Matthew Arnold, the Ethnologist

Matthew Arnold, the Ethnologist

Matthew Arnold, the Ethnologist

Matthew Arnold, the Ethnologist

Excerpt

This book deals with some of the maddest of theories and one of the sanest of men -- nineteenth-century racial doctrines and Matthew Arnold. It seems strange to associate Arnold with madness in any form, and actually the racial doctrines of his day can be charged only with being erroneous. But the error of one generation too often becomes the madness of the next, so that Spenser's comment on the Knight of the Red Crosse, "God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endlesse traine," can be applied to nations as well. Little did the philologist dream that in promoting his researches he would unsettle the world. Yet such -- because of the identification of language with race -- has been the result. Nor did the anthropologists know that by their distinction between long heads and round heads they would revive the Neanderthal in man. Upon the findings of these sciences the extreme nationalists -- the chauvinists, the jingoists -- seized, bending them to their purpose; the same sciences through whose "gentle ministration" Arnold sought to bring a "message of peace."

The racial and national issues dealt with in the following pages are almost as controversial today as they were in Arnold's time. Even yet, after the Franco-Prussian War and two world-wide conflicts, France and Germany have not composed their differences. England and Ireland have separated seemingly to dispute the more. And the role of Semitic culture in the western world is still a subject of debate. On all these matters I have tried to be impartial. I am, I hope, neither a Celt-lover nor a Celt-

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