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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/520

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mixed, the race continues heterogeneous, and the mean type becomes more difficult to establish, because the common traits that compose it are less numerous. It is easy to comprehend that the more homogeneous a race is, the stronger it will be, and the more called upon to march rapidly in the way of progress. When, on the contrary, thoughts, traditions, creeds, and interests remain separated, dissensions will be frequent, and progress always slow and often completely hindered.

We see by this how important to the explanation of the history of a people is the study of its composition. We see also that the word "people" can not be in any case considered synonymous with "race." An empire, a people, or a state is a more or less considerable number of men united by the same political or geographical necessities, and subjected to the same institutions and laws. These men may belong to the same race, but they may equally belong to different races. If the races are too dissimilar, no fusion is possible. They may, under necessity, live side by side, like Hindus subject to Europeans, but we must not think of giving them common institutions. All great empires uniting dissimilar peoples are created only by force, and are condemned to perish by violence. Those only can endure which are formed slowly by the gradual mixture of races differing but little, continually crossing with one another, living on the same soil, subject to the action of the same climate, and having the same institutions and creeds. These different races may thus, after a few centuries, form a new homogeneous race.[1]

As the world grew old, the races gradually became more stable, and their transformations by mixture rarer. In prehistorical times, when man's hereditary past was not so long, when he had neither well-fixed institutions nor well-assured conditions of existence, mediums had a more profound action upon him than now. Civilization has permitted man to subtract himself, to a large extent, from the influence of the medium, but not from that of his past. As mankind grows older, the weight of heredity grows heavier. For heredity to act in the mixture of races, it is necessary that one of the races shall not be too inferior to the other in numbers, and that their physical and mental constitutions shall not be too different.

The first of these conditions is fundamental. When two different races are brought together, the more numerous one absorbs the other. In a black population, a few families of whites will

  1. The mechanism of this fusion of the different elements of a race is rarely observed. I, however, witnessed it once, during my travels, among a mountaineer population isolated in the interior of Galicia, at the foot of the Tatras Mountains. The memoir in which I recorded my observations appeared in the "Bulletin de la Société de Géographie de Paris" (1888).