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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/416

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that each great European nationality has some strong points not equally shared by the others; and it is a trite observation that inter-marriages between members of such nationalities tend to produce an unusually high level of general intelligence. In Ireland, the mixed French families, sprung from intermarriages with refugees, have long been noticed in this respect; at Norwich and throughout the eastern counties, the mixed descendants of the Huguenots (such as the Martineaus and others) have been equally distinguished. Perhaps one might even point out an exceptional amount of intellectual power in the more mixed Celtic and Teutonic regions of Britain—the borderlands of the two races—notably at Aberdeen and in Devonshire. But the most remarkable and least dubious instance is that of the mixed offspring of Jews and Christians. Here we start with a pure race of unusual intellectual vigor and power, the Jews long thrown by circumstances into an environment which has brought out many of their faculties in a very high degree. They are the oldest civilized race now remaining on the earth; they are artistic, musical, literary, exceptionally philosophic, and hereditarily cultivated. Even by marriage among themselves they naturally produce a very large proportion of remarkable men. But when they marry out with Christian women—in other words, with women of the European race—the special Aryan traits seem to blend with the Semitic in a very notable and powerful mixture. I have not space to give illustrations, but the list that can be compiled of distinguished persons of half-Jewish blood is something simply extraordinary, especially when one remembers the comparatively small sum-total of such intermarriages. Indeed, the difficulty would probably be to find a single person of mixed Jewish race who was not at least above the average in intellect and in plasticity of thought.

Finally, it seems to me that unless we accept the view here contended for, that all increments of brain-power are functionally produced, the whole history of human development ought to present the appearance of a continuous chaos. Granted this principle, we can understand why a Phidias appeared in Greece, a Raffaelle in Italy, a Watt in Britain; without it, we can not understand why they should not all have appeared in Iceland or in New Guinea just as well. If mere physical circumstances affecting germs and sperm-cells can pro-

    may be due to reversion to an earlier and still more savage type of humanity. Without expressing any opinion on the question of fact (a delicate one to decide), I fancy another explanation fits more simply: namely, that as morals are a comparatively recent and unstable acquisition even in the best and highest, they do not crop up in the half-breed; and the union of relatively high European intelligence with relatively low savage ethics may easily produce what seems at least to be a very brutal and diabolical nature. Surely there can be nothing worse in any savage than such abnormal products of our own civilization as Peace the murderer, or as the man Thomasson who attempted to blow up an Atlantic steamer by a piece of dynamite clock-work for the sake of obtaining the insurance.