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THE ROMANCE OF RACE.
LET us begin, like a wise preacher, with a personal anecdote. It happened to me once, many years since, to be taking a class in logic in a West Indian college. The author of our text-book had just learnedly explained to us that personal proper names had no real connotation. Nevertheless,' he went on, they may sometimes enable us to draw certain true inferences. For example, if We meet a man of the name of John Smith, we shall at least be justified in concluding that he is a Teuton. Now, as it happened, that class contained a John Smith; and as I read those words aloud, he looked up in my face with the expansive smile of no Teutonic forefathers : for this John Smith was a pure-blooded negro. So much for the pitfalls of ethnological generalisation !
Nevertheless, similar conclusions on a very large scale are often drawn on grounds as palpably insufficient as those of my logician. Facts of language and facts of race are mixed up with one another in most admired disorder. If people happen to speak an · Aryan’ tongue, we dub them Aryans. We take it for granted one man is a Scot merely because he is called Macpherson or Gillespie ; we take it for granted another is an Irishman on no better evidence than because his name is Paddy O'Sulivan. Yet a survey of some such delusive examples will suffice to show that all is not Celtic that speaks with a brogue, nor all Chinese that wears a pigtail.
Some familiar instances of outlying linguistic or ethnical islands, so to speak— little oases of one speech or blood or religion in the desert of another—will serve to lead up to the curious romances of ethnology and philology which I mean to huddle loosely together in this article. Everybody is familiar, of course, with such stories as that of the mutineers of the Bounty, who founded the colony on Pitcairn's Island, where a little community, about one quarter British and three quarters Polynesian, preserved the English language and the Christian religion for many years, without the slightest intercourse with the outer world. Equally significant in their way are the belated islands of Celticism in America, such as the Highlanders of Glengarry, in Canada, who migrated in a mass, and who still speak no tongue but Gaelic; or the Glamorganshire Welsh of the Pennsylvanian mining districts, who inhabit whole villages where Cymric is now the universal language. Again, we may take as typical examples of such insulation in the matter of religion the Abyssinian Christians, almost entirely cut off for centuries from the rest of Christendom by the intrusive belt of Nubian and Egyptian Islam. Who does not know, once more, that strange outlying church, the Christians of St. Thomas, whom the early Portuguese navigators found still surviving on the Malabar coast in India ?
Though believing themselves to derive their Christianity from the preaching of St. Thomas, these native sectaries are really a branch of the Nestorian Church of Persia—a distant scion of the Patriarchate of Babylon. Founded in the sixth century, their sect was recruited by successive flights of refugees from the revived Zoroastrianism of that date, and the triumphant Mahommedanism of succeeding generations. Their sacred language is even now Syriac. Or, finally, may we not take the racial islands, like the ancient Basque nationality in France and Spain, the Black Celts of Ireland and Scotland, and the Germans of Transylvania ? side by side with whom we may place the scattered and intermixed races, like the Jews and the Gipsies, who still preserve some relics of their ancient tongues, while speaking in each country the language of the inhabitants. It will be clear at once from so rapid a survey of these few familiar instances that a map of the world, coloured by race, by speech, or by religion, would be dotted all over with insulated colonies, as quaint and suggestive in their way as that of the mutineers of the Bounty.
Consider, as one striking and well-known example, the curious history of the Parsees, earlier pilgrim fathers of an Oriental Mayflower, who fled eastward and southward before the face of Islam in Persia to the west coast of India. Their very name means Persians; they are the remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian religion, followers of that shadowy and doubtful prophet, whose very existence has been called in question by the scepticism of our century. But whether or not there was ever a Zoroaster, it is certain, at least, that Zoroastrianism flourished in Irania, from Tibet to the Tigris, at the time of Alexander; and that it declined before the fashionable Hellenism of the Seleucidæ, or, later, of the Parthian and Græco-Bactrian kings. Gradually, however, the Hellenic influence in Inner Asia 'petered out,' as an American miner would say, for lack of fresh Greek blood, till at last hardly anything tangible was left of it save Greek names in Greek letters on coins of barbaric kings. Then a native dynasty, that of the Sassanians, upset the last of the half-Hellenised Arsacidæ, and the Zoroastrian faith, which had lingered on among the people, became, at the
beginning of the third century after Christ, the established religion. The Magi had things all their own way, and persecuted Greek thought with the zeal of inquisitors. For 400 years the creed of the Zend-Avesta held sway in Iran, till the Caliph Omar bore down upon the land with his victorious Mahommedans. The mass of the population were 'converted' en bloc by the usual argument of Islam, at the battle of Nahavand; and the faithful remnant, who declined to accept the creed of the Prophet at the point of the sword, fled as best they might to the desert of Khorassan. A few thousand persecuted and despised Zoroastrians, known as Guebres, still linger on in the dominions of the Shah ; but the greater part of the incorruptible took ship to India, where they settled for the most part in the neighbourhood of Bombay and the other trading towns of the western coast. As they never intermarry with Hindoos or Mahommedans, they still remain pure, both in race and religion, and cannot be regarded as in any sense representative of the people of India. Their sacred language is still the Zend of the Avesta, and their fire-worship is as pronounced as when they fled from Persia. These historic examples are familiar to most of us.
Far more interesting, however, are the prehistoric facts of similar implication, which are known to few save the students of ethnology. It is not everybody, for instance, who is aware that the language of Madagascar is not African at all, but a pure Malayan dialect. The ruling race of the island (till France displaced them) were the very un-negro-like Malayan Hovas. Now, the Malays in their day
, were the Greeks or the English of the Indian Ocean. Just as the Hellenic race annexed the Mediterranean, turning the inland sea with their colonies into 'a Greek lake' (as Curtius calls it), and just as the · Anglo-Saxon race annexed the Atlantic and the Pacific, colonising the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Australasia, so did the Malays annex the Indian Ocean, penetrating every part of it in their light pirate craft, and settling where they would among subject populations. They may be compared with the Phænicians in the earlier world as pioneers of navigation among the far-eastern islands.
The aboriginal people of Madagascar, again, were apparently not African at all, but members of the still more ancient Melanesian race, which is scattered in little groups over so many parts of the Pacific and the Malay Archipelago. This race apparently spoke already, at an early date, the common Malayo-Polynesian tongue—that widespread speech which, as we now know, formg
the basis of all the dialects in use from Madagascar itself, right across Java, New Zealand, and Melanesia, to the Sandwich Islands and the very shores of America. And, what is odder still, the Malagasy dialect of the present day approaches nearest to that of the Philippines and of Easter Island. In other words, at these immense distances relics of an ancient common language survive, which elsewhere has undergone specialisation and simplification into the modern Malay of Java and its neighbourhood. It is almost as though somewhere, among scattered villages in Portugal and in Roumania, people were still speaking tolerably pure Ciceronian Latin, which elsewhere had glided by imperceptible degrees into French and Spanish, Italian and Provençal.
The lowest and oldest layer of the Malagasy population thus probably consists of black, woolly-haired Melanesians; above it come true yellow-brown Malayan immigrations, the last of which is apparently that of the dominant Hovas. These two have intermarried more or less with one another. But there is also a true negro admixture on the side nearest Africa ; while the intrusive Arab has, of course, established himself along the coast-line wherever he found an opening for his peculiar genius. Thus, even before Christianity and the European element came in to disturb our view, the ethnical facts of the island were tolerably mixed, and presented several problems on which I have not space to touch. But if this seems a good deal of ethnology for a single land, we must remember that Madagascar would cut up into four of England; and even in our own country the known elements of the population, Silurian, Cymric, Brigantian, Cornish, Anglian, Saxon, Norwegian, Danish, Norman, and so forth, are sufficiently numerous ; while modern anthropologists would probably fight hard for an admixture of Palæolithic, Neolithic, Roman, Dacian, and Spanish elements, as well as for a trifling fraction of Jewish, Gipsy, Huguenot, and negro blood. It is a truism now to say that 'there is no such thing as a pure race'; every individual, especially in civilised countries, is a meeting place and battle-field for endless hostile and conflicting ancestors. Our idiosyncrasy depends in the end upon the proportion of each which comes out victor in the formation of our character.
Take the single kingdom of Scotland alone. Englishmen are carelessly wont to suppose there is such a thing as a Scotch temperament. Scotchmen know better. Even if we omit from the reckoning such remoter and more doubtful elements as Black Celts, and so forth, we may say, roughly speaking, that Scotland
consists of six distinct nationalities—the English of the Lothians, the Welsh of Strathclyde, the Irish Scots of Argyllshire, the true Gaels of the Highlands, the Picts of the East Coast, and the Scandinavians of Orkney, Caithness, and Sutherland. All these, of course, though in some places tolerably pure, are in others inextricably intermingled ; while outlying islands of each, such as the Picts of Galloway, are universally recognised. The Little England beyond Wales' in Pembrokeshire, mainly peopled by Flemings, who are English in speech among a Welsh-speaking population, forms a similar example in the southern half of our island; while, conversely, little outlaw communities of Welsh-speaking Britons are known to have held out in the eyots of the Fens for many generations against the conquering English of East Anglia and Mercia.
Take a linguistic case again. How strange it would seem to us to-day if there existed, say in Newfoundland, a colony of Anglo-Saxons, sent there by King Alfred, and speaking still the pure old Saxon tongue of King Alfred's Wessex! Yet this would exactly parallel the case of Iceland. While Danes and Swedes have modernised the ancient Scandinavian of the Sagas into the Danish and Swedish of the present day, the Icelanders still go on speaking the tongue of their forefathers pretty much as it was spoken by Rolf the Ganger and Harold Hardrada ; they read the Sagas in the tongue of the old singers as easily as our children can read Shakespeare and the English Bible. Mr. Steffanson, the learned Icelander, tells me another interesting fact of the same sort. It seems the women in certain parts of Normandy still wear a peasant cap with silver ornaments identical to this day with the cap commonly worn by Icelandic women. I need hardly add that the names of Norman villages are but Frenchified corruptions of the old pirate nomenclature—Ivo's toft has been shortened to Ivetôt, while Hacon's home has declined into Haconville.
On the other hand, nothing is more fallacious than the oldfashioned argument from language to kinship. It used once to be thought there was a 'great Aryan race' because there were many peoples who spoke the Aryan languages. I doubt whether even Professor Max Müller himself really believes nowadays in Our Aryan Ancestor; certainly, for the rest of the world, that exploded old humbug has vanished into the limbo of Central Asia, whence he never came, according to our latest authorities. (If he existed at all, it was probably in Scandinavia.) A race, indeed, may speak the language of another without