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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/844

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The problem of this difference of idiosyncrasy, indeed, is one so intimately bound up with all our ideas of our own origin and nature that it well deserves a few minutes' consideration at the hands of the impartial psychological philosopher. It has for each of us a personal interest and importance as well; for each of us wishes naturally to know how and why he happened to come by his own charming and admirable character. Yet, unhappily, while there is no subject on earth so interesting as ourselves (the one theme on which "all men are fluent and none agreeable"), there is none upon which the views and opinions of other people appear to us all so lamentably shallow and lacking in insight. They talk about us, forsooth, exactly as if—well, exactly as if we were other people. They bluntly ignore those delicate and subtile distinctions of idiosyncrasy which raise each of us, viewed with his own introspective eyeglass, into a class by himself, infinitely superior to the rest of creation.

Let us see how far we can gain any light from the doctrine of heredity on this curious question of the origin of character.

If a white man marries a negro, their children, boys and girls alike, are all mulattoes. Let us make to ourselves no illusions or mistakes upon this score: each one is simply and solely a pure mulatto, exactly half-way in color, feature, hair, and stature, between his father's race and his mother's. People who have not lived in a mixed community of blacks and whites often ignore or misunderstand this fundamental fact of hereditary philosophy; they imagine that one of the children of such a marriage may be light brown, and another dark brown; one almost white, and one almost black; that the resulting strains may to a great extent be mingled indefinitely and in varying proportions. Not a bit of it. A mulatto is a mulatto, and a quadroon is a quadroon, with just one half and one fourth of negro blood respectively; and anybody who has once lived in an ex-slave-owning country can pick out the proportion of black or white elements in any particular brown person he meets with as much accuracy as the stud-book shows in recording the pedigree of famous race-horses. Black and white produce mulattoes—all mulattoes alike, to a shade of identity; mulatto and white produce quadroon—all quadroon, and no mistake about it; mulatto and black produce sambo; quadroon and white give us octoroon; and so forth ad infinitum. After the third cross persistently in either direction, the strain of which less than one eighth persists becomes at last practically indistinguishable, and the child is "white by law," or "black by law," as the case may be, without the faintest mark of its slight opposite intermixture. I speak here of facts which I have carefully examined at first hand; all the nonsensical talk about finger-nails and knuckles, and persistence of the negro type forever, is pure unmitigated slave-owning prejudice. The child of an octoroon by a white man is simply white; and no acuteness on earth, no scrutiny conceivable, would ever discover the one-six-