The following case, though relating to savages, is well worth giving for its curiosity. Mr. Winwood Reade informs me that the Jollofs, a tribe of negroes on the west coast of Africa, "are remarkable for their uniformly fine appearance." A friend of his asked one of these men, "How is it that every one whom I meet is so fine looking, not only your men but your women?" The Jollof answered, "It is very easily explained: it has always been our custom to pick out our worst-looking slaves and to sell them." It need hardly be added that with all savages, female slaves serve as concubines. That this negro should have attributed, whether rightly or wrongly, the fine appearance of his tribe to the long-continued elimination of the ugly women is not so surprising as it may at first appear; for I have elsewhere shewn* that negroes fully appreciate the importance of selection in the breeding of their domestic animals, and I could give from Mr. Reade additional evidence on this head.
With a Wedgwood wife and mother, Darwin saw abolition as a "sacred cause" too, and in his culminating work, the Descent of Man (1871), he placed Clarkson at the moral apex of humanity and called slavery a "great sin".
It has been urged by several writers that as high intellectual powers are advantageous to a nation, the old Greeks, who stood some grades higher in intellect than any race that has ever existed,* ought, if the power of natural selection were real, to have risen still higher in the scale, increased in number, and stocked the whole of Europe. Here we have the tacit assumption, so often made with respect to corporeal structures, that there is some innate tendency towards continued development in mind and body. But development of all kinds depends on many concurrent favourable circumstances. Natural selection acts only tentatively. Individuals and races may have acquired certain indisputable advantages, and yet have perished from failing in other characters. The Greeks may have retrograded from a want of coherence between the many small states, from the small size of their whole country, from the practice of slavery, or from extreme sensuality; for they did not succumb until "they were enervated and corrupt to the very core."*(2) The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilisation, owe little or none of their superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks, though they owe much to the written works of that wonderful people.
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