Part 2 of 2
It must be borne in mind that the races comprised under these divisions, are by no means to be considered equal among themselves. We should lay it down as a general truth, that while the entire groups differ principally in degree of intellectual capacity, the races comprised in each differ among themselves rather in kind. Thus, we assert upon the testimony of history, that the white races are superior to the yellow; and these, in turn, to the black. But the Lithuanian and the Anglo-Saxon both belong to the same group of races, and yet, history shows that they differ; so do the Samoyede and the Chinese, the negro of Lower Guinea, and the Fellah. These differences, observable among nations classed under the same head, as, for instance, the difference between the Russians and Italians (both white), we express in every day's language by the word "genius." Thus, we constantly hear persons speak of the artistic, administrative, nautical genius of the Greeks, Romans, and Phenicians, respectively; or, such phrases as these, which I borrow from Mr. Gobineau: "Napoleon rightly understood the genius of his nation when he reinstated the Church, and placed the supreme authority on a secure basis; Charles I. and his adviser did not, when they attempted to bend the neck of Englishmen under the yoke of absolutism." But, as the word genius applied to the capacities or tendencies of a nation, in general implies either too much or too little, it has been found convenient, in this work, to substitute for it another term—instinct. By the use of this word, it was not intended to assimilate man to the brute, to express aught differing from intellect or the reasoning capacity; but only to designate the peculiar manner in which that intellect or reasoning capacity manifests itself; in other words, the special adaptation of a nation for the part assigned to it in the world's history; and, as this part is performed involuntarily and, for the most part, unconsciously, the term was deemed neither improper nor inappropriate. I do not, however, contend for its correctness, though I could cite the authority of high names for its use in this sense; I contend merely for its convenience, for we thereby gain an easy method of making distinctions of kind in the mental endowments of races, in cases where we would hesitate to make distinctions of degree. In fact, it is saying of multitudes only what we say of an individual by speaking of histalent; with this difference, however, that by talent we understand excellency of a certain order, while instinct applies to every grade. Two persons of equal intellectual calibre may have, one a talent for mathematics, the other for literature; that is, one can exhibit his intellect to advantage only in calculation, the other only in writing. Thus, of two nations standing equally high in the intellectual scale, one shall be distinguished for the high perfection attained in the fine arts, the other for the same perfection in the useful.
At the risk of wearying the reader with my definitions, I must yet inflict on him another which is essential to the right understanding of the following pages. In common parlance, the terms nation and people have become strictly synonymous. We speak indifferently of the French people, or the French nation; the English people, or the English nation. If we make any distinction at all, we perhaps designate by the first expression the masses; by the second, rather the sovereignty. Thus, we say the French people are versatile, the French nation is at war with Russia. But even this distinction is not always made.
My purpose is to restore the word nation to its original signification, in which it expresses the same as the word race, including, besides, the idea of some sort of political organization. It is, in fact, nothing but the Latin equivalent of that word, and was applied, like tribe, to a collection of individuals not only living under the same government, but also claiming a closer consanguinity to one another than to their neighbors. It differs from tribe only in this respect, that it is applied to greater multitudes, as for instance to a coalescence of several closely-allied tribes, which gives rise to more complicated political forms. It might therefore be defined by an ethnologist as a population consisting of homogeneous ethnical elements.
The word people, on the contrary, when applied to an aggregation of individuals living under the same government, implies no immediate consanguineous ties among them. Nation does not necessarily imply political unity; people, always. Thus, we speak of the Greek nation, though the Greeks were divided into a number of independent and very dissimilar sovereignties; but, we say the Roman people, though the whole population of the empire obeyed the same supreme head. The Russian empire contains within its limits, besides the Russians proper, an almost equal number of Cossacks, Calmucks, Tartars, Fins, and a number of other races, all very different from one another and still more so from the Russians, not only in language and external appearance, but in manners, modes of thinking: in one word, in instincts. By the expression Russian people I should therefore understand the whole population of that empire; by Russian nation, only the dominant race to which the Czar belongs. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of keeping in view this distinction, as I shall prove by another instance. The Hungarian people are very nearly equally divided (exclusive of about one million Germans) into two nations, the Magyars and the Sclaves. Not only have these two, though for centuries occupying the same soil, remained unmixed and distinct, but the most intense antipathy exists between them, which only requires an occasion to display itself in acts of bloodshed and relentless cruelty, that would make the tenants of hell shudder. Such an occasion was the recent revolution, in which, while the Magyars fought like lions for their independence, the Sclaves, knowing that they would not participate in any advantage the others might gain, proved more formidable opponents than the Austrians. 
If I have been successful in my discrimination between the two words, it follows plainly that a member of one nation, strictly speaking, can no more become a member of another by process of law, than a man, by adopting a child, can make it the fruit of his loins. This rule, though correct in the abstract, does not always apply to individual cases; but these, as has already been remarked, cannot be made the groundwork of general deductions. In conclusion of this somewhat digressional definition, I would observe that, owing to the great intermixture of the European populations, produced by their various and intimate mutual relations, it does not apply with the same force to them as to others, and this I regard as the reason why the signification of the word has become modified.
If we will carefully examine the history of great empires, we shall be able, in almost every instance, to trace their beginning to the activity of what, in the strictest sense of the word, may be called a nation. Gradually, as the sphere of that nation expands, it incorporates, and in course of time amalgamates with foreign elements.
Nimrod, we learn from sacred history, established the Assyrian empire. At first, this consisted of but little more than the city of Babylon, and must necessarily have contained a very homogeneous population, if from no other cause than its narrow geographical limits. At the dawn of profane history, however, we find this empire extending over boundless tracts, and uniting under one rule tribes and nations of the most dissimilar manners and tongues.
The Assyrian empire fell, and that of the Medes rose on its ruins. The Median monarchy had an humble beginning. Dejoces, says tradition, united the independent tribes of the Medes. Later, we find them ruling nations whose language they did not understand, whose manners they despised.
The Persian empire exceeded in grandeur its mighty predecessors. Originating in a rebellion of a few liberty-loving tribes, concerted and successfully executed by a popular leader (Cyrus), two generations of rulers extended its boundaries to the banks of the Nile. In Alexander's time, it was a conglomeration of a countless number of nations, many of whom remained under their hereditary rulers while rendering allegiance, and paying tribute to the great king.
I pass over the Macedonian empire, as of too short a duration to be a fair illustration. The germ of the Roman empire consisted of a coalescence of very closely allied tribes: Romulus's band of adventurers (who must have come from neighboring communities), the Sabines, Albans, and Latins. At the period of its downfall, it ruled, at least nominally, over every then known race.
In all these instances, the number of which might be further increased, we find homogeneousness of population at first, ethnical mixture and confusion at the end. "But what does this prove? will be asked. That too great an extension of territory is the cause of weakness? The idea is old, and out of date in our times, when steam and electricity bring the outskirts of the largest empire in closer proximity than formerly were the frontiers of the humblest sovereignty." Extension of territory does not itself prove a cause of weakness and ruin. The largest empire in the world is that of China, and, without steam or electricity, it has maintained itself for 4,000 years, and bids fair, spite of the present revolution, to last a good long while yet. But, when extension of territory is attended with the incorporation of heterogeneous masses, having different interests, different instincts, from the conqueror, then indeed the extension must be an element of weakness, and not of strength.
The armies which Xerxes led into Greece were not Persians; but a small fragment of that motley congregation, the élite, the leaven of the whole mass, was composed of the king's countrymen. Upon this small body he placed his principal reliance, and when, at the fatal battle of Salamis, he beheld the slaughter of that valiant and noble band, though he had hundreds of thousands yet at his command, he rent his garments and fled a country which he had well-nigh conquered. Here is the difference between the armies of Cyrus and those of Xerxes and Darius. The rabbles which obeyed the latter, perhaps contained as much valor as the ranks of the enthusiastic followers of the first, though the fact of their fighting under Persian standards might be considered as a proof of their inferiority. But what interest had they in the success of the great king? To forge still firmer their own fetters? Could the name of Cyrus, the remembrance of the storming of Sardis, the siege of Babylon, the conquest of Egypt, fire them with enthusiasm? Perhaps, in some of those glorious events, their forefathers became slaves to the tyrants they now serve, tyrants whose very language they do not understand.
The last armies of tottering Rome were drafted from every part of her boundless dominions, and of the men who were sent to oppose the threatening barbarians of the north, some, it might be, felt the blood of humbled Greece in their veins; some had been torn from a distant home in Egypt, or Libya; others, perhaps, remembered with pride how their ancestors had fought the Romans in the times of Juba, or Mithridates; others, again, boiled with indignation at the oppression of their Gallic brethren;—could those men respect the glorious traditions of Rome, could they be supposed to emulate the former legions of the proud city?
It is not, then, an extensive territory that ruins nations; it is a diversity of instincts, a clashing of interests among the various parts of the population. When each province is isolated in feelings and interests from every other, no external foe is wanted to complete the ruin. Ambitious and adroit men will soon arise who know how to play upon these interests, and employ them for the promotion of their own schemes.
Nations, in the various stages of their career, have often been compared to individuals. They have, it is said, their period of infancy, of youth, of manhood, of old age. But the similitude, however striking, is not extended further, and, while individuals die a natural death, nations are supposed always to come to a violent end. Probably, we do not like to concede that all nations, like all individuals, must ultimately die a natural death, even though no disease anticipates it; because we dislike to recognize a rule which must apply to us as well. Each nation fancies its own vitality imperishable. When we are young, we seldom seriously think of death; in the same manner, societies in the period of their youthful vigor and energy, cannot conceive the possibility of their dissolution. In old age and decrepitude, they are like the consumptive patient, who, while fell disease is severing the last thread that binds him to the earth, is still forming plans for years to come. Falling Rome dreamed herself eternal. Yet, the mortality of nations admits of precisely the same proof as that of individuals—universal experience. The great empires that overshadowed the world, where are they? The memory of some is perpetuated in the hearts of mankind by imperishable monuments; of others, the slightest trace is obliterated, the vaguest remembrance vanished. As the great individual intelligences, whose appearance marks an era in the history of human thought, live in the minds of posterity, even though no gorgeous tombstone points out the resting-place of their hull of clay; while the mausoleum of him whose grandeur was but temporary, whose influence transient only, carries no meaning on its sculptured surface to after ages; even so the ancient civilizations which adorned the globe, if their monuments be not in the domain of thought, their gigantic vestiges serve but to excite the wonder of the traveller and antiquary, and perplex the historian. Their sepulchres, however grand, are mute. 
Many have been the attempts to detect the causes why nations die, in order to prevent that catastrophe; as the physicians of the Middle Ages, who thought death was always the consequence of disease, sought for the panacea that was to cure all ills and thus prolong life forever. But nations, like individuals, often survive the severest attacks of the most formidable disease, and die without sickness. In ancient times, those great catastrophes which annihilated the political existence of millions, were regarded as direct interpositions of Providence, visiting in its wrath the sins of a nation, and erecting a warning example for others; just as the remarkable destruction of a noted individual, or the occurrence of an unusual phenomenon was, and by many is even now, ascribed to the same immediate agency. But when philosophy discovered that the universe is governed by pre-established, immutable laws, and refused to credit miracles not sanctioned by religion; then the dogma gained ground that punishment follows the commission of sin, as effect does the cause; and national calamities had to be explained by other reasons. It was then said, nations die of luxury, immorality, bad government, irreligion, etc. In other words, success was made the test of excellency and failure of crime. If, in individual life, we were to lay it down as an infallible rule, that he who commits no excesses lives forever, or at least very long; and he who does, will immediately die; that he who is honest in his dealings, will always prosper more than he who is not; we should have a very fluctuating standard of morality, since it has pleased God to sometimes try the good by severe afflictions, and let the wicked prosper. We should therefore be often called upon to admire what is deserving of contempt or punishment, and to seek for guilt in the innocent. This is what we do in nations. Wicked institutions have been called good, because they were attended with success; good ones have been pronounced bad, because they failed.
A more critical study of history has demonstrated the fallibility of this theory, which is now in a great measure discarded, and another adopted in its stead. It is argued that, at a certain period in its existence, a nation infallibly becomes degenerated, and thus falls. But, asks Mr. Gobineau, what is degeneracy? A nation is said to be degenerated when the virtues of its ancestry are lost. But why are they lost? Because the nation is degenerated. Is not this like the reasoning in the child's story-book: Why is Jack a bad boy? Because he disobeys his parents. Why does he disobey his parents? Because he is a bad boy.
It is necessary, then, to show what degeneracy is. This step in advance, Mr. Gobineau attempts to make. He shows that each race is distinguished by certain capabilities, which, if its civilizing genius is sufficiently strong to enable it to assume a rank among the nations of the world, determine the character of its social and political development. Like the Phenicians, it may become the merchant and barterer of the world; or, like the Greeks, the teacher of future generations; or, like the Romans, the model-giver of laws and forms. Its part in the drama of history may be an humble one or a proud, but it is always proportionate to its powers. These powers, and the instincts or aspirations which spring from them, never change as long as the race remains pure. They progress and develop themselves, but never alter their nature. The purposes of the race are always the same. It may arrive at great perfection in the useful arts, but, without infiltration of a different element, will never be distinguished for poetry, painting, sculpture, etc.; and vice versa. Its nature may be belligerent, and it will always find causes for quarrel; or it may be pacific, and then it will manage to live at peace, or fall a prey to a neighbor.
In the same manner, the government of a race will be in accordance with its instincts, and here I have the weighty authority of the author of Democracy in America, in my favor, and the author's whom I am illustrating. "A government," says De Tocqueville,  "retains its sway over a great number of citizens, far less by the voluntary and rational consent of the multitude, than by that instinctive, and, to a certain extent, involuntary agreement, which results from similarity of feelings, and resemblances of opinions. I will never admit that men constitute a social body, simply because they obey the same head and the same laws. A society can exist only when a great number of men consider a great number of things in the same point of view; when they hold the same opinions upon many subjects, and when the same occurrences suggest the same thoughts and impressions to their minds." The laws and government of a nation are always an accurate reflex of its manners and modes of thinking. "If, at first, it would appear," says Mr. Gobineau, "as if, in some cases, they were the production of some superior individual intellect, like the great law-givers of antiquity; let the facts be more carefully examined, and it will be found that the law-giver—if wise and judicious—has contented himself with consulting the genius of his nation, and giving a voice to the common sentiment. If, on the contrary, he be a theorist like Draco, his system remains a dead letter, soon to be superseded by the more judicious institutions of a Solon who aims to give to his countrymen, not the best laws possible, but the best he thinks them capable of receiving." It is a great and a very general error to suppose that the sense of a nation will always decide in favor of what we term "popular" institutions, that is to say, such in which each individual shares more or less immediately in the government. Its genius may tend to the establishment of absolute authority, and in that case the autocrat is but an impersonation of the vox populi, by which he must be guided in his policy. If he be too deaf or rash to listen to it, his own ruin will be the inevitable consequence, but the nation persists in the same career.
The meaning of the word degeneracy is now obvious. This inevitable evil is concealed in the very successes to which a nation owes its splendor. Whether, like the Persians, Romans, &c., it is swallowed up and absorbed by the multitudes its arms have subjected, or whether the ethnical mixture proceeds in a peaceful manner, the result is the same. Even where no foreign conquests add suddenly hundreds of thousands of a foreign population to the original mass, the fertility of uncultivated fields, the opulence of great commercial cities, and all the advantages to be found in the bosom of a rising nation, accomplish it, if in a less perceptible, in a no less certain manner. The two young nations of the world are now the United States and Russia. See the crowds which are thronging over the frontiers of both. Both already count their foreign population by millions. As the original population—the initiatory element of the whole mass—has no additions to its numbers but its natural increase, it follows that the influent elements must, in course of time, be of equal strength, and the influx still continuing, finally absorb it altogether. Sometimes a nation establishes itself upon the basis of a much more numerous conquered population, as in the case of the Frankish conquerors of Gaul; then the amalgamation of ranks and classes produces the same results as foreign immigration. It is clear that each new ethnical element brings with it its own characteristics or instincts, and according to the relative strength of these will be the modifications in government, social relations, and the whole tendencies of the race. The modifications may be for the better, they may be for the worse; they may be very gradual, or very sudden, according to the merit and power of the foreign influence; but in course of time they will amount to radical, positive changes, and then the original nation has ceased to exist.
This is the natural death of human societies. Sometimes they expire gently and almost imperceptibly; oftener with a convulsion and a crash. I shall attempt to explain my meaning by a familiar simile. A mansion is built which in all respects suits the taste and wants of the owner. Succeeding generations find it too small, too dark, or otherwise ill adapted to their purposes. Respect for their progenitor, and family association, prevent, at first, very extensive changes, still each one makes some; and as these associations grow fainter, the changes become more radical, until at last nothing of the old house remains. But if it had previously passed into the hands of a stranger, who had none of these associations to venerate and respect, he would probably have pulled it down at once and built another.
An empire, then, falls, when the vitalizing principle which gave it birth is exhausted; when its parts are connected by none but artificial ties, and artificial ties are all those which unite races possessed of different instincts. This idea is expressed in the beautiful image of the inspired prophet, when he tells the mighty king that great truth, which so many refuse to believe, that all earthly kingdoms must perish until "the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed."  "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them." 
I have now illustrated, to the best of my abilities, several of the most important propositions of Mr. Gobineau, and attempted to sustain them by arguments and examples different from those used by the author. For a more perfect exposition I must refer the reader to the body of the work. My purpose was humbly to clear away such obstacles as the author has left in the path, and remove difficulties that escaped his notice. The task which I have set myself, would, however, be far from accomplished, were I to pass over what I consider a serious error on his part, in silence and without an effort at emendation.
Civilization, says Mr. Gobineau, arises from the combined action and mutual reaction of man's moral aspirations, and the pressure of his material wants. This, in a general sense, is obviously true. But let us see the practical application. I shall endeavor to give a concise abstract of his views, and then to point out where and why he errs.
In some races, says he, the spiritual aspirations predominate over their physical desires, in others it is the reverse. In none are either entirely wanting. According to the relative proportion and intensity of either of these influences, which counteract and yet assist each other, the tendency of the civilization varies. If either is possessed in but a feeble degree, or if one of them so greatly outweighs the other as to completely neutralize its effects, there is no civilization, and never can be one until the race is modified by intermixture with one of higher endowments. But if both prevail to a sufficient extent, the preponderance of either one determines the character of the civilization. In the Chinese, it is the material tendency that prevails, in the Hindoo the other. Consequently we find that in China, civilization is principally directed towards the gratification of physical wants, the perfection of material well-being. In other words, it is of an eminently utilitarian character, which discourages all speculation not susceptible of immediate practical application.
This well describes the Chinese, and is precisely the picture which M. Huc, who has lived among them for many years, and has enjoyed better opportunities for studying their genius than any other writer, gives of them in his late publication. 
Hindoo culture, on the contrary, displays a very opposite tendency. Among that nation, everything is speculative, nothing practical. The toils of human intellect are in the regions of the abstract where the mind often loses itself in depths beyond its sounding. The material wants are few and easily supplied. If great works are undertaken, it is in honor of the gods, so that even their physical labor bears homage to the invisible rather than the visible world. This also is a tolerably correct picture.
He therefore divides all races into these two categories, taking the Chinese as the type of the one and the Hindoos as that of the other. According to him, the yellow races belong pre-eminently to the former, the black to the latter, while the white are distinguished by a greater intensity and better proportion of the qualities of both. But this division, and no other is consistent with the author's proposition, by assuming that in the black races the moral preponderates over the physical tendency, comes in direct conflict not only with the plain teachings of anatomy, but with all we know of the history of those races. I shall attempt to show wherein Mr. Gobineau's error lies, an error from the consequences of which I see no possibility for him to escape, and suggest an emendation which, so far from invalidating his general position, tends rather to confirm and strengthen it. In doing so, I am actuated by the belief that even if I err, I may be useful by inviting others more capable to the task of investigation. Suggestions on important subjects, if they serve no other purpose than to provoke inquiry, are never useless. The alchemists of the Middle Ages, in their frivolous pursuit of impossibilities, discovered many invaluable secrets of nature and laid the foundation of that science which, by explaining the intimate mutual action of all natural bodies, has become the indispensable handmaiden of almost every other.
The error, it seems to me, lies in the same confusion of distinct ideas, to which I had already occasion to advert. In ordinary language, we speak of the physical and moral nature of man, terming physical whatever relates to his material, and moral what relates to his immaterial being. Again, we speak of mind, and though in theory we consider it as a synonyme of soul, in practical application it has a very different signification. A person may cultivate his mind without benefiting his soul, and the term a superior mind, does not necessarily imply moral excellency. That mental qualifications or acquisitions are in no way connected with sound morality or true piety, I have pointed out before. Should any further illustrations be necessary, I might remark that the greatest monsters that blot the page of history, have been, for the most part, men of what are called superior minds, of great intellectual attainments. Indeed, wickedness is seldom very dangerous, unless joined to intellect, as the common sense of mankind has expressed in the adage that a fool is seldom a knave. We daily see men perverting the highest mental gifts to the basest purposes, a fact which ought to be carefully weighed by those who believe that education consists in the cultivation of the intellect only. I therefore consider the moral endowments of man as practically different from the mental or intellectual, at least in their manifestations, if not in their essence. To define my idea more clearly, let me attempt to explain the difference between what I term the moral and the intellectual nature of man. I am aware of the dangerous nature of the ground I am treading, but shall nevertheless make the attempt to show that it is in accordance with the spirit of religion to consider what in common parlance is called the moral attributes of man, and which would be better expressed by the word psychical, as divisible into two, the strictly moral, and the intellectual.
The former is what leads man to look beyond his earthly existence, and gives even the most brutish savage some vague idea of a Deity. I am making no rash or unfounded assertion when I declare, Mr. Locke's weighty opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, that no tribe has ever been discovered in which some notion of this kind, however rude, was wanting, and I consider it innate—a yearning, as it were, of the soul towards the regions to which it belongs. The feeling of religion is implanted in our breast; it is not a production of the intellect, and this the Christian church confirms when it declares that faith we owe to the grace of God.
Intellect is that faculty of soul by which it takes cognizance of, classes and compares the facts of the material world. As all perceptions are derived through the senses, it follows that upon the nicety of these its powers must in a great measure depend. The vigor and delicacy of the nerves, and the size and texture of the brain in which they all centre, form what we call native intellectual gifts. Hence, when the body is impaired, the mind suffers; "mens sana in corpore sano;" hence, a fever prostrates, and may forever destroy, the most powerful intellect; a glass of wine may dim and distort it. Here, then, is the grand distinction between soul and mind. The latter, human wickedness may annihilate; the former, man killeth not. I should wish to enter more fully upon this investigation, not new, indeed, in speculative science, yet new in the application I purpose to make of it, were it not for fear of wearying my reader, to whom my only apology can be, that the discussion is indispensable to the proper investigation of the moral and intellectual diversities of races. When I say moral diversities, I do not mean that man's moral endowments, strictly speaking, are unequal. This assertion I am not prepared to make, because—as religion is accessible and comprehensible to them all—it may be supposed that these are in all cases equal. But I mean that the manifestation of these moral endowments varies, owing to causes which I am now about to consider. I have said that the moral nature of man leads him to look beyond the confines of the material world. This, when not assisted by revelation, he attempts to do by means of his intellect. The intellect is, as it were, the visual organ by which the soul scans the abyss between the present and the future existence. According to the dimness or brightness of this mental eye, are his perceptions. If the intellectual capacity is weak, he is content with a grovelling conception of the Deity; if powerful, he erects an elaborate fabric of philosophical speculations. But, as the Almighty has decreed that human intellect, even in its sublimest flight, cannot soar to His presence; it follows that the most elaborate fabric of the philosopher is still a human fabric, that the most perfect human theology is still human, and hence—the necessity of revelation. This divine light, which His mercy has vouchsafed us, dispenses with, and eclipses, the feeble glimmerings of human intellect. It illumines as well the soul of the rude savage as of the learned theologian; of the illiterate as of the erudite. Nay, very often the former has the advantage, for the erudite philosopher is prone to think his own lamp all-sufficient. If it be objected that a highly cultivated mind, if directed to rightful purposes, will assist in gaining a nobler conception of the Deity, I shall not contradict, for in the study of His works, we learn still more to admire the Maker. But I insist that true piety can, and does exist without it, and let those who trust so much in their own powers beware lest they lean upon a broken staff.
The strictly moral attributes of man, therefore, those attributes which enable him to communicate with his Maker, are common—probably in equal degree—to all men, and to all races of men. But his communications with the external world depend on his physical conformation. The body is the connecting link between the spirit and the material world, and, by its intimate relations to both, specially adapted to be the means of communication between them. There seems to me nothing irrational or irreligious in the doctrine that, according to the perfectness of this means of communication, must be the intercourse between the two. A person with dull auditory organs can never appreciate music, and whatever his talents otherwise may be, can never become a Meyerbeer or a Mozart. Upon quickness of perception, power of analysis and combination, perseverance and endurance, depend our intellectual faculties, both in their degree and their kind; and are not they blunted or otherwise modified in a morbid state of the body? I consider it therefore established beyond dispute, that a certain general physical conformation is productive of corresponding mental characteristics. A human being, whom God has created with a negro's skull and general physique, can never equal one with a Newton's or a Humboldt's cranial development, though the soul of both is equally precious in the eyes of the Lord, and should be in the eyes of all his followers. There is no tendency to materialism in this idea; I have no sympathy with those who deny the existence of the soul, because they cannot find it under the scalpel, and I consider the body not the mental agent, but the servant, the tool.
It is true that science has not discovered, and perhaps never will discover, what physical differences correspond to the differences in individual minds. Phrenology, starting with brilliant promises, and bringing to the task powers of no mean order, has failed. But there is a vast difference between the characteristics by which we distinguish individuals of the same race, and those by which we distinguish races themselves. The former are not strictly—at least not immediately—hereditary, for the child most often differs from both parents in body and mind, because no two individuals, as no two leaves of one tree, are precisely alike. But, although every oak-leaf differs from its fellow, we know the leaf of the oak-tree from that of the beech, or every other; and, in the same manner, races are distinguished by peculiarities which are hereditary and permanent. Thus, every negro differs from every other negro, else we could not tell them apart; yet all, if pure blood, have the same characteristics in common that distinguish them from the white. I have been prolix, but intentionally so, in my discrimination between individual distinction and those of race, because of the latter, comparative anatomy takes cognizance; the former are left to phrenology, and I wished to remove any suspicion that in the investigation of moral and intellectual diversities of races, recourse must be had to the ill-authenticated speculations of a dubious science. But, from the data of comparative anatomy, attained by a slow and cautious progress, we deduce that races are distinguished by certain permanent physical characteristics; and, if these physical characteristics correspond to the mental, it follows as an obvious conclusion that the latter are permanent also. History ratifies the conclusion, and the common sense of mankind practically acquiesces in it.
To return, then, to our author. I would add to his two elements of civilization a third—intellect per se; or rather, to speak more correctly, I would subdivide one of his elements into two, of which one is probably dependent on physical conformation. The combinations will then be more complex, but will remove every difficulty.
I remarked that although we may consider all races as possessed of equal moral endowments, we yet may speak of moral diversities; because, without the light of revelation, man has nothing but his intellect whereby to compass the immaterial world, and the manifestation of his moral faculties must therefore be in proportion to the clearness of his intellectual, and their preponderance over the animal tendencies. The three I consider as existing about in the following relative proportions in the three great groups under which Mr. Gobineau and Mr. Latham  have arranged the various races—a classification, however, which, as I already observed, I cannot entirely approve.
But the races comprised in each group vary among themselves, if not with regard to the relative proportion in which they possess the elements of civilization, at least in their intensity. The following formulas will, I think, apply to the majority of cases, and, at the same time, bring out my idea in a clearer light:—
If the animal propensities are strongly developed, and not tempered by the intellectual faculties, the moral conceptions must be exceedingly low, because they necessarily depend on the clearness, refinement, and comprehensiveness of the ideas derived from the material world through the senses. The religious cravings will, therefore, be contented with a gross worship of material objects, and the moral sense degenerate into a grovelling superstition. The utmost elevation which a population, so constituted, can reach, will be an unconscious impersonation of the good aspirations and the evil tendencies of their nature under the form of a good and an evil spirit, to the latter of which absurd and often bloody homage is paid. Government there can be no other than the right which force gives to the strong, and its forms will be slavery among themselves, and submissiveness of all to a tyrannical absolutism.
When the same animal propensities are combined with intellect of a higher order, the moral faculties have more room for action. The penetration of intellect will not be long in discovering that the gratification of physical desires is easiest and safest in a state of order and stability. Hence a more complex system of legislation both social and political. The conceptions of the Deity will be more elevated and refined, though the idea of a future state will probably be connected with visions of material enjoyment, as in the paradise of the Mohammedans.
Where the animal propensities are weak and the intellect feeble, a vegetating national life results. No political organization, or of the very simplest kind. Few laws, for what need of restraining passions which do not exist. The moral sense content with the vague recognition of a superior being, to whom few or no rites are rendered.
But when the animal propensities are so moderate as to be subordinate to an intellect more or less vigorous, the moral aspirations will yearn towards the regions of the abstract. Religion becomes a system of metaphysics, and often loses itself in the mazes of its own subtlety. The political organization and civil legislation will be simple, for there are few passions to restrain; but the laws which regulate social intercourse will be many and various, and supposed to emanate directly from the Deity.
Strong animal passions, joined to an intellect equally strong, allow the greatest expanse for the moral sense. Political organizations the most complex and varied, social and civil laws the most studied, will be the outward character of a society composed of such elements. Internally we shall perceive the greatest contrasts of individual goodness and wickedness. Religion will be a symbolism of human passions and the natural elements for the many, an ingenious fabric of moral speculations for the few.
I have here rapidly sketched a series of pictures from nature, which the historian and ethnographer will not fail to recognize. Whether the features thus cursorily delineated are owing to the causes to which I ascribe them, I must leave for the reader to decide. My space is too limited to allow of my entering into an elaborate argumentation. But I would observe that, by taking this view of the subject, we can understand why all human—and therefore false—religions are so intimately connected with the social and political organization of the peoples which profess them, and why they are so plainly mapped out on the globe as belonging to certain races, to whom alone they are applicable, and beyond whose area they cannot extend: while Christianity knows no political or social forms, no geographical or ethnological limits. The former, being the productions of human intellect, must vary with its variation, and perish in its decay, while revelation is universal and immutable, like the Intelligence of which it is the emanation.
It is time now to conclude the task, the accomplishment of which has carried me far beyond the limits I had at first proposed to myself. If I have so long detained the reader on the threshold of the edifice, it was to facilitate his after progress, and to give him a chart, that he may not lose himself in the vast field it covers. There he may often meet me again, and if I be sometimes deemed officious with my proffered explanations, he will at least give me credit for good intentions, and he may, if he chooses, pass me without recognition. Both this introduction and notes in the body of the work were thought necessary for several reasons. First, the subject is in some measure a new one, and it was important to guard against misconception, and show, right at the beginning, what was attempted to be proved, and in what manner. Secondly, the author wrote for a European public, and many allusions are made, or positions taken, upon an assumed knowledge of facts, of which the general reader on this side of the ocean can be supposed to have but a slight and vague apprehension. Thirdly, the author has, in many cases, contented himself with abstract reasoning, and therefore is sometimes chargeable with obscureness, on which account familiar illustrations have been supplied. Fourthly, the volume now presented to the reader is one of a series of four, the remainder of which, if this meets the public approbation, may in time appear in an English garb. But it was important to make this, as much as possible, independent of the others and complete in itself. The discussion of the moral and intellectual diversities of the various groups of the human family, is, as I have before shown, totally independent of the question of unity or diversity of species; yet, as it increases the interest attached to the solution of that question, which has been but imperfectly discussed by the author, my esteemed friend, Dr. J. C. Nott, who has so often and so ably treated the subject, has promised to furnish, in notes and an appendix, such additional facts pertaining to his province as a naturalist, as may assist the reader in arriving at a correct opinion.
With regard to the translation, it must be observed that it is not a literal rendering of the original. The translator has aimed rather at giving the meaning, than the exact words or phraseology of the author, at no time, however, departing from the former. He has, in some instances, condensed or omitted what seemed irrelevant, or useless to the discussion of the question in this country, and in a few cases, he has transposed a sentence to a different part of the paragraph, where it seemed more in its place, and more effective. To explain and justify these alterations, we must remind our readers that the author wrote for a public essentially different from that of the translator; that continental writers on grave subjects are in general more intent upon vindicating their opinions than the form in which they express them, and seldom devote that attention to style which English or American readers expect; to which may be added that Count Gobineau wrote in the midst of a multiplicity of diplomatic affairs, and had no time, even if he had thought it worth his while, to give his work that literary finish which would satisfy the fastidious. Had circumstances permitted, this translation would have been submitted to his approbation, but at the time of its going to press he is engaged in the service of his country at the court of Persia.
For obtruding the present work on the notice of the American public, no apology will be required. The subject is one of immense importance, and especially in this country, where it can seldom be discussed without adventitious circumstances biassing the inquirers. To the philanthropist, the leading idea of the book, "that different races, like different individuals, are specially fitted for special purposes, for the fulfilment of which they are accountable in the measure laid down in Holy Writ: 'To whom much is given, from him much will be asked,' and that they are equal only when they truly and faithfully perform the duties of their station"—to the philanthropist, this idea must be fraught with many valuable suggestions. So far from loosening the ties of brotherhood, it binds them closer, because it teaches us not to despise those who are endowed differently from us; and shows us that they, too, may have excellencies which we have not.
To the statesman, the student of history, and the general reader, it is hoped that this volume will not be altogether useless, and may assist to a better understanding of many of the problems that have so long puzzled the philosopher. The greatest revolutions in national relations have been accomplished by the migrations of races, the most calamitous wars that have desolated the globe have been the result of the hostility of races. Even now, a cloud is lowering in the horizon. The friend of peace and order watches it with silent anxiety, lest he hasten its coming. The spirit of mischief exults in its approach, but fears to betray his plans. Thus, western and central Europe now present the spectacle of a lull before the storm. Monarchs sit trembling on their thrones, while nations mutter curses. Nor have premonitory symptoms been wanting. Three times, within little more than half a century, have the eruptions of that ever-burning political volcano—France—shaken the social and political system of the civilized world, and shown the amount of combustible materials, which all the efforts of a ruling class cannot always protect from ignition. The grand catastrophe may come within our times. And, is it the result of any particular social condition, the action of any particular class in the social scale, the diffusion of any particular political principles? No, because the revolutionary tendencies are various, and even opposite; if republican in one place, monarchical in another; if democratic in France, aristocratic in Poland. Nor is it a particular social class wherein the revolutionary principle flourishes, for the classes which, in one country, wish subversion, in another, are firmly attached to the established order of things. The poor in Germany are proletarians and revolutionists; in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, the enthusiastic lovers of their king. The better classes in the former country are mostly conservative; in the latter, they are the makers, or rather attempters, of revolutions. Nor is it any particular social condition, for no class is so degraded as it has been; never was poverty less, and prosperity greater in Europe than in the present century; and everywhere the political institutions are more liberal than ever before. Whence, then, this gathering storm? Does it exist only in the minds of the visionary, or is it a mere bugbear of the timorous? Ask the prudent statesman, the traveller who pierces the different strata of the population; look behind the grates of the State-prisons; count—if this be possible—the number of victims of military executions in Germany and Austria, in 1848 and 1849; read the fearful accounts of the taking of Vienna, of Rome, of Ancona, of Venice, during the same short space of time. Everywhere the same cry: Nationality. It is not the temporary ravings of a mob rendered frantic by hunger and misery. It is a question of nationality, a war of races. Happy we who are removed from the immediate scene of the struggle, and can be but remotely affected by it. Yet, while I write, it seems as though the gales of the Atlantic had blown to our peaceful shores some taints of the epidemic that rages in the Old World. May it soon pass over, and a healthy atmosphere again prevail!
Mobile, Aug. 20, 1855.