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A. P.

Lange

Education

|L

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

THE PSYCHOLOGY
OF PEOPLES
By Gustave Le Bon
Author of "The

Crowd

"

NEW YORK
THE MACMILLAN

CO,

L35

[All rights reserved.]

CONTENTS
BOOK

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RACES


CHAPTER

PAGE

THE SOUL OF RACES

3-16

How

the naturalists classify species


Application of their
to man
Defective side of the classifications of the
human races at present in vogue Foundations of a psychoThe average types of the races
they
logical description
may be established by observation The psychological factors
which determine the average type of a race The influence of
ancestors and that of the immediate parents
Common psychological groundwork possessed by all the individuals of a race
Immense influence of bygone generations on the present
generation Mathematical reasons for this influence
the collective soul has spread from the family to the village,
from the city to the surrounding district Advantages and
dangers of the conception of the city Circumstances under
which the formation of the collective soul is impossible
the natural races have given way to
Example of Italy
the historic races.

methods

How

How

How

CHAPTER
THE

II

LIMITS OF THE VARIABILITY OF


RACTER OF RACES

THE CHA17-24

The

variability of the character of races, and not its fixity,


constitutes the apparent rule
Reasons for this appearance

Invariability of the fundamental characteristics

and

variability

CONTENTS

vi

PAGE
characteristics
Analogies between the
psychological characteristics and the irreducible and modifiable
characteristics of the animal species
It is only environment,

of

the

secondary

circumstances, and education that influence the accessory


psychological characteristics The possibilities of character
Examples furnished by the different periods The men of the

How

What they became at different periods


national characteristics endure in spite of revolutions Various
examples Conclusion.
Terror

CHAPTER

III

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL HIERARCHY OF RACES

25-38

assiPsychological classification is based, as are anatomical


fications, on the determination of a small number of irreducible

and fundamental

Psychological classification
primitive races The inferior races
superior races The psychological
elements the grouping of which allows of this classification
The elements which are of the most importance Character
Morality The intellectual qualities are modifiable by education
The qualities appertaining to character are irreducible
and constitute the unvarying element in each people Their
role in history
it is
impossible for different races to
understand and influence one another The reasons why it is
characteristics

human races The


The average races The

of the

Why

impossible for an inferior people to adopt a superior civilisation.

CHAPTER

IV

THE PROGRESSIVE DIFFERENTIATION OF

INDI-

VIDUALS AND RACES


The

inequality between the

39-49
different individuals of a race

is

Mental
greater in proportion to the superiority of the race
equality of all the individuals of inferior races To appreciate
the differences that separate races, the superior individuals of
each people and not its average representatives must be compared The progress of civilisation tends towards a greater
and greater differentiation of individuals and races Conse-

quences of this differentiation The psychological reasons


which prevent its becoming too considerable The individuals
of the superior races are highly differentiated as regards their
intelligence, and very slightly so as regards their character
heredity constantly tends to reduce individual superiorities
to the average type of the race
Anatomical observations
confirming the progressive psychological differentiation of

How

races, individuals,

and

sexes.

CONTENTS

vii

CHAPTER V
PAGE

FORMATION OF THE HISTORICAL RACES


How historical races are formed Conditions
.

50-60

which allow of
different races combining to form a single race
Influence
of the number of the individuals involved in the process, of
the dissimilarity of their characters, of the environments, etc.
Results of cross-breeding Causes of the great inferiority of
half-breeds
Mobility of the new psychological characteristics
created by cross-breeding How these characteristics come to
be fixed The critical periods of history Cross-breeding
constitutes an essential factor in the formation of new races,
and at the same time a powerful factor in the dissolution of
civilisations
Importance of the regime of castes Influence
of environment Environment can only exert its influence on
new races in process of formation, and on races whose
ancestral characteristics are giving way before the action of
cross-breeding Environment is without influence on old
races Various examples
The majority of the historical races
of Europe are still in process of formation
Political and
social consequences
Why the period of formation of historical races will

soon be over.

BOOK

II

HO IV THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF


RACES ARE DISPLAYED IN THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF THEIR CIVILISATIONS
CHAPTER

THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF A

CIVILISATION CONSIDERED AS AN EXTERIOR MANIFESTATION


OF THE SOUL OF A PEOPLE

....

The elements

63-80

of which a civilisation is composed are the


exterior manifestations of the soul of the peoples which have
created them The importance of these various elements
varies with the different peoples
According to the several
peoples it is the arts, literature, institutions, etc., that fill the
fundamental role Examples from antiquity the Egyptians,
Greeks, and Romans The evolution of the different elements
of a civilisation may be independent of the general march of
that civilisation
Examples supplied by the arts What they
:

CONTENTS

viii

PAGE
Impossibility of finding in a single element of a
civilisation the measure of the level of that civilisation
Elements which assure the superiority of a people Elements
which philosophically are very inferior may be socially very

express

superior.

CHAPTER

How

INSTITUTIONS, RELIGIONS,

ARE TRANSFORMED

II

AND LANGUAGES

.81-99

The

superior races are as powerless as the inferior races to


transform suddenly the elements of their civilisation Contradictions presented by the peoples which have changed their
The example of Japan In
religions, languages, and arts
what respect these changes are only apparent The profound
transformations undergone by Buddhism, Brahmanism, Mahometanism and Christianity according to the various races
by which they have been adopted The variations undergone
by institutions and languages according to the race that adopts
them That the words which in different languages are considered to correspond represent very dissimilar ideas and
modes of thought Impossibility for this reason of translating
certain languages
Why, in books of history, the civilisation
of a people sometimes seems to have undergone profound
Limits of the reciprocal influence of different
changes
civilisations.

CHAPTER

III

How THE ARTS ARE TRANSFORMED

100-126

Application of the principles already set forth to the study of


the evolution of the arts among the Oriental peoples
Egypt
The religious ideas from which its arts are derived Developments that await its arts when they are transplanted
amid different races
Ethiopians, Greeks, and Persians
Primitive inferiority of Grecian art Slowness of its evolution
Adoption and evolution in Persia of Grecian art, Egyptian art,
and Assyrian art The transformations undergone by the arts
depend on the race and not on religious beliefs Examples
supplied by the great transformations undergone by Arabian
art according to the races which have adopted Islamism
Application of our principles to the investigation of the origin
and evolution of the arts in India India and Greece went to
the same sources, but in consequence of the diversity of the
races they developed arts having no relationship
Immense
transformations undergone by architecture in India among the
different races in spite of the similarity of their beliefs.
:

CONTENTS

ix

PAGE

BOOK

III

THE HISTORY OF PEOPLES CONSIDERED AS A


CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR CHARACTER
CHAPTER I
How THE SOUL OF PEOPLES is RESPONSIBLE FOR
THEIR INSTITUTIONS

129-137

The

history of a people is always determined by its mental


constitution
the political institutions
Various examples
of France are the outcome of the soul of the race Their real

How

invariability beneath their apparent variability


different political parties pursue identical political

Our most
ends under

different names
Their ideal is always centralisation and the
destruction of individual initiative to the profit of the State
the French Revolution merely executed the programme
of the old monarchy Contrast between the ideal of the AngloSaxon race and the Latin ideal The initiative of the citizen
substituted for the initiative of the State
Peoples' institutions
are always the outcome of their character.

How

CHAPTER

II

APPLICATION OF PRECEDING PRINCIPLES TO THE


COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND
OF THE SPANISH-AMERICAN REPUBLICS
.

The English

138-152

How

character
the American soul has been
formed Severity of the selection resulting from the conditions
of existence
Forced disappearance of the inferior elements
The negroes and the Chinese Reasons of the prosperity of
the United States and of the decadence of the SpanishAmerican republics in spite of identical political institutions
Inevitable anarchy of the Spanish-American republics as a
consequence of the inferiority of the characteristics of the race.

CHAPTER

III

How THE

MODIFICATION OF THE SOUL OF RACES


AFFECTS THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF
PEOPLES

153-164

The

influence of foreign elements at once transforms the soul


of a race, and in consequence its civilisation Example of the

Romans

Roman

civilisation

was not destroyed by military

CONTENTS
p

by the pacific invasions of the Barbarians The


Barbarians never formed the project of destroying the Empire
Their invasions were not of the nature of conquests The
early Frank chiefs always considered themselves to be
functionaries of the Roman Empire
They always respected
Roman civilisation, and their aim was to continue it It was
only from the seventh century onwards that the Gallic barbarian

invasions, but

chiefs ceased to consider the

Emperor

as their superior

The

complete transformation of Roman civilisation was not the


consequence of a work of destruction, but of the adoption of

an ancient civilisation by a new race The modern invasions


of the United States The civil strife and the breaking up of
the United States into independent and rival States to which
these invasions will lead The invasion of France by
foreigners and their consequences.

BOOK

HOW THE

IV

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF

RACES ARE MODIFIED.


CHAPTER
THE ROLE OF

IDEAS IN THE LIFE OF PEOPLES

The

167-189

leading ideas of each civilisation are always very few in


number Extreme slowness of their birth and disappearance
Ideas do not influence conduct until they have been transformed into sentiments They then form part of the character
It is thanks to the slowness of the evolution of ideas that
ideas take root
civilisations possess a certain fixity
The reason has no influence whatever The influence of
The role of enthusiasts and apostles
affirmation and prestige
Deformation undergone by ideas as they penetrate the
admitted
idea soon influences all the
masses
universally
elements of civilisation It is thanks to their community of
ideas that the men of each age have a sum total of average
conceptions which makes them very much alike in their
thoughts and actions The yoke of custom and opinion It is
not relaxed until the critical ages of history when the old
ideas are losing their influence and have not as yet been
replaced This critical age is the only age in which the discussion of opinions can be tolerated
Dogmas only hold their
own on the condition that they are not discussed Peoples
cannot change their ideas and dogmas without being at once

How

obliged to change their civilisation.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

xi

II

PAGE

THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

IN

THE EVOLU-

TION OF CIVILISATIONS

190-198

Preponderating influence of religious ideas They have always


constituted the most important element of the life of peoples
Religious ideas responsible for the majority of historical events

and

social

and

political

institutions

always comes into existence with a

new

new

civilisation

Power

religious idea

of the religious ideal Its influence on character It directs


all the faculties towards the same end
The political, artistic,
and literary history of peoples is the offspring of their beliefs
The slightest change in the state of a people's belief results in
an entire series of transformations in its existence Various

examples.

CHAPTER
THE ROLE OF GREAT MEN

IN

III

THE HISTORY OF

PEOPLES

199-208

The

great advances made by each civilisation have always


been realised by a small elite of superior minds Nature of
their role
They synthesise all the efforts of a race Examples

supplied by great discoveries Political role of great men


They embody the dominant ideal of their race Influence of
the great hallucinated
Inventors of genius transform a
civilisation
The fanatics and the hallucinated make history.

BOOK V
THE DISSOCIATION OF THE CHARACTER OF RACES
AND THEIR DECADENCE
CHAPTER

How CIVILISATIONS FADE AWAY AND DIE OUT

211-229

psychological species How hereditary dispositions which had required centuries for their formation
may be rapidly lost
very long time is always necessary for
a people to raise itself to a high level of civilisation, and in
some cases a very short time for it to descend therefrom The
principal factor in the decadence of a people is the lowering of
its character
The mechanism of the dissolution of civilisations
Dissolution of

CONTENTS

xii

PAGE
has hitherto been the same for all peoples Symptoms of
decadence presented by some Latin peoples Development of
egoism Diminution of initiative and will power Lowering
of character and morality The youth of the present day
Probable influence of Socialism Its dangers and its strength
How it will cause the civilisations that undergo it to return
to wholly barbarous forms of evolution
The peoples among
whom it will be able to triumph.

CHAPTER
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

II

...

230-236

INTRODUCTION
MODERN IDEAS ON SOCIAL EQUALITY AND THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL BASIS OF HISTORY
Origin and development of the idea of equality The consequences it
has had The price already paid for its application Its influence
The problems examined in the
at the present day on the masses
present work An inquiry into the principal factors of the general
evolution of peoples Is this evolution determined by institutions ?

The elements

of each civilisation

and whether they have not


peculiar to each people
its permanent laws.

f^HE
*

institutions, arts, creeds, etc. ,

psychological foundations
of chance in history and

The element

civilisation of a

people

number of fundamental
literature

come very slowly

into being,

Long

is

ideas,

and

its institutions, its

slow to disappear.

certain

based on a small

which determine

its arts.

These ideas

and they are

also very

after their erroneous nature

has become clear to cultivated minds, they remain


indisputable truths for the masses, and

continue to

exert their influence on the rank and

of a nation.

It is difficult

but

it is

no

file

to obtain recognition for a

less difficult to discredit


xiii

new

idea,

an idea that has

INTRODUCTION

xiv

long been generally accepted.

Humanity has always

been exceedingly loth to abandon

and

its

It is

its

decayed ideas

moribund gods.
barely a century and a half ago that certain

philosophers, who,

it

should be remarked, were very

ignorant of the primitive history of man, of the varia-

and of the laws of

tions of his mental constitution

propounded the idea of the equality of


individuals and races.

heredity,

This

idea,

which would naturally be most attractive

to the masses,
their mind,

ended by firmly implanting

and speedily bore

fruit.

It

itself in

has shaken

the foundation of the old societies, given

birth

to

the most formidable of revolutions, and thrown the

Western world into a


of which

it is

series of convulsions, the

end

impossible to foresee.

Doubtless certain of the inequalities

among

indi-

viduals and races were too apparent to be seriously

disputed

but people found

selves that these inequalities

it

easy to persuade them-

were merely the outcome

of differences of education, that

all

men

are

born

equally intelligent and good, and that the sole responsibility for their

they

live under.

perversion

lies

with the institutions

This being the case the remedy was

simple in the extreme

all

that

had

to

be done was

INTRODUCTION
and

to reform the institutions


identical education.

xv

to give every

It is in this

way that

man an

institutions

and education have ended by becoming the great


panaceas of modern democrats, the means of remedying inequalities which clash with the immortal
principles that are

the only divinities that survive

to-day.

And

yet science, as

has progressed, has proved

it

the vanity of the theories of equality and shown that


the mental gulf created

by the past between

viduals and races can only be

accumulating action of heredity.


together with the stern

indi-

up by the slowly
Modern psychology,

filled

lessons

of experience, has

demonstrated that the institutions and the education

which

suit

some

individuals

harmful to others.
lation

it is

But when ideas are once

in circu-

not in the power of philosophers to destroy

them when they

arrive at the conviction that they are

Like a swollen stream that has overflown

erroneous.
its

and some races are most

banks, the idea continues

its

destructive progress

with which nothing can interfere.

There

is

no psychologist, no

intelligent statesman
is

this

chimerical

who

is

traveller,

not aware

how

no

fairly

erroneous

notion of the equality of men,

which has thrown the world into confusion, brought

INTRODUCTION

xvi

about

in

Europe

gigantic

revolution,

War

involved

of Succession, and

America

in the

landed

the French colonies in a state of lamentable

all

decadence

sanguinary

yet in spite of this knowledge they are

few indeed who venture to combat

Moreover the idea of


the decline, continues to

name

this notion.

equality, far

from being on

make headway.

It is in

to enslave before long the majority of

Western peo-

pretends to ensure their welfare.

ples,

name

the

of this idea that socialism, which seems destined

in

It is

its

modern woman, forgetting the deep-

that the

lying mental differences that separate her from man,

claims the same rights and the

and

will end, if

same education

as

man,

she be triumphant, in making of the

European a nomad without a home or a family.

The masses
political

and

scarcely trouble themselves about the

social upheavals to

which these levelling

principles have given rise or about the

far

graver

events they have yet to bring forth, and the states-

men
for

of the present day are in power too short a time

them

to

be

more

heedful.

Moreover public

opinion has become the sovereign authority, and

it

would be impossible not to bow to it.


The only real measure of the social importance of
an idea

is

the influence

it

exerts on

men's minds.

INTRODUCTION

The degree

of truth or error

it

xvii

contains

is

When

from a philosophic point of view.

interest

idea has

come

only of

an

to be a sentiment with the masses, all

the consequences

must be undergone

involves

it

in

succession.

We

see then that

by means of education and


modern dream of equality en-

it is

institutions that the

deavours to seek realisation.

It is in their

reforming the unjust laws of nature,


cast

in

the

same mould the

name

that,

we attempt

intelligences

of

to

the

negroes of the Martinique, of the Guadeloupe and


of the Senegal, those of the Arabs of Algeria and
finally those of the Asiatics.
less quite unrealisable,

The chimera

is

doubt-

but experience alone can show

Reason

the danger of chimeras.

is

incapable

of

transforming men's convictions.

The
logical
races,

object of this

work

characteristics

is

to describe the psycho-

which constitute the soul of

and to show how the history of a people and

its civilisation

Neglecting

are determined

details, or

by these

characteristics.

only considering them so far as

they are indispensable to the proof of the principles


advanced,

we

shall

examine the formation and mental

constitution of the historic races, that


i*

is

of the races

INTRODUCTION

xviii
>

jff

formed

artificially

in historic

times by the chances of

we

conquest, immigration and political changes, and


shall

endeavour to demonstrate that their history

determined by their mental constitution.


'-

We

is

shall

note the degree of fixity or variability of the charac-

We

teristics of races.

shall try to find out

whether

individuals and peoples tend towards equality or, on

the contrary, towards greater and

We

tiation.

shall

then examine whether the elements

composing a civilisation,

its

its institutions, its

arts,

not direct manifestations of the soul

beliefs, are

races,

greater differen-

and whether

in

it is

consequence

of

not impossible

that they should pass from one people to another.

We

shall

are

the

conclude by attempting to determine what


necessities

civilisations

under the influence of which

decay and die

We

out.

have dealt at

length with the problems in question in various works

on the

This short volume

civilisations of the East.

should be regarded as a brief synthesis.

The

my

point that has remained most clearly fixed in

mind, after long journeys through the most varied

countries,

is

that

each people possesses a mental

constitution as unaltering as
teristics,

a constitution

sentiments,

its

which

anatomical charac-

is

thoughts, institutions,

the

source of

beliefs

and

its

arts.

INTRODUCTION

xix

Tocqueville and other illustrious thinkers have ima-

gined that they have discovered in the institutions of


the various peoples the cause of their evolution.

am

on the contrary,
while

choosing

studied

by

my

I,

persuaded and hope to prove,


examples from the countries

Tocqueville, that institutions are of ex-

tremely slight importance as regards the evolution of

They

civilisation.

are

most often

and but

effects

very rarely causes.

The

history of peoples

very different factors.

determined, no doubt, by

is

It is full

of particular cases,

of accidents which have taken place but which might

not have taken place.

Side by

however, with

side,

these chances, with these accidental circumstances,


there

are

great permanent laws which govern the

The mental

general course of each civilisation.


stitution of races proceeds

from the most general, the

most primordial of these permanent


of a people,

its

institutions, beliefs,

The

life

arts are

but

laws.

and

the visible expression

of

people to transform

its

institutions, beliefs,

must

its

soul

its

first

transform

civilisation to

sary that

it

its

invisible

to enable

another people,

it

is

For a

soul.

it

and

arts

it

to bequeath

would be neces-

should be able to bequeath

Doubtless this

con-

its

soul.

not what history teaches, but

we

INTRODUCTION

xx

shall easily
it

show that

has allowed

The

itself to

reformers

in recording contrary assertions

be misled by vain appearances.

who have

followed one another for

a century past have endeavoured to change everything

Gods, the earth and

men

have been wholly unavailing so

but their

efforts

far as regards the

century-old characteristics of the souls of races which

time has established.

The conception of the


separate human beings
ideas of

modern

irreducible differences
is

it is

not the teachings

of science that could induce the apostles of a

dogma

to renounce their

efforts are

humanity

in

new phase

the

entirely contrary to

but

socialists,

which

illusory doctrines.

new

Their

of the eternal crusade of

quest of happiness, that

treasure

of

Hesperides for which the peoples have been searching

from the dawn of history onwards.

The dream

of

equality would perhaps avail as much as the old


illusions which cradled us in the past, were it not that
it is

destined to be shattered at an early date on the

immovable rock of natural

inequalities.

Together

with old age and death, these inequalities are a part of


those apparent iniquities of which nature
to which man must submit.

is full

arid

BOOK

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS


OF RACES

BOOK

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF


RACES

CHAPTER

THE SOUL OF RACES


low the

Application of their methods to


Defective side of the classifications of the human races at

naturalists classify species

man

Foundations of a psychological description


How they may be established by

present in vogue

The average
observation

types of the races

The

psychological factors which determine the averThe influence of ancestors and that of the

age type of a race


immediate parents

by

all

Common psychological groundwork possessed


the individuals of a race
Immense influence of bygone

generations on the present generation Mathematical reasons for


this influence
How the collective soul has spread from the family
to the village, from the city to the surrounding district
Advantages
and dangers of the conception of the city Circumstances under
which the formation of the collective soul is impossible Example

of Italy

How

the natural races have given

way

to the historic

races.

TV T

* ^

ATURALISTS base the classification of species


on the observation

characteristics

of

certain

anatomical

regularly and constantly reproduced

by

TtfEj.PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

We are

heredity.

teristics are

aware to-day that these charac-

transformed by the hereditary accumula-

tion of imperceptible changes.

Still,

if

attention be

confined to the comparatively short period covered

by

history, the species

may

be said to be invariable.

Applied to man, the methods of

classification of

the naturalists have allowed of the determining of a


certain

number of

perfectly distinct types.

By

the

aid of clearly defined anatomical characteristics, such


as the colour of the skin,

of the skull,

human
distinct

it

and the shape and volume

has been possible to establish that the

race comprises several species which are quite

and probably of very

eyes of the scientific

men who

traditions, these species are

unanimously

snails,

that

all

In the

are respectful of religious

simply races.

as has been rightly observed,

Caucasian were

different origin.

"

However,

Negro and the


zoologists would affirm
if

the

they constitute excellent species,

which could never have descended from the same


couple

from which

they

had gradually come

to

differ."

These anatomical

characteristics, those at least of

them that can be traced by our


of very

summary general

divisions.

analysis, only allow

Their divergencies

are only perceptible in the case of the most distinct

ITS

human

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

species
for

negroes

of the white and yellow races, or the


Peoples, however, that closely

example.

resemble one another as regards their physique,

may

be widely different as regards their modes of feeling

and

and

acting,

in

and

civilisations, beliefs,

stance, to class in

consequence as
Is

arts.

that

everybody, and
history

possible, for in-

one and the same group a Spaniard,

an Englishman, and an Arab?


differences

it

their

regards

between

exist

be

to

Are not the mental


them apparent

detected

to

throughout their

In the absence of anatomical characteristics,

it

has

been proposed to base the classification of certain


peoples on various elements, such as language,

and

political organisation

but this

belief,

mode of classifica-

tion will scarcely bear examination.

The elements

of

classification

which anatomy,

languages, environment, or political organisation are

incapable of furnishing are supplied by psychology,

which shows that behind the

and

political

institutions, arts, beliefs,

upheavals of each people,

lie

certain

moral and intellectual characteristics that determine


its

evolution.

that form

It is

the whole of these characteristics

what may be

called the soul of a race.

Each race possesses a mental

constitution as un-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

varying as

its

anatomical constitution. There seems to

be no doubt that the former corresponds to a certain


special structure of the brain, but as science
sufficiently

structure,

advanced as yet to acquaint us with

we cannot have

recourse to

it

this

as a basis of

Moreover, a knowledge of

classification.

not

is

it

would

in

no way modify the description of the mental constitution of which it is the determining factor and
which

is

revealed to us

The moral and

by observation.

intellectual

characteristics,

whose

association forms the soul of a people, represent the

synthesis of

its

entire past, the inheritance of all

ancestors, the motives of

its

conduct.

to be very variable in individuals of

its

They appear
the same race,

but observation proves that the majority of the indiof

viduals

number of

a given

race always

common

possess a

psychological

certain

characteristics,

which are as stable as the anatomical characteristics


that allow of the classification of species, while, like

these latter characteristics, the psychological characteristics

are regularly

and constantly reproduced by

heredity.

This aggregate of psychological elements observable


all

the individuals of a race constitutes what

jti

r igj>tly

be called the national character.

may

Together

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

they form the average type which permits of a people

A thousand

being defined.

Frenchmen, Englishmen,

or Chinamen, chosen at hazard, offer notable differ-

ences amongst themselves, but nevertheless, owing to


racial heredity,

common

they possess

characteristics

which allow of the determining of an ideal type of

Chinaman

the Frenchman, the Englishman, and the

analogous to the ideal type which the naturalist presents

when he

describes in a general

manner the dog

Applicable to the different varieties of

or the horse.

dogs or horses, such a description can only include


the characteristics

common

which enable

numerous individual specimens

their

to

them

all

and not those


to

be distinguished.
Provided a race be sufficiently ancient, and

sequence homogeneous,

its

average type

with sufficient clearness for

it

to

is

in

con-

established

be readily noted by

the observer.

When we
teristics

visit

that can arrest our attention are precisely

those that are

country

a foreign people the only charac-

we

common

to all the inhabitants of the

are travelling through, since they are the

only characteristics that are constantly repeated.

seldom

The

individual

characteristics,

escape

and before long we not only distinguish

us,

being

repeated,

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

at first sight

between an Englishman, an

a Spaniard, but

them

certain

we

Italian, or

are perfectly able to ascribe to

moral and intellectual characteristics,

which are the very fundamental characteristics that

we

An

referred to above.

Englishman or a Gascon,

an inhabitant of
to a type of

of which

Normandy or Flanders, corresponds


which we have a perfectly clear idea and

we can

easily give a description.

to an isolated individual, the

very inadequate and sometimes inexact

Applied

may seem

description
;

applied to

the majority of the individuals of one of these races


it

will depict

cess

them

The unconscious

perfectly.

by which we arrive

at

and mental type of a people


in its essence

pro-

an idea of the physical


is

absolutely identical

with the method by which a naturalist

classifies species.

This identity of the mental constitution of the


majority of the individuals of a race

simple physiological reasons.

Each

is

due to very

individual

is

the

product not merely of his immediate parents but also


of his race, that
ants.

is

of the entire series of his ascend-

learned economist, M. Cheysson, has calcu-

lated that in

France,

supposing there to be three

generations in a century, each of us would have in


his veins the blood of at least

twenty millions of the

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

people living in the year 1000.

"

In consequence

all

the inhabitants of a given locality, of a given district,

common

necessarily possess

ancestors, are

moulded

of the same clay, bear the same impress, and they

brought back unceasingly to the average type

are

all

by

this

heavy chain, of which they are


We are the children at once
links.

long and

merely the

last

of our parents and our race.

second mother

Our country

our

is

physiological and hereditary as

for

well as sentimental reasons."


If

it

language the

in-

which govern the individual and direct

his

be wished to state

fluences

may

conduct, they
first

in precise

be said to be of three kinds.

and certainly the most important

of ancestors
diate parents

is

the influence

the second, the influence of the

The

the third,

commonly supposed

immeto be

the most powerful, but nevertheless the weakest,


the influence of environment.

vironment, including in

and moral influences


jected

during his

to

life,

its

The

is

>

influence of en-

scope the various physical

which the individual

is

sub-

and particularly during

education, produces but very slight variations.


influences of environment only

become

his r

The

really effective

when heredity has caused their action to be continued


in the same direction during a long period.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

io

Do what
above

all

he may, then, the individual

The

of the ideas and sentiments that are, as

termines

is

Invisible in

race.

very visible in

in

it

totality

were, the

the individuals of a given country

all

form the soul of the


this soul

always and

is

the representative of his race.

birthright of

the

reality

its

effects,

entire

its

essence,

since

evolution

de-

it

of

people.

race

may

be compared to the totality of the

that constitute a living being.


milliards of cells

is

of the being formed

long

The existence

and a

collective

life,

of these

very short, whereas the existence

by

their union

they possess at once their

cells

is

relatively very

own

personal

life

that of the being of which they

same way each individual


of a race has a very short individual life and a very

form the substance.

In the

long collective

life.

This

of which he

sprung, which he helps to perpetuate,

is

and on which he

A
is

race

is

is

latter life is that of the race

always dependent.

to be regarded as a

independent of time.

permanent being that

This permanent

composed of the long succession


were

who

its

being

of the dead

is

who

ancestors, as well as of the living individuals

constitute

it

at a given

moment.

the true signification of a race,

it

To understand

must be considered

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

with regard both to

its

past and

more

besides being infinitely


living, are infinitely

The dead,

its future.

numerous

more powerful.

than

the

reign over

They

the vast domain of

the unconscious, that invisible

domain which exerts

its

tions of the intelligence


is

guided

far

members.

departed

more by

It is

that a race

sway over all the manifestaand of character. A people

is

by

its

dead than by

dead, and

its

founded.

conduct.

The

dead alone,

fashioned our

sentiments, and in consequence

all

living

after century our

Century

ancestors have

its

by

its

ideas

and

the motives of our

generations that have passed

away do

not bequeath us their physical constitution merely;

The dead

they also bequeath us their thoughts.

We

the only undisputed masters of the living.


the burden of their mistakes,

we reap

are

bear

the reward of

their virtues.

The formation

of the mental constitution of a people

does not demand, as does


species,

those

geological

duration defies calculation.


is

considerable.

To

yet,

periods
Still,

of animal

creation

whose

the time

it

immense

demands

create in such a people as the

French, even to the

accomplished as

the

comparatively
the

and thought that forms

its

slight

extent

community of sentiments
soul, more than ten cen-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

12

have

turies

result

important
hasten

been

this

necessary.

of the French

formation

Flemish,
Provence,

which

into

&c.,

complete, and

it

is

promoting the

nationalities

more

Picards,

men

Bretons,

was

France

Doubtless the unification

divided.

most

Revolution was to

Gascons,

Burgundians,

the

Perhaps

by greatly

up of the minor

breaking

is

far

of

formerly

from being

especially because

we

are

composed of too varied races, and in consequence


have too different ideas and sentiments, that we are
the victims of dissensions

geneous peoples
1

to the

This lapse of time, long as

history,

is

it

unknown

to

more homo-

English, for example.

may seem from

in reality comparatively short, since

it

In

the point of view of

only represents thirty

generations. The reason why so relatively brief an interval is sufficient


to fix certain characteristics is that when a cause acts for some length or
time in the same direction, it speedily produces very considerable effects.

Mathematics teach us that when a cause persistently produces the same


effect, the

and the

causes increase in arithmetical progression

(i, 2, 3, 4, 5,

&c.

),

The
progession (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, &c.).
In the famous problem of the
causes are the logarithms of the effects.
doubling of the grains of wheat on the squares of a chessboard, the
effects

successive

in geometrical

numbers of the square are the logarithms of the number of

Similarly in the case of money invested at compound


grains of wheat.
interest, the number of years is the logarithm of the accumulated capital.
It is for

may be
work

reasons of this order that the majority of social phenomena


expressed by very nearly similar geometrical curves. In another
arrived at the conclusion that these curves might be expressed

by the equation of the parabola or the hyperbola. My


learned friend, M. Cheysson, is of opinion that they are better represented, as a rule, by an exponential equation.
analytically

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

13

England, the Saxon, the Norman, and the Ancient


Briton have ended

by forming, as the result of fusion,


a very homogeneous type, and everything in consequence is homogeneous in the domain of conduct.
Thanks

to this fusion, the English

have acquired

in

a high degree the three fundamental bases of the soul


of a people

common

and common

all its

When

beliefs.

this stage, there is

common

sentiments,

interests,

a nation has reached

an instinctive agreement amongst

members on

great questions, and

all

ceases

it

to be a prey to serious dissensions.

This community of sentiments, ideas,


interests, created

gives

by

slow, hereditary accumulations,

a high degree of identity and fixity to the

mental constitution of a people.


of

the greatness of

Rome

day

of England.

The moment

to break up,

end when

it

it

is

It

was the cause

ancient times, and

in

the source of the greatness

at the present

begin

and

beliefs,

The

it

disappears,

role of

ceased to possess

peoples

Rome was

at

an

it.

The

congeries of sentiments, ideas, traditions, and

beliefs

which form the soul of a collectivity of men

has always existed more or less in the case of


peoples and

at all ages,

but

its

has been slowly accomplished.

all

progressive extension

Restricted

at first

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

to the family

and gradually extended

to the village,

the city, and the province, the collective soul has only

the inhabitants of a country in com-

spread to

all

paratively

modern

It

was only when

this last

had been achieved, that the notion of a native

result

country, as

The

ence.

soul

times.

is

we understand
notion

formed.

notion of the

is

it

came

to-day,

not possible until the national

The Greeks never

city,

into exist-

and

got beyond the

were always at

their cities

war, because in point of fact they were always very


to

foreign

past

India

village,

and

one another.
has
it is

For two thousand years

known no

other

unity

for this reason that for

than the

two thousand

years the country has always been subject to foreign


rulers,

whose ephemeral empires have come

to an

end as easily as they were formed.

Weak

though

it

be from the point of view of

military strength, the conception of the city as the


sole native country has,

on the contrary, always been

very effective from the point of view of the develop-

ment of

civilisation.

Though

less spacious

than the

soul of the native country, the soul of the city has


at times

been more

fruitful.

Athens

in ancient times,

Florence and Venice during the Middle Ages, show


us the degree of civilisation which
to

may

by small agglomerations of men.

be attained

ITS

When

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

15

small cities or small provinces have lived an

independent

for a considerable length

life

of time,

they end by possessing so stable a soul that


fusion with those of neighbouring

soul,

becomes almost impossible.

even

if

it

and pro-

cities

vinces, with a view to the formation

its

of a national

Such a

fusion,

be capable of being brought about, as

happens when the elements brought together are not


too dissimilar,

never the work of a day, but only

is

that of centuries.
lieu or
it

a Bismarck

to a head,

It is possible

To

achieve such a work, a Riche-

is

necessary, but they only bring

when

it

has been long in elaboration.

indeed for a country, as has happened

in the case of Italy, to arrive suddenly, as the result

of exceptional
State, but

it

circumstances, at forming a single

would be a mistake

to

suppose that

it

thus acquires simultaneously a national soul.

is

clear to

me

It

that in Italy there are Piedmontese,

Sicilians, Venetians,

Romans,

etc.,

but

it

is

not clear

as yet that there are Italians.

At

the present day, whatever be the race under

consideration, whether

it

the mere fact that

civilised

past has played

regarded as an

its

it is

be homogeneous or not, by

and

part in history,

artificial

for a
it

long while

must always be

and not as a natural

race.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

16

Natural races are scarcely to be met with except

among
is

savages.

It is

only

among

savages that

it

possible to find peoples of absolute racial purity.

At

the present day the majority of civilised races

are merely historical races.

We are

not concerned here with the origin of races.

That they have been formed by nature or by history


is

beyond our purpose.

characteristics

What

interests us

is

their

such as they have been constituted

by a long past. Kept up during centuries by the


same conditions of existence and accumulated by
heredity, these characteristics have ended by acquiring a high degree of fixity and by determining

the type of each people.

CHAPTER

II

THE LIMITS OF THE VARIABILITY OF THE


CHARACTER OF RACES
The

variability of the character of races,

and not

its fixity,

constitutes

the apparent rule


Reasons for this appearance Invariability of
the fundamental characteristics and variability of the secondary
characteristics
Analogies between the psychological characteristics

and the irreducible and modifiable

characteristics of the animal

It is only environment, circumstances, and education that


species
influence the accessory psychological characteristics
The possibilities

of character

The men

How

national characteristics

Various examples

endure in spite of revolutions

Conclusion.

civilisations that the fixity of the

stitution of races

is

brought home

At

is

variability

first

appears

different periods
different periods

only by a careful study of the evolution

is

ITof

Examples furnished by the


What they became at

of the Terror

sight
to

it

be the general

mental con-

to the observer.

and not

rule.

The

fixity that

of

history

peoples might induce the belief that their soul under-

goes on occasion very rapid and very far-reaching


transformations.

Does there not seem,


3

for

example,
'7

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

i8

to be

a very considerable

between the

difference

character of an Englishman of the time of Cromwell

and that of a modern Englishman ? Does not the


circumspect and subtle Italian of the present day
seem a very different being from the fierce and
impulsive Italian described in the Memoirs of Ben-

Not

venuto Cellini?

afield,

and to

how numerous

are the

go so

to

confine ourselves to France,

far

apparent changes of character in the course of a

few centuries, and even at times


a few years
difference

the

What

in the

historian has not

between the French national character of

seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

modern

course of

remarked the

times, can anything

seem more

and

in

distinct than

the character of the ferocious Conventionalists and


that of the

docile

slaves of

Napoleon

they were the same men, though


a few years they seem

To

in

And

the space of

to have changed

elucidate the causes of these changes,

remind the student


logical species

is

of a very small

in the first place that a

formed, as

number of

is

yet

entirely.

we

will

psycho-

an anatomical species,

irreducible,

fundamental

around which are grouped accessory


characteristics which are modifiable and changeable.
characteristics

The breeder who

transforms the apparent structure

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

of an animal, or the gardener

who

modifies the aspect

of a plant to such a degree that


the

to

the species
the

all

unrecognisable

affected

to

the

of

they have done has been to influence


In spite of

accessory characteristics.

artifices

is

the fundamental characteristics

extent

slightest

it

eye, has not

unpractised

19

all

the

fundamental characteristics

employed, the

always tend to reappear with each new generation.

The mental
characteristics

constitution

the

as

characteristics of animal species, but

characteristics

accessory
It is

are

easily

may

modified.
easily be

by environment, circumstances, education

and various other


It

that

anatomical

also possesses

it

these latter characteristics that

changed

fundamental

possesses

immutable

as

must

factors.

remembered, and the point

also be

essential, that

we

all

is

possess in our mental constitu-

tion certain possibilities of character,

which circum-

stances do not always provide with an opportunity

of manifesting themselves.
front,

new and more

at once takes shape.

of

great

political

When

or less ephemeral personality

way

that at times

crisis,

momentary

It is in this

or

they come to the

religious

changes of character are observed, which would seem


to indicate that manners, ideas, conduct, everything

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

20

had undergone a change.

in short,

Everything has

indeed changed, as happens to the tranquil surface


of a lake lashed
is

change
It

character

but

it

is

rare that the

lasting.
in

is

by a storm

consequence of these

put

in

operation

by

possibilities

certain exceptional

and

events, that the actors in great religious

appear to us to be

crises

made

in

selves,

whom

whom we

In reality they were

men

for

who

are the

like our-

circumstances had given free rein

to possibilities of character possessed

Take,

political

of superior stuff to

ourselves, to be a sort of giants of

degenerate sons.

of

"

example, the

of us.

all

by

giants of the Convention

"

held Europe in check, and sent their adversaries

to the guillotine for a

mere

At bottom

contradiction.

they were respectable, pacific citizens like ourselves,

who
the

in

ordinary times would probably have led

most tranquil and

studies

or behind

retired

their

existence

counters.

in

their

Extraordinary

events caused the vibration of certain of their brain


cells

which under usual conditions would not have

been called into

activity,

those colossal figures,


to understand.
pierre

and they developed into

whom

posterity

Born a hundred years

is

at a loss

later,

Robes-

would doubtless have been an upright magis-

ITS
trate

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

on excellent

terms

with

the

local

21

priest

Fouquier-Tinville a magistrate possessing, perhaps


rather a higher degree than

in

his colleagues, the

harshness and supercilious manners of his profession,

but greatly appreciated for


delinquents to book

his

zeal

in

Saint-Just would have

schoolmaster, esteemed

an excellent

bringing

by

made

his chiefs

and very proud of the decoration he would certainly


have ended by obtaining.
to the accuracy of these

To remove
previsions

it

all

doubt as

is

sufficient

what Napoleon accomplished with such of


the ferocious Terrorists as had not the time to cut
to note

off

mutually each others' heads.

The

majority of

them became

staid officials, tax collectors, magistrates

or prefects.

The waves

stirred

up by the storm of

which we spoke above had calmed down, and the


troubled lake had recovered

Even

in the

its

tranquil surface.

most troubled periods,

in those

which

produce the strangest variations of personality,


is

easy to

trace

the

fundamental

of the race beneath the


there

much

difference

characteristics

new developments.

in reality

it

Was

between the cen-

tralised, dictatorial and despotic regime of our strict


Jacobins and the centralised, dictatorial and despotic

regime to which fifteen centuries of monarchy had

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

22

accustomed the French nation

All the revolutions

of the Latin peoples result in this obstinately recurring

regime,

governed, because

of

being

represents a sort of synthesis

it

of the instincts of the race.

glamour attaching

need

incurable

this

in

to

his

It

was not

solely the

enabled

that

victories

When

Bonaparte to make himself master of France.

he transformed the republic into a dictatorship, the


hereditary instincts of the race manifested themselves

day by day with greater intensity


an

absence of

might have

officer

of

indeed, in the

genius,

any adventurer

Fifty years later the heir

filled his part.

to his

name had only

votes

of a people tired of liberty and

servitude.

It

to

was not

show himself

the

to obtain the

eager for

Brumaire

i8th

that

established the fortunes of Napoleon, but the soul

of his race which he was about to trample beneath


his iron heel. 1

"At his first gesture," writes Taine, "the French bowed in


obedience, and they persisted in their attitude, as if it were their
natural condition ; the humble, the soldiers, and the peasants, with
1

animal

fidelity

Byzantine
contrary,

the great,

the

dignitaries

and

functionaries,

it

with

The Republicans offered no resistance on the


was among them that he found the best instruments of his

servility.

reign, his Senators, Deputies, State Councillors, judges and officials


Beneath their talk of liberty and equality, he had been
of every rank.

quick to divine their dictatorial instincts, their need of commanding,


of surpassing their fellows,

and even,

subsidiarily

and

in addition, their

ITS

The

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

influence

men by environment

exerted on

appears so great, because

it

23

operates on the accessory

and transitory elements, or on those possibilities of


In
character of which we have been speaking.

The

changes are not very profound.

the

reality,

by hunger, attains to a degree


of ferocity which renders him capable of every crime,
and even leads him occasionally to devour his fellow
mildest man, driven

man. Will

it

be said on

this

account that his habitual

character has definitely changed

If the conditions of civilisation procure a

extreme wealth and develop


vices
if

in its

minority

members

all

the

which are the inevitable consequence of luxury

they arouse violent desires in the remainder of the

population without supplying the means of satisfying

them, the result will be general discontent and unrest,

which

will influence

of every kind, but

conduct and provoke upheavals

amid

this discontent

and these

upheavals the fundamental characteristics of the race


will

always

show

In

themselves.

the

past,

English-born inhabitants of the United States,


hungering after wealth and pleasure.

the

when

Between the delegate of the


Committee of Public Safety and the Minister, the Prefect or the subThe man is the same
Prefect of the Empire, the difference is slight.
and it is only the costume that is altered the carmagnole has been
:

exchanged

for

an embroidered uniform. "

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

24

engaged

in civil war, displayed the

energy as they exhibit to-day


universities,
ter

When

it

in

founding towns,

and manufactories. The national charac-

has not been modified

that bring

same indomitable

into play that

examining

it

is

merely the objects

have changed.

in succession the various factors

capable of influencing the mental


peoples,

we always observe

exerted on

constitution

that their

influence

of
is

accessory and transitory sides of

the

character, while they scarcely affect the fundamental

elements, or only affect

them

as the result of very

slow hereditary accumulations.

We

do not conclude from what precedes that the

psychological characteristics of peoples are invariable,

but

only that

characteristics,

they possess, like


a

high degree of

the
fixity.

anatomical
It

is

on

account of this fixity that the soul of races changes


so slowly during the course of ages.

CHAPTER

III

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL HIERARCHY OF RACES


Psychological classification is based, as are anatomical classifications,
on the determination of a small number of irreducible and funda-

mental characteristics
races

races

The
The

primitive

superior

Psychological classification of the human


races The inferior races The average

The

races

psychological

elements

the

grouping of which allows of this classification The elements


which are of the most importance Character Morality The
The qualities
intellectual qualities are modifiable by education
appertaining

to

character

are

irreducible

and

constitute

the

Their role in history Why


it is
impossible for different races to understand and influence one
another The reasons why it is impossible for an inferior people
unvarying element in each people

to

adopt a superior

^7 HEN

the grounds are examined, in a

on natural

species,
in

civilisation.

it is

work

history, of the classification

of

at once observed that the irreducible, and

consequence the fundamental characteristics, which

allow of the determination of each species, are very

few

in

number.

but a few

lines.

Their enumeration always occupies

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

26

The

reason

naturalist only concerns

that the

is

himself with the unvarying characteristics, and pays

no heed

fundamental

these

Moreover

to the transitory characteristics.

inevitable

have

characteristics

an

consequence

entire

series

as

their

of

other

characteristics.

The

case

of

characteristics

same with the psychological

the

is

If

races.

be gone

details

into,

innumerable slight divergencies are found to exist

between

On

the other hand,

teristics

in

different peoples

only the fundamental charac-

each people.

for

that

characteristic

of

this

characteristics

it

is

only by examples

show

possible to

small

on the

The only way

It is

adduce examples that are highly

shall shortly

influence

different individuals.

be considered, they are seen to be very few

number

we

if

and

life

clearly the

number of fundamental
of peoples.

to set forth the bases of a psycho-

logical classification of races being to

study

in detail

the psychology of the different peoples, a task that

would demand

in-

itself several

volumes,

we

shall

confine ourselves to indicating their main lines.


If only their general psychological characteristics

be considered, the
four groups

human

races

may

(i) the primitive races

be divided into
(2)

the inferior

ITS
races

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION


the

(3)

average

races

(4)

the

27

superior

races,

The

primitive races are those in which

of culture

met

is

state bordering

with.

no

They have remained

trace

in that

on animality which was traversed by

our ancestors of the age of stone instruments.

The

Fuegians and the aboriginal Australians are examples


in point.

Above

the primitive races are found the inferior

more

races, represented

They

especially

by the negroes.

are capable of attaining to the rudiments of

but to the rudiments only.

civilisation,

They have

never been able to get beyond quite barbarian forms


of civilisation, even
heirs,

as

at

Saint

when chance has made them


Domingo, of superior

the

civilisa-

tions.

Among
Chinese,

the average
the

Japanese,

Semitic peoples.

races,

the

we

place

the

Mongolians, and

the

shall

In the case of the Assyrians, the

Mongolians, the Chinese, and the Arabs, they have


created high types of civilisation,

European peoples have been able

which only the


to surpass.

Only the Indo-European peoples can be classed


among the superior races. Both in antiquity, at the
epoch of the Greeks and Romans, and

in

modern

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

28

times they alone have been capable of great inven-

and industry.

tions in the arts, the sciences,

them that

is

due the high

at the present day.

steam and

level

It is

the Hindoos

superior races,

who have

least

discovered

developed of these

in particular,

have risen

and philosophy

to

which

Chinese, or the Semites

have

to a level in the arts, letters,

the Mongolians, the

reached by civilisation

they

The

electricity.

It is to

never been able to attain.

No

confusion

possible between the four great

is

we have

divisions

just

abyss that separates them

when

it

is

The mental

enumerated.
is

evident.

It

is

only

desired to subdivide these groups that the

difficulties begin.

An

Russian belong

of them to the division of superior

peoples,

but

all

it

is

Englishman, a Spaniard, or a

matter

of

common know-

ledge that the differences between them

are very

great.

To

determine these differences with precision,

it

would be necessary to take each people separately,

and

to describe

its

character.

This

is

the course

we

two of these peoples


give an application of the method and to

shall shortly follow in the case of

in order to

show the importance of its consequences.


For the moment, we can only indicate very

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

29

summarily the nature of the principal psychological


elements which allow of the differentiation of races.

Among

and

the primitive and inferior races

find such races

savages,

since

societies

are

to

it is

not necessary to go to the pure

the

lowest strata of the

European

homologous with the primitive men


is always met

a greater or less incapacity to reason


with, an incapacity, that

is,

to associate in the brain,

with a view to compare them and to perceiving their


analogies and differences, the ideas produced

by past

sensations or the words that are their signs, and the


ideas produced

from

by present

There

sensations.

results

and a

this incapacity to reason a great credulity

complete absence of the

In the case of

critical spirit

the superior being, on the contrary, the capacity of


associating ideas,
their association

is

and of drawing conclusions from


very great, while the

critical spirit

and precision are highly developed.

The

inferior

finitesimal

races

further

display

power of attention and

but

reflection

an
;

in-

they

possess the spirit of imitation in a high degree, the

habit of drawing inaccurate general conditions from


particular cases, a feeble capacity for observation
for deriving useful results

and

from their observations, an

extreme mobility of character and a very notable lack

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

30

The

of foresight.

Like Esau

only guide.

mess of pottage.
his

is

their

the type of the primitive

they are inclined to

being

moment

instinct of the

their birthright for a

sell

When man

capable of weighing

is

future against his immediate interest, of giving

himself a goal and pursuing

it

with perseverance, he

has realised a considerable progress.

The

incapacity to foresee the distant consequences

of acts and the tendency to be guided solely by the


/

instinct of the

moment condemns the

individual as well

as the race to remain for ever in a very inferior state.


It is

only

in

proportion as they are able to dominate

their instincts, in proportion, that


will

power and

selves, that

discipline,

in

is,

as they acquire

consequence empire over them-

peoples can understand the importance of


the necessity of sacrificing themselves to

an ideal and of raising themselves to a

Were

it

required to measure

by a

social level of peoples in history,

civilised state.

single standard the

should be disposed

to take as standard the degree of their aptitude for

dominating their reflex impulses.


antiquity,

the

Anglo-Americans

represent the peoples


in the highest

who have

measure.

assure their greatness.

It

The Romans
in

modern

in

times,

possessed this quality

has largely contributed to

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS
It is

by

their general

31

grouping and their respective

development that the various psychological elements


just enumerated form the mental constitutions which
allow of the classification of individuals and races.
Certain of these psychological elements appertain
to character,

The

and others

superior

inferior races

by

intelligence,

but

races

to the intelligence.

are

distinguished

their character as well as


it

is

more

especially

character that the superior races are

from
social

one

from the

another.

This

importance, and

it

point

by

their
their

distinguished

has

deserves

by

considerable
to

be clearly

established.

Character

is

formed by the combination,

in

varying

proportions, of the different elements which psychologists are

accustomed at the present day to designate

by the name of sentiments. Among the sentiments


which play the most important part must more
especially be

power of
on the

noted

perseverance, energy, and the

self-control, faculties

will.

We

more or

less

dependent

would also mention morality among

the fundamental elements of character, although

it

is

somewhat complex sentiments. By|


morality we mean hereditary respect for the rules on

the synthesis of

which the existence of a society

is

based.

To possess

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

32

morality means, for a people, to have certain fixed

these

As

conduct and not to depart from them.

rules of

time and

vary with

rules

morality

place,

appears in consequence to be a very variable matter,

and

it is

moment,

so in fact
it

but for a given people, at a given

The

ought to be quite invariable.

off-

spring of character, and in nowise of the intelligence,


it

is

not solidly constituted

until

it

become

has

In a

hereditary, and, in consequence, unconscious.

way

general

the greatness of peoples depends in a

large measure on the level of their morality.

The

intellectual qualities are susceptible of being

slightly modified

by education

almost wholly escape


does affect them,
natures,

whose

its
is

it

will

is

those of character

influence.

When

education

only in the case of neutral

almost non-existent, and

who

are ready in consequence to follow whatever impulse

may
with

These neutral natures are met

be given them.
in

individuals,

but very rarely in an entire

people, or, should they be thus observed,

it

is

only in

times of extreme decadence.

The

of

discoveries

transmitted

from

one

the

are

easily

another.

The

intelligence

people

to

transmission of the qualities appertaining to character


is

impossible.

They

are the irreducible fundamental

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

33
**

ments which allow of the differentiation of the


of the superior peoples.

ntal constitutions

due to the intelligence are the

scoveries

of

patrimony

humanity

common

defects

or

qualities

The
of

character constitute the exclusive patrimony of each


people, they are the firm rock

which the waters must

h day by day for centuries before they can even


r

away

its

external

They

asperities.

are

the

equivalent of the irreducible element of the species,

of the fins of

fish,

of the beak of the bird, of the tooth

of the carnivorous animal.

The

character of a people and not

determines
destiny.

its

It

is

historical

evolution,

its

intelligence

and governs

its

always to be met with behind the

apparent fantasies of that most powerless chance,


that

most

fictitious

Providence, that very real Fate

which, according to varying beliefs, guides the actions


of men.

The

influence of character

is

sovereign in the

of peoples, whereas that of the intelligence

very feeble.

is

life

in truth

The Romans

of the decadence possessed

more

refined than that of their

intelligence far

rude ancestors, but they had lost the qualities of


character of the latter

the perseverance, the energy,

the invincible tenacity, the capacity to sacrifice them4

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

34
selves to

an

ideal, the inviolable respect for the

which had made the greatness of


It is

their forefathers.

due to their character that sixty thousand English

are able to maintain beneath their

and

laws

fifty

millions of Hindoos,

yoke two hundred


of

many

whom

least their equals in intelligence, while a

them immensely

few surpass

as regards their artistic taste

depth of their philosophic views.

It is in

are at

and the

consequence

of their character that they are the masters of the

most gigantic colonial empire known to history. It


is character and not intelligence that goes to the
founding of
it is

and empires. Character


feel and act.
They have

societies, religions,

that enables peoples to

never derived

much advantage from

desire to reason

and

too great a

think. 1

1
The extreme weakness and slight practical interest of the works of
professional psychologists is more especially to be ascribed to the fact
that they have confined themselves almost exclusively to the study of

the intelligence, and have almost entirely neglected that of charucter.

M. Paulhan

in his interesting

Essai sur

les

caracteres ,

and M. Ribot

few passages, unfortunately only too short, are almost the only
psychologists I can recall who have pointed out the importance of
character, and noted that it forms the true basis of the mental con-

in a

"The intelligence," the learned professor of the College


of France rightly declares, "is only an accessory form of the mental
The fundamental type is character, which the intelligence
evolution.

stitution.

rather tends to destroy when it is too developed."


It is to the study of character that attention must be directed, as I

attempting to show in these pages,

comparative psychology of peoples.

when
It

it is

am

desired to describe the

would be

difficult to

understand

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS
It is

the mental constitution of races that determines

their conception of the

world and of

We

sequence, their conduct.


this

life,

manner by external

a certain

and acts

feels, thinks,

which

that in

will

and, in con-

shall shortly support

statement by important examples.

Impressed

very different manner from

in a

think,

feel,

that

is

sequence

is

it

in

things, the individual

and act those who

possess a different mental constitution.

impossible

constitutions, constructed as they are


lines,

35

The

con-

mental

that

on very varied

should arrive at mutual comprehension.

The

of races are the result

more

century-old

conflicts

particularly of the incompatibility of their respective


characters.

It is

impossible to arrive at any under-

standing of history unless

mind that
the

cannot
different

comprehend

be continually borne

cannot

different races

same manner, and

it

that,

one

in

feel,

consequence, they

another.

Doubtless

peoples have in their languages

that a science so important

should never have been

knowledge that

it

for history

and

in

think, or act in

the

common

politics are its derivations

made

the object of study, were it not for the


can be acquired neither in laboratories nor in books,

but only in the course of long travel.


There is no indication moreover
that it is on the eve of being taken up by the professional
psychologists,
who at the present day are more and more abandoning what used to be
their

domain, and confining themselves to anatomical and psychological

researches.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

36

words which they imagine are synonymous, but these

common words

arouse entirely dissimilar sensations,

and modes of thought

ideas,

uttered.

It is

whose mental

in those

necessary to have lived

who hear them

among

peoples

constitution differs to a sensible

degree

from our own, even though frequenting amongst them


only such individuals as speak our language and

have received our education, to appreciate the depth


of the gulf that separates the thought of the various
peoples.

It is possible to

obtain

some idea of

this

phenomenon, without having recourse to extensive

exists

by observing the great mental separation that


between the civilised man and woman, even

when

the latter

travel,

the

is

highly educated.

woman may have common

The man and

ments, but never like chains of thought.

one

converse with

another

and

interests

for

senti-

They might

centuries

without

understanding one another, because they are constructed on lines too different to allow of their being

impressed in the same manner by external things.

The

difference

sufficient

to

in

create

their

faculties

logical

between

is

alone

them an insuperable

gulf.

This abyss between the mental constitution of the


different races explains

how

it

is

that the superior

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

37

peoples have never been able to impose their civilisa-

on

tion

inferior

The

peoples.

still

idea,

so wide-

spread, that education can achieve this result,

is

one

of the most baneful illusions that the theoreticians of

pure reason have ever brought into existence. Thanks


to the

memory

possessed by the most inferior beings

a privilege in nowise confined to

somewhat low down

become
is

however quite

his

mental

it is

doubt-

scale the totality

by a European.

negro or

easily take a university degree or

may

a lawyer

human

in the

of the notions possessed

a Japanese

man

education to impart to an individual

less possible for

the sort of varnish he thus acquires

superficial,

constitution.

and has no influence on

What no

education can

give him, because they are created by heredity alone,


are the forms of thought, the logic,

character of the Western man.

Japanese

may accumulate

all

and above

Our negro
possible

all

the

or

our

certificates

without ever attaining to the level of the average

European.

It is

easy to give him in ten years the

culture of a well-educated Englishman.


real

Englishman of him, that

as an

Englishman would act

stances of
sufficient.

life,

It

is

to say a

To make a
man acting

in the different

circum-

a thousand years would scarcely be


is

only in appearance that a people

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

38

suddenly transforms
beliefs

or

its

accomplished,

arts.
it

its

language,

its

constitution,

For such changes

would be necessary that

able to transform

its soul.

its

to be really
it

should be

CHAPTER

IV

THE PROGRESSIVE DIFFERENTIATION OF

INDI-

VIDUALS AND RACES


The

inequality between the different individuals of a race is greater in


Mental equality of all the
proportion to the superiority of the race

individuals of inferior races


To appreciate the differences that
separate races, the superior individuals of each people and not its
average representatives must be compared The progress of civilisa-

tends towards a greater and greater differentiation of indiand races Consequences of this differentiation The psychological reasons which prevent its becoming too considerable
viduals

The

individuals of the superior races are highly differentiated as


regards their intelligence, and very slightly so as regards their character
How heredity constantly tends to reduce individual superi-

Ition

to the average type of the race


Anatomical observations
confirming the progressive psychological differentiation of races,
orities

individuals,

THE

and

sexes.

superior races are not distinguished from

the inferior races solely

and anatomical
is

supplied

characteristics.

by the

by

their psychologica

further distinction

diversity of the elements of

they are composed.

which

All the individuals of the inferior

races, even as regards those of different sex, are on


39

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

40

sensibly the

same mental

They

level.

all

of

them

resemble one another, and they are thus a perfect ex-

dreamed of by our modern


In the case of the superior races, on the

emplification of the equality


socialists.

contrary, the intellectual inequality of the individuals

and the sexes

is

the law.

For this reason,

in order to appreciate the differences

that separate peoples, their superior representatives

when they

possess such

be compared.

and not

their inferior

Hindoos, Chinese, and Europeans are

but slightly differentiated intellectually so

when

far as their

On

the other

their superior representatives are

compared

average representatives are concerned.


hand,

must

their differentiation

is

found to be considerable.

With the progress of civilisation, not only races, but


also the individuals of each race

superior races
rentiated.

The

those at least of the

tend to become more and more


result of

modern

with our dreams of equality,

is

civilisation, clashing

not to render

more and more equal intellectually,


trary, more and more different.

One

diffe-

but,

men

on the con-

of the principal consequences of civilisation

is,

on the one hand, to differentiate races by the daily


increasing intellectual exertion

who have

it

demands of peoples

attained to a high degree of culture, and

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

41

on the other to widen the distinctions between the


various grades

of which each

civilised

people

is

composed.

The

of

conditions

condemn the

modern

industrial

evolution

inferior classes of civilised peoples to a

highly specialised labour which, far from increasing


their

merely

intelligence,

tends to lessen

hundred years ago, a workman was a veritable


capable of executing

mechanism
a mere

intelligence

is

the engineer

his life boring the

same portion of an

same machine.

To-day, he

is

who never produces more than one

who spends

polishing the

artist

the details of any piece of

of a watch for example.

toiler,

speciality,

all

it.

The

result

is

soon complete.

who

directs the

article,

same

holes,

driving the

that the atrophy of his

The manufacturer

workman

is

or

obliged, on

the contrary, owing to the pressure of discoveries

and

more numerous acquirements and much more enterprise and invention than

competition, to possess far

his predecessor of a

stantly

century back.

His brain

exercised, and, undergoing the

applies to

all

is

con-

law which

organs in such a case, becomes more

and more developed.


Tocqueville had already pointed out this progressive
differentiation of the social grades at a period

when

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

42

industry was far from having attained to the degree

of development

it

"

has reached to-day.

In propor-

tion as the principle of the division of labour receives

more thorough

application, the

workman becomes

weaker, of narrower intelligence, and

Art progresses, the artisan

falls

more dependent,
Every day the

back.

between the employer and the workman

difference
increases."

At

the present day, a superior people

may

be con-

sidered, from the intellectual point of view, to consti-

tute a sort of

pyramid of steps, the majority of which

are formed
steps

by the masses of the population, the upper


by the intelligent classes, 1 and the point of the

pyramid by a very small elite of men of science, inventors, artists, and writers, an exceedingly restricted
group as compared with the
1

rest of the population,

say intelligent without adding cultured.

It

is

but

a characteristic

error of the Latin peoples to believe that intelligence and culture go


Culture merely implies the possession of a certain amount of
together.

memory, but

to acquire

it

no judgment,

reflection, initiative or invention

Persons of very restricted intelligence are often met


are necessary.
with among those who have passed examinations, while it is quite as

who are highly


portion of our pyramid would be formed then
by elements taken from all classes. All the professions contain a very
Still it appears probable, in
small number of notable intelligences.

common

to find persons of a very slight degree of culture

intelligent.

The upper

virtue of the laws of heredity, that


classes contain the greater

superiority

lies.

what are known as the superior

number, and

it is

social

doubtless herein that their

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

43

the only group that determines the rank of a country


in the intellectual scale of civilisation.

for

it

It

would

suffice

to disappear for all that constitutes the glory of

"Were

disappear at the same time.

nation to

France, as Saint-Simon has rightly observed, to lose

suddenly
leading

its

fifty

men

leading

artists, its fifty

of science,

leading manufacturers,

the contrary

it

it

soul,

would be decapitated.

were to lose

would grieve at the

all its officials,

fifty

its fifty

become a

would

leading agriculturists, the nation

body without a

its

If

on

the French

because they

are

soft-

hearted, but the country would sustain very

little

loss

harm."

With the progress of civilisation, the

differentiation

between the extreme grades of a population proceeds


with great rapidity
increase

in

it

even tends, on occasion, to

what mathematicians

progression.
certain

effects

It

would

of

suffice

heredity did

call

in

geometrical

consequence,

not

intervene,

if

to

allow time to act to see the superior grades of a

population separated intellectually from the inferior

grades by a distance as great as that which separates


the white

man from

the negro, or even the negro from

the

monkey.
For several reasons, however, this

intellectual differ-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

44

entiation of the social grades, considerable

becomes,

differentiation

is

that

In the

place, the

is

it

very slight extent

the character and not the

gence that plays the fundamental part


peoples.

first

almost confined to the intelligence,

affects the character to a

we know

it

not accomplished with the rapidity that

is

might be possible theoretically.

and

though

in

the

and

intellilife

of

In the second place, the masses are tending

and

at the present day, in virtue of their organisation


discipline, to

become

Their hatred of

all-powerful.

intellectual superiority being evident,

that every intellectual aristocracy

is

it

is

probable

destined to be

by periodic revolutions, in proporthe masses become organised, and just as the

violently destroyed
tion as

ancient nobility was destroyed a century ago.

When

Socialism shall have become master in Europe,

its

only chance of enduring will be to exterminate

all

the individuals without exception

endowed with a

superiority capable of raising them,

however

above the most humble

The two
ficial

causes

law

have just

set forth are of

an

arti-

order, since they are the result of conditions of

civilisation that

far

slightly,

level.

may vary.

more important cause


which

will

But there
it is

an

is

a further and

irresistible natural

always prevent the

elite

of a nation,

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

45

not from becoming intellectually differentiated from


the inferior grades, but from

ated too rapidly.


tion,

The

becoming so

present conditions of civilisa-

which tend more and more to

of the

same

differenti-

race, are confronted

differentiate

men

by the powerful laws

of heredity which tend to bring about the disappear-

ance of the individuals


too

marked a manner, or

who

surpass the average in

at least to bring

them down

to this average.

Observations already old, recorded by the authors


of investigations into heredity, have proved that the

descendants of families distinguished by their

and most usually

gence are subject sooner or later


at an early date

intelli-

to a process of degeneration

which

tends to extinguish them entirely.

Great intellectual superiority seems, then, to carry


with

it

who

the penalty that those

possess

it

leave

behind them degenerate offspring.

In reality the

point of the social pyramid of which

can only subsist on the condition that


elements from below.
posing this
island,

elite

their

spoke above
it

assimilates

the individuals com-

If all

were to be relegated to an isolated

inter-marriages

would

result

in

the

formation of a race displaying a variety of degenerate

symptoms and destined

in

consequence to

dis-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

46

appear speedily. Great intellectual superiorities may


be compared to the botanical monstrosities created

by the

artifice

of a gardener.

Left to themselves

they die off or return to the average type of the


species, for the species

is all

powerful since

it

repre-

sents the long series of ancestors,

Attentive study
that

while

immensely

of the different peoples shows

the individuals of a given race

may

be

differentiated as regards the intelligence,

they are but slightly differentiated as regards the


character, that

unalterable

rock

of which

have

already shown the permanence throughout the ages.


In studying a race

it

should be considered,

in conse-

quence, from two very different points of view.


the intellectual point of view

small

elite to

which

is

its

due the

From

value depends on a

scientific, literary,

industrial progress of a civilisation.

From

and

the point

of view of character, acquaintance with the average

alone important.

dependent on the

do

The

strength of peoples

level of this average.

at a pinch without an intellectual

without a certain level of character.

prove

is

always

Peoples
Mite,

We

is

may

but not

shall shortly

this statement.

It is

thus seen that while the individuals of a race

become more and more

differentiated intellectually as

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

47

time goes on, they always tend, as far as character

is

concerned, to oscillate round the average type of the


race.

It

is

to this average type,

which progresses

very slowly, that the great majority of the members


of a nation belong.
is

found

Around

this

fundamental kernel

in the case at least of the superior

peoples

a thin layer of eminent minds, whose action


capital

importance as regards

civilisation,

out importance as regards the race.

being destroyed,

it is

but

is

is

of

with-

Incessantly

incessantly being renewed

at

the expense of the average grades, which, for their


part,

vary but very slowly, since the slightest varia-

tions, in

order to become durable, must be accumu-

lated in the

same

direction

by heredity during

several

centuries.
It

was several years ago that

conclusions on

researches of a

arrived, basing

my

purely anatomical

order, at the idea just enunciated touching the differ-

entiation of individuals
I

have

As

and

races,

now invoked none but

and

to justify

psychological reasons.

the two kinds of observation lead to the

results, I

may be

clusions of

my

which

same

allowed to recall some of the con-

earlier investigations.

They are based

on measurements executed on several thousands of


skulls, ancient

and modern, belonging to

different

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

48
races.

sages

proceed to give the more essential pas-

The volume

of the skull bears a close relation to the intelligence,

when, leaving individual cases out of consideration, series are dealt


It is then found that what distinguishes inferior from
with.
superior
is not the slight variations in the
average capacity of their skulls,
but this essential fact that the superior race contains a certain number
of individuals whose brain is highly developed, whereas the inferior

races

race contains no such individuals.

Races

differ, in

consequence, not

in

respect to the masses that constitute them, but in respect to the small
number of individuals who stand out from the crowd. The average
difference

between the skull in the case of two peoples

except

when

is never very considerable.


quite inferior races are under consideration
When the skulls are compared of the various human races, belonging

to the past and present, it is found that the races in which the volume
of the skull presents the greatest individual variations are the most

highly civilised races ; that in proportion as a race grows civilised, the


skulls of the individuals composing it become more and more differentiated

a fact which leads to the result that civilisation conduces not to

an inequality that is always growing more


Anatomical and physiological equality only exist in the
case of individuals of quite inferior races.
The differences between the
members of a tribe of savages, all of whom follow the same occupation,

intellectual equality, but to

pronounced.

are perforce of the slightest.


Between the peasant whose vocabulary
consists of some three hundred words, and the man of learning who is

hundred thousand words and with the ideas that correspond to them, the difference is, on the contrary, enormous.
I should add to what precedes that the differentiation of individuals
familiar with a

brought about by the development of civilisation


case of the sexes.

is

also apparent in the

Among inferior peoples or the inferior classes of


man and the woman are intellectually on much the

superior peoples the


level.
On the other hand, in proportion as peoples
the difference between the sexes is accentuated.

same

The volume
compared, as

ot the

in

Very

skull,

civilised

even when the subjects

same age, height,


differences that increase rapidly with the degree of
slight in the case of the inferior races, these differ-

my

investigations, are strictly of the

and weight, presents


civilisation.

male and female

grow

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

49

In these
ences become immense in the case of the superior races.
superior races the feminine skulls are often scarcely more developed
Whereas the average
than those of the women of very inferior races.
volume of the skulls of male Parisians is such as to range them among

known

average of the skulls of female Parisians


skulls with which we are acquainted,
almost on a level with the skulls of Chinese women, and scarcely above
the largest
classes

skulls, the

them among the smallest

the feminine skulls of

les

Dr. Gustave

le

New

Caledonia. 1

Bon, Recherches anatomiqius

et

mathematiqties sur

variations de volume dtt cerveau et sur leurs relations avec

gence : 8vo, 1879 (Memoir crowned by the


by the Society of Anthropology).

Academy

V intelli-

of Sciences and

CHAPTER V
FORMATION OF THE HISTORICAL RACES
How

historical races are

Conditions which allow of different

formed

Influence of the number of


races combining to form a single race
the individuals involved in the process, of the dissimilarity of their

Results of cross-breeding
Mobility of the new

characters, of the environments, etc.

Causes of the great inferiority of half-breeds

psychological characteristics created by cross-breeding

come

be fixed

The

How

these

periods of history
Cross-breeding constitutes an essential factor in the formation of
new races, and at the same time a powerful factor in the dissolution
characteristics

to

critical

Importance of the regime of castes Influence of


Environment can only exert its influence on new
process of formation, and on races whose ancestral

of civilisations

environment
races

in

characteristics are giving

Environment

is

way

before the action of cross-breeding

without influence on old races

Various examples

The

majority of the historical races of Europe are still in process


Political and social consequences
of formation
Why the period
of formation of historical races will soon be over.

WE

have already remarked that genuine


in

the

scarcely to be

scientific

sense

met with among

only historical races, by which

are

civilised peoples, but

is

meant

by the chances of conquest, immigration,


50

races,

of the word,

races created
politics, etc.,

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

51

and formed,

in

consequence, of a mixture of individuals

of different origins.

How
and

do these heterogeneous races come to combine

to form an historical race

psychological characteristics

possessing

This

common

the point

is

we

are about to investigate.

Let

first

it

of

all

be observed that the elements

brought together by chance do not always combine.

The German, Hungarian,

Slav,

that live under Austrain rule


races
Irish,

which

who

have never attempted to

live

the

quite

As

of fusion not taking place.

inferior

peoples,

such as Redskins,

do they not

or Tasmanians, not only

Australians,

The

fuse.

under the rule of the English, are

another example
for

and other populations


form perfectly distinct

combine with the superior peoples, but they disappear rapidly after they have come in contact with
them.

Experience proves that every

which

is

inevitably

confronted

condemned

with

inferior people

superior

people

is

to disappear at an early date.

Three conditions are necessary to allow of races


fusing and forming a new and more or less homo"geneous race.

The

first

condition

is

that the races which are to

interbreed shall not be too unequal in

number

the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

52

second, that their characters shall


similar

not be too dis-

the third, that they shall be subjected

for

a long period to identical conditions of environment.

The

of the conditions that have just been

first

enumerated

of

is

importance.

capital

number of white men transported

small

into the midst of

a numerous negro population disappear, after a few


generations, without leaving

their blood

any trace of

All the conquerors

who

have invaded too numerous populations have

dis-

among

their

appeared

descendants.

in this

way.

They have been

been done by the Latins


Egypt, to leave behind
arts

and

in

them

their language, but

able, as has

Gaul or the Arabs


their

in

civilisation, their

they have never been

able to bequeath their blood.

The second

of the preceding conditions

of very great importance.


races, the black

is

also

Doubtless very different

and the white

for

example,

may

fuse,

but the half-breeds that result constitute a population


very inferior to those of which

it is

sprung, and utterly

incapable of creating, or even of continuing, a


tion.

The

civilisa-

influence of contrary heredities saps their

morality and character.


spring of white

men and

When

half-breeds, the off-

negroes, have chanced to

inherit a superior civilisation, as in Saint

Domingo,

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

civilisation has speedily


>t

been overtaken by the

lamentable degeneration.

Cross-breeding

be a source of improvement when


superior

and

allied

sufficiently

it

races,

such as the
it

always

an element of degeneration when the

constitutes

even though superior, are too

To

may

occurs between

English and the Germans of America, but

races,

53

cross

two peoples

is

to

different. 1

change simultaneously

both their physical constitution and their mental conCross-breeding, moreover, constitutes the

stitution.

only infallible means at our disposal of transforming


in a

fundamental manner the character of people,

heredity being

the only force powerful enough to

contend with heredity.


creation of a

new

Cross-breeding allows of the

race, possessing

new

physical and

psychological characteristics.

The
1

characteristics thus created are at the outset

by too large a proportion of half-breeds


given over to perpetual anarchy, unless they
are ruled by an iron hand.
Such will inevitably be the fate of Brazil.
White men form only a third of its population. The remainder is
All the countries inhabited

are, solely for this reason,

The famous Agassiz rightly


have visited Brazil for it to be impossible to deny the decadence that results from cross-breeding which
goes on in this country to a greater extent than elsewhere. This crossbreeding is fatal, he says, to the best qualities whether of the white
man, the black, or the Indian, and produces an indescribable type
composed

of

observed "that

negroes and mulattoes.


it

is

sufficient to

whose physical and mental energy

suffers."

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

54

very weak

and

To

fluctuating.

fix

hereditary accumulations are necessary.


effect of interbreeding

that congeries of

The

between different races

destroy the soul of the races, and

mean

them

common

long,
first
is

to

by their soul we
and sentiments

ideas

which make the strength of peoples, and without

which there

The

land.

is

no such thing as a nation or a

period

of interbreeding

is

father-

the critical

period in the history of peoples, a period of com-

mencement and hesitancy which


to traverse, for there

that

is

it

all

nations have had

scarcely a European people

not formed of the debris of other peoples.

a period

and

is

full

It is

of intestine struggles and of vicissitudes,

continues so long as the

new

psychological

characteristics are not fixed.

What

precedes shows that interbreeding should be

considered at once as a fundamental element in the

formation of

new

races

and

as a powerful factor in

the dissolution of ancient races.

It is

with reason,

then, that all the peoples that have reached a high

degree of civilisation carefully avoid intermarrying


with foreigners.

Had

it

not been for the admirable

regime of castes, the handful of Aryans that invaded


India,

some

three thousand

years

ago,

would have

been quickly swamped by the immense masses of the

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

55

dark-coloured populations that surrounded them on

every

side,

and no

civilisation

would have come

existence on the soil of the great peninsula.

into
If in

modern times the English had not followed the


same system, if they had consented to intermarry
with the indigenous inhabitants, their gigantic Indian

Empire would long

grasp.

overtaken

may sustain many losses, may be


by many catastrophes, and yet recover from
it

when

it

It

is

have slipped from their

people

the ordeal, but


recovery,

since

at the

has lost everything, and


has lost

its

is

past

soul.

moment when decadent

civilisations

have become the prey of peaceful or warlike invaders


that interbreeding

fills

and then the creative

in succession the destructive

role of which

have just spoken.

Cross-breeding destroys an ancient civilisation because


it

destroys the soul of the people that possesses

It fosters

the old

the creation of a

psychological

civilisation

characteristics

because

of the races

contact have been destroyed, and because

in

characteristics

new

the
It

is

may be formed under

new

the influence of

conditions of existence.

only on races

whose ancestral
in

new

it.

in

course of formation, and

characteristics

have been destroyed

consequence by contrary heredities, that the

in-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

56

fluence can be effective

mentioned

of

influence

the

at

of the last of the factors


of this chapter, the

beginning

While very

environment.

slight

ancient races, the influence of environment

new

contrary, very great on

by

on the

Cross-breeding,

destroying the ancestral, psychological

teristics, creates

charac-

a sort of blank tablet on which the

of environment, continued during centuries,

action

may succeed
to

races.

is,

on

new

in

impressing and finally in giving fixity


characteristics.

psychological

then only, the formation of a


It is in this

results.

way

new

Then, and
historical race

that the French race

was

constituted.

The
is

in

influence of environment

physical or moral

consequence very great or very slight according

to circumstances,

and

this is the

explanation of the

contrary opinions that have been formulated with

regard to
influence

its

is

action.

We

have just seen that

very great on races

in

this

course of formation

but had we been considering ancient races solidly

by the long action of heredity, we could


that the influence of environment is, on the

established

have said

contrary, almost inappreciable.

As

regards moral environment,

the insignificance of

its

we have proof

of

action in the failure of our

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

Western

57

civilisations to influence the peoples of the

when

East, even

these latter have been subjected to

their contact during several generations

the Chinese

inhabitants of the United States are a case in point.

The
by

slight

power of physical environment

is

shown
Trans-

the difficulties that attend acclimatisation.

ported into surroundings too different from those to

which

is

it

statement
plants

is

and the

accustomed, an ancient race

equally applicable to men, animals, and

perishes sooner than submit to transformation.

Egypt has always been the tomb of the many different


races that have effected its conquest.
Not a single
people has been able to acclimatise

itself

in

the

Neither Greeks, Romans, Persians, Arabs,

country.

nor Turks have been able to leave behind them a


trace of their race.
is

that

exactly

of the

The only type


those

is

met with

Fellah whose features

impassible

resemble

that

engraved

seven

thousand

years ago on the tombs and palaces of the Pharaohs

by the Egyptian

The majority
still

artists.

of the historical races of Europe are

in course of formation,

should be

known

and

that this

understanding their history.

Englishman

is

is

it is

important that

it

the case with a view to

At

the present day the

the only European

who

represents an

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

58

almost completely fixed race.


Briton, the Saxon,

In his case the ancient

and the Norman have given way

new and highly homogeneous

to a

on the contrary, the Provencal


the

Still, if

Normandy.

as yet an average type of the


least

ideas

In France,

from

very different

the

there does not exist

Frenchman, there

exist average types of certain

fortunately these types


their

type.

inhabitant of Auvergne from

Breton, the

inhabitant of

is

at

Un-

regions.

are very distinct as regards

and character.

in

con-

sequence to devise institutions which shall suit

them

all

equally well,

and

concentration that

it

it

is

community of thought.
of sentiment and

which

result

differences of

belief,

therefrom,

is

It

is

only by

difficult

dint of energetic

possible to lend

them some

Our profound divergences


and the
are

political

due,

in

upheavals

the

main, to

mental constitution, which the future

alone will perhaps be able to efface.

Such has always been the


races have

situation

when

found themselves in contact.

different

The

dis-

sentiments and intestine struggles have always been


the more acute in proportion as the races in presence

have been the more


unlike
live

it

different.

When

they are too

becomes absolutely impossible to make them

under the same institutions and the same laws.

ITS

The

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

history of great empires

races

composed of different
Most often they

has always been identical.

with

disappear

founder.

their

nations, only the English

differing widely

modern

Among

and the Dutch have been

successful in imposing their

due

59

yoke on Asiatic peoples

from them, and their success

to the fact that they

is

solely

have respected the manners,

customs, and laws of the peoples in question, leaving

them

in

reality to

govern themselves, and confining

their role to appropriating a portion of the taxes, to

engaging

in

commerce, and to maintaining peace.

Apart from these rare exceptions,

the great

all

empires composed of dissimilar peoples owe their


foundation to force and are destined to
violence.

To

to endure,

it is

slow,

and the

enable a nation to constitute


necessary that

same

soil,

formation should be
fusion

of but

races, interbreeding, living

on the

result

slightly different

its

by
itself and

perish

of the gradual

undergoing the action of the same environ

ment, and having the same institutions and beliefs


After the lapse of several

may come

races

to

form

centuries these distinct

a highly homogeneous

nation.

As

the world grows older, the races

and more stable and

become more

their transformation

by means

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

60

of fusion rarer and

rarer.

As

it

advances

in age,

humanity feels the burden of heredity grow heavier,


and transformations become more difficult. So far as

Europe

is

concerned,

it

may

be said that the era of

the formation of historical races will soon be over.

BOOK

II

HO [V THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS


OF RACES ARE D ISPLA YED IN THE VARIOUS
ELEMENTS OF THEIR CIVILISATIONS

BOOK

II

HOW THE

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF RACES ARE DISPLA YED IN THE VARIOUS
ELEMENTS OF THEIR CIVILISATIONS

CHAPTER

THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF A CIVILISATION CONSIDERED AS AN EXTERIOR MANIFESTATION


OF THE SOUL OF A PEOPLE
The elements

of which a civilisation

is

composed are the

exterior

manifestations of the soul of the peoples, which have created them


The importance of these various elements varies with the different

According to the several peoples it is the arts, literature,


etc., that fill the fundamental role
Examples from

peoples

institutions,

the Egyptians, Greeks, and


antiquity
the different elements of a civilisation
:

general march of that civilisation

What

Romans

The evolution of
may be independent of the

Examples supplied by the

arts

Impossibility of finding in a single element


of a civilisation the measure of the level of that civilisation

they express

Elements which assure the superiority of a people Elements


which philosophically are very inferior may be socially very
superior.

"^HE

different elements, languages, institutions,

ideas,
civilisation

beliefs,
is

arts,

literature,

of

which

composed should be regarded


63

as the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

64

of

manifestation

exterior

who have

the

men

the

of

soul

The importance, however,

created them.

of these elements as the expression of the soul of


a people varies greatly with the period and the races.

Few books

relating to

works of

appear at the

art

present day that do not contain the statement that

works of

art are the faithful rendering of the

thought

of peoples and the most important expression of their


civilisation.

Doubtless
the rule

is

it

often true that this

is

a long

is

the case, but

way from being absolute, and the

development of the

arts

is

far

from corresponding

invariably to the intellectual development of nations.

While there are


art are the

certain peoples for

arts

in

works of

most important manifestation of

soul, there are others,

rank

whom

who

their

occupy, moreover, a high

the scale of civilisation,

among whom

have played but a very secondary

part.

the

If the

history of the civilisation of each people had to be


written on the understanding that only one of

its

elements was to be considered, the element chosen

ought to vary

in the case

of each people.

peoples the element would be the


it

arts,

For some

but for others

would be their institutions, their military organisa-

tion, their industry, their

commerce,

etc.,

that would

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

give us the best knowledge of them.

It is

to establish this point at the outset, for

how

us later to understand

that

is

it

important
will

it

65

enable

the various

elements of a civilisation have undergone very unequal

transformations

when transmitted from one

people to another.
the peoples of antiquity, the Egyptians and

Among
Romans

examples of

offer highly characteristic

this

inequality in the development of the various elements

of a civilisation, and even in the various branches of

which each of these elements

is

composed.

Let us begin by considering the Egyptians.

was always very weak,

literature

very poor quality.


the

contrary,

monuments

masterpieces.

excite our admiration.

statues that have

painting of

In architecture and statuary, on

they produced

still

their

Their

come down

Their

The Egyptian

to us, the Scribe, the

and many others


the present day, and it was

Cheik-el-Beled, Rahotep, Nefert-Ari,

would

still

be models at

only during a very short period that they were surpassed by the Greeks.

With the Egyptians let us compare the Romans,


whose role in history was so preponderating. They
lacked neither educators nor models, since they
after the

Egyptians and Greeks

came

and yet they did

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

66

not succeed in creating a personal


perhaps, has ever displayed
artistic

The Romans

productions.

No

art.

people,

originality in

less

its

held the arts in

very slight esteem, scarcely regarding them from


other than a utilitarian point of view, and looking

on

them

as

merely

of

sort

article

imported

analogous to the other

products, such

aromatics, and spices

which they were indebted

for

At

to foreign peoples.

the period

already masters of the world, the


national

art,

and even

when

later on,

as

metals,

when they were


Romans had no
universal peace,

somewhat developed
sentiments, it was always to

wealth, and the needs of luxury


their

weak,

artistic

Greece that they went


history

of

Roman

for

models and

architecture

The

artists.

and

sculpture

is

more than an appendix to the history of


the sculpture and architecture of Greece.
scarcely

On

the other hand this great

was so

inferior

elements of

in

the

civilisation

people, which

developed three other

arts,

to

Roman

the highest pitch.

possessed military institutions

which insured

empire of the world

and

tions
it

which

still

political

serve

us

as

it

It

the

juridical institu-

models

and

finally,

created a literature which for centuries has been

the source of inspiration of our own.

ITS

We

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

67

thus have a striking example of the unequal

development of the elements of a

civilisation in the

case of two nations whose high degree

of culture

cannot be contested, and we can divine the errors


that would result from taking as sole standard but

one of these elements

the arts for example.

have just found that among the Egyptians the


with

the

original

contrary,

the

exception

and

of

painting, were

arts,

extremely

remarkable, while literature, on

did not rise above mediocrity.

Romans

We

the

Among

the arts were mediocre and without a

trace of originality, but they shone in the field of


literature,

and

their military

and

political institutions

were of the highest order.

The Greeks

themselves, though one of the peoples

that has displayed the


different fields,

unequal

way

in

may

most superiority

also

be cited

most

proof of the

in

which the development of the various

elements of a civilisation proceeds.

At

epoch their literature was already very


the songs of

in the

Homer

are

still

the

Homeric

brilliant, since

regarded as the models

with which the students of the European universities


are

condemned

to saturate themselves

has been taken for centuries past.


of

modern archaeology have

a view that

But the discoveries

proved

that,

at

the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

68

period to which the Homeric songs belong, Greek


sculpture

and architecture were grossly barbarian,

and confined
Assyrian

to crude imitations of

Egyptian and

art.

However,

it

is

furnish us with an

ment of the

more

especially the

Hindoos that

example of the unequal develop-

different elements of a civilisation.

regards architecture they have been

very few peoples.

As

As

surpassed by

regards philosophy the depth

of their speculations has only been attained to by

European thought at a quite recent date. In literature, if they do not reach the level of the Greeks
and Latins, they have nevertheless produced admirable work. Their statuary, on the contrary, is
mediocre, and
the

much below

that of the Greeks.

domain of science and

in

that

In

of historical

knowledge, they have absolutely nothing to show,

and they exhibit an absence of precision that

met with

to an equal degree

in

is

not

any other people.

Their sciences have been mere childish speculations

their histories absurd legends, containing not a single

exact date and probably not a single exact event.


In their case, once again, the exclusive study of the
arts

would be

insufficient to

their civilisation.

determine the level of

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

Many other examples might

be adduced

in

69

support

There are races which, although


they have never occupied an absolutely superior rank,
of what precedes.

have succeeded

in creating

an absolutely personal art

The

bearing no visible relation to anterior models.

Arabs are a case

in

Less than a century after

point.

they had invaded the old Greco-Roman world, they

had so utterly transformed

the

archi-

Byzantine

tecture they had begun by adopting, that

it

would

be impossible to determine the types that had


spired them,

were not that we are

if it

still

in-

able to

consult the series of intermediary monuments.

Moreover, even

a people should not possess

if

any

artistic or literary aptitude, it is

capable of creating

a civilisation of a superior order.

This happened

the case of the Phenicians, whose sole superiority


their skill in

commerce.

the ancient world

communication

was they who

It

by bringing

all

its

in

was

civilised

parts

into

but as far as they themselves were

concerned they produced scarcely anything, and the


history of their civilisation

is

the history of their

imerce.
Finally, there

are

peoples

lents of civilisation

among whom

have remained

state with the exception of the arts.

in

all

the

an inferior

The Mongolians

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

70

were a people of

The monuments they

this kind.

raised in India, in a style about

which there

is

scarcely

anything Hindoo, are so magnificent that competent

some of them rank among the


monuments that have been raised by

artists declare that

most beautiful
the hand of
classing the
It will

most

man

and yet nobody could think of

Mongols among the superior

be noticed, moreover, that even

civilised peoples,

among

the

not always at the culmi-

is

it

races.

nating period of their civilisation that the arts attain


to the highest degree of development.

Among

the

Egyptians and among the Hindoos the most perfect

monuments
Europe,
as

it

are generally the

was

while in

Middle Ages, an epoch regarded

in the

flourished

that

semi-barbarian,

most ancient

that

marvellous

Gothic art whose admirable productions have never

been equalled.
In consequence

it

is

quite impossible to judge of

by the development of

the level of a people solely


its

arts,

which constitute,

repeat, but

elements of

its

civilisation,

superiority

is

not

and an element whose

proven

any

superiority of literature

is

proven.

on the contrary, that

is

among

head of

civilisation

it

the

one of the

more than
It often

the

happens,

the peoples at the

Romans,

for

instance, in

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

71

ancient times and the Americans at the present day

show the most weakness.

that artistic productions

Frequently too,

we

as

remarked,

just

has been

it

semi-barbarous ages that the peoples have pro-

in

and

duced

their literary

artistic

masterpieces more especially.

artistic

seem that the period of personality


case of a people,

hood or

its

is

pations of the

not

in the arts, in the

its

maturity

that, among
new world of which we catch

foresee the

among

would even

the

its

child-

and

if it

the utilitarian preoccu-

of the dawn, the role of the arts

we may

It

a growth belonging to

youth and not to

be considered

their

masterpieces

is

scarcely observable,

day when they


at

inferior,

secondary manifestations of a

a glimpse

least

will

be classed

among

if

the quite

civilisation.

There are many reasons why the progress of the


arts in their evolution should not

be parallel to that

of the other elements of a civilisation, and should not


in

consequence be always a sure indication of the

state of this civilisation.

Whether

in

the case of

Egypt, of Greece, or of the various European peoples,

we observe

this general

reached a certain

level,

law that as soon as art has


as soon that

is

as

certain

masterpieces have been produced, there immediately

commences a period of decadence

entirely independent

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

72

of the

movement of

the

until a political revolution,

new

elements of the

This decadent phase of the arts subsists

civilisation.

of

other

elements into

an invasion, the adoption

new

any other factor introduces

beliefs or
art.

It

was

in this

way

that in the

Middle Ages the Crusades were the source of fresh


knowledge and new ideas, which gave an impulsion
to

art

Roman
way

that

resulted

in

style into the

the transformation of the

Gothic

style.

again that, several centuries

and

of Greek

It

later,

was

in this

the revival

about

the

transformation of Gothic art into the art of

the

Renaissance.

Latin

studies

In India, too, the

brought

Mussulman

caused the transformation of Hindoo art


the

same

invasions

in precisely

fashion.

It is also

of importance to observe, that since the

arts express in general fashion certain of the

needs

of civilisation and correspond to certain sentiments,

they are fated to undergo transformations


formity with these needs, and
entirely

if

in

con-

even to disappear

the needs and the sentiments which have

given birth to them should themselves be transformed


or disappear.

the civilisation

It will in
is

here once more

on

we

this

nowise follow, however, that


account in decadence, and

are confronted with the absence

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

73

of parallelism between the evolution of the arts and


that of the other elements of a civilisation.

At no

period in history has civilisation been at so high a


pitch as at the present day, and at no period perhaps

has art been more commonplace and less personal.

The

religious beliefs, the ideas

made

art

periods

and the needs which

an essential element of

when

it

civilisation at the

had temples and palaces

for

its

sanctuaries having disappeared, art has

become an

accessory, an instrument of pleasure to

which

not possible to devote either

money.

much

time or

Being no longer a necessity,

it

and

At

artificial

escape being

imitative.

it

is

much

can scarcely
the present

day there are no longer peoples who possess a national


art, and each people, in architecture as in sculpture,
lives

on more or

less

happy copies of the work of

bygone epochs.
These modest copies doubtless represent needs or
caprices, but

it is

clear that

it is

impossible that they

should express our modern ideas.

works of our

artists of the

admire the

nai've

Middle Ages, as seen

their paintings of saints, of Christ, of Paradise

Hell, all of

in

and

which were of fundamental importance

and the principal concern of existence;


but when painters who no longer entertain these
at the time

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

74
beliefs

our walls with primitive legends or

cover

childish

symbols

another

of

technique

an attempt to return to the

in

they

age,

merely

wretched imitations without interest

and destined

The only

to arouse

contempt

in

produce

for the present

the future.

only arts which are the

real arts, the

expression of an epoch, are those in which the artist


represents

what he

what he

feels or

sees instead of

confining himself to the imitation of forms corre-

sponding to needs or

The only

beliefs

we have ceased

sincere painting of the present

to possess.

day

is

that

which reproduces the things by which we are surrounded, just as the only sincere architecture

is

that

of the five-storied house, the viaduct, and the railway

This

station.

utilitarian art

and ideas of our

corresponds to the needs

civilisation.

It is as characteristic

of the epoch as were formerly the Gothic church and

For the archaeologist of the future


the great modern caravansaries and the old Gothic
the feudal castle.

churches will be of equal interest because they will be


successive pages in those books of stone which each

century leaves behind


useless

it,

while he will disdain

as

documents the sorry counterfeit copies of so

many modern
Every

artists.

aesthetic

system represents the

ideal of

an

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

epoch and of a

and

race,

epochs and races are


stantly be varying.

view

all

75

for the sole reason

must con-

different, the ideal

From

that

the philosophic point of

ideals are of equal worth, for they constitute

more transitory symbols.

The

arts then, like all the

elements of a

civilisation,

are the exterior manifestation of the soul of the people

that has created

them

but

we ought

to recognise,

however, that they are far from constituting in the


case of

all

peoples the most exact manifestation of

their thought.

This demonstration was necessary.

For the im-

portance in the case of a given people of a given

element of

civilisation

is

a measure of the power of

transformation which that people brings to bear on


the element in question
foreign race.

when

it

borrows

it

from a

If its personality displays itself

especially in the arts, for example,

its

more

reproductions

of imported models are sure to be deeply marked by


its

own

imprint.

On

the contrary

it

will

transform

but very slightly the elements that are incapable of


serving to interpret

adopted

make

it

its

genius.

When

the architecture of Greece

the

Romans

they did not

the object of radical modifications, because

they did not put what was most characteristic of their


soul into their

monuments.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

76

Still,

even

in the

case of such a people as the

Romans, who were without a personal architecture,


and who were constrained to go to the foreigner
for

and

models

their

their

artists,

art

is

obliged

of but few centuries to undergo the

in the course

influence of environment and to become, almost in


spite of

itself,

adopted

it.

and

the expression of the race that has

The

temples, palaces, triumphal arches,

Rome

of ancient

bas-reliefs

Greeks or of pupils of the Greeks


character
their

of

these

ornaments,

their

of

and yet the

their

monuments,

even

the work

are

destination,

dimensions,

do

not

arouse in us the delicate, poetic memories of the

Athenian genius, but rather the ideas of

force,

of

domination, and of military passion with which the

mighty soul of

Rome was

the field in which

it

imbued.

shows

itself

Thus, even
least

in

personal, a

race can accomplish nothing that does not bear some


trace of the fact that

it

was due

without revealing something of

to

its

its initiative,

and

mental constitution

and innermost thought.

The explanation
architect

or

poet,

is

that

the true

possesses

the

artist,

whether

magic faculty of

expressing in his syntheses the soul of an epoch and


of a race.

Very impressionable, very unconscious,

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

77

thinking more especially in images, and reasoning

but

artists

little,

the society in which they live

of

mirrors

works

are at certain epochs the faithful

the most

are

had with a view

recourse

can

vanished

civilisation.

be

They

to

their

to

which

evoking a

are too unconscious not

and too impressed by

to be sincere,

ings

exact documents

their surround-

not to give faithful expression to the ideas,

sentiments, needs and

ment.

are not free to create

They

and the

tendencies of their environ-

fact

what they choose,

constitutes their strength.

are

They

imprisoned in a network of traditions, ideas, and


beliefs,

the

sum

total of

which constitutes the soul of

a race and an epoch, the inheritance of sentiments,


thoughts, and

inspirations,

powerful over them because

whose
it

influence

is

all

governs the obscure

regions of the unconscious in which their works are


elaborated.

Were we without

we know nothing
is

related of

ficial

them

these works, and did

of the vanished centuries but what


in the

absurd narratives and

arti-

arrangements of the books of history, the real

past of each people would be almost as great an

enigma

to us as that of the mysterious Atlantiades

submerged, according to Plato, by the waters.

The

essential characteristic, then, of the

work of

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

78
art

to be the sincere expression of the needs

is

of

ideas

the age that gives

it

birth.

Of

all

and
the

various languages which relate the story of the past,

works of

art,

those of architecture in particular, are

More

the most intelligible.

sincere than books, less

than religions and languages, they express

artificial

both the sentiments and the needs of their period.

The

architect builds the dwelling-places of

those of the gods, and

it

men and

was always within the

precincts of the temple or those of the house that

were elaborated the

first

causes of the events which

constitute history.

We may

conclude from what precedes, that while

the various elements of which a civilisation

com-

is

posed are indeed the expression of the soul of the


people

that

created

them,

certain

of

these

though which of them varies with the

elements
races

has

and

same race

also with the epochs in the case of the

are a

more exact expression of the

soul

of a race than others.


Since, however, the nature of these elements varies

with the different peoples and the different epochs,


it

is

evident that

it

is

impossible to find a single

element capable of serving as a

whereby

to

common

standard

gauge the level of the different civilisations.

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

It is also

79

evident that a hierarchical classification

cannot be established
classification

among

these elements, for the

would vary from century

to century,

the importance of the elements considered varying


itself

with the periods.

If the value of the diverse

elements of a civilisation

were to be judged solely from the point of view of pure


utility, it

might be affirmed that the most important

elements of a civilisation are those which allow one


people to subject another, that
institutions.

But

if this

test

is

to say military

were adopted,

it

be necessary to rank the Greeks, a nation of


philosophers, and
their

writers,

after

cohorts, the

invincible

would
artists,

Romans

the

virtuous

and

with

learned

Egyptians after the semi-barbarian Persians, and the

Hindoos

the

after

Mongols who were

also

semi-

barbarians.

History
tinctions.

bows

is

is

but

little

The only

concerned with these subtle

superiority before which

military superiority, which

is

it

dis-

always

very rarely

accompanied by a corresponding superiority in the


other elements of civilisation, or at least does not

long allow the maintenance at


superiority.

cannot decline

Unfortunately

among

its

side of this latter

military

superiority

a people without that people

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

8o

being fated to disappear.

has always been

It

they had reached the apogee of


superior peoples have had to

much

when

civilisation, that the

retire before barbarians,

their inferiors as regards intelligence, but posses-

sing certain qualities of character and warlike aptitudes


to

which too refined


It

is

civilisations

have always been

necessary, in consequence,

saddening conclusion that

it

philosophically speaking, are

most important from the

is

to

fatal.

arrive at the

the elements which,

inferior,

social

that

are the

point of view.

the laws of the future are to be those of the past,

may

If
it

be said that to have attained to too high a

degree of intelligence and culture

harmful to a people.
qualities of character

is

most

which form the groundwork of

as soon as the civilisation


level.

what

Peoples perish as soon as the

their soul begin to decline,

reach a high

is

and these

qualities decline

and intelligence of a people

CHAPTER
HOW

The

II

AND LANGUAGES
ARE TRANSFORMED

INSTITUTIONS, RELIGIONS,

superior races are as powerless as the inferior races to transform


suddenly the elements of their civilisation Contradictions presented by the peoples which have changed their religions, lan-

guages, and arts The example of Japan In what respect these


changes are only apparent The profound transformations under-

gone by Buddhism, Brahmanism, Mahometanism and Christianity


according to the various races by which they have been adopted

The

variations

undergone by

to the race that adopts

and languages according


That the words which in different

institutions

them

languages are considered to correspond represent very dissimilar


ideas and modes of thought
Impossibility for this reason of
translating

languages Why, in books of history, the


people sometimes seems'... to have undergone proLimits of the reciprocal influence of different

certain

civilisation of a

found changes
civilisations.

"\ ~\

7 E have shown

in

a previous book that

the

superior races are wholly unable to induce

inferior races to accept their civilisation or to thrust

Taking one by one the most powerful


means of action at the disposal of Europeans

it

on them.

education, institutions, beliefs

absolute inefficacy as

we have proved

means of changing the


7

their
social
si

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

82

We have

state of the inferior peoples.

endeavoured

to establish, that since all the elements of a civili-

mental

sation correspond to a certain well-defined

constitution created

long past,

it

is

by heredity

in the course of

impossible to modify them without

changing the mental constitution of which they are


the outcome.

Such a task

conquerors, and can

only be accomplished by the

We

lapse of centuries.

beyond the power of

is

have also shown that

it

is

only by a series of successive stages, analogous to


those traversed by the barbarians

Greco-Roman

civilisation, that

the scale of civilisation.

If

it

who

destroyed the

a people can

education, to spare a people these stages,

done

is

to disorganise its morality

gence, and to reduce


that

it

it

in the

would have reached

The arguments we have


are

principles
it

end

if it

and

all

that

its

intelli-

ought

is

to a level inferior to

had been

left to itself.

applied to inferior races

equally applicable to superior races.

we have

rise in

be sought, by means of

set forth in this

work are

If

the

correct,

to be clear that the superior races are also

incapable of suddenly transforming their civilisation.

They,

too, require time,

cessive stages.

and need

to traverse suc-

If the superior peoples

seem

at times

to have adopted beliefs, institutions, languages

and

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

83

arts differing

from those of their ancestors, they have

done

reality

so

in

only after having slowly and

profoundly transformed them so as to bring them


into touch with their mental constitution.

History appears to contradict on every page the


preceding

offers

It

proposition.

us

frequent ex-

amples of peoples changing the elements of their


adopting new religions, new languages,

civilisation,

new

Some

institutions.

peoples abandon the beliefs

they have held for centuries and are converted to


Christianity,

transform

modify

their

their

seems that

Buddhism

it

language

institutions
rests

Mahometanism

or
;

and

yet

others

their

others

radically
It

arts.

even

with a conqueror or an apostle to

provoke such transformations, or even


result

that

they

from a mere caprice.

History, however,

in

offering

these accounts

of

sudden revolutions does no more than accomplish one


of

its

habitual missions

of enduring errors.
closely studied,

it is

names of things

the creation and propagation

When

these alleged changes are

soon perceived that

it is

only the

that easily vary, whereas the realities

hidden behind the words continue to exist and are


only transformed with exceeding slowness.

To

prove this assertion, and to show at the same

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

84

time

how

the

slow evolution of things goes on

behind denominations

remain

that

it

unchanged,

would be necessary to study the elements of each


civilisation in the case of the different peoples, that

to re-write their history.

is

have already essayed

this laborious task in several

volumes

asked, in consequence, that

should again attempt

here.

Leaving

which a

aside

civilisation

is

will

not be

numerous elements

the

composed,

one of them as an example

it

the

it

of

choose but

shall

arts.

Before approaching, however, in a special chapter,


the study of the evolution accomplished
in passing

from one people to another,

by the

shall

arts

make

few remarks respecting the changes undergone by


the other elements of civilisation, in order to

show

that the laws applicable to one of these elements are


perfectly applicable to

all

of them, and that

arts of the different peoples

if

the

correspond to a certain

mental constitution, as much


languages, institutions, beliefs,

is

to be said of their

etc.,

which

in

conse-

quence cannot change suddenly and pass indifferently


from one people to another. 1
1

it

It

I shall

not deal here with the case of Japan, having already treated
it on a future occasion.

elsewhere, while I shall certainly return to

would be impossible to study in a few pages a question on the


which eminent statesmen are the victims of delusions which

subject of

ITS
It is

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

more

especially in connection with religious

beliefs that this


it

yet

beliefs

is

theory

may

in

the

precisely

appear paradoxical, and


history

of

these

very

that the best examples are to be found in

proof that

as impossible for a people suddenly

is

it

change the elements of

to

85

individual

its

civilisation, as for

an

to alter his stature or the colour of his

eyes.

Nobody, doubtless,
religions,

ignorant that

is

Brahmanism, Buddhism,

all

the great

Christianity,

or

Mahometanism, have provoked conversions en masse


among entire races who have seemed to adopt them
on a sudden

however, when a closer study

of these conversions
the peoples have

name
itself,

and that

in

especially changed

reality the

adopted

the transformations

are shared unfortunately


the

more

soon observed that what


the

is

of their old religion and not their religion

undergone

The

is

it

made

is

by

beliefs

have

necessary to bring

certain philosophers wanting in insight.

prestige adhering to military triumphs, even though achieved at


expense of mere barbarians, still remains for many minds the

It is possible to drill an army


of negroes in accordance with European military principles and to
teach them to handle rifles and canon, but their mental inferiority and

criterion of the level of a civilisation.

the consequences

it

involves will not be modified on this account.

The

varnish of European civilisation boasted at present by Japan in nowise


It is a trumpery
corresponds to the mental condition of the race.

borrowed garment which

will

soon be rent by violent revolutions.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

86

them

into

touch

with

the

replaced, and of which

in

old

they have

beliefs

reality they are a

mere

continuation.

The

transformations undergone by beliefs in pass-

ing from one people to another are often indeed so


considerable, that the

religion has

newly adopted

no

longer any visible relationship with that of which

The

has kept the n'ame.

best

example

is

it

offered us

by Buddhism, which, after having been transported


into China, has become so unrecognisable that the
learned took

it

at first to be an

independent religion

and were a long time before they recognised that


this religion was merely Buddhism transformed by
the race that had adopted
in

no

sort the

Buddhism of

Chinese Buddhism

it.

is

India, itself very different

Buddhism of Nepaul, which in turn is


sufficiently distinct from the Buddhism of Ceylon.
In India, Buddhism was a schism from Brahmanism
from

the

which preceded

it,

and from which

to no very great extent

differed

in

schism from earlier beliefs to which

The

rigorous proof that

Buddhism

is

manism.

The

varied,

it

is

was easy

to

of

China,
it is

it

bottom

was

it

also a

closely related.

possible in the case of

forthcoming as well
races

at

India

presume

in

that of Brah-

being

that,

extremely

under identical

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

87

names, they would have extremely different religious


Doubtless

beliefs.

all

Vishnou and Siva as

Vedas

as

the Brahmanic peoples regard

their principal divinities

their sacred

books

and the

but of these funda-

mental gods the religion has retained but the name,

and of the sacred books but the


central

Around

text.

these

and common features have grown up inumer-

able cults in which are found, according to the races,

the most

varied

beliefs

monotheism, polytheism,

of ancestors, of

the worship

fetichism, pantheism,

demons, of animals,

Were

etc.

India to be judged solely

by what

the
is

religions

of

found concern-

ing them in the Vedas, not the least idea would be

obtained of the gods and beliefs of the immense

The

peninsula.

rated

by

title

of the sacred books

is

vene-

the Brahmans, but there survives

all

general nothing of

the religion

taught

in

by these

books.

Islamism

itself,

in spite of the

monotheism, has not evaded

this

simplicity of

law

it

is

its

a far cry

from the Islamism of Persia to that of Arabia and


that of India.

The Hindoo,

essentially a polytheist,

has contrived to render polytheistic the most monotheistic of beliefs.

For the

fifty

Mahometans, Mahomet and the

millions of

Hindoo

saints of Islam are

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

88

scarcely

more than new gods added

others.

Islamism has ever been unable to establish

in

India that equality of

was one of the causes of

its

all

to thousands of

men which

elsewhere

The Mussulmans

success.

of India, like the other Hindoos, practise the system


of castes.

In

the

Deccan,

populations, Islamism has


that

it

become

so unrecognisable

can scarcely be distinguished from Brahmanism;

indeed

it

would not be distinguished from

but for the

name

of Mahomet, and for the

where the prophet, become a god,


It is

is

it

at all

mosque

worshipped.

not necessary to go as far as India to observe

by Islamism

the profound modifications undergone


in passing

from one race to another.

It suffices to

consider our great possession, Algeria.

two very

different races

of them Mussulmans.
far

Dravidian

the

among

It

contains

Arabs and Berbers, both

The Islamism

removed from that of the

latter

of the former
the

polygamy
Koran has become monogamy among the
Berbers, whose religion is scarcely more than a fusion

is

of the

between Islamism and the old paganism practised

by the

race since the distant ages of Carthaginian

rule.

The

Europe themselves are not excepted


from the common law which obliges beliefs to underreligions of

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

go a transformation

in

accordance with the soul of

As

the races by which they are adopted.


the

of the

letter

dogmas

remained invariable

89

but

in

India,

fixed

by the texts

these

dogmas

has

are vain

formulae of which each race interprets the meaning


after its

own

fashion.

Under the uniform denomina-

of Christians are found

tion

in

Europe

veritable

who worships idols


fetichists, such as the Spaniard who adores amulets
polytheists, such as the Italian who venerates as

pagans, such as the Bas-Breton

very different divinities the madonnas of each village.

Were

this

study to be prosecuted further,

it

would

be easy to show that the great religious schism of


the Reformation was the necessary consequence of
the interpretation of one and the

by

different races

same

religious

book

those of the North, wishing to

discuss their belief, regulate their

life

themselves, and

those of the South having remained far behind from


the point of view of independence and the philosophic

No example would be more convincing.


These are facts, however, the development of which
would lead us beyond our scope. We shall have to

spirit.

deal

still

more

elements of
because

it

briefly with the

two other fundamental

civilisation, institutions

would be necessary

and languages,

to enter into technical

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

90

details that

What

is

wholly surpass the limits of

true in the case of beliefs,

that of institutions

from

one

this

work.

equally true in

these latter cannot be transmitted

people to

transformation.

is

another without undergoing

Not wishing

to multiply examples,

I beg the reader merely to consider how


greatly, in
modern times, the same institutions, imposed by force

or persuasion on different races, have been transformed,

though retaining identical names.

demonstrate

shall

the fact in a forthcoming chapter in connection with


the different regions of America.
Institutions are the

on which the

will

have no action.

outcome

in reality

of necessities

of a single generation of

For each

and

race,

for

men can

each phase

of the evolution of that race, there are conditions of


existence, sentiments, thoughts, opinions, hereditary
influences which imply certain institutions

not imply others.


is

The

label a

of very slight importance.

and do

Government bears
It

has never been

accorded a people to choose the institutions which

appear to

it

to be the best.

Should some rare stroke

of chance allow a people to choose


will

be unable to keep them.

tions, the successive

its institutions, it

The numerous

revolu-

changes of constitution, affected

by the French during the

last

hundred years con-

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

91

an experience which should long since have

stitute

the opinion of statesmen on this

settled

believe, moreover, that

it

is

point.

scarcely elsewhere than

obtuse brain of the masses and the narrow

in the

minds of some few

fanatics that the idea can persist

that important social changes are to be brought about

The only useful

by

legislative acts.

is

to give legal sanction to

role of institutions

changes which manners

and public opinion have ended by accepting. Institutions are moulded by these changes, but they are
not
of

in

The

advance of them.

men

are not to be modified

character and thought

by

not by institutions that a people


or sceptical, or that

it

is

is

institutions.

It is

rendered religious

taught to conduct

its

own

affairs

without incessantly demanding of the State

that

shall forge

it

it

shall not dwell

a chain.

on the question of languages any

more than on that of

institutions,

and

myself to drawing attention to the


where a language is fixed by writing,

shall confine

fact

that even

it is

necessarily

transformed in passing from one people to another,


a truth that renders so absurd the idea of an universal
language.

Doubtless the Gauls, in spite of their

immense numerical
language

less

superiority,

had adopted the Latin

than two centuries after their conquest,

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

92

but they were quick to bring the newly adopted

tongue into harmony with their needs, and the logic


peculiar to their bent of mind.

Modern French

is

the final result of these transformations.


It is

impossible for different races to speak the

same language

for

of conquest, the interests of


less

its

commerce may doubt-

bring a people to adopt another language in the

place of

its

mother tongue, but

after the lapse of a

few generations the language adopted


entirely

the

The chances

any length of time.

The

transformed.

more thorough

in

will

transformation will be

proportion as the race from

which the language has been borrowed


different

have been

from that which has borrowed

is

the

more

it.

Dissimilar languages are always certain to be

with in countries inhabited by different races.

met

India

example in point. The great


peninsula being inhabited by numerous different races,
it is not astonishing that two hundred and forty
affords an excellent

languages should, according to the linguistic authorities,

be spoken

in

it,

some of them

differing

from each other than do French and Greek.

more
These

two hundred and forty languages do not include some


three hundred dialects

these languages

is

The

widest spread

quite modern, since

it

among

has only

ITS

existed

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION


three

for

centuries

it

is

93

Hindustanee, a

language formed by a combination of the Persian

and Arabian spoken by the Mussulman conquerors


and Hindi, one of the principal tongues of the invaded
Conquerors and conquered soon forgot their

regions.

primitive language, exchanging

it

for a

new language

adapted to the needs of the new race produced by


the interbreeding of the various peoples

brought

together.
I

cannot dwell longer on the matter,

obliged to

mental

and am

confine myself to indicating the funda-

ideas.

Were

able to enter into the necessary

would go further and would say that


where peoples are different, the words considered
among them as corresponding represent modes of
developments,

thinking and feeling so far apart, that in reality their

languages have no synonyms, and real translation

from one language into the other


wholly

this is the case will

is

impossible.

How

be understood by observing

same country, and among the same race,


the same word corresponds in the course of centuries

how

in the

to quite dissimilar ideas.

Old words represent the ideas of the men of the


Words which at their origin were the signs of
past.
real things

soon have their meaning altered

in conse-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

94

quence of changes
Recourse

is

still

would be too

in ideas,

had

manners, and customs.

to these

difficult to

timeworn

signs, for

change them, but there

it

is

no correspondence between what they represented


at a given moment, and what they signify at the
In the case of peoples at a great

present day.

distance from us, and whose civilisations were without

analogy with our own, translations can only give

words absolutely deprived of


words, that

no

is,

evoking ideas

to

relation

phenomenon

is

their real primitive sense,


in

our mind which have

those they formerly evoked.

This

specially striking in connection with

the ancient languages of India.

The

ideas of the

Indian people are indistinct, their logic has no relationship with our own, and their words have never

had that precise and definite meaning which the


lapse of centuries and the turn of our minds has
ended by giving words
the Vedas

though

it

for

in

Europe.

There are books,

example, the translation of which,

has been vainly attempted,

It is difficult

enough

to penetrate the

is

impossible.

thought of the

1
Talking of the numerous attempts to translate the Vedas, an
eminent Indian scholar, Mr. Earth, remarks: "All these various and
at times so contradictory investigations have one result ; they demon-

how impossible it is for us to


sense of the word, of the Vedas."

strate

make a

translation, in the true

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

whom we

individuals with

are separated

education

whom

but from

whom we

certain differences of age, sex,

and

penetrate the thought of races

on

by

to

live,

95

the dust of centuries has accumulated

is

task no scholar will ever succeed in accomplishing.

All the learning


to

possible to acquire merely serves

it is

show the complete uselessness of attempts of the

kind.

Brief and slightly developed though the preceding

examples

be,

show how profound are

suffice to

they

the transformations peoples effect in the elements of


civilisation

The importance

they borrow.

of the

elements borrowed often appears to be considerable,

because the change

importance

in

is

in

names

is

in fact

reality very slight.

sudden

this

In the course

of centuries, thanks to the slow labours of generations

and

in

consequence

of

successive

additions,

the

borrowed element ends by differing greatly from the


element of which
tory,

originally took the place.

it

His-

which takes note more especially of appearances,

pays but

little

and when

it

attention to these successive variations,


tells

adopted a new
to ourselves

is

us,

for

religion,

not at

the religion such as

all

example, that a people

what we

at

once represent

the beliefs really adopted, but

we know

it

at the present day.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

96
It is

necessary to study these slow adaptations with

the utmost closeness, in order to understand their


genesis,

and

words from

The

to detect the differences that separate

realities.

history of civilisations

is

thus composed of slow

adaptations, of slight successive transformations.

If

these latter appear to us to be sudden and considerable,

it

is

we

because, as in geology,

suppress the

intermediate phases and only consider the extreme


phases.

In reality, however intelligent and gifted a people

be supposed to
element of

be, its capacity for

civilisation

is

absorbing a new

The

always very restricted.

brain cells do not assimilate in a

taken centuries to create, and what

day what
is

it

has

adapted to the

sentiments and needs of organisms that differ from

Only slow hereditary accumulations


allow of such assimilations. Further on, when we

one another.

come

to study the evolutions of the arts

most

intelligent

Greeks,

we

of

the peoples

shall see that

many

of

among

antiquity,

the
the

centuries were neces-

sary before the rude copies of Assyrian and Egyptian

models were

left

behind, and, after long successive

stages, those masterpieces were produced which are


still

the admiration of humanity

ITS
It

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

must also be observed that

have succeeded one another

all

in

97

the peoples which

with the

history

exception of a few primitive peoples such as the

have had

Egyptians and Chaldeans


late

beyond the elements of

civilisation

tute the inheritance of the past

transformed
tution.

in

little

to assimi-

which consti-

elements they have

accordance with their mental consti-

The development

would have been

of the world's civilisations

infinitely slower,

and the history of

the various peoples would have been one eternal


recommencement, if they had been unable to profit

by the materials elaborated before their time. The


civilisations created some seven or eight thousand
years ago, by the inhabitants of

Egypt and Chaldaea,

have served as a store of materials to which


nations have had recourse in

Greece owe

turn.

The

arts

their origin to the arts created

banks of the Tigris and the


gave birth to the

Roman

Nile.

all

the

of

on the

The Grecian

style

style which, under the action

of Oriental influences, has given birth to the Byzantine,

Roman, and Gothic

styles, styles

which vary accord-

ing to the genius and age of the peoples

whom

they flourished, but styles that have a

among
common

origin.

What we have

just said in connection with the arts


8

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

98
is

applicable to

all

the elements of a civilisation

institutions, languages,

and

beliefs.

The European

languages are derived from a mother-tongue which

was spoken in the past on the central plateau of


French law is an offshoot of Roman law,
Asia.
itself

the offshoot of earlier codes of law.

religion proceeds directly

The Jewish

from the Chaldaean

Associated with Aryan beliefs

it

beliefs.

has become the

great religion which for nearly two thousand years

has exerted

its

Our

sway over the Western peoples.

sciences themselves would not be what they are were


it

not for the slow labour of centuries.

The

great

founders of modern astronomy, Copernicus, Kepler,

and Newton, are the

lineal

whose books retained


fifteenth century, while

the

descendants of Ptolemy,

their influence

down

to

the

Ptolemy descends, through

Alexandrian school, from the astronomers of

Egypt and

Chaldsea.

spite of the formidable

We

thus get a glimpse, in

gaps of which history

is

full,

of a slow evolution of our knowlege which takes us

back through the successive ages and empires to the

dawn

of those ancient civilisations, which

science

is

attempting to link with the primitive times

when humanity had no


common,

modern

history.

the transformations

But

if

the source

is

progressive or regres-

ITS
sive

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

which each people

mental constitution,
very varied

and

it is

effects,

to

according

the elements

in

99

it

its

borrows are

the history of these transforma-

tions that constitutes the history of civilisation.

We have just

seen that the fundamental elements

of which a civilisation

is

composed are

each people, that they are the


of

its

peculiar to

result, the expression

mental structure, and that

in

consequence they

cannot pass from one race to another without under-

We

going the most profound changes.

seen that the extent of these changes

is

have also

marked on

the one hand by linguistic necessities which oblige

employ the same words to designate very


different things, and on the other hand by historical
us

to

which lead us to take into account only


the extreme forms of a civilisation, and to neglect
necessities

the intermediary forms

When

are connected.

studying, in the next chapter, the general laws

of the evolution of the

with

by which they

still

greater

arts,

precision

changes which take place


of a civilisation
another.

we

shall

be able to show

the succession

in the

of the

fundamental elements

when they pass from one people

to

CHAPTER

III

HOW THE ARTS ARE TRANSFORMED


Application of the principles already set forth to the study of the evolution of the arts among the Oriental peoples
Egypt The religious
ideas from which

its arts

Developments that await

are derived

when they

its

are transplanted amid different races


Ethiopians,
Greeks, and Persians Primitive inferiority of Grecian art Slow-

arts

ness of

its

Adoption and evolution in Persia of Grecian


and Assyrian art The transformations underdepend on the race and not on religious beliefs

evolution

Egyptian

art,

gone by the

art,

arts

Examples supplied by the great transformations undergone by


Arabian art according to the races which have adopted Islamism
Application

of our principles to the investigation of the origin

and evolution of the arts in India India and Greece went to the
same sources, but in consequence of the diversity of the races they
developed arts having no relationship Immense transformations
undergone by architecture in India among the

different races in

spite of the similarity of their beliefs.

examining the

INconstitution
beliefs,

and

its

of

relations

people,

language,

myself to brief indications.


jects, it

would be necessary

In the case of the

arts,

between the mental


its

institutions,

have had

To

to

its

confine

elucidate such sub-

to pile

a clear

up volumes.
and precise

state-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES


ment

matters whose definition


tion

The

obscure.

is

and

beliefs are

whose

interpreta-

Institutions

infinitely easier.

is

is

doubtful,

reality,

101

which changes with

every epoch, has to be searched for in the ancient


texts in which

it

lies

concealed, and laborious argu-

mentation and criticism must be resorted to

in order

to arrive at conclusions which, at the finish, are


to discussion.

Works

of

art,

and

in particular

open

monu-

and easy of interpreThe books of stone are the most luminous of

ments, are very definite objects,


tation.

books, the only books that never

reason that
in

my

East.

works on the history of the


I

and

it is

for this

have given them a preponderant place

have always held

utmost suspicion.
rarely instruct.
is

lie,

civilisations of the

literary

documents

are often deceptive

They
The monument

always instructive.

in the

and they

rarely deceives

The monument

is

and

the best

guardian of the thought of vanished peoples, and the

mental blindness

is

to be pitied of the specialists

who

concern themselves solely with the inscriptions

may

it

bear.

Let us now proceed to study

in

what respect

arts

are the expression of the mental constitution of a

people, and

go

in

what are the transformations they underpassing from one civilisation to another.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

102

In this inquiry,
arts.

The

European

genesis and the transformation of the


arts

have been subjected to identical laws

but to follow their evolution


it

only the Eastern

shall consider

would be necessary

among

to enter into details

be beyond the very restricted scope of

Let us take, to begin with, the

the various races

which would

this

arts of

work.

Egypt, and

examine the destiny that awaited them among three


different races

transplanted

and the

Of

all

among which they were

Persians.

the civilisations that have flourished on the

globe, that of

Egypt has found the most complete

expression in the

arts.

It is

expressed therein with

such force and clearness that the

saw the

successively

the negroes of Ethiopia, the Greeks,

light

artistic

types that

on the banks of the Nile could only be

suitable to the Egyptians,

and were not adopted by

other peoples until they had been considerably trans-

formed.

The Egyptian
tian

and more especially the Egypwere the outcome of an ideal,

arts,

architecture,

peculiar to the race, which for fifty centuries

was the

constant pre-occupation of an entire people.

dream of the Egyptians was

to create for

The

man an

imperishable dwelling in contrast with his ephemeral

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

This race, unlike,

existence.

races, despised

rested

it

mummy

life,

in this respect, to all other

its

What

and courted death.

more than anything


which,

103

else

inte-

was the motionless

eyes of enamel incrusted in

its

golden mask, gazed eternally, from the depths of

its

gloomy resting place, on mysterious hieroglyphics.


Guarded in its sepulchral dwelling, vast as a palace,
against all profanation, the mummy was surrounded
on the
corridors

and

painted

by

had charmed

that

all

sculptured walls
it

of endless

during

its

brief

terrestial existence.

Egyptian architecture

and

is

religious architecture,

object the

mummy

more

especially a funereal

having more or

less for its

For them

and the Gods.

it

is

that the subterranean vaults were excavated, that the


obelisks, the pylones,

and

for

them

and the pyramids were

that the

pensive giants

raised,

reclined

their thrones of stone in a pose so majestic

on

and so

harmonious.

Everything about
massive because

it

this

architecture

aimed at being

Egyptians were the only people

which we were
that art

is

acquainted,

it

ot

is

stable

eternal.

and

If the

antiquity with

could indeed be said

the most faithful expression of the soul

of the race of which

it is

the creation.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

104

Peoples differing widely from one another


Ethiopians, an ^inferior race
Persians, superior
either from

Let us see

It

is

history

have borrowed their arts

races

Egypt alone, or from Egypt and Assyria.


what they became in their hands.

deal, to begin with, with the inferior people

Let us

we have

the

the Greeks and the

just

mentioned

known
(that

peoples of

with the Ethiopians.

that at a late period

of

the

the

in

Egyptian

dynasty), the

twenty-fourth

Soudan, taking advantage of the

anarchy and decadence of Egypt, seized some of


its

provinces and founded a

kingdom which, having

Napata and Meroe successively


tained

by the

its

independence

civilisation

for its capital,

for several centuries.

of the vanquished

endeavoured to copy

their

these copies, of which

we

never to shake off their barbarism

ancient or

modern

it off.

arts

but

possess specimens, are for

These negroes

were barbarians, condemned by their mental

they never did shake

Dazzled

people, they

monuments and

the most part but very rude efforts.

civilising influence of the

main-

and

Egyptians,

There

is

inferiority

in spite

it is

of the

a fact that

no example

in

history of a negro people having

and on every
occasion when a superior civilisation, by one of
reached a certain level of civilisation

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

105

those accidents which in ancient times occurred in

modern times

Ethiopia, and in
into the

hands of the negro

in

Haiti, has fallen


civilisation

race, this

has speedily reverted to wretchedly inferior forms.

Under a very

different latitude, another race, also

barbarian at the time, but a white race, that of the


Greeks, borrowed from

models of

arts

its

making crude
these

and confined

copies.

two great

Egypt and Assyria the

The

artistic

civilisations

at

itself

were

first

first

to

productions of
furnished

the

Greeks by the Phoenicians, who were masters of the


sea routes that connect the shores of the Mediterranean, and

by the peoples of Asia Minor, the masters


of the land routes that lead to Nineveh and Babylon.
Everbody

aware how immeasurably the Greeks

is

surpassed their models in the end.

The

discoveries

of modern archaeology have shown, however,

rude were their

first

how

attempts, and that they required

centuries before they

came

to produce the master-

immortal.

The Greeks

devoted some seven hundred years to

this difficult

pieces which have

made them

task of converting a foreign art into a personal and


superior art
last

century

during

all

but the progress realised during the

is

more considerable than that

the preceding ages.

It is

effected

not the superior

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

106

stages of civilisation, but the inferior stages that a

The

people finds the most difficulty in surmounting.

most ancient productions of Greek


at

Mycenae and belonging

our

era,

those discovered

point to entirely barbarian efforts, and are

rude copies of Oriental objects

Greek

art,

to the twelfth century before

art

is

still

very Oriental

six centuries later

the Apollo of

Tenea

and the Apollo of Orchomenes bear a singular resemblance to the Egyptian statues

but the progress

now

becomes very rapid, and, a century later, we reach


Phidias and the marvellous statues of the Parthenon
that

is

to say,

an

art that

of the East, while

which

it

it is

has thrown off the influence

very superior to the models to

had gone so long

for inspiration.

Architecture followed a like evolution, though


successive steps are less easily established.

We

its

are

ignorant of what the palaces of the Homeric poems,

belonging to about the ninth century before our

may

have been

pinnacles brilliant

and
us,

silver

make

like

but

the

era,

bronze walls, the

with colour, the animals

in

guarding the doors, of which the poet

gold
tells

us think at once of the Assyrian palaces

covered with plates of bronze and enamelled bricks,

and guarded by sculptured bulls. In any case, we


know that the type of the most ancient Greek Doric

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

107

columns, which seem to date from the seventh century,


is

met with

in

Karnak and Beni- Hassan

at

Egypt

that several of the details of the Ionic

borrowed from Assyria

first,

to

we

know

also

that these

some extent superimposed

to

foreign elements,

but

column are

at

then blended, and finally transformed, gave rise

new columns very

different

from their primitive

models.

At another extremity
will offer us the

of the ancient world, Persia

example of an analogous adoption

and evolution, though of an evolution that remained


incomplete, because

was suddenly interrupted by


not have seven cen-

Persia did

foreign conquest.
turies, as

it

Greece did, but only two hundred years,

which to create an

So

art.

far

in

only one people, the

Arabs, has been successful in giving birth to a personal


art in so short a time.

The

history of Persian civilisation scarcely begins

before Cyrus and his successors,


centuries

before

our

era,

Babylon and Egypt, that


civilisation,

The

in

Persian

The
their

of the two great cities of

Greeks,
turn,

succeeded, five

taking possession of

in

whose glory illumined

Eastern world.

supremacy

is

who

at the time

who were

did

not

the

to wield the

count

empire became the centre of

as

yet.

civilisa-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

io8

tion until, three centuries before our era,

thrown

by

Alexander,

whose

Without an

art of their

and

artists

conquered countries.

Their

once

at

civilisation

of

own, the Persians,

when they had possessed themselves


Babylon, borrowed

was over-

conquest

removed elsewhere the centre of the


the world.

it

of

Egypt and

models

empire

from

the

having lasted

but two centuries, they did not have time to modify


these arts profoundly, but at the

moment

of their

overthrow they had already begun to transform them.

The

ruins

of Persepolis, which are

still

standing,

acquaint us with the genesis of these transformations.

We

doubtless meet in

them with the

fusion, or rather

with the superposition, of the arts of Egypt and


Assyria,

new

mingled with some Greek elements

but

elements, notably the lofty Persepolitan column

with

its

bicephalous capitals, are already present, and

authorise the belief that

if

the Persians had disposed

of a longer interval of time, this superior race would

have created an art as personal,

if

not as

lofty, as that

of the Greeks.

This supposition
the

monuments

centuries later.

is

supported by an examination of

of Persia dating from a period ten

To

the dynasty of the Achaemenides,

overthrown by Alexander, succeeded

that

of

the

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

the Arsacides, and finally

Seleucides, then that of

Sassanides, overthrown in the seventh

the

that of

With the advent of

the Arabs.

century by

latter conquerors, Persia acquires a

and when

109

these

architecture,

monuments they

again raises

it

new

offer

an

incontestable imprint of originality, the result of a

combination of Arabian art with the ancient architecture of the Achsemenides, modified

with

bination

the

somewhat

by

Grecian

its

com-

of

art

the

Arsacides (gigantic doorways taking in the entire


of

height
arcades,

the
It

etc.).

enamelled

fagade,

was

this

new

bricks,

art that the

ogival

Mongols

were to transport into India and to modify

in their

turn.

In

the

preceding examples

we

see the varying

degrees of transformation which a people can effect


in the arts of

another people, according to the race

and to the time

it

has been able to devote to this

transformation.

In the case of an inferior race, the /Ethiopians,

although

it

had centuries

at its disposal,

seen that the borrowed art was


inferior form, the race being

brain capacity.

made

we have

to return to an

endowed with

insufficient

In the case of a race both superior

and with centuries

in

which to operate, we have

no

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

observed a complete transformation of the ancient


art into a

new and very

art.

superior

In the case of

another race, the Persians, not ranking so high as

who were

the Greeks, and

of

time,

limited in

we have merely encountered

the matter
great skill

of adaptation and the beginnings of a transformation.

Apart, however, from the examples, most of them


distant,

which we have just

cited, there

are

many

more modern, of which the specimens are still


standing, and which show the magnitude of the transothers

formations a race
borrows.

is

compelled to

effect in the arts

These examples are the more

it

typical, in

by peoples professing the same

that they are furnished

religion but of different origin.

refer to the

Mussul-

mans.

When

the

Arabs

themselves

possessed

of

the

greater part of the old world in the seventh century

of our era, and founded the gigantic empire which

soon stretched from Spain to the centre of Asia and


included the north of Africa, they found themselves
in

presence of a clearly defined architecture

Byzantine architecture.
it

At

first

for the edification of their

Egypt, and Syria.

the

they simply adopted

mosques both

The mosque

of

Omar

in Spain,

at Jeru-

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

Amrou

salem, that of

and other monuments

at Cairo,

standing show us this adoption.

still

in

However,

it

did not last long, and in the various countries the

monuments

are seen to be transformed from century

to century.

We

have shown the genesis of these

"

History of the Civilisation of the

changes in our
Arabs."

They

are so considerable, that there

of resemblance between a

trace

monument

early years of the conquest, such as the

Amrou

at Cairo (742),

and one of the

great Arabian period, such as the

Bey

We have shown

(1468).

is

no

of the

mosque of

close of the

mosque of Kait-

our explanations and

in

diagrams

that, in the different countries subjected to

the

of

rule

India

the

Islam

Spain,

monuments

siderable that

it

is

Africa,

present

Persia,

Syria,

differences so con-

really impossible to class

them

under the same denomination, as can be done,


example,

in the case of the

for

Gothic monuments which,

in spite of their varieties, offer evident analogies.

These
the

radical

Mussulman

differences

countries

in

the architecture of

cannot be the result of

diversity of beliefs, since the religion


is

is

the

same

it

the result of racial divergencies whose influence

on the evolution of the


the destinies of empires.

arts

is

as profound as

it is

on

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

ii2

If this assertion

find very dissimilar

we ought to expect to
monuments in a country inhabited
is

exact,

by different races, even in the face of identical beliefs


and unity of political domination. This is precisely
the

phenomenon

India that

it

that

is

observed

easiest to find

is

in

India.

examples

in

It is in

support

of the general principles set forth in this work, and


is

for this reason that

am

it

always referring to the

great peninsular, which constitutes the most suggestive

and the most philosophic of books of


the present day

by

it is

travelling from

history.

At

the only country in which, merely

one spot to another,

it is

possible

go from age to age and to gaze on the still existing


series of successive stages which humanity has had
to

to traverse to reach the higher levels of civilisation.

All the forms of evolution are met with in India: the

stone age has

its

representatives there, and so too has

the age of electricity and steam.

Nowhere can a

better view be obtained of those great factors which

preside over the genesis and

evolution of civilisa-

tions.

by applying the principles developed in the


present work that I have attempted to solve a
It is

problem to which the key has long been sought


the origin of the arts of India,

The

subject being

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

very

known and

little

constituting

113

an interesting

application of our ideas on the psychology of races,

we

sum up

shall here

As

regards the

appearance

its

arts,

most

essential lines. 1

India

history until very late.

in

monuments, such

as

When

than two centuries

back

they were

Its

its

oldest

the columns of Asoka, the

temples of Karli, Bharhut, Sanchi,


further

make

does not

constructed the

etc.,

scarcely date

before

our

era.

majority of the

old civilisations of the ancient world, those of Egypt,

and Assyria, even that of Greece itself, had


terminated their cycle and entered the night of
Persia,

decadence.
replaced

all

Rome, had
The world knew but one

single civilisation, that of

the others.

master.

which emerged so tardily from the shadows


of history, was in a position then to borrow much
India,

from anterior
however,

country

in

had

originality of
1

For technical

The profound

civilisations.

which

it

always
its

was
lived,

isolation,

formerly admitted the

and

the

astonishing

monuments, which possess no

visible

which cannot even be touched on here I shall


Les Monuments de flnde^ one vol. in folio,
illustrated by four hundred plates from my own photographs,
plans, and
drawings (Didot). Many of these plates are given on a reduced scale
in my work Les Civilisations dans F Inde, 4to, 800 pages.
refer the reader to

details

my work,

n4

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:


any of those that had preceded

relationship with

from abroad being

hypothesis of borrowings

in the

them, long resulted

set aside.

Side by side with their indisputable originality, the


early

Indian

monuments

display a superiority of

execution which they were not destined to surpass

Works

in the lapse of centuries.

of so high a degree

of perfection had doubtless been preceded by long


anterior tentative efforts

and

yet, in spite of the

most minute researches, no monument of an


order revealed the trace of these

The

efforts.

recent discovery, in certain isolated regions

of the north-west
statues

inferior

of the peninsular,

monuments

and

of

debris

revealing

clearly

of

Greek

had ended by inducing Indian antiquarians


believe that India had borrowed its arts from

influences,

to

Greece.

The

application of the principles set forth above

and the most

monuments

careful study of the majority of the

still

existing

in

quite a different conclusion.

India have led us to


India, in our opinion, in

spite of its accidental contact with

borrowed none of

its

arts

borrow any of them from


between the two

Greek

civilisation,

from Greece and could not

this source.

The

differences

races were too great, their thought

ITS

was too

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

unlike, their artistic geniuses

patible for

The

them

to

115

were too incom-

have influenced one another.

examination

of

the

monuments

ancient

scattered over India shows, moreover, immediately


that there

is

no relationship between

those of Greece.
are

its

Whereas our European monuments

of elements borrowed from Grecian

full

and

arts

art,

the

monuments of India present absolutely no such


elements. The most superficial study proves that we
are in presence of extremely different races,

geniuses more unlike

and that

would even say more

anti-

have never perhaps existed than the Greek

pathetic

genius and the Hindu genius.

This general notion

is

merely accentuated when a

more thorough and penetrating study is made of the


of India and of the inner psychology of

monuments

the peoples that created them.


that the

Hindu genius
influence

foreign

is

at

It is

soon observed

too personal for

it

variance with

its

to undergo

thought

Doubtless such a foreign influence can be imposed

by

force

last, it

It

but however long

it

may

be supposed to

remains exceedingly superficial and transitory.

would seem as

if

between the mental constitution

of the peoples of India and that of other peoples,


there

were

barriers

as

great

as

the

formidable

n6

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

obstacles

created

peninsula and

nature

by

other

the

The Hindu genius

is

between

countries

of

the

great

the globe.

so specific that, whatever be the


it

object necessity obliges

to imitate, the object

Even

immediately transformed and becomes Hindu.


in

where

architecture,

it

is

is

nevertheless difficult to

conceal borrowings, the personality of this strange


genius, this faculty of rapid modification

reveal

itself.

Hindu

It

architect

is

possible,

no doubt,

Even

now

to

quick to

make

copy a Greek column, but he will

not be prevented from transforming

column which

is

it

rapidly into a

at first sight will be said to be Hindu.

at the present day,

though European influence

is

so powerful in India, such transformations are

daily observable.

European model
form, but

he

If

Hindu

artist

to copy, he will

will

exaggerate

multiply and disfigure

the

be given any

adopt

certain

ornamental

its

general

parts,

and

details,

so

that the second or third copy will have dropped

all

the Western

characteristics

and

will

have become

exclusively Hindu.

The fundamental
tecture
ture,

of

Hindu

archi-

a characteristic also found in

Hindu

litera-

for this reason is closely allied to

Hindu

which

architecture

is

an

characteristic

overflowing

exaggeration,

an

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

infinite richness

of detail, a complexity which

117

is

the

very antipodes of the correct and severe simplicity of


Grecian

of India that
plastic

the

is

it

those

studying the arts

in

understood to what an extent the

works of a race are often

constitution,
for

more especially

It is

art.

and constitute the

who know how

to

allied to its

mental

clearest of languages

interpret them.

If

Hindus, like the Assyrians, had entirely dis-

appeared

from

the

history,

temples, their statues, their


to reveal to us their past.
in particular

is

bas-reliefs

of

monuments would

What

that the clear

they would

their
suffice
tell

us

and methodic genius of

the Greeks had never been able to exercise the slightest


influence on the overflowing

nation of the Hindus.

understand
never

be

why
other

and unmethodical imagi-

They would

Grecian influence in
than

transitory

limited to the region in which

imposed by

it

make

us

India could

and was always


was momentarily

force.

The study from an archaeological


the monuments of India has enabled
precise documents what

is

point of view of
us to confirm

by

revealed immediately

by

a general knowledge of India and the


It

also

Hindu

genius.

has enabled us to establish the curious fact that,

on several occasions, notably during the

first

two cen-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

n8

Hindu sovereigns

turies of our era, the

in

communi-

cation with the Arsacides dynasty of Persia,


civilisation

whose

bore a strong Grecian impress, desired to

introduce Grecian art into India, but never succeeded


in

making

take root.

it

This borrowed and wholly

no

official art,

relation to the thought of the people

which bore

among whom

had been introduced, always disappeared with the


Morepolitical influences that had given birth to it.
it

over

it

was too antipathetic

to the

Hindu genius

have exerted any influence on the national


during the period during which

No

it

art

to

even

was imposed by

Greek influence are found

in the

contemporary or posterior Hindu monuments,

in the

force.

traces of

subterranean temples for example.

they would be

far too easily discerned for

them

possible to pass

aspect which

On the other hand,

is

over.

it

to be

Apart from the general

always characteristic, there are tech-

nical details, the treatment of the draperies in particular,

which

at

once reveal the hand of a Greek

artist.

The disappearance
sudden as

its

apparition,

shows how entirely


imposed

of Greek art in India was as

it

and

this

very suddenness

was an imported

art, officially

but without affinity with the people that

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

had been obliged to accept

119

Arts never disappear

it.

way from amongst a people they transform


themselves, and the new art always borrows some-

in this

thing from

that

of which

it

After suddenly appearing in

has taken the place.


India,

Greek

art

as

suddenly disappeared without exerting any influence


whatever, exactly as has been the case with the

European monuments erected in the country by the


English during the past two centuries.

The

fact that at the present

exert no influence in India

day the European

may

arts

be compared with

the exceeding slightness of the influence of the Greek


there eighteen

arts

denied that
of

aesthetic

centuries

we have

ago.

cannot

It

sentiments,

the

for

Mussulman

although quite as foreign to India as the


arts,

Even

in those parts of the

European

country where the Musit is

rare to

across a temple that does not contain

traces of

Arabian ornamentation.

the distant times of


at the present day,

attracted
selves

arts,

have been imitated throughout the peninsula.

sulmans have never exercised any power,

come

be

here a case of incompatibility

some

Doubtless, as in

King Kanishka, we

see rajahs

such as the Rajah of Gwalior,

by the might of the

European palaces

in

foreigners, build

them-

Greco-Latin

style,

the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

120

again as in the time of Kanishka

but

art, superposed on the indigenous


without influence on the latter.

Greek and Hindu


side, like

by

present

So

and Hindu

without

but

far as the

ever

monuments

so called are concerned, there

of which
general

it

can be said that

aspect

whatever,

or

art,

is

totally

then, formerly existed side


art

European

day,

another.

art,

this official

is

it

art at the

one

influencing

of India properly

not one of them

offers,

either in

its

any resemblance
remote, with a Greek monu-

in

however

its

details,

ment.

This powerlessness of Grecian art to implant


in India

is

striking,

the incompatibility
soul of the

two

and

it

we have pointed

races,

and not to a

out between the

sort of incapacity

native to India to assimilate a foreign

country has shown

itself perfectly

and transform the

itself

must needs be attributed to

arts

that

art,

for the

able to assimilate

corresponded to

its

mental constitution.

The

archaeological

able to collect

show

which

derived

India

documents that we have been

that Persia
its

arts

was the source from


;

not

the

slightly

Hellenised Persia of the time of the Arsacides, but


the

Persia that had inherited the old civilisations

ITS

of

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

Egypt and Assyria.

It

known

is

Alexander overthrew the dynasty


menides, 330

B.C.,

of

121

when

that

the

Achae-

the Persians had already been in

possession for two centuries of a brilliant civilisation.

Doubtless they had not discovered the formula of


a

new

art,

but the mixture of the arts of Egypt and

Assyria which they had inherited

remarkable works.

We

had

produced

can judge them by the

show us by

existing ruins of Persepolis, which

Egyptian pylones, their Assyrian winged


even some Grecian elements, that
great anterior

civilisations

had

all

still

their

and

bulls,

the arts of the

mingled

their

in-

fluences in this limited region of Asia.


India, then,

borrowed

borrowed them
Persia itself

its

in reality

arts

from Persia, but

it

from the sources to which

had gone, from Chaldaea and Egypt.

The study

of the

monuments of India

reveals the

borrowings on which they lived originally, but to


establish these borrowings the

ments must be examined,

most ancient monu-

for the

Hindu genius

is

so specific, that the borrowed elements, in order to

adapt themselves to
that they soon

Why

is

incapable

it

of

it,

undergo such transformations

become unrecognisable.
that India, which has shown
borrowing

anything

itself

whatever

so

from

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

122

Greece, has
to

shown

borrow from Persia

that

the

structure,

Persian

on the contrary, so disposed

itself,
?

The

reason evidently

corresponded to

arts

is

mental

its

whereas there was no such correspondence

The simple forms

in the case of the arts of Greece.

and the sparely ornamented surfaces of the Grecian

monuments could not appeal

to the

Hindu

genius,

which was attracted, on the contrary, by the complicated

forms, the exuberant

decoration,

and the

wealth of ornament of the Persian monuments.

Moreover,

it

is

not solely at this distant epoch,

anterior to our era, that Persia, representing

Egypt
and Assyria, exerted an influence on India by its
arts.
When, many centuries later, the Mussulmans
appeared
its

in

the peninsula, their civilisation, during

passage through Persia, had been deeply imbued

with Persian elements


reality a Persian art

still

and

it

brought to India

in

bearing traces of those old

Assyrian traditions which had been continued by


the dynasty of Achsemenides.

The

gigantic door-

ways of the mosques, and especially the enamelled


bricks with which the

are vestiges

mosques are

lined externally,

of the Chaldseo-Assyrian civilisation.

India was able to assimilate these

arts

so

well,

because they were in accordance with the genius of

ITS
race

its

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

whereas Greek art in the past and European

art at the present day,

mode

123

being utterly opposed to

its

of thinking and feeling, have always remained

without influence on the national productions.


It is not, then,

with Greece, as the archaeologists

still

maintain, but with

the

medium

of Persia

Egypt and Assyria


that India

through
India

linked.

is

has borrowed nothing from Greece, but both have

gone to the same sources, to that


the foundation of
in the course

and

all

of centuries by the peoples of Egypt

The borrowings of Greece were


through the medium of the Phoenicians and

of the peoples of Asia Minor

medium

of Persia.

and India hark back


source
in

The
in

those of India through


civilisations of

this

to a

way

the two countries

If,

common

speedily took

very different

harmony with the genius of either


however, as we have asserted, the art of a

in close

tion,

Greece

but the currents that issued from this source

directions, in

is

treasure,

civilisations, brought into being

Chaldaea.

effected

the

common

and

correspondence with

if for this

its

race.

race

mental constitu-

reason the same art borrowed by

dissimilar races at once

assumes very different forms,

we should expect

find

to

that

India,

inhabited by a great variety of races,

is

a country
in

posses-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

124

sion of very

different

and of

arts,

styles of archi-

tecture that bear no resemblance to one another,

in

spite of the identity of beliefs.

An

examination of the monuments of the different

regions of India shows

how

entirely this

is

the case.

monuments

Indeed, the differences between the

so profound, that the only classification of the

ments we
that

on

is

have been able to

make

racial distinctions,

and

is

is

are

monu-

based on regions,

quite independent

of the religion to which the peoples

who have

con-

them have belonged. There is no analogy


between the monuments of the north of India and

structed

those of the south, constructed though they were at the

same period by peoples professing a similar religion.


Even during the Mussulman domination, at a period,
that

is,

when the

political unity of India

was most

complete, and the influence of the central authority


at its

maximum,

the purely

Mussulman monuments

present profound differences according to the region


in

which they are found.

The mosques

of

Ahmeda-

bad, Lahore, Agra, or Bijapour, although devoted


to the

same

much

cult, offer

but a very slight relationship,

slighter relationship than that

monument

which connects

of the Renaissance with those of the

Gothic period.

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

It is

125

not architecture only that varies in India

according to the race

the statuary also varies with

the different regions, not merely as regards the types


represented, but especially in respect to the

or

If the bas-reliefs

which they are treated.

way

in

the

statues of Sanchi be compared with those of Bharhut,

with which they are nevertheless contemporary, the


difference

is

already manifest.

It is

plainer

still

when

the statues and bas-reliefs of the province of Orissa


are

compared with those of Bundelkund,

or,

again,

the statues of Mysore with those of the great pagodas

The

of the South of India.

everywhere apparent.

most
is

It

of race

influence

is

seen, moreover, in the

is

trifling artistic productions,

which, as everybody

aware, differ immensely in India from one region

to another.

distinguish

It is

not necessary to be very expert to

between a

coffer

carved

in

wood

of

Mysore workmanship and a coffer that hails from


the Guzrat district, or between a jewel from the
province of Orissa and a jewel from that of Bombay.

Doubtless
Oriental

the

architecture,

however great
in

the

architecture

principally

religious influence

East, the

considerable.

is

of

influence

India,

religious

may

of race

like

is

all

but

be, especially

much more

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

126

This soul of the

race,

which guides the destinies of

peoples, determines as well their beliefs, institutions,

and

arts

whatever be the element of

under consideration,
It

is

its

action

is

always perceptible.

the only force against which

can prevail.
thousands
thought.

It

represents

of generations,

the

civilisation

no other force

dead

weight

the synthesis

of

of

their

BOOK

III

THE HISTORY OF PEOPLES CONSIDERED AS A


CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR CHARACTER

BOOK

III

THE HISTORY OF PEOPLES CONSIDERED AS A


CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR CHARACTER

CHAPTER

HOW THE SOUL

OF PEOPLES IS RESPONSIBLE FOR


THEIR INSTITUTIONS

The history of a people

is

always determined by

its

mental constitution

How

the political institutions of France are


the outcome of the soul of the race Their real invariability beneath

Various examples

Our most different political parties


their apparent variability
pursue identical political ends under different names Their ideal
is always centralisation and the destruction of individual initiative
to the profit of the State

How

the French Revolution merely


Contrast between

executed the programme of the old monarchy


the ideal of the Anglo-Saxon race and the

The

Latin ideal

initiative of the citizen substituted for the initiative of the State

Peoples' institutions are always the outcome of their character.

in its

main

HISTORY
the mere statement
by the psychological
determined by

lines

may

be regarded as

of the results engendered

constitution

of races.

It

is

this constitution, just as the respira-

10

129

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

30

tory organs of fish are determined


life.

their aquatic

In the absence of a preliminary knowledge of

the mental constitution of a people,

a chaos of events governed

when we

contrary,

a people,

its life is

all

by

its

history appears

On

hazard.

the

are acquainted with the soul of

seen to be the regular and inevit-

able consequence of

In

by

its

psychological characteristics.

the manifestations of the

life

of a people,

we

always find the unchangeable soul of the race weaving

own

itself its

It is

more

destiny.

especially in political institutions that

the sovereign power of the soul of the race manifests


itself

the most visibly.

prove

this

Let

It

will

be easy for us to

statement by a few examples.

us, to

start with, take France, that

one of

is

the countries of the world which has been subjected

most profound upheavals, a country


a few years the political institutions seem

to the
in

in

which

to have

changed most radically, in which the parties seem


If we consider from the psychothe most divergent.
logical point of

opinions,

these

view these apparently so dissimilar


perpetually struggling

parties,

we

note that they possess in reality a perfectly identical

common

substratum

ideal of our race.

which exactly represents the

Intransigeants, Radicals, Monarch-

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

Socialists, in a

ists,

word

all

131

the champions of the

most diverse doctrines, pursue, though they give


themselves different names, an absolutely identical
end

the absorption of the individual

What

they

all

by the

State.

of them desire with a like ardour

the old centralised and Caesarian

is

regime, the State

directing everything, ordaining everything, absorbing

everything, regulating the smallest details of the

the citizens, and

of

thus

freeing

necessity of displaying the least

and

initiative.

from the

glimmer of

reflection

Whether the authority placed

head of the State


etc., is

them

is

at the

called king, emperor, president,

of no importance

be, will perforce

life

this authority,

have the same

ideal,

whatever

and

it

this ideal

same expression of the sentiments of the soul


of the race. 1
And the race would tolerate no other.
the

is

While, then, our extreme excitability, the extreme


ease with which

we become discontented with our

surroundings, the idea that a

render our

lot happier, lead

new Government

will

us to be always changing

our institutions, the mighty voice of the dead which


1

"

Such," writes a highly judicious observer, Dupont White, "is the


the character of the people precludes its
singular genius of France
succeeding in certain matters, either essential or desirable, which bear
:

on the ornamental or fundamental side of


sustained or stimulated in the enterprise by

its

civilisation,

unless

Government."

it

be

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

132

and

guides us condemns us to change but words


appearances.

our race

is

illusion of

The unconscious power of the soul of


such that we do not even perceive the

which we are the victims.

Nothing assuredly,
sidered,

is

more

different

the regime created


reality,

archical

no

did

tradition,

previously.

from the old regime than

the

Great Revolution.

Revolution, though

In

doubtless

more than continue the monby

completing

the

work

of

by the

monarchy centuries
Were Louis XIII. and Louis XIV. to

centralisation

rise

by

however, the

unawares,

only appearances be con-

if

begun

from their tombs to judge the work of the

Revolution, they would doubtless blame


acts of violence

which accompanied

but they would consider

it

formity with their tradition

its

some of the
realisation,

to be in rigorous con-

and

their

programme,
and they would allow that a minister entrusted with
the execution
carried

it

of this

programme could not have

out more successfully.

that the least revolutionary

known was

They would

declare

government France has

precisely that of the Revolution.

They

would further note that none of the various regimes


that have succeeded one another in France for a
century past

has

attempted to tamper with

this

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

work, so entirely

is

the fruit of a regular evolu-

it

continuation of the monarchical ideal and

tion, the

the expression of the genius of the race.


these

133

illustrious

phantoms,

in

great experience, would offer

Doubtless

consequence of their

some

criticisms,

would

perhaps remark, for example, that the substitution


of an administrative caste for the aristocratic govern-

ing caste has

power

that

is

nobility, since

touched by

created

it

in

more
is

the

State an impersonal

than

redoubtable

political

changes,

sponsible and perpetual


to

its

is

in

possession of

this objection, for

fact that the

it

is irre-

conditions which necessarily

becoming the

they would not dwell,

on

old

the sole power which, being un-

traditions and of an esprit de corps^ while

lead

the

sole

fancy, to

master.

However,

any great extent

they would be mindful of the

Latin peoples care very

little for liberty,

but a great deal for equality, and put up with

all

despotisms without difficulty provided they be impersonal.

Perhaps, too, they would consider excessive

and very tyrannical the innumerable regulations, the


thousand and one obligations which surround at the
present day the most insignificant acts of existence,

and they would perhaps observe that when the State


has absorbed everything, regulated everything, and

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPL

134

despoiled the citizens of


ourselves

all

we

initiative,

and without

spontaneously,

revolution, involved in out

shall find

any

fresh

and out Socialism.

But

at this stage of their reflection, die divine perspicacity

that enlightens kings, or, in

absence, the mathe-

its

matical principle that effects increase in geometrical

when

progression

their

causes subsist, win

them to perceive that Socialism

is

allow

nothing else than

the ultimate expression of the monarchial idea, of

which die Revolution was merely an accelerati ve phase.

Thus

it is

a people

that, in the institutions of

meet both with those accidental circumstances referred


to in the beginning of this work, and those permanent

laws which

we have attempted

to determine.

accidental circumstances give rise to the

appearances.

The fundamental

The

names and

and the most

laws

fundamental of them arise from the character of


peoples

create the destiny of nations.

With the preceding example, we may


of another race, the English
logical constitution

Merely

in

is

race,

contrast that

whose psycho-

very different from our own.

consequence of

this

lonstitutions

are radically distinct from ours.

Whether the English have

at their head a

as in England, or a president as in the Unite

mom

ITS
their

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

government

always present the same funda-

will

mental characteristics
be reduced to

the action of the State will

minimum and

individuals carried to a

which

is

ments,

canals,

etc., will

private

a state of things

maximum,

railways,

of

that

the precise contrary of the

Harbours,

135

Latin

educational

ideal.

establish-

always be created and kept up by

the initiative of private individuals and never

by that
There are no revolutions, constitutions,

of the State. 1

or despots that can give to a people which does not

possess

a people which

them, or take from

does

possess them, the qualities of character of which


institutions are the outcome.

It

has often been said

that peoples have the governments they deserve.


it

conceivable that

We

shall

Is

should be otherwise ?

it

soon show by other examples that a

people does not escape

the

mental constitution

influence

for a brief

it

its

is

only

or

that

swept up by a storm seems

consequences
if

it

moment,
for

rebellious to the laws of attraction.

of

its

throws off this


as the sand

an instant to be
It is

a childish

chimera to believe that governments and constitu1


This preponderance of individual initiative should more especially
be observed in America. It has singularly decreased in the last twentyfive years in England, where the encroachments of the State are
becoming more and more marked.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

136

tions count for anything in the destinies of a people.

The

destiny of a people

exterior circumstances.

in

lies

itself,

and not

in

All that can be asked of a

government is that it shall be the expression of the


sentiments and ideas of the people it is called on to

by the mere fact


the image of the people. There

govern, and

or constitutions of which

that

it

exists,

it

is

are no governments

can be said that they

it

good or absolutely bad. The government of the King of Dahomey was probably an

are absolutely

excellent government for the people he was called

on to

rule over,

and the most ingenious European

constitution

would have been

This truth

is

who imagine

inferior for his people.

unfortunately ignored by statesmen


that a

mode

of government can be

exported, and that colonies can be governed with


the institutions of a metropolis.
futile to

wish to persuade

It

fish to live in

the pretext that aerial respiration

is

would be as
the

air,

practised

under

by

all

the superior animals.

By

the mere fact of the diversity of their mental

constitution, different peoples cannot long exist under

The

and the English, the


Slav and the Hungarian, the Arab and the French-

an identical regime.

Irish

man, are only maintained with the utmost

difficulty

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

137

under the same laws and at the cost of incessant


revolutions. Great empires,

have

When

existence.

condemned

been

always

embracing diverse peoples,


to

an

ephemeral

they have endured for some length

of time, as the Mongolian Empire did, or as that of


the English in India has done,

is

it

on the one hand

because the races in contact were so numerous, so

and

different,

in

consequence

by such

separated

was impossible that they should unite


against the foreigner and it was on the other hand
rivalries that

it

because these foreign masters have had a sufficiently


sure political instinct to respect the customs of the

conquered peoples and to allow them to


their

own

Many

live

under

laws.

books would have to be

history

would have

to

sidered

from quite

desired to

show

all

be entirely recast and con-

new

standpoint,

it

were

close study of this

constitution ought to be the basis


It

if

the consequences of the psycho-

logical constitution of peoples.

education.

written, indeed

of politics and

might even be said that

this

study

would avert many errors and many upheavals,


peoples could escape the

fatalities

of their race,

voice of reason were not always extinguished

imperious voice of the dead.

if

if

the

by the

CHAPTER

II

APPLICATION OF THE PRECEDING PRINCIPLES TO

THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION


OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND
OF THE SPANISH-AMERICAN REPUBLICS
The English

character

How

the American soul has been formed

Severity of the selection resulting from the conditions of existence


Forced disappearance of the inferior elements The negroes

and the Chinese Reasons of the prosperity of the United States


and of the decadence of the Spanish-American republics in spite of
Inevitable anarchy of the Spanishidentical political institutions
American republics as a consequence of the inferiority of the
characteristics of the race.

HE

which precede show

that the institutions of a people are the expres-

sion of
to

brief considerations

its soul,

change

their

their essence.

precise

and that while


form

We

it is

are

it is

easy for a people

impossible for

now going

to

it

to

change

show by very

examples to what a degree the soul of a


138

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES


people determines
is

the role played


I

shall

go

by

for these

there exist side

ment but

its

by

destiny,

insignificant

institutions in this destiny. 1

to a country in

examples

which

under conditions of environ-

side,

slightly

and how

139

two

different,

European races

equally civilised and intelligent, and only differing as

regards their character


continent

is

unlike.

is

The

refer to

formed by two

by an isthmus.
tinents

distinct continents united

superficies of each of these con-

very nearly equal, and their

One of them

soil

since the republics of

The

not at

all

has been conquered and peopled

by the English, the other by the Spanish


two races live under similar republican

modelled

This

America.

race.

These

institutions,

South America have always


on those of the United

their institutions

English sociologist, Herbert Spencer, had neglected


works the influence of the character of peoples on their
destinies, and his admirable theoretical syntheses had led him at first to
Having decided as he became older to
very optimistic conclusions.
illustrious

in his great

take into consideration the fundamental role of character, he has had to

modify entirely his


substitute for

earlier conclusions,

them extremely

and has

finally

pessimistic conclusions.

been brought to

We

find

them

expressed in a recently published discourse on Tyndall, reprinted in


Here are some extracts
the Revue des Revues.
:

"... My

faith in free institutions, so strong to

We

begin with, has con-

are going back to the


by the bureaucratic despotism of
a socialist organisation, and then by the military despotism which will
succeed it, supposing this latter not to be realised suddenly as the out"
come of some acute social crisis.
siderably diminished of late years.
regime of the iron hand represented

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

140

States.

In

consequence, to explain the

destinies of these peoples

but racial differences.

different

we have nothing

go on

to

Let us consider the

results

these differences have produced.

To

begin with,

characteristics

let

us summarise in a few words the

of the Anglo-Saxon race which has

peopled the United States. There


in

the world which

mental constitution

is

is

no

race, perhaps,

so homogeneous, and whose


so easy to define in

it is

its

main

lines.

The dominant

features of this mental constitution

from the point of view of character are


will

a degree of

power which very few peoples, with the exception

perhaps of the Romans, have possessed, an indomitable

energy,

very

great

control, a sentiment of

initiative,

absolute

self-

independence carried to the

pitch of excessive unsociability,


lively religious sentiments, a

immense

activity,

very

very stable morality, and

a very clear idea of duty.

From

the intellectual point of view,

to give special characteristics, that

is

it is

impossible

to say to point

out special elements, not to be found in the other


civilised nations.

There

is

little

to note

beyond a

sureness of judgment which allows of the grasping of

the practical and positive side of things and keeps

ITS

those

who

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

chimerical researches

but

little

from

it

possess

losing

their

141

way

in

a strong liking for facts and

taste for general ideas, a certain narrowness

mind which prevents the recognition of the weak


sides of religious beliefs, and in consequence ensures

of

those beliefs escaping discussion.

To

these general characteristics must be added a

complete optimism with regard to the path the individual has traced himself in

life,

which leads him

never even to suppose that he could possibly have

chosen a better.

He

demanded of him by
This optimism

whatever

tempt

is

is

is

always aware of what

his country, his family, his

for the foreigner

and

his

Con-

customs certainly

surpasses in England that formerly professed

So great

Gods.

carried to the pitch of regarding

foreign as extremely contemptible.

Romans and

is

by the

Barbarians at the time of their greatness.

is it,

that as regards the foreigner every rule

of morality ceases to hold good.

English statesmen

who does not

There

is

not an

consider as perfectly

legitimate, in his conduct towards other peoples, acts

which would provoke the deepest and the most unani-

mous indignation

if

they were practised where his

countrymen were concerned.


foreigner

is

This contempt

for the

doubtless a sentiment of a very inferior

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

142

order from the philosophic point of view

but from

the point of view of the prosperity of a people

extremely

useful.

As Lord Wolseley,

the well-known

English general, has rightly remarked,


sentiments that

make

in

It

has

connection with their refusal

very judicious refusal be

their

one of the

it is

the strength of England.

been said with reason,

it is

it

remarked

to

allow the construction of a tunnel under the Channel,

which would

facilitate

communications with the Conti-

much

nent, that the English take as

trouble as the

Chinese to prevent the penetration into their country


of

all

foreign influence.

All the characteristics which have just been enu-

merated are met with

in the various social

grades

it

would be impossible to light on any element of


English civilisation on which they have not left their
mark.

The

a few days,

foreigner
is

at

who

visits

England,

once struck by

note the desire for an independent

only for

if

He

this fact.
life in

will

the cottage

of the most humble employe, a confined dwelling, no


doubt, but in which the householder is exposed to no
restraint

and

is

isolated from his neighbours

busiest railway stations in which the public


circulate at all hours, not being

penned

in the

is

free to

in, like

a flock

of docile sheep, behind a barrier guarded by an

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

employe, as

if it

143

were necessary to assure by force

the security of people, incapable themselves of the

amount of

keep them from

attention necessary to

being run over.

He

will recognise the

race in the laboriousness of the

of the schoolboy,

left

to

energy of the

workman, or

himself while

in that

still

quite

young, and learning to look after himself without


assistance,

he being already well aware that

course of

his existence

with his fate


tively

little

nobody

will

in the schoolmasters,

store

in

the

be concerned

who

set

compara-

on learning but attach great import-

ance to character, which they hold to be one of the


1
great motive forces of the world.

the public

life

When

he studies

of the citizen, he will see that

it is

not

to the State but to private initiative that appeal

always made, whether

it

is

is

a case of repairing a

fountain or of constructing a harbour or a railway.

Pursuing his inquiry, he

will

soon recognise that

this

Entrusted by the Queen of England with deciding the conditions


on which the annual prize given by her to Wellington College should
be awarded, Prince Albert ordered that it should be granted not to the
who had done best in his studies, but to the boy of best character.

scholar

In the case of a Latin nation, the prize would certainly have been given
to the pupil who repeated best what he had learned from his books. All
our education, including what "we term higher education, consists in
making our youth recite lessons. The scholars retain the habit to such
a degree that they continue to recite them during the rest of their
existence.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

144

people, in spite of defects which

make

it

the most

insufferable of peoples in the eyes of foreigners,

only really free people, because


which, having learned to govern

minimum

to leave only a
If its history

be studied,

it

the only people

is

itself,

of action to

has been able

its

seen that

it is

the

is

it

government.

was the

first

people to free itself from every kind of domination,

from that of the Church as well as from that of kings.

As

early as the fifteenth century the legist Fortescue


"

contrasted

Roman

the

law, the inheritance of the

Latin peoples, with the English law

work of absolute
sacrifice

sovereigns,

the individual

will of the

the one the

and wholly inclined

the other the

to

work of the

community, and ever ready to protect the

individual."

To whatever

may

emigrate,

quarter of the globe such a people

it

will at

once acquire the preponder-

and found powerful empires. If the race it


invades, as in the case of the Redskins of America,
ance,

for

example,

utilisable,

it

is

will

sufficiently

weak, and insufficiently

be methodically exterminated.

If

the race invaded, as in the case of the population of


India,

is

too numerous to be destroyed, and

moreover of doing productive work,

it

will

is

capable

simply be

reduced to a very oppressive state of vassalage, and

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

145

obliged to labour for the almost exclusive advantage

of

its

masters.

It is

more

especially, however, in

new country

such as America, that the astonishing progress due to


the mental constitution of the English race should

be studied.

Transported into uncultivated regions,

sparsely inhabited

what

by some few savages,

destiny has been.

its

it is

notorious

Scarcely a century has

been necessary to raise the country to the front rank

among

the great powers of the world, and to-day

there are few powers that would be a


I

advise those

who

sum

The

it.

of initiative and indi-

expended by the

Republic to read the books of


Bourget.

for

are desirous of appreciating for

themselves the enormous


vidual energy

match

citizens of the great

MM. Rousier

and Paul

aptitude of the Americans to govern

themselves, to unite together to found great enterprises, to


etc.,

create towns,

schools, harbours, railways,

has arrived at such a pitch, and the action of the

State has been reduced to such a

might almost be said that

Apart from

filling police duties

matic representation,

it

minimum,

that

no public authorities

is

even

it

exist.

and those of diplodifficult to see

what

purpose they could serve.


It

is

impossible, moreover, for

an individual to

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

146

prosper in the United States except on the condition


that he possesses the qualities of character

and

described,

this

why

is

have just

the foreign immigrations

are powerless to modify the general trend of

The

the race.

the individuals

condemned

conditions of existence are such that

who do

not possess these qualities are

to disappear at

Anglo-Saxon can

an early date.

live in this

The

situations.

The great Republic


it

is

is

assuredly the land

assuredly the land of liberty

neither of equality nor of

of progress do not recognise.

globe has natural selection


felt.

because
tributed

There

is

it

to

It

is

ignores

form

no room

incapable on the

mere

fact that

In no country on the

made

unpitying
pity

that

its

but

iron

arm more

it

is

precisely

the race

it

has con-

and

retains

its

for the

weak, the mediocre, the

soil

power

of the United States.

they are

energy.

By

the

inferior, isolated individuals

or entire races are destined to perish.


Indians,

two Latin chimeras which the laws

fraternity, those

rudely

Italian dies of

and the Irishman and the negro vegetate

most humble

in the

Only the

atmosphere saturated

with independence and energy.


starvation,

mind of

The Redskin

because useless, have been shot down, or

condemned

to die of hunger.

The Chinese workmen,

JTS INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

147

whose labour constitutes a vexatious source of comsoon undergo a similar

petition, will

The law

fate.

decreeing their total expulsion has not been carried


out because of the enormous expenses

would

entail.

destruction, already

districts.

voted,

forbidding

American

pauper

As

territory.

in several

recently
to

emigrants

to the negroes

War

the

as the pretext for

begun

have

Other laws

mining

application

doubtless soon be taken

Its place will

by a methodical

its

land

who

of Succession

between those who possessed

slaves,

been

on

served

a war

and those who,

being unable to possess them, did not wish to allow


others to

own them

because they

fill

none

which no American

almost

tolerated

subordinate

positions

would consent

to accept.

they

but

citizen

Theoretically they have rights

are

practically they are

treated like semi- useful animals,

who

as soon as they

become dangerous.

proceedings of

Lynch-law

nised

to

meet

their

are

case.

At

are got rid of

The summary

universally
their

of any gravity they are shot or hanged.

first

recog-

crime

Statistics,

The Fifty-third Congress only adjourned the execution of the Geary


law (Chinese Exclusion Act) because it found that to convey a hundred
thousand Chinamen back to their country would involve an expenditure
1

sum voted for the expulsion


workmen was only one hundred thousand francs,

of thirty millions of francs, whereas the


the Chinese

of

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

148

which
tions,

over a

give

include

only

of

portion

thousand

for

execu-

these

the

seven

last

years.

These are doubtless the gloomy


It is brilliant

enough

sides of the picture.

to support them.

If

were

it

required to define in a word the difference between

Continental Europe and the United States,


represents the

be said that the

first

can result from

official

initiative

effected

by

it

maximum

maximum

of what can be

individual initiative entirely freed from

These fundamental

soil

of the rude

It is

not

Republic that European

Socialism has a chance of implanting

itself.

ultimate expression of State tyranny,

it

among

all

differences are

exclusively the consequences of character.

prosper

what

regulation replacing individual

the second, the

official regulation.

on the

might

of

The

can only

old races, subjected for centuries to a

regime which has deprived them of

all

capacity for

self-government.

We
1

have just seen what has been accomplished

The America

to-day, but

it

have just described

recent invasion by an

elements, by a gigantic
division

into

the America of yesterday and


shall see in

doubtless will not be that of to-morrow.

a forthcoming chapter that the country


its

is

several

immense
civil

We

threatened, in consequence of
number of inferior and unassimilable
is

war, which

may be

independent States, always

themselves as are those of Europe.

in

followed by
fighting

its

amongst

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

149

one portion of America by a race possessing a mental

dominant features are per-

constitution of which the

and strength of will. It remains


show what has become of an almost similar

severance, energy,
for us to

country

in

the hands of another race, which, though

highly intelligent, possesses none of the qualities of


character whose effects

have just noted.

South America, as regards


is

its

natural productions,

one of the richest countries of the globe.

large as Europe,

and ten times

no lack of land which

so to speak, at the disposition

The dominant

of everybody.

Spanish

is,

origin, is

Twice as

less inhabited, there is

population, which

is

of

divided into numerous republics

the republics of Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Peru, etc.

them have adopted the


the United States, and live
All of

political constitution of
in

consequence under

identical laws.

And

race

and lacks the fundamental

is

different

yet,

by the mere

fact that the

qualities

possessed by the people of the United States,

all

these

republics, without a single exception, are perpetually

a prey to the most sanguinary anarchy, and in spite


of the astonishing richness of their

soil

they are

victims one after the other of every sort of political

and economic

To

disaster, of

bankruptcy and despotism.

appreciate the lengths reached by the decadence

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

150

of the Spanish-American republics, the remarkable

and impartial work on the subject of Th. Child


must be read. The causes of this decadence lie
entirely in the mental constitution of a race possessing

The

neither energy, strength of will, nor morality.

absence of morality, in particular, surpasses

know

that

is

all

we

Citing one of the

worst in Europe.

most important towns, Buenos Ayres, the author


declares

it

to

be uninhabitable by anybody of any

delicacy of conscience or morality.

one

of

the

least

degraded

In reference to

of the republics, the

Argentine Republic, the same writer adds

"
:

If this

republic

be studied from the commercial point of

view, one

dumbfounded by the blatant immorality


be met with in every direction."

that

is

As

to

is

to the institutions, there

how wholly they

is

no better example of

are the offspring of the race, and

of the impossibility of transplanting

was of great

them from one

know

people to another.

It

what would happen

to the very liberal institutions of

interest to

the United States after their introduction


inferior race.

us

"

These

countries,"

among an

M. Child informs

of the various Spanish-American republics,

under

the

ferule

autocracy not

of

Presidents

less absolute

who

exercise

"

are

an

than that of the Tzar of

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS
all

the Russias
to

nothing

more

are

creatures

is

Republic

the

and the

The Government

censure.

from

their

amongst

the citizens vote as they choose, but

The Argentine

paid to their votes.

is

a republic in

an oligarchy

importunities

recruited

solely

no account

absolute, indeed, for they have

from

fear

of European

influence
officials

151

name only

in reality

it is

hands of persons who make a

in the

commerce of politics."
Only one country,
escaped

had

Brazil,

decadence, thanks

this

to

to

some extent
a monarchical

regime which kept the central authority from being

This constitution,

the object of individual rivalries.

too liberal for races without energy and without

has ended by succumbing.

country

is

The

result

a prey to utter anarchy.

is

will,

that the

In the lapse of a

few years, the dilapidation of the public finances by


those in power has been such that the taxes have

had

to be increased

Naturally,

decadence

it

is

by over sixty per

cent.

not

only

in

South America

is

peopled, but

elements of civilisation as
these

hapless

barbarism.

politics

the

that

manifest of the Latin race by which

is

well.

republicans

in

all

the other

Left to themselves,

would

All their industry and

revert

to

commerce

pure
is

in

152

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

the hands of foreigners, of Englishmen, Americans, and

Germans.

Valparaiso has become an English city;

and nothing would remain of


element

were

to

It

disappear.

foreigner that these countries

varnish of civilisation that

Chili

still

still

is

if

the foreign

thanks to the

retain that external

deceives Europe.

The

Argentine Republic counts four millions of whites of


Spanish origin

doubt whether a single white man,

apart from foreigners, could be cited at the head of an

important industry.

This terrible decadence of the Latin

race, left to

compared with the prosperity of the English


race in a neighbouring country, is one of the most
itself,

sombre, the saddest, and, at the same time, the most


instructive experiences that can be cited in support of

the psychological laws that

have enunciated.

CHAPTER
HOW THE

III

MODIFICATION OF THE SOUL OF RACES

AFFECTS THE

OF

EVOLUTION

HISTORICAL

PEOPLES
The

influence of foreign elements at once transforms the soul of a race,


in consequence its civilisation
Example of the Romans

and

Roman

civilisation was not destroyed by military invasions, but


by the pacific invasions of the Barbarians The Barbarians never
formed the project of destroying the Empire Their invasions were
not of the nature of conquests The early Frank chiefs always con-

sidered themselves to be functionaries of the

Roman Empire

They

always respected Roman civilisation, and their aim was to continue


it
It was only from the seventh century onwards that the Gallic
barbarian chiefs ceased to consider the

The complete

transformation of

Emperor

Roman

as their superior
was not the

civilisation

consequence of a work of destruction, but of the adoption of an


ancient civilisation by a new race The modern invasions of the

United States

The

civil strife

and the breaking up of the United

States into independent and rival States to which these invasions


will lead
The invasion of France by foreigners and their con-

sequences.

THE

examples we have

cited

show

that the

history of a people does not depend

institutions,

but on

its

character
153

that

is

to say,

on
on

its
its

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

154

We

race.

further saw,

when studying

the formation

of historical races, that their dissolution

is

the result

of cross-breeding, and that the peoples which have


preserved their unity and

example,

the

force

India in the past, and in modern times

in

the English in their various colonies

have always

carefully

The

foreigners.

foreigners, even

avoided

who

intermarrying with

small numbers,
it

causes

history,

and

is

to lose

it

defending the characteristics of


its

are those

presence in the midst of a people of


in

affect its soul, since

ments of

Aryans, for

the

capacity for

race, the

its

to

sufficient

its

achievements

monuof

its

ancestors.

This conclusion arises out of

all

of what precedes.

elements of a civilisation are to be

If the various

regarded as the exterior manifestation of the soul of


a people,

it

is

evident that as soon as the soul of the

people changes,

The

its civilisation

should change as well.

history of the past supplies us with incon-

trovertible proof that this

is

what indeed

the history of the future will furnish

occurs,

many

and

other such

proofs.

The
tion

is

progressive transformation of

Roman

one of the most striking examples

to invoke.

it is

civilisa-

possible

Historians usually picture this event as

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

155

the result of the destructive invasions of the Bar-

barians

but a more attentive study of the facts

shows, on the one hand, that

it

was

warlike invasions which brought about the

Empire

sation,

of the

fall

and, on the other hand, that the Barbarians,

Roman

from having wished to overthrow

far

and not

pacific

devoted

all

their efforts

civili-

towards adopting and

continuing institutions of which they were the respectful admirers.

language, the

Down

They essayed

to appropriate the

and the

institutions

of

arts

Rome.

to the time of the last of the Merovingians,

they endeavoured to continue the great civilisation


of which they were the heirs.
is

reflected

in

This guiding intention


of the great

the acts

all

Emperor

Charlemagne.

We

know, however, that such a task has always

The Barbarians needed

been impossible.

centuries before they could form,

and

by repeated

several

crosses

identical conditions of existence, a race in

way homogeneous
possessed, merely

and when

in virtue of the fact of its creation,

new language and new


sequence a new civilisation.
a

Rome

left

civilisation,

their

but

any
was formed it

this race

impress
the

institutions,

The mighty
deeply

various

and

in con-

traditions of

marked on

efforts

to

revive

this

the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

156

civilisation

of

Rome

have always been vain.

itself

The Renaissance endeavoured


arts,

and the Revolution

to bring

The Barbarians who


Empire from the

first

the end absorbed

it,

in vain to revive its

back

its institutions.

invaded

successively

the

century onwards, and who

in

never proposed to destroy but,

on the contrary, to continue

its

civilisation.

Had

they never waged war on Rome, had they confined


themselves

to

mixing with the Romans

in

ever

increasing numbers, the course of history would not

have been changed

they would not have destroyed

the Empire, but their mere mingling with the

people would have sufficed to destroy

may

be

said, then, that

the

Roman

Roman

soul.

It

civilisation

has

its

never been overthrown, but has simply been continued, transforming itself in the course of ages

the mere fact of

its

having

fallen into the

by

hands of

different races.

A
is

glance at the history of the barbarian invasions

what precedes.
The labours of modern scholars, and particularly

amply

sufficient to justify

those of Fustel de Coulanges, have clearly shown


that

it

was

the

pacific

invasions of the Barbarians

and

not

the

aggressive

the aggressive invasions

were easily repulsed by Barbarians

in the

pay of the

ITS

empire

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION


brought about

that

dis-

progressive

As

Rome.

appearance of the might of


times of the

the

157

early as the

emperors the custom had been

first

introduced of employing Barbarians in the army.

gained ground
richer

proportion as the

in

Romans became

and more refractory to military

service,

after the lapse of several centuries, there

but foreigners in the


"

The

army

It

till,

were none

as in the administration

Visigoths, the Burgundians, the Franks were

federate soldiers in the service of the

When Rome came


its service,

to

and when

barbarian chiefs,

it

its

Roman

Empire."

have none but Barbarians

in

provinces were governed by

was evident that these

chiefs

would render themselves progressively more and

more independent.
in this effort,
it

They

were,

successful

indeed,

but such was the prestige of Rome, that

never occurred to any of them to overthrow the

empire, even

When

when Rome

one of these

fell

into

their

power.

chiefs, Odoacre, king of the

Heruti, in the pay of the empire, possessed himself

of

Rome

in 476,

whose residence

he hastened to ask the emperor,

at this time

his authorisation to

Patrician.
ently.

It

None

was Constantinople,

govern Italy with the

title

for

of

of the other chiefs behaved differ-

was always

in the

name

of

Rome

that they

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

158

governed their provinces.


to dispose of the

never occurred to them

It

or to tamper with the institutions.

soil

Clovis regarded himself as a

Roman

functionary,

was very proud when he obtained the


from the emperor.
successors

still

title

and

of consul

Thirty years after his death, his

accepted the laws promulgated by the

emperors, and considered themselves bound to see


that

they were

The beginning of

observed.

the

seventh century must be reached before the barbarian


chiefs of

Gaul are found to venture on issuing money

bearing their

own

Until then their coins had

effigy.

always borne the effigy of the emperors.

from

this period

onwards that

it

It is

only

can be said that the

Gallic population ceased to regard the

emperor as

make

the history

In

their chief.

fact,

the historians

of France begin two hundred years too soon and

accord us some ten kings too many.

Nothing

less

resembles a conquest than the bar-

barian invasions, since the populations retained their


lands, their language,

and

their laws,

which

is

never

the case in connection with true conquests, such as


that, for
It

is

example, of England by the Normans.


probable

authority of

unperceived

that

Rome was
by

the

the

disappearance

so gradual, that

people

of

the

it

of

the

took place

period.

The

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

159

provinces had been accustomed for centuries to be


in

acting

came

on

to govern

their

own

consequence was changed.

in

name

the

of the

Very gradually and very slowly

emperors.
chiefs

chiefs

by

governed

continued under
ingian period.

The only

account.

Nothing

The same regime

new masters throughout

the Merov-

real change,

and

it

ended by becoming a

very profound change, was the formation of a


historic race, involving as a necessary

we have

according to the laws


a

new

their

new

consequence
the birth of

set forth

civilisation.

In virtue of that eternal repetition of the

same

phenomena, which seems the most fixed of the laws

we

of history,

are probably destined to witness in


pacific invasions

contemporary history
those which

Roman
sion of

brought

civilisation.

modern

analogous to

about the transformation of

In view of the general exten-

civilisation,

it

may seem

that nowa-

days there are no longer any barbarians, or at any


rate that these barbarians, relegated to the depths of

Asia and Africa, are too

far

from us to be very

"

The Merovingian government," declares M. Fustel de Coulanges,


" was in the main a continuation of that which the Roman
Empire had
1

There was nothing feudal about the government of


given Gaul.
the Merovingians,"
.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

160

redoubtable.

Assuredly we have not to fear being

invaded by them

only be, as

will

because the time

and

if

they are to be dreaded

have shown

may come when

economic rivalry with Europe.


in

another work,

in

they will enter into


not with them

It is

consequence that we are concerned

though the Barbarians may seem


they are in reality very close,

time of the
exist

in

Roman

to

but

than at the

far closer

The

bosom of

civilised

fact

consequence of the complication

here,

be very distant,

emperors.

the very

it

of

that they

is

nations.

our

In

modern

and of that progressive differentiation of


individuals to which I have referred, each people
civilisation,

contains an

immense number of

inferior

incapable of adapting themselves to


that

is

too superior for them.

elements

a civilisation

There

results

an

enormous waste population, and the peoples who


come to be invaded by it will have reason to dread
the experience.

At

the present day

it is

of America that these


steps with a

common

towards the United States

new

accord, and

civilisation of this great nation

So long
scale,

barbarians direct their

is

it is

seriously threatened.

as the foreign immigration

and composed

in

by them that the

was on a small

the main of English elements,

ITS

its

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

absorption was easy and useful.

It

161

has brought

The

about the astonishing greatness of America.

United States are now exposed to a gigantic invasion


of inferior elements which they neither wish nor are

Between 1880 and 1890 they

able to assimilate.

received

six

nearly

millions

exclusively composed of

of every nationality.

almost

of emigrants,

workmen

of a low class and

To-day of the 1,100,000

in-

habitants of Chicago not a quarter are Americans.

The population
Irish,

includes 400,000 Germans, 220,000

50,000 Poles, 55,000 Czechs,

fusion between these immigrants

etc.

There

is

no

and the Americans.

They do not even take the trouble to learn the


language of their new country, in which they form
mere colonies engaged in badly paid occupations.
They are discontented and in consequence dangerous.
During the recent railway strike Chicago narrowly
escaped being burned down by them, and it was
necessary to

among
that

fire

on them

pitilessly.

It

is

solely

their ranks that are recruited the adepts of

barbarous

and

levelling

socialism,

which

perhaps realisable in decadent Europe, but

is

is

quite

antipathetic to the character of true Americans.

The

conflicts
soil

which socialism

is

about to engender on the

of the great Republic will be, in reality, conflicts


12

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

162

between races which have reached different

levels of

evolution.

seems evident that

It

in

the

civil

war that

is

preparing between the America of the Americans

and the America of the

foreigners, the

not rest with the barbarians.


will doubtless

immense

end

in

triumph

This gigantic struggle

a hecatomb reproducing on an

the complete extermination

scale

will

of the

Cimbrians

If the struggle is at all


by Marius.
delayed and the invasion continues, it will become

impossible that the solution should be total destruction.

will

In that case the destiny of the United States

probably be that of the

say, the breaking

Roman Empire

that

is

to

up of the existing provinces of the

republic into independent states, as divided

and as

frequently at war as those of Europe or as those of

Spanish America.

America
these

is

not the only country threatened by

invasions.

France, which

is

There

is

menaced

one

in the

State

in

same way.

Europe,
It is

rich country, whose population does not increase,


surrounded by poor countries whose population is

constantly increasing.

neighbours

is

inevitable,

The immigration

of these

and the more so as

it

is

rendered necessary by the growing exigencies of our

ITS

working

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

classes,

163

taken in connection with the needs

The advantages

of agriculture and industry.

immigrants find on our

soil

are evident.

these

They

are

freed from the obligation of military service, being

nomads they have few or no taxes


and the work is easier and better paid than
foreign

native territory.

to pay,
in their

Further, they invade our country,

not merely because of

its

riches,

but because the

majority of other countries are always passing laws


forbidding their entrance.

This invasion of foreigners


in

that

it

is

naturally the

is

the more redoubtable,

most

inferior

elements,

those that cannot succeed in making a livelihood in


their

own

country, that emigrate.

principles

condemn

foreign invasion.

us to undergo an ever increasing

Forty years ago there were only

400,000 such foreign immigrants


over

1,200,000,

number of

to-day they number

and they are always flocking

in increasing hordes.

the

Our humanitarian

Considered merely

Italians

it

be called an Italian colony.

in

in respect to

contains, Marseilles

might

Italy does not possess a

single colony that contains a like

number of

If the present conditions do not change,

if,

Italians.

that

is

to

say, these invasions do not stop, but a very short

time

will

have to elapse before a third of the popula-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

164

become German and a

of France has

tion

Italian.

What

can become of the unity, or even of


people under such conditions?

the existence of a

The worst
infinitely less

third

on the

disasters

battlefield

grave than such invasions.

would be
It

was a

very sure instinct that taught the ancient peoples to

dread foreigners

tion of a country

they were well aware that the situais

judged not by the number of

inhabitants, but by that of

Once more we
and

historical
racial
1

problem.

These

find

social
It

its

its citizens.

that

at

questions

dominates

all

the bottom
lies

the

of

all

inevitable

the others.

invasions

being the consequence of certain economical


impossible to control, they cannot be prevented.
Still,
certain measures might be taken which would at least check them

phenomena it

is

obligatory military service in the Foreign Legion for all foreigners less
than twenty-five years of age and counting two years' residence ; military

tax on the older immigrants


almost entire suppression of naturalisation ; tax amounting to a quarter of the income or salary on all
The Deputy
foreigners established in France for less than fifty years.
;

who

should cause such a law to be voted would be worthy of a statue

erected by his grateful country.

BOOK
HOW

IV

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS


OF RACES ARE MODIFIED

BOOK
HOW THE

IV

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF RACES ARE MODIFIED

CHAPTER
THE ROLE OF IDEAS
The

IN

THE LIFE OF PEOPLES

leading ideas of each civilisation are always very few in number


Extreme slowness of their birth and disappearance Ideas do not
influence conduct until they have been transformed into sentiments

They then form part of the character It is thanks to the slowness of the evolution of ideas that civilisations possess a certain
fixity

ever

How
The

enthusiasts

ideas take root

and

The

reason has no influence what-

and prestige The role of


Deformation undergone by ideas as
apostles
the masses
universally admitted idea soon

influence

of

affirmation

they penetrate
influences all the elements of civilisation

community of ideas

that the

men

It is

thanks to their

of each age have a

average conceptions which makes them very

much

sum

total of

alike in their

thoughts and actions The yoke of custom and opinion It is not


relaxed until the critical ages of history when the old ideas are
losing their influence and have not as yet been replaced This
critical age is the only age in which the discussion of opinions can
be tolerated Dogmas only hold their own on the condition that

they are not discussed Peoples cannot change their ideas and
dogmas without being at once obliged to change their civilisation.

having shown

that

the

psychological

AFTER
characteristics of races possess great
that the history of peoples
167

is

fixity,

and

the consequence of

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

168

these characteristics,

the

for

we added

psychological

that

elements,

as

it

was possible

it

the

for

is

anatomical elements of species, to be transformed

in

The

the long run by slow hereditary accumulations.

evolution of civilisations depends in a large measure

on these transformations.
Various factors are capable of provoking psychochanges.

logical

Wants, the struggle

for

life,

the

action of certain surroundings, the progress of the


sciences

many

and

of

industry,

other factors exert an

already devoted a volume

them.
here.

education,

It is

We

influence.

beliefs,

We

and
have

to the study of each of

impossible to treat the matter in detail

merely return to

it

with a view to show-

by the choice of a few essential factors, the


mechanism of their action. It is to this study that
ing,

be devoted the present and following chapters.

will

The study

of the various civilisations that have

succeeded one another since the origin of the world


proves that they have always been guided in their

development by a very small number of fundamental


If the history of peoples were confined to
ideas.
that of their ideas

it

would never be very long.

When

a civilisation has succeeded in creating in a century


1

Ilhomme

et les socictes.

Leurs origines

et leur histoire, vol.

ii.

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

one or two fundamental ideas


arts,

in the

domain of the

the sciences, literature or philosophy,

considered that
Ideas can
peoples

until,

it

has been exceptionally

have no

real

169

it

may

be

brilliant.

action on the soul of

the consequence of a very slow

as

from the mobile

elaboration, they have descended

regions of thought to that stable and unconscious

region of the sentiments in which the motives of our

They then become elements

actions are elaborated.

of character and

formed

is

in

may

influence conduct.

Character

part of a stratification of unconscious

ideas.

When
their

ideas have undergone this slow elaboration

power

is

considerable, because reason ceases to

have any hold on them.

dominated by an

idea,

accessible to reasoning,
be.

he

-All
will

he

not

will

make

The

enthusiast

religious

however

or other,

intelligent

who

in-

is

he

is

may

be able to attempt, and most often


the effort, will be to try,

by

artifices

of thought and deformations often very great, to

bring any idea that seems to contradict the conceptions which dominate

him, into

agreement with them.


If ideas can only exert an action

after

some

sort

of

having slowly

descended from the regions of the conscious to those

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

170

of the unconscious,

it is

understandable that they will

be very slowly transformed, and that the leading ideas


of a civilisation should be very few in number, and
require so long a period

ought
case

to

ourselves

congratulate

were

not so

it

civilisations

new

the long run, for

that

such

the

is

would be impossible that

it

should have any

fortunate that

We

for their evolution.

fixity.

It

is

equally

ideas can implant themselves in


if

the old ideas were absolutely

unchangeable, civilisations would be unable to realise

any

progress.

transformations

Thanks

many

to the slowness of our mental

generations of

to secure the triumph of

new

ideas,

men

are needed

and many other

generations to bring about their disappearance.

most

civilised peoples are those

The

whose leading ideas

have been able to maintain an equal distance between


variability

debris

and

fixity.

of the peoples

History

is

strewn with the

who have been unable

to

maintain this equilibrium.


It is easy, in

consequence, to understand

how

it

is

most striking when the history of the


various peoples is studied, is not the wealth and novelty
that

what

is

of their ideas, but, on the contrary, the extreme poverty


of these ideas, the slowness of their transformations,

and the power they

exert.

Civilisations

are the

ITS
result

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

of some

171

few fundamental ideas, and when

these ideas change, the civilisations are at once com-

The Middle Ages

pelled to change as well.

on two principal ideas


feudal idea.

Its

conception of

life

existed

the religious idea and the

and

arts, its literature,

its

entire

At

are derived from these ideas.

the time of the Renaissance these ideas undergo

some modification

the rediscovered ideal of the old

Greco-Latin world implants

once the conception of

life,

begin to be transformed.
tradition

is

itself in

Europe, and at

the arts and literature

Then

the authority of

shaken, scientific truths substitute them-

selves gradually for revealed truth,

At

once against transformed.


old religious ideas

seem

and

civilisation is

the present day the

definitely to

have

lost the

greater part of their empire, and owing to this fact

the social institutions that were based on

all

them are

threatened with destruction.

The

history of the genesis of ideas, of their domi-

nation, of their transformations,

and of their disappear-

ance, can only be written on the principle of citing

numerous examples in illustration. Could we enter


into details, we would show that each element of
civilisation
is

philosophy, beliefs,

subject to a very small

arts, literature, etc.

number of leading

ideas

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

172

whose evolution

The

exceedingly slow.

is

modern physics

derived

is

indestructibility of force, the

sciences

The whole

themselves do not escape this law.

from the

idea

of

of

the

whole of biology from

the idea of evolution, the whole of medicine from the


idea of the action of the infinitely small; and
history of

these

persons called

upon

century in
rapidity,

that,

to appreciate

the most enlightened

themselves

shows

ideas

the

the

although

them belong

to

they only establish

classes,

by little and with difficulty. In a


which everything proceeds with such

little

and

in

a field of investigation

passions and interests have

little

which

in

play, the implanting

of a fundamental scientific idea requires not less than

The

twenty-five years.

easily demonstrable, those

clearest ideas, those

most

which should have aroused

the least controversy, were just as long in finding

acceptance.

Whatever the nature of the


scientific,

artistic,

mechanism
It

of

apostles,

propagation

intensity

it

be a

first

of

is

always

a small

by
whose

faith

identical.

number of
and

the

names give great prestige. They


much more by suggestion than by demon-

authority of whose

then act

whether

philosophic, or religious idea, the

its

has to be adopted at
the

idea,

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

The

stration.

essential elements of the

173

mechanism

of persuasion must not be sought for in the value of


Ideas can be enforced either by the

a demonstration.

prestige of the promulgator or


passions, but no influence

person

When

them-

by demonstrations, but merely by

on

solely

who

let

and the authority of "these affirmations

affirmations,

depends

to the

exerted by appealing

The masses never

solely to the reason.


selves be persuaded

is

by an appeal

the

exerted

prestige

by the

enunciates them.

these apostles have succeeded in convincing

a small circle of adepts and have thus formed


apostles, the

new

discussion.

It

because

and

it

idea begins to enter the

arouses at

The

naturally excited

by

domain of

universal opposition,

first

necessarily clashes with

established.

new

apostles

much

that

who defend

is

old

it

are

opposition, which merely

this

convinces them of their superiority over the rest of

mankind, and they defend the new idea energetically,


not because

about

its

it is

most often they know nothing

truth or falsehood

have adopted
discussejd

true

it.

that

is

The new

but simply because they

idea

is

now more and more

to say, in reality it

is

entirely accepted

by the one side, and entirely rejected by the other side.


Affirmations and negations but very few arguments,

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

174

are exchanged, the sole motives for the acceptance or

an idea being inevitably,

rejection of

for the

immense

majority of brains, mere sentimental motives, in which

reasoning cannot have any part.

Thanks

to these always impassioned debates, the

idea progresses slowly.


find

it

controverted tend to adopt

For

controverted.

is

it

The new

eager

be

to

received

young

generations
it

ideas

is

the

most

merely because
always

persons,

independent, wholesale

who

opposition

to

form

of

accessible

originality.

The

idea continues then to gain ground, and before

has no longer any need of support.

It will

long

it

now

spread everywhere by the mere effect of imita-

tion, acting as

are

a contagion, a faculty with which

generally endowed

big anthropoid apes, which


to

men

men

high a degree as are the

in as

modern science

assigns

as their forefathers.

As soon

as the

mechanism of contagion

intervenes,

the idea enters on the phase which necessarily means


success.

It is

soon accepted by opinion.

It

then

acquires a penetrating and subtle force which spreads


it

progressively

among

all

intellects, creating simul-

taneously a sort of special atmosphere, a general

manner of

thinking.

Like the

fine dust of the high-

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

way which
into

penetrates everywhere,

the conceptions and

all

The

epoch.

idea and

its

all

it

175

finds its

way

the productions of an

consequences then form part

of that compact stock of hereditary commonplaces

imposed on us by education. The idea has triumphed


and has entered the domain of sentiment where for
long

it

Of

have nothing to

will

fear.

the various ideas which guide a civilisation,

some, those relating to the arts or philosophy for

example,
nation

rest confined

to the upper grades of the

others, particularly those relating to religious

conceptions and

go deep down

politics,

some

in

among the crowd. They arrive there in


much deformed, but when they arrive there

instances

general

the power they exert over primitive minds incapable

of reasoning

is

The

immense.

idea under these con-

ditions represents something that


its

are propagated

efforts

torrent that has overflown

easy to find

men ready

among

is

invincible,

and

with the violence of a


its

banks.

It

is

always

a people a hundred thousand

to risk their lives to defend

soon as this idea has subjugated them.

an idea as

Then

it

is

that supervene those great events which revolutionise


history,
plishing.

and which only crowds are capable of accomIt

is

not

men

of letters, artists, or philo-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

176

sophers

who

established

the religions

which have

the world, or the vast empires which have

ruled

one hemisphere to another, or who

stretched from

and

have been the causes of the great religious

political revolutions which have changed the face of

These achievements have been the work of

Europe.

the illiterate sufficiently dominated

by an idea to
propagation. With nothing

sacrifice their lives to its

on but

else to rely

this theoretically

though practically very

very insignificant

effective outfit, the

nomads of

the deserts of Arabia conquered a portion of the old

Greco-Roman world and founded one of


giganic empires

known

similar moral outfit

that the heroic

to history.

It

the domination

soldiers

of

the most

was with a

of an

Convention

the

idea

were

against the onslaughts of Europe up in

victorious

arms.

strong conviction

conviction
resisting

enemy

it

faith

of

is

so irresistible that only a

has

equal strength

victoriously.

has to

fear.

Faith

is

any chance

the only serious

It is sure to

the material force opposed to

it

weak sentiments and enfeebled

is

of

triumph where

in the service of

beliefs.

If,

however,

by a faith of equal intensity,


becomes
the struggle
very severe, and success under
it

finds itself confronted

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

these conditions
stances,

is

177

determined by accessory circum-

most often of a moral

order,

by the

discipline or the better organisation.

spirit of

close study

of the history of the Arabs, just referred

shows

to,

that on the occasion of their earlier conquests

and

these conquests are always the most difficult and the

most important

they encountered adversaries

who

were morally weak, although their military organisation

was

good.

fairly

Syria was the

armies composed of mercenaries, but


to

sacrifice

themselves

for

Animated by an intense
strength

tenfold,

country

met there was Byzantine

All they

they invaded.

first

faith

little

disposed

any cause whatever.


which increased their

they dispersed these troops

lacked an ideal as easily as

who

before their time

handful of Greeks, sustained by love of their

city,

had dispersed the innumerable soldiers of Xerxes.


The upshot of their enterprise would have been quite
they had come

different

if

centuries

earlier

with

the

into

Roman

collision

cohorts.

few
It

is

evident that when equally powerful moral forces are


pitted

against

side that

is

one another, victory

best organised.

The

rests

with the

faith of the

Vendeans

was assuredly most ardent, they were most energetically convinced

but the convictions of the soldiers


13

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

178

of the Convention were also very strong, and as their

was the

military organisation

better,

they gained the

day.

In religion, as in politics, success always goes to

who

those

and

if

future

believe, never to those

at the present

belongs

to

day

the

it

who

are sceptical,

would seem as
in

Socialists,

spite

if

of

the
the

dangerous absurdity of their dogmas, the reason


that they

now

are

The modern governing

convictions.

is

the only party possessing real

lost faith in everything.

They no

classes

have

longer believe in

anything, not even in the possibility of defending

themselves against the threatening flood of barbarians,

by which they

When

an

are surrounded on

all sides.

idea, after a longer or shorter period of

tentative existence, modifications, deformations, dis-

cussion and propaganda, has acquired

its

definite

form

and penetrated the soul of the masses, it constitutes a


dogma, that is one of those absolute truths which are
no longer discussed. It then forms part of those
general beliefs on which the existence of peoples is
based.

Its

universal character

preponderating

role.

The

allows

it

to play a

great epochs of history,

the century of Augustus or that of Louis XIV., have

been those

in

which

ideas, leaving their

tentative

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

period and getting beyond

179

discussion, have taken

become the sovereign masters of the


thought of men. They then become brilliant beacons,
fixed shape and

and everything they illumine assumes a similar hue.

As soon
mark on
least
full

as a

all

idea has triumphed,

it

but in order that

is

necessary that

heights on which

it

came

it

shall

it

shape
that

into being,

and modifications

which

it

to secure

is

its

is

its

produce

its

the intellectual

descends from

it

grade to grade, undergoing on the

in

leaves

should have pene-

From

trated the soul of the masses.

alterations

it

the elements of civilisation, including the

important
effect

new

until

way

it

incessant

has taken a

accessible to the popular soul

triumph.

met with concentrated

in a

At

this

point

it

is

very few words, some-

times in a single word, but this word evokes powerful


images, either seductive or terrible, but always on
this

account impressive.

Examples

are the words

Paradise and Hell in the Middle Ages, brief syllables

which have the magic power of corresponding with


everything, and for simple souls of explaining everything.

The word

working

Socialism represents for the modern

man one

of those magical and synthetic

formulae capable of exerting an empire over souls.


It

evokes images which vary with the masses which

it

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

i8o

penetrates, but

which are powerful

in

spite of their

rudimentary forms.

For the French theoretician the word Socialism


evokes the image of a sort of Paradise, in which men,

become

equal, will

enjoy ideal

incessant direction of the State.

working

man

serve

will

For the German

the image evoked presents

the guise of a

smoky tavern

gratuitously

itself

under

which the Government

in

to

under the

felicity

every

comer

gigantic

pyramids of sausages and sauerkraut and unlimited

None among

pots of beer.

those

who dream

either

of sauerkraut or of equality have ever of course been

sum

at pains to find out the


to be divided or the

share

kind

this

raises

its

little

all

it

is

are there to

an idea of

assumes an absolute shape that

objection.

come

assured for

by reasoning

new

whose place

decline

it

is

to transform itself

little

and has become a dogma,


a long time, and all attempts

into a sentiment,

the end the


idea

number of those who

the idea has

triumph

to shake

what there

essential characteristic of

that

is

above

it

When
by

The

it.

total of

will

be vain.

Doubtless in

idea will undergo the fate of the


it

but before

has taken.
it

is

It will

grow old and

completely used up

have to undergo an entire

it

will

series of retrograde trans-

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

181

formations, of deformations of every kind, which will

demand

several generations for their accomplishment.

Before dying out entirely,

it

but which

though

it

we

we

nevertheless respect.

In

style prejudices,

An

old idea, even

become a mere word, a sound, a

has

mirage, possesses a magical power


still

long form part of

will for

those old hereditary ideas which

by which we are

subjugated.
this

way

is

kept up that old inheritance of

antiquated ideas, opinions, and conventions which

accept without demur, though they would


little

resistance to an effort of the reason,

if

consent for an instant to discuss them. But

men

are capable of

discussing their

offer

we
but

we would

how many

own

opinions,

and how many of these opinions would hold water


after the most superficial examination ?
It

is

better

of our undertaking

a higher faculty that


of imitation

is

Happily there

The

it.

is

examination

redoubtable

that the

should not be attempted.

little risk

critical spirit constituting

very

a faculty very

is

rare,

whereas the

commonly

spirit

possessed, the

immense majority of minds accept without discussion


the ready-made ideas furnished them by opinion and
transmitted them by education.
It

thus happens that by means of heredity, educa-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

82

surroundings, contagion and opinion, the

tion,

men

of

each age and of each race possess a sum of average


conceptions which render them singularly like one
another, alike indeed to such a degree that,

the proper perspective,


philosophical,

which they

and

we

recognise

it

the

their artistic,

by

literary productions the

Doubtless

lived.

when

them from

lapse of centuries allows us to consider

epoch at

could not be said that

they copied one another absolutely, but as they had


in

common

modes of

identical

and thinking,

feeling

they were necessarily led to produce very kindred


work.

We
thus

must congratulate ourselves that matters are


arranged,

common

for

traditions,

modes of thinking

We

it

precisely this network

is

ideas,

sentiments,

beliefs,

of

and

that form the soul of a people.

have seen that the vigour of the soul of a people


proportion to the strength of this network.

is

in

is

this

network

nations alive,

and

in

reality,

it is

and

it

alone, that keeps

impossible that

it

should break

up without the nations crumbling away.


tutes at once their true force

and

It

It consti-

their true master.

Asiatic sovereigns are sometimes represented as kinds

of despots whose fantasy


fantasies,

is

their only guide.

These

on the contrary, have singularly narrow

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

The network

limits.

in

powerful

the

of traditions

East.

more

is

183

especially

Religious traditions, so en-

feebled

amongst ourselves, retain all their empire in


the East, and the most whimsical despot would never
run counter to two sovereigns he knows are infinitely

more powerful than he is tradition and opinion.


The modern civilised man finds himself in one of
:

those rare critical periods of history in which the old


ideas, whence his civilisation

empire, and the


discussion

new

ideas not being formed as yet,

tolerated.

is

derived, having lost their

is

He must

go back

to the

periods of the civilisations of antiquity, or merely

two or three centuries back,


nature in those ages of
opinion,

and

the

to get

an idea of the

yoke of custom and

risks run

to learn the

by innovators

sufficiently bold to attack these two powers.

Greeks,

been so

whom
free,

ignorant rhetoricians

were

strictly

of opinion and custom.

of absolutely inviolable beliefs

thought of discussing received

unacquainted with religious


of private

life,

The

affirm to have

subjected to the yoke

Each

accepted without demur.

some

citizen
;

had a number

none would have


ideas,

which were

The Grecian world was


liberty,

or with liberties of

Athenian law did not even allow the

with the liberty

any

kind.

citizen to

The
keep

'

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

184

aloof from

the assemblies, or not to celebrate re-

The

ligiously a national fete.

alleged liberty of the

ancient world was nothing but the unconscious and,

form of the entire subjection

in consequence, absolute

of the citizen to the yoke of the ideas of his

city.

In

the state of general war in which societies then lived,

whose members should

society

liberty of thought

single day.
tions,

have possessed

and action would not have lasted a

The age

of decadence for gods, institu-

and dogmas has always begun

as soon as they

have been exposed to discussion.


In modern civilisations, the old ideas which form
the basis of custom and opinion having been almost
destroyed, their empire over souls has

They have

weak.
in

entered on that worn-out phase

which old ideas are

As long

judices.
idea,

thanks

to

in process of

becoming pre-

as they are not replaced

anarchy reigns
this

become very

in

men's

minds.

that

anarchy

by a new

It

discussion

is

can

only

be

Writers, thinkers, and philosopher sought


to bless the present age and hasten to take advantage

tolerated.

of

it,

for

they

will

not see

its

an age of decadence, but

moments

in

like again.
it

is

It is

perhaps

one of those rare

the history of the world during which

expression of thought

is

free.

It is

impossible that

ITS
it

should

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

185

Given the present conditions of

last.

civili-

European peoples are tending towards


state which will tolerate neither discussion

sation, the

a social

nor

liberty.

The new dogmas

that are about to

come

into being cannot establish themselves, except on the

condition that they accept no discussions of any kind,

and that they be as intolerant as the dogmas that


have preceded them.

The man

of the present day

is

still

searching for

the ideas that shall serve as the basis of the future


social

state,

What

is

and therein

the danger he runs.

lies

important in the history of peoples, and

what has a far-reaching influence on their destiny,


is

neither

quickly effaced
ideas.

nor

revolutions

wars

their

ruins

are

but the changes in their fundamental

They cannot be accomplished without

all

the

elements of a civilisation undergoing of necessity

The

a simultaneous transformation.

real revolutions,

the only revolutions that endanger the existence of a


people, are those which affect
It is

not so

dangerous

much

for

a people,

as

ideas in succession to which


finds the idea

its

thought.

the adoption of

on which

sufficiently solidly the

it

new

new

ideas that

is

the trying of various

it is

will

condemned before

it

be able to build up

social edifice that

is

to

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

186

replace the old.


is

not assuredly because an idea

It is

erroneous that

it is

the religious ideas

dangerous

on which we have existed up to now were most


but

erroneous

it

is

because long repeated experi-

ments are necessary to make

it

certain that the

new

ideas can be adapted to the needs of the societies

that adopt them.


their

appreciate
experience.

The masses unhappily can only


of

degree

Without doubt, there

is

dint

by

utility

no need

of

to be a

great psychologist or a great economist to predict

the application of existing, socialist ideas will

that

lead the peoples

who adopt them

to a state of abject

decadence and shameful despotism


people
the

it

New

how

but

are the

charms to be prevented from accepting

Gospel that

is

preached to them

History contains frequent examples of the cost of


essaying ideas that are inacceptable for an epoch, but
it

is

not to history

Charlemagne endeavoured

Roman

man

that

goes

for

in vain to re-establish the

Empire, but the idea of unity

realisable at the time,

and

his

Napoleon was destined

later

Philip

II.

in

an

not

to perish at a

uselessly wasted his genius,

and the strength of Spain


at the time

was

work perished with

him, as that of
period.

lessons.

effort to

the predominant country

combat the

spirit

of free

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

187

inquiry which was spreading through Europe under


the

name

new

idea merely resulted in reducing Spain to a state

and decadence from which

of ruin

In our

recovered.

This opposition to the

of Protestantism.

crowned

own

has

it

never

time, the chimerical ideas of

visionary,

inspired

by the incurable

international sentimentalism of his race, have brought

about the unity of Italy and Germany, and have cost


us two provinces, while endangering the peace of
for a

Europe

long time to come.

The

utterly false

idea that numbers constitute the strength of armies

has covered Europe with a sort of armed national


guard, and

The

is

leading up to

socialist ideas

its

inevitable bankruptcy.

with regard to labour, capital, the

transformation of private property into State property,


etc.,

prove the destruction of the peoples that

will

permanent armies and bankruptcy

The

shall

have spared.

principle of nationalities, formerly so dear to

statesmen that they based their entire policy on

may

further be cited

dangerous

among

influence has

it,

the leading ideas, whose

had

to be undergone.

Its

Europe in the most disastrous


from one end to the other, and will

realisation has involved

war, has

land

all

anarchy.

armed

it

modern

states

in

succession

The only apparent motive

in

ruin

and

that could be

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

i88

invoked

in

defence of this principle was that the

and most populous countries are the strongest,


and run the fewest risks. It was secretly reflected

largest

embark on conquest.

that they were the best fitted to


It is found,

however, to-day, that

and

smallest

least

Switzerland,

Greece,

Balkan

that have the

The

precisely the

Portugal,

the

Sweden,

Belgium,

from their neighbours.

it is

is

countries

populous

principalities

completely ruined

it

petty
to

least

fear

idea of unity has so

formerly so prosperous, that

Italy,

on the eve of a revolution and of bankruptcy.

The annual budgetary expenditure

of

the Italian

all

States, which before the

realisation of Italian unity

amounted

now

It is

to 550 millions

reaches two milliards.

men

not given, however, to

to stop the

of ideas

when they have penetrated the

masses.

When

they have done

must be accomplished, and


are defended
It is

by those who

it

march

soul of the

this, their

evolution

often happens that they

will

be their

first

victims.

not sheep merely that docilely follow their guide

to the

slaughter-house.

strength of an

either

against

When

idea.

certain period of

its

We

must bow before the


it

has attained to a

evolution, there are

no longer

arguments or demonstrations that can


it.

For peoples

to

be able to

free

avail

themselves

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

from the yoke of an


revolutions

are

189

idea, either centuries or violent

necessary

sometimes

the

two.

Innumerable are the chimeras humanity has forged


for itself

victim.

and of which

in succession

it

has been the

CHAPTER

II

THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

IN

THE

EVOLUTION OF CIVILISATIONS
influence

Preponderating

of

religious

ideas

They have

always

constituted the most important element of the life of peoples


Religious ideas responsible for the majority of historical events and
social

and

new

ideal

on

Its

political institutions

into existence with a

influence

new

religious idea

character

It

civilisation

always comes

Power of
directs

all

the religious

the faculties

towards the same end The political, artistic, and literary history
of peoples is the offspring of their beliefs The slightest change in
the state of a people's belief results in an entire series of
transformations in its existence Various examples.

by which the peoples


have been guided, the ideas which are the
the various ideas

AMONG

beacons of history, the poles of


ideas

have

played

fundamental a part

too

civilisation, religious

preponderating

for us not

and

too

to devote a special

chapter to them.
Religious beliefs have always constituted the most

important element of

the

consequence of their history.


190

life

of peoples, and in

The most

considerable

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES


historical

is

have been the birth and death of

With a new

gods.

the most

those which have had

events,

colossal influence,

191

religious idea a

born into the world.

At

all

new

civilisation

the ages of humanity,

in ancient

times as in modern times, the fundamental

questions

have always been religious questions.

humanity could allow

all its

gods to

die, it

said of such an event that, as regards

its

If

might be

consequences,

would be the most important event that had taken


place on the surface of our planet since the birth of
it

the

first civilisations.

must not be forgotten that, since the dawn


of historical times, all political and social institutions
For

it

have been founded on religious

gods have always played the


stage.

but

Apart from

personal

religious

and

beliefs

love,

which

transitory

that

are

character in a rapid manner.

beliefs,

first

role
itself

is

religion,

capable

and that the

on the world's

of

a powerful
it

is

only

influencing

The conquests

of the

Arabs, the Crusades, Spain under the Inquisition,

England during the Puritan period, France with its


St. Bartholomew, and the wars of the revolution

show what becomes of a people rendered fanatic by


its chimeras.
These chimeras exercise a sort of
permanent hypnotic

effect

which

is

so intense that

it

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

IQ2

profoundly transforms the entire mental constitution.


Doubtless

it

having created

created the gods, but after

them he promptly became

are not the offspring of

They

their slave.

as

fear,

Lucretius

but of hope, and for this reason their influence

affirms,
will

man who

is

be eternal.

The

gift

of the gods to man, and

it is

a gift which

they alone have been able to endow him with up to

now,

No

a state of mind which allows of happiness.

is

philosophy has ever been able as yet to realise

such an achievement.

The consequence,
of

all

philosophies,

if

not the aim, of

of

certain states of mind.

some

imply

all

But of these

happiness, while

Happiness depends very


stances,

of

and

spirit.

much

religions

little

is

rubbed with garlic


millionaire

The

who

is

may

engender

states of

the others

at the stake

do not

were probably

The

care, eats his crust of

be

mind

on our disposition

happier than their executioners.

sweeper who, devoid of

to

on exterior circum-

to a very great extent

The martyrs

all civilisations,

infinitely

street-

bread

happier than the

a prey to manifold anxieties.

evolution of civilisation has unhappily created

modern man a multitude of wants, without


giving him the means of satisfying them, and in this
for the

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

way has promoted

general discontent.

the mother

doubtless

of

193

Civilisation

but

progress,

it

is

is

the

mother as well of Socialism and Anarchism, those


redoubtable expressions of the despair of the masses
that are no longer sustained

by any

belief.

Compare

the restless, feverish European, discontented with his


lot,

with the
In

destiny.

what do they

state of their soul

when

mode

its

with his

satisfied

always

Oriental,

differ, if

not as regards the

people has been transformed

of conceiving and, in consequence, of

thinking and acting has been transformed.

Under penalty of being unable


primary duty of a society

to

is

to last for long, the

endeavour to find the

means of creating a

state of

man

the societies founded

All

happy.

mind which

shall render

up

to the

present have had as their basis an ideal capable of

men's

subjugating

and

souls,

they

have

disappeared as soon as this ideal has

always

ceased

to

subjugate them.

One

of the great errors of

belief that

soul

only in exterior things that the

can find happiness.

created

by

ourselves.

ages,

it is

we

modern times

ourselves,

Happiness

and

scarcely

is

is

the

human

within us,

ever

outside

After having destroyed the ideals of past


are

now

finding that
14

it

is

not possible to

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

194

live

without them, and that the secret of replacing

them must be

discovered,

if

we would

continue to

humanity,

those

exist.

The

benefactors of

true

who

merit colossal statues in gold raised in their honour

by

grateful peoples, are those powerful magicians, the

creators

of

whom

ideals,

produces, but

whom

it

sometimes

humanity

produces so rarely.

Above

the torrent of vain appearances, standing forth the

only

realities

man can ever know, above the inexorable,

the glacial mechanism of the world, they have evoked


powerful and pacifying chimeras, which hide from

man

the sombre sides of his destiny, and create for

him enchanted refuges of dreams and hope.

From

the exclusively political standpoint, too,

found that the influence of religious

What makes
constitute the

their

irresistible

factor

only

beliefs

force

is

is

it is

immense.

that

they

which can momentarily

procure a people absolute community of interests,


sentiments, and thoughts.
spirit

replaces

In this

one stroke the

at

way

the religious

slow hereditary

accumulation necessary to form the soul of a nation,

The people

that

doubtless change
faculties

are

is

subjugated by a belief does not

its

mental constitution, but

directed

all

towards the same end

its

the

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

triumph of
its

its

belief

and solely

in virtue

strength becomes formidable.

It is

at

195

of this fact

epochs of

ardent faith that peoples, momentarily transformed,

accomplish

those

efforts,

prodigious

found

those

empires which are the astonishment of history.

was thus that a few Arab

tribes,

thought of Mahomet, conquered

who

in a

unified

It

by the

few years nations

ignored their very names, and founded their

immense empire.
It is

not the quality of the beliefs that must be

taken into consideration, but the

sway they exert

Whether the god invoked be


some other yet more barbarous divinity,

over men's souls.

Moloch, or
is

of no importance.

of the divinity that

It is
it

Gods too

barbarous.

for the prestige

should be wholly intolerant and


tolerant or too mild lend their

worshippers no strength.

Mahomet

even well

The

sectaries of the stern

ruled for long over a great portion of the

world, and

are

still

redoubtable

those of pacific

Buddha have never founded anything


are already forgotten

The

religious spirit

role of capital

because

it

by

durable, and

history.

then has

played a political

importance in the existence of peoples,

was always the only

factor capable of

influencing their character in a short space of time.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

196

The

no

gods,

religious

doubt,

century ago

may

It

awakes as soon

it

created.

eternal.

is

spirit

while, but

it

immortal, but the

not

are

as a

all

divinity

is

Europe up

Once more the world has had the

religion that

resist

in arms.

spectacle of

be accomplished by the religious

was indeed a new

for

enabled France to

victoriously the onslaughts of

may

slumber

new

spirit,

was founded

what
for

it

at the

period in question, and that inspired an entire people.

The

divinities that

too fragile to

last,

blossomed forth were, doubtless,


but so long as they lasted they

exerted absolute sway.

The power
religions

is,

of transforming souls possessed

however, somewhat ephemeral.

rare for beliefs to retain for

It

by
is

any length of time that

degree of intensity which entirely transforms character.

The dream ends by growing more shadowy,

the hypnotised people awakes in a measure, and the


old substratum of character again comes to the front.

Even

in cases

where the

beliefs are all powerful

the national character

is

manner

beliefs are

in

which these

always recognisable in the

manifestations they provoke.


are between the

Spain, or France,

same

adopted and

What

in the

differences there

belief as found in England,

Would

the Reformation ever have

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

been possible

in Spain, or

would England ever have

consented to submit to the terrible


Inquisition

reformed faith

the

the peoples

Among

is

197

yoke of the

who have adopted

not easy to

it

the

perceive

fundamental characteristics of races which,

in spite of

the hypnotising action of their beliefs, have preserved

the special features of their mental constitution

in-

dependence, energy, the habit of reasoning, and of not

obeying servilely the law of a master

The
is

political, artistic,

and

literary history of peoples

the offspring of their beliefs

but these

latter,

while

they modify the character, are also profoundly modified

by

it.

The

character of a people and

are the keys of


its

its

destiny.

fundamental elements,

cisely because

it

The

is

may

slightest

vary,

and

many

change

its

existence.

is

pre-

it is

beliefs,

on

because they vary

upheavals.

an entire

men

people's

series of trans-

of the eighteenth

very different from

seventeenth century.

The

We remarked in a previous

chapter that in France the

century seemed

it

the state of a

in

beliefs necessarily results in

formations in

and

invariable,

does not vary that the history of a

that history records so

The

beliefs

former, as regards

people always retains a certain unity.


the other hand,

its

those of

the

Doubtless, but what was the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

198

origin of this difference

Solely the fact that in the

lapse of a century theology had given

way

to science,

reason had taken the place of tradition, and observed


truth that of revealed truth.

By

this

of conceptions the aspect of a century

and were we

to follow

its

simple change
is

transformed,

we should

effects

find that

our great Revolution, together with the events that

have since occurred and are


the

in

still

progress, are

mere consequence of an evolution of

religious

ideas.

on

totters

its

foundations and finds

profoundly shaken, the reason

and more the

civilisation,

take

its

is

on which

all its

that

it is

institutions

losing

lost

founded on a new

faith, will necessarily

beliefs
it

place.

shall

have

it

History shows us that peoples do not

long survive the disappearance of their gods.


civilisations that are

them.

more

had existed up till


them entirely, a new

When

now.

day our old society

at the present

if

Moreover,

There

of dead gods.

is

The

born with them also die with

nothing so destructive as the dust

CHAPTER
THE ROLE OF GREAT MEN

III

IN

THE HISTORY OF

PEOPLES
The

great advances made by each civilisation have always been


Nature of their role
realised by a small elite of superior minds

They synthesise all the efforts of a race Examples supplied by


Political role of great men
They embody the
great discoveries
dominant ideal of their race Influence of the great hallucinated
Inventors of genius transform a civilisation
the hallucinated make history.

WHEN

The

fanatics

studying the hierarchy and the

we saw

entiation of races,

that

and

differ-

what most

Europeans from Orientals is that only


Let us
the former possess an elite of superior men.
differentiates

now endeavour

to trace in a few lines the limits of the

role of this Mite.

The

small phalanx of eminent

civilised

in

people

a phalanx

it

men

would

possessed by a

suffice to suppress

each generation to lower considerably the

tual level of that people

intellec-

constitutes the true incarna199

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

200

To

tion of the forces of a race.


realised in the sciences, the

word, in

we owe

profit

by

due the progress

arts, in

industry, in a

the branches of civilisation.

all

History shows that


that

it is

all

it is

to this circumscribed elite

the advances made.

Although they

these advances, the masses do not like being

surpassed, and the greatest thinkers

And

have often been their martyrs.


generations,

all

and inventors
all

yet

the

the past of a race, blossom forth in

splendid geniuses which are the marvellous

these

flowers of a race.
nation,

humble,

They are the true glory of a


each member of which, down to the most
is

entitled to be

They do

proud of them.

not appear by chance or by a miracle, but represent


the crowning point of a long past.

They

synthesise

the greatness of their time and of their race.

favour their production and development

is

To

to favour

the achievement of those advances of which humanity


will

reap the benefit.

much

If

we

allow ourselves to be too

blinded by our dreams of universal equality

shall be the

first

victims of our attitude.

carries inferiority in its

dream of vulgar

wake

mediocrities.

realised in barbarous epochs.


in the world,

it

it is

we

Equality

the dull, oppressive


It

has only been

For equality

would be necessary

to reign

to bring

down,

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

little

by

little,

whatever makes the value of a race to

the level of what

But while the

ment of a

least elevated in the race.

is

men

role of superior

civilisation

what

ever, quite

201

it

considerable,

in the develop-

is

it

is

generally said to be.

is

how-

not,

Their

action consists, I repeat, in synthesising all the efforts

of a race

always the result of a

their discoveries are

long series of anterior discoveries

have

with the stones which others

who

Historians,

in general are

have always thought


a

man

it

they build an edifice


slowly hewn.

very simple-minded,

right to connect the

with each invention

and

name

of

yet, of the great

inventions which have transformed the world, such as


printing,

there

is

created

gunpowder, steam, or the

not one of which

by a

it

single brain.

electric telegraph,

can be said that

When

coveries of this kind are studied,

it

was

the genesis of dis-

it is

always found that

they are the outcome of a long series of preparatory


efforts

stroke.

the

invention

final

crowning

Galileo's observation of the isochronism of

the oscillations of a suspended


for the invention of

sailors

only the

is

to

certainty.

trace

lamp paved the way

chronometers, which were to enable

their

route across the ocean with

Gunpowder

formations of Grecian

resulted

fire.

from

slow

The steam engine

trans-

repre-

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

202

sents the

sum

of a series of inventions, each of which

demanded immense

labour.

Greek, had he had a

hundred times as much genius as Archimedes, would


have been unable to discover the locomotive engine.

Could he have discovered

it,

would have been of no use

moreover, the discovery

to him, as, to fabricate his

engine, he would have had to wait until mechanics

had

realised advances

which

it

took two thousand

years of efforts to achieve.

The

political role of great statesmen, while

apparently more independent of the past,


theless, scarcely less

role of great

is,

dependent thereon than

it

is

neveris

the

Blinded by the dazzling

inventors.

brilliancy of the powerful leaders of

men who have

transformed the political existence of peoples, such


writers as Hegel, Cousin, Carlyle, &c., have wished to

make

of

them demi-gods, whose unaided genius has

modified the destiny of peoples.

can

evolution of a society, but

affect the

given to them to change

Cromwell or a Napoleon
a task.

museum

structive

its
is

course.

The

it

is

not

genius of a

powerless to achieve such

Great conquerors can destroy towns, men,

and empires by
to a

Beyond doubt they

fire

filled

and sword as a

child can set fire

with art treasures

power must not deceive us as

but this de-

to the nature

ITS

of their

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

The

role.

only durable

203

influence of great politicians

when, as

in

the

case of

is

Caesar or

Richelieu, they contrive to give their efforts a direc-

harmony with the needs of the moment

tion in

true cause of their success


to themselves.

is

generally

Had he made

much

anterior

the attempt two or

three centuries earlier, Caesar would not have

the great

Roman

the

made

Republic accept the law of a master,

and under the same conditions Richelieu would have


been

unable to realise the unity of

politics the really great

men

In

France.

are those

who have

presentiment of the needs that are about to

arise,

a
of

the events for which the past has paved the way, and

who show

their fellows the direction that has got to

be taken.

This

nobody, but the

engage

therein

momentarily
They,

too,

direction,
fatalities

the

in the

like

perhaps, was

clear

to

of evolution were soon to

peoples whose

destinies

were

hands of these powerful geniuses.

the great inventors, synthesise the

results of a long anterior evolution.

These analogies between the different categories of


great men must not be carried too far. The inventors
play an important part in the future evolution of a
civilisation,

but no immediate role in the political his-

tory of peoples.

The

superior

men

to

whom

are due

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

204

the important discoveries, from the plough to the

which

telegraph,

common patrimony

the

are

humanity, have never

the

possessed

qualities

of

of

character requisite for the founding of a religion or


the conquest of an empire,

change visibly the face of

that

necessary,

history.

The

is,

thinker

to
is

too alive to the complexity of problems ever to have

very strong convictions, and too few political ends

seem

him worthy of his

to

efforts for

any one of them.

to realise

a civilisation

in the

him

Inventors

long run

it is

only

to attempt

may modify
fanatics, men

of narrow intelligence, but energetic character and

powerful
religions

passions,

who

and empires.

the Hermit millions of


the East

such as

Mahomet

like

echo

men

hurled themselves against

Greco-Roman world

Luther bathed Europe

among

Newton

in

an obscure

blood.

will never

The

the masses.

and the hallucinated create


of what

composed,

if

is

The

have the

inventors

genius hasten the march of civilisation.

For

founding

the bidding of a Peter

created a force capable of triumph-

voice of a Galileo or a
least

At

of

capable

the words of an hallucinated enthusiast

ing over the old

monk

are

of

The

fanatics

in

books,

history.

history,

as

written

not of the long narrative of man's

ITS

struggles

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION


create

to

then to destroy

an

it ?

to

ideal,

And,

worship

in the

205

and

it,

eyes of science,

have such ideals more value than the vain mirages

by the action of

created

light

on the moving sands

of the desert?
Still

it

is

the hallucinated, the creators or propa-

gators of these mirages,

who have

effected the

far-reaching transformations in the world.

depth of their tombs they


their thoughts

still

on the soul of

must not be overlooked

From

the

the yoke of

and influence the

races,

character and destiny of peoples.


their role

inflict

most

The importance
;

but, at the

of

same

must not be forgotten that the task they


accomplished was successfully accomplished because

time,

it

they unconsciously embodied and expressed the ideal


of their race and their epoch.

by those who embody


for the

its

Jews the desire

dreams.

people

is

only led

Moses represented

for deliverance over

which

they had brooded during the years that they were


slaves

lacerated

Buddha and

by the whips of the Egyptians.

Jesus were alive to the infinite miseries

of their time, and gave a religious shape to the need


for

charity and

pity,

universal suffering, were

world.

which, at

these

periods

of

coming into existence in the


Mahomet realised by means of unity of belief

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

206

the political unity of a people divided into thousands

That

of rival tribes.

embodied the

soldier of genius,

Napoleon,

and

ideal of military glory, of vanity,

of revolutionary propaganda, which at the time were


the characteristics

Europe during

of

fifteen

the people

years

in

he led
pursuit

all

over

of

wild

adventures.

At bottom, then, it is ideas, and in consequence


those who embody and propagate them that rule the
Their triumph

world.

assured

is

when they

are

defended by the hallucinated and by enthusiasts.


It is

of slight importance whether they be true or

false.

History ever teaches us that

chimerical

ideas that have

it

is

the most

had the most

fanatical

It is
following and played the most important role.
in the name of the most illusory chimeras that the

world has been hitherto thrown into confusion, that


civilisations

which seemed

imperishable have been

destroyed, and that others have been founded.


is

not,

as

the

Gospel assures

us,

the

It

kingdom of

heaven, but of the earth, that belongs to the poor


in spirit,

only provided they possess the faith that

moves mountains.

Philosophers,

who

often have to

devote centuries to destroying what enthusiasts have


created in a day, ought to

bow

before those

who

are

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

capable of such

The

feats.

207

enthusiasts form part of

the mysterious forces that shape the world.

They

have determined the most important of the events of

which history records the course.


Doubtless they have only propagated
it is

on these

and

vain, that

illusions,

doubtless will

mere

humanity has hitherto existed, and


continue to exist. These illusions are
but

shadows,

Thanks

respected.

but

illusions,

at once redoubtable, seductive,

what hope was, and

must

they

them our

to

be

nevertheless
forefathers

in their heroic

knew

and wild pursuit

of these shadows they raised us from our primitive

we have reached

state of barbarism to the point

day.

Of

the

all

factors

civilisations, illusions are


It

was an

development of

the

in

to-

perhaps the most powerful.

illusion that built

up the pyramids, and

covered Egypt for five thousand years with colossal


stone monuments.

was an

It

Middle Ages, raised

illusion that, in the

our gigantic

cathedrals,

and

induced the Western world to dispute the possession


of a

tomb with

the East.

that has founded

sway over
destroyed

the

half

of

the vastest

It is

the pursuit of illusions

religions

which

exert their

humanity, and founded or


empires.

It

is

not in the

pursuit of truth but in that of error that

humanity

208

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

has expended the most

efforts.

the chimerical goals

had

trying to attain
it

them

it

that

it

in

It

could not attain

view

but

it

was

in

realised all the progress

had no thought of achieving.

BOOK V
THE DISSOCIATION OF THE CHARACTER OF
RACES AND THEIR DECADENCE

209

BOOK V
THE DISSOCIATION OF THE CHARACTER OF RACES
AND THEIR DECADENCE

CHAPTER
HOW

CIVILISATIONS FADE

Dissolution

of

psychological

species

which had required centuries

AWAY AND
How

DIE OUT

hereditary

for their formation

dispositions

may

be rapidly

very long time is always necessary for a people to raise


itself to a high level of civilisation, and in some cases a very
The principal factor in
short time for it to descend therefrom
lost

the decadence of a people is the lowering of its character The


mechanism of the dissolution of civilisations has hitherto been

the same for all peoples Symptoms of decadence presented by


some Latin peoples Development of egoism Diminution of
initiative and will power
Lowering of character and morality

The youth
Its

that undergo

The

peoples

it

How

it will cause the civilisations


strength
to return to wholly barbarous forms of evolution

its

among whom

it

T)SYCHOLOGICAL
A

will

be able to triumph.

species are not eternal

more than are anatomical

ditions of
their

Probable influence of Socialism

of the present day

dangers and

species.

environment which maintain the

characteristics

do not

last

for ever.

The

any
con-

fixity of

If the

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

2J2

environment

modified, the elements of the mental

is

constitution which

has determined end by under-

it

going retrograde transformations which lead up to


their

accordance

In

disappearance.

with

physio-

logical laws, as applicable to the cells of the brain

as to those of the body,

and observed

in all beings,

the organs take infinitely less time to disappear than

was required
does not
fulfil

for their formation.


its

fulfil

The

it.

Every organ that

function soon ceases to be able to

eyes of

fish that live in

the lakes of

caverns lose the power of sight after a time, and this

ends by

infirmity

even

if

individual,

for

its

of the

formation by slow

adaptations and hereditary accumulations,


stricken with atrophy

The mental

when

ceases

dispositions

it

is

rapidly

ceases to be used.

constitution of beings cannot escape

these physiological laws.

promptly

life

an organ that has, perhaps, demanded

thousands of centuries

utilised

Indeed,

becoming hereditary.

observation be confined to the brief

to

it

lost.

fulfil

took

The
its

functions,

centuries

Courage,

brain cell that

to

initiative,

is

not

and mental

form

may

be

energy, the spirit

of enterprise, and various qualities of character that

were a long time

in

enough when they

being acquired disappear quickly


cease to be exercised.

This fact

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

how

explains

it

is

that a people always requires a

very long time to raise

and

some

in

213

itself to

a high level of culture,

cases a very short time to descend into

the abyss of decadence.

When

causes are examined that led to the

the

various peoples with which

successive ruin of the


is

history

concerned, whether the people in question

be the Persians, the Romans, or any other nation,


the fundamental factor in their
to be a

in their

change

fall

is

always found

mental constitution resulting

from the deterioration of their character.


call to

mind a

all

cannot

single people that has disappeared in

consequence of the deterioration of

For

its

intelligence.

the civilisations of the past the

mechanism

of dissolution has been identical, so identical, indeed,


that

it

may

be asked with the poet, whether history,

which has so

When
power

books, has but a single page.

many

a people reaches that degree of civilisation and


at

exposed

which

it

is

assured that

it

no longer

is

to the attacks of its neighbours,

it

begins to

enjoy the benefits of peace and material well-being


procured by wealth.

At

this juncture

the military

virtues decline, the excess of civilisation creates

needs,

and

beyond the

egoism
hasty

increases.

Having

no

new
ideal

enjoyment of rapidly acquired

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

2i 4

advantages, the citizens

abandon

to the

care of public affairs, and soon lose


that

had made

all

Then

their greatness.

State the

the qualities
barbarian, or

semi-barbarian neighbours, whose needs are few, but

who

are strongly attached to an ideal, invade the too

and proceed

civilised people,

to form a

new

civilisation

with the debris of that which they have overthrown.


It

was

in this

way
of

organisations

that, in spite of the formidable

Romans

the

and

the

Persians,

barbarians destroyed the Empire of the former and


the

Arabs that of the

qualities appertaining

was not

It

latter.

to

in the

the intelligence that the

invaded peoples were lacking.

From

this point of

view no comparison was possible between the conquerors and

the

already bore within

decadence that

men

it

of culture,

learning.

it

the germs of

counted

artists,

Almost

all

men

lost that

approaching

number of

letters,

and men of

the works that have

greatness date from this period of

Rome had

its

the greatest

of

Rome

was when

It

conquered.

its

made

history.

its

But

fundamental element which no

1
development of the intelligence can replace character.
:

lu The evil from which Roman


society was then suffering,"
M. Fustel de Coulanges, "was not the corruption of its morals
;

the weakening of
character."

its

will

writes
it

was

power, and, so to speak, the enervation of

its

ITS

The

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

old-time

strong ideal.

Romans had very few wants and


This ideal

absolutely dominated

ready to

sacrifice to

the greatness of

their souls,

it

and each

the

universe, the richest city of the world,

by

foreigners hailing from

admitted

in the

all

countries,

end to rights of

they demanded was

to

The

great city

be

still

alive,

but

his

of the

was invaded
and

whom

to

As

it

all

enjoy the

concern for

little

its

then became an immense

caravansary, but was no longer


to

was

and

citizenship.

be allowed

luxury of Rome, they had but


glory.

citizen

pole
it

a very

Rome

his family, his fortune,

When Rome had become

life.

215

its

Rome.

soul

had

It

seemed

long

been

dead.

Analogous causes of decadence threaten our hyperrefined civilisations,

well
in

which are menaced, however, as

by other causes due to the evolution produced


by modern scientific discoveries.

men's minds

Science has renewed our ideas, and deprived our

and

religious
It

has shown

universe,

is

conceptions

of

all

authority.

the trifling place he occupies in the

utter indifference of

Nature towards

has perceived that what he used to term

was merely ignorance of the causes of which


the slave, and that in view of the inexorable

liberty

he

man

and the

He

him.

social

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

216

slaves

He

is

which they are the puppets, to be

of

necessities

the natural condition of

all

living beings.

has learned that nature ignores what

pity,

and

that

all

has been due to a

the
pitiless

has

it

progress

we term
realised

process of selection that

involves the perpetual crushing of the

weak by the

strong.

All these harsh and glacial conceptions, so contrary


to the teachings of the old beliefs that enchanted our
forefathers,

men's

have given birth to ominous

conflicts in

In vulgar brains they have engendered

souls.

that state of anarchy as regards his ideas which seems


characteristic of the

young generation of
same conflicts have
difference

that

incapacity to

is

modern man.
artists

In the case of the

and men of

letters,

these

resulted in a sort of sullen into

fatal

embrace

the

will,

cause

any

in

an utter

whatever with

enthusiasm, and in an exclusive cult of immediate

and personal

interests.

Commenting upon a very just


writer to the effect that the

dominates
Public

contemporary

Instruction

"

reflection of a

modern

sense of the relative

thought,"

a Minister of

proclaimed with evident

satis-

faction in a recent speech that "the substitution of


relative ideas for abstract notions in every field of

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

217

human knowledge is the greatest conquest of science."


The conquest declared to be new is in reality very
was achieved many centuries ago by the
philosophers of India. Let us not be too ready to

old.

It

congratulate ourselves that

day

to

it is

The

gain ground.

tending at the present

real

danger to modern

men have

societies lies precisely in the fact that

lost

confidence in the worth of the principles that serve as


their foundations.

be possible to

greatly doubt whether

it

would

cite in all history a single civilisation,

a single institution, a single belief that has succeeded


in holding

its

own by

its

taking

stand on principles

esteemed to have only a relative value.

Moreover,

if

the future seems to belong to those socialist doctrines

which reason condemns,

it

is

because they are the

whose upholders speak

only doctrines

truths they declare to be absolute.

always turn towards those

it is

all

name

The masses

who speak

absolute truths, and will slight

statesman,

in the

to

others.

of

will

them of

To be

necessary to be able to penetrate the

understand

soul

of

the

its

dreams,

and

to

renounce philosophic abstractions.

Things

in

multitude, to

themselves change but

that are formed of

on these ideas that

little.

It is

them that change


it

is

needful to

only the ideas


greatly.

know how

It is

to act.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

218

Doubtless our knowledge


limited to appearances, to

of which the value

we adopt

is

of the

mere

is

states of conscience

But when

evidently relative.

the social standpoint,

world

real

we can say

that for a

given age and a given society there are conditions of


existence, moral laws,

and

institutions

which have an

absolute value, since the society in question could not

As soon

subsist without them.


in question, or
is

condemned

The

as this value

is

called

doubt enters men's minds, the society


to an early death.

truths

without

fear,

science

can contest.

for

may be inculcated
among those which no

enunciated

just

they are

Contrary language can only

The

bring about the most disastrous consequences.

day
weak
induces
minds,
among

philosophic Nihilism, propagated

authorised

by
them
our

voices

once

to believe at
social

system

at the present

and

in the absolute injustice of


in

the

monarchies, inspires them with a hatred of


exists,

and leads

anarchism.

them

directly

Modern statesmen

to

are

And

all

all

that

socialism

and

too persuaded

of the influence of institutions and too


influence of ideas.

of

absurdity

little

yet science shows

the former are always the offspring of the

of the

them that
latter,

and

have never been able to subsist without leaning on

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

ITS

them

Ideas represent the invisible

as a foundation.

springs

of

things.

219

When

they have disappeared

the underlying supports of constitutions and civilisations

are

moment

destroyed.
for

a people

It

was always a redoubtable

when

its

where the dead

the sombre necropolis

into

old ideas descended

gods

repose.

Going on from the causes

to study the effects,

it

has to be admitted that visible decadence seriously


threatens the vitality of the majority of the great

and especially of those known as


the Latin nations, and really Latin nations, if not as

European

nations,

regards their blood, at least as regards their traditions

and education.
initiative, their

to

The

act.

material

The

Every day they are losing their


energy, their will, and their capacity
satisfaction

of

perpetually growing

wants tends to become

family

is

their

sole

ideal.

breaking up, the social springs are

strained.

Discontent and unrest are spreading to

all classes,

from the richest to the poorest.

ship that has lost

and the winds

its

direct,

Like the

compass, and strays as chance


the modern

man wanders

at

haphazard through the spaces formerly peopled by


the gods and rendered a desert by science.
He has
lost

his faith,

and with

it

his hopes.

The

masses,

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

220

grown excessively impressionable and changeable,


and no longer kept in check by any barrier, seem
fated to oscillate without intermission

between the

wildest anarchy and the most oppressive despotism.

Words

will turn their heads,

day are soon

but their divinities of a

In appearance they seem

their victims.

ardently to desire liberty; in reality they will

none of
State to

have

it, and they are incessantly appealing to the


forge them chains. They yield blind obedi-

ence to the obscurest sectaries, to the most narrow-

minded despots.
lead

the

The

masses, but

who imagine they

rhetoricians

who most

often follow them,

confound the impatience and nervousness that find


vent in an incessant desire for a change of master

with the true

spirit

of independence that girds against

any master whatever.


nominal regime,
parties turn.

is

It is

The

State,

whatever be the

the divinity towards which


the State that

is

all

appealed to for

and protection, every day more oppresthat surround the most trivial acts of existence

regulations
sive,

with the most Byzantine and tyrannical formalities.

The younger

generations are more and more disposed

to renounce careers demanding judgment,

initiative,

The

slightest

energy, personal

efforts,

and

reponsibility alarms them.

will.

They

are

content with

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

them by State-paid

the mediocre prospects offered

The commercial

employment.
colonies,

classes

ignore

empty personal

terribly

case of the masses

of letters

states-

discussions, in the

by passing enthusiasms or

men

the case of

in

the

which are solely peopled by functionaries. 1

Energy and action have been replaced among

men by

221

by a

hatreds,

sort of tearful,

vague, and unfruitful sentimentalism, and by colourless

dissertations

boundless egoism
individual

is

coming

developing on
to be

all

sides.

The

solely preoccupied with

Consciences are capitulating, and morality

himself.

is

on the miseries of existence.

In a speech pronounced in the Chamber 01 Deputies on November


by M. Etienne, at the time Under Secretary for the Colonies,

27, 1890,

I note the following very characteristic passage, which I borrow from


the newspaper Le Siecle :
" Cochin China has
1,800,000 inhabitants ; of this number 1,600 are

Frenchmen, 1,200 of

whom

are functionaries.

The country

is

adminis-

tered by a colonial council elected by these 1,200 functionaries.


It has
a Deputy. And you are surprised that anarchy reigns in the country
(Exclamations and laughter on a great number of benches. )
!

"...

Are you aware what is the outcome of such a system? Its


phenomenon, that nine millions out of a budget reduced
twenty-two millions is absorbed by the expenses in connection with

outcome
to

is this

the functionaries.

"Yes,

in

1877,

tried to reduce the

number of

functionaries.

reduced the expenses by 3,500,000 francs out of a total of nine


I took this measure in the month of October.
millions.
In De-

cember the Cabinet of which


and in the following March the
reinstated."

was a member was overthrown,


had suppressed were

functionaries I

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

222

is

and

deteriorating

individual

is

losing

out. 1

gradually dying
all

empire over himself.

can no longer govern himself, and the

The

He

man who

cannot govern himself must inevitably come before


long to be governed by others.
1

This lowering of morality is serious when observed in professions


such as the magistracy and the profession of notary, in which honesty
used to be as general as courage among soldiers.
As regards the

The
notaries morality has at present descended to a very low level.
official statisticians affirm "that
is a proportion of
there
notaries
among
43 accused persons out of 10,000 individuals, whereas the average for
the whole population of France is one accused person for the same

number of

In a report addressed to the President of the

individuals."

Republic by the Minister of Justice and published in the Journal

Officiel,

"The disasters which


the following passage
as early as 1840 had begun to inspire the public with uneasiness
increased progressively to such a degree that in 1876 one of my
predecessors had to call the special attention of the magistrates to the

January 31, 1890,

situation

I find

The

of the notaries.

dismissal

of

notaries

and

notarial

catastrophes were occurring with unaccustomed frequency and under


circumstances of great gravity.
The number of disasters rose successively from 31 in 1882 to 41 in 1883, to 54 in 1884, to 71 in 1886, and
the total embezzlements committed by notaries amounted to 62,000,000

francs for the period

between 1880 and 1886.

Finally, in 1889, 103

notaries were dismissed or obliged to give up their practice." If we connect with these facts the successive ruin of our most important financial
enterprises (the Comtoir d'Escompte, the

Panama,

etc.),

it

Depots et Comptes Courants,


can only be admitted that the invectives of the
the morality of the leading classes are not without

Socialists against
foundation. The same

to be observed

among

symptoms of demoralisation are unfortunately


all

the Latin peoples.

The

scandal of the

which robbery was practised on an immense


scale by politicians of the foremost rank, the bankruptcy of Portugal,
the wretched financial situation of Spain and Italy, the profound
Italian State banks, in

decadence of the Latin republics of America, prove that the character


certain peoples have sustained incurable injury, and

and morality of

that their role in the world

is

nearly at an end.

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

To change

all this

would be a hard

be necessary to change
Latin education.

It is

energy that heredity

first

of

fatal

to

all

task.

It

would

our lamentable

any

may have

223

initiative

and

It extin-

spared.

guishes every gleam of intellectual independence

giving

as

young people

sole

their

examinations, which, as they only

ideal

demand

by

hateful

efforts

of

memory, place in the front rank of our professions


intelligences whose servile aptitude for imitation is the
the

negation of
"

all

individuality

and

all

try to pour iron into the soul of

personal

my

efforts.

pupils," said

an English schoolmaster to Guizot, when he was


visiting the schools of Great Britain.

Where among

the Latin nations are the schoolmasters or the pro-

grammes capable of realising such an ambition ?


The military regime will perhaps realise it. In any
case

it is

One

it.

for

the sole educator that

is

capable of realising

of the principal conditions of improvement

decadent peoples

is

the organisation of a very

severe universal military service

and the permanent

menace of disastrous wars.


It is to this

general lowering of character, to the

powerlessness of the citizens to govern themselves

and

to this egoistic indifference, that

cially

due the

difficulty

is

more espe-

experienced by the majority

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

224

of the Latin peoples in living under liberal laws as


far

removed from despotism as from anarchy.

It is

easily understandable that such laws should be little

to the liking of the masses, for Caesarism holds out to

them the promise


not set

much

if

not of liberty, on which they do

store, at

measure of equality

any

rate of a very considerable

On

in servitude.

the other hand,

would be incomprehensible that republican institutions should encounter most opposition from the
it

enlightened classes, but for the necessity of taking


into account the weight of ancestral influences.

not with such institutions that

and

intellectual superiority in

all

Is

it

forms of superiority,

have most

particular,

chance of being able to display themselves

It

might

even be said that the only real objection to such

from the point of view of those who

institutions,

stand out for equality at any price,

is

the fact that

they favour the formation of powerful


aristocracies.

The most

intellectual

oppressive of regimes, on

the contrary, both for character and for the


gence,

is

Caesarism in

can be said

for

it

is

its

that

degradation and humility

adapted to the

and that

is

why

inferior

various

forms.

it

facilitates

in

servitude.

intelli-

All

that

equality in
It

is

well

minds of decadent peoples,

they always revert to

it

as soon as

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

The plume of the first


comes along will be made the excuse for
they are able.

When

a people has reached this pass

struck, its destiny

At

is

225

general that
its
its

adoption.

hour has

accomplished.

the present hour this old-time Caesarism, which

history has always seen appear at the earliest

dawn

of civilisations and at their extreme decadence,

To-day we are

undergoing a manifest evolution.


nessing

its

name

resurrection under the

because,

being

grievous

impersonal,

it

wit-

of Socialism.

This new expression of State absolutism


suredly be the most

is

will

as-

form of Caesarism,
will

escape

all

the

motives of fear that keep the worst tyrants under


restraint.

Socialism appears to-day to be the gravest of the

dangers that threaten the European peoples.


doubtless

complete a decadence

causes are paving the way, and

it

It will

for

which many

will

perhaps mark

the end of Western civilisation.

To

appreciate

the teachings

it

its

dangers and

its

strength,

it is

not

spreads abroad that must be con-

sidered, but the devotion

it

inspires.

Socialism will

soon constitute the new faith of the suffering masses

whose existence

is

often

and inevitably rendered

far

from enviable by the economic conditions of con16

226

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

temporary

civilisation.

that will

human

by

empty

For

heavens.

the

all

who cannot support misery un-

creatures

relieved

be the new religion

It will

people the

illusion

this

religion

will

the

replace

luminous paradise of which the painted windows of


the churches spoke to
religious entity of
faithful increase

martyrs, and

This great

in the past.

to-morrow sees the crowd of

will

then

which

stir

will

It

every day.

it

religious creeds

them

soon have

up

and whose

peoples,

of degrading slavery which will destroy


all

empire
gists

independence
is

its

become one of those

power over souls is absolute.


That the dogmas of Socialism lead
and

its

in the souls

to a regime
all

initiative

bowed beneath

its

doubtless evident, but only for psycholo-

acquainted with the condition of man's existence.

Such

foresight

They

require arguments of a different order to per-

is

beyond the reach of the masses.

suade them, and these arguments have never been


furnished

by reason.
That the new dogmas we

see

coming

into being

also evident.

most elementary good sense is


But were not the religious dogmas that

have

men

are contrary to the

guided

during so

many

centuries

also

contrary to good sense, and has the fact hindered

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

227

them from subjecting the most luminous geniuses


to their laws

man

In the matter of his beliefs

only

hearkens to the unconscious voice of his sentiments.

They form an obscure domain" from which reason has


always been excluded.

by the mere fact of the mental


created them by a long past, the peoples

In consequence and
constitution

of Europe will be obliged to undergo the redoubtable

phase of Socialism.

It will

be the signal

their

for

entry on one of the last stages of decadence.

causing

civilisation to revert to

of evolution,

it

by which we

are threatened.

wholly

inferior

By

forms

will facilitate the destructive invasions

Outside Russia, whose population from the psychological

point of view

European,

is

much more

English would seem

the

Asiatic
to

than

be almost

the only race in


stable

Europe possessing sufficient energy,


enough beliefs, and a sufficiently independent

character to avoid succumbing to the


birth

of

which we

Germany,

in

spite

the

of

prosperity, will doubtless

are

witnessing.

deceptive

be

new

its

first

religion

Modern

appearances

of

victim, judging

from the success of the various sects that abound


within
its

its

frontiers.

The

Socialism that will prove

ruin will doubtless be couched in strictly scientific

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

228

formulae, of value at the best for an ideal society such

humanity will never produce, but this latest child of


pure reason will be more intolerant and more redoubtas

able than
as

all its elders.

Germany

No

to accept

its

people
yoke.

is

so well prepared

No

present age has more entirely lost

people of the

its

initiative, its

1
independence, and the habit of self-government.

As

to Russia,

it

has evolved too recently from the

regime of the "mir," that

Communism,

is

to say, from primitive

the most perfect form of Socialism, to

return to this inferior stage of evolution.


destinies.

It is

It

has other

doubtless Russia that will one day

furnish the irresistible flood of barbarians destined to

destroy the old civilisations of the West, whose end


will

have been led up to by economic struggles and

Socialism.

This hour, however, has not struck as


1

yet.

To

The most eminent German

writers are perfectly agreed on this


In his recent book on the Social Question, Herr T. Ziegler,
professor at the University of Strasbourg, expresses himself as follows
point.

"While

'Self-help' is the dominant tendency in England, recourse


to the State is the characteristic of Germany.
are a people that

We

for centuries has

been accustomed

to

be under a guardian.

Moreover,

twenty years, the strong arm of Bismarck, by assuring


us security, has caused us to lose the sentiment of responsibility and
initiative.
It is for this reason that in difficult and even in easy cases
during the

we appeal

last

for the aid

to its initiative."

and protection of the

State,

and abandon ourselves

ITS

reach

it

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

we have

to

still

traverse

certain

Socialism will be too oppressive a regime to


will

make people

how

asks

the

phases.
last.

It

the age of Tiberius and

regret

One some-

Caligula and will bring back that age.

times

229

Romans

of the

time of the

emperors so easily supported the wild ferocity of


certain despots.

The

reason

traversed social struggles,

civil

is

that they too

had

wars, and proscriptions,

and the experience had cost them their character.


They had come to consider these tyrants as the
ultimate instruments of their salvation.

They put

up with everything from them, because they did not

know how

to replace them.

be replaced.

After

The

them came the

brought about by the barbarians.


turns in the

same

circle.

is

they cannot

final

catastrophe

truth

History always

CHAPTER

II

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

^ TE

**

have already remarked,

was merely a short


of synthesis of the volumes we have

to this work, that

summary, a

sort

devoted to the history of


chapters composing
clusion arrived at

very

difficult in

in the Introduction

it

by

it

civilisations.

Each of

the

should be regarded as the conanterior investigations.

consequence to

ideas so condensed already.


ever, for the benefit of readers

still
I

It is

further condense

shall

attempt, how-

whose time

is

precious,

to present in the guise of very brief propositions the

fundamental principles which represent the philosophy


of this work.

race

possesses

almost as fixed as
the

its

psychological

characteristics

physical characteristics.

Like

anatomic species, the psychological species


230

is

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

231

only transformed as the result of the accumulations


of ages.

To

the

and

fixed

characteristics,

hereditary

psychological

whose association forms the mental

constitution of a race, are adjoined, as in the case

of

all

anatomic species, accessory elements created

by diverse modifications of the environment. Being


incessantly renewed they endow a race with a certain
measure of apparent

The mental

variability.

constitution of a race represents not

only the synthesis of the living beings which compose


it,

but more particularly that of

have contributed to
living but the

its

its

the ancestors

formation.

It

is

who

not the

dead who play the preponderating role

in the existence of a people.

of

all

They

are the creators

morality and the unconscious sources of

its

conduct.

The very

great anatomic

tinguish the various

human

differences

races are

which

dis-

accompanied by

not less considerable psychological differences.

When

only the average representatives of each race are compared, the mental differences often appear
slight.

parison

They become immense


is

instituted

elements of each race.

between
It is

somewhat

as soon as the

the

most

com-

elevated

then found that what

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

232

more

especially differentiates superior from inferior

races

is

the fact that the former possess a certain

number of highly developed minds, whereas the

latter

possess no such minds.

The

individuals of which inferior races are

posed

display

manifest

between

equality

comone

In proportion as races rise in the scale

another.

of civilisation, their

members tend

and more

differentiated.

civilisation

is

The

become more

to

inevitable

to differentiate individuals

effect

and

of

races.

In consequence peoples are not progressing towards


equality but towards a growing inequality.

The
of

life

of a people and

the manifestations

all

are merely the reflection of

its civilisation

of something invisible

the visible signs

its soul,

but

very

Exterior events are only the apparent surface

real.

of the hidden framework by which they are deter-

mined.
It

and

is

neither

still

less

chance nor exterior circumstances,


political

fundamental role

more

especially the

fashions

The

its

institutions,

that

play the

in the history of a people.

character

of

It is

people

that

destiny.

various

elements of

the

civilisation

people being only the outward signs of

its

of a

mental

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

constitution,

the expression

and

feeling

thinking

of

modes of

certain
to

peculiar

233

a people, these

elements cannot be transmitted unchanged to peoples


of a different mental constitution
transmitted

is

all

that can be

the exterior, superficial, and unimpor-

tant forms.

The profound

existing between

differences

the

mental constitutions of the various peoples result

in

these peoples viewing the world in very dissimilar

The consequence

lights.

and

is

that

act in very different ways,

find,

when they come

disagreement on

all

in

they

feel,

reason

and they therefore

contact, that they are in

questions.

Most of the wars that

take up so large a portion of history are the outcome


of these dissentiments.
religion,

Wars

of conquest, wars of

wars of dynasties, have always

in

reality

been wars of races.

An

agglomeration of

men

of different origin do

not form a race, do not possess, that

is,

a collective

soul, until, as the result of interbreeding

continued

during centuries, and of a similar existence under


identical conditions, the agglomeration has acquired

common

sentiments,

common

interests,

and common

beliefs.

Among

civilised

peoples there are scarcely any

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES:

234

natural

but only

races,

created

races

artificial

by

historical conditions.

Changes

environment

of

foundly new

races, that

whose ancestral
sociated

by

cross

is,

pro-

mixtures of old races

characteristics

breeding.

influence

only

become

have

Heredity

is

dis-

the only

force powerful

enough to struggle against heredity.


Changes of environment have only a destructive
action on races the fixity of whose characteristics has
not been affected by cross breeding.

An

ancient

race perishes rather than undergo the transformations


requisite

enable

to

it

to

adapt

itself

to

new

environment.

The
soul

The
of

acquisition of a solidly constituted collective

marks the apogee of the greatness of a people.


dissociation of this soul always marks the hour

its

decadence.

The

intervention of foreign ele-

ments constitutes one of the surest means of

this

dissociation being compassed.

Like anatomic

species,

psychological species are

subject to the action of time.

grow old and


ormed,

it is

die out.

possible for

appear rapidly.

They

too are fated to

Always very slow in being


them on the contrary to dis-

It suffices to trouble

profoundly the

functioning of their organs to cause them to under-

ITS

INFLUENCE ON THEIR EVOLUTION

235

go retrograde transformations whose consequence


often their

long

prompt

destruction.

in acquiring a certain

is

Peoples are centuries

mental constitution, which

they sometimes lose in a very short space of time.

The ascending path which


of civilisation

is

them

leads

to a high level

always very long, while the decline

which leads them to decadence

is

most often very

rapid.

with

Together

character,

counted one of the principal factors


of a civilisation.
until, after

They do not

be

should

ideas

ac-

in the evolution

exert an

influence

a very slow evolution, they have been

transformed into sentiments and have come in con-

sequence to form part of the character.

They

are

then unaffected by argument, and take a very long

time to disappear.
of a small

mental

Each

number of

civilisation

is

the outcome

universally accepted

funda-

ideas.

Religious

ideas

are

among

the

most important

of the guiding ideas of a civilisation.

The majority

of historical events have been due indirectly to the


variation of religious beliefs.

The

history of

has always run parallel to that of

its

gods.

humanity

Such

is

the power of these children of our dreams that even


this name cannot be changed without the whole
mis

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PEOPLES

236

world being thrown at once into confusion.


birth of

new

new gods has always marked


civilisation,

always marked

its

and

their

the

dawn

disappearance

decline.

UNWIN BROTHERS, THE GRESHAM

PRESS,

The

WOKING AND LONDON.

of

has

14 DAY USE
RETURN TO DESK FROM WHICH BORROWED

EDUCATION-PSYCHOLOGY
TEL.

This book

due on (fit fan <1||| ihiit^i il below, or


on the date to which renewed.
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall.
is

DEC 24
DEC

REC'D

APR 4
APR 4

1971

-i

1974
REC'D

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