TES Scholes – Glimpses of the Ages, or the ‘Superior’ and ‘Inferior’ Races

Primary source material reproduced from TES Scholes, Glimpses of the Ages, or the ‘Superior’ and ‘Inferior’ Races, So-Called, Discussed in the Light of Science and History, Vol.1 (London, 1905) pp.xiv-xv, 42-47 & 51.

Nearly fifty years ago certain ethnologists and anthropologists, upon the most ludicrously inadequate data, taught that, among the coloured races, there were certain anatomical peculiarities present, which not only distinguished these races from the white race, but made them physically, morally, and mentally inferiors of the white race. For many years after its announcement, this theory, in almost every quarter, found little or no credence. But when some thirty years ago the Euro-American, desiring to retain in his own hands all political power, resolved to oust the Afro-American from politics, and later, when Englishmen followed more or less by others of the European colonising states, for the same reason as that which prompted the Euro-American, resolved in like manner, to effectively bar the progress of their coloured fellow-subjects towards political enfranchisement, this theory was exhumed from the grave of its oblivion, was galvanised into life, and by religion commerce, literature, and all the other institutions of civilisation, has since then been employed to hold in serfdom the larger section of mankind. It must be observed, that during the nearly fifty years that have intervened since these hypothetical anatomical peculiarities were published, a great accumulation of facts – the result of increased anatomical knowledge, of better acquaintance with the environments and habits of primitive peoples, and, most of all, the result of the progress of numerous coloured communities under Western culture – has been available […]

It is to anatomy that the chief honour is assigned of having proved the separate origins of the races; the superiority of one section, and the inferiority of the rest […] Vogt concludes that the nearest approach to absolute accuracy would be reached only by comparing the average heights taken over a wide area during a series of years […] Now, in his cranial investigation of the African race – numbering in Africa some 200 million souls, in the United States some 11 millions, and in the West Indies about a million and a half – has Professor [Carl] Vogt applied this his very reasonable test? […]After the laying down of his elaborate rule, how astonishing it is to find that this author’s observations on the general anatomy of the Ethiopians, particularly his skull – reproduced on page 10 from his Lectures on Man – are founded not on the skeletons of 1,000 Ethiopians gathered ‘from a wide area’, not even on 100 of such skeletons, although that number would have been meagre indeed, but on the stupendous and exceedingly striking array of six skeletons! Six crania! […] The brain of a solitary Hottentot female, and not even the brain, but only the model of that brain, is made to supply the facts for a generalisation concerning the brain structure and the brain capacity of some 212 millions of the human race. Is a greater travesty of scientific research possible? And yet, of this particular department, the sample now furnished represents – as will be seen during our progress – the quality of the facts habitually served up to the world by the wholesale and retail traffickers in the popular wares of Negro aspersions […] On the ground of cranial peculiarity no justification exists for applying to one race the term ‘superior’, and to the other races the term ‘inferior’; and that as far as cranial variation is concerned, there is nothing against the probability of there being to the three races a common origin.