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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/541

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THE ETHNOLOGICAL WORK OF LANE FOX.

THE ETHNOLOGICAL WORK OF LANE FOX.
By HENRY BALFOUR, M.A.,

PRESIDENT OF THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL SECTION OF THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION.

THE earth, as we know, is peopled with races of the most heterogeneous description, races in all stages of culture. Colonel Lane Fox argued that, making due allowance for possible instances of degradation from a higher condition, this heterogeneity could readily be explained by assuming that, while the progress of some races has received relatively little check, the culture development of other races has been retarded to a greater or less extent, and that we may see represented conditions of at least partially arrested development. In other words, he considered that in the various manifestations of culture among the less civilized peoples were to be seen more or less direct survivals from the earlier stages or strata of human evolution; vestiges of ancient conditions which have fallen out at different points and have been left behind in the general march of progress.

Taken together, the various living races of man seem almost to form a kind of living genealogical tree, as it were, and it is as an epiphyte upon this tree that the comparative ethnologist largely thrives; while to the archeologist it may also prove a tree of knowledge the fruit of which may be eaten with benefit rather than risk.

This certainly seems to be a legitimate assumption in a general way; but there are numerous factors which should be borne in mind when we endeavor to elucidate the past by means of the present. If the various gradations of culture exhibited by the condition of living races—the savage, semi-civilized, or barbaric, and the civilized races—could be regarded as accurately typifying the successive stages through which the higher forms of culture have been evolved in the course of the ages; if, in fact, the different modern races of mankind might be accepted as so many sections of the human race whose intellectual development has been arrested or retarded at various definite stages in the general progression, then we should have, to all intents and purposes, our genealogical tree in a very perfect state, and by its means we could reconstruct the past and study with ease the steady growth of culture and handicrafts from the earliest simple germs, reflecting the mental condition of primeval man up to the highest manifestations of the most cultured races.

These ideal conditions are, however, far from being realized. Intellectual progress has not advanced along a single line, but, in its