Typos p. 302: astonied [= astonished]; p. 311, n. 1: Geschechtstrieb [= Geschlechtstrieb]; p. 340: dependents [= dependants]; p. 350: flourish-life [= flourishing-life]
The Aristocrat as an Achievement
In the statement of my thesis I defined the aristocrat broadly as the example of flourishing life among men. Let me now be quite plain as to what I mean by flourishing life. I have said that it was that manifestation of human nature possessing a maximum of beauty, health, vigour, will and spirit. Of course, I meant, within a particular race; for that is an essential condition of such powers constituting the best in a given community.
What, then, does flourishing life mean within a particular race? It means that example of life in which the race's view of beauty, health, vigour, will and spirit appear in a maximum degree of development. It means that example of life on which the whole of a particular race can look with the approbation of proud spectators saying: "This is our highest achievement in instinct, virtue, beauty and will!"
And with this I come to the kernel of the question; for the aristocrat is an achievement. He is not the mere foam on the surface of a society; he is a society's top-wave.
But an achievement implies design, endeavour, the patient exercise and garnering of virtuous, volitional, and bodily accomplishments. An achievement involves effort. This, however, is precisely what constitutes the aristocrat. He is the outcome of effort. He is the product of long, untiring endeavour. As a being in possession of highly
Let me, however, define my terms. What are instinct, virtue, beauty and will? These are words used and misused with a looseness which can lend only to the worst confusion. They, nevertheless, stand for very definite ideas, and to every strong race, or even people, they are, and always have been, very definite ideas.
Instinct in man is the knowledge of certain things, or the inclination or ability to practise certain more or less complex actions, prior to experience. It is either racial experience, racial memory, or it is an inevitable tendency arising out of a certain correlation of bodily parts; and, after experience has been acquired, while it is being acquired, instinct remains a predisposition, a bias, in favour of a certain mode of action, a certain course of conduct.
An instinct may remain dormant, it may not find a favourable environment for its expression; but it cannot be created by environment; it cannot be generated by something outside man; because it is essentially something in him, something embedded in the very heart of his ganglia and muscles, and something, therefore, as unalterable as a leopard's spots.
As Theognis of Megara said: "To beget and rear a man is easier than to implant a good soul in his body. No one has yet known how to do this; no one has yet been able to change an imbecile into a sage, or a bad man into a good one." 1
No historian has told us, no historian knows, the very beginning of races. The most that historians know is that a certain number of races are to hand, or were to hand at a certain date, and that some have flourished, some have never risen above a certain low level, some have survived in more or less modified forms to this day, and some have become totally extinct.
1 Fragments, 429431. The words "bad" and "good" here mean nothing more than "plebeian" and "noble" respectively.
With Gobineau, therefore, we are forced to conclude that there is inequality between the races of man, and that barbarity, far from being a primitive state, or an infantile state of historical humanity in general, is rather the inevitable and permanent state of certain races with instincts incompatible with any other condition, while civilisation is the inevitable and certain creation of races with other instincts. 1 To take an instance: it is not only extremely doubtful, but well-nigh thoroughly improbable, that the Fuegians of whom Darwin speaks, 2 would ever have created the civilisation of the Incas, even if they had lived in their circumstances; while it is also thoroughly improbable that the ancient Peruvians would have developed the low and degraded social organisations of the Fuegians, even if they had been in circumstances ten times as unfavourable as they.
Darwin says, glibly: "The perfect equality among the individuals composing the Fuegian tribes must for a long time retard their civilisation." 3 Gobineau would reply: "Their civilisation is as it is, and will remain as it is, as the result of conditions which sink much more deeply into their, lives, than that which appeared to Darwin to be a mere convention of their social life. The equality that Darwin read as the obstacle to their advancement, was but the surface manifestation of an obstacle far greater and far more formidable, which resided in the very hearts of their bodies."
1 See Chapter V, of Vol. I, Essai sur l'Inégalité des Races Humaines.
2 Journal of Researches, Chapter X.
3 Op. cit., p. 228.
Civilisation, then, outside a cultured nation, must always mean a transfusion of blood?
Gobineau does not hesitate to draw this inevitable conclusion from his arguments. 1 He says, practically, you cannot turn the Fuegian into a man capable of a high state of civilisation, save by destroying his innate instincts by cross-breeding him with a superior race.
The interesting converse of this contention, however, is, that you cannot re-convert a civilised man into a brute, save by cross-breeding him with an inferior race; and it is this contention of Gobineau's which makes his work so intensely valuable to the historian as well as to the sociologist whose gaze is directed towards the future of his nation.
For it is this contention which all races of antiquity unconsciously grasped and acted upon. And it was only when the jealous idea of race came to be undermined by democratic influences such as wealth, or the idea of the equality of mankind, that the highly civilised peoples of antiquity declined.
1 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 62: "En adoptant comme justes les conclusions qui précèdent, deux affirmations deviennent de plus en plus évidentes: c'est, d'abord, que la plupart des races humaines sont inaptes à se civiliser jamais, à moins qu'elles ne se mélangent; c'est en suite, que non seulement ces races ne possèdent pas le ressort intérieur declaré nécessaire pour les pousser en avant sur l'échelle du perfectionnement, mais encore que tout agent extérieur est impuissant a féconder leur stérilité organique, bien que cet agent puisse être d'ailleurs très énergique." See also Reibmayr, Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 71: "Just as inbreeding serves the purpose of creating the ganglia of civilisation, so cross-breeding serves the purpose of spreading and handing on the same."
Indeed, Reibmayr goes so far as to declare that all culture depends for its production upon the close inbreeding of a particular leading stock, and that without such close inbreeding within a superior class or group, man would never have been able to raise himself out of his original condition of barbarism. 2 Like Bluntschli, Nietzsche and many others, Reibmayr maintains, simply what history proves, that every elevation of the type man, every culture and civilisation, has always been the work of a small leading caste of inbred aristocrats at the head of a community; "but," he says, "it is more difficult for an exogamic than for an endogamic people to rear a leading caste possessed of pronounced characters, and that is why such peoples are never able to play a prominent part in the history of human civilisation; so long as they remain faithful to the custom of exogamy. In the struggle for supremacy they almost invariably have to give way to those communities who are strictly endogamic, and with whom the rearing of a leading caste is a perfectly natural phenomenon." 3
In every race that has achieved anything in this world, there has always been a feeling, conscious or unconscious, among its leaders, that they and their followers were the chosen people and that they must wrap themselves jealously in the mantle of their own natures and eschew the foreigner, lest they lose their most precious possession. This marvellous insight on the part of the people of
1 Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Talentes und Genies, Vol. I, p. 9.
2 Ibid., p. 6.
3 Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 73.
Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians despised the foreigner; 1 he also says: "The Egyptians are averse to adopt Greek customs, or, in a word, those of any other nation. This feeling is almost universal among them." 2 Elsewhere he writes: "The Egyptians call by the name of barbarians all such as speak a language different from their own." 3 While in Genesis we find the following confirmation of this view: "And he [Joseph] washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread. And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians." 4
Like the Jews, who probably derived the idea from them, the Egyptians believed they were "a chosen people"; they were the only men whom the gods really cherished. They alone, in fact, were men (romet); all other peoples were Asiatics, Niggers or Lybians, but not men. 5 Strangers were forbidden to enter the country, and for the exigencies of trade, certain definite places were allotted. The Greeks, for instance, who traded with the Egyptians, were confined to the town of Naucratis. 6 A stone pillar, hailing from the time of Userteseen III (circa 1630 B.C.) has been found, bearing a written warning to all strangers, not to cross the frontiers of Egypt, and we are told by Herodotus that the Ionian and Carian troops of Psammatichus (circa 664 B.C.) were the first foreigners
1 Book II, 41 and 79.
2 Ibid., 91.
3 Ibid., 158.
4 Gen. xliii. 32.
5 Reibmayr, Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 160.
6 Wilkinson, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 328.
And the Jews, in the same way, despised the alien, and were forbidden to intermarry with him. We read in Deuteronomy: "When the Lord thy God shall deliver them [the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and Jebusites] before thee; thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." 3
"For they will turn away thy son from following me [that is, destroy his particular kind of social instinct the Jewish kind] that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." 4
Here is the essence of ancient wisdom with regard to the preservation of a valuable type, by means of inbreeding. And why did the type wish to preserve itself? Because of its pride in itself. Because of its consciousness of its peculiar virtues.
The chapter continues: "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were
1 Book II, 154. This statement is not so wrong as it seems, for there are reasons for believing that the Jews were allowed to settle in Egypt only when a kindred race (the Hyksos) was putting sovereigns on the throne.
2 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 35.
3 Deut. vii. 23. See also Joshua xxiii. 1213; 1 Kings xi. 2.
4 Deut. vii. 4.
Now hear how the prophet Ezra bewails the terrible fact that this pride of his race has fallen, and that his co-religionists have condescended to mix with the foreigner!
"Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied." 2
To this extent were the best of the Jews unconsciously certain of the fact that races are a matter of instinct, and that races are destroyed by the extinction of those particular instincts constituting their identity through indiscriminate cross-breeding.
The Greeks, too, in their healthiest period, were just as hostile to the foreigner, and to the base-born man, as the proudest of the Egyptians or Jews.
"Both metropolitans and colonists," says Grote, "styled themselves Hellenes, and were recognised as such by each other: all glorying in the name as the prominent symbol of fraternity all describing non-Hellenic men or cities by a word which involves associations of repugnance. Our term barbarian, borrowed from this latter word, does not express the same idea: for the Greeks spoke thus indiscriminately of the extra-Hellenic world
1 Deut. vii. 68.
2 Ezra ix. 1, 2, 3, etc. See also Neh. xiii. 2331.
As Grote shows, in this passage, the matter of the degree of civilisation attained by a foreign people, was not considered by the Greek of antiquity. But neither was it considered by the Jews; for the Jews could scarcely have regarded themselves as more highly civilised than the Egyptians. This is sufficient to show us that this race-feeling was not asserted only in relation to the member of an inferior or savage nation; it was the attitude of a proud people, conscious of their physical and spiritual possessions, towards all the rest of the world. And it is this fact which makes it so astounding. Nothing but the sound, though unconscious, "hitting of the nail on the head," by the men of taste among the Egyptians, the Jews and the Greeks, would ever have led a whole race thus "blindly," so to speak, to conduct themselves as if they knew all that the science of historians and anthropologists now lays down as the rationale of all this race prejudice and race-exclusiveness.
It is impossible to explain this healthy profundity on the part of these people of antiquity, save by some such hypothesis as the one I have suggested in my thesis. For only the voice of healthy, flourishing life could, without conscious science or experiment, have lighted intuitively upon just precisely that measure of preservation for a race, which is involved in this prejudice against the foreigner.
All the disabilities imposed upon the metics in Athens; all the contempt shown to freedmen and slaves, are only
1 History of Greece, Vol. II, p. 162.
Theognis, the poet of Megara, had witnessed changes enough in his native city in the sixth century B.C. to cause him the gravest alarm. He saw what no other man perhaps then saw, that the gradual encroachment of the metic and the plebeian upon the higher classes through the steady rise in the dignity of mere wealth, was the greatest danger threatening his people. And the phenomena which were later to make their appearance in Athens, were watched by him with the most serious qualms in his own city.
Addressing his friend Cyrnus, he says: "We, Cyrnus, go in search of rams, asses and horses of a good breed so that they may give us progeny like unto themselves. But the man of good birth [literally 'the good man'] does not decline the daughter of a churl or ruffian [literally 'a bad man'] provided she brings him wealth. Neither is there any woman who would not consent to become the wife of a churl or ruffian if he be rich, or who would not prefer the wealthy before the honest man. Riches are all that people consider, the man of birth finds a wife in the house of the churl, the churl in the house of the man of birth. Wealth mixes races. Do not therefore be astonished, Polypædes, that our fellow-citizens' blood is degenerate, seeing that the bad and the good are mixing." 1
The point that is important here, is not only the evidence that this passage provides of Theognis's knowledge of the levelling or mixing influences that the power of wealth exercises over a community consisting of different races; but that he deplored it because he was aware of the disintegrating effects of cross-breeding upon the instincts of a particular type.
1 Fragments, 183192.
Indeed, so conscious was he of the importance of purity of stock that he was suspicious even of the exile even, that is to say, of the man who, though born and bred a Greek, had spent some time away from his native soil. Addressing his friend Cyrnus once more, he says: "Do not ever embrace the exile in the hope of gaining anything! When he returns home he is no longer the same man." 2
Reibmayr would have it that it is a natural instinct in a race not to mix its blood with that of any other. 3 But if this theory is true I have some difficulty in understanding why the lawgivers of all races seem to have been so particular about forbidding mésalliances with the foreigner to all their fellow countrymen. No other instinct requires thus to be ratified by law. An explanation which seems to me much more likely is that, in accordance with my thesis, only those supremely happy or lucky strokes of nature within a certain race, with their taste perfectly attuned to every matter of selection and rejection, intuitively selected the right attitude here, and sought to impress it upon the rest of their race. For any law on the matter would surely be superfluous if there actually did exist an instinct in man which made all but the women of his own race creatures both loathsome and repulsive to him.
In any case, no law seems to have been more easily broken or ignored, more particularly in cities like Athens and Rome, where the constant presence and contact of metics and slaves of foreign origin offered all sorts of opportunities to the Hellenes and the Romans to step
1 Fragments, 535538.
2 Ibid., 429431.
3 Inzucht und Vermischung. Chapter: "Ursachen der Inzucht beim Menschen."
We know how wealthy many of the metics were in Athens, and we also know how some of their number, as well as numerous freedmen, were ultimately included in the franchise by Cleisthenes in the fifth century B.C. After this first step in the direction of absolute democracy pressed upon the community by the steady rise in the dignity of mere wealth, how could the old race feeling any longer assert itself? It was still strong, of course; but it had been assailed in a manner which rendered it almost impossible for it ever to recover its former vigour. The words of Theognis about Megara in the sixth century now applied to Athens in the fifth: "Our fellow-citizens' blood is degenerate, seeing that the bad and the good are mixing."
In the fourth century we find Aristotle saying with perfect gravity, "Slaves have sometimes the bodies of freemen, sometimes the souls" 1 the feeling of aversion is vanishing and about the year 325 B.C. the proud sense of race was so near extinction that Alexander was able seriously to contemplate, and to establish the precedent of, a fusion of Greeks and Asiatics. At Sura, the King himself married Statira, the daughter of Darius; his bosom friend Hephæstion took her sister, and a large number of Macedonian officers wedded the daughters of Persian noblemen. Of the rank and file of the Macedonians, 10,000 are said to have followed the example of their leader and his officers and taken Asiatic wives, and all those who did so were munificently rewarded by Alexander.
Long before this happened, however, Greece had fallen into a state of steady decline, and the art, alone, of the Hellenistic period shows clearly enough how the sympathies of the ancient Hellenes, how their sense of the beautiful in man and their range of subjects fit for art had long since begun to include the "barbarian" and his attributes.
1 Politics, Chapter V, 1,254b.
Not quite three centuries later to show how long this feeling survived, at least in certain exalted quarters Constantine is found cautioning his son against mingling his blood with that of the princes of the north, "of the nations without faith or fame," who were ambitious of forming matrimonial alliances with the descendants of the Cæsars. "The aged monarch," says Gibbon, "in his instructions to his son, reveals the secret maxims of policy and pride, and suggests the most decent reasons for refusing these insolent and unreasonable demands. Every animal, says the discreet Emperor, is prompted by nature to seek a mate among the animals of his own species; and. the human species is divided into various tribes by the distinction of language, religion and manners. A just regard to the purity of descent preserves the harmony of public and private life; but the mixture of foreign blood is. the fruitful source of disorder and discord." 1
But by the time that Constantine ascended the throne the Romans had long ceased to be Romans just as the Greeks had long ceased to be Hellenes in the Hellenistic
1 Decline and Fall (Methuen, 1898), Vol. VI, Chapter 53, p. 86. [The italics are mine. A. M. L.]
Sieck says: "If we assumed that, in the year 400 B.C., four fifths of the free population in the states of the classical world consisted of the descendants of manumitted slaves, far from overstating the actual facts, we should be making a very moderate computation." 2
Now, says Gobineau, if this be so, it is no longer with the original Greeks or Romans that we have to deal when we concern ourselves with the decline of these two nations, but with a people who would have been utterly and hopelessly incapable of maintaining, much less of founding, such states as Athens and Rome. We have to deal with a pot-pourri of lethargic Asiatic, African, Jewish and other alien instincts, which did not, and could not, have any influence in the original construction of these national organisms, or they would never have come into being as the powerful and highly civilised creations which we know them to have been. 3
1 Geschichte des Untergangs der Antiken Welt (1895), Chapters III and IV., Vol. I.
2 Op. cit., pp. 297298. See also his remarks upon the degenerate sort of Eastern slave who had the greatest chance of obtaining freedom in the Roman world.
3 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 24: "En montrant comment l'essence d'une
Let me now try to show what part instinct plays in the life of a nation, in order that we may esteem at its proper worth the depth of insight and intuitive good taste which has always led all great nations, or their leaders, to regard the foreigner and his blood with suspicion.
I have said that during the lifetime of men while, that is to say, they are acquiring experience instinct may be defined as a predisposition, a bias in favour of a certain mode of action, a certain course of conduct.
I will now go further and in doing so proceed to make myself clear concerning the question of will by adding to this definition of instinct the following clause: that instinct, as a hereditary bias to act, to select or to reject in a particular way, constitutes the peculiar will of a people. To their particular instincts and will, whether slowly and arduously acquired or implanted in them from their very birth as a race, they will owe their foundation as a great nation; to their instincts and will they owe
nation s'altère graduellement, je déplace la responsabilité de la décadence; je la rends, en quelque sorte, moins honteuse; car elle ne pèse plus sur le fils, mais sur les neveux, puis sur les cousins, puis sur des alliés de moins en moins proches; et lorsque je fait toucher au doigt que les grands peuples, au moment de leur morts, n'ont qu'une bien faible, bien impondérable partie du sang des fondateurs dont ils ont hérité, j'ai suffisament expliqué comment il se peut faire que les civilisations finissent, puisqu'elles ne restent pas dans let mêmes mains."
It was this half-realised, half-conscious thought that made the nations of antiquity, or at least their leaders, so jealously proud of the attributes of their blood. It constituted their will. Other blood might be as highly ennobled, as highly cultivated as theirs; other instincts might prove as triumphant and as eminently admirable as theirs; but inasmuch as they were different, inasmuch as they led to a different will, a different course of determined conduct in other nations, these nations must be eschewed as breeding mates, lest a conflict of wills, a neutralisation of wills, a mutual destruction of instinct which is the basis of all will, should lead to the decline of will, to the disintegration of will that is, to instinctive weakness and the paralysis of all endeavour, all purposeful, resolute and unswerving action in the spirit of the original founder, in the spirit of the great national ancestors.
Thus even the blood of a king was scorned by the early Roman patrician seeking a mate for his daughter; not because a kingly man was scorned, but because a king must of necessity have been a foreigner, a member however great of a strange people, and therefore a creature whose instincts, whose will would probably be in conflict with the instincts and will of the Roman. Thus, too, Mark Antony is scorned, not because he chose a low-born lady Cleopatra was the daughter of a long line of kings but because Cleopatra was Egyptian, and must be possessed of instincts and a will strange and possibly poisonous to the instincts and will of the Roman. The same remarks apply to the Jewish prejudice towards the Egyptian, and to the Greek prejudice towards the Persian. It manifested itself by an inability to sink race-pride and race-prejudice beneath a rational recognition of superior, or at least equal, claims to culture and refinement in another nation.
To be quite plain, let us suppose with Reibmayr that all men's instincts may be classified under the three heads: (A) The self-preservative, (B) the reproductive and (C) the social. 1 However much these may be subdivided, however differently they may be coloured, however disproportionately their respective strengths may be combined in the same individual, the peculiar adjustment of (A) (B) (C) will always constitute the character of that individual.
(A) may be paramount and all-powerful, and (B) and (C) may be subservient; (B) may be all-powerful, and (A) and (C) may be subservient; or (C) may be all-powerful, and (A) and (B) may be subservient. But whatever the ultimate adjustment of the three instincts and their subdivisions (the virtues) may turn out to be in the individual, that adjustment will constitute the characteristic keynote of his character and his direction. Whichever instinct obtains the mastery over the others, that instinct will thereafter determine the actions of the whole man, and constitute his will.
A man may be born with all his three instincts almost equally powerful. Life soon gives him opportunities enough of realising their conflicting claims in his breast; and unless one of his instincts, by constant struggles with the other two, attains to mastery, his conduct will always occasion him the most appalling and staggering difficulties.
Let us take a hypothetical case: H W is a man of thirty with a great life-work before him in the legislature, and the abilities to meet the demands which this life-work will make upon his talents and his energy.
1 Die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Talents und Genie (Munich, 1908), Vol. I, p. 242. Der Erhaltungstrieb, der Geschechtstrieb und der Soziale oder Geselligskeitstrieb.
What is the conflict here? His self-preservative instinct (A) is hostile to an immediate match, because marriage always means a great material sacrifice, and, as his position is still uncertain, it can ill-endure any great strain of this nature upon it. His social instinct (C) is hostile to an immediate match, because his life-work requires all the concentrated attention he can give it, and marriage is likely to divert this attention from its principal object. His reproductive instinct (B) is eloquent, urgent, pressing and importunate, and is prepared to put up a good fight.
It is a clear issue, and, all these instincts being equal, the odds are two to one against his marrying the girl.
But if for many generations the reproductive or sexual instinct has been indulged in his family, it will probably be very powerful, and, like Mark Antony, he may abandon everything for the woman that is to say, his will will reside in the guiding force of his paramount reproductive instinct. If his self preservative instincts have for many generations been indulged by his family, it will likewise probably be very powerful, and, like Cecil Rhodes, or any other great magnate of mere self-aggrandisement, he will be capable of acting indifferently to women's charms, and will cast the girl aside. His will will reside in the guiding force of his paramount self-preservative instinct. If, finally, his social instincts have for many generations been indulged by his family, it will probably be very powerful, and, like Alexander, Cæsar, Charles I and Napoleon (who were never influenced by women), he will be able to divorce himself absolutely from the power of sex, if he should think it necessary, and will only take the woman when he sees that his union with her will serve a purpose very often (though not
I have given this example not so much to prove as to illustrate broadly the relationship of instinct to will. But it will easily be seen that illustrations could be multiplied ad libitum. 1
You have only to think of the subdivisions of the three instincts, and of the numerous virtues to which they can give force and resolution, in order to realise that the will of a man may reside in a whole string of virtues or vices which are either desirable or undesirable, and that the various adjustments of these virtues, backed by the strength of their generating instincts, constitute the varieties of races and of individuals.
We would define will, then, as the guiding force generated by one or two of the instincts. Strong will is, therefore, always the sign of a strong leading instinct, bidding the individual pursue such and such a direction or purpose and no other; and weak will is the absence of a strong leading instinct, and the consequent ignorance of any direction or purpose whatsoever.
Now, how do the voluntarist's and determinist's positions stand in the light of this view of will?
The whole discussion about free will and determinism could only have arisen in a weak and sickly age; for, as a matter of fact, they both stand for precisely the same thing, and, as ideas, arise from a similar state of decadence and disease.
To the strong there is no such thing as free will; for free will implies an alternative, and the strong man has no alternative. His ruling instinct leaves him no alternative, allows him no hesitation or vacillation. Strength
1 It should always be borne in mind, however, that the very conflict between the three fundamental instincts in man is very often the primary cause of there being strength in him at all; for it is after a struggle between them that the conquering one, through the exceptional effort it has made, establishes its permanent supremacy by having far outreached the others in power.
To the strong there is also no such thing as determinism as the determinists understand it. Environment and circumambient conditions determine nothing in the man of strong will. To him the only thing that counts, the only thing he hears is his inner voice, the voice of his ruling instinct. The most environment can do is to provide this ruling instinct with an anvil on which to beat out its owner's destiny, and beneath the racket and din of its titanic action all the voices of stimuli from outside, all the determining suggestions and hints from environment, sink into an insignificant and inaudible whisper, not even heard, much less heeded, therefore, by the strong man. That is why the passion of a strong man may be permanent, that is why the actions of a strong man may be consistent; because they depend upon an inner constitution of things which cannot change, and not upon environment which can and does change. If the strong man is acquainted with determinism at all, it is a determinism from within, a voice from his own breast; but this is not the determinism of the determinists. 1
Who, then, has free will or appears to have it? Obviously the man who, to himself, even more than to others, seems to have an alternative. His inner voice, the voice of his ruling instinct, even if he have one, is so weak, so small in volume, so low in tone that all the
1 Hence the strong man is not, as a rule, susceptible to sudden conversions, sudden changes of opinion, or of his scheme of life. And that is why he is often called wicked by the weak man. For the weaker man knows from experience that he, personally, has been altered or modified by advice, by good counsel, by a word or a text, and he thinks that if the strong man were not "wicked" or "perverse," he also could be altered in this way. The strong man, on the other hand, never calls the weak man "wicked," because, knowing perfectly well that his own deeds are inevitable, he imagines that the weak man's deeds are also inevitable. Consequently he scoffs at, laughs at, or pities the weak man, but does not condemn him from any moral standpoint.
Determinism from without, then, is characteristic of the weak man's action. But because he is not abashed at the voice from outside daring to measure itself against his inner voice, he imagines he exercises what he calls free will the solace and the illusion of the degenerate.
Thus the doctrine of free will and that of determinism are essentially the same, and the controversy about them could only have arisen, and could only have been fought with vehemence and misunderstanding, in a thoroughly weak age.
Having explained precisely what I mean by the two terms instinct and will, it now remains for me to make myself equally clear concerning the terms virtue and beauty.
A virtue is essentially an off-shoot, a minor manifestation of one of the dominating instincts. Being essentially a wilful adaptation of the instincts to the conditions and needs of a given environment, it is capable of being
For instance, a man is born with a good eye a powerful, observant, keen and altogether excellent eye. If he be born in a warrior nation of primitive people, prompted by his self-preservative and social instinct, his eye is almost certain to make him develop all the virtues of a good marksman the certainty of aim, patience in watching for a quarry, self-control over muscles and emotions, and self-reliance and courage vis à vis the foe or the beast of prey. Prompted by his reproductive instinct, he will develop the virtues of the fastidious and exacting connoisseur in selecting his mate among women. He will notice things other men fail to notice. He will admire grace of limb and body, and desire and take grace of limb and body.
If he be born in a peaceful, highly cultivated nation like the early Egyptians, prompted by his self-preservative and social instinct, his eye is almost certain to make him develop all the virtues of the good artistic craftsman the certainty of expression and of judgment of form of the good painter, decorator or sculptor; the patient industry of the expressor who has his hardest critic constantly by him in his own organ of sight, the self-control over muscles and emotions characteristic of him who sets himself a definite task and desires to accomplish it single-handed, and the self-reliance of one who can trust his own ability.
Thus a virtue, though it can be strengthened hereditarily through generations of men who steadily practise it, is much more a personal acquisition than an instinct; it is often a thing that a man watches grow and become perfect in himself during his own lifetime, and as such is a far more conscious possession than the instinct. A man can be extremely proud of virtues which he knows he has strengthened or even acquired during his own lifetime, without ever feeling the slightest pride concerning their root, the strong instinct which has forced these virtues to the fore, or forced him to bring them to perfection.
What, then, in the light of these observations, is beauty? Beauty is essentially that regularity, symmetry and grace of feature and figure which is gradually acquired by a stock pursuing for generations a regular, symmetrical existence, under the guidance of the particular values of their race. As these particular values give rise to particular virtues, so the faces and bodies of a people come to be stamped with the character associated with the virtues most general among them. And a certain association, often unconscious, of the two virtue and physiognomy always grows up within the race, so that the most beautiful person is always he who, in his face and figure, stands for the highest product of the virtues most prized by the community. In a vigorous, healthy race the idea of ugliness is always clearly associated with a degenerate face or figure, or with the face and figure of the foreigner and stranger. The foreigner or stranger, though beautiful perhaps to his own people, stands for a regularity, an order of virtues and their basic instincts which is unknown, strange or unfamiliar therefore he is ugly. The moment a race begins to think another race beautiful, its faith in its own instincts and virtues and the type they produce is beginning to decline.
For what does mixture do? It can do but one thing: it breaks the will.
Every race has its own special adjustment and. development of the instincts, its own notion of virtue its own standard of will-power and its own concept of beauty.
What happens, then, when two races mix?
Obviously, two voices instead of one now speak in each man's breast. When confronted by two alternatives, instead of being able to point to "this" or "that" without hesitation, each man now vacillates, temporises, doubts, stammers, ponders, and is overcome by a paroxysm of perplexity. 1 When coming upon two directions, instead of stepping deliberately and composedly into one of them, each man now stumbles, falters, wonders, staggers, and often falls.
As a matter of fact the promptings of two totally different and often hostile sets of ancestors are now heard in his conscience. 2 He becomes unreliable, unsteady, uncertain. Not only can he not be trusted to choose the correct course of conduct for his neighbour's or employer's interests, he can scarcely be trusted to choose the correct course of conduct for himself. As Reibmayr says: "The root of a national character resides in the mass of the people, and in the individual peculiarities fixed and become hereditary in it through generations. That is why inbred people have character, and why half castes or hybrids are notoriously characterless." 3
1 The old Egyptian word for indecision actually took this condition into account, and implied that these wisest of people knew perfectly well what was wrong with the man who hesitates. Their term for what we understand by doubt and lack of decision was "hèt-snaou," which means "that which has two hearts." See Letourneau, l'Évolution de l'Éducation, p. 308.
2 See pp. 276277 of Chapter VI in this book.
3 Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 37.
It is now that is to say, at times of promiscuous cross breeding that the voice from outside begins to be heeded; it is now that external stimuli can decide an issue; it is now that environment has, as it were, a chance of determining a course of conduct. Nothing is certain, nothing stands on solid ground the very breeze about him makes a man twist and turn like a weathercock. It is for this reason that the ancient customs and institutions of a people begin to totter and to crumble away after a general mixture of blood. It is for this reason that the social life degenerates and breaks up. Hence the profound wisdom of Constantine's observation that "the mixture of foreign blood is the fruitful source of disorder and discord." 2
All the virtues strung like beads upon these fundamental instincts of one race in a man's body are at variance with those belonging to the other race. Chaos is necessarily the result, and a state of absolute weakness supervenes. The instincts of the man are confused and his will is, therefore, broken; his modicum of bodily strength, though it is the same as it was before, or only slightly increased, has now twenty instead of ten virtues amongst which to divide itself up, and consequently the vigour of his virtues, their power, declines. He is perhaps more versatile, more catholic, more ready to lend an ear to every sound; but he is no longer what he was, he can no longer do what he did, he has become weak, faithless and infirm of purpose. Like
1 Laws of Manu, Chapter VIII, 353, and Chapter IX, 61.
2 See p. 307 of this chapter.
In his face you notice strange features, unlike those of either of his ancestral races; he is, racially speaking, "ugly," and is very often so from every other point of view.
Multiply the mixtures, and all the evils enumerated above become a thousand times more acute, until all character vanishes, all will disintegrates, and all virtue disappears.
It is for this reason that, in democratic times in times, that is to say, when much is said about the equality of all men, and the "brotherhood of the human species," and when much is done, too, which is in keeping with these doctrines, when everybody marries, and can marry anybody, and there is no distinction among peoples or classes, it is for this reason, I say, that in such times, the will of communities gradually declines, 2 the character of communities slowly goes to pieces, 3 and ugliness in face and
1 The Decline and Fall, Vol. V, Chapter 45, p. 27.
2 See Gobineau, op. cit., p. 89: "Plus une race se maintient pure, moins sa base sociale est attaquée, parceque la logique de la race demeure la même."
3 The chief characteristic of weakness, which is to be wholly at the mercy of external determinants, also shows itself in the form of an increase of vanity and a decrease of pride in democratic times. For vanity is simply the self esteem of the modest man who depends for his opinion of himself upon the opinion that others have of him whose opinion of himself, that is to say, is suggested to him by his environment, and who, in order to make this environmental opinion a good one, is always trying to seduce the world to a good opinion, of him by every manner of artifice, trick and exertion. The proud man, however, whose self-esteem arises from an inner knowledge of his value, and who is, therefore, independent of environmental opinion, tends to become extinct in democratic times. On the increase of vanity nowadays see remarks by Arthur Ponsonby, op. cit., p. 124.
It is these evils which the racial pride and arrogant self-esteem of all great races intuitively sought to guard against and to avoid, by means of their unanimous and vigorous distrust and contempt of the foreigner, the stranger, or the "barbarian." Just as the man, conscious of having reared a virtue in himself by the sedulous and painstaking exercise of certain principles, has a just pride in his achievement which safeguards him against a mésalliance which would too obviously imperil the transmission of that virtue to his family; 1 so, as we have seen, the nation which is conscious of having reared something worth keeping in instinct, virtue, will and beauty, cultivates and nourishes a bitter, implacable and determined feeling of distrust and contempt of the foreigner, whoever he may be, queen or king, noble or sage, god or magician.
But, you will object, inbreeding cannot go on for ever. In time sterility supervenes, blood is impoverished, constitutions become enfeebled and stature declines. All this is perfectly true, though extreme.
The reproductive powers which consist simply of a periodical amputation from the body of forces which are unamenable to the will that is to say, which the will is not sufficiently powerful to organise and to use for its own purposes would naturally tend to decline when, through inbreeding, the will is driven up to its maximum of organising power, and when every degree of energy the individual body possesses can be given a task, a purpose, an accomplishment, within the individual himself and not outside him in the form of a bud or offshoot of himself, with which his will was unable to cope.
The very rise of the reproductive powers, when an inbred race is mixed, shows through the coincident drop in
1 That is why, in periods where there is little will and little virtue abroad, mésalliances of the most outré nature are consummated with such wantonness and levity.
Thus vigorous and rich reproductive powers can always be associated with a low order of will-power, and vice versâ.
Nevertheless, before that point is reached when, although the constitution and blood are not impoverished, inbreeding has so cultivated the will as to make its organising power sufficiently perfect to preclude all possibility of generative amputations from the soma taking place, the practice of inbreeding can last a very long while, and has been known to last a very long while, in such nations, for instance, as the ancient Hindus, the ancient Egyptians, and even among certain divisions of the ancient Hellenes.
Admitting, however, that if the inbred race is to survive, sterility must be corrected, even though constitutional decline is still a very long way off, the question next arises, what are the ultimate risks of a judicious mixture?
"The principal effects of cross-breeding," says Reibmayr, "are the maintenance of constitutional vigour and the modification of character. It keeps the blood and the nervous system sound and active, and checks the production of extreme characters. In its effects, it is thus exactly the reverse of inbreeding, the operation of which is to fix and petrify characters, to favour the rearing of extreme idiosyncrasies, and in the long run to enfeeble constitutional and sexual vigour." 2
Thus, when that extremity is reached when an inbred race is threatened with extinction through sterility, cross-breeding, while giving fresh life to its constitution, undermines the character. This is the worst possible consequence of the most extreme case. But, what indeed could be worse? To lose your character is to lose your iden-
1 As far as I know this is the first time that this explanation of the sterility of highly inbred races has been advanced. The first to suggest that reproduction was a sign of a certain impotence of will was, however, Friedrich Nietzsche.
2 Inzucht und Vermischung, pp. 7071.
Of course, the larger the number of the original endogamic community, the longer will it take for inbreeding to show its evil effects. For instance in Sparta, which was famous in antiquity owing to its capacity for permanence, it took from six hundred to eight hundred years (i. e. twenty to thirty generations) to reduce a ruling caste which once consisted of from eight to nine thousand families, to a class consisting of only a few hundred families. But nowhere was inbreeding more severe than in the nobility of Sparta.
Increase the number of the families in your endogamic community and you naturally postpone the evil day of reckoning, when all this rearing and cultivating of special characters to a maximum degree must be paid for. Exercise severe selective principles among them, principles as severe if possible as some of Nature's own, and you will postpone the evil day still longer.
Sooner or later, however, if your community is to survive, you must contemplate a cross of some kind with a neighbouring people.
It is, however, quite ridiculous to suppose that, for the purposes of the rejuvenation of stock, that cross must be effected with a people as remote and as different as possible from the inbred community in question.
It was this ridiculous error in cross-breeding that proved so fatal to the communities of antiquity, and which ultimately swamped their original identity completely out of existence.
The Asiatic, Jewish and Northern barbarian slaves, as Otto Sieck has so well shown, 1 who ultimately mixed their blood with the Roman, had very little in common with the Roman people so little, indeed, that where character modification took place at all it was rather a process of cancelling out until nil remained, than of merely introducing conflicting tendencies which might be reconciled,
1 Op. cit., Chapter "Sklaven and Klienten."
But, although every sort of cross while rejuvenating stock must to some extent implant two voices in a man's breast and thus, up to a certain point, destroy character, it is not necessary, if the conflict be not too great, that this destruction should be permanent.
A certain period of disturbed equilibrium must be overcome, as in Egypt after the Hyksos invasion, but once the effects of the mixture have been felt and its benefits to the body fully enjoyed, another process begins to operate which is most important for the future welfare and power of the original race: the process of attaining once again to harmony or to regularity of character by a reconciliation of the conflicting elements in each man's breast, or by the subordination of a part of them to a set of virtues, or to an instinct which gains supremacy.
If the characteristics of the two stocks are not too far asunder, this is possible and often beneficial. For, just as a man's instincts, as I have shown, by struggling together drive the potentially powerful one to its highest point of vigour, so, in a crossed breed, after a period of doubt, weakness and decharacterisation, a struggle may ensue between the voices of the two sets of ancestors in each man's breast, which may prove the most potent spur to the supremacy of the race's strongest and best potentialities. This, of course, would be possible only if a period of severe inbreeding followed upon a period of cross breeding. It would be quite impossible if, as we find men doing nowadays, cross breeding were carried on promiscuously and habitually with anybody and everybody without let or hindrance.
The ancient Egyptians, for instance, suffering no doubt from the evil effects of a too lengthy period of inbreeding, were overcome and conquered by the Shepherd Kings.
Thus, it is possible, when two races blend, for their respective characters, after a struggle, to arrive at some sort of harmony, and to grow, if anything, stronger in the process of attaining to this harmony than they were before. A judicious cross, therefore, while it will be sure to render character unstable for a while, need not do so permanently. The only thing that destroys character permanently is the general, continual, indiscriminate, inter-class, international and inter-racial cross-breeding that is the rule and custom to-day, and which always becomes the rule and custom in democratic times.
The mixture of race in the ancient Greeks, for instance, though it never ultimately attained to any successful harmony for the Aryan and the Pelasgian were apparently too hostile ever to come to a settlement in the breast of the ancient Hellenes in so short a time produced some very great people while the struggle between the two characters lasted; and without the insidiously destructive action of the freedman and metic element, which was continually rising up into the ruling caste like mud from the bottom of a pool, there is no telling to what heights the Greeks might have attained if the two original races in their breasts had arrived at some adjustment.
The English, again, offer an example of a people who, up to the time of Elizabeth, were very fortunate indeed in
1 The conquerors, being a less cultivated race than the Egyptians, were proud to mix with the latter, and powerful enough to override popular prejudice against such unions.
Thus while an occasional cross, if consummated with a people whose will and whose virtues have a direction not too extremely hostile to their own, may prove the salvation of a too highly inbred race, nothing could be more fatal to the character of a people than the constant, indiscriminate and tasteless cross-breeding which we find comes into fashion nay is almost de rigueur in democratic times. But whereas the nations of antiquity did not consciously know this, and were blissfully unaware of the dangers they ran by promiscuous cross-breeding, save that they knew how their noblest ancestors had for some reason or other to them probably unknown forbidden it; we of the twentieth century know these things. We know what constitutes character, and we know how character is destroyed, and we can offer no excuse if we persist in errors the consequences of which we can gauge and foresee.
Even the Emperor Constantine seems to have been sufficiently modern to have known that although crossing was bad, not all crossing was to be deprecated; for, while we find him forbidding his son to marry a daughter of one of the foreign princes of the north "without fame or faith," he made an exception in the case of Bertha, daughter of Hugo, the King of Italy. And why did he make this exception? Because he esteemed the fidelity and valour of the Franks, and because Hugo was, moreover, a lineal descendant of the great Charlemagne. 1
Reibmayr is quite clear on this point. He says: "The crossing of varieties which are closely allied in bodily and spiritual characteristics always produces the best results, and is always the best means of keeping a race viable and prolific and of checking the effects of severe inbreeding. Whereas the experiments of animal breeders show that great
1 See Gibbon, Decline and Fall. Vol. VI, Chapter 53, pp. 8788.
Now, it is obvious that in all endogamic peoples, whether of a mixed or pure race, who are so keenly conscious of differences and distinctions, and who are so very much alive to that which separates them from other peoples that they endeavour unceasingly to maintain their particular traits like treasure trove, a very quick perception of differences within their own community must be a perfectly natural possession. Where great stress is laid upon the existence of any particular quality, and where such a quality is jealously preserved, it stands to reason that the different degrees of its purity or intensity within the confines of a people will be speedily recognised and appreciated by all members of the social body.
Indeed, so keen will this recognition and appreciation be, that a sort of natural differentiation of man from man and of woman from woman will grow up almost unconsciously among them and give rise gradually to orders of rank, wheresoever that order of rank is not in the first place established in bi racial peoples by the relation of conqueror to conquered.
And it also stands to reason that according as the intensity or purity of race-will, race-virtue, race-instinct, race-beauty and race-vigour is either great or small in a certain individual, so he will stand either high or low in the order of rank. And if he stand high, he will be valued not only because he is fair to look upon, not only because he can be relied upon as a standard of the race's virtue and instinct, and not only because he is something strong to cling to, but also, and sometimes chiefly, because he is a great achievement. It is felt, it is known, it is understood, that in order to produce him, many generations must have
1 Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 50.
All grace, all beauty, all strength, all ease, has a past, a long, arduous past, and it is because of this past, in addition to the practical value of the qualities above-mentioned, that a race who knows what these things cost and how difficult they are to obtain, prizes and values those of its members who belong by nature to the first order of rank.
Gradually, therefore, in all tasteful peoples who are self conscious about their virtues, a social ladder is formed in which the "lucky strokes of nature," the examples of "flourishing life" inevitably stand at the top, to direct, to lead, and to show by means of living examples to what heights in virtue, beauty and will the type man can scale if he choose.
And among these various grades or strata of people within a community, very much the same feeling naturally develops in their relations with each other, as obtains between the whole social body and the stranger or foreigner.
Knowing their beauty and their virtues to have been acquired with great pains and with generations of effort, each division in the order of rank, proud and jealous of its achievements, is naturally loth to part with them or to have them undermined or destroyed by mésalliances.
Within an endogamic people you now find whole divisions which practise on a small scale what the whole race is practising on a large scale. Castes are formed and their virtues and particular characteristics are as jealously guarded against those of other castes, as the racial instinct is guarded against the stranger and foreigner. Matrimonial lapses, mésalliances, are strictly prohibited and severely punished. It is realised that the preservation, even
An aristocrat, overcome by momentary lust, who takes one of the women of this lowest order to his bed, commits the most heinous of crimes and will certainly go to hell. A man of this lowest order who, meeting a daughter of the aristocrat, succeeds in luring her to his bed, is instantly killed on being found out.
It is felt that there is something worth preserving and worth treasuring in this society, and the present keepers of the Bank of England could not be more vigilant, nor the present laws against thieving more severe, than are the guardians and laws of such a society.
I am, however, not concerned with the whole society in this essay; I am concerned only with those that stand first in the order of rank. And to speak of these highest blooms of a nation's virtue, beauty and will, as the true aristocrats, as the only aristocrats, and as the creatures who, every time that a high culture has developed in the history of the world, have been responsible for that culture, is not a mere romantic fiction; it is not a fantastic creation of the imagination: it is one of the most solid historical facts and truths we possess.
Whether we turn to the sacerdotal aristocracy of Egypt, the Incas of Peru, the Brahmans of India, the Jews of the desert, the Eupatrids of Attic Greece, the Patricians of Rome, or the German nobility of the Middle Ages, we are concerned in each case with the best that a particular people were able to achieve in the rearing of flourishing specimens;
In each case, too, the class was a hereditary one, or at least its strongest prejudice was in favour of the hereditary principle; though, as we shall see, fresh blood from other castes was courted, if not coveted on occasion, by the wisest among the aristocracies mentioned. We know that the Egyptian priests, the Incas of Peru, the Brahmans and the Jewish priesthood were, within certain well defined limits, hereditary orders, while as to the others, their very names, as Bluntschli points out, testify to their hereditary character. 1
To deal with the Egyptians first, Herodotus tells us that the aristocratic sacerdotal order which directed, guided and watched over them with such paternal care, was a hereditary order, 2 and despite the doubt that has been cast upon this statement of the great historian, there is probably a good deal of truth in it.
Endogamic and proud of their race as the Egyptians were, we do not require to be told that the feeling of distinction, of exclusion and separateness was most probably extended from an inter-herd to an intra-herd application; for, as we have seen above, it is the acquisition and consciousness of particular virtues, produced at great cost, that make men feel their distance from other men, and make them anxious to preserve themselves from all those influences which, in a matrimonial union, might undermine their stock.
1 See The Theory of the State (3rd Edition, Authorised Trans., Clarendon Press), p. 121: "The old nobility (Adel) whom we find in Europe in the earliest records, was everywhere a hereditary class, and, as a rule, absorbed the chief functions of the two highest castes. Language generally bears witness to its hereditary character: the Athenian Eupatridae and Roman Patricii are so called from their descent from noble fathers, while the German Adalinge derive their name from the family (Adal) from which they drew their blood. . . . The Lucumones of Etruria and the knights of the Gauls were a hereditary nobility."
2 Book II, 37.
1 Op. cit., p. xviii. "Il fut un temps, et il n'est pas loin, où les préjugés contre les mariages consanguins étaient devenus tels qu'il fut question de leur donner la consécration de la loi. Épouser une cousine Germaine équivalait à frapper à l'avance tous ses enfants de surdité et d'autres affections héréditaires. Personne ne semblait réflechir que les générations qui ont precédé la nôtre, fort adonnées aux mariages consanguins, n'ont rien connu des conséquences morbides qu'on prétend leur attribuer; que les Seleucides, les Ptolémés, les Incas, époux de leurs surs, étaient, les uns et les autres, de très bonne santé et d'intelligence
Thus we find that Ptolemy II married his daughter and then his sister; Ptolemy IV married his sister; Ptolemy VI and VII (two brothers) married, one after the other, the same sister; Ptolemy VIII married, one after the other, his two sisters; and Ptolemy XII and XIII married, one after the other, their putative sister Cleopatra.
To raise doubts concerning the hereditary character of the highest castes in such a nation, as some historians have done, seems to me to be somewhat gratuitous, not to say absurd. Nevertheless, knowing the profound wisdom of the Egyptians, it is probable that whenever and wherever the evil results of close inbreeding sterility, for example began to show signs of appearing, they not only tolerated but encouraged inter-caste unions.
The two highest castes, for example, were the sacerdotal and the military; it was from either of these two
fort acceptable, sans parler de leur beauté, généralement hors ligne. Des faits si concluants, si irréfutable, ne pouvaient convaincre personne, parcequ'on prétendait utiliser, bon gré mal gré, les fantaisies d'un libéralisme, qui, n'aimant pas l'exclusivité capitale, était contraire à toute pureté de sang, et l'on voulait autant que possible célébrer l'union du nègre et du blanc d'où provient le mulâtre. Ce qu'il fallait démontrer dangereux, inadmissible, c'était une race qui ne s'unissait et ne se perpétuait qu'avec elle-même."
1 See Reibmayr, Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 165. "It is quite certain that in the whole realm of Egypt, and throughout all its historical periods, the closest inbreeding was regarded as something perfectly natural and self understood; just as the marriage of first cousins is regarded by modern Egyptians as the most obvious step, commended equally by nature as by reason."
We may conclude, therefore, that despite anything that has been said to the contrary, Herodotus was probably right in his claim that the castes were hereditary, and that therefore the highest caste, the sacerdotal aristocracy, were, within reasonable limits, a hereditary caste. As to their ruler qualities, I shall speak later; but as to their beauty, as Reibmayr says, to judge from the monuments, it must have been of a very high order. 2
My insistence in the matter of the beauty of the true aristocrat will strike many of my readers as strange. But, as a matter of fact, it is only strange in modern ears, Foolishly, recklessly and, as I think, at great national peril, we have allowed the Christian doctrine of the soul to mislead us and corrupt us on this point; but the healthy truth nevertheless remains, that there can be no good spiritual qualities without beautiful bodily qualities. Be suspicious of everybody who holds another view, and remember that the ugly, the botched, the repulsive, the "foul of breath, have reasons for adhering to this doctrine that "a beautiful soul can justify and redeem a foul body"; for without it the last passport they possess for admittance into decent fragrant society is lost. Think of the men who have created things worth having in their lives; think of Kephrën in the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt, think of Pericles, of Alexander, of Cæsar, of Mahommed, of Cæsar Borgia, of Napoleon, of Goethe; recall the reputed beauty of the ancient Incas, the reputed beauty of the gods and you have a gallery of the most beautiful beings that the mind of any artist could conceive. Now
1 The marriage of the legislator Joseph and the priest's daughter Asenath is an example of this.
2 Inzucht und Vermischung, p. 171.
The prejudice of the ancients, as we know, and shall also see, was entirely in favour of the theory of the concord of bodily and spiritual beauty, and one has only to think of the Greek phrase , 1 so frequently applied in cases where in English phraseology we should use the word "good" alone, in order to realise how deeply the two ideas must have been welded together in the hearts, at least, of the ancient Hellenes. 2
But, to return to the question under consideration, the classical instance, of course, in regard to the exclusiveness of the caste system is afforded by the society of the ancient Hindus.
The aristocratic Brahman was perfectly self-conscious of all his virtues, and in the Law Book of Manu, we get an ingenuous proof of the pride of this great caste, and the jealousy with which they preserved their purity.
"Of created things," we read in Manu, "the most excellent are said to be those which are animated; of the animated those which subsist by intelligence; of the intelligent, mankind, and of men, the Brahmanas.
"A Brahmana, coming into existence, is born as the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law.
"He sanctifies any company which he may enter." 3
People who feel like this about their order are not playing a part; they are too deeply conscious of the sacred-
1 This phrase seems originally to have been applied to the nobles or gentlemen: Lat. optimates, like the old French prudhommes, German gute Männer; but later, as in Aristophanes, it meant a perfect man, a man as he should be (see Liddell and Scott).
2 See on this point a few notes on pp. 11 and 12 of this book.
3 Chapter I, 96, 99, 105, The Laws of Manu (translated by G. Buhler), 1886.
"Sacred learning approached a Brahmana and said to him: 'I am thy treasure, preserve me, deliver me not to a scorner; so preserved I shall become supremely strong!
"'But deliver me, as to the keeper of thy treasure, to a Brahmana whom thou shalt know to be pure, of subdued senses, chaste and attentive.
"'Even in times of dire distress a teacher of the Veda should rather die with his knowledge than sow it in barren soil.'" 1
The best light thrown on the relative importance of the four ancient Hindu castes, seems to me to consist of verses on names.
"Let the first part of a Brahmana's name denote something auspicious; a Kshatriya's be connected with power; and a Vaisya's with wealth; but a Sudra's express something contemptible.
"The second part of the Brahmana's name shall be a word implying protection; of a Vaisya's a term expressive of thriving; and of a Sudra's an expression denoting service." 2
And now see how the pride and self-preservative instinct of this ancient people led them to ensure for all time the purity and excellence of their aristocratic stock
"By practising handicrafts, by pecuniary transactions, by begetting children on Sudra females only, by trading in cows, horses, and carriages, by the pursuit of agriculture and by taking service under a king.
"By low marriages, by omitting the performance of secret rites, by neglecting the study of the Veda, and
1 Chapter II, 113, 114, 115.
2 Ibid., 31, 32.
And listen to this
"A Brahmana who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will after death sink into hell, if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana.
"The manes and the gods will not eat the offering of that man who performs the rites in honour of the gods, of the manes, and of guests, chiefly with a Sudra wife's assistance, and such a man will not go to heaven.
"For him who drinks the moisture of a Sudra's lips, who is tainted by her breath, and who begets a son on her, no expiation is prescribed." 2
Not only the health but the beauty of the Brahman must be preserved, therefore he is recommended most urgently to select a beautiful woman, 3 and to avoid her who "has black hair on her body," or who is "subject to hemorrhoids, or phthisis, or weakness of digestion, or epilepsy, or white and black leprosy." 4 Neither must he marry a girl with a "redundant member," nor "one who is sickly." 5
Although he must not insult the maimed, the botched, and the inferior, he must be brought up to avoid them. He must understand, and rightly too, that a certain stigma attaches to disease and ill-health, which nothing can remove. Thus the sick and the bungled themselves learn to know their proper place on earth and their proper worth, and are not encouraged as they are to-day to push themselves insolently to the fore, and regard themselves as the equals of the sound and the healthy, simply because of the pernicious doctrine of the redeeming soul.
A Brahmana must "not insult those who have redundant limbs or are deficient in limbs . . . not those who have no beauty or wealth, nor those who are of low birth; but he must carefully avoid their company. Thus he
1 Chapter III, 63, 64.
2 Ibid., 1719.
3 Ibid., 6062.
4 Ibid., 7.
5 Ibid., 8.
This valuation of the diseased, the misshapen, the bungled and the botched, is more merciful and more practical than the methods of isolation, segregation and sterilisation proposed by the Eugenists; because, if the fact of bungledom and disease is bravely faced by the sound and the sick alike, so that they may each feel they are a class apart that must never mix, all compulsory pre-nuptial separations and prohibitions from the quarter of the Eugenist's surgery become superfluous. What is cruel, what is inhuman, is to rear people in the sentimental and quasi-merciful belief that there is nothing degrading and "unclean" (the good Old Testament adjective applied to disease) in disease and bungledom, but that a beautiful soul justifies everything; and then, when the world has got into such a state of physical degeneration through this doctrine, to suggest the organisation of a pre-nuptial check on all unions contemplated under the influence of this belief, without making any attempt to alter values. But this is just the sort of cruelty which becomes indispensable after too long a spell of sentimental nonsense.
Thus we see that everything possible was done to preserve the Brahman, the superior caste of the Hindus, from
1 Chapter III, 150.
2 Ibid., 151.
3 Ibid., 152.
4 Ibid., 152.
5 Ibid., 153.
6 Ibid., 154.
7 Ibid., 155.
8 Ibid., 155.
9 Ibid., 159.
10 ibid., 159.
11 Ibid., 161.
12 Ibid., 161.
13 Ibid., 161.
14 Ibid., 151.
15 Ibid., 161.
16 Ibid., 165.
Inbreeding with the occasional alternative of refreshers from the other castes, this as in all other wisely administered aristocratic states was the rule among the Hindus.
Turning now to the Jews, we find much the same system, on a less complicated scale. But in this case we are particularly fortunate in being able actually to trace the rise of their aristocracy to a single family an authentic instance of a rule which probably holds good for the origin of all aristocracies. 2
In Apocryphal and Rabbinical literature, Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah, is represented as a person of great piety, a visionary who foresaw the glory of his family, and to whom Jacob, his father, entrusted the secret writings of the ancients, in order to keep them in his family for all time. At the time of Israel's entrance into Egypt, we are told that this Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari; 3 but, when we reach the date of the exodus which, according to the Bible, is 430 years later, 4 these had grown into a numerous tribe.
Now about eighty years before the departure of the Jews from Egypt, "there went a man of the house of
1 Chapter X, 64.
2 See also p. 330.
3 Gen. xliv. 11.
4 Exod. xii. 41.
This child, brought up by an Egyptian princess and consequently learned in the science of Egypt, became the man Moses, who ultimately, as we know, led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Whatever distinction the house or tribe of Levi might have enjoyed previous to the exodus from Egypt, it is obvious that once two such members of it as Moses and his elder brother Aaron had appeared, its destiny as a leading caste was assured. And, indeed, we find that very soon after the people of Israel had entered the wilderness, and Moses had given them their laws and had built them their tabernacle, Aaron and his sons are chosen for the priest's office. 4 A little later the office is made a hereditary privilege of the whole family when God commanded Moses, concerning his brother and his nephews as follows
"And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.
"And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
"And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
"And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout the generations." 5
What happens here is perfectly plain. In the presence of a people whom they had greatly benefited, and who had followed their leadership and had accepted their guidance without question, the heads of the tribe of Levi consecrate
1 Exod. ii. 1.
2 Exod. vi. 20.
3 Exod. ii. 2.
4 Exod. xxviii. 1, 3, 41.
5 Exod. xl. 1215.
Simple and comprehensible as this story is, it must represent fairly accurately that which has always occurred when a true aristocracy has raised itself to power, particularly among nations in which the conquerors themselves do not constitute the acknowledged rulers of a subject people different in race from themselves. And it is such aristocracies, taking their strength from the approval and admiration of the people, which naturally have the greatest promise of permanence and power. It is significant, however, that the Israelites, coming from a land in which the highest caste was that of the priests, should have instituted a sacerdotal aristocracy themselves.
About fourteen months after the flight from Egypt, when Moses is commanded to number the people, in order to determine "all that are able to go forth to war in Israel," we find not only that Aaron's and Moses' branches, but that of the whole family of Levi, is now treated with special distinction.
"Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.
1 Joshua, the successor to Moses, also has an interesting history. The grandson of Elishama, who was the chief of the tribe of Ephraim, he was the descendant of that remarkable cross between the minister and legislator, Joseph, and Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian priest. Thus he had the very best traditions in his veins, and probably some of the best blood both of Egypt and Israel. For it need not be supposed that Jacob's preference for his grandson Ephraim (who, by the by, received the rights of the firstborn from his grandfather, despite the fact that Manasseh was the elder), was based upon a mere whim. This incident alone shows how elastic the idea of the firstborn actually was, and how infinitely more probable it is that the firstborn was simply the pick of the brood, selected by one who could tell what men were, rather than the first in order of birth. For we have the case of Esau whom Isaac rejected most probably because certain of his deeds were distasteful to his parents (see p. 341).
"For the Lord had spoken unto Moses, saying,
"Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel:
"But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle." 1
And to show that this was no ordinary privilege, no trivial exaltation, but one which enjoyed the mark of the most solemn sanctity, Moses is told "the stranger that cometh nigh [to the tabernacle] shall be put to death." 2
Previous to this self-exaltation of the sacerdotal aristocracy of the tribe of Levi, the leaders of the people, the priests of Israel, had been the firstborn. Thus Isaac is his own priest, Jacob is his own priest, and when a family divided, each man as he became the head of a family also became his own priest. A certain sanctity attached to the firstborn among the Israelites, and one of the reasons given in the law for this sanctity is that "he [the firstborn] is the beginning of his [the father's] strength." 3 And the Old Testament has many instances of the expression "firstborn" being used as an adjective meaning the highest, or the greatest, or the superlative of a certain order. 4
In placing the firstborn at the head of affairs, it was thus thought that the best strength of the nation would be drawn into the governing body, and, all conditions being favourable, that is to say, when there was a strong desire for a male child, as there always was in Jewish families on the part of both parents, and when these parents married in their prime and had a strong desire,
1 Num. i. 4650.
2 Num. i. 51 and iii. 6 et seq.
3 Deut. xxi. 17.
4 See Job xviii. 13; Isa. xiv. 30; Col. i. 15 (see note, p. 340).
This idea of the "best," however, had to be overcome, before another "best" could be put up, and we, therefore, find Moses recording God as having said
"And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine." 1
"And the Lord spake unto Moses saying,
"Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord." 2
Like most aristocracies, this aristocracy of the Levites thus superseded an older aristocracy that of the firstborn; but we shall see that the firstborn were not altogether excluded from the priesthood.
The next question that arises is: Was the Jewish aristocracy a select, inbreeding caste? Within the usual wise limits, I think we shall find that it was.
In the first place, as we have seen, its greatest members, Aaron and Moses, were the issue of a marriage which at the present day would be considered incestuous, and this fact alone gives us some idea of the closeness of the inbreeding practised by the tribes. Moses' mother was also in the position of his great-aunt the sister of his grandfather and it is impossible, when contemplating the will, the reputed beauty and the force of character of Moses, to ignore the circumstance of his origin.
It is true that, after the people of Israel had been long in the wilderness, it was thought expedient, if not imperative, to put an end to these closely inbred matches; 3
1 Num. iii. 12 and 41.
2 Num. iii. 44, 45; see also Num. viii. 926.
3 See Lev. xviii. and xx.
In any case, the promulgation of the ordinance concerning unlawful marriages does not forbid inbreeding within the tribe, and it is certain that the tribe of Levi must, with very few exceptions, have bred among themselves for many generations. They were, in any case, careful of avoiding women lacking in virtue, and they are told distinctly that their high priest, at least, should take to wife "a virgin of his own people." 1 The fact, however, that the circumstance of a priest's daughter being married to a stranger (i. e. a man not of the tribe of Levi) is mentioned specially as a condition precluding her from attending her father's board, 2 proves two things: first, that a certain loss of privilege was involved by a priest's or aristocrat's daughter marrying out of her people; and, secondly, that such marriages must have occurred, however seldom, otherwise this special reference to and provision for, them would have no point. We certainly know, from chapter xxxvi of the Book of Numbers, that, at least among the propertied members of the various tribes, the daughters were commanded by God to choose husbands in the tribes of their respective fathers, so we cannot be far wrong in assuming that inter-tribe marriages were rare in the ruling caste.
In addition to inbreeding, however, there were other
1 Lev. xxi. 14.
2 Lev. xxii. 1213: "If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things. But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat; but there shall no stranger eat thereof."
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
"Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generation that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
"For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous,
"Or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed,
"Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
"No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God . . .
". . . He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them." 1
What could be wiser than this precaution! Bravely, honestly, squarely, without any lachrymose sentimentality, these people realised that a great nation, in order to last, must have healthy bodies, and that a great aristocratic order, above all, can be permanent and powerful only if it casts a stigma upon physiological botchedness and bungledom among its members a stigma recognised by all, and the apparent justice of which grew up in the hearts of the people; so that it became a natural intuitive
1 Lev. xxi. 1623.
Hard and unmerciful as this may seem at first sight, it is not nearly so hard and unmerciful as the measures to which modern Eugenists will soon have to resort in order to prevent the excessive multiplication of the ugly and the physiologically bungled and botched reared through the fact that long centuries of the gospel of the soul have at last killed healthy man's natural inclination to avoid the imperfect, the foul of breath, the ugly and the deformed.
Fancy a God of Love declaring that a man with a flat nose could profane His sanctuaries! But if we understand what love is, and realise that the greatest love to humanity would leave no stone unturned to keep the human species healthy and beautiful, we perceive at once that only a God of Love could have held such a view. Because a God of Love must be truthful and straightforward with His people, and He cannot rock them by highfalutin fairy tales about the beauty of the soul into a slumbering neglect of the body only to be forced to waken them brutally later on by means of a terrific nightmare in which threats of "segregation," "isolation" and "sterilisation" figure more prominently than anything else.
"But this by the way. What is important is to observe the caution with which this aristocracy of the people of Israel like the Brahmans of India, set about the task of preserving their beauty and their virtues. As to a provision against the evils of too close breeding, which, as we have already seen, was made both by the Egyptians and the ancient Hindus, there can be no doubt that such a loophole of escape from the confines of the tribe did actually exist among the Levite aristocracy. We have seen how occasionally a daughter married out of her tribe a liberty which must have had its counterpart in the men of the tribe and how only for the high priest is
When, in addition to this, it is remembered that fresh blood must in all probability have been poured steadily into the aristocracy by a modified and improved survival of the "firstborn" custom of old, 1 which made all the firstborn of the land the possession of the Lord and His priests, and which was never quite extinguished even after the triumph of the Levites, it will be seen that the priestly aristocracy possessed all the necessary checks against the evils of too close inbreeding, if they cared to use them.
I have already referred to the hereditary character of the Greek Eupatrids and of the Roman Patricians, and now I think I have collected enough data to sum up and draw general conclusions.
In the first place, we have seen that all nations of antiquity who attained to any culture, and who may be called the founders and creators of all this earth's civilisation, and of all that is still best in it, were undoubtedly opposed to the stranger and the foreigner, whatever his degree of refinement might be. Whether it was from a jealous self-consciousness of their own beauty and virtues in the mass of the people, or from the initiation of penetrating, discerning and tasteful leaders, it is difficult to
1 From the number of names of priests in the Old Testament who were not descendants of Levi it is pretty certain that many of the firstborn of other tribes continued to be accepted into the priesthood, even after the substitution of the Levites for the firstborn sacerdotal body, referred to above. But whereas in former times they belonged to this body by right, after the exaltation of the Levites, it is probable that a more severe method of selection was exercised, and that only the very best were admitted.
We have also seen that within these endogamic peoples, provided the race were, to begin with, at all prone to a high state of civilisation, culture has risen to very high levels and this in a comparatively short space of time; whereas in exogamic peoples, or in peoples like the Fuegians, who were not younger but different from the races capable of civilisation, a high culture was either not reached at all, or at least only approached at an extremely slow rate of progress.
The nature of instinct, will, beauty and virtue having been explained, it was shown how utterly the balance and strength of these possessions could be undermined by introducing into the same body which possessed them other instincts and other kinds of will, beauty or virtue; and thus the conclusions that Gobineau draws were made a little more comprehensible.
Attention has likewise been called to the fact that once endogamy and the development of a certain distinct culture had created a sharp distinction between a race and its neighbours, further distinctions within the race itself were bound to occur, owing to the long practice of particular virtues on the part of the different strata of the race these strata all being created originally, as I have suggested, by a bodily differentiation which initiated the virtue.
Now all this is not a romantic dream. It is what actually has happened, and does happen, wherever a race attains to any high culture of which it can be proud, and whenever within the race a certain number of people acquire any virtues of which they can justly be proud.
It now remains for me to point out to what extent I differ from Gobineau and incline to Reibmayr's side.
Gobineau would like to prove that all crossing, all mixture, leads to degeneration; in fact, that crossing is degeneration.
Now I should be the last, after all I have said, to underrate the value of race. No one realises better than I do how intimately a strong character and long, uninterrupted tradition are related. But the history of peoples shows me, in the first place, that purity of race, even as far back as the earliest Egyptians, is a quality which can scarcely be posited with any certainty, not to speak of irrefutable proof; and also that in those cases where a definite cross has been made and has been followed by a renewed period of inbreeding, none of the evil results which Gobineau classes under degeneration have necessarily followed; owing, as I have pointed out, to the fortuitous triumph of one set of instincts and virtues over the other set (a triumph which sometimes occurs) and the consequent increased strength of the triumphant party, together with the enhanced bodily vigour gained from a cross after a too prolonged period of inbreeding.
But I should like to emphasise the fact that when I speak of a salutary cross in this sense, I do not mean that
Let us, however, return to the original point. With Reibmayr, then, I believe not only that a cross need not necessarily lead to degeneration, even though I admit that it temporarily and sometimes permanently destroys character; but also that it is sometimes fruitful of the best possible results. It must not, however, be indiscriminate, nor must it be between peoples who are obviously poles asunder, and whose instincts could never arrive at a strong and creative readjustment, once they had come into conflict through mixture.
What applies to races or peoples applies equally well to classes within a race or castes within a people. It is absurd and romantic to suppose that any virtue or ability can remain the possession of a people if everybody in that people is allowed to marry anybody of whatever class. But it is equally absurd to suppose that a people can maintain its castes permanently at a given standard if inbreeding within each caste is to be an absolutely inviolable custom. And, as we have seen, all the great peoples of the past, the Egyptians, the Hindus and the Jews and the world has seen no greater races than these since understood this need and provided for it. The
Thus, as we have seen, the matter which concerned these people, and which still concerns us, is not that an occasional cross between a higher and a lower caste should not be made, but that it should be, in the first place, absolutely necessary and judicious, and that the blood from the lower caste should be of the best. Again, the process which the laws and customs of these ancient races tried to prevent was not occasional refreshment from below, but constant indiscriminate mésalliances which are so destructive of all virtue and of all character, and which bring about the decline of an aristocracy even more quickly than they compass the doom of a nation.
No discussion on the question of aristocracy would have been complete without this examination of the practice and prejudice of the founders of human culture in regard to the relationship of virtue, character, etc., to race and race-mixture. It is for this reason that I have gone into the question with what may seem to some unnecessary elaboration. This chapter, however, has not only given me an opportunity of stating my position definitely concerning such debatable terms as will, instinct, virtue and beauty a task which in any case I should have had to perform as a digression in another chapter; but it has also allowed me to enter more deeply into the nature, the rearing, the production and the cost of the example of flourish-life who is but one of nature's lucky strokes among the highest caste of a nation, and to show to what an extent