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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/702

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion of Europe. At length a change occurred. The subject races grew in strength. Various causes conduced to this result—the invention of gunpowder and of printing, the discovery of America, the advance of science, and, finally, the operation of that natural law by which oppressed populations, unless kept down by massacre, tend to increase faster than their oppressors. At last the struggle came to a head in France, just a hundred years ago, when, with the destruction of the Bastile, the Iberian race in that country regained the control of its own destinies, and the ascendency of hereditary rank, with its resulting system of arbitrary, corrupt, and cruel government, was swept away. In the British Islands, where the oppression was less severely felt, the reconquest has advanced, during the past two or three centuries, by more gradual steps—from the Great Rebellion to the Reform Bill of 1832, when the Uralian Saxons regained a substantial equality—and thence to the later movement of the present day, when the still earlier Iberian stratum of population is rising to the light and to its due share in the government.

It is not, of course, to be inferred that the members of any European aristocracy are all necessarily, or even probably, of Aryan descent. There has, undoubtedly, been a large and often repeated intrusion of members of other races into their ranks. In ancient India, where the three higher castes, the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, claimed, and doubtless rightly, to be of Aryan origin, it is certain that many Sudras, from the aboriginal races, have found, from time to time, admission among them. But the descendants of these intruders speedily became absorbed in the caste which they had entered, and assumed all its characteristics. When the hereditary or patrician principle was once introduced into Europe by the Aryans—the principle that the son of a noble was superior in political rights to the son of a commoner—a genuine caste was at once established; and this caste, while its membership has been partially changed, has, by the force of position and of interfusion of blood, remained the same in character to our day. Many a Norman baron was of plebeian origin, but the Norman baronage was none the less an Aryan caste. The father of Front-de-Boeuf may have been an Iberian peasant, but his children and grandchildren became the members of a privileged aristocracy, closely allied by blood and intermarriage with all the other European aristocracies, and sharing with them the traits of character which they had inherited from the Aryan conquerors.

If any are disposed, even in the face of the striking evidence of India and its caste-system, to question whether the results of a conquest made in Europe probably not less than four thousand years ago can be so clearly evident at the present day, they may be reminded of two facts which, in different ways, will serve to