Critiques and Addresses eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 350 pages of information about Critiques and Addresses.

Suppose, for example, that some families of a horde which had reached a land charged with the seeds of yellow fever, varied in the direction of woolliness of hair and darkness of skin.  Then, if it be true that these physical characters are accompanied by comparative or absolute exemptions from that scourge, the inevitable tendency would be to the preservation and multiplication of the darker and woollier families, and the elimination of the whiter and smoother-haired.  In fact, by the operation of causes precisely similar to those which, in the famous instance cited by Mr. Darwin, have given rise to a race of black pigs in the forests of Louisiana, a negro stock would eventually people the region.

Again, how often, by such physical changes, must a stock have been isolated from all others for innumerable generations, and have found ample time for the hereditary hardening of its special peculiarities into the enduring characters of a persistent modification.

Nor, if it be true that the physiological difference of species may be produced by variation and natural selection, as Mr. Darwin supposes, would it be at all astonishing if, in some of these separated stocks, the process of differentiation should have gone so far as to give rise to the phenomena of hybridity.  In the face of the overwhelming evidence in favour of the unity of the origin of mankind afforded by anatomical considerations, satisfactory proof of the existence of any degree of sterility in the unions of members of two of the “persistent modifications” of mankind, might well be appealed to by Mr. Darwin as crucial evidence of the truth of his views regarding the origin of species in general.



In view of the many discussions to which the complicated problems offered by the ethnology of the British Islands have given rise, it may be useful to attempt to pick out, from amidst the confused masses of assertion and of inference, those propositions which appear to rest upon a secure foundation, and to state the evidence by which they are supported.  Such is the purpose of the present paper.

Some of these well-based propositions relate to the physical characters of the people of Britain and their neighbours; while others concern the languages which they spoke.  I shall deal, in the first place, with the physical questions.

I. Eighteen hundred years ago the population of Britain comprised people of two types of complexion—­the one fair, and the other dark.  The dark people resembled the Aquitani and the Iberians; the fair people were like the Belgic Gauls.

The chief direct evidence of the truth of this proposition is the well-known passage of Tacitus:—­

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