Popular Science Monthly/Volume 68/June 1906/Shorter Articles



The twenty portraits reproduced here are those of Central American students taken in a haphazard way in a Costa Rican government college. The composite photograph expresses well enough the features common to most of them: the large, dark, dreamy eyes and the relief of both mouth and chin. It may be considered as a good illustration of the Spanish American type. Mexico receives an increasing American element; Brazil and Chile are somewhat Germanized; Argentine is flooded with Italians; in Central America, the race, the habits and the language are still comparatively free from foreign admixture.

By foreign I mean exotic. A stream of Indian indigenous blood flows in the veins of a large number of Central Americans. It reveals itself here and there on some of the faces which surround our central picture.

Aside from that occasional modification the Spanish American is not unlike his Spanish cousin. His features are those of the Mediterranean race. His skull is dolichocephalic. His body is slender. The stature is variable although generally inferior to that of the Baltic race. The circumstances

Composite Photograph giving the Type of the Spanish American Student.

which determined the migration from Spain were not such as to induce a physical divergence between the two branches. In other words, those who departed did not differ in bodily appearance from those who remained.

They differed greatly in mental propensities. When, under the reign of Charles I., marvelous stories concerning the strange and beautiful lands discovered by Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro were circulated in Spain, excitement prevailed all over the peninsula. The practical, matter-of-fact people smiled with incredulity, but the imaginative, the chivalrous, the restless, sold all and sailed. Here is the main fact which is to borne in mind when the present nature and tendencies of the Spanish Americans are considered. Restless, alas! they are and somewhat restless they may remain, yet they are neither dull nor obstinate; they see their worst defect as clearly as others see it and try to overcome it. If strifes are still frequent among them, on the other hand, the first international treaty of permanent arbitration was the work of two Spanish American countries, and that treaty was by far more comprehensive, and thereby more efficient, than any of the similar treaties recently made in the northern hemisphere.

Restless and not practical, but also warm hearted, impulsive and generous, in olden times, many Spanish noblemen sailed because they felt sure to find in the American Eldorado the fountain which confers perpetual youth on all who bathe in it. They went through many vicissitudes, became old and died far away from the land of their fathers without having realized their dream, but it seems to-day as if some of the marvelous waters were present in all the rivers which run down from the Andes, for the defects of the Spanish American, as well as his qualities, are but those of youth.