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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/524

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The study of all civilizations proves, in fact, that all progress has been accomplished by a small number of the higher minds. The mass has done nothing more than profit by the advance; it does not even like to see it extended, and the greatest thinkers or inventors have often been martyrs. Yet all the generations, the whole past of a race, bloom out in these fine geniuses. They do not appear by chance or miracle, but represent a long synthesis. To favor their birth and growth is to favor the birth of a progress by which all mankind will be benefited. If we should allow ourselves to be blinded by our dreams of universal equality, we should ourselves be the first victims of it. Equality can only exist in inferiority. To bring about a reign of equality in the world, it would be necessary gradually to pull all that gives value to a race down to the level of what in it is lowest. It would require ages to raise the intellectual level of the lowest peasants up to that of the genius of a Lavoisier, while a second and the stroke of the guillotine is sufficient to destroy such a brain. But while the part of superior men in the development of a civilization is considerable, it is not quite what it is generally believed to be. Their action, I repeat, consists in synthetizing all the efforts of a race; their discoveries are always the result of a long series of prior discoveries; they build an edifice with stones which others have previously hewn. Historians fancy they must couple the name of a man with every invention; yet, among the great inventions which have transformed the world, like those of printing, gunpowder, and electric telegraphy, there is not one of which it can be said that it was created by a single man.

Of similar character is the part which great statesmen have played. They could without doubt destroy a society or disturb its evolution, but it is not given to them to change its course. The genius of a Cromwell or a Napoleon could not perform such a task. Great conquerors might destroy cities, men, and empires by sword and fire, as a child could burn a museum filled with treasures of art, but this destructive power should not subject us to illusions respecting the grandeur of their achievements. The work of great political men. is durable only when, like Caesar or Richelieu, they direct their efforts according to the demands of

    result of my own researches. The reader who may be interested in the subject will find them developed in the following works, or memoirs, which have been published at different times: "Recherches anatomiques et mathématiques sur les Lois des Variations du Volume du Crâne" (couronné by the Institute and by the Anthropological Society of Paris); "Étude de 42 Crânes d'hommes célèbres de la Collection du Muséum de Paris" (Bulletin of the Anthropological Society of Paris); "L'homme et les Sociétés, leurs Origines et leur Histoire," vol. ii; "De Moscou aux Monts Tatras, Étude sur la Formation d'une Race" (Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Paris); "L'Anthropologie actuel et l'Étude des Races" ("Revue Scientifique"); "La Psychologie comme Élément de Classification des Individus et des Races" ("Revue Philosophique").