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´╗┐Title: Nationality and Race from an Anthropologist's Point of View - Being the Robert Boyle lecture delivered before the Oxford - university junior scientific club on November 17, 1919
Author: Keith, Arthur, 1866-1955
Language: English
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_Nationality and Race_

_From an Anthropologist's Point of View_





_On November 17, 1919_








It was during the lifetime of Robert Boyle that our forefathers began to
come into close contact with the races and nationalities of the outer
world. When he was born in County Cork in the year 1627, small and
isolated bands of Englishmen were elbowing Red Indians from the eastern
sea-board of North America; before his death in London in 1691, at the
age of sixty-four, he had seen these pioneer bands become united into a
British fringe stretching almost without a break from Newfoundland to
Florida. Neither he nor any one else in England could then have guessed
that in less than two centuries the narrow fringe of colonists would
have spread from shore to shore, thus carpeting a continent with a new
people. It was in his time, too, that English merchants and sailors made
a closer acquaintance with the peoples of India, of the Far East, and
with the sea-board natives of Africa and of South America. We have only
to turn to the six splendid volumes in which his experiments,
observations, and writings are preserved to see how he viewed the world
which his countrymen were opening up beneath his eyes. In a short paper,
drafted some time before his death, he gives the most minute directions
to guide navigators in drawing up reports of newly discovered lands. His
directions relate to every conceivable property or aspect of a new
country--its geography, mineral wealth, natural products, climate--all
but its inhabitants. Like many Englishmen of his time, Boyle conceived
that his duty by native peoples began and ended when he had seen that
they were supplied with copies of the Bible. For him, and for most of
his contemporaries, there seem to have been no racial problems; for they
did not regard the meeting and mingling of diverse races or of peoples
of different nationalities as matters which deserved investigation and
explanation. Boyle witnessed the acutest phases of the 'plantation' of
Ireland, but the inquiries he set on foot regarding that country were:
'How it cometh to pass that there are not frogs, toads, snakes, moles,
nightingales, rarely magpies' within its borders; he inquired, too,
concerning the true nature of 'diverse things which the Irish foolishly
report of St. Patrick'--especially concerning the 'birds turned into
stones for chirping when St. Patrick was preaching'. There were, of
course, racial and national problems in Boyle's time, but they had not
then presented themselves before the tribunal of the public mind as
matters demanding investigation and treatment.


We need not blame the statesmen and writers of Boyle's time for failing
to recognize the inward significance of national and racial
manifestations any more than we condemn his contemporary physicians for
failing to separate from the mass of disease such conditions as are
known to modern medical men as appendicitis and typhoid fever. Typhoid
fever and appendicitis existed in Boyle's time just as did national
disturbances and racial antipathies, but their nature and significance
passed undiagnosed. It was not until England had laid siege, by means
of armies of colonists, to lands inhabited by native races, or had come
to guide the destinies of great tropical empires by handfuls of civil
servants, that she realized that racial contact gives rise to live and
burning antagonisms. Nor are national problems new to England; they have
always dogged the footsteps of her statesmen. In Boyle's time a people
could make its national spirit heard and felt only by resorting to brute
force. In our times there are other means; a people mobilizes its
national spirit by means of the daily press; the promulgation of
national propaganda has become a fine art; modern statesmen have learned
that national feelings, rightly directed, have the force of an
avalanche. The problems of Race and of Nationality, then, are by no
means new, but in their modern form they are new. The far-flung lines of
the British Empire and the mobilization of the popular spirit by means
of the press and propaganda have compelled our statesmen, historians,
publicists, psychologists, and anthropologists to re-examine the nature
of the forces which lie behind racial movements and national agitations.
Of the importance of a right understanding of the nature of these forces
for the future maintenance and development of the British Empire there
cannot be any question. In the guiding of its destinies Oxford men will,
in the future as in the past, take a leading part, and much of their
success will depend on how far they have grasped the nature of the
inward forces which group mankind into races and nations. That is my
reason for making the problems of Race and Nationality the subject of
this lecture in memory of Robert Boyle.


It has scarcely been possible in recent years to open a newspaper
without our eye being arrested by head-lines telling us of racial
strifes or international contentions. One day we read of race riots; on
the next we learn that the inhabitants of a certain area of land demand
separation from all surrounding peoples. By a process of
'self-determination' they demand to be recognized as a separate people
or nation. These racial and national contentions are not restricted to
any particular people or land; we find them in every country. The
politician is too near to these racial and national manifestations of
the modern world to see them in their proper light; even the historian
is not far enough away from them to see them in their right perspective.
You cannot explore the secret sources from which they spring unless you
have grasped the immensity of man's unwritten history. Let me make my
meaning quite clear by an historical example chosen from man's body.
Among our modern populations there are no ailments more prevalent than
those which arise from a disordered working of the great bowel. Why this
part of our bodily machinery should fail us under modern conditions of
diet becomes quite apparent when we survey the history of man's distant
past. For the anthropologist there are only two well-marked phases in
human history. The first phase is that of Natural subsistence--an
infinitely long and monotonous chapter, stretching over a million of
years or more. The second is the phase of Artificial subsistence--a
short chapter covering a period of 10,000 or 12,000 years at the utmost,
but a period crowded with events which have a critical bearing on our
present and future welfare. In the first or long phase mankind was
broken into small and scattered groups which gained as best they could a
sparse, uncertain, and coarse sustenance from the natural produce of
shore and stream, moorland and woodland. In the second or short phase
man conquered nature; by means of cultivation and domestication he
forced from the soil a sure and abundant supply of food, thus rendering
possible the existence of our modern massed populations. Now the
machinery of man's body and the instinctive outfit of his brain, which
had been evolved to answer to the conditions of life presented by the
first long phase of his history, were also those which had to serve him
when he entered the new conditions of the short or modern phase. We need
not be surprised to find, then, that part of his ancient outfit is ill
adapted to modern conditions of life. Man's great bowel, including the
caecum, appendix, and colon, which answered his needs well when his
dietary was coarse and uncooked, is ill contrived to deal with foods
which are artificially prepared and highly concentrated. A school, which
was headed by the late Professor Metchnikoff, even goes so far as to
maintain that man would be improved by the complete removal of his great
bowel--a doctrine with which I totally disagree. We are all alive to the
fact that there is a lack of harmony between the ancient machinery of
our bodies and the modern conditions under which we live, but we are
only now awakening to the fact that what is true of our bodies is also
true of our minds. In that immense first phase of our history an
elaborate mental machinery had been evolved for binding small groups of
mankind into social units. This subconscious or instinctive mental
outfit, we shall see, is part of the machinery which Nature has employed
in the evolution of races of mankind. The mental adaptations which
modern man has inherited from the immensity of his past we may briefly
describe as part of Nature's tribal machinery. The thesis, then, which I
propose to expound to you is that in our modern racial strifes and
national agitations we see man's inherited tribal instincts at war with
his present-day conditions of life. We have broken up, or are attempting
to break up, Nature's ancient tribal machinery and at the present time
are striving to replace her designs by others evolved in the minds of
modern statesmen and politicians. We moderns are like hill sheep turned
into fenced fields with all our wandering instincts still grafted on our
original nature. As in them, our instincts are at war with our
surroundings. It is the most natural thing in the world that we should
blame the barriers which have been set round us because we are scarcely
conscious of the inherited predispositions with which Nature encompasses
her tribal fields. We cannot understand the nature of our modern racial
and national problems until we perceive that in these days we are
endeavouring to build a new world out of the wreckage of an old.


Having thus laid before you the general lines on which I propose to deal
with problems relating to race and nationality, I propose now that we
should make a lightning trip round the world and cull, as we go, samples
which will illustrate the kind of friction which arises wherever races
or nationalities come into close contact. As I have already said, every
country can yield us material for our study, but none on such a vast
experimental scale as the United States of North America; we shall
therefore commence our hurried survey in that country. Within the
frontiers of the States is massed a population of 110 millions. When we
look closely we see that over ten millions of these inhabitants are
marked off from the rest by a frontier, a colour line, as sharply
defined and jealously guarded as the frontiers of a kingdom. Across that
racial frontier all legitimate social traffic is barred, the custodians
of the frontier being those who stand on the white side of the line. Any
attempt to cross that racial frontier produces mob war. While these ten
millions of segregated citizens abide within their racial fence, they
see millions arrive from Europe and pass freely through the national and
social gateways--which for them are barred. In the course of a
generation they see these new arrivals, men, women, and children born
and bred within the diverse nationalities of Europe, differing markedly
in appearance and speech from the original colonial stock, become slowly
stript of their alien outlook and gradually incorporated within a new
national mass. In the States, then, we see a machinery at work which
maintains racial frontiers but breaks down all national barriers. The
nature of that machinery we shall have to inquire into later, but in the
meantime I will briefly define the essential difference between a racial
and a national frontier. A marriage across a racial frontier gives rise
to an offspring so different from both parent races that it cannot be
naturally grouped with either the one or the other. A marriage across a
national frontier gives rise to a progeny which may pass as a member of
either parent nationality. Further, as I shall attempt to prove later,
nationality is the incipient stage in the process which leads on to
racial differentiation.


When we cross the line which separates the United States from Canada we
find a national mechanism at work which converts immigrants of alien
nationalities into loyal Canadians. In Canada, however, our attention is
arrested by an example which illustrates the persistence and the
strength of the force which perpetuates a national spirit. The ancestors
of the French Canadians began to settle in the province of Quebec early
in the seventeenth century, 150 years before the Canadian national mill
was set agoing by Englishmen. The French settlers never passed through
that mill. They came, for the greater part, from the north-west of
France, and although speaking a different tongue, adopting a different
religion, and following different customs, they were yet in point of
race not essentially different from the English founders of Canada. Yet
the descendants of these early French settlers, now numbering well over
a million and a half, and although forming but a small island in the
midst of an English-speaking ocean for more than a century and a half,
have maintained their sense of separateness--their national
frontiers--intact. There is no question here of a racial frontier as
yet, but were this national isolation of French Canadians to become
permanent, then in course of time a racial differentiation would be
produced within their territory.

When we turn our faces westward and cross the Rocky Mountains we find
the minds of the white inhabitants, along the whole stretch of the
Pacific coast, occupied with a racial problem. They have erected a
racial barrier to keep out the native peoples of Asia. The native of
India is excluded just as strictly as the Chinaman or Japanese. They
are not excluded because of their speech or of their civilization, but
because the people of the United States and of Canada are conscious of a
certain feeling of difference--call it race prejudice, race antipathy,
or what you will. It is a conscious or subconscious state of feeling
which rebels against racial fusion.


When we pass from the United States to Mexico we cross the boundary line
which separates the two most immense experiments in human breeding the
world has ever seen. North of this experimental Rubicon, as we have just
seen, the basal stock, which is north-west European or Nordic in origin,
has been ruled by a sense of race-caste and has consequently maintained
its racial characters. But south of our Rubicon the result of racial
contact has been absolutely different. The south-west European or
Iberian stock broke down the natural barrier which Nature had set up
between them and the natives of Mexico and South America and solved
their racial antagonisms by the fusion of blood. The results of these
two experiments, carried out on such an immense scale, we can see
to-day. The northern experiment, which is now three centuries old, has
given the world two of her most virile peoples destined to hold their
place whether humanity becomes planted out on a vast, peaceful, and
uniform cabbage-patch or still remains, as now, broken up into national
and racial factions. These northern peoples are as effective, so far at
least as concerns their chances of survival, as the original Nordic
stock. The southern experiment, which began four centuries ago, has
given the world a jangling series of small peoples, not any one of which
is equal, either in body or in mind, to the pioneer Iberian stock. From
the anthropologist's point of view the northern experiment is the
successful one.

We have been glancing at the national and racial problems of the
American continent and we ought now to pass on to note the form in which
they are presented to us by Australasia. Before passing on, however,
there is one very important aspect of the southern or Iberian experiment
which we must consider now because it throws light on the path along
which I want to lead you. Why did the racial barrier between Iberian and
Indian break down? Was it because the Iberian did not possess--was not
influenced by--a sense of race-caste such as we have seen to dominate
the Nordic colonist? I believe that race-caste or race-prejudice is and
has been a more potent force in the Nordic than in the Iberian stock.
The Iberian people are near neighbours of the African races; in physique
they are differentiated from the African stocks in a somewhat less
degree than the Nordic stocks which represent the utmost point in the
physical specialization of all European peoples. If the Iberian pioneer
carried with him to America a lesser degree of race-caste, the process
of hybridization would begin the more easily. The great north and south
experiments differed, however, in another important circumstance. The
Nordic encountered a scattered, nomadic, proud race; the Iberian a
settled people living in dense communities. The Iberian was thus exposed
to conditions in which a racial barrier was harder to maintain.


But neither of these two circumstances--a lesser developed sense of
race-caste in the Iberian, nor the massing of the southern Indians in
settled communities--explain the disappearance of a racial frontier. The
true explanation lies in the fact that Nature has grafted in the human
mind instinctive impulses which are far stronger than those designated
as race-prejudice. Nature has spent her most painstaking efforts in
establishing within the human organization a mechanism to ensure, above
all other ends, that the individual shall continue. The instinct to
propagate is the strongest of the instinctive impulses with which
mankind has been fitted. It dominates and conquers the race instinct on
all occasions save one. Sex impulse is the battery which breaks down
race-barriers. Race instinct becomes the master of sexual impulse only
when a pure stock has established itself as a complete and growing
community in a new country. Sexual impulses are the endowments of
individual men and women; they dominate and are manifested by
individuals, whereas race antipathies are manifestations not of the
individual, but of the mass. Race instinct comes into play only when
men, women, and children of the same stock are organized into
communities. Until such a community is organized sex instinct traffics
freely across racial barriers; once organized, race instinct conquers or
restrains hybridization. It is a right understanding of the conditions
under which human instincts work that gives us the true key to the
hybridization of Spaniard and American Indian. The Iberian pioneers
exposed themselves to racial contact in Mexico and Peru under conditions
which were bound to give their sex impulses a victory over their race
instinct. No _Mayflower_ reached the Spanish coasts of America; only
bands of adventurers, who established no independent home-like
settlements to form the cradles of race-feeling. The sex instinct was
left dominant, and by this force the racial barriers south of the
Mexican rubicon were broken down. North of this Rubicon the American
continent was colonized; south of it, there was not a colonization but a
plantation. From an anthropologist's point of view, as we shall note
later, colonization and plantation are totally different processes.


When we cross the Pacific to Australia we see the same racial and
national factors at work as in Saxon America. It has taken only a little
over a century for a British or Nordic stock, now numbering five
millions, to establish itself as occupant and owner of a great
continent. The Australians have had to face both national and racial
problems. The continent was colonized from separate centres, and there
was a tendency on the part of each colony to isolate itself from its
neighbours and grow up into a separate state or nationality. These
separate states or incipient nationalities were united at the
commencement of the present century by the craft of statesmanship which
made the shores of the new continent the frontiers of a national
commonwealth. The British communities in Australia bred and exhibited
the usual Saxon sense of race discrimination; almost from the first they
drew a racial frontier between themselves and the native blacks, and so
strictly has this frontier been maintained that there is no trace of the
vanishing aboriginal blood in the veins of the new nationality. The
50,000 survivors of the original owners of the continent now present a
philanthropic rather than a racial problem. But it is otherwise as
regards the millions of native peoples occupying the countries which
flank the Indian and China seas. Seas are the highways along which
modern peoples spread and invade accessible lands. Hence round their
shores the Australians have erected a racial barrier, admitting the
entrance of peoples of European descent but excluding all others.

The student of racial and national problems cannot afford to pass New
Zealand by. In these two islands English, Scotch, Irish, and Welsh
immigrants have, in the course of the last eighty years, built up a new
nation, now numbering well over a million souls. Here and there in the
islands there has been a tendency for the immigrants to group themselves
according to their inherited nationality, but such separate groupings
tend to disappear as the new national spirit becomes dominant. Herein we
see exhibited a law with which herdsmen are familiar. A herd of cattle
which has occupied a field for some time will resist the intrusion of a
second or strange herd; but turn both herds together into a strange
pasture and mutual antipathies cease almost at once. The arrival in a
new land of immigrants from diverse countries breaks down the national
barriers within which they were born and bred. A national spirit breeds
true only on its native soil; when transplanted to a new land it becomes
plastic and mouldable. A new country dissolves ancient nationalities; no
country illustrates this truth more emphatically than New Zealand.

The relationship which exists between the new nationality of New Zealand
and the ancient owners of the country--the Maori, now numbering about
50,000--is one of a unique kind. The physical differences which separate
the British and Maori types are such in degree that there can be no
question of the distinctness of their racial stocks. In former cases we
have seen that it was the Saxon who drew and guarded the racial
frontier; but in New Zealand each of the contending human stocks has
drawn its racial line, and each regards the other's delimitation with
respect. Such respect is rendered possible because the territorial
frontiers of Maoriland have been clearly defined. Thus wise
statesmanship keeps racial problems in a latent condition in New


If we now pass to South Africa we find problems of race and of
nationality in a more acute and tangled form than anywhere else in the
world. Long before the Portuguese had turned the Cape of Good Hope
towards the end of the sixteenth century, this land was occupied by a
confusion of contending tribal peoples belonging to at least three
well-differentiated human stocks. Bantu peoples were pushing southwards,
ousting and exterminating Hottentot tribes; these were at the same time
exercising a continuous pressure on the Bush people. At the present time
this great territory, with a total area of nearly twenty times that of
England, is occupied by about six and a quarter millions of people,
fully five millions being descendants of the original native tribes,
with a slight admixture of Asiatic elements. The masters and owners of
this territory, numbering only a little over a million, are of the
Nordic or north-west European stock. About one-half of the dominant
stock drew its original guiding spirit from Holland, the other half
carried to its new home the national spirit of England. These two
nationalities, both derived from the same North Sea stock, have been
thrown together in South Africa for over a century, and yet a sense of
difference in nationality has persisted, even in face of dangers which
threaten both alike. Thus South Africa has an acute friction arising
from the rubbing of one nationality on another. She has also her racial
problems; the more closely they are examined the more do their potential
dangers seem to grow. Boer and Briton may differ in speech, habit, and
outlook, but both agree that there is an impassable frontier between
them and the native races of Africa and Asia. They do not even
camouflage the racial barricade which they have erected; they purposely
expose it in its nakedness to full view, so that none may fail to see
it. The dark natives maintain their tribal and racial frontiers by their
inherited organizations, but the surveillance of the social barrier
between them and the whites lies with the dominant race. Only those who
have come into direct contact with racial antagonisms know how deeply
they are situated in the primitive organization of the human brain. Let
me cite only one witness on this point--one who would willingly believe,
if he could, that racial antagonisms are both superficial and acquired.
"That a very real problem exists in the race-consciousness of the white
and coloured peoples is evident, is sometimes painfully evident,
sometimes dangerously so. There is nothing to be gained by
under-estimating its deep-seated nature and the gravity of its issues."
This is a quotation from the presidential address given by Dr. W. Flint
to the last meeting (1919) of the South African Association for the
Advancement of Science. The mixture of races in South Africa has roused
to activity instincts or subconscious states which lie dormant in
members of a uniform population. National and racial frontiers, we shall
see, are part of Nature's evolutionary machinery. Meantime we merely
note that modern industrial ideals clash with the working of Nature's
instinctive mechanisms, and in South Africa the two are in actual


As we pass northwards along the African continent, over a welter of
tribal peoples, we need merely note the cry for national recognition
which ascends to us from the lower valley of the Nile. The descendants
of the ancient Egyptians, mixed with a conglomeration of racial stocks
drawn from Africa, Asia, and Europe, are agitating for 'national'
independence and isolation. It would take us too far afield to consider
the national and racial problems of the 300 millions of diverse peoples
of India who are linked together by only one bond--the government
extended to them by the British Empire. Nor need we stay now to
speculate on the nationalities which will arise from the wreckage of
Turkey, Austria, or Russia, nor shall we dally with the Balkan jumble of
nationalities. We simply note that these instincts or feelings which
compel men of like speech, habits, and traditions to group themselves
into independent national units are most active and powerful where
racial or national boundaries are most confused.


In the strict sense in which the anthropologist uses the term 'Race'
there is in Europe no racial problem. Our universal disturbances are
those of nationality. There are no two nationalities in Europe, so
different in physical appearance, that their hybrid progeny may not pass
as a member of either parent nationality. In the anthropologist's sense
there are no racial bastards produced by the union of European
nationalities. If we except the Lapps and other Mongolian elements in
Russia there is only one people in Europe with a legitimate claim to be
regarded as racially different from the general population. That
exception is the Jewish people. There are seven millions of them forming
an archipelago in the sea of European peoples, their main islands lying
in the centre of the continent, north and south of the Carpathians. The
Jews maintain a racial frontier, such as dominant races surround
themselves with; they carry themselves as if racially distinct. Their
original stock was clearly eastern in its derivation; the peoples of
Europe sprang from another racial source. The outliers of the Jewish
racial archipelago are exposed to the cross-currents of the Gentile
seas. The smaller islets are too far removed to be sheltered and
strengthened by the race sense which is bred and nursed wherever
permanent Jewish settlements are established. However much the Jewish
racial frontier may be strengthened by the faith which is the standard
of the race, raids have been made, are now made, across that frontier
and a certain degree of hybridization has occurred. Even thus exposed in
the eddying seas of modern civilization, the race spirit of the Jews has
preserved the greater part of the original characters carried into
Europe by the pioneer Semitic bands. In 90 per cent. of Jews the
physical or Semitic characters are apparent to the eye even of the
uninitiated Gentile. In the Jewish people we see Nature steering one of
her cargoes of differentiated humanity between the Scylla and Charybdis
of the modern sea of industrial civilization. And race instinct is her


The processes of nationalization in Europe are of two kinds; on the one
hand we see smaller nationalities being compounded into larger units; on
the other we see large nationalities being disintegrated. We see fusion
taking place and we see disruption. Which is Nature's method? All the
great nationalities of Europe have been built up by fusion--Italy,
Spain, France, Great Britain, and Germany. As the last named is the most
recent and most clearly understood case of fusion we may glance at the
means by which it was accomplished. The nationalities and separate
states which were united to form the German Empire were derived from at
least three stocks, each of which show well-differentiated physical
characters. These human stocks were united by a common tongue. By war
and conquest the empire surrounded itself--isolated itself--by a ring of
enemies. The Germans carried their frontiers beyond the limits of their
speech and set out to make Danes, Frenchmen, and Poles members of their
own nationality. They sought to strengthen their national frontiers by
tariff barricades. They linked themselves together by the multiplication
of means of rapid transit and fostered the growth of a national or
tribal spirit by active, persistent, and widespread tribal propaganda.
The tribal spirit, which is an innate quality of every people, was
roused to such a pitch that in the crisis of war the national or tribal
bonds held; sixty millions of people acted as if they were members of a
Highland clan. Even defeat, if it has loosened, has not broken the
national bonds which were forged by the governing classes of Germany.

In all these processes of national fusion, as in the formation of all
trusts in the modern commercial world, the anthropologist observes that
the operation commences from above and works downwards through the mass
of the people. The governing class plays upon and fans into flame the
tribal embers of the popular mind. It is altogether a different process
which brings about the disruption of a nationality. Disruption has
nothing to do with race; the nearer the blood relationship between two
adjacent peoples the more likely is disruption to occur. We can find no
better illustration of this truth than when we cross the Baltic from
Germany to Scandinavia. The people of Norway and Sweden are of the same
racial composition; they have many interests in common; union should
have given strength. Yet after a partnership which lasted for less than
a century, they agreed to separate. In this case the movement came from
below; a tribal feeling which swept through the people of Norway
compelled a disruption. All the natural inherited forces in a people
tend towards disruption. Only when reason takes the helm can these
natural disruptive forces be overcome and the process of fusion be


Having thus made a hurried survey of some of the more instructive,
racial, and national problems abroad we now return homewards to apply
the knowledge thus gained to the understanding of the national
manifestations of our own countrymen. There is no need to remind you
that the national spirit of Robert Boyle's native country is always
boiling up, often boiling over. Scotland, too, has a national spirit, so
has Wales; in both countries this spirit is separatist in its essence,
but the national instinctive tendencies are curbed and guided by the
higher reasoning centres of the brain. In England itself the sense of
nationality is usually dormant; only an insult or a threat from without
stirs this gigantic force into life. In Ireland the national kettle is
kept always on the boil; in Scotland and Wales it is kept simmering; in
England, on the other hand, it dozes quietly on the hob. Nevertheless
English nationality is a force which pervades the whole population lying
between Berwick-on-Tweed and Land's End. In the course of centuries
statesmanship has succeeded in raising up in the minds of all the
inhabitants of the British Isles--all save in the greater part of
Ireland--a new and wider sense of nationality, a spirit of British
nationality. Why we never succeeded in raising that spirit in the whole
of Ireland represents the major part of our present quest.


At the outset of our inquiry we are met by the ancient belief that the
British Isles are divided by a racial frontier which separates the
western or Celtic peoples from the eastern inhabitants of Saxon origin.
It was my fortune to be born on the border of the Celtic fringe, and no
one growing up under these circumstances can fail to realize that the
Celtic spirit is a real and live force. Is it a racial antagonism which
is elicited when Celt and Saxon are in conflict? What is the physical
difference between a Celt and a Saxon? That is a matter to which I have
given my attention for some years, and the results of my inquiries I
will place before you as briefly as I may. In the audience now before me
there are certain to be pure representatives of all our four
nationalities; Celts and Saxons as pure as any in the country are sure
to be present in any university audience. But except for a trick of
speech or a local mannerism, the most expert anthropologist cannot tell
Celt from Saxon or an Irishman from a Scotsman. There are, to be sure,
certain physical types which prevail in one country more than in
another, but I do not know of any feature of the body or any trait of
the mind, or of any combination of features or traits which will permit
an expert, on surveying groups of university students, to say this group
is from Scotland, that from Wales, the third from Ireland, and the
fourth from England. In stature and in colouring, in form of skull and
of face, elaborate trials have revealed national difference only of the
most minor kind. Nay, we know very well the physical features of the
Saxon pioneers who became the masters of England and dominated the
lowlands of Scotland. Their graveyards have been examined by the score,
but it is not by the form of the skulls and the strength of the limb
bones that we know we are dealing with the graves of ancient Saxons, but
by the implements, ornaments, and utensils which were buried with them.
As regards shape of skull or form of bones I do not think a practised
craniologist could distinguish the skulls and bones found in an ancient
Saxon cemetery in Surrey from the remains of a Celtic grave in
Connemara, so much are Celtic and Saxon types alike. Were we to dress
one group of fishermen from the coast of Norfolk and another from the
shores of Connaught in the same garb, I do not think there is an
anthropologist in Europe who by mere inspection could tell the Irish
from the English group. From a physical point of view the Celt and Saxon
are one; whatever be the source of their mutual antagonism, it does not
lie in a difference of race. It is often said that we British are a
mixed and mongrel collection of types and breeds; the truth is that as
regards physical type the inhabitants of the British Isles are the most
uniform of all the large nationalities of Europe.


The statement which I have just made, that Britons are really a uniform
folk, seems altogether at variance with the teaching of history. What I
am to say now will explain a discrepancy which, in its essence, is only
superficial. Our written history opens with the Roman invasion and
occupation of Britain; it was an 'occupation' or 'plantation', not a
true colonization. On the other hand, the Saxon and Danish invasions
ended in widely spread and true colonizations of Britain. The Norman
invasion, on the other hand, was of the nature of a plantation. I will
make the difference between the various forms of invasion apparent
presently. There have been, too, flocks of immigrant refugees at various
times. We have the most positive evidence that long before the dawn of
written history the processes of invasion and colonization had been
going on in Britain. In all these invasions, historic and prehistoric,
with one important exception, no strange or new racial stock was added
to the British Isles; all were apparently branches of the human stock
which still occupy the north-west of Europe--men of the Nordic type--or
as I should prefer to call them, the North Sea breed. We are only now
beginning to realize that even at the dawn of the present period, a
period marked by the retreat of the ice sheet from the Baltic basin, the
seashore and the sea itself were the high roads along which primitive
peoples migrated and spread. They were people of the same human type
who spread themselves along the shores of the Mediterranean and occupied
its coastal lands. The distribution of the Mediterranean breed was
determined by the limits of their sea. Apparently the shores of the
North Sea were settled in a similar way. We have but scanty remains from
the midden heaps along its ancient shores to tell us about the kind of
folk these early settlers were, but so far as the evidence goes it
supports the supposition that the Nordic type was already in possession
of north-west Europe before the dawn of the Neolithic period. We can
only explain the distribution of the Nordic type along the shorelands of
the North Sea, of the Baltic, and of the British seas, on the
supposition of a primitive and ancient North Sea stock--made up of men
of the Nordic type. The earliest cave dwellers of England were of this
type. It was this North Sea stock which gave Britain not only her
original population but also her succession of colonists. It is certain
that there were also invasions of Britain from the Mediterranean stock,
but we have only to compare a sample of our modern population with one
drawn from a Mediterranean people to see how little our blood has been
affected by a southern mixture. In all these invasions and colonizations
there is only one which was not drawn from the North Sea stock. That
invasion took place in the second millenium before Christ, when the
round-headed stock of Central Europe broke through the Nordic belt,
reached the shores of the North Sea, and invaded Britain on a scale
which has never been equalled before or since save in Saxon times. That
invasion of round-heads broke first on England and Scotland, but Wales
and particularly Ireland received in time a full share of the fresh
arrivals. With this one exception all the invaders and settlers of the
British Isles were waves derived from the same prolific source--the
North Sea breed. We see, then, why there should be little physical
difference between Celt and Saxon. The one was an earlier wave, the
other a much later wave of the same stock. But each wave brought its own
mode of speech and its own tribal spirit. Of all the inhabitants of the
British Isles the Irish may be regarded as the purest representatives of
the North Sea or Nordic stock.


The refusal of the Irish to merge their sense of nationality in a common
British whole cannot be explained by any difference in blood or race. We
shall get nearer to the heart of the problem if we can discover why the
people on the north-east of Ireland, particularly in counties Antrim and
Down, in contrast with the rest of Ireland, are sharers in the common
British spirit. It is true that, even in ancient times, there was a
community of feeling between Ulstermen and the West Scotch. Even in
Neolithic times their cultures show a free intercourse. Before the
plantation of Ireland by lowland folk in the seventeenth century, Ulster
was frequented by bands of Highland Scots. Neither of these
circumstances explain the unionist spirit of Ulster. Nor is the spirit
of north-east Ulster a matter of British admixture. A careful
examination of all the available data relating to the plantation of
Ireland between 1560 and 1660 will show that an even greater proportion
of British blood was poured into Leinster and Munster than into Ulster.
At the end of the plantation period probably one Irishman out of every
three in the provinces of Leinster and Munster had blood of British
colonists in his veins. In this reckoning no count is made of the people
who landed and settled in Ireland in the five centuries which preceded
1560--Danes, Normans, Welsh, and English. It is not the number of
British colonists which has made north-east Ulster separatist in spirit,
so far as the rest of Ireland is concerned--and unionist, so far as
Great Britain is concerned. The north-east region of Ireland was the
only part which was truly colonized; only a real or spontaneous
colonization can carry a tribal or national spirit to a new land.

For the anthropologist a true or spontaneous colonization is a totally
different process from one which is false or forced. At the very time at
which the English Government was settling or planting colonists on Irish
soil and among Irish people, a spontaneous exodus set in among the North
Sea peoples. This exodus--a people's movement--established a Saxon
fringe along the eastern sea-board of North America. The exodus, which
began in the seventeenth century, has continued to the present
time--three full centuries. Thus fed, the fringe extended until it
reached the Pacific shore. The original fringe represented a true tribal
settlement; within the pioneer communities grew up the consciousness of
nationality and of race-antagonism, which we have already noted in the
Saxon peoples of North America. The break-away--the natural process of
disintegration, represented by the War of Independence--is usually
explained as a result of bad government. The disputes between the
British Government and the colonists were certainly the circumstances
which determined the disruption, but the forces which impelled the
colonists to action were those subconscious impulses which Nature has
planted deep in the human mind as part of her evolutionary machinery.


The colonization of North America, which took place in the full light of
history, gives us the means of understanding the Saxon colonization of
England, which otherwise lies obscure in the twilight of our written
records. In both cases we have to deal with a spontaneous or popular
movement. One was across the wide Atlantic, the other across an almost
land-locked sea. Both commenced by the formation of a fringe of true
settlement wherein inherited tribal traditions and organizations were
nursed and strengthened; in both cases the original fringe was fed by a
stream of immigrants continuing over several centuries. The chief
difference between the two movements lies in this: the American
colonists encountered a people who were so physically unlike themselves
as to raise a racial frontier, whereas the Saxon people pushed their way
into a land inhabited by people of their own stock. The progeny of the
captured British native could be reared so as to become a true Saxon.
The Saxon colonization, as it spread over the land, engulfed--when it
did not exterminate--the natives and their tribal organizations in their
agricultural village communities. The Saxon settlement of England held
and prospered because it was a true colonization.


In Ireland we have an opportunity of contrasting the results of an
artificial or forced settlement with those of a natural or spontaneous
colonization. Elizabeth, James, and Cromwell settled their colonists on
Irish tribal lands, thus exposing them to the full force of the clannish
or tribal spirit which then animated the natives of Ireland. The
consequence was that the progeny of the British colonists, as it grew
up, absorbed the Irish tribal spirit, for this spirit, being more
primitive and more easily understood than a sense of nationality, always
makes a dominant appeal to the young mind. The blood which English
statesmen of the seventeenth century poured into Ireland to quench its
national flame only served to feed it. It was otherwise in the
north-east of Ireland--particularly in Down and Antrim. These counties
were settled in the earlier decades of the seventeenth century by a
process of spontaneous colonization. The movement commenced in a small
way in 1606 by Hugh Montgomery, a south Scotch laird, purchasing a large
tract of the O'Neill's land in county Down. He settled that land with
his relations and tenantry--a farming community. Such was the beginning
of the colonial fringe on the north-east coast of Ulster. The fringe was
fed by a spontaneous exodus of farming folk mainly from the south of
Scotland, but the stream was also kept up and maintained from the north
of England and from Scottish counties as far north as those of Aberdeen
and Inverness. The men who flocked to Ulster found it easier to raise
crops on the greensward of Antrim than on the heathery hill-sides of
Aberdeenshire. Herein we see a repetition, but on a small scale, of the
Saxon colonization of England. The settled communities established by
the Scotch pioneers sheltered and nursed the national spirit they
brought with them. As the fringe of colonists expanded it came to cover
Antrim and Down and made inroads on adjacent counties, overwhelming and
absorbing the tribal organization of the native population. In 1672 Sir
William Petty estimated that there were 100,000 Scots in Ulster. Thus
in the north-east of Ireland there has been established a people which
manifests all the qualities of a new nationality. History can explain to
us how it has come about that the inhabitants of Ireland, all of them
derivatives of the same breed of Europeans, should be divided into two
peoples, each possessed by its own peculiar sense of nationality. The
north is predominantly industrial and Protestant; the south is
predominantly pastoral and Catholic. But these circumstances are not
sufficient to account for a national--almost a racial--antagonism
between the inhabitants of a single small island who have so much to
gain by a sense of unity. To understand national antagonisms we have to
look at the inheritance which modern man has carried with him from his
distant past.


I now enter the third stage of my argument. In the first I cited and
discussed the various forms in which racial and national feelings are
manifested by various peoples abroad; in my second I dealt with the
nature of the various national movements at home. We now set out in
search of the root from which the flower of our complex modern
civilization has sprung. In the world of to-day we see many peoples
exhibiting every phase in the evolution of that organization which
permits mankind to live in massed populations. Fortunately for us there
yet survive, in outlandish parts of the earth, remnants of native races
retaining the primitive organization which guided mankind through that
great hinterland of time lying between the emergence from apedom and the
dawn of the modern world. For the student of sociology the immense
primitive first stage of man's history is by far the more important. In
his _Voyage of the Beagle_, Darwin draws a picture of the Fuegians which
gives us a real insight into the ancient state of social organization.
Spencer and Gillan supply us with complementary pictures representing
the conditions of life among native tribes of Central Australia. These
primitive peoples live on the natural produce of the territory which
they inhabit and claim as their own. Their social organization
represents for us the conditions in which the modern races of mankind
were evolved. It is in such primitive societies that there must have
existed the machinery which differentiated mankind into races and racial
breeds. It is in the long first phase that we must search for the origin
of the social impulses and tendencies which have come down to modern man
by inheritance.[1]

When we survey a country still in the most primitive stage of human
society, the first observation to impress us is the fact that its
inhabitants are separated into definitely isolated groups. Such groups
are usually small, consisting of men, women, and children belonging to
several closely related families and numbering two or three hundred
souls. Each group, forming an elemental community, occupies, and
considers itself the owner of, a definite tract of country; there is
developed in them a feeling--an attachment--which serves to bind them to
the soil on which they live. When we look at the nature of the bonds
which serve to bind the members of a primitive community together, we
see that they are formed out of subconscious impulses or instincts.
These instincts form an essential part of the machinery of organization.
There is usually no head man or chieftain to determine the action of
the community; there is no deliberative assembly to lay down rules of
conduct. In Galton's phrase the members of a primitive community form 'a
sentient web', dominated by traditional beliefs and customs. I have no
wish to analyse the subconscious states and instinctive reactions which
rule and bind together the members of a primitive community; what I want
to make clear is that the tribal instincts have above all an isolating
effect. These instincts serve not only as a machinery for binding the
members of a community together, but also as a means of separating them
from all surrounding groups. Within the community this machinery compels
unity of sentiment and of action; it serves to repress schism and
faction. But the tribal machinery is operative only up to the
territorial boundaries of the community. At that limit the tribal
instincts immediately change in their mode of action. The tribal
instincts surround the community with a frontier, across which there is
no peaceful traffic, only robbery and plunder; or at the best covert
enmity. The tribal frontier is also a blood barrier; across it the
tribal instinct forbids any form of peaceful matrimonial exchange or
tribal intermixture. Nothing impressed Darwin so much as the ring of
neutral territory which surrounded the primitive Fuegian settlements.


The tribal or clannish spirit tends to manifest itself in many forms,
but in all its varieties there is a common factor--that of isolation. At
first sight we are tempted to regard the tribal spirit as part of a
machinery evolved for the protection and survival of a primitive
community, but to any one who has searched for conditions which will
explain the origin of separate races of mankind, the conviction grows
that the tribal spirit is an essential part of Nature's evolutionary
machinery. It was in these isolated cradles of primitive mankind that
Nature nursed and reared new races. When a breeder wishes to produce a
new type of animal, or to preserve a 'sport', his first step is to
isolate the group of animals with which he is to experiment. The
isolated stock becomes the cradle in which he hopes to rear his new
breed. The experimental breeder, in such instances, copies the
conditions which rule in primitive human communities. Under modern
civilization Nature's cradles have been smashed to atoms, but the tribal
instincts which Nature intended for the propagation of new breeds of
humanity have come down to modern man in undiminished force. Hence our
present national and racial troubles.


The tribal spirit, which maintains the unity of an elementary community,
is efficient just so long as personal contact between its members is
possible. If a tribal community becomes overgrown, so that mutual
contact between its members is rendered impossible, then a manifestation
of a different nature appears--that of disruption or swarming. The
disintegrating tendency is just as much a part of Nature's evolutionary
contrivance as is the isolating and unifying effect of the tribal
spirit. For breeding purposes the group must be kept within certain
bounds. Modern man has overcome the tendency to disruption on the part
of massed communities by the invention of means of rapid
intercommunication. The daily press, the hourly post, and a network of
electric wires can bind a hundred millions of modern people into a
sentient tribal web.


Small isolated communities are the cradles in which new tribal breeds of
mankind are reared. But how do new races arise? If isolation were to be
continued throughout long intervals of time we may justly infer that the
physical and mental characters of a breed would become more and more
emphasized until a stage of differentiation is reached which we must
regard as racial. A racial spirit is merely the tribal spirit matured
and consolidated. The manifestations which begin as tribal, end, in the
course of time, by becoming racial. We cannot account for the
differentiation of mankind into distinct races, nor the existence of
many intermediate forms which link one human race to another, unless we
postulate the existence in mankind of a deeply rooted tribal mechanism.


Having thus glanced at the nature of the instinctive machinery which has
controlled human communities throughout the greater part of man's
history we now return to ask ourselves: What have become of the tribal
instincts which were so deeply grafted in the nature of our ancestors?
Our tribal forefathers are not so far removed from us. We can still
trace the distribution of the Highland clans in Scotland; the tribal
spirit is still strong in the Scottish glens. The organization of
Ireland was on a tribal basis even when the Anglo-Normans settled there;
in subsequent centuries, even until the times of the British
settlements, the tribal spirit was still rampant in Ireland; even now it
is very much alive. Two thousand years ago Great Britain was in a tribal
state from end to end. Practically every one of us is the descendant of
ancestors who, forty generations back, were exercising their tribal
instincts to the full. The Roman occupation did much to break down the
tribal organization of Britain; the Saxon colonization did still more.
The forces, however, which forged the tribal links into a national chain
were commerce, communication, and the building of massed populations.
Tribes were united to form nations, but there is no greater mistake than
to suppose that the subconscious tribal impulses or instincts were
wholly converted into a sense of common nationality.


We have only to watch our commoner actions and predilections to see that
in our modern States the spirit of nationality has only absorbed a
fraction of our tribal instincts. Every one of you regards your own
college and all the men belonging to it with pride; other colleges and
other men you view with a critical eye. You cheer your own crews and
teams; you want to see them beat all their rivals; you take sides. In
all of these actions and prejudices you manifest the elementary basis of
a tribal spirit. Every week we see hundreds of thousands attend football
or other competitive games, not so much to see an exhibition of skill as
to see their own side win. The spectators, as they cheer, are moved by a
tribal spirit. If we do not belong to a cricketing county we may go so
far as to adopt one as a foster-parent in order that we may exercise our
tribal instincts in being elated by its success or cast down by its
failure. Local national politics give us many opportunities of
exercising our tribal instincts. In politics we have to take sides; a
political party is a tribal organization, using ancient means for
compelling a unity of sentiment amongst its members. The church, too,
provides modern tribesmen with occasions for exercising their inherited
impulses; a heresy hunt finds its counterpart in the most ancient of
tribal communities. Women even more than men are slaves of their tribal
instincts; they are as susceptible to the dictates of fashion as their
ancient sisters were impressionable to the movings of the tribal spirit.
The local spirit which is so inherent a trait of the countryman,
particularly in the case of the Scotsman, Irishman, and Welshman, is
another, and often a very powerful, manifestation of the tribal spirit.
Men from the same locality or district, when they go to live in foreign
communities, are drawn together by a clannish sentiment--a manifestation
of their inherited tribal instincts. Turn in what direction you will,
you will find amongst modern peoples innumerable tribal manifestations
which find no room for display in the more intellectual exhibitions of a
national spirit.

In present-day politics we see the tribal spirit striving to work out
certain novel effects. Although in ancient times a tribal frontier
usually corresponded to a territorial frontier, such was not always the
case. The tribal spirit is strong enough to hold a people together even
when there is no territorial boundary. In modern massed populations, as
in the organization of both ancient and modern India, the tribal spirit
works so as to produce frontiers between classes of citizens; trades
unions are in essence artificial tribal organizations. Except for the
existence of tribal instincts within the inherited mental organization
of the manual workers, such unions were impossible. Many writers believe
that class or sectional tribal organizations can actually be made to cut
across national and even racial frontiers. We have seen, however, that
at the declaration of war, all such sectional bonds snap, for war is the
match which fires the tribal spirit, exalts it to a national flame, and
destroys intertribal schisms. All the petty manifestations of the tribal
spirit are changed by war; the impulses which moved men and women in
peace time to games and sports, to party politics, to heresy
hunting--even to displays of fashion--are turned to patriotic desires
and deeds.


Several modern statesmen have grasped the important part played by the
tribal spirit in unifying the action of modern nations. I shall cite
only three examples to illustrate this form of political
insight--Bismarck, Lincoln, and Lloyd George. Bismarck employed war to
rouse and unify the German peoples; three campaigns were sufficient to
raise an unbounded feeling of tribal confidence and superiority. He gave
the German Empire a sharply demarcated tribal frontier; he purposely
surrounded his country with a ring of animosity, true to his tribal
instincts. Abraham Lincoln's tribal problem was of another kind. The
conditions which led up to the Civil War concerned the freeing of
slaves; but Lincoln made the war, when it became inevitable, an
intratribal quarrel. He realized that the danger to the United States
was disintegration, one which must continually threaten all
nationalities compounded out of great massed populations. Lincoln
therefore made the main issue of the war the right of a single state or
a confederation of states to secede from the main tribe or union. The
Civil War determined the issue in favour of the North: the natural
process of tribal disruption was declared illegal. Lloyd George's task
was of a different nature. He touched and wakened Britain's sleeping
tribal instincts with the insight of genius. War gave him his
opportunity, but had he not known that tribal instincts lie deeply
buried in man's emotional nature and are intertwined with his most
primitive feeling he could not have known how to touch the ancient
strings. Intellectual appeals had failed to stir the primitive and basal
tribal impulses of the people.


There was one part of the country, however, where Lloyd George's appeal
did not succeed in evoking British patriotism; it left the greater part
of the people of Ireland not only apathetic but even more actively
hostile than before. Yet their country formed an intrinsic part of these
islands; their economic interests had much more to gain by the success
of Britain than of Germany. History throws light on only part of this
thorny problem; the real difficulty thus encountered dates back to
prehistoric days--to the origin of the inherent, inherited, and
deeply-rooted tribal instincts of the Irish people. The Irish spirit
leapt up, as it had often done before, into a naming tribal antagonism
directed against everything British. What then is a British statesman to
do? We too have our tribal instincts, and their first impulse on being
awakened is--as it was in ancient days--to meet force with force, even
to extermination. That is the ancient tribal practice; but in these
days we have entered another era in the world's history when intelligent
effort must master and direct our inherited instincts. Statesmen know
that forcible means, when applied to extinguish a national flame, only
serve to feed it. Statecraft has never discovered, and I think it never
will discover, a method of forcing or grafting a new national or tribal
spirit on an old people. We have seen that a nation can colonize only
when the force which drives its members to migrate arises spontaneously
within the communities; a colonization initiated and conducted by a
government always fails to hold. Nationalization is a similar process;
the forces which control and guide it must arise within the hearts of
the people; it cannot be imposed on them from above. All that a
statesman can do is to provide conditions in which a favourable spirit
is most likely to develop and mature. He must sow judiciously for years
and wait patiently for his harvest--even if it be for generations.
Ireland's friendship is a prize which is worth working for and waiting
for, even if it costs Britain a weary century of patient courtship.


[1] I have dealt more fully with primitive tribal organization in
'Certain Factors concerned in the Evolution of Human Races', _Journ.
Royal Anthropological Institute_, 1916, vol. 46, p. 10.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nationality and Race from an Anthropologist's Point of View - Being the Robert Boyle lecture delivered before the Oxford - university junior scientific club on November 17, 1919" ***

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