Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/317

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
305
THE ETHICS OF TRIBAL SOCIETY.

once the country which Englishmen inhabited. Englishmen are now the people who inhabit England." An East Indian by blood may be an Englishman in the modern sense of the term as well as an Anglo-Saxon of purest lineage, however earnestly Lord Salisbury may deprecate the idea that a Hindu or any other "black man," even though he may be, like Dadabhoi Naoroji, a gentleman and a scholar, and the peer of the Tory premier himself in political wisdom and ability, should be sent to the British Parliament by an English constituency. It would seem, therefore, that, even at this late day, a man may be her British Majesty's first minister of state and yet entertain the notion, which prevailed in the days of Warren Hastings and still lingers among the subalterns of the colonial service, that an East Indian is a "nigger."

Nowhere is national feeling stronger and race feeling weaker than in the United States, where the negro, notwithstanding the prejudice growing out of his former condition of servitude, is as truly an American and as fully sensible of this fact as any scion of the Pilgrim fathers. It is unquestionable that the old Puritan stock is rapidly disappearing from New England, partly through natural extinction and partly through westward migration, and is being supplanted by Irish and Canadian French; but this circumstance does not blot New England from the map nor convert it into New Ireland or New France. On the contrary, the descendants of the Celtic immigrant are assimilated and transmuted by their environment and become New-Englanders. The consciousness of what might be called common territoriality tends not only to bind together and to blend diverse races into that "unity of a people" which constitutes a nation, but also to attenuate and to loosen the social and political unions, which are based upon common descent, and finally ruptures them altogether.

The aborigines of British America, who can not regard human beings otherwise than from a tribal point of view, still speak of the English as King George's men; but the inhabitants of Canada consider themselves Canadians irrespectively of their ancestral origin, and the same readiness to sink the claims of lineage when they conflict with territorial interests manifests itself even in the miore recent colonies of Australia and New Zealand. Geographical contiguity proves, in such cases, stronger than genealogical connections; the old proverb, that blood is thicker than water, does not hold true of oceans.

The appeals that have been made in recent times to ethnic antipathies and ethnic sympathies for the purposes of political propagandism or the promotion of personal ambition are anachronistic attempts to resuscitate the tribal spirit under new forms and on a larger scale by a perverse and pseudo-scientific application of the results of comparative philology to public affairs. The hobby of