Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology, vol. 4: Pla [corr.: Ple] - Wri
Todd, Robert Bentley
great towns, and yet cherish the belief that, 
so far from being irreclaimable, they may at 
least be brought up to the standard from 
which they have degenerated ; on the other 
hand, we cannot well doubt the operation of 
the same causes on the outcasts of the Hot¬ 
tentot races, or refuse to believe that even 
the wretched Bushmen might be brought back 
at least to the original condition of the people 
from among whom they have been driven 
It may be freely admitted that the different 
races of mankind exhibit very different degrees 
of capacity for intellectual, moral, and social 
improvement ; but this difference is not 
greater than that which exists amongst indi¬ 
viduals of the most favoured races, and cannot 
* This parallel, suggested by the writer of this 
article some time since (Edinburgh Review, Oct. 
1848), has been recently followed up by the author 
of “ London Labour and the London Poor ; ” who has 
shown that a remarkable correspondence exists in 
mental habitudes and mode of life, between the 
sonquas or paupers of the Hottentot race, and the 
wandering outcasts of our own, who possess nothing 
but what they acquire by depredation from the in¬ 
dustrious, provident, and civilised portion of the com¬ 
munity. The latter, like the former, have a secret or 
“ slang ” language of their own, adapted for the con¬ 
cealment of their designs ; and, as already mentioned, 
they are generally characterised by the great de¬ 
velopment of the facial in proportion to that of the 
cranial part of the skull. The one tribe of 
“ nomads,” like the other, “ is distinguished from 
civilised man, by his repugnance to regular and 
continuous labour ; by his want of providence in 
laying up a store for the future ; by his inability to 
perceive consequences ever so slightly removed 
from immediate apprehension; by his passion for 
stupifying herbs and roots, and, when possible, for 
intoxicating fermented liquors ; by his extraordinary 
powers of enduring pain ; by an immoderate love of 
gaming, frequently risking his own personal liberty 
upon a single cast; by his love of libidinous dances; 
by the pleasure he experiences in witnessing the 
suffering of sentient creatures; by his delight in 
warfare and all perilous sports ; by his desire for 
vengeance ; by the looseness of his notions as to 
property ; by the absence of chastity among his 
women, and his disregard of female honour ; and 
lastly, by his vague sense of religion, his rude idea 
of a Creator, and utter absence of all appreciation of 
the mercy of the Divine Spirit.” It is further re¬ 
markable that the nomadic tribes seem to possess 
(sometimes hereditarily, sometimes as an acquired 
habit) such a constitutional adaptation to a wan¬ 
dering life, that, despite its privations, its dangers, 
and its hardships, they can rarely be induced to 
abandon it. It is well known that among the many 
instances in which the aborigines of Australia or of 
North America have been brought up and educated 
from an early age amongst Europeans, there are 
few, if any, in which they have been satisfied to 
to remain and to adopt the habits of civilised life. 
On approaching manhood, they become restless, and 
take the first opportunity of absconding to join 
their brethren in “ the bush.” So, again, there are 
numerous examples of white men adopting, by 
their own choice, all the usages of the Indian 
hunter or Australian bushman ; and these, having 
once imbibed a fondness for the nomadic life, are as 
irreclaimable as those who have grown up in it. 
The same is the case, according to Mr. Mayhew, 
with a large proportion of the “ street-folk ” of 
London ; • who will give up situations affording com¬ 
forts and advantages of a far superior order, to 
return to the indulgence of their wandering pro¬ 
for a moment be assumed as the basis for 
specific distinctions between them. If the 
Negro, for example, is at present far behind 
the European standard, yet, under favourable 
circumstances, the intellect and moral charac¬ 
ter of individual Negroes have been elevated 
to it ; while, on the other hand, we have too 
frequent proof that the intellect and moral 
character of the European are capable, not 
merely in individuals, but in families and 
groups of people, of sinking even below the 
average African standard. It is the observa¬ 
tion of all who have had experience in the 
education of the children of races reputed to 
be inferior, such as Negroes, Hottentots, and 
Australians, that their capacity is at least 
equal to that of the lowest class of our own 
youthful town population, and that their do¬ 
cility is, if anything, greater. That this mental 
development is generally checked at an early 
age, and that the adults of these races too 
frequently remain through life in the condition 
of “ children of a larger growth,” may be freely 
conceded. But observation of the difference 
in developmental power, between the mind of 
the descendant of an educated ancestry, and 
that of the descendant of an ignorant and 
uncultivated peasantry, shows that within the 
limits of the same race the same difference 
may exist ; and nothing is more likely to main¬ 
tain it, than the absence of any encourage¬ 
ment to advancement, and the persistence, on 
the part of society at large, in the doctrine 
that the Negro never can be admitted within 
the pale of white civilisation. 
Looking to the fact already mentioned 
(p. 1 341.), as to the’absence of that tendency 
to extinction in the African races, by sexual 
contamination from Europeans, which shows 
itself so remarkably among other aborigines, 
it is not a little interesting to observe, that 
there are elements in the Negro character, 
which have been deemed, by competent ob¬ 
servers, capable of working a considerable 
improvement in even Anglo-Saxon civilisa¬ 
tion. Many intelligent thinkers have come to 
the conclusion, that the boasted superiority of 
the latter is, after all, more intellectual than 
moral ; and that in purity and disinterested¬ 
ness of the affections, in childlike simplicity 
and gentleness of demeanour, in fact, in all 
the milder graces of the Christian temper, we 
may have even much to learn of the despised 
Negro. “ I should expect,” says Channing, 
“from the African race, if. civilised, less 
energy, less courage, less Intellectual ori¬ 
ginality than in ours ; but more amiableness, 
tranquillity, gentleness, and content. They 
might not rise to an equality in outward con¬ 
dition, but would probably be a much happier 
race.” And it is to be remembered that these 
and similar remarks have been made respect¬ 
ing the Negroes of the Guinea coast, or their 
descendants, who are, as we shall presently 
see, the most degraded of all the African 
races, except those of the neighbourhood of 
the Cape, whose degradation has been in great 
measure the result of European oppression, 
and the introduction of European vices. It


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