Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/520

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that such variations take place within very short periods, not only in the case of the lower animals, as in the horse family, but in man himself. Pigmentation is no true criterion, for we have found a steady tendency to change in color in the case of the lower animals from latitude to latitude, whilst in the case of man the steady shading off in color from dark to blond may be traced from the equator to the Baltic. Unless, then, we postulate that man is entirely free from the natural laws which condition the osteology and pigmentation of other animals, we must admit that neither bone nor color differences can be regarded as crucial criteria. Further, we saw that the test of descent through males or females broke down absolutely in the case of peoples who can be proved historically never to have spoken any but a non-Aryan language. Finally, we are forced to the conclusion that language, now that we realize what are the laws which govern its borrowing by one race from another, is really the surest of all the known tests of race when dealt with broadly and over wide areas, and not merely in the way of guesswork etymologies.

II. Hitherto I have dealt only with the need of a rigid application of zoological laws in studying the evolution of the various races of man. In the time that is still left I propose to touch briefly on the vast importance of such natural laws when dealing with the native races of our great dependencies and colonies, and in our own social legislation. I venture to think that the gravest mistakes which at present are being made in our administration and legislation are due to the total disregard of the natural laws, which not only modify and differentiate one race from another, but also are constantly producing variations within our own community. As physical characteristics are in the main the result of environment, social institutions and religious ideas are no less the product of that environment. Several of our most distinguished Indian and colonial administrators have pointed out that most of the mistakes made by British officials are due to their ignorance of the habits and customs of the natives. It has been in the past an axiom of British politicians that in the English Constitution and in English law there is a panacea for every political and social difficulty in any race under the sun. Only let us give, it is urged, this or that state a representative parliamentary system and trial by jury and all will go well. The fundamental error in this doctrine is the assumption that a political and legal system evolved during many centuries amongst a people of northwestern Europe, largely Teutonic, and that, too, living not on the mainland but on an island, can be applied cut and dried to a people evolved during countless generations in tropical or subtropical regions, with social institutions and religious ideas widely different from those of even South Europeans, and still more so from those of northern Europe. We might just as well ask the Ethiopian to