Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/366

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
350
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

How shall we solve this enigma of ethnic purity, and yet impurity, of type? In this very apparent contradiction lies the grain of comfort for our sociological hypothesis. The Jew is radically mixed in the line of racial descent; he is, on the other hand, the legitimate heir to all Judaism as a matter of choice. It is for us a case of purely artificial selection, operative as ever only in those physical traits which appeal to the senses. It is precisely analogous to our example of the Basques in France and Spain. What we have said of them will apply with equal force here. Both Jews and Basques possessed in a high degree a "consciousness of kind"; they were keenly sensible of their social individuality. The Basques primarily owed theirs to geographical isolation and a peculiar language; that of the Jews was derived from the circumstances of social isolation, dependent upon the dictates of religion. Another case in point occurs to us in this connection. Chantre,[1] in a recent notable work, has shown the remarkable uniformity in physical type among the Armenians. They are so peculiar in head form that we in America recognize them at once by their foreshortened and sugar-loaf skulls, almost devoid of occiput. They too, like the Jews, have long been socially isolated in their religion. Thus in all these cases, Basques, Armenians, and Jews, we have a potent selective force at work. So far as in their power lay, the individuality of all these people was encouraged and perpetuated as one of their dearest possessions. It affected every detail of their lives. Why should it not also react upon their ideal of physical beauty? and why not influence their sexual preferences, as well as to determine their choice in marriage? Its results became thus accentuated through heredity. But all this would be accomplished, be it especially noted, only in so far as the physical traits were consciously or unconsciously impressed upon them by the facts of observation. There arises at once the difference between artificial selection in the matter of the head form and that concerning the facial features. One is an unsuspected possession of individuality, the other is matter of common notice and, it may be, of report. What Jew or Christian, till he became anthropologist, ever stopped to consider the shape of his head, any more than the addition of a number of cubits to his stature? Who has not, on the other hand, early acquired a distinct concept of a Jewish face and of a distinctly Jewish type? Could such a potent fact escape observation for a moment?

We are confirmed in our belief in the potency of an artificial selection, such as we have described, to perpetuate or to evolve a Jewish facial type by reason of another observation. The women among the Jews, as Jacobs[2] notes, in confirmation of our own belief, be-


  1. Recherches anthropologiques dans l'Asie Occidentale (Archives du Museum d'histoire naturelle, Lyons, vol. vi, 1895).
  2. 1886 a, p. xxviii.