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Barbarism and Civilization - The Atlantic

In the interior of the island of Borneo there has been found a certain race of wild creatures, of which kindred varieties have been discovered in the Philippine Islands, in Terra del Fuego, and in Southern Africa. They walk usually almost erect upon two legs, and in that attitude measure about four feet in height; they are dark, wrinkled, and hairy; they construct no habitations, form no families, scarcely associate together, sleep in trees or in caves, feed on snakes and vermin, on ants and ants' eggs, on mice, and on each other; they cannot be tamed, nor forced to any labor; and they are hunted and shot among the trees, like the great gorillas, of which they are a stunted copy. When they are captured alive, one finds, with surprise, that their uncouth jabbering sounds like articulate language; they turn up a human face to gaze upon their captor; the females show instincts of modesty; and, in fine, these wretched beings are Men.

Men, "created in God's image," born immortal and capable of progress, and so differing from Socrates and Shakspeare only in degree. It is but a sliding scale from this melancholy debasement up to the most regal condition of humanity. A traceable line of affinity unites these outcast children with the renowned historic races of the world: the Assyrian, the Egyptian, the Ethiopian, the Jew,—the beautiful Greek, the strong Roman, the keen Arab, the passionate Italian, the stately Spaniard, the sad Portuguese, the brilliant Frenchman, the frank Northman, the wise German, the firm Englishman, and that last-born heir of Time, the American, inventor of many new things, but himself, by his temperament, the greatest novelty of all,—the American, with his cold, clear eye, his skin made of ice, and his veins filled with lava.

Who shall define what makes the essential difference between those lowest and these loftiest types? Not color; for the most degraded races seem never to be the blackest, and the builders of the Pyramids were far darker than the dwellers in the Aleutian Islands. Not unmixed purity of blood; since the Circassians, the purest type of the supreme Caucasian race, have given nothing to history but the courage of their men and the degradation of their women. Not religion; for enlightened nations have arisen under each great historic faith, while even Christianity has its Abyssinia and Arkansas. Not climate; for each quarter of the globe has witnessed both extremes. We can only say that there is an inexplicable step in progress, which we call civilization; it is the development of mankind into a sufficient maturity of strength to keep the peace and organize institutions; it is the arrival of literature and art; it is the lion and the lamb beginning to lie down together, without having, as some one has said, the lamb inside of the lion.

There are innumerable aspects of this great transformation; but there is one, in special, which has been continually ignored or evaded. In the midst of our civilization, there is a latent distrust of civilization. We are never weary of proclaiming the enormous gain it has brought to manners, to morals, and to intellect; but there is a wide-spread impression that the benefit is purchased by a corresponding physical decay. This alarm has had its best statement from Emerson. "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other…. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New-Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and the undivided twentieth part of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that his aboriginal strength the white man has lost. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad-axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch; and the same blow shall send the white man to his grave."

Were this true, the fact would be fatal. Man is a progressive being, only on condition that he begin at the beginning. He can afford to wait centuries for a brain, but he cannot subsist a second without a body. If civilization sacrifice the physical thus hopelessly to the mental, and barbarism merely sacrifice the mental to the physical, then barbarism is unquestionably the better thing, so far as it goes, because it provides the essential preliminary conditions, and so can afford to wait. Barbarism is a one-story log-hut, a poor thing, but better than nothing; while such a civilization would be simply a second story, with a first story too weak to sustain it, a magnificent sky-parlor, with all heaven in view from the upper windows, but with the whole family coming down in a crash presently, through a fatal neglect of the basement. In such a view, an American Indian or a Kaffir warrior may be a wholesome object, good for something already, and for much more when he gets a brain built on. But when one sees a bookworm in his library, an anxious merchant-prince in his counting-room, tottering feebly about, his thin underpinning scarcely able to support what he has already crammed into that heavy brain of his, and he still piling in more,—one feels disposed to cry out, "Unsafe passing here! Stand from under!"

Sydney Smith, in his "Moral Philosophy," has also put strongly this case of physiological despair. "Nothing can be plainer than that a life of society is unfavorable to all the animal powers of men…. A Choctaw could run from here to Oxford without stopping. I go in the mail-coach; and the time the savage has employed in learning to run so fast I have employed in learning something useful. It would not only be useless in me to run like a Choctaw, but foolish and disgraceful." But one may well suppose, that, if the jovial divine had kept himself in training for this disgraceful lost art of running, his diary might not have recorded the habit of lying two hours in bed in the morning, "dawdling and doubting," as he says, or the fact of his having "passed the whole day in an unpleasant state of body, produced by laziness"; and he might not have been compelled to invent for himself that amazing rheumatic armor,—a pair of tin boots, a tin collar, a tin helmet, and a tin shoulder-of-mutton over each of his natural shoulders, all duly filled with boiling water, and worn in patience by the sedentary Sydney.

It is also to be remembered that this statement was made in 1805, when England and Germany were both waking up to a revival of physical training,—if we may trust Sir John Sinclair in the one case, and Salzmann in the other,—such as America is experiencing now. Many years afterwards, Sydney Smith wrote to his brother, that "a working senator should lead the life of an athlete." But supposing the fact still true, that an average red man can run, and an average white man cannot,—who does not see that it is the debility, not the feat, which is discreditable? Setting aside the substantial advantages of strength and activity, there is a melancholy loss of self-respect in buying cultivation for the brain by resigning the proper vigor of the body. Let men say what they please, they all demand a life which shall be whole and sound throughout, and there is a drawback upon all gifts that are paid for in infirmities. There is no thorough satisfaction in art or intellect, if we yet feel ashamed before the Indian because we cannot run, and before the South-Sea Islander because we cannot swim. Give us a total culture, and a success without any discount of shame. After all, one feels a certain justice in Warburton's story of the Guinea trader, in Spence's Anecdotes. Mr. Pope was with Sir Godfrey Kneller one day, when his nephew, a Guinea trader, came in. "Nephew," said Sir Godfrey, "you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world." "I don't know how great you may be," said the Guinea-man, "but I don't like your looks; I have often bought a man, much better than both of you together, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas."

Fortunately for the hopes of man, the alarm is unfounded. The advance of accurate knowledge dispels it. Civilization is cultivation, whole cultivation; and even in its present imperfect state, it not only permits physical training, but promotes it. The traditional glory of the savage body is yielding before medical statistics: it is becoming evident that the average barbarian, observed from the cradle to the grave, does not know enough and is not rich enough to keep his body in its highest condition, but, on the contrary, is small and sickly and short-lived and weak, compared with the man of civilization. The great athletes of the world have been civilized; the long-lived men have been civilized; the powerful armies have been civilized; and the average of life, health, size, and strength is highest to-day among those races where knowledge and wealth and comfort are most widely spread. And yet, by the common lamentation, one would suppose that all civilization is a slow suicide of the race, and that refinement and culture are to leave man at last in a condition like that of the little cherubs on old tomb-stones, all head and wings.

It must be owned that the delusion has all the superstitions of history in its favor, and only the facts against it. If we may trust tradition, the race has undoubtedly been tapering down from century to century since the Creation, so that the original Adam must have been more than twice the size of the Webster statue. However far back we go, admiring memory looks farther. Homer and Virgil never let their hero throw a stone without reminding us that modern heroes only live in glass houses, to have stones thrown at them. Lucretius and Juvenal chant the same lament. Xenophon, mourning the march of luxury among the Persians, says that modern effeminacy has reached such a pitch, that men have even devised coverings for their fingers, called gloves. Herodotus narrates, that, when Cambyses sent ambassadors to the Macrobians, they asked what the Persians had to eat and how long they commonly lived. He was told that they sometimes attained the age of eighty, and that they ate a mass of crushed grain, which they termed bread. On this, they said that it was no wonder, if the Persians died young, when they partook of such rubbish, and that probably they would not survive even so long, but for the wine they drank; while the Macrobians lived on flesh and milk, and survived one hundred and twenty years.

But, unfortunately, there were no Life Insurance Companies among the Macrobians, and therefore nothing to bring down this formidable average to a reliable schedule,—such as accurately informs every modern man how long he may live honestly, without defrauding either his relict or his insurers. We know, moreover, precisely what Dr. Windship can lift, at any given date, and what the rest of us cannot; but Homer and Virgil never weighed the stones which their heroes threw, nor even the words in which they described the process. It is a matter of certainty that all great exploits are severely tested by Fairbanks's scales and stop-watches. It is wonderful how many persons, in the remoter districts, assure the newspaper-editors of their ability to lift twelve hundred pounds; and many a young oarsman can prove to you that he has pulled his mile faster than Ward or Clark, if you will only let him give his own guess at time and distance.

It is easy, therefore, to trace the origin of these exaggerations. Those old navigators, for instance, who saw so many fine things which were not to be seen, how should they help peopling the barbarous realms with races of giants? Job Hartop, who three times observed a merman rise above water to his waist, near the Bermudas,—Harris, who endured such terrific cold in the Antarctics, that once, perilously blowing his nose with his fingers, it flew into the fire and was seen no more,—Knyvett, who, in the same regions, pulled off his frozen stockings, and his toes with them, but had them replaced by the ship's surgeon,—of course these men saw giants, and it is only a matter for gratitude that they vouchsafed us dwarfs also, to keep up some remains of self-respect in us. In Magellan's Straits, for instance, they saw, on one side, from three to four thousand pigmies with mouths from ear to ear; while on the other shore they saw giants whose footsteps were four times as large as an Englishman's,—which was a strong expression, considering that the Englishman's footstep had already reached round the globe.

The only way to test these earlier observations is by later ones. For instance, in the year 1772, a Dutchman named Roggewein discovered Easter Island. His expedition had cost the government a good deal, and he had to bring home his money's worth of discoveries. Accordingly, his islanders were all giants,—twice as tall, he said, as the tallest of the Europeans; "they measured, one with another, the height of twelve feet; so that we could easily,—who will not wonder at it?—without stooping, have passed between the legs of these sons of Goliath. According to their height, so is their thickness." Moreover, he "puts down nothing but the real truth, and upon the nicest inspection," and, to exhibit this caution, warns us that it would be wrong to rate the women of those regions as high as the men, they being, as he pityingly owns, "commonly not above ten or eleven feet." Sweet young creatures they must have appeared, belle and steeple in one. And it was certainly a great disappointment to Captain Cook, when, on visiting the same Island, fifty years later, he could not find man or woman more than six feet tall. Thus ended the tale of this Flying Dutchman.

Thus lamentably have the inhabitants of Patagonia been also dwindling, though, there, if anywhere, still lies the Cape of Bad Hope for the apostles of human degeneracy. Pigafetta originally estimated them at twelve feet. In the time of Commodore Byron, they had already grown downward; yet he said of them that they were "enormous goblins," seven feet high, every one of them. One of his officers, however, writing an independent narrative, seemed to think this a needless concession; he admits, indeed, that the women were not, perhaps, more than seven feet, or seven and a half, or, it might be, eight, "but the men were, for the most part, about nine feet high, and very often more." Lieutenant Cumming, he said, being but six feet two, appeared a mere pigmy among them. But it seems, that, in after-times, on some one's questioning this diminutive lieutenant as to the actual size of these enormous goblins, the veteran frankly confessed, that, "had it been anywhere else but in Patagonia, he should have called them good sturdy savages and thought no more on't."

But, these facts apart, there are certain general truths which look ominous for the reputation of the physique of savage tribes.

First, they cannot keep the race alive, they are always tending to decay. When first encountered by civilization, they usually tell stories of their own decline in numbers, and after that the downward movement is accelerated. They are poor, ignorant, improvident, oppressed by others' violence, or exhausted by their own; war kills them, infanticide and abortion cut them off before they reach the age of war, pestilences sweep them away, whole tribes perish by famine and smallpox. Under the stern climate of the Esquimaux and the soft skies of Tahiti, the same decline is seen. Parkman estimates that in 1763 the whole number of Indians east of the Mississippi was but ten thousand, and they were already mourning their own decay. Travellers seldom visit a savage country without remarking on the scarcity of aged people and of young children. Lewis and Clarke, Mackenzie, Alexander Henry, observed this among Indian tribes never before visited by white men; Dr. Kane remarked it among the Esquimaux, D'Azara among the Indians of South America, and many travellers in the South-Sea Islands and even in Africa, though the black man apparently takes more readily to civilization than any other race, and then develops a terrible vitality, as American politicians find to their cost.

Meanwhile, the hardships which thus decimate the tribe toughen the survivors, and sometimes give them an apparent advantage over civilized men. The savages whom one encounters are necessarily the picked men of the race, and the observer takes no census of the multitudes who have perished in the process. Civilization keeps alive, in every generation, multitudes who would otherwise die prematurely. These millions of invalids do not owe to civilization their diseases, but their lives. It is painful that your sick friend should live on Cherry Pectoral; but if he had been born in barbarism, he would neither have had it to drink nor survived to drink it.

And again, it is now satisfactorily demonstrated that these picked survivors of savage life are commonly suffering under the same diseases with their civilized compeers, and show less vital power to resist them. In barbarous nations every foreigner is taken for a physician, and the first demand is for medicines; if not the right medicines, then the wrong ones; if no medicines are at hand, the written prescription, administered internally, is sometimes found a desirable restorative. The earliest missionaries to the South-Sea Islands found ulcers and dropsy and hump-backs there before them. The English Bishop of New Zealand, landing on a lone islet where no ship had ever touched, found the whole population prostrate with influenza. Lewis and Clarke, the first explorers of the Rocky Mountains, found Indian warriors ill with fever and dysentery, rheumatism and paralysis, and Indian women in hysterics. "The tooth-ache," said Roger Williams of the New England tribes, "is the only paine which will force their stoute hearts to cry"; even the Indian women, he says, never cry as he has heard "some of their men in this paine"; but Lewis and Clarke found whole tribes who had abolished this source of tears in the civilized manner, by having no teeth left. We complain of our weak eyes as a result of civilized habits, and Tennyson, in "Locksley Hall," wishes his children bred in some savage land, "not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books." But savage life seems more injurious to the organs of vision than even the type of a cheap edition; for the most vigorous barbarians—on the prairies, in Southern archipelagos, on African deserts—suffer more from different forms of ophthalmia than from any other disease; without knowing the alphabet, they have worse eyes than if they were professors, and have not even the melancholy consolation of spectacles.

Again, the savage cannot, as a general rule, endure transplantation,—he cannot thrive in the country of the civilized man; whereas the latter, with time for training, can equal or excel him in strength and endurance on his own ground. As it is known that the human race generally can endure a greater variety of climate than the hardiest of the lower animals, so it is with the man of civilization, when compared with the barbarian. Kane, when he had once learned how to live in the Esquimaux country, lived better than the Esquimaux themselves; and he says expressly, that "their powers of resistance are no greater than those of well-trained voyagers from other lands." Richardson, Parkyns, Johnstone, give it as their opinion, that the European, once acclimated, bears the heat of the African deserts better than the native negro. "These Christians are devils," say the Arabs; "they can endure both cold and heat." What are the Bedouins to the Zouaves, who unquestionably would be as formidable in Lapland as in Algiers? Nay, in the very climates where the natives are fading away, the civilized foreigner multiplies: thus, the strong New-Zealanders do not average two children to a family, while the households of the English colonists are larger than at home,—which is saying a good deal.

Most formidable of all is the absence of all recuperative power in the savage who rejects civilization. No effort of will improves his condition; he sees his race dying out, and he can only drink and forget it. But the civilized man has an immense capacity for self-restoration; he can make mistakes and correct them again, sin and repent, sink and rise. Instinct can only prevent; science can cure in one generation, and prevent in the next. It is known that some twenty years ago a thrill of horror shot through all Anglo-Saxondom at the reported physical condition of the operatives in English mines and factories. It is not so generally known, that, by a recent statement of the medical inspector of factories, there is declared to have been a most astounding renovation of female health in such establishments throughout all England since that time,—the simple result of sanitary laws. What science has done science can do. Everybody knows which symptom of American physical decay is habitually quoted, as most alarming; one seldom sees a dentist who does not despair of the republic. Yet this calamity is nothing new; the elder branch of our race has been through that epidemic, and outlived it. In the robust days of Queen Bess, the teeth of the court ladies were habitually so black and decayed, that foreigners used constantly to ask if Englishwomen ate nothing but sugar. Hentzner, who visited the country in 1697, speaks of the same calamity as common among the English of all classes. Two centuries and a half have removed the stigma,—improved physical habits have put fresh pearls between the lips of all England now; and there seems no reason why we Americans may not yet be healthy, in spite of our teeth.

Thus much for general considerations; let us come now to more specific tests, beginning with the comparison of size. The armor of the knights of the Middle Ages is too small for their modern descendants: Hamilton Smith records that two Englishmen of average dimensions found no suit large enough to fit them in the great collection of Sir Samuel Meyrick. The Oriental sabre will not admit the English hand, nor the bracelet of the Kaffir warrior the English arm. The swords found in Roman tumuli have handles inconveniently small; and the great mediaeval two-handed sword is now supposed to have been used only for one or two blows at the first onset, and then exchanged for a smaller one. The statements given by Homer, Aristotle, and Vitruvius represent six feet as a high standard for full-grown men; and the irrefutable evidence of the ancient doorways, bedsteads, and tombs proves the average size of the race to have certainly not diminished in modern days. The gigantic bones have all turned out to be animal remains; even the skeleton twenty-five feet high and ten feet broad, which one savant wrote a book called "Gigantosteologia" to prove human, and another, a counter-argument, called "Gigantomachia," to prove animal,—neither of the philosophers taking the trouble to draw a single fragment of the fossil. The enormous savage races have turned out, as has been shown, to be travellers' tales,—even the Patagonians being brought down to an average of five feet ten inches, and being, moreover, only a part of a race, the Abipones, of which the other families are smaller. Indeed, we can all learn by our own experience how irresistible is the tendency of the imagination to attribute vast proportions to all hardy and warlike tribes. Most persons fancy the Scottish Highlanders, for instance, to have been a race of giants; yet Charles Edward was said to be taller than any man in his Highland army, and his height was but five feet nine. We have the same impression in regard to our own Aborigines. Yet, when first, upon the prairies of Nebraska, I came in sight of a tribe of genuine, unadulterated Indians, with no possession on earth but a bow and arrow and a bear-skin,—bare-skin in a double sense, I might add,—my instinctive exclamation was, "What race of dwarfs is this?" They were the descendants of the glorious Pawnees of Cooper, the heroes of every boy's imagination; yet, excepting the three chiefs, who were noble-looking men of six feet in height, the tallest of the tribe could not have measured five feet six inches.

The most careful investigations give the same results in respect to physical strength. Early travellers among our Indians, as Hearne and Mackenzie, and early missionaries to the South-Sea Islands, as Ellis, report athletic contests in which the natives could not equal the better-fed, better-clothed, better-trained Europeans. When the French savans, Péron, Regnier, Ransonnet, carried their dynamometers to the islands of the Indian Ocean, they found with surprise that an average English sailor was forty-two per cent, stronger, and an average Frenchman thirty per cent, stronger, than the strongest island tribe they visited. Even in comparing different European races, it is undeniable that bodily strength goes with the highest civilization. It is recorded in Robert Stephenson's Life, that, when the English "navvies" were employed upon the Paris and Boulogne Railway, they used spades and barrows just twice the size of those employed by their Continental rivals, and were regularly paid double. Quetelet's experiments with the dynamometer on university students showed the same results: first ranked the Englishman, then the Frenchman, then the Belgian, then the Russian, then the Southern European: for those races of Southern Europe which once ruled the Eastern and the Western worlds by physical and mental power have lost in strength as they have paused in civilization, and the easy victories of our armies in Mexico show us the result.

It is impossible to deny that the observations on this subject are yet very imperfect; and the only thing to be claimed is, that they all point one way. So far as absolute statistical tables go, the above-named French observations have till recently stood almost alone, and have been the main reliance. The just criticism has, however, been made, that the subjects of these experiments were the inhabitants of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, by no means the strongest instances on the side of barbarism. It is, therefore, fortunate that the French tables have now been superseded by some more important comparisons, accurately made by A.S. Thomson, M.D., Surgeon of the Fifty-Eighth Regiment of the British Army, and printed in the seventeenth volume of the Journal of the London Statistical Society.

The observations were made in New Zealand,—Dr. Thomson being stationed there with his regiment, and being charged with the duty of vaccinating all natives employed by the government. The islanders thus used for experiment were to some extent picked men, as none but able-bodied persons would have been selected for employ, and as they were, moreover, (he states,) accustomed to lifting burdens, and better-fed than the majority of their countrymen. The New Zealand race, as a whole, is certainly a very favorable type of barbarism, having but just emerged from an utterly savage condition, having been cannibals within one generation, and being the very identical people among whom were recorded those wonderful cures of flesh-wounds to which Emerson has referred. Cook and all other navigators have praised their robust physical aspect, and they undoubtedly, with the Fijians and the Tongans, stand at the head of all island races. They are admitted to surpass our American Indians, as well as the Kaffirs and the Joloffs, probably the finest African races; and a careful comparison between New-Zealanders and Anglo-Saxons will, therefore, approach as near to an experimentum crucis as any single set of observations can. The following tables have been carefully prepared from those of Dr. Thomson, with the addition of some scanty facts from other sources,—scanty, because, as Quetelet indignantly observes, less pains have as yet been taken to measure accurately the physical powers of man than those of any machine he has constructed or any animal he has tamed.

TABLE.

  HEIGHT. Number measured. Average.
  New-Zealanders………………. 147 5 feet 6-3/4 inches.
  Students at Edinburgh………… 800 5 " 7-1/10 "
  Class of 1860. Cambridge (Mass.). 106 5 " 7-3/5 "
  Students at Cambridge (Eng.)….. 80 5 " 8-3/5 "

  WEIGHT.
  New-Zealanders………………. 146 140 pounds.
  Soldiers 58th Regiment……….. 1778 142 "
  Class of 1860. Cambridge (Mass.). 106 142-1/2 "
  Students at Cambridge (Eng.)….. 80 143 "
  Men weighed at Boston (U.S.)
  Mechanics' Fair, 1860 ……… 4369 146-3/4 "
  Englishmen (Dr. Thomson)……… 2648 148 "
  Cambridge, Eng. (a newspaper
  statement) ……………….. —— 151 "
  Revolutionary officers at West
  Point, August 10th, 1778,
  given in "Milledulcia," p. 273.. 11 226 "

  AREA OF CHEST.
  New-Zealanders………………. 151 35.36 inches.
  Soldiers 58th Regiment……….. 628 36.71 "

  STRENGTH IN LIFTING.
  New-Zealanders………………. 31 367 pounds.
  Students fit Edinburgh, aged 25.. —— 416 "
  Soldiers 58th Regiment……….. 33 422 "

  NOTE. The range of strength among the New-Zealanders was from 250
  pounds to 420 pounds; among the soldiers, from 350 pounds to 504 pounds.

But it is the test of longevity which exhibits the greatest triumph for civilization, because here the life-insurance tables furnish ample, though comparatively recent statistics. Of course, in legendary ages all lives were of enormous length; and the Hindoos in their sacred books attribute to their progenitors a career of forty million years or thereabouts,—what may safely be termed a ripe old age; for if a man were still unripe after celebrating his forty-millionth birthday, he might as well give it up. But from the beginning of accurate statistics we know that the duration of life in any nation is a fair index of its progress in civilization, Quetelet gives statistics, more or less reliable, from every nation of Northern Europe, showing a gain of ten to twenty-five per cent, during the last century. Where the tables are most carefully prepared, the result is least equivocal. Thus, in Geneva, where accurate registers have been kept for three hundred years, it seems that from 1560 to 1600 the average lifetime of the citizens was twenty-one years and two months; in the next century, twenty-five years and nine months; in the century following, thirty-two years and nine months; and in the year 1833, forty years and five months: thus nearly doubling the average age of man in Geneva, within those three centuries of social progress. In France, it is estimated, that, in spite of revolutions and Napoleons, human life has been gaining at the rate of two months a year for nearly a century. By a manuscript of the fourteenth century, moreover, it is shown that the rate of mortality in Paris was then one in sixteen,—one person dying annually to every sixteen of the inhabitants. It is now one in thirty-two,—a gain of a hundred per cent, in five hundred years. In England the progress has been far more rapid. The rate of mortality in 1690 was one in thirty-three; in 1780 it was one in forty; and it stands now at one in sixty,—the healthiest condition in Europe,—while in half-barbarous Russia the rate of mortality is one in twenty-seven. It would be easy to multiply these statistics to any extent; but they all point one way, and no medical statistician now pretends to oppose the dictum of Hufeland, that "a certain degree of culture is physically necessary for man, and promotes duration of life."

The simple result is, that the civilized man is physically superior to the barbarian. There is now no evidence that there exists in any part of the world a savage race who, taken as a whole, surpass or even equal the Anglo-Saxon type in average physical condition; as there is also none among whom the President elect of the United States and the Commander-in-chief of his armies would not be regarded as remarkably tall men, and Dr. Windship a remarkably strong one. "It is now well known," says Prichard, "that all savage races have less muscular power than civilized men." Johnstone in Northern Africa, and Cumming in Southern Africa, could find no one to equal them in strength of arm. At the Sandwich Islands, Ellis records, that, "when a boat manned by English seamen and a canoe with natives left the shore together, the canoe would uniformly leave the boat behind, but they would soon relax, while the seamen, pulling steadily on, would pass them, but, if the voyage took three hours, would invariably reach the destination first." Certain races may have been regularly trained by position and necessity in certain particular arts,—as Sandwich-Islanders in swimming, and our Indians in running,—and may naturally surpass the average skill of those who are comparatively out of practice in that speciality; yet it is remarkable that their greatest feats even in these ways never seem to surpass those achieved by picked specimens of civilization. The best Indian runners could only equal Lewis and Clarke's men, and they have been repeatedly beaten in prize-races within the last few years; while the most remarkable aquatic feat on record is probably that of Mr. Atkins of Liverpool, who recently dived to a depth of two hundred and thirty feet, reappearing above water in one minute and eleven seconds.

In the wilderness and on the prairies, we find a general impression that cultivation and refinement must weaken the race. Not at all; they simply domesticate it. Domestication is not weakness. A strong hand does not become less muscular under a kid glove; and a man who is a hero in a red shirt will also be a hero in a white one. Civilization, imperfect as it is, has already procured for us better food, better air, and better behavior; it gives us physical training on system; and its mental training, by refining the nervous organization, makes the same quantity of muscular power go much farther. The young English ensigns and lieutenants who at Waterloo (in the words of Wellington) "rushed to meet death, as if it were a game of cricket," were the fruit of civilization. They were representatives, indeed, of the aristocracy of their nation; and here, where the aim of all institutions is to make the whole nation an aristocracy, we must plan to secure the same splendid physical superiority on a grander scale. It is in our power, by using even very moderately for this purpose our magnificent machinery of common schools, to give to the physical side of civilization an advantage which it has possessed nowhere else, not even in England or Germany. It is not yet time to suggest detailed plans on this subject, since the public mind is not yet fully awake even to the demand. When the time comes, the necessary provisions can be made easily,—at least, as regards boys; for the physical training of girls is a far more difficult problem The organization is more delicate and complicated, the embarrassments greater, the observations less carefully made, the successes fewer, the failures far more disastrous. Any intelligent and robust man may undertake the physical training of fifty boys, however delicate their organization, with a reasonable hope of rearing nearly all of them, by easy and obvious methods, into a vigorous maturity; but what wise man or woman can expect anything like the same proportion of success, at present, with fifty American girls?

This is the most momentous health-problem with which we have to deal,— to secure the proper physical advantages of civilization for American women. Without this there can be no lasting progress. The Sandwich Island proverb says,—

  "If strong be the frame of the mother,
  Her son shall make laws for the people."

But in this country, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that every man grows to maturity surrounded by a circle of invalid female relatives, that he later finds himself the husband of an invalid wife and the parent of invalid daughters, and that he comes at last to regard invalidism, as Michelet coolly declares, the normal condition of that sex,—as if the Almighty did not know how to create a woman. This, of course, spreads a gloom over life. When I look at the morning throng of schoolgirls in summer, hurrying through every street, with fresh, young faces, and vesture of lilies, duly curled and straw-hatted and booted, and turned off as patterns of perfection by proud mammas,—it is not sad to me to think that all this young beauty must one day fade and die, for there are spheres of life beyond this earth, I know, and the soul is good to endure through more than one;—the sadness is in the unnatural nearness of the decay, to foresee the living death of disease that is waiting close at hand for so many, to know how terrible a proportion of those fair children are walking unconsciously into a weary, wretched, powerless, joyless, useless maturity. Among the myriad triumphs of advancing civilization, there seems but one formidable danger, and that is here.

It cannot be doubted, however, that the peril will pass by, with advancing knowledge. In proportion to our national recklessness of danger is the promptness with which remedial measures are adopted, when they at last become indispensable. In the mean time, we must look for proofs of the physical resources of woman into foreign and even into savage lands. When an American mother tells me with pride, as occasionally happens, that her daughter can walk two miles and back without great fatigue, the very boast seems a tragedy; but when one reads that Oberea, queen of the Sandwich Islands, lifted Captain Wallis over a marsh as easily as if he had been a little child, there is a slight sense of consolation. Brunhilde, in the "Nibelungen," binds her offending lover with her girdle and slings him up to the wall. Cymburga, wife of Duke Ernest of Lithuania, could crack nuts between her fingers, and drive nails into a wall with her thumb;—whether she ever got her husband under it is not recorded. Let me preserve from oblivion the renown of my Lady Butterfield, who, about the year 1700, at Wanstead, in Essex, (England,) thus advertised:—"This is to give notice to my honored masters and ladies and loving friends, that my Lady Butterfield gives a challenge to ride a horse, or leap a horse, or run afoot, or hollo, with any woman in England seven years younger, but not a day older, because I won't undervalue myself, being now 74 years of age." Nor should be left unrecorded the high-born Scottish damsel whose tradition still remains at the Castle of Huntingtower, in Scotland, where two adjacent pinnacles still mark the Maiden's Leap. She sprang from battlement to battlement, a distance of nine feet and four inches, and eloped with her lover. Were a young lady to go through one of our villages in a series of leaps like that, and were she to require her lovers to follow in her footsteps, it is to be feared that she would die single.

Yet the transplanted race which has in two centuries stepped from Delft Haven to San Francisco has no reason to be ashamed of its physical achievements, the more especially as it has found time on the way for one feat of labor and endurance which may be matched without fear against any historic deed. When civilization took possession of this continent, it found one vast coating of almost unbroken forest overspreading it from shore to prairie. To make room for civilization, that forest must go. What were Indians, however deadly,—what starvation, however imminent,—what pestilence, however lurking,—to a solid obstacle like this? No mere courage could cope with it, no mere subtlety, no mere skill, no Yankee ingenuity, no labor-saving machine with head for hands; but only firm, unwearying, bodily muscle to every stroke. Tree by tree, in two centuries, that forest has been felled. What were the Pyramids to that? There does not exist in history an athletic feat so astonishing.

But there yet lingers upon this continent a forest of moral evil more formidable, a barrier denser and darker, a Dismal Swamp of inhumanity, a barbarism upon the soil, before which civilization has thus far been compelled to pause,—happy, if it could even check its spread. Checked at last, there comes from it a cry as if the light of day had turned to darkness,—when the truth simply is, that darkness is being mastered and surrounded by the light of day. Is it a good thing to "extend the area of freedom" by pillaging some feeble Mexico? and does the phrase become a bad one only when it means the peaceful progress of constitutional liberty within our own borders? The phrases which oppression teaches become the watchwords of freedom at last, and the triumph of Civilization over Barbarism is the only Manifest Destiny of America.