BLTC Press Titles

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Imperial Germany and the industrial revolution

by Thorstein Veblen


It may therefore be said that this early neolithic state of the arts of life is in a way congenital to the north-European peoples. Whether such a statement will apply in the case of the Mediterranean race, which is held to have brought this culture into Europe, may be left an open question. It is of no immediate interest here. The like is true for the Alpine stock, which is held to have come in from the east, presumably from Asia, during the early neolithic, and which is likewise believed to have reached the neolithic stage before breaking into the European situation. Neither of these races, nor the two together, as they stood at the time of their intrusion into Europe are to be reckoned the ancestors of the north-Europeans, in the sense of affording the ancestral type, whether physical or spiritual, of that north-European population that presently multiplies and continues to find a livelihood by help of the neolithic technology on the north-European seaboard. Doubtless each of these races contributes its share to this ancestry; they are both present from the outset, or nearly so, in the mixed north-European population, and they have apparently always continued to account for at least one-half of the racial constitution of these peoples. But the ancestry of the northEuropeans can not be said properly to have come into effectual bearing until the dolicho-blond stock is mixed with the other two, so as to give rise to the particular hybrid strain that has continuously occupied this region since neolithic times and has peopled north Europe with the nations now living. The racial history of these peoples is the history of a population of hybrids made up of the three stocks in conjunction, not of one and another of these racial types in severalty; it can therefore not fairly be said to take its beginning until the three racial factors requisite for its constitution came into conjunction.

The selective test of fitness to survive in the climatic region of the Baltic and North Sea under neolithic conditions, and to hold that habitat against all comers, was not applied to the three constituent stocks in severalty, and so was not a conclusive test of superior fitness in either one of the three taken by itself. The test, and the conclusion to be drawn from the experiment, applies solely to the composite population into which the three enter as essential constituents. Such is obviously the case, since in the course of selective breeding through several thousands of years no one of the three constituent types has displaced both or either of the other two in any part of the region in question, nor has any one of the racial types at any point displaced the hybrid offspring of the three. The most that can be said is that while the population has continued through this long interval of time to be a hybrid mixture, the character of the mixture has come to vary from one place to another in such a way that this composite population is more blond toward the north and more brunet toward the south, at the same time that, even with an equal initial chance, the dolichobrunet (Mediterranean) counts for less both north and south within this special climatic region than either of the other two constituent stocks.

For a contrast that will enforce this line of argument illustrative instances may be drawn from almost any country lying within striking distance of this Baltic-North Sea tract. The hybrid populations of this region have repeatedly, almost unremittingly, broken bounds and migrated in force into other countries and so have been mixed in by cross-breeding with these other peoples. But in no case where the experiment has had time enough to be at all conclusive have they succeeded in making over the racial constitution of the peoples among whom they so have intruded, with such effect as in any instance to supplant the indigenous population and substitute their own racial composition for what they found at the time of their immigration; at least one of the racial factors that go to make up the northern hybrids — the dolicho-blond — has in all cases presently disappeared selectively from these outlying populations into which it so has been introduced; and the composite northern population has proved itself unfit in its composite character to live outside the Baltic-North Sea tract, at the same time that its constituents have proved unfit to hold this tract except in a composite. Nor has any intrusive population of a different racial derivation, purebred or composite, succeeded in displacing the northern hybrids from this habitat, whether by mass movement or by infiltration, although that experiment has also been tried on a sufficient scale, — as, e.g., in the advance of the Finns (Lapps) into the Baltic country, particularly on the northern and northeastern borders of this region that has by a process of selection been proved to belong to the blond-hybrid peoples. At least in the one instance of Finland, and less assuredly elsewhere toward the north and east, the onset of the intruders was so far successful as to have displaced the language of the earlier population; but in the long run the racial composition of the inhabitants has reverted substantially to what it was before the coming of the Finns, so that there is at present no appreciable racial difference between the two shores of the Baltic.1

The early Baltic culture is of interest, then, as showing the state of the arts of life to which the ancestry of substantially all the north-European peoples was originally accustomed; which might, indeed, be said to be congenital to these peoples. This culture runs somewhat of an even course, as near as the evidence permits it to be seen, over a long interval, — sufficiently long to have tested the fitness of the Baltic population for the manner of life which it offered, and at the same time sufficiently exposed to contact with other racial elements or aggregates outside to prove that the characteristic hybrid mixture of these Baltic peoples was better fitted than any competing population for life on that technological footing and under the geographical and climatic conditions in which they were placed. A summary recital of the characteristic features and salient events of this cultural period, so far as the evidence permits, will substantiate the claim.2

In general terms the Baltic stone age may be characterised as a relatively advanced savagery, placed in a geographic situation drawn on a relatively small scale, — a small-scale system of tillage and presently of mixed farming. It may perhaps as fairly be called a relatively low stage of barbarism; there need be no dispute about the alternative terms; they both are sug

1Cf., e.g., A. H. Keane, Man Past and Present, ch. ix. 2See Note II, p. 382.

gestive rather than technically competent descriptive terms. And the bronze age comes under the same loose designation, with the necessary caution that it is marked, on the whole, by an appearance of greater technological efficiency and a larger accumulation of wealth, — perhaps also a more settled habit of life.

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