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Tasmanians have become extinct, and that several of the Red Indian tribes, too, have actually been destroyed by our civil ization. But we must not generalize too quickly. Some of these very tribes, the Red Indians,* seem to be recovering, seem to increase again, and to be able to hold their own against the baneful influences which threatened to destroy them. The negroes also are by no means dwindling away. On the contrary, they are increasing both in Africa and in America. We must therefore be careful before we deny the recuperative powers even of retrogressive savages, and we must look for other evidence beyond mere statistics in support of their hopeless degeneracy.
Historical evidence of such gradual degeneracy is, from the nature of the case, almost impossible. We must trust, there
The Indians in the United States. In an interesting paper read at a recent meeting of the Académie des Sciences, M. Paul Passy, who has recently returned from a visit to the North-Western States of America, endeavored to show that the generally accepted theory of the eventual disappearance of the "red man erroneous, and that though certain tribes have been exterminated in war and others decimated by disease and "firewater," the contact of civilization is not necessarily fatal to the Indians. M. Passy states that there are at present three hundred and seventy-six thousand Indians in the country, of whom sixty-seven thousand the reserve territories are in part maintained by the government, many of them, however, earning their living by shooting and fishing, and also by agriculture. The progress which they have made in farming is shown
have become United States citizens. The Indians in
fore, to less direct proof. I believe there is some distinct historical evidence in the case of the Central and South American races, that at the time of the arrival of Columbus and his successors civilization had really been decaying for some time in America. But in nearly all other cases we have to look out for other proofs in support of a higher antecedent civilization possessed by tribes who, as we know them at present, have to be classed as savages. Such proofs, if they exist, must be sought for in language, religion, customs, tools, and works of art.
As I look upon language neither as a ready-made gift of God nor as a natural growth of the human mind, but as, in the true sense of the word, a work of human art, I must confess that nothing has surprised me so much as the high art dis played in the languages of so-called sav ages. I do not wish to exaggerate; and I know quite well that a great abundance of grammatical forms, such as we find in these savage dialects, is by no means a proof of high intellectual development. But if we consider how small is the number of words and ideas in the ordinary vocabulary of an English peasant,† and if then we find that one dialect of the Fuegians, the Tagan, consists of about thirty thousand words, we certainly hesitate before venturing to classify the possessors of so vast an inherited wealth as the descendants of poor savages, more savage than themselves. Such facts cannot be argued away. We cannot prevent people from despising religious concepts different from their own, or from laughing at customs which they themselves could never adopt. But such a treasure of conceptual thought as is implied in the posin Indian Territory are also well cared for in this resession of a vocabulary of thirty thousand spect, having 1 schools for boarders, and 198 day entries cannot be ignored in our estimate schools attended by 6,183 children. In 1827, a Chero- of the antecedents of this Fuegian race. kee invented a syllabic alphabet of eighty-five letters, and this alphabet is now used for the publication of a I select the Fuegians as a crucial test newspaper in the Cherokee language. In addition to simply because Darwin § selected them the tribes in cantonments, a great many children (about eight thousand) are disseminated among the schools in as the strongest proof of his own theory, the different States. There are also three normal and and placed them almost below the level industrial schools in which, apart from elementary sub-reached by the most intelligent animals. jects, the boys are taught 'agriculture and different trades, and the girls sewing, cooking, and housekeeping. A journal in the Dakota tongue, called the Yapi Oaye, is published at Chicago for the benefit of the pupils in that region, aud it is said that the Indians of the territories show themselves very anxious to learn, so much so that the Ometras of Nebraska have sold part of their territory so as to be able to keep up their schools. M. Passy adds that the Americans differ very much in their estimate of the sum required for providing all the young Indians with a sound education, some of them putting it as high as $10,000,000, while the lowest estimate is $3,000,000, or ten times as much as is now being spent. His conclusion is that if the Indians are destined to disappear, it will be because they become fused with the other citizens of the United States. (Times, Sept. 8, 1884.)
by the fact that they had under cultivation in 1882 more than two hundred and five thousand acres of land, as against one hundred and fifty-seven thousand in India. Moreover, the total Indian population, exclusive of the Indians who are citizens of the United States and of those in Alaska, had increased during the same interval by more than five thousand. M. Passy says that the Federal Government, though not doing nearly so much as it should for the education of Indian children, devoted a sum of $365,515 to this purpose in 1852, and in the state of New York the six Iroquois "nations" settled there have excellent schools, which three-fourths of their children regularly attend. The five nations"
I have always had a true regard for Darwin, and what I admired in him more than anything else was his fearlessness, his simple devotion to truth. I believe that if he had seen that his own theories were wrong, he would have been the first to
See Hawley, Z.c., p. 31.
↑ Lectures on Science of Language, vol. i., D. 308.
See Giacomo Bove, Viaggio alla Patagonia ed alla Terra del Fuoco, in Nuova Antologia, Dec. 15, 1881. § Travels, Deutsch von Dieffenbach Braunschweig, 1844, p. 229.
declare it, whatever his followers might | Central America tell us of architects have said. But in spite of all that, no greater than any that country could proman can resist the influence of his own duce at present, the magnificent ruins in convictions. When Darwin looked at the the dialects, whether of Fuegians, MoFuegians, he no doubt saw what he tells hawks, or Hottentots, tell us of mental us, but then he saw it with Darwinian builders whom no one could match at eyes. According to his account, the party present. Even in their religious beliefs of Fuegians whom he saw resembled the there are here and there rays of truth devils which come on the stage in such which could never have proceeded from plays as "Der Freischütz."✶ Viewing the dark night of their actual superstisuch men, one can hardly believe," he tions. The Fuegians, according to Capsays, "that they are fellow-creatures, and tain FitzRoy, believe in a just God and a inhabitants of the same world" (p. 235). Great Spirit moving about in forests and "Their language, according to our no- mountains. They may believe in a great tions, scarcely deserves to be called artic- deal more, but people who believe in a ulate. Captain Cook has compared it to Great Spirit in forests and mountains, and a man clearing his throat, but certainly in a just God, are not on the lowest step of no European ever cleared his throat with the ladder leading from earth to heaven. so many hoarse, guttural, and clicking sounds."
Now, even with regard to their physical aspect, Darwin must have either been very unlucky in the Fuegians whom he met, or he cannot have kept himself quite free from prejudice. Captain Parker Snow, in his "Two Years' Cruise of Tierra del Fuego" (London 1857), speaks of them as without the least exaggeration really beautiful representatives of the human race. Professor Virchow, when exhibiting a number of Fuegians at Berlin, strongly protested against the supposition of the Fuegians being by nature an inferior race, so that they might be considered as a connecting link between ape and man. But what shall we say of Darwin's estimate of the Fuegian language? Here we can judge for ourselves, and I doubt whether, so far as its sound is concerned, any one would consider Fuegian as inferior to English. Giacomo Bove, when speaking of the Tagan dialect, says, "Le parole di quella sono dolci, piacevoli, piene di vocali." And though he admits that some of the other dialects are harsher, yet that is very far as yet from the sound of clearing the throat.
The Duke of Argyll, in examining the principal races that are commonly called savage, has pointed out that degraded races generally inhabit the extreme ends of continents or tracts of country almost unfit for human habitation, or again whole islands difficult of access except under exceptionally favorable conditions. He naturally concludes that they did not go there of their own free will, but that they represent conquered races, exiles, weaklings, cowards, criminals, who saved nothing but their life in their flight before more vigorous conquerors, or in their exile from countries that had thrown them off like poison. Instead of looking on the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego as children of the soil, autochthones, or the immediate descendants of the mythical proanthropoi, the duke points out that it is far more likely they may have come from the north; that their ancestors may have participated in the blessings of the soil and climate of Chili, Peru, Brazil, or Mexico, possibly in the early civilization of that part of the world; and that the wretchedness of the country into which they were driven fully accounts for their present degradation. Take away the And even if the sound of their language wretchedness of their present home, eduwas as guttural as some of the Swiss dia- cate a baby, as Captain FitzRoy did, un. lects, how shall we account for the wealth der the beneficent influences of an Enof their vocabulary? Every concept em-glish sky and of European civilization, bodied in their language is the result of hard intellectual labor; and although here again excessive wealth may be an embarrassment, yet there remains enough to prove a past that must have been very different from the present.
The workman must at least have been as great as his work; and if the ruins of
Darwin, Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.'s Ships" Adventure" and "Beagle," 1839, vol. iii., p. 226.
and in one generation, as Mr. Darwin tells us, "his intellect was good, and his disposition nice."
It is quite fair that those who oppose this theory should call upon the duke to establish his view by the evidence of language. If the Fuegians were the descendants of the same race which reached a high pitch of civilization in Peru, Mexico, or Central America, their language ought to show the irrefragable proof of such
In Africa, the most degraded races, the Bushmen, are clearly a corruption of the Hottentots, while it is well known that some eminent ethnologists look upon the Hottentots as degraded emigrants from Egypt. How much higher the civilization of Africa stood in former ages, we know from the monuments of Egypt and Nubia, from the histories of Phoenicia, Carthage, and Numidia. If among the ruins of these ancient centres of civilization we now find tribes whom European travellers would call savage, we see again that in the evolution of man retrogression is as important an element as progression.
descent. If it did, his position would be special Eskimo Adam, we have no choice impregnable. Unfortunately the materi- except to look upon him either as a withals now at hand have not yet been suffering offshoot of the American moundciently examined to enable us to say either builders, or as a weak descendant of Sibeyes or no. Nor must we forget that lan- rian nomads. guage, when it is not fixed by a popular literature, is liable among nomadic tribes to unlimited variation. The number of languages spoken throughout the whole of North and South America has been estimated to considerably exceed twelve hundred; and on the northern continent alone more than five hundred distinct languages are said to be spoken, which admit of classification among seventy-five ethnical groups, each with essential linguistic distinctions, pointing to its own parent stock. Some of these languages are merely well-marked dialects, with fully developed vocabularies. Others have more recently acquired a dialectic character in the breaking up and scattering of dismembered tribes, and present a very limited range of vocabulary, suited to the intellectual requirements of a small tribe or band of nomads. The prevailing condition of life throughout the whole North American continent was peculiarly favorable to the multiplication of such dialects and their growth into new lan guages, owing to the constant breaking up and scattering of tribes, and the frequent adoption into their numbers of the refugees from other fugitive broken tribes, leading to an intermingling of vocabularies and fresh modifications of speech. It is to be hoped that the study of native American languages may before long receive that attention which it so fully deserves. It must be taken up in good earnest, and with all the accuracy which we are accustomed to in a comparative study of Indo-European languages. All ethnological questions must for the present be kept in abeyance till the linguistic witness can be brought into court, and it would be extraordinary if the laurels that can here be gained should fail to stimulate the ambition of some young scholar in America.
Even in Australasia, where we meet with the most repulsive customs and the most hopeless barbarism, the Duke of Argyll shows that, according to the principles of evolution, the separation of the islands from the Asiatic continent would date from a period anterior to the age of man, and that here too man must be an immigrant, a degraded offshoot from that branch of the human race which in China or India has risen to some kind of civilized life. For further details the pages in the last book of the Duke of Argyll, particularly Chapter X., on the " Degradation of Man," should be consulted. It must suffice here to quote his summing up:
Instead of assuming these (savage) tribes to be the nearest living representatives of prime. val man, we should be more safe in assuming that earliest condition of our race which, on them to represent the widest departure from the theory of development, must of necessity have been associated at first with the most highly favorable conditions of external nature.
We have thus seen that, wherever we seem to lay hold of primeval savages who are supposed to represent to us the unchanged image of the primeval man, the evidence of their having been autochthonous in the places where we now find them is very weak, the proofs that they have never changed are altogether wanting; while geographical, physical, and linguistic considerations make it probable, though no more, that they originally came from more favored countries, that they were driven in the struggle for life into inhospitable climates, and that in accommodating themselves to the requirements of their new homes they gradually descended from a higher level of civilization,
indicated by their language and religion, | Aryan race, presupposes a succession of to that low level in which we find them intellectual strata which no chronology now. Some of them have sunk so low that, like individual members of the noblest families in Europe, they can no longer be reclaimed. Others, however, though shaken by sudden contact with the benefits and the dangers of a higher civilization, may regain their former health and vigor, and, from having been retrogressive savages, become once more progressive in the great struggle for exist
But if in the cases just mentioned we feel inclined to recognize the influence of degradation, and if we class such races as the Fuegians, the Eskimos, the Bushmen and Hottentots, the Papuans and brown Polynesians, as retrogressive savages, the question arises where we can hope to find specimens of the progressive savage, or rather of the natural man, who might teach us something of what man may have been before civilization completely changed him into an artificial being, for getful of the essential purposes of life, and who feels at home no longer in fields and forests, on rivers or mountains, but only in that enchanted castle of custom and fashion which he has erected for himself out of the unmeaning fragments of former ages.
My answer is that after we have collected the primitive tools and weapons which lie buried beneath the abodes of civilized man, our best chance of learning some of the secrets of primitive civilization is to study the sacred hymns and the ancient legends of India, the traditions embodied in the Homeric poems, and whatever has been preserved to us of the most ancient literature of the progressive races of the world, the Italic, Celtic Slavonic, and Teutonic races. This of course applies to the Aryan race only. The Semitic races are represented to us in their progress from a nomadic to a more or less civilized life in the Old Testament, in the earliest ballads of the Arabs, and in passages scattered in the inscriptions of Assyrians, Babylonians, and Phoenicians. China too in its ancient literature allows us an insight into the age of a nascent society, while Egypt discloses to us the most ancient of all civilizations, which can boast of a literature at a time when the very idea of writing was as yet unknown to all other nations.
It is easy to say that all this is modern. In one sense no doubt it is. The Vedic literature, the most ancient of the whole
can measure. The language of the Veda is a work of art,which it must have taken generations to build up. But is it reason. able to expect anything less modern in the history of the human race? And is there not a continuity in language and thought which allows us to see even in these literary remains, call them as modern as you like, something of the first dawn of human life? French is a very modern language, but in chien we still hear the Sanskrit svan; in journal we recognize the old Vedic deity Dyaus. In the same way, we can go back from what is common to Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, to what was the common language of the Aryans before they broke up in different nationalities. In that common Aryan vocabulary, again, we can distinguish between what is radical and primitive and what is formal and secondary. Thus we may go back beyond all so-called historical limits to a stage of primitive thought, represented by a small number of radical concepts, and a still smaller number of formal elements. And is not that enough? Is it not more historical and more trustworthy, at all events, than all a priori speculations? and have we not at least a right to demand this from our a priori friends, that, in running their tunnel from the other end, they should take care that when it emerges into the daylight of history it should meet the tunnel which comparative philology, mythology, and theology have carefully dug out on the opposite side through the solid rock of facts? It will never do for a priori theories to run coun ter to a posteriori facts. It is a fact, for instance, proved by historical evidence, that fetichism represents a secondary stage in the growth of religion, and that it presupposes an earlier stage, in which the name and the concept of something divine, the predicate of every fetish, was formed. It would be fatal, therefore, to any system of a priori reasoning if it placed fetichism before that phase in the development of human thought which is represented by the first formation of divine concepts. It would be a real hysteron-proteron.
Again, it is a fact, proved by historical evidence, that all the words of the Aryan languages are derived from definite roots, expressive of definite concepts. It would therefore be fatal, again, to any system of v priori reasoning if it attempted to derive words direct from more or less inarticulate
cries or imitations of cries, and not from that small number of roots which has been proved to supply all that is really wanted in explanation of all the facts of Aryan speech.
Again, it is a fact, proved by historical evidence, that most of the ancient deities of the Aryan nations have names expressive of the great powers of nature, and it would be an insult to all historical scholarship if our a priori friends were to attempt to prove once more that the worship of Zeus was derived from a general reverence felt for a gentleman of the name of Sky, or the belief in Eos from a sentimental devotion excited by a young lady of the name of Dawn. I believe it will be admitted by all honest anthropologists that the philological identification of one single word, Dyaus in the Veda and Zeus in Homer, has done more for rectifying our ideas of the true course of ancient Aryan civilization than all the myths and customs of savages put together.
There was a time when the students of Oriental literature were inclined to claim an extravagant antiquity for the books which they had rescued from oblivion. But that tendency has now been changed into the very opposite. There may be traces of it among Chinese, sometimes among Egyptian and Accadian scholars, but wherever we have to deal with a real literature, whether in India, Persia, or Palestine, scholars are far more anxious to point out what is modern than what is ancient, whether in the Veda, the Avesta, or the Old Testament. I certainly do not feel guilty of ever having claimed an excessive antiquity for the Rig-Veda. From the very first, though I placed the whole of Vedic literature before Buddhism, say the sixth century B.C., and though, owing to the changes in language, style, and thought which are clearly perceptible in different parts of Vedic literature, owing also to certain astronomical dates, I ventured to place it between 1000 and 1500 B.C., yet I have never concealed my impression that some portions of the Veda may turn out to be of far more recent origin.*
But is not that sufficient? Is it not perfectly marvellous that so much that is really old, so much that carries us back more than three thousand years, should have been preserved to us at all? Why will people ask for what is impossible?
Rig-Veda-Sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans, translated by M. M. Vol. i., p. xxxix.
Savages, they say, do not read and write, and yet they want to have trustworthy information from literary documents composed by those very savages who cannot read and write. Among the Aryan nations, I do not believe in any written books before the sixth century B.C. In China, books may have been older, papyri are older in Egypt, and clay tablets in Babylon. But even when literature began, the very last that ancient people do is to write about themselves, about their manners and customs. What we know of the manners and customs of ancient people, when they were still passing through that phase which we call progressive savagery, comes to us from strangers only. As modern travellers give us full accounts of the life of savages who cannot speak and write for themselves, our only chance of learning something about our own ancestors, before they began to write, would be from ancient travellers who were interested in these promising savages. Now it is a piece of excessive good luck that, with regard to one of the Aryan races, with regard to our own Teutonic ancestors, we possess such a book, written by a stranger who felt deeply interested in German sav. ages, and who has told us what they were, before they could write and tell us themselves what they were. If we want to study the progressive savage, not as he ought to have been, according to a priori philosophy, nor as he might have been, according to what we see among Fuegians of the present day, but as he really was according to the best information that could be collected by the best of historians, we must read and read again the "Germania" of Tacitus.
If history means the evidence of contemporary eyewitnesses, I doubt whether history will ever enable us to see further into the natural transition of barbarism into civilization than in the “Germania” of Tacitus. To divide civilization from barbarism by a sharp line is of course impossible. There are remnants of barbarism in the most advanced state of civilization, and there are sparks of civilization in the most distant ages of barbar. ism-at least of that healthy barbarism which is represented to us in the "Ger mania,” and of which we find but scanty fragments in the ancient literature of the civilizing nations of the world.
Here we may see ourselves as we were not quite two thousand years ago. Here we may see from how small beginnings the highest civilization may be reached.