The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex HTML version

On The Races Of Man
The nature and value of specific characters--Application to the races of man--Arguments
in favour of, and opposed to, ranking the so-called races of man as district species--Sub-
species--Monogenists and polygenists-- Convergence of character--Numerous points of
resemblance in body and mind between the most distinct races of man--The state of man
when he first spread over the earth--Each race not descended from a single pair--The
extinction of races--The formation of races--The effects of crossing-- Slight influence of
the direct action of the conditions of life--Slight or no influence of natural selection--
Sexual selection.
It is not my intention here to describe the several so-called races of men; but I am about
to enquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point
of view, and how they have originated. In determining whether two or more allied forms
ought to be ranked as species or varieties, naturalists are practically guided by the
following considerations; namely, the amount of difference between them, and whether
such differences relate to few or many points of structure, and whether they are of
physiological importance; but more especially whether they are constant. Constancy of
character is what is chiefly valued and sought for by naturalists. Whenever it can be
shewn, or rendered probable, that the forms in question have remained distinct for a long
period, this becomes an argument of much weight in favour of treating them as species.
Even a slight degree of sterility between any two forms when first crossed, or in their
offspring, is generally considered as a decisive test of their specific distinctness; and their
continued persistence without blending within the same area, is usually accepted as
sufficient evidence, either of some degree of mutual sterility, or in the case of animals of
some mutual repugnance to pairing.
Independently of fusion from intercrossing, the complete absence, in a well-investigated
region, of varieties linking together any two closely- allied forms, is probably the most
important of all the criterions of their specific distinctness; and this is a somewhat
different consideration from mere constancy of character, for two forms may be highly
variable and yet not yield intermediate varieties. Geographical distribution is often
brought into play unconsciously and sometimes consciously; so that forms living in two
widely separated areas, in which most of the other inhabitants are specifically distinct, are
themselves usually looked at as distinct; but in truth this affords no aid in distinguishing
geographical races from so-called good or true species.
Now let us apply these generally-admitted principles to the races of man, viewing him in
the same spirit as a naturalist would any other animal. In regard to the amount of
difference between the races, we must make some allowance for our nice powers of
discrimination gained by the long habit of observing ourselves. In India, as Elphinstone
remarks, although a newly- arrived European cannot at first distinguish the various native
races, yet they soon appear to him extremely dissimilar (1. 'History of India,' 1841, vol. i.
p. 323. Father Ripa makes exactly the same remark with respect to the Chinese.); and the
Hindoo cannot at first perceive any difference between the several European nations.
Even the most distinct races of man are much more like each other in form than would at
first be supposed; certain negro tribes must be excepted, whilst others, as Dr. Rohlfs
writes to me, and as I have myself seen, have Caucasian features. This general similarity
is well shewn by the French photographs in the Collection Anthropologique du Museum