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Inquiries into Human Faculty
replace that of the old one. Such strains are of no infrequent occurrence. It
is easy to specify families who are characterised by strong resemblances,
and whose features and character are usually prepotent over those of their
wives or husbands in their joint offspring, and who are at the same time as
prolific as the average of their class. These strains can be conveniently
studied in the families of exiles, which, for obvious reasons, are easy to
trace in their various branches.
The debt that most countries owe to the race of men whom they
received from one another as immigrants, whether leaving their native
country of their own free will, or as exiles on political or religious
grounds, has been often pointed out, and may, I think, be accounted for as
follows :—The fact of a man leaving his compatriots, or so irritating them
that they compel him to go, is fair evidence that either he or they, or both,
feel that his character is alien to theirs. Exiles are also on the whole men
of considerable force of character; a quiet man would endure and
succumb, he would not have energy to transplant himself or to become so
conspicuous as to be an object of general attack. We may justly infer from
this, that exiles are on the whole men of exceptional and energetic natures,
and it is especially from such men as these that new strains of race are
likely to proceed.
The influence of man upon the nature of his own race has already been
very large, but it has not been intelligently directed, and has in many
instances done great harm. Its action has been by invasions and migration
of races, by war and massacre, by wholesale deportation of population, by
emigration, and by many social customs which have a silent but
widespread effect.
There exists a sentiment, for the most part quite unreasonable, against
the gradual extinction of an inferior race. It rests on some confusion
between the race and the individual, as if the destruction of a race was
equivalent to the destruction of a large number of men. It is nothing of the
kind when the process of extinction works silently and slowly through Previous page Top Next page