Thus have I narrowed the theme down once more to the field of original discussion, and in following the thread of reasoning by which I hope to trace the origin and development of that innate instinct which teaches man to prefer beauty to ugliness, in the selection of his mate, I do so with a perfect knowledge that I am contravening one of Mr, Darwin's most skillfully framed laws of human descent.
*' The men of each race," says that Incomparable anthropologist,1 " prefer what they are accustomed to; they cannot endure any great change; but they like variety, and admire each characteristic carried to a moderate extreme.....As the great anatomist, Bichat, long ago said, if everyone were cast in the same mould there would be no such thing as beauty. If all our women were to become beautiful as the Venus de Medici, we should for a time be charmed; but we should soon wish for a variety, and as soon as we had obtained variety, we should wish to see certain characters a little exaggerated beyond the then existing standard."
In the foregoing statement, it will be observed, there is a definition of the simple law of desire, but without the slightest attempt to explain that desire, or the processes by which it is to be satisfied. "So in the fashion of ourdress," says Wes term arc k,3 following the Darwinian idea, only to reject it at the end, "we see the same principle and the same desire to carry every point to the extreme. Man prefers, to a certain extent, what he is accustomed to see. Thus the Maoris, who are in the habit of dyeing their lips blue, consider it a reproach to a woman to have red lips;" and we ourselves dislike, on the whole, any great deviation from the leading fashions, although man always seeks some variety. Now in one way, now in another, he changes his dress in order to attract attention, or to charm.
The fashions of savages are certainly more prominent than ours; but the extreme diversity of ornaments with which many uncivilized peoples bedeck themselves, shows their emulation to make themselves attractive by means of new enticements.1 But it would be ridiculous to associate the race's ideal of beauty with Buch capriciousness of taste, as Westermarek very Bensibly intimates. The point in which Mr. Darwin's argument courts objection is his claim that racial differences are due to different standards of beauty, whereas it appears to me far more probable that different standards of beauty are due to racial differences. The point, however, is a minor one, and only distantly connects itself with the question under discussion.
Sexual selection has undoubtedly exercised some influence upon the physical aspect of mankind; but, since personal deformities are far rarer, by general assent, among savage peoples than civilized,' it will have to be admitted that other influences must have been operative, more directly traceable to civilization itself. Deformities are far less likely to survive among races where hardship and endurance are the supreme test of life,* than under the protecting segis of civilized law and the humani-tariauissm of religion; and less likely to perpetuate their kind in tin- face of an aversion, far stronger in the former than the latter, where questions of convenience and expediency are apt to intrude.
In concluding this subject, it is hard to see how such slight deviations from the original human type, which characterized, as Mr. Darwin asserts, the several tribes into which mankind was originally divided, could, even in the long process of time, develop such a striking difference as we find, for instance, between the color of a European skin and that of an African* and all the greater reluctance should the eminent naturalist have felt in making such an avowal in that none could be more fully conversant than himself with the fact that the larger apes have identically the same color of skin as the human races, living in the same country.