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List Of Contents | Contents of Equality by Charles Dudley Warner
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tendency of the age in an able paper by Canon George Rawlinson, of the
University of Oxford, contributed recently to an American periodical of a
high class and conservative character.--["Duties of Higher towards
Lower Races."  By George Rawlinson.  Princeton Re-view.  November, 1878.
New York.]--This paper proposes, as a remedy for the social and
political evils caused by the negro element in our population, the
miscegenation of the white and black races, to the end that the black
race may be wholly absorbed in the white--an absorption of four millions
by thirty-six millions, which he thinks might reasonably be expected in
about a century, when the lower type would disappear altogether.

Perhaps the pleasure of being absorbed is not equal to the pleasure of
absorbing, and we cannot say how this proposal will commend itself to the
victims of the euthanasia.  The results of miscegenation on this
continent--black with red, and white with black--the results morally,
intellectually, and physically, are not such as to make it attractive to
the American people.

It is not, however, upon sentimental grounds that we oppose this
extension of the exaggerated dogma of equality.  Our objection is deeper.
Race distinctions ought to be maintained for the sake of the best
development of the race, and for the continuance of that mutual reaction
and play of peculiar forces between races which promise the highest
development for the whole.  It is not for nothing, we may suppose, that
differentiation has gone on in the world; and we doubt that either
benevolence or self-interest requires this age to attempt to restore an
assumed lost uniformity, and fuse the race traits in a tiresome

Life consists in an exchange of relations, and the more varied the
relations interchanged the higher the life.  We want not only different
races, but different civilizations in different parts of the globe.

A much more philosophical view of the African problem and the proper
destiny of the negro race than that of Canon Rawlinson is given by a
recent colored writer,--["Africa and the Africans."  By Edmund W.
Blyden.  Eraser's Magazine, August, 1878.]--an official in the
government of Liberia.  We are mistaken, says this excellent observer,
in regarding Africa as a land of a homogeneous population, and in
confounding the tribes in a promiscuous manner.  There are negroes and
negroes.  "The numerous tribes inhabiting the vast continent of Africa
can no more be regarded as in every respect equal than the numerous
peoples of Asia or Europe can be so regarded;" and we are not to expect
the civilization of Africa to be under one government, but in a great
variety of States, developed according to tribal and race affinities.
A still greater mistake is this:

"The mistake which Europeans often make in considering questions of negro
improvement and the future of Africa is in supposing that the negro is
the European in embryo, in the undeveloped stage, and that when, by-and-
by, he shall enjoy the advantages of civilization and culture, he will
become like the European; in other words, that the negro is on the same
line of progress, in the same groove, with the European, but infinitely
in the rear .  .  .  .  This view proceeds upon the assumption that the
two races are called to the same work, and are alike in potentiality and
ultimate development, the negro only needing the element of time, under
certain circumstances, to become European.  But to our mind it is not a
question between the two races of inferiority or superiority.  There is
no absolute or essential superiority on the one side, or absolute or
essential inferiority on the other side.  It is a question of difference
of endowment and difference of destiny.  No amount of training or culture
will make the negro a European.  On the other hand, no lack of training
or deficiency of culture will make the European a negro.  The two races
are not moving in the same groove, with an immeasurable distance between
them, but on parallel lines.  They will never meet in the plane of their
activities so as to coincide in capacity or performance.  They are not
identical, as some think, but unequal; they are distinct, but equal--an
idea that is in no way incompatible with the Scripture truth that God
hath made of one blood all nations of men."

The writer goes on, in a strain that is not mere fancy, but that involves
one of the truths of inequality, to say that each race is endowed with
peculiar talents; that the negro has aptitudes and capacities which the
world needs, and will lack until he is normally trained.  In the grand
symphony of the universe, "there are several sounds not yet brought out,
and the feeblest of all is that hitherto produced by the negro; but he
alone can furnish it."--"When the African shall come forward with his
peculiar gifts, they will fill a place never before occupied."  In short,
the African must be civilized in the line of his capacities.  "The
present practice of the friends of Africa is to frame laws according to
their own notions for the government and improvement of this people,
whereas God has already enacted the laws for the government of their
affairs, which laws should be carefully ascertained, interpreted, and
applied; for until they are found out and conformed to, all labor will be
ineffective and resultless."

We have thus passed in review some of the tendencies of the age.  We have
only touched the edges of a vast subject, and shall be quite satisfied if
we have suggested thought in the direction indicated.  But in this
limited view of our complex human problem it is time to ask if we have
not pushed the dogma of equality far enough.  Is it not time to look the
facts squarely in the face, and conform to them in our efforts for social
and political amelioration?

Inequality appears to be the divine order; it always has existed;
undoubtedly it will continue; all our theories and 'a priori'
speculations will not change the nature of things.  Even inequality of
condition is the basis of progress, the incentive to exertion.
Fortunately, if today we could make every man white, every woman as like
man as nature permits, give to every human being the same opportunity of
education, and divide equally among all the accumulated wealth of the
world, tomorrow differences, unequal possession, and differentiation
would begin again.  We are attempting the regeneration of society with a
misleading phrase; we are wasting our time with a theory that does not
fit the facts.

There is an equality, but it is not of outward show; it is independent of
condition; it does not destroy property, nor ignore the difference of
sex, nor obliterate race traits.  It is the equality of men before God,
of men before the law; it is the equal honor of all honorable labor.
No more pernicious notion ever obtained lodgment in society than the
common one that to "rise in the world" is necessarily to change the
"condition."  Let there be content with condition; discontent with
individual ignorance and imperfection.  "We want," says Emerson, "not a
farmer, but a man on a farm."  What a mischievous idea is that which has
grown, even in the United States, that manual labor is discreditable!
There is surely some defect in the theory of equality in our society
which makes domestic service to be shunned as if it were a disgrace.

It must be observed, further, that the dogma of equality is not satisfied
by the usual admission that one is in favor of an equality of rights and
opportunities, but is against the sweeping application of the theory made
by the socialists and communists.  The obvious reply is that equal rights
and a fair chance are not possible without equality of condition, and
that property and the whole artificial constitution of society
necessitate inequality of condition.  The damage from the current
exaggeration of equality is that the attempt to realize the dogma in
fact--and the attempt is everywhere on foot--can lead only to mischief
and disappointment.

It would be considered a humorous suggestion to advocate inequality as a
theory or as a working dogma.  Let us recognize it, however, as a fact,
and shape the efforts for the improvement of the race in accordance with
it, encouraging it in some directions, restraining it from injustice in
others.  Working by this recognition, we shall save the race from many
failures and bitter disappointments, and spare the world the spectacle of
republics ending in despotism and experiments in government ending in

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