Darwin very definitely believed in the doctrine of superior and inferior races. The following passages from The Descent of Man may be quoted as illustra tive of this fact. ” The belief that there exists in man some close relation between the size of the brain and the development of the intellectual faculties is sup ported by the comparison of the skulls of savage and civilised races, of ancient and modem people, and by the analogy of the whole vertebrate series.”
The analogy, alas, limps, and as for the size of the brain or cranial capacity having anything to do, within the limits of the normal range, with intelli gence, that is a myth which has long been exploded.91 But this passage indicates something of the nature of Darwin’s belief in the physical basis of the differences between the so-called “races.”
On the differences in “progress” achieved by na tions Darwin remarks that “it depends on an increase in the actual number of the population, on the num ber of the men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties, as well as on their standard of excel lence.” 92 This is a rather simplified explanation of a complex problem. The history of the nation’s experi ence, the opportunities for schooling and higher edu cation, industrial development, kind of government, national wealth, and numerous similar factors remain unconsidered in Darwin’s judgment. Yet we know these to be extremely important factors in determin ing the degree of a nation’s progress.
When Darwin uses the term “lower races” he quite clearly means ”biologically inferior races.” He approvingly quotes a Mr. Greg, to the effect that 4r’Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts-and in a dozen genera tions five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intel lect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal 4rstruggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed-and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.” The Irish, in short, would have conquered the Scots, not to mention the English.
That the hierarchical differences between the races of men owe their being to the action of natural selec tion is made quite clear in a letter which Darwin wrote toward the end of his life. This letter was ad dressed to William Graham ( 1839-1911 ). The letter is dated July 3, 1881, and the passage to which I wish to make reference runs as follows, “Lastly, I could show fight on natural selection having done and do ing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the na tions of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
Ashley Montagu, 1952