of the equator, where the trade-wind is a north-easterly
wind, the opening of the reef is on the south-west side: while in the
southern hemisphere, where the trade-winds blow from the south-east,
the opening lies to the north-west. The curious practical result
follows from this structure, that the lagoons of these reefs really
form admirable harbours, if a ship can only get inside them. But the
main difference between the encircling reefs and the atolls, on the
one hand, and the fringing reefs on the other, lies in the fact of the
much greater depth of water on the seaward faces of the former. As a
consequence of this fact, the whole of this face is not, as it is in
the case of the fringing reef, covered with living coral polypes. For,
as we have seen, these polypes cannot live at a greater depth than
about twenty-five fathoms; and actual observation has shown that
while, down to this depth, the sounding-lead will bring up branches of
live coral from the outer wall of such a reef, at a greater depth it
fetches to the surface nothing but dead coral and coral sand. We must,
therefore, picture to ourselves an atoll, or an encircling reef, as
fringed for 100 feet, or more, from its summit, with coral polypes
busily engaged in fabricating coral; while, below this comparatively
narrow belt, its surface is a bare and smooth expanse of coral sand,
supported upon and within a core of coral limestone. Thus, if the bed
of the Pacific were suddenly laid bare, as was just now supposed, the
appearance of the reef-mountains would be exactly the reverse of that
presented by many high mountains on land. For these are white with
snow at the top, while their bases are clothed with an abundant and
gaudily-coloured vegetation. But the coral cones would look grey and
barren below, while their summits would be gay with a richly-coloured
parterre of flower-like coral polypes.

The practical difficulties of sounding upon, and of bringing up
portions of, the seaward face of an atoll or of an encircling reef,
are so great, in consequence of the constant and dangerous swell which
sets towards it, that no exact information concerning the depth to
which the reefs are composed of coral has yet been obtained. There is
no reason to doubt, however, that the reef-cone has the same structure
from its summit to its base, and that its sea-wall is throughout
mainly composed of dead coral.

And now arises a serious difficulty. If the coral polypes cannot live
at a greater depth than 100 or 150 feet, how can they have built up
the base of the reef-cone, which may be 2,000 feet, or more, below the
surface of the sea?

In order to get over this objection, it was at one time supposed that
the reef-building polypes had settled upon the summits of a chain
of submarine mountains. But what is there in physical geography
to justify the assumption of the existence of a chain of mountains
stretching for 1,000 miles or more, and so nearly of the same height,
that none should rise above the level of the sea, nor fall 150 feet
below that level?

How again, on this hypothesis, are atolls to be accounted for, unless,
as some have done, we take refuge in the wild supposition that every
atoll corresponds with the crater of a submarine volcano? And what
explanation does it afford of the fact that, in some parts of the
ocean, only atolls and encircling reefs occur, while others present
none but fringing reefs?

These and other puzzling facts remained insoluble until the
publication, in the year 1840, of Mr. Darwin's famous work on
coral reefs; in which a key was given to all the difficult problems
connected with the subject, and every difficulty was shown to be
capable of solution by deductive reasoning from a happy combination of
certain well-established geological and biological truths. Mr.
Darwin, in fact, showed, that so long as the level of the sea remains
unaltered in any area in which coral reefs are being formed, or if the
level of the sea relatively to that of the land is falling, the
only reefs which can be formed are fringing reefs. While if, on the
contrary, the level of the sea is rising relatively to that of the
land, at a rate not faster than that at which the upward growth of
the coral can keep pace with it, the reef will gradually pass from the
condition of a fringing, into that of an encircling or barrier reef.
And, finally, that if the relative level of the sea rise so much that
the encircled land is completely submerged, the reef must necessarily
pass into the condition of an atoll.

For, suppose the relative level of the sea to remain stationary, after
a fringing reef has reached that distance from the land at which
the depth of water amounts to 150 feet. Then the reef cannot extend
seaward by the migration of coral germs, because these coral germs
would find the bottom of the sea to be too deep for them to live in.
And the only manner in which the reef could extend outwards, would
be by the gradual accumulation, at the foot of its seaward face, of a
talus of coral fragments torn off by the violence of the waves, which
talus might, in course of time, become high enough to bring its upper
surface within the limits of coral growth, and in that manner provide
a sort of factitious sea-bottom upon which the coral embryos might
perch. If, on the other hand, the level of the sea were slowly and
gradually lowered, it is clear that the parts of its bottom originally
beyond the limit of coral growth, would gradually be brought within
the required distance of the surface, and thus the reef might be
indefinitely extended. But this process would give rise neither to an
encircling reef nor to an atoll, but to a broad belt of upheaved
coral rock, increasing the dimensions of the dry land, and continuous
seawards with the fresh fringing reef.

Suppose, however, that the sea-level rose instead of falling, at the
same slow and gradual rate at which we know it to be rising in some
parts of the world--not more, in fact, than a few inches, or, at
most, a foot or two, in a hundred years. Then, while the reef would
be unable to extend itself seaward, the sea-bottom outside it being
gradually more and more removed from the depth at which the life of
the coral polypes is possible, it would be able to grow upwards
as fast as the sea rose. But the growth would take place almost
exclusively around the circumference of the reef, this being the only
region in which the coral polypes would find the conditions favourable
for their existence. The bottom of the lagoon would be raised, in the
main, only by the coral _debris_ and coral mud, formed in the manner
already described; consequently, the margins of the reef would
rise faster than the bottom, or, in other words, the lagoon would
constantly become deeper. And, at the same time, it would gradually
increase in breadth; as the rising sea, covering more and more of the
land, would occupy a wider space between the edge of the reef and what
remained of the land. Thus the rising sea would eventually convert a
large island with a fringing reef, into a small island surrounded by
an encircling reef. And it will be obvious that when the rising of the
sea has gone so far as completely to cover the highest points of the
island, the reef will have passed into the condition of an atoll.

But how is it possible that the relative level of the land and sea
should be altered to this extent? Clearly, only in one of two ways:
either the sea must have risen over those areas which are now covered
by atolls and encircling reefs; or, the land upon which the sea rests
must have been depressed to a corresponding extent.

If the sea has risen, its rise must have taken place over the whole
world simultaneously, and it must have risen to the same height over
all parts of the coral zone. Grounds have been shown for the belief
that the general level of the sea may have been different at different
times; it has been suggested, for example, that the accumulation of
ice about the poles during one of the cold periods of the earth's
history, necessarily implies a diminution in the volume of the sea
proportioned to the amount of its water thus permanently locked up in
the Arctic and Antarctic ice-cellars; while, in the warm periods,
the greater or less disappearance of the polar ice-cap implies a
corresponding addition of water to the ocean. And no doubt this
reasoning must be admitted to be sound in principle; though it is very
hard to say what practical effect the additions and subtractions thus
made have had on the level of the ocean; inasmuch as such additions
and subtractions might be either intensified or nullified, by
contemporaneous changes in the level of the land. And no one has yet
shown that any such great melting of polar ice, and consequent raising
of the level of the water of the ocean, has taken place since the
existing atolls began to be formed.

In the absence of any evidence that the sea has ever risen to the
extent required to give rise to the encircling reefs and the atolls,
Mr. Darwin adopted the opposite hypothesis, viz. that the land has
undergone extensive and slow depression in those localities in which
these structures exist.

It seems, at first, a startling paradox, to suppose that the land
is less fixed than the sea; but that such is the case is the uniform
testimony of geology. Beds of sandstone or limestone, thousands of
feet thick, and all full of marine remains, occur in various parts of
the earth's surface, and prove, beyond a doubt, that when these beds
were formed, that portion of the sea-bottom which they then occupied
underwent a slow and gradual depression to a distance which cannot
have been less than the thickness of those beds, and may have been
very much greater. In supposing, therefore, that the great areas of
the Pacific and of the Indian Ocean, over which atolls and encircling
reefs are found scattered, have undergone a depression of some
hundreds, or, it may be, thousands of feet, Mr. Darwin made a
supposition which had nothing forced or improbable, but was entirely
in accordance with what we know to have taken place over similarly
extensive areas, in other periods of the world's history. But Mr.
Darwin subjected his hypothesis to an ingenious indirect test. If
his view be correct, it is clear that neither atolls, nor encircling
reefs, should be found in those portions of the ocean in which we have
reason to believe, on independent grounds, that the sea-bottom has
long been either stationary, or slowly rising. Now it is known that,
as a general rule, the level of the land is either stationary, or is
undergoing a slow upheaval, in the neighbourhood of active volcanoes;
and, therefore, neither atolls nor encircling reefs ought to be found
in regions in which volcanoes are numerous and active. And this turns
out to be the case. Appended to Mr. Darwin's great work on coral
reefs, there is a map on which atolls and encircling reefs are
indicated by one colour, fringing reefs by another, and active
volcanoes by a third. And it is at once obvious that the lines of
active volcanoes lie around the margins of the areas occupied by the
atolls and the encircling reefs. It is exactly as if the upheaving
volcanic agencies had lifted up the edges of these great areas, while
their centres had undergone a corresponding depression. An atoll area
may, in short, be pictured as a kind of basin, the margins of which
have been pushed up by the subterranean forces, to which the craters
of the volcanoes have, at intervals, given vent.

Thus we must imagine the area of the Pacific now covered by the
Polynesian Archipelago, as having been, at some former time,
occupied by large islands, or, may be, by a great continent, with the
ordinarily diversified surface of plain, and hill, and mountain chain.
The shores of this great land were doubtless fringed by coral reefs;
and, as it slowly underwent depression, the hilly regions, converted
into islands, became, at first, surrounded by fringing reefs, and
then, as depression went on, these became converted into encircling
reefs, and these, finally, into atolls, until a maze of reefs and
coral-girdled islets took the place of the original land masses.

Thus the atolls and the encircling reefs furnish us with clear, though
indirect, evidence of changes in the physical geography of large parts
of the earth's surface; and even, as my lamented friend, the late
Professor Jukes, has suggested, give us indications of the manner in
which some of the most puzzling facts connected with the distribution
of animals have been brought about. For example, Australia and New
Guinea are separated by Torres Straits, a broad belt of sea 100 or
120 miles wide. Nevertheless, there is in many respects a curious
resemblance between the land animals which inhabit New Guinea and
the land animals which inhabit Australia. But, at the same time, the
marine shell-fish which are found in the shallow waters of the shores
of New Guinea, are quite different from those which are met with upon
the coasts of Australia. Now, the eastern end of Torres Straits is
full of atolls, which, in fact, form the northern termination of the
Great Barrier Reef which skirts the eastern coast of Australia. It
follows, therefore, that the eastern end of Torres Straits is an area
of depression, and it is very possible, and on many grounds highly
probable, that, in former times, Australia and New Guinea were
directly connected together, and that Torres Straits did not exist.
If this were the case, the existence of cassowaries and of marsupial
quadrupeds, both in New Guinea and in Australia, becomes intelligible;
while the difference between the littoral molluscs of the north and
the south shores of Torres Straits is readily explained by the great
probability that, when the depression in question took place, and
what was, at first, an arm of the sea became converted into a strait
separating Australia from New Guinea, the northern shore of this new
sea became tenanted with marine animals from the north, while the
southern shore was peopled by immigrants from the already existing
marine Australian fauna.

Inasmuch as the growth of the reef depends upon that of successive
generations of coral polypes, and as each generation takes a certain
time to grow to its full size, and can only separate its calcareous
skeleton from the water in which it lives at a certain rate, it is
clear that the reefs are records not only of changes in physical
geography, but of the lapse of time. It is by no means easy, however,
to estimate the exact value of reef-chronology, and the attempts which
have been made to determine the rate at which a reef grows vertically,
have yielded anything but precise results. A cautious writer, Mr.
Dana, whose extensive study of corals and coral reefs makes him an
eminently competent judge, states his conclusion in the following

"The rate of growth of the common branching madrepore is not
over one and a half inches a year. As the branches are open,
this would not be equivalent to more than half an inch in
height of solid coral for the whole surface covered by
the madrepore; and, as they are also porous, to not over
three-eighths of an inch of solid limestone. But a coral
plantation has large bare patches without corals, and the
coral sands are widely distributed by currents, part of them
to depths over one hundred feet where there are no living
corals; not more than one-sixth of the surface of a reef
region is, in fact, covered with growing species. This reduces
the three-eighths to _one-sixteenth_. Shells and other organic
relics may contribute one-fourth as much as corals. At the
outside, the average upward increase of the whole reef-ground
per year would not exceed _one-eighth_ of an inch.

"Now some reefs are at least two thousand feet thick, which at
one-eighth of an inch a year, corresponds to one hundred and
ninety-two thousand years."[1]

[Footnote 1: Dana, "Manual of Geology," p. 591.]

Halve, or quarter, this estimate if you will, in order to be certain
of erring upon the right side, and still there remains a prodigious
period during which the ancestors of the existing coral polypes have
been undisturbedly at work; and during which, therefore, the climatal
conditions over the coral area must have been much what they are now.

And all this lapse of time has occurred within the most recent period
of the history of the earth. The remains of reefs formed by coral
polypes of different kinds from those which exist now, enter largely
into the composition of the limestones of the Jurassic period; and
still more widely different coral polypes have contributed their quota
to the vast thickness of the carboniferous and Devonian strata. Then
as regards the latter group of rocks in America, the high authority
already quoted tells us:--

"The Upper Helderberg period is eminently the coral reef
period of the palaeozoic ages. Many of the rocks abound in
coral, and are as truly coral reefs as the modern reefs of the
Pacific. The corals are sometimes standing on the rocks in the
position they had when growing: others are lying in fragments,
as they were broken and heaped by the waves; and others were
reduced to a compact limestone by the finer trituration before
consolidation into rock. This compact variety is the most
common kind among the coral reef rocks of the present seas;
and it often contains but few distinct fossils, although
formed in water that abounded in life. At the fall of the
Ohio, near Louisville, there is a magnificent display of
the old reef. Hemispherical _Favosites_, five or six feet
in diameter, lie there nearly as perfect as when they were
covered by their flower-like polypes; and besides these,
there are various branching corals, and a profusion of
_Cyathophiyllia_, or cup-corals."[1]

[Footnote 1: Dana, "Manual of Geology," p. 272.]

Thus, in all the great periods of the earth's history of which we
know anything, a part of the then living matter has had the form of
polypes, competent to separate from the water of the sea the carbonate
of lime necessary for their own skeletons. Grain by grain, and
particle by particle, they have built up vast masses of rock, the
thickness of which is measured by hundreds of feet, and their area by
thousands of square miles. The slow oscillations of the crust of the
earth, producing great changes in the distribution of land and water,
have often obliged the living matter of the coral-builders to shift
the locality of its operations; and, by variation and adaptation to
these modifications of condition, its forms have as often changed. The
work it has done in the past is, for the most part, swept away, but
fragments remain; and, if there were no other evidence, suffice to
prove the general constancy of the operations of Nature in this world,
through periods of almost inconceivable duration.



Ethonology is the science which determines the distinctive characters
of the persistent modifications of mankind; which ascertains the
distribution of those modifications in present and past times, and
seeks to discover the causes, or conditions of existence, both of
the modifications and of their distribution. I say "persistent"
modifications, because, unless incidentally, ethnology has nothing to
do with chance and transitory peculiarities of human structure. And
I speak of "persistent modifications" or "stocks" rather than of
"varieties," or "races," or "species," because each of these last
well-known terms implies, on the part of its employer, a preconceived
opinion touching one of those problems, the solution of which is the
ultimate object of the science; and in regard to which, therefore,
ethnologists are especially bound to keep their minds open and their
judgments freely balanced.

Ethnology, as thus defined, is a branch of anthropology, the great
science which unravels the complexities of human structure; traces out
the relations of man to other animals; studies all that is especially
human in the mode in which man's complex functions are performed; and
searches after the conditions which have determined his presence in
the world. And anthropology is a section of zoology, which again is
the animal half of biology--the science of life and living things.

Such is the position of ethnology, such are the objects of the
ethnologist. The paths or methods, by following which he may hope to
reach his goal, are diverse. He may work at man from the point of
view of the pure zoologist, and investigate the anatomical and
physiological peculiarities of Negroes, Australians, or Mongolians,
just as he would inquire into those of pointers, terriers, and
turnspits,--"persistent modifications" of man's almost universal
companion. Or he may seek aid from researches into the most human
manifestation of humanity--language; and assuming that what is true of
speech is true of the speaker--a hypothesis as questionable in science
as it is in ordinary life--he may apply to mankind themselves the
conclusions drawn from a searching analysis of their words and
grammatical forms.

Or, the ethnologist may turn to the study of the practical life
of men; and relying upon the inherent conservatism and small
inventiveness of untutored mankind, he may hope to discover in manners
and customs, or in weapons, dwellings, and other handiwork, a clue to
the origin of the resemblances and differences of nations. Or, he may
resort to that kind of evidence which is yielded by history proper,
and consists of the beliefs of men concerning past events, embodied
in traditional, or in written, testimony. Or, when that thread breaks,
archaeology, which is the interpretation of the unrecorded remains of
man's works, belonging to the epoch since the world has reached its
present condition, may still guide him. And, when even the dim light
of archaeology fades, there yet remains paleontology, which, in these
latter years, has brought to daylight once more the exuvia of ancient
populations, whose world was not our world, who have been buried in
river beds immemorially dry, or carried by the rush of waters into
caves, inaccessible to inundation since the dawn of tradition.

Along each, or all, of these paths the ethnologist may press towards
his goal; but they are not equally straight, or sure, or easy to
tread. The way of palaeontology has but just been laid open to us.
Archaeological and historical investigations are of great value for
all those peoples whose ancient state has differed widely from their
present condition, and who have the good or evil fortune to possess a
history. But on taking a broad survey of the world, it is astonishing
how few nations present either condition. Respecting five-sixths of
the persistent modifications of mankind, history and archaeology are
absolutely silent. For half the rest, they might as well be silent for
anything that is to be made of their testimony. And, finally, when the
question arises as to what was the condition of mankind more than a
paltry two or three thousand years ago, history and archaeology are,
for the most part, mere dumb dogs. What light does either of these
branches of knowledge throw on the past of the man of the New World,
if we except the Central Americans and the Peruvians; on that of the
Africans, save those of the valley of the Nile and a fringe of the
Mediterranean; on that of all the Polynesian, Australian, and central
Asiatic peoples, the former of whom probably, and the last certainly,
were, at the dawn of history, substantially what they are now? While
thankfully accepting what history has to give him, therefore, the
ethnologist must not look for too much from her.

Is more to be expected from inquiries into the customs and handicrafts
of men? It is to be feared not. In reasoning from identity of custom
to identity of stock the difficulty always obtrudes itself, that
the minds of men being everywhere similar, differing in quality and
quantity but not in kind of faculty, like circumstances must tend to
produce like contrivances; at any rate, so long as the need to be
met and conquered is of a very simple kind. That two nations use
calabashes or shells for drinking-vessels, or that they employ
spears, or clubs, or swords and axes of stone and metal as weapons and
implements, cannot be regarded as evidence that these two nations
had a common origin, or even that intercommunication ever took place
between them; seeing that the convenience of using calabashes or
shells for such purposes, and the advantage of poking an enemy with a
sharp stick, or hitting him with a heavy one, must be early forced
by nature upon the mind of even the stupidest savage. And when he had
found out the use of a stick, he would need no prompting to discover
the value of a chipped or wetted stone, or an angular piece of native
metal, for the same object. On the other hand, it may be doubted
whether the chances are not greatly against independent peoples
arriving at the manufacture of a boomerang, or of a bow; which last,
if one comes to think of it, is a rather complicated apparatus; and
the tracing of the distribution of inventions as complex as these,
and of such strange customs as betel-chewing and tobacco-smoking, may
afford valuable ethnological hints.

Since the time of Leibnitz, and guided by such men as Humboldt, Abel
Remusat, and Klaproth, Philology has taken far higher ground. Thus
Prichard affirms that "the history of nations, termed Ethnology, must
be mainly founded on the relations of their languages."

An eminent living philologer, August Schleicher, in a recent essay,
puts forward the claims of his science still more forcibly:--

"If, however, language is the human [Greek: kat ezochhen], the
suggestion arises whether it should not form the basis of
any scientific systematic arrangement of mankind; whether the
foundation of the natural classification of the genus Homo has
not been discovered in it.

"How little constant are cranial peculiarities and other
so-called race characters! Language, on the other hand,
is always a perfectly constant diagnostic. A German may
occasionally compete in hair and prognathism with a negro,
but a negro language will never be his mother tongue. Of how
little importance for mankind the so-called race characters
are, is shown by the fact that speakers of languages belonging
to one and the same linguistic family may exhibit the
peculiarities of various races. Thus the settled Osmanli Turk
exhibits Caucasian characters, while other so-called Tartaric
Turks exemplify the Mongol type. On the other hand, the
Magyar and the Basque do not depart in any essential physical
peculiarity from the Indo-Germans, whilst the Magyar, Basque,
and Indo-Germanic tongues are widely different. Apart from
their inconstancy, again, the so-called race characters can
hardly yield a scientifically natural system. Languages, on
the other hand, readily fall into a natural arrangement, like
that of which other vital products are susceptible, especially
when viewed from their morphological side.... The externally
visible structure of the cerebral and facial skeletons, and
of the body generally, is less important than that no less
material but infinitely more delicate corporeal structure, the
function of which is speech. I conceive, therefore, that
the natural classification of languages is also the natural
classification of mankind. With language, moreover, all the
higher manifestations of man's vital activity are closely
interwoven, so that these receive due recognition in and by
that of speech."[1]

[Footnote 1: August Schleicher. Ueber die Bedeutung der Sprache fuer
die Naturgeschichte des Menschen, pp. 16-18. Weimar, 1858.]

Without the least desire to depreciate the value of philology as
an adjuvant to ethnology, I must venture to doubt, with Rudolphi,
Desmoulins, Crawfurd, and others, its title to the leading position
claimed for it by the writers whom I have just quoted. On the
contrary, it seems to me obvious that, though, in the absence of any
evidence to the contrary, unity of languages may afford a certain
presumption in favour of the unity of stock of the peoples speaking
those languages, it cannot be held to prove that unity of stock,
unless philologers are prepared to demonstrate, that no nation can
lose its language and acquire that of a distinct nation, without a
change of blood corresponding with the change of language. Desmoulins
long ago put this argument exceedingly well:--

"Let us imagine the recurrence of one of those slow, or
sudden, political revolutions, or say of those secular changes
which among different people and at different epochs have
annihilated historical monuments and even extinguished
tradition. In that case, the evidence, now so clear, that the
negroes of Hayti were slaves imported by a French colony, who,
by the very effect of the subordination involved in slavery,
lost their own diverse languages and adopted that of their
masters, would vanish. And metaphysical philosophers,
observing the identity of Haytian French with that spoken on
the shores of the Seine and the Loire, would argue that the
men of St. Domingo with woolly heads, black and oily skins,
small calves, and slightly bent knees, are of the same race,
descended from the same parental stock, as the Frenchmen with
silky brown, chestnut, or fair hair, and white skins. For they
would say, their languages are more similar than French is to
German or Spanish."[1]

[Footnote 1: Desmoulins, "Histoire Naturelle des Races Humaines," p.
345. 1826.]

It must not be imagined that the case put by Desmoulins is a merely
hypothetical one. Events precisely similar to the transport of a body
of Africans to the West India Islands, indeed, cannot have happened
among uncivilized races, but similar results have followed the
importation of bodies of conquerors among an enslaved people over and
over again. There is hardly a country in Europe in which two or more
nations speaking widely different tongues have not become intermixed;
and there is hardly a language of Europe of which we have any right
to think that its structure affords a just indication of the amount of
that intermixture.

As Dr. Latham has well said:--

"It is certain that the language of England is of Anglo-Saxon
origin, and that the remains of the original Keltic are
unimportant. It is by no means so certain that the blood of
Englishmen is equally Germanic. A vast amount of Kelticism,
not found in our tongue, very probably exists in our
pedigrees. The ethnology of France is still more complicated.
Many writers make the Parisian a Roman on the strength of his
language; whilst others make him a Kelt on the strength of
certain moral characteristics, combined with the previous
Kelticism of the original Gauls. Spanish and Portuguese, as
languages, are derivations from the Latin; Spain and Portugal,
as countries, are Iberic, Latin, Gothic, and Arab, in
different proportions. Italian is modern Latin all the world
over; yet surely there must be much Keltic blood in Lombardy,
and much Etruscan intermixture in Tuscany.

"In the ninth century every man between the Elbe and the
Niemen spoke some Slavonic dialect; they now nearly all speak
German. Surely the blood is less exclusively Gothic than the

[Footnote 1: Latham, "Man and his Migrations," p. 171.]

In other words, what philologer, if he had nothing but the vocabulary
and grammar of the French and English languages to guide him, would
dream of the real causes of the unlikeness of a Norman to a Provencal,
of an Orcadian to a Cornishman? How readily might he be led to suppose
that the different climatal conditions to which these speakers of
one tongue have so long been exposed, have caused their physical
differences; and how little would he suspect that these are due (as we
happen to know they are) to wide differences of blood.

Few take duly into account the evidence which exists as to the
ease with which unlettered savages gain or lose a language. Captain
Erskine, in his interesting "Journal of a Cruise among the Islands of
the Western Pacific," especially remarks upon the "avidity with
which the inhabitants of the polyglot islands of Melanesia, from New
Caledonia to the Solomon Islands, adopt the improvements of a more
perfect language than their own, which different causes and accidental
communication still continue to bring to them;" and he adds that
"among the Melanesian islands scarcely one was found by us which did
not possess, in some cases still imperfectly, the decimal system of
numeration in addition to their own, in which they reckon only to

Yet how much philological reasoning in favour of the affinity
or diversity of two distinct peoples has been based on the mere
comparison of numerals!

But the most instructive example of the fallacy which may attach to
merely philological reasonings, is that afforded by the Feejeans, who
are, physically, so intimately connected with the adjacent Negritos of
New Caledonia, &c., that no one can doubt to what stock they belong,
and who yet, in the form and substance of their language, are
Polynesian. The case is as remarkable as if the Canary Islands should
have been found to be inhabited by negroes speaking Arabic, or some
other clearly Semitic dialect, as their mother tongue. As it happens,
the physical peculiarities of the Feejeans are so striking, and
the conditions under which they live are so similar to those of the
Polynesians, that no one has ventured to suggest that they are merely
modified Polynesians--a suggestion which could otherwise certainly
have been made. But if languages may be thus transferred from one
stock to another, without any corresponding intermixture of blood,
what ethnological value has philology?--what security does unity of
language afford us that the speakers of that language may not have
sprung from two, or three, or a dozen, distinct sources?

Thus we come, at last, to the purely zoological method, from which
it is not unnatural to expect more than from any other, seeing that,
after all, the problems of ethnology are simply those which are
presented to the zoologist by every widely distributed animal he
studies. The father of modern zoology seems to have had no doubt upon
this point. At the twenty-eighth page of the standard twelfth edition
of the "Systema Naturae," in fact, we find:--


_Dentes primores incisores: superiores IV. paralleli, mammae
pectorales II._

1. HOMO. Nosce te ipsum.
Sapiens. 1. H. diurnus: _varians cultura, loco._
_Ferus_. Tetrapus, mutus, hirsutus.

* * * * *

_Americanus_ [Greek: a]. Rufus, cholericus, rectus--_Pilis_
nigris, rectis, crassis--_Naribus_
patulis--_Facie_ ephelitica:
_Mento_ subimberbi.
_Pertinax_, contentus, liber. _Pingit_
se lineis daedaleis rubris.
_Regitur_ Consuetudine.

_Europaeus_ [Greek: b]. Albus sauguineus torosus. _Pilis_
flavescentibus, prolixis.
_Oculis_ caeruleis.
_Levis_, argutus, inventor.
_Tegitur_ Vestimentis arctis.
_Regitur_ Ritibus.

_Asiaticus_ [Greek: g]. Luridus, melancholicus, rigidus.
_Pilis_ nigricantibus. _Oculis_
fuscis. _Severus_, fastuosus, avarus.
_Tegitur_ Indumentis laxis.
_Regitur_ Opinionibus.

_Afer_ [Greek: d]. Niger, phlegmaticus, laxus. _Pilis_
atris, contortuplicatis. _Cute_ holosericea.
_Naso_ simo. _Labiis_ tumidis.
_Feminis_ sinus pudoris.
_Mammae_ lactantes prolixae.
_Vafer_, segnis, negligens. _Ungit_ se
pingui. _Regitur_ Arbitrio.

_Monstrosus_ [Greek: e]. Solo (a) et arte (b c) variat.:
a. _Alpini_ parvi, agiles, timidi.
_Patagonici_ magni, segnes.
b. _Monorchides_ ut minus fertiles:
_Junceae_ puellae, abdomine attenuato:
c. _Macrocephali_ capiti conico: Chinenses.
_Plagiocephali_ capite antice compresso:

Turn a few pages further on in the same volume, and there appears,
with a fine impartiality in the distribution of capitals and
sub-divisional headings:--


_Dentes primores superiores sex, acutiusculi. Canini solitarii._

* * * * *

12. CANIS. _Dentes primores_ superiores VI.: laterales
longiores distantes: intermedii lobati.
Inferiores VI.: laterales lobati.
_Laniarii_ solitarii, incurvati.
Molares VI. s. VII. (pluresve quam in reliquis).

_familiaris_ [Greek: i]. C. cauda (sinistrorsum) recurvata....

_domesticus_ [Greek: a]. auriculis erectis, cauda subtus lanata.

_sagax_ [Greek: b]. auriculis pendulis, digito spurio ad
tibias posticas.

_grajus_ [Greek: g]. magnitudine lupi, trunco curvato, rostro
attenuato, &c. &c.

Linnaeus' definition of what he considers to be mere varieties of
the species Man are, it will be observed, as completely free from
any allusion to linguistic peculiarities as those brief and pregnant
sentences in which he sketches the characters of the varieties of
the species Dog. "Pilis nigris, naribus patulis" may be set against
"auriculis erectis, cauda subtus lanata;" while the remarks on the
morals and manners of the human subject seem as if they were thrown in
merely by way of makeweight.

Buffon, Blumenbach (the founder of ethnology as a special science),
Rudolphi, Bory de St. Vincent, Desmoulins, Cuvier, Retzius, indeed I
may say all the naturalists proper, have dealt with man from a no
less completely zoological point of view; while, as might have been
expected, those who have been least naturalists, and most linguists,
have most neglected the zoological method, the neglect culminating in
those who have been altogether devoid of acquaintance with anatomy.

Prichard's proposition, that language is more persistent than physical
characters, is one which has never been proved, and indeed admits of
no proof, seeing that the records of language do not extend so far
as those of physical characters. But, until the superior tenacity
of linguistic over physical peculiarities is shown, and until the
abundant evidence which exists, that the language of a people may
change without corresponding physical change in that people, is shown
to be valueless, it is plain that the zoological court of appeal
is the highest for the ethnologist, and that no evidence can be set
against that derived from physical characters.

What, then, will a new survey of mankind from the Linnaean point of
view teach us?

The great antipodal block of land we call Australia has, speaking
roughly, the form of a vast quadrangle, 2,000 miles on the side, and
extends from the hottest tropical, to the middle of the temperate,
zone. Setting aside the foreign colonists introduced within the
last century, it is inhabited by people no less remarkable for the
uniformity, than for the singularity, of their physical characters and
social state. For the most part of fair stature, erect and well built,
except for an unusual slenderness of the lower limbs, the AUSTRALIANS
have dark, usually chocolate-coloured skins; fine dark wavy hair; dark
eyes, overhung by beetle brows; coarse, projecting jaws; broad and
dilated, but not especially flattened, noses; and lips which, though
prominent, are eminently flexible.

The skulls of these people are always long and narrow, with a smaller
development of the frontal sinuses than usually corresponds with such
largely developed brow ridges. An Australian skull of a round form,
or one the transverse diameter of which exceeds eight-tenths of its
length, has never been seen. These people, in a word, are eminently
"dolichocephalic," or long-headed; but, with this one limitation,
their crania present considerable variations, some being comparatively
high and arched, while others are more remarkably depressed than
almost any other human skulls.

The female pelvis differs comparatively little from the European;
but in the pelves of male Australians which I have examined, the
antero-posterior and transverse diameters approach equality more
nearly than is the case in Europeans.

No Australian tribe has ever been known to cultivate the ground,
to use metals, pottery, or any kind of textile fabric. They rarely
construct huts. Their means of navigation are limited to rafts or
canoes, made of sheets of bark. Clothing, except skin cloaks for
protection from cold, is a superfluity with which they dispense; and
though they have some singular weapons, almost peculiar to themselves,
they are wholly unacquainted with bows and arrows.

It is but a step, as it were, across Bass's Straits to Tasmania.
Neither climate nor the characteristic forms of vegetable or animal
life change largely on the south side of the Straits, but the early
voyagers found Man singularly different from him on the north side.
The skin of the Tasmanian was dark, though he lived between parallels
of latitude corresponding with those of middle Europe in our own
hemisphere; his jaws projected, his head was long and narrow; his
civilization was about on a footing with that of the Australian, if
not lower, for I cannot discover that the Tasmanian understood the
use of the throwing-stick. But he differed from the Australian in his
woolly, negro-like hair, whence the name of NEGRITO, which has been
applied to him and his congeners.

Such Negritos--differing more or less from the Tasmanian, but agreeing
with him in dark skin and woolly hair--occupy New Caledonia, the New
Hebrides, the Louisiade Archipelago; and stretching to the Papuan
Islands, and for a doubtful extent beyond them to the north and
west, form a sort of belt, or zone, of Negrito population, interposed
between the Australians on the west and the inhabitants of the great
majority of the Pacific islands on the east.

The cranial characters of the Negritos vary considerably more than
those of their skin and hair, the most notable circumstance being
the strong Australian aspect which distinguishes many Negrito skulls,
while others tend rather towards forms common in the Polynesian

In civilization, New Caledonia exhibits an advance upon Tasmania, and,
farther north, there is a still greater improvement. But the bows
and arrows, the perched houses, the outrigger canoes, the habits of
betel-chewing and of kawa-drinking, which abound more or less among
the northern Negritos, are probably to be regarded not as the products
of an indigenous civilization, but merely as indications of the extent
to which foreign influences have modified the primitive social state
of these people.

From Tasmania or New Caledonia, to New Zealand or Tongataboo, is again
but a brief voyage; but it brings about a still more notable change
in the aspect of the indigenous population than that effected by the
passage of Bass's Straits. Instead of being chocolate-coloured people,
the Maories and Tongans are light brown; instead of woolly, they have
straight, or wavy, black hair. And if from New Zealand, we travel
some 5,000 miles east to Easter Island; and from Easter Island, for as
great a distance north-west, to the Sandwich Islands; and thence 7,000
miles, westward and southward, to Sumatra; and even across the Indian
Ocean, into the interior of Madagascar, we shall everywhere meet with
people whose hair is straight or wavy, and whose skins exhibit various
shades of brown. These are the Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians,
whom Latham has grouped together under the common title of

The cranial characters of these people, as of the Negritos, are less
constant than those of their skin and hair. The Maori has a long
skull; the Sandwich Islander a broad skull. Some, like these, have
strong brow ridges; others, like the Dayaks and many Polynesians, have
hardly any nasal indentation.

It is only in the westernmost parts of their area that the Amphinesian
nations know anything about bows and arrows as weapons, or are
acquainted with the use of metals or with pottery. Everywhere they
cultivate the ground, construct houses, and skilfully build and manage
outrigger, or double, canoes; while, almost everywhere, they use some
kind of fabric for clothing.

Between Easter Island, or the Sandwich Islands, and any part of the
American coast is a much wider interval than that between Tasmania and
New Zealand, but the ethnological interval between the American and
the Polynesian is less than that between either of the previously
named stocks.

The typical AMERICAN has straight black hair and dark eyes, his skin
exhibiting various shades of reddish or yellowish brown, sometimes
inclining to olive. The face is broad and scantily bearded; the skull
wide and high. Such people extend from Patagonia to Mexico, and much
farther north along the west coast. In the main a race of hunters,
they had nevertheless, at the time of the discovery of the Americas,
attained a remarkable degree of civilization in some localities. They
had domesticated ruminants, and not only practised agriculture,
but had learned the value of irrigation. They manufactured textile
fabrics, were masters of the potter's art, and knew how to erect
massive buildings of stone. They understood the working of the
precious, though not of the useful, metals; and had even attained to a
rude kind of hieroglyphic, or picture, writing.

The Americans not only employ the bow and arrow, but, like some
Amphinesians, the blow-pipe, as offensive weapons: but I am not aware
that the outrigger canoe has ever been observed among them.

I have reason to suspect that some of the Fuegian tribes differ
cranially from the typical Americans; and the Northern and Eastern
American tribes have longer skulls than their Southern compatriots.
But the ESQUIMAUX, who roam on the desolate and ice-bound coasts of
Arctic America, certainly present us with a new stock. The Esquimaux
(among whom the Greenlanders are included), in fact, though they
share the straight black hair of the proper Americans, are a duller
complexioned, shorter, and more squat people, and they have still
more prominent cheek-bones. But the circumstance which most completely
separates them from the typical Americans, is the form of their
skulls, which instead of being broad, high, and truncated behind, are
eminently long, usually low, and prolonged backwards.

These Hyperborean people clothe themselves in skins, know nothing of
pottery, and hardly anything of metals. Dependent for existence upon
the produce of the chase, the seal and the whale are to them what
the cocoa-nut tree and the plantain are to the savages of more genial
climates. Not only are those animals meat and raiment, but they are
canoes, sledges, weapons, tools, windows, and fire; while they support
the dog, who is the indispensable ally and beast of burden of the

It is admitted that the Tchuktchi, on the eastern side of Behring's
Straits, are, in all essential respects, Esquimaux; and I do not know
that there is any satisfactory evidence to show that the Tunguses and
Samoiedes do not essentially share the physical characters of the same
people. Southward, there are indications of Esquimaux characters among
the Japanese, and it is possible that their influence may be traced
yet further.

However this may be, Eastern Asia, from Mantchouria to Siam, Thibet,
and Northern Hindostan, is continuously inhabited by men, usually of
short stature, with skins varying in colour from yellow to olive; with
broad cheek-bones and faces that, owing to the insignificance of the
nose, are exceedingly flat; and with small, obliquely-set, black eyes
and straight black hair, which sometimes attains a very great length
upon the scalp, but is always scanty upon the face and body. The
skull is never much elongated, and is, generally, remarkably broad
and rounded, with hardly any nasal depression, and but slight, if any,
projection of the jaws.

Many of these people, for whom the old name of MONGOLIANS may be
retained, are nomades; others, as the Chinese, have attained a
remarkable and apparently indigenous civilization, only surpassed by
that of Europe.

At the north-western extremity of Europe the Lapps repeat the
characters of the Eastern Asiatics. Between these extreme points, the
Mongolian stock is not continuous, but is represented by a chain of
more or less isolated tribes, who pass under the name of Calmucks and
Tartars, and form Mongolian islands, as it were, in the midst of an
ocean of other people.

The waves of this ocean are the nations for whom, in order
to avoid the endless confusion produced by our present
half-physical, half-philological classification, I shall use a new
name--XANTHOCHROI--indicating that they are "yellow" haired and "pale"
in complexion. The Chinese historians of the Han dynasty, writing
in the third century before our era, describe, with much minuteness,
certain numerous and powerful barbarians with "yellow hair, green
eyes, and prominent noses," who, the black-haired, skew-eyed, and
flat-nosed annalists remark in passing, are "just like the apes from
whom they are descended." These people held, in force, the upper
waters of the Yenisei, and thence under various names stretched
southward to Thibet and Kashgar. Fair-haired and blue-eyed northern
enemies were no less known to the ancient Hindoos, to the Persians,
and to the Egyptians, on the south of the great central Asiatic area;
while the testimony of all European antiquity is to the effect that,
before and since the period in question, there lay beyond the Danube,
the Rhine, and the Seine, a vast and dangerous yellow or red haired,
fair-skinned, blue-eyed population. Whether the disturbers of the
marches of the Roman Empire were called Gauls or Germans, Goths,
Alans, or Scythians, one thing seems certain, that until the invasion
of the Huns, they were tall, fair, blue-eyed men.

If any one should think fit to assume that in the year 100 B.C.,
there was one continuous Xanthochroic population from the Rhine to the
Yenisei, and from the Ural mountains to the Hindoo Koosh, I know not
that any evidence exists by which that position could be upset, while
the existing state of things is rather in its favour than otherwise.
For the Scandinavians, wholly, the Germans to a great extent, the
Slavonian and the Finnish tribes, some of the inhabitants of Greece,
many Turks, some Kirghis, and some Mantchous, the Ossetes in the
Caucasus, the Siahposh, the Rohillas, are at the present day fair,
yellow or red haired, and blue-eyed; and the interpolation of tribes
of Mongolian hair and complexion, as far west as the Caspian Steppes
and the Crimea, might justly be accounted for by those subsequent
westward irruptions of the Mongolian stock, of which history furnishes
abundant testimony.

The furthermost limit of the Xanthochroi north-westward is Iceland
and the British Isles; south-westward, they are traceable at intervals
through the Berber country, and end in the Canary Islands.

The cranial characters of the Xanthochroi are not, at present,
strictly definable. The Scandinavians are certainly long-headed; but
many Germans, the Swiss so far as they are Germanized, the Slavonians,
the Fins, and the Turks, are short-headed. What were the cranial
characters of the ancient "U-suns" and "Ting-lings" of the valley of
the Yenisei is unknown.

West of the area occupied by the chief mass of the Xanthochroi, and
north of the Sahara, is a broad belt of land, shaped like a =Y=.
Between the forks of the =Y= lies the Mediterranean; the stem of it
is Arabia. The stem is bathed by the Indian Ocean, the western ends of
the forks by the Atlantic. The people inhabiting the area thus roughly
sketched have, like the Xanthochroi, prominent noses, pale skins and
wavy hair, with abundant beards; but, unlike them, the hair is black
or dark, and the eyes usually so. They may thence be called the
MELANOCHROI. Such people are found in the British Islands, in Western
and Southern Gaul, in Spain, in Italy south of the Po, in parts of
Greece, in Syria and Arabia, stretching as far northward and eastward
as the Caucasus and Persia. They are the chief inhabitants of Africa
north of the Sahara, and, like the Xanthochroi, they end in the
Canary Islands. They are known as Kelts, Iberians, Etruscans, Romans,
Pelasgians, Berbers, Semites. The majority of them are long-headed,
and of smaller stature than the Xanthochroi.

It is needless to remark upon the civilization of these two great
stocks. With them has originated everything that is highest in
science, in art, in law, in politics, and in mechanical inventions.
In their hands, at the present moment, lies the order of the social
world, and to them its progress is committed.

South of the Atlas, and of the Great Desert, Middle Africa exhibits
a new type of humanity in the NEGRO, with his dark skin, woolly hair,
projecting jaws, and thick lips. As a rule, the skull of the Negro
is remarkably long; it rarely approaches the broad type, and never
exhibits the roundness of the Mongolian. A cultivator of the ground,
and dwelling in villages; a maker of pottery, and a worker in the
useful as well as the ornamental metals; employing the bow and arrow
as well as the spear, the typical negro stands high in point of
civilization above the Australian.

Resembling the Negroes in cranial characters, the BUSHMEN of South
Africa differ from them in their yellowish brown skins, their tufted
hair, their remarkably small stature, and their tendency to fatty and
other integumentary outgrowths; nor is the wonderful click with which
their speech is interspersed to be overlooked in enumerating the
physical characteristics of this strange people.

The so-called "Drawidian" populations of Southern Hindostan lead us
back, physically as well as geographically, towards the Australians;
while the diminutive MINCOPIES of the Andaman Islands lie midway
between the Negro and Negrito races, and, as Mr. Busk has pointed
out, occasionally present the rare combination of Brachycephaly, or
short-headedness, with woolly hair.

In the preceding progress along the outskirts of the habitable world,
eleven readily distinguishable stocks, or persistent modifications, of
mankind, have been recognized. I have purposely omitted such people as
the Abyssinians and the Hindoos, who there is every reason to believe
result from the intermixture of distinct stocks. Perhaps I ought, for
like reasons, to have ignored the Mincopies. But I do not pretend that
my enumeration is complete or, in any sense, perfect. It is enough for
my purpose if it be admitted (and I think it cannot be denied) that
those which I have mentioned exist, are well marked, and occupy the
greater part of the habitable globe.

In attempting to classify these persistent modifications after the
manner of naturalists, the first circumstance that attracts one's
attention is the broad contrast between the people with straight and
wavy hair, and those with crisp, woolly, or tufted hair. Bory de
St. Vincent, noting this fundamental distinction, divided mankind
accordingly into the two primary groups of _Leiotrichi_ and
_Ulotrichi_,--terms which are open to criticism, but which I adopt in
the accompanying table, because they have been used. It is better for
science to accept a faulty name which has the merit of existence, than
to burthen it with a faultless newly invented one.

Under each of these divisions are two columns, one for the
Brachycephali, or short heads, and one for the Dolichocephali[1], or
long heads. Again, each column is subdivided transversely into four
compartments, one for the "leucous," people with fair complexions and
yellow or red hair; one for the "leucomelanous," with dark hair and
pale skins; one for the "xanthomelanous," with black hair and yellow,
brown, or olive skins; and one for the "melanous," with black hair and
dark brown or blackish skins.

[Footnote 1: Skulls, the transverse diameter of which is more than
eight-tenths the long diameter, are short; those which have the
transverse diameter less than eight-tenths the longitudinal, are

______________________________ ____________________________
/ \ / \
Dolichocephali. Brachycephali. Dolichocephali. Brachycephali.
.... Xanthochroi ....
.... Melanochroi ....
_Esquimaux_. Mongolians. _Bushmen_.
_Australians_. Negroes. _Mincopies_(?)

NOTE: _The names of the stocks known only since the fifteenth century
are put into italics. If the "Skraelings" of the Norse discoverers of
America were Esquimaux, Europeans became acquainted with the latter
six or seven centuries earlier_.

It is curious to observe that almost all the woolly-headed people are
also long-headed; while among the straight-haired nations broad heads
preponderate, and only two stocks, the Esquimaux and the Australians,
are exclusively long-headed.

One of the acutest and most original of ethnologists, Desmoulins,
originated the idea, which has subsequently been fully developed by
Agassiz, that the distribution of the persistent modifications of man
is governed by the same laws as that of other animals, and that both
fall into the same great distributional provinces. Thus, Australia;
America, south of Mexico; the Arctic regions; Europe, Syria,
Arabia, and North Africa, taken together, are each regions eminently
characterized by the nature of their animal and vegetable populations,
and each, as we have seen, has its peculiar and characteristic form of
man. But it may be doubted whether the parallel thus drawn will hold
good strictly, and in all cases. The Tasmanian Fauna and Flora are
essentially Australian, and the like is true to a less extent of many,
if not of all, the Papuan islands; but the Negritos who inhabit these
islands are strikingly different from the Australians. Again, the
differences between the Mongolians and the Xanthochroi are out of all
proportion greater than those between the Faunae and Florae of Central
and Eastern Asia. But whatever the difficulties in the way of the
detailed application of this comparison of the distribution of men
with that of animals, it is well worthy of being borne in mind, and
carried as far as it will go.

Apart from all speculation, a very curious fact regarding the
distribution of the persistent modifications of mankind becomes
apparent on inspecting an Ethnological chart, projected in such
a manner that the Pacific Ocean occupies its centre. Such a chart
exhibits an Australian area occupied by dark smooth-haired people,
separated by an incomplete inner zone of dark woolly-haired
Negritos and Negroes, from an outer zone of comparatively pale and
smooth-haired men, occupying the Americas, and nearly all Asia and
North Africa.

Such is a brief sketch of the characters and distribution of the
persistent modifications, or stocks, of mankind at the present day.
If we seek for direct evidence of how long this state of things
has lasted, we shall find little enough, and that little far from
satisfactory. Of the eleven different stocks enumerated, seven have
been known to us for less than 400 years; and of these seven not
one possessed a fragment of written history at the time it came into
contact with European civilization. The other four--the Negroes,
Mongolians, Xanthochroi, and Melanochroi--have always existed in some
of the localities in which they are now found, nor do the negroes ever
seem to have voluntarily travelled beyond the limits of their present
area. But ancient history is in a great measure the record of the
mutual encroachments of the other three stocks.

On the whole, however, it is wonderful how little change has been
effected by these mutual invasions and intermixtures. As at the
present time, so at the dawn of history, the Melanochroi fringed
the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; the Xanthochroi occupied most
of Central and Eastern Europe, and much of Western and Central Asia;
while Mongolians held the extreme east of the Old World. So far as
history teaches us, the populations of Europe, Asia, and Africa were,
twenty centuries ago, just what they are now, in their broad features
and general distribution.

The evidence yielded by Archaeology is not very definite, but, so
far as it goes, it is to much the same effect. The mound builders of
Central America seem to have had the characteristic short and broad
head of the modern inhabitants of that continent. The tumuli and tombs
of Ancient Scandinavia, of pre-Roman Britain, of Gaul, of Switzerland,
reveal two types of skull--a broad and a long--of which, in
Scandinavia, the broad seems to have belonged to the older stock,
while the reverse was probably the case in Britain, and certainly
in Switzerland. It has been assumed that the broad-skulled people of
ancient Scandinavia were Lapps; but there is no proof of the fact,
and they may have been, like the broad-skulled Swiss and Germans,
Xanthochroi. One of the greatest of ethnological difficulties is to
know where the modern Swedes, Norsemen, and Saxons got their long
heads, as all their neighbours, Fins, Lapps, Slavonians, and
South Germans, are broad-headed. Again, who were the small-handed,
long-headed people of the "bronze epoch," and what has become of the
infusion of their blood among the Xanthochroi?

At present Palaeontology yields no safe data to the ethnologist. We
know absolutely nothing of the ethnological characters of the men of
Abbeville and Hoxne; but must be content with the demonstration, in
itself of immense value, that Man existed in Western Europe when its
physical condition was widely different from what it is now, and
when animals existed, which, though they belong to what is, properly
speaking, the present order of things, have long been extinct. Beyond
the limits of a fraction of Europe, Palaeontology tells us nothing of
man or of his works.

To sum up our knowledge of the ethnological past of man: so far as the
light is bright, it shows him substantially as he is now; and, when it
grows dim, it permits us to see no sign that he was other than he is

It is a general belief that men of different stocks differ as much
physiologically as they do morphologically; but it is very hard
to prove, in any particular case, how much of a supposed national
characteristic is due to inherent physiological peculiarities, and
how much to the influence of circumstances. There is much evidence to
show, however, that some stocks enjoy a partial or complete immunity
from diseases which destroy, or decimate, others. Thus there seems
good ground for the belief that Negroes are remarkably exempt from
yellow fever; and that, among Europeans, the melanochrous people are
less obnoxious to its ravages than the xanthochrous. But many writers,
not content with physiological differences of this kind, undertake to
prove the existence of others of far greater moment; and, indeed, to
show that certain stocks of mankind exhibit, more or less distinctly,
the physiological characters of true species. Unions between these
stocks, and still more between the half-breeds arising from their
mixture, are affirmed to be either infertile, or less fertile than
those which take place between males and females of either stock under
the same circumstances. Some go so far as to assert that no mixed
breeds of mankind can maintain themselves without the assistance of
one or other of the parent stocks, and that, consequently, they must
inevitably be obliterated in the long run.

Here, again, it is exceedingly difficult to obtain trustworthy
evidence, and to free the effects of the pure physiological experiment
from adventitious influences. The only trial which, by a strange
chance, was kept clear of all such influences--the only instance in
which two distinct stocks of mankind were crossed, and their progeny
intermarried without any admixture from without--is the famous case
of the Pitcairn Islanders, who were the progeny of Bligh's English
sailors by Tahitian women. The results of this experiment, as
everybody knows, are dead against those who maintain the doctrine of
human hybridity, seeing that the Pitcairn Islanders, even though they
necessarily contracted consanguineous marriages, throve and multiplied

But those who are disposed to believe in this doctrine should study
the evidence brought forward in its support by M. Broca, its latest
and ablest advocate, and compare this evidence with that which the
botanists, as represented by a Gaertner, or by a Darwin, think it
indispensable to obtain before they will admit the infertility of
crosses between two allied kinds of plants. They will then, I think,
be satisfied that the doctrine in question rests upon a very unsafe
foundation; that the facts adduced in its support are capable of many
other interpretations; and, indeed, that from the very nature of
the case, demonstrative evidence one way or the other is almost
unattainable. _A priori_, I should be disposed to expect a certain
amount of infertility between some of the extreme modifications of
mankind; and still more between the offsprings of their intermixture.
_A posteriori_, I cannot discover any satisfactory proof that such
infertility exists.

From the facts of ethnology I now turn to the theories and
speculations of ethnologists, which have been devised to explain
these facts, and to furnish satisfactory answers to the inquiry--what
conditions have determined the existence of the persistent
modifications of mankind, and have caused their distribution to be
what it is?

These speculations may be grouped under three heads: firstly, the
Monogenist hypotheses; secondly, those of the Polygenists; and
thirdly, that which would result from a simple application of
Darwinian principles to mankind.

According to the Monogenists, all mankind have sprung from a single
pair, whose multitudinous progeny spread themselves over the world,
such as it now is, and became modified into the forms we meet with in
the various regions of the earth, by the effect of the climatal and
other conditions to which they were subjected.

The advocates of this hypothesis are divisible into several schools.
There are those who represent the most numerous, respectable,
and would-be orthodox of the public, and are what may be called
"Adamites," pure and simple. They believe that Adam was made out of
earth somewhere in Asia, about six thousand years ago; that Eve was
modelled from one of his ribs; and that the progeny of these two
having been reduced to the eight persons who were landed on the summit
of Mount Ararat after an universal deluge, all the nations of the
earth have proceeded from these last, have migrated to their present
localities, and have become converted into Negroes, Australians,
Mongolians, &c., within that time. Five-sixths of the public are
taught this Adamitic Monogenism, as if it were an established truth,
and believe it. I do not; and I am not acquainted with any man of
science, or duly instructed person, who does.

A second school of monogenists, not worthy of much attention, attempts
to hold a place midway between the Adamites and a third division, who
take up a purely scientific position, and require to be dealt with
accordingly. This third division, in fact, numbers in its ranks
Linnaeus, Buffon, Blumenbach, Cuvier, Prichard, and many distinguished
living ethnologists.

These "Rational Monogenists," or, at any rate, the more modern among
them, hold, firstly, that the present condition of the earth has
existed for untold ages; secondly, that, at a remote period, beyond
the ken of Archbishop Usher, man was created, somewhere between the
Caucasus and the Hindoo Koosh; thirdly, that he might have migrated
thence to all parts of the inhabited world, seeing that none of them
are unattainable from some other inhabited part, by men provided with
only such means of transport as savages are known to possess and
must have invented; fourthly, that the operation of the existing
diversities of climate and other conditions upon people so migrating,
is sufficient to account for all the diversities of mankind.

Of the truth of the first of these propositions no competent judge now
entertains any doubt. The second is more open to discussion, for in
these latter days many question the special creation of man: and even
if his special creation be granted, there is not a shadow of a reason
why he should have been created in Asia rather than anywhere else.
Of all the odd myths that have arisen in the scientific world, the
"Caucasian mystery," invented quite innocently by Blumenbach, is the
oddest. A Georgian woman's skull was the handsomest in his collection.
Hence it became his model exemplar of human skulls, from which all
others might be regarded as deviations; and out of this, by some
strange intellectual hocus-pocus, grew up the notion that the
Caucasian man is the prototypic "Adamic" man, and his country the
primitive centre of our kind. Perhaps the most curious thing of all
is, that the said Georgian skull, after all, is not a skull of average
form, but distinctly belongs to the brachycephalic group.

With the third proposition I am quite disposed to agree, though
it must be recollected that it is one thing to allow that a given
migration is possible, and another to admit there is good reason to
believe it has really taken place.

But I can find no sufficient ground for accepting the fourth
proposition; and I doubt if it would ever have obtained its general
currency except for the circumstance that fair Europeans are very
readily tanned and embrowned by the sun. But I am not aware that there
is a particle of proof that the cutaneous change thus effected can
become hereditary, any more than that the enlarged livers, which
plague our countrymen in India, can be transmitted;--while there is
very strong evidence to the contrary. Not only, in fact, are there
such cases as those of the English families in Barbadoes, who have
remained for six generations unaltered in complexion, but which are
open to the objection that they may have received infusions of
fresh European blood; but there is the broad fact, that not a single
indigenous Negro exists either in the great alluvial plains of
tropical South America, or in the exposed islands of the Polynesian
Archipelago, or among the populations of equatorial Borneo or Sumatra.
No satisfactory explanation of these obvious difficulties has been
offered by the advocates of the direct influence of conditions. And as
for the more important modifications observed in the structure of the
brain, and in the form of the skull, no one has ever pretended to show
in what way they can be effected directly by climate.

It is here, in fact, that the strength of the Polygenists, or those
who maintain that men primitively arose, not from one, but from many
stocks, lies. Show us, they say to the Monogenists, a single case in
which the characters of a human stock have been essentially modified
without its being demonstrable, or, at least, highly probable, that
there has been intermixture of blood with some foreign stock. Bring
forward any instance in which a part of the world, formerly inhabited
by one stock, is now the dwelling-place of another, and we will prove
the change to be the result of migration, or of intermixture, and not
of modification of character by climatic influences. Finally, prove
to us that the evidence in favour of the specific distinctness of many
animals, admitted to be distinct species by all zoologists, is a whit
better than that upon which we maintain the specific distinctness of

If presenting unanswerable objections to your adversary were the same
thing as proving your own case, the Polygenists would be in a fair way
towards victory; but, unfortunately, as I have already observed, they
have as yet completely failed to adduce satisfactory positive proof
of the specific diversity of mankind. Like the Monogenists, the
Polygenists are of several sects; some imagine that their assumed
species of mankind were created where we find them--the African in
Africa, and the Australian in Australia, along with the other animals
of their distributional province; others conceive that each species of
man has resulted from the modification of some antecedent species of
ape--the American from the broad-nosed Simians of the New World, the
African from the Troglodytic stock, the Mongolian from the Orangs.

The first hypothesis is hardly likely to win much favour. The whole
tendency of modern science is to thrust the origination of things
further and further into the background; and the chief philosophical
objection to Adam being, not his oneness, but the hypothesis of his
special creation; the multiplication of that objection tenfold is,
whatever it may look, an increase, instead of a diminution, of the
difficulties of the case. And, as to the second alternative, it may
safely be affirmed that, even if the differences between men are
specific, they are so small, that the assumption of more than one
primitive stock for all is altogether superfluous. Surely no one can
now be found to assert that any two stocks of mankind differ as much
as a chimpanzee and an orang do; still less that they are as unlike as
either of these is to any New World Simian!

Lastly, the granting of the Polygenist premises does not, in the
slightest degree, necessitate the Polygenist conclusion. Admit that
Negroes and Australians, Negritos and Mongols are distinct species,
or distinct genera, if you will, and you may yet, with perfect
consistency, be the strictest of Monogenists, and even believe in Adam
and Eve as the primaeval parents of all mankind.

It is to Mr. Darwin we owe this discovery: it is he who, coming
forward in the guise of an eclectic philosopher, presents his doctrine
as the key to ethnology, and as reconciling and combining all that is
good in the Monogenistic and Polygenistic schools.

It is true that Mr. Darwin has not, in so many words, applied his
views to ethnology; but even he who "runs and reads" the "Origin of
Species" can hardly fail to do so; and, furthermore, Mr. Wallace and
M. Pouchet have recently treated of ethnological questions from this
point of view. Let me, in conclusion, add my own contribution to the
same store.

I assume Man to have arisen in the manner which I have discussed
elsewhere, and probably, though by no means necessarily, in one
locality. Whether he arose singly, or a number of examples appeared
contemporaneously, is also an open question for the believer in the
production of species by the gradual modification of pre-existing
ones. At what epoch of the world's history this took place, again, we
have no evidence whatever. It may have been in the older tertiary,
or earlier, but what is most important to remember is, that the
discoveries of late years have proved that man inhabited Western
Europe, at any rate, before the occurrence of those great physical
changes which have given Europe its present aspect. And as the same
evidence shows that man was the contemporary of animals which are now
extinct, it is not too much to assume that his existence dates back
at least as far as that of our present Fauna and Flora, or before the
epoch of the drift.

But if this be true, it is somewhat startling to reflect upon the
prodigious changes which have taken place in the physical geography of
this planet since man has been an occupant of it.

During that period the greater part of the British islands, of Central
Europe, of Northern Asia, have been submerged beneath the sea and
raised up again. So has the great desert of Sahara, which occupies the
major part of Northern Africa. The Caspian and the Aral seas have been
one, and their united waters have probably communicated with both the
Arctic and the Mediterranean oceans. The greater part of North America
has been under water, and has emerged. It is highly probable that
a large part of the Malayan Archipelago has sunk, and its primitive
continuity with Asia has been destroyed. Over the great Polynesian
area subsidence has taken place to the extent of many thousands of
feet--subsidence of so vast a character, in fact, that if a continent
like Asia had once occupied the area of the Pacific, the peaks of its
mountains would now show not more numerous than the islands of the
Polynesian Archipelago.

What lands may have been thickly populated for untold ages, and
subsequently have disappeared and left no sign above the waters, it
is of course impossible for us to say; but unless we are to make the
wholly unjustifiable assumption that no dry land rose elsewhere when
our present dry land sank, there must be half-a-dozen Atlantises
beneath the waves of the various oceans of the world. But if the
regions which have undergone these slow and gradual, but immense
alterations, were wholly or in part inhabited before the changes I
have indicated began--and it is more probable that they were, than
that they were not--what a wonderfully efficient "Emigration Board"
must have been at work all over the world long before canoes, or even
rafts, were invented; and before men were impelled to wander by any
desire nobler or stronger than hunger. And as these rude and primitive
families were thrust, in the course of long series of generations,
from land to land, impelled by encroachments of sea or of marsh, or
by severity of summer heat or winter cold, to change their positions,
what opportunities must have been offered for the play of natural
selection, in preserving one family variation and destroying another!

Suppose, for example, that some families of a horde which had reached
a land charged with the seeds of yellow fever, varied in the direction
of woolliness of hair and darkness of skin. Then, if it be true that
these physical characters are accompanied by comparative or absolute
exemptions from that scourge, the inevitable tendency would be to the
preservation and multiplication of the darker and woollier families,
and the elimination of the whiter and smoother-haired. In fact, by the
operation of causes precisely similar to those which, in the famous
instance cited by Mr. Darwin, have given rise to a race of black pigs
in the forests of Louisiana, a negro stock would eventually people the

Again, how often, by such physical changes, must a stock have been
isolated from all others for innumerable generations, and have found
ample time for the hereditary hardening of its special peculiarities
into the enduring characters of a persistent modification.

Nor, if it be true that the physiological difference of species may be
produced by variation and natural selection, as Mr. Darwin supposes,
would it be at all astonishing if, in some of these separated stocks,
the process of differentiation should have gone so far as to give
rise to the phenomena of hybridity. In the face of the overwhelming
evidence in favour of the unity of the origin of mankind afforded by
anatomical considerations, satisfactory proof of the existence of any
degree of sterility in the unions of members of two of the "persistent
modifications" of mankind, might well be appealed to by Mr. Darwin
as crucial evidence of the truth of his views regarding the origin of
species in general.



In view of the many discussions to which the complicated problems
offered by the ethnology of the British Islands have given rise, it
may be useful to attempt to pick out, from amidst the confused masses
of assertion and of inference, those propositions which appear to rest
upon a secure foundation, and to state the evidence by which they are
supported. Such is the purpose of the present paper.

Some of these well-based propositions relate to the physical
characters of the people of Britain and their neighbours; while others
concern the languages which they spoke. I shall deal, in the first
place, with the physical questions.

I. _Eighteen hundred years ago the population of Britain comprised
people of two types of complexion--the one fair, and the other dark.
The dark people resembled the Aquitani and the Iberians; the fair
people were like the Belgic Gauls._

The chief direct evidence of the truth of this proposition is the
well-known passage of Tacitus:--

"Ceterum Britanniam qui mortales initio coluerint, indigenae
an advecti, ut inter barbaros, parum compertum. Habitus
corporum varii: atque ex eo argumenta: nam rutilae Caledoniam
habitantium comae, magni artus Germanicam originem asseverant.
Silurum colorati vultus et torti plerumque crines, et posita
contra Hispaniam, Iberos veteres trajecisse, easque sedes
occupasse, fidem faciunt. Proximi Gallis et similes sunt; seu
durante originis vi, seu procurrentibus in diversa terris,
positio coeli corporibus habitum dedit. In universum tamen
aestimanti, Gallos vicinum solum occupasse, credibile est;
eorum sacra deprehendas, superstitionum persuasione; sermo
haud multum diversus."[1]

[Footnote 1: Taciti Agricola, c. 11.]

This passage, it will be observed, contains statements as to facts,
and certain conclusions deduced from these facts. The matters of fact
asserted are: firstly, that the inhabitants of Britain exhibit much
diversity in their physical characters; secondly, that the Caledonians
are red-haired and large-limbed, like the Germans; thirdly, that
the Silures have curly hair and dark complexions, like the people of
Spain; fourthly, that the British people nearest Gaul resemble the

Tacitus, therefore, states positively what the Caledonians and Silures
were like; but the interpretation of what he says about the other
Britons must depend upon what we learn from other sources as to the
characters of these "Galli." Here the testimony of "divus Julius"
comes in with great force and appropriateness. Caesar writes:--

"Britanniae pars interior ab iis incolitur, quos natos in
insula ipsi memoria proditum dicunt: marituma pars ab iis,
qui predae ac belli inferendi causa ex Belgio transierant; qui
omnes fere iis nominibus civitatum appellantur quibus orti ex
civitatibus eo pervenerunt, et bello inlato ibi permanserunt
atque agros colere coeperunt."[1]

[Footnote 1: De Bello Gallico, v. 12.]

From these passages it is obvious that in the opinion of Caesar
and Tacitus, the southern Britons resembled the northern Gauls, and
especially the Belgae; and the evidence of Strabo is decisive as to
the characters in which the two people resembled one another: "The men
(of Britain) are taller than the Kelts, with hair less yellow; they
are slighter in their persons."[1]

[Footnote 1: "The Geography of Strabo." Translated by Hamilton and
Falconer; v. 5.]

The evidence adduced appears to leave no reasonable ground for
doubting that, at the time of the Roman conquest, Britain contained
people of two types, the one dark and the other fair complexioned, and
that there was a certain difference between the latter in the north
and in the south of Britain: the northern folk being, in the judgment
of Tacitus, or, more properly, according to the information he had
received from Agricola and others, more similar to the Germans than
the latter. As to the distribution of these stocks, all that is clear
is, that the dark people were predominant in certain parts of the west
of the southern half of Britain, while the fair stock appears to have
furnished the chief elements of the population elsewhere.

No ancient writer troubled himself with measuring skulls, and
therefore there is no direct evidence as to the cranial characters
of the fair and the dark stocks. The indirect evidence is not very
satisfactory. The tumuli of Britain of pre-Roman date have yielded two
extremely different forms of skull, the one broad and the other long;
and the same variety has been observed in the skulls of the ancient
Gauls[1]. The suggestion is obvious that the one form of skull may
have been associated with the fair, and the other with the dark,
complexion. But any conclusion of this kind is at once checked by the
reflection that the extremes of long and short-headedness are to be
met with among the fair inhabitants of Germany and of Scandinavia
at the present day--the south-western Germans and the Swiss being
markedly broad-headed, while the Scandinavians are as predominantly

[Footnote 1: See Dr. Thurnam "On the Two principal Forms of Ancient
British and Gaulish Skulls."]

What the natives of Ireland were like at the time of the Roman
conquest of Britain, and for centuries afterwards, we have no certain
knowledge; but the earliest trustworthy records prove the existence,
side by side with one another, of a fair and a dark stock, in Ireland
as in Britain. The long form of skull is predominant among the
ancient, as among modern, Irish.

II. _The people termed Gauls, and those called Germans, by the Romans,
did not differ in any important physical character._

The terms in which the ancient writers describe both Gauls and Germans
are identical. They are always tall people, with massive limbs, fair
skins, fierce blue eyes, and hair the colour of which ranges from
red to yellow. Zeuss, the great authority on these matters, affirms
broadly that no distinction in bodily feature is to be found between
the Gauls, the Germans, and the Wends, so far as their characters are
recorded by the old historians; and he proves his case by citations
from a cloud of witnesses.

An attempt has been made to show that the colour of the hair of the
Gauls must have differed very much from that which obtained among the
Germans, on the strength of the story told by Suetonius (Caligula, 4),
that Caligula tried to pass off Gauls for Germans by picking out the
tallest, and making them "rutilare et summittere comam."

The Baron de Belloguet remarks upon this passage:--

"It was in the very north of Gaul, and near the sea, that
Caligula got up this military comedy. And the fact proves
that the Belgae were already sensibly different from their
ancestors, whom Strabo had found almost identical with their
_brothers_ on the other side of the Rhine."

But the fact recorded by Suetonius, if fact it be, proves nothing;
for the Germans themselves were in the habit of reddening their hair.
Ammianus Marcellinus[1] tells how, in the year 367 A.D., the Roman
commander, Jovinus, surprised a body of Alemanni near the town now
called Charpeigne, in the valley of the Moselle; and how the Roman
soldiers, as, concealed by the thick wood, they stole upon their
unsuspecting enemies, saw that some were bathing and others "comas
rutilantes ex more." More than two centuries earlier Pliny gives
indirect evidence to the same effect when he says of soap:--

[Footnote 1: Res Gestae, xxvii.]

"Galliarum hoc inventum rutilandis capillis ... apud Germanos
majore in usu viris quam foeminis."[1]

[Footnote 1: Historia Naturalis, xxviii. 51.]

Here we have a writer who flourished only a short time after the date
of the Caligula story, telling us that the Gauls invented soap for the
purpose of doing that which, according to Suetonius, Caligula forced
them to do. And, further, the combined and independent testimony of
Pliny and Ammianus assures us that the Germans were as much in the
habit of reddening their hair as the Gauls. As to De Belloguet's
supposition that, even in Caligula's time, the Gauls had become darker
than their ancestors were, it is directly contradicted by Ammianus
Marcellinus, who knew the Gauls well. "Celsioris staturae et candidi
poene Galli sunt onions, et rutili, luminumque torvitate terribiles,"
is his description; and it would fit the Gauls who sacked Rome.

III. _In none of the invasions of Britain which have taken place since
the Roman dominion, has any other type of man been introduced than one
or other of the two which existed during that dominion_.

The North Germans, who effected what is commonly called the Saxon
conquest of Britain, were, most assuredly, a fair, yellow, or
red-haired, blue eyed, long-skulled people. So were the Danes and the
Norsemen who followed them; though it is very possible that the active
slave trade which went on, and the intercourse with Ireland, may have
introduced a certain admixture of the dark stock into both Denmark and
Norway. The Norman conquest brought in new ethnological elements, the
precise value of which cannot be estimated with exactness; but as to
their quality, there can be no question, inasmuch as even the wide
area from which William drew his followers could yield him nothing but
the fair and the dark types of men, already present in Britain. But
whether the Norman settlers, on the whole, strengthened the fair or
the dark element, is a problem, the elements of the solution of which
are not attainable.

I am unable to discover any grounds for believing that a Lapp element
has ever entered into the population of these islands. So far as the
physical evidence goes, it is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis
that the only constituent stocks of that population, now, or at any
other period about which we have evidence, are the dark whites, whom
I have proposed to call "_Melanochroi_" and the fair whites, or

IV. _The Xanthochroi and the Melanochroi of Britain are, speaking
broadly, distributed, at present, as they were in the time of Tacitus;
and their representatives on the continent of Europe have the same
general distribution as at the earliest period of which we have any

At the present day, and notwithstanding the extensive intermixture
effected by the movements consequent on civilization and on political
changes, there is a predominance of dark men in the west, and of fair
men in the east and north, of Britain. At the present day, as from
the earliest times, the predominant constituents of the riverain
population of the North Sea and the eastern half of the British
Channel, are fair men. The fair stock continues in force through
Central Europe, until it is lost in Central Asia. Offshoots of this
stock extend into Spain, Italy, and Northern India, and by way of
Syria and North Africa, to the Canary Islands. They were known in
very early times to the Chinese, and in still earlier to the ancient
Egyptians, as frontier tribes. The Thracians were notorious for their
fair hair and blue eyes many centuries before our era.

On the other hand, the dark stock predominates in Southern and
Western France, in Spain, along the Ligurian shore, and in Western and
Southern Italy; in Greece, Asia, Syria, and North Africa; in Arabia,
Persia, Afghanistan, and Hindostan, shading gradually, through all
stages of darkening, into the type of the modern Egyptian, or of the
wild Hill-man of the Dekkan. Nor is there any record of the existence
of a different population in all these countries.

The extreme north of Europe, and the northern part of Western Asia,
are at present occupied by a Mongoloid stock, and, in the absence of
evidence to the contrary, may be assumed to have been so peopled from
a very remote epoch. But, as I have said, I can find no evidence that
this stock ever took part in peopling Britain. Of the three great
stocks of mankind which extend from the western coast of the
great Eurasiatic continent to its southern and eastern shores, the
Mongoloids occupy a vast triangle, the base of which is the whole of
Eastern Asia, while its apex lies in Lapland. The Melanochroi, on the
other hand, may be represented as a broad band stretching from Ireland
to Hindostan; while the Xanthochroic area lies between the two, thins
out, so to speak, at either end, and mingles, at its margins, with
both its neighbours.

Such is a brief and summary statement of what I believe to be the
chief facts relating to the physical ethnology of the people of
Britain. The conclusions which I draw from these and other facts are
(1) That the Melanochroi and the Xanthochroi are two separate races in
the biological sense of the word race; (2) That they have had the same
general distribution as at present from the earliest times of which
any record exists on the continent of Europe; (3) That the population
of the British Islands is derived from them, and from them only.

The people of Europe, however, owe their national names, not to
their physical characteristics, but to their languages, or to their
political relations; which, it is plain, need not have the slightest
relation to these characteristics.

Thus, it is quite certain that, in Caesar's time, Gaul was divided
politically into three nationalities--the Belgae, the Celtae, and
the Aquitani; and that the last were very widely different, both in
language and in physical characteristics, from the two former. The
Belgae and the Celtae, on the other hand, differed comparatively
little either in physique or in language. On the former point there is
the distinct testimony of Strabo; as to the latter, St. Jerome states
that the "Galatians had almost the same language as the Treviri." Now,
the Galatians were emigrant Volcae Tectosages, and therefore Celtae;
while the Treviri were Belgae.

At the present day, the physical characters of the people of
Belgic Gaul remain distinct from those of the people of Aquitaine,
notwithstanding the immense changes which have taken place since
Caesar's time; but Belgae, Celtae, and Aquitani (all but a mere
fraction of the last two, represented by the Basques and the Britons)
are fused into one nationality, "le peuple Francais." But they have
adopted the language of one set of invaders, and the name of another;
their original names and languages having almost disappeared.
Suppose that the French language remained as the sole evidence of
the existence of the population of Gaul, would the keenest philologer
arrive at any other conclusion than that this population was
essentially and fundamentally a "Latin" race, which had had some
communication with Celts and Teutons? Would he so much as suspect the
former existence of the Aquitani?

Community of language testifies to close contact between the people
who speak the language, but to nothing else; philology has absolutely
nothing to do with ethnology, except so far as it suggests the
existence or the absence of such contact. The contrary assumption,
that language is a test of race, has introduced the utmost confusion
into ethnological speculation, and has nowhere worked greater
scientific and practical mischief than in the ethnology of the British

What is known, for certain, about the languages spoken in these
islands and their affinities may, I believe, be summed up as

I. _At the time of the Roman conquest, one language, the Celtic, under
two principal dialectical divisions, the Cymric and the Gaelic, was
spoken throughout the British Islands. Cymric was spoken in Britain,
Gaelic in Ireland._

If a language allied to Basque had in earlier times been spoken in
the British Islands, there is no evidence that any Euskarian-speaking
people remained at the time of the Roman conquest. The dark and the
fair population of Britain alike spoke Celtic tongues, and therefore
the name "Celt" is as applicable to the one as to the other.

What was spoken in Ireland can only be surmised by reasoning from the
knowledge of later times; but there seems to be no doubt that it was
Gaelic; and that the Gaelic dialect was introduced into the Western
Highlands by Irish invaders.

II. _The Belgae and the Celtae, with the offshoots of the latter in
Asia Minor, spoke dialects of the Cymric division of Celtic_.

The evidence of this proposition lies in the statement of St. Jerome
before cited; in the similarity of the names of places in Belgic Gaul
and in Britain; and in the direct comparison of sundry ancient Gaulish
and Belgic words which have been preserved, with the existing Cymric
dialects, for which I must refer to the learned work of Brandes.

Formerly, as at the present day, the Cymric dialects of Celtic were
spoken by both the fair and the dark stocks.

III. _There is no record of Gaelic being spoken anywhere save in
Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man_.

This appears to be the final result of the long discussions which have
taken place on this much-debated question. As is the case with the
Cymric dialects, Gaelic is now spoken by both dark and fair stocks.

IV. _When the Teutonic languages first became known, they were spoken
only Xanthochroi, that is to say, by the Germans, the Scandinavians,
and Goths. And they were imported by Xanthochroi into Gaul and into

In Gaul the imported Teutonic dialect has been completely overpowered
by the more or less modified Latin, which it found already in
possession; and what Teutonic blood there may be in modern Frenchmen
is not adequately represented in their language. In Britain, on the
contrary, the Teutonic dialects have overpowered the pre-existing
forms of speech, and the people are vastly less "Teutonic" than
their language. Whatever may have been the extent to which the
Celtic-speaking population of the eastern half of Britain was trodden
out and supplanted by the Teutonic-speaking Saxons and Danes, it is
quite certain that no considerable displacement of the Celtic-speaking
people occurred in Cornwall, Wales, or the Highlands of Scotland; and
that nothing approaching to the extinction of that people took place
in Devonshire, Somerset, or the western moiety of Britain generally.
Nevertheless, the fundamentally Teutonic English language is now
spoken throughout Britain, except by an insignificant fraction of the
population in Wales and the Western Highlands. But it is obvious
that this fact affords not the slightest justification for the common
practice of speaking of the present inhabitants of Britain as an
"Anglo-Saxon" people. It is, in fact, just as absurd as the habit of
talking of the French people as a "Latin" race, because they speak a
language which is, in the main, derived from Latin. And the absurdity
becomes the more patent when those who have no hesitation in calling
a Devonshire man, or a Cornish man, an "Anglo-Saxon," would think it
ridiculous to call a Tipperary man by the same title, though he and
his forefathers may have spoken English for as long a time as the
Cornish man.

Ireland, at the earliest period of which we have any knowledge,
contained like Britain, a dark and a fair stock, which, there is every
reason to believe, were identical with the dark and the fair stocks
of Britain. When the Irish first became known they spoke a Gaelic
dialect, and though, for many centuries, Scandinavians made continual
incursions upon, and settlements among them, the Teutonic languages
made no more way among the Irish than they did among the French. How
much Scandinavian blood was introduced there is no evidence to show.
But after the conquest of Ireland by Henry II., the English people,
consisting in part of the descendants of Cymric speakers, and in part
of the descendants of Teutonic speakers, made good their footing in
the eastern half of the island, as the Saxons and Danes made good
theirs in England; and did their best to complete the parallel by
attempting the extirpation of the Gaelic-speaking Irish. And they
succeeded to a considerable extent; a large part of Eastern Ireland is
now peopled by men who are substantially English by descent, and the
English language has spread over the land far beyond the limits of
English blood.

Ethnologically, the Irish people were originally, like the people of
Britain, a mixture of Melanochroi and Xanthochroi. They resembled the
Britons in speaking a Celtic tongue; but it was a Gaelic and not a
Cymric form of the Celtic language. Ireland was untouched by the Roman
conquest, nor do the Saxons seem to have had any influence upon
her destinies, but the Danes and Norsemen poured in a contingent of
Teutonism, which has been largely supplemented by English and Scotch

What, then, is the value of the ethnological difference between the
Englishman of the western half of England and the Irishman of the
eastern half of Ireland? For what reason does the one deserve the
name of a "Celt," and not the other? And further, if we turn to
the inhabitants of the western half of Ireland, why should the term
"Celts" be applied to them more than to the inhabitants of Cornwall?
And if the name is applicable to the one as justly as to the other,
why should not intelligence, perseverance, thrift, industry, sobriety,
respect for law, be admitted to be Celtic virtues? And why should we
not seek for the cause of their absence in something else than the
idle pretext of "Celtic blood?"

I have been unable to meet with any answers to these questions.


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