Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/693

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the problem is a very different one. But it is still true that at last, at however remote a period, the industrious, hardy, plodding, persistent, breeding race is that which will push its way into predominance. What race will be our Macedonian, our barbarian, or our Turk, can not be divined. It may still be in embryo. The conflict of races is now less on the bloody fields of battle than on the peaceful fields of industry, and other than martial traits of character may hereafter determine who shall be the victors. Formerly the conquerors came from without; hereafter they may spring up within.

In the world's history peoples have risen, flourished, and declined. How or even where they came into existence is not always known; but this we do know, that they came into prominence only by complying with the conditions of ethnical consequence. They were hardy, aggressive, and prolific. And there is this paradox, that the greater they became the surer were they to perish. Greek and Roman belong to the irrevocable past; and many who helped supplant them have yielded in turn to others. The Vandals came like a vision into history and then disappeared. The Thracians, a numerous people in the Eastern Empire during the first century, have long since become extinct. The Vallacians, from small beginnings in the eleventh century, forced their way into history and in two or three centuries passed out of sight. The Ottoman Turks, a small nomadic tribe of Mesopotamia—temperate, hardy, warlike, pushing—rapidly grew into a great historical people, and made a place for themselves where Christians and Greeks once held sway; but they have long since entered on the period of their decline, and eventually some more vigorous people will take their place. If we could know the origin of the vast Teuton family, we should, no doubt, be astonished at its then small promise of future greatness. The Slav is pushing his way into consequence, and we can not appoint the limit of his capabilities. It sometimes takes an obscure race but a little while to rise. This we may study even in our own times. What we know as the Celtic Irish were, only two hundred years ago, less than one million strong; now they number many millions and are increasing with great rapidity. They are not afraid of hardships, and their vices are not of the effeminate kinds which undermine the constitution. They are finding homes in many lands, and who can forecast their destiny? We have a still more recent instance in the colored people of the United States. Eighty years ago they numbered only 1,002,000, but with all their drawbacks they are now 6,577,000. With a like increase for the next eighty years, they would be 43,000,000 strong. Even less do we know of what is in store for this race than for almost any other. The situation is unique, and there is little clear history to guide us; while it is far less likely than any of the white varieties to disappear in the universal blending of races on American soil.