Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/478

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By Professor U. G. WEATHERLY


ONE phase of the declining birth-rate among the white peoples of European stock has become increasingly important now that world interests have begun to override national and continental interests. If mere numbers should turn out to be the determining factor in fixing the balance of world power the European peoples can not hope much longer to retain the hegemony which they have held since the period of wider colonization began. The whites have not themselves become stationary in numbers, but the extension of white influence into regions inhabited by colored races has increased the prospect of a large growth among the latter. Those agencies which have kept down the natural increase of non-European peoples are usually either eliminated or very greatly modified when white rule is established or when white civilization comes to exert a preponderating influence. In Africa, for instance, the slave trade and intertribal wars have been practically abolished in those districts which have come under adequate European control.

To the extent also that the salutary achievements of European civilization have been accommodated to native modes of living, material conditions have been so modified as to furnish an environment theoretically favorable to a greater economy of human life. Because in most instances this influence has been as yet only a casual one, and because many of the race contacts have occurred in regions and under conditions least favorable to good results, the saving of life has not been so marked as it might otherwise have been, but on the whole the influence of white civilization has been a notable factor in population economy among primitive peoples.

There are of course some important exceptions to this rule. If white civilization does not everywhere and always counteract Malthus's "positive checks," misery and vice, it is because the attempt to adjust primitive peoples to a more complex economy is sometimes destructive in itself. Many of the most wholesome conveniences and comforts of the European are disastrous to peoples accustomed to a simpler or at least to a different economy. Nansen claims that the Eskimo of Greenland have been demoralized by the introduction of fire-arms, bread, coffee and cloth as much as by European diseases.[1] Mr. Bryce states that the adoption of European styles of housing and clothing, those pet items in the program of the militant philanthropist, has literally decimated the natives of Hawaii since Captain Cook's time.[2]

  1. Nansen, "Eskimo Life," pp. 328-331.
  2. Bryce, "The Relations of the Advanced and Backward Races of Mankind," p. 11.