Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
The Ancien Regime Charles Kingsley

Lecture I -- Caste

Page 4 of 11

Table Of Contents: The Ancien Regime

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

And doubtless this theory--like all which have held their ground for many centuries--at first represented a fact. These castes were, at first, actually superior to the peoples over whom they ruled. I cannot, as long as my eyes are open, yield to the modern theory of the equality--indeed of the non-existence--of races. Holding, as I do, the primaeval unity of the human race, I see in that race the same inclination to sport into fresh varieties, the same competition of species between those varieties, which Mr. Darwin has pointed out among plants and mere animals. A distinguished man arises; from him a distinguished family; from it a distinguished tribe, stronger, cunninger than those around. It asserts its supremacy over its neighbours at first exactly as a plant or animal would do, by destroying, and, where possible, eating them; next, having grown more prudent, by enslaving them; next, having gained a little morality in addition to its prudence, by civilising them, raising them more or less toward its own standard. And thus, in every land, civilisation and national life has arisen out of the patriarchal state; and the Eastern scheik, with his wives, free and slave, and his hundreds of fighting men born in his house, is the type of all primaeval rulers. He is the best man of his horde--in every sense of the word best; and whether he have a right to rule them or not, they consider that he has, and are the better men for his guidance.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

Whether this ought to have been the history of primaeval civilisation, is a question not to be determined here. That it is the history thereof, is surely patent to anyone who will imagine to himself what must have been. In the first place, the strongest and cunningest savage must have had the chance of producing children more strong and cunning than the average; he would have--the strongest savage has still--the power of obtaining a wife, or wives, superior in beauty and in household skill, which involves superiority of intellect; and therefore his children would--some of them at least--be superior to the average, both from the father's and the mother's capacities. They again would marry select wives; and their children again would do the same; till, in a very few generations, a family would have established itself, considerably superior to the rest of the tribe in body and mind, and become assuredly its ruling race.

Again, if one of that race invented a new weapon, a new mode of tillage, or aught else which gave him power, that would add to the superiority of his whole family. For the invention would be jealously kept among them as a mystery, a hereditary secret. To this simple cause, surely, is to be referred the system of hereditary caste occupations, whether in Egypt or Hindoostan. To this, too, the fact that alike in Greek and in Teutonic legend the chief so often appears, not merely as the best warrior and best minstrel, but as the best smith, armourer, and handicraftsman of his tribe. If, however, the inventor happened to be a low-born genius, its advantages would still accrue to the ruling race. For nothing could be more natural or more easy--as more than one legend intimates--than that the king should extort the new secret from his subject, and then put him to death to prevent any further publicity.

Page 4 of 11 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Ancien Regime
Charles Kingsley

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004