« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
sus Report that there are thirty castes which are represented in every province and in every village. To run over these will give a sufficient idea of the ramifications of the system. The Brahman, of course, must be found wherever there is a temple ; and the Rajput will be found in secular alliance with the service. Then, wherever there are a few houses clustered together will be found the Banirja, or money-lender. The Teli caste supplies the oilman, and the Barbi the carpenter, without which no village can get along. The cobbler, who also skins the carcasses of the cattle, is a Chamar ; the washerman is a Dhobi ; the barber is a Napit; and the scavenger is a Dom. Besides these castes are represented, Karmakar, the blacksmith ; Kumbar, the potter; Madak and Kandu, the confectioners, who make up the farinaceous food of the people ; Sunri, the wine seller; Barni and Tamoli, who prepare and sell the pan-leaf and betel nut ; Tanti and Jugi, weavers; and Mali, the flower and vegetable dealer. These are the artisans of the community; and the agriculturists are Kaibarthas; the cow-keepers are Gwalla ; the boatmen are Mallah ; and the fishermen are Tevi. Intercommunication rests with the Kahar, cr palkie-bearers. Learning is the province of the Kayastha, who furnish the schoolmaster, the village accountant, and the landlord's secretary or clerk. The day-laborers and field-hands are Bhuinyas and Khawars. The most respectable families of Calcutta belong to the Pir Ali subdivision of the Brahmans; and the origin of this subcaste is thus related by Mr. Wilkins : “Years ago, one of their ancestors went to the house of a Mussulman law officer, where a trick was played upon him. The Mussulman had heard it said that “to smell food was half eating it;" and in the wish to convert some of the Brahmans in
his neighborhood, he invited them to his house, and while they were seated there, he ordered his dinner to be served. They smelled the food, and their caste was gone —so it was decided. Some of them became Mussulinans; but one, who preferred to remain a Hindu, though his caste was injured, became the founder of another class, called the Pir Ali, after the man who had played the trick upon him.”
That caste is still regarded as a divine institution by the lower orders is, of course, well known ; and the strictly orthodox will prefer death to eating forbidden food or doing anything contrary to the tenets of their particular caste. The result is one involving great expense and inconvenience to Europeans, who are obliged to have a great number of servants for the different departments of domestic arrangements. Thus, if a low-caste servant brings a letter or anything, the superior-caste servant will not take it from his hands or touch it simultaneously with him : it must be laid on the ground and taken up thence by the superior one. In fact, the orthodox Hindu will not join in any work whatever in which Sweepers or low-caste men are employed. No doubt, however, caste difficulties are often conveniently interposed when a man doesn't want to do something which is asked of him.
The Caste system is the great obstacle to the material progress of the country. Until it is broken down, India can never take her rightful place among the nations, for she cannot be a nation in the true sense of the term. Like totemism, in short, Caste is a relic of barbarism, but also an evolution of barbarism struggling toward light. Both systems have had their uses, and both systems have left their marks, even in the most civilized and enlightened communities.--Chambers's Jourmal.
BY GRANT ALLEN.
IF any one were to ask me (which is highly unlikely) “In what university would an intelligent young man do best to study ?” I think I should be very much inclined indeed to answer offhand, “In the Tropics.”
No doubt this advice sounds on first hearing just a trifle paradoxical ; and no doubt, too, the proposed university has certain serious drawbacks (like many others) on the various grounds of health, expense, faith, and morals. Senior Proctors are unknown at Honolulu ; Select Preachers don’t range as far as the West Coast. But it has always seemed to me, nevertheless, that certain elements of a liberal education are to be acquired tropically which can never be acquired in a temperate, still less in an arctic or antarctic academy. This is more especially true, I allow, in the particular cases of the biologist and the sociologist; but it is also true in a somewhat less degree of the mere common arts course, and the mere average seeker after liberal culture. Vast aspects of nature and human life exist which can never adequately be understood aright except in tropical countries; vivid side-lights are cast upon our own history and the history of our globe which can never adequately be appreciated except beneath the searching and all too garish rays of a tropical sun. Whenever I meet a cultivated man who knows his Tropics—and more particularly one who has known his Tropics during the formative period of mental development, say from eighteen to thirty—I feel instinctively that he possesses certain keys of man and nature, certain clews to the problems of the world we live in, not possessed in anything like the same degree by the mere average annual output of Oxford or of Heidelberg. I feel that we talk like Freemasons together—we of the Higher Brotherhood who have worshipped the sun, praesentiorem deum, in his own nearer temples. Let me begin by positing an extreme parallel. How obviously inadequate is the conception of life enjoyed by the ordinary Laplander or the most intelligent Fuegian Suppose even he has attended the mission school of his native village, and become learned there in all the learning of the Egyptians, up to the extreme level of the sixth standard, yet how feeble must be his idea of the planet on which he moves | how much must his horizon be cabined, cribbed, confined by the frost and snow, the gloom and poverty, of the bare land around him He lives in a dark cold world of scrubby vegetation and scant animal life ; a world where human existence is necessarily preserved only by ceaseless labor and at severe odds; a world out of which all the noblest and most beautiful living creatures have been ruthlessly pressed ; a world where nothing great has been or can be ; a world doomed
by its mere physical conditions to eternal poverty, discomfort, and squalor. For green fields he has snow and reindeer moss : for singing birds and flowers, the tundra and the ptarmigan. How can he ever form any fitting conception of the glory of life—of the means by which animal and vegetable organisms first grew and flourished ? How can he frame to himself any reasonable picture of civilized society, or of the origin and development of human faculty and human organization ? Somewhat the same, though of course in a highly mitigated degree, are the disadvantages under which the pure temperate education labors, when compared with the education unconsciously drunk in at every pore by an intelligent mind in tropical climates. And fully to understand this pregnant educational importance of the Tropics we must consider with ourselves how large a part tropical conditions have borne in the development of life in general, and of human life and society in particular. The Tropics, we must carefully remember, are the norma of nature : the way things mostly are and always have been. They represent to us the common condition of the whole world during by far the greater part of its entire existence. Not only are they still in the strictest sense the biological head-quarters: they are also the standard or central type by which we must explain all the rest of nature, both in man and beast, in plant and animal. The temperate and arctic worlds, on the other hand, are a mere passing accident in the history of our planet: a hole andcorner development; a special result of the great Glacial Epoch, and of that vast slow secular cooling which preceded and led up to it, from the beginning of the Miocene or Mid-Tertiary period. Our European ideas, poor, harsh, and narrow, are mainly formed among a chilled and stunted fauna and flora, under inclement skies, and in gloomy days, all of which can give us but a very cramped and faint conception of the joyous exuberance, the teeming vitality, the fierce hand-to-hand conflict, and the victorious exultation of tropical life in its full free development. All through the Primary and Secondary epochs of geology, it is now pretty certain, hothouse conditions practically prevailed almost without a break over the whole world from pole to pole. It may be true, indeed, as Dr. Croll believes (and his reasoning on the point I confess is fairly convincing), that from time to time glacial periods in one or other hemisphere broke in for a while upon the genial warmth that characterized the greater part of those vast and immeasurable primeval aeons. But even if that were so—if at long intervals the world for some hours in its cosmical year was chilled and frozen in an insignificant cap at either extremitythese casual episodes in a long story do not interfere with the general truth of the principle that life as a whole during the greater portion of its antique existence has been carried on under essentially tropical conditions. No matter what geological formation we examine, we find everywhere the same tale unfolded in plain inscriptions before our eyes. Take, for example, the giant club mosses and luxuriant tree-ferns nature-printed on shales of the coal age in Britain ; and we see in the wild undergrowth of those palaeozoic forests ample evidence of a warm and almost West Indian climate among the low basking islets of our northern carboniferous seas. Or take once more the oolitic epoch in England, lithographed on its own mud, with its puzzle monkeys and its sago-palms, its crocodiles and its deinosaurs, its winged pterodactyls and its whalelike lizards. All these huge creatures and these broad-leaved trees plainly indicate the existence of a temperature over the whole of Northern Europe almost as warm as that of the Malay Archipelago in our own day. The weather report for all the earlier ages stands almost uninterruptedly at Set Fair. Roughly speaking, indeed, one may say that through the long series of Primary and Secondary formations hardly a trace can be found of ice or snow, autumn or winter, leafless boughs or pinched and starved deciduous vegetation. Everything is powerful, luxuriant, vivid. Life, as Comus feared, was strangled with its waste fertility. Once, indeed, in the Permian age, all over the temperate regions, north and south, we get passing indications of what seems very like a glacial epoch, partially comparable to that great glaciation on whose last fringe we still abide to-day. But the ice age of the Permian, if such there were, passed away entirely, leaving the world once more warm and fruitful up to the very poles, under conditions which we would now describe as essentially tropical.
It was with the Tertiary period-perhaps, indeed, only with the middle subdivision of that period—that the gradual cooling of the polar and intermediate regions began. We know from the deposits of the chalk epoch in Greenland that late in Secondary times ferns, magnolias, myrtles, and sago-palms—an Indian or Mexican flora—flourished exceedingly in what is now the dreariest and most ice-clad region of the northern hemisphere. Later still, in the Eocene days, though the plants of Greenland had grown slightly more temperate in type, we still find among the fossils, not only oaks, planes, vines, and walnuts, but also wellingtonias like the big trees of California, Spanish chestnuts, quaint southern salisburias, broad-leaved liquidambars, and American sassafras. Nay, even in glacier-clad Spitzbergen itself, where the character of the flora already begins to show signs of incipient chilling, we nevertheless see among the Eocene types such plants as the swampcyprus of the Carolinas and the wellingtonias of the Far West, together with a rich forest vegetation of poplars, birches, oaks, planes, hazels, walnuts, water-lilies, and irises. As a whole, this vegetation still bespeaks a climate considerably more genial, mild, and equable than that of modern England.
It was in this basking world of the chalk and the eocene that the great mammalian fauna first took its rise; it was in this easy world of fruits and sunshine that the primitive ancestors of man first began to work upward toward the distinctively human level of the palaeolithic period.
But then, in the mid-career of that third day of the geological drama, came a frost —a nipping frost ; and slowly but surely the whole arctic and antarctic worlds were chilled and cramped, degree after degree, by the gradual on-coming of the Great Ice Age. I am not going to deal here with either the causes or the extent of that colossal cataclysm; I shall take all those for granted at present : what we are concerned with now are the results it left behind—the changes which it wrought on fauna and flora and on human society. Especially is it of importance in this connection to point out that the glacial epoch is not yet entirely finished--if, indeed, it is ever destined to be finished. We are living still on the fringe of the Ice Age, in a cold and cheerless era, the legacy of the accumulated glaciers of the northern and southern snowfields. If once that ice were melted off—ahr, well, there is much virtue in an if. Still, Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace seems to sug. gest somewhere that the sun is gradually making inroads even now on those great glacier-sheets of the northern cap, just as we know he is doing on the smaller glaciersheets of Switzerland (most of which are receding), and that in time perhaps (say in a hundred thousand years or so) warm ocean currents may once more penetrate to the very poles themselves. That, however, is neither here nor there. The fact remains that we of Northern Europe live to-day in a cramped, chilled, contracted world ; a world from which all the larger, fiercer, and grander types have either been killed off or driven south ; a world which stands to the full and vigorous world of the Eocene and Miocene periods in somewhat the same relation as Lapland stands to-day to Italy or the Riviera. This being so, it naturally results that if we want really to understand the history of life, its origin and its episodes, we must turn nowadays to that part of our planet which still most nearly preserves the original conditions—that is to say, the Tropics. And it has always seemed to me, both a priori and a posteriori, that the Tropics on this account do really possess for every one of us a vast and for the most part unrecognized educational importance. I say “for every one of us,” of deliberate design. I don't mean merely for the biologist, though to him, no doubt, their value in this respect is greatest of all. Indeed, I doubt whether the very ideas of the struggle for life, natural selection, the survival of the fittest, would ever have occurred at all to the stay-at-home naturalists of the Linnaean epoch. It was in the depths of Brazilian forests, or under the broad shade of East Indian palms, that those fertile conceptions first flashed independently upon two southern explorers. It is very noteworthy indeed that all the biologists who have done most to revolutionize the science of life in our own day —Darwin, Huxley, Wallace, Bates, Fritz Müller, and Belt—have without exception formed their notions of the plant and animal world during tropical travels in early life. No one can read the “Voyage of the Beagle,” the “Naturalist on the Amazons,” or the “Malay Archipelago,”
without feeling at every page how profoundly the facts of tropical nature had penetrated and modified their authors' minds. On the other hand, it is well worth while to notice that the formal opposition to the new and more expansive evolutionary views came mainly from the museum and laboratory type of naturalists in London and Paris, the official exponents of dry bones, who knew nature only through books and preserved specimens, or through her impoverished and far less lastic developments in northern lands. The battle of organic evolution has been waged by the Darwins, the Huxleys, and the Müllers on the one hand, against the Cuviers, the Owens, and the Virchows on the other. Still, it is not only in biology, as I said just now, that a taste of the Tropics in early life exerts a marked widening and philosophic influence upon a man's whole mental horizon. In ten thousand ways, in that great tropical university, men feel themselves in closer touch than elsewhere with the ultimate facts and truths of nature. I don't know whether it is all fancy and preconceived opinion, but I often imagine when I talk with new-met men that I can detect a certain difference in tone and feeling at first sight between those who have and those who have not passed the Tropical Tripos. In the Tropics, in short, we seem to get down to the very roots of things. Thousands of questions, social, political, economical, ethical, present themselves at once in new and more engagingly simple aspects. Difficulties vanish, distinctions disappear, conventions fade, clothes are reduced to their least common measure, man stands forth in his native nakedness. Things that in the North we had come to regard as inevitable —garments, firing, income-tax, morality —evaporate or simplify themselves with instructive ease and phantasmagoric readiness. Malthus and the food question assume fresh forms, as in dissolving views, before our very eyes. How are slums conceivable or East Ends possible where every man can plant his own yam and cocoa-nut, and reap their fruit four-hundredfold How can Mrs. Grundy thrive where every woman may rear her own ten children on her ten-rood plot without aid or assistance from their indeterminate fathers ? What need of carpentry where a few bamboos, cut down at random, can be fastened together with thongs into a comfortable chair : What use for pottery where calabashes hang on every tree, and cocoa-nuts, with the water fresh and pure within, supply at once the cup, and the filter, and the Apollinaris within : Of course I don’t mean to assert, either, that this tropical university will in itself suffice for all the needs of educated or rather of educable man. It must be taken, bien entendu, as a supplementary course to the Literae Humaniores. There are things which can only be learned in the crowded haunts and cities of men—in London, Paris, New York, Vienna. There are things which can only be learned in the centres of culture or of artistic handicraft —in Oxford, Munich, Florence, Venice, Rome. There is only one Grand Canal and only one Pitti Palace. We must have Shakespeare, Homer, Catullus, Dante; we must have Pheidias, Fra Angelico, Rafael, Mendelssohn ; we must have Aristotle, Newton, Laplace, Spencer. But after all these, and before all these, there is something more left to learn. Having first read them, we must read ourselves out of them. We must forget all this formal modern life; we must break away from this cramped, cold, northern world; we must find ourselves face to face at last, in Pacific isles or African forests, with the underlying truths of simple naked nature. For that, in its perfection, we must go to the Tropics; and there, we shall learn and unlearn much, coming back, no doubt, with shattered faiths and broken gods, and strangely disconcerted European prejudices, but looking out upon life with a new outlook, an outlook undimmed by ten thousand preconceptions which hem in the vision and obstruct the view of the mere temperately educated. Nor is it only on the élite of the world that this tropical training has in its own way a widening influence. It is good, of course, for our Galtons to have seen South Africa; good for our Tylors to have studied Mexico; good for our Hookers to have numbered the rhododendrons and deodars of the Himalayas. I sometimes fancy, even, that in the works of our very greatest stay-at-home thinkers on anthropological or sociological subjects, I detect here and there a certain formalist and schematic note which betrays the want of first hand acquaintance with the plastic and expansive nature of tropical society. The beliefs and
relations of the actual savage have not quite that definiteness of form and expression which our University Professors would fain assign to them. But apart from the widening influence of the Tropics on these picked minds, there is a widening influence exerted insensibly on the very planters or merchants, the rank and file of European settlers, which can hardly fail to impress all those who have lived among them. The cramping effect of the winter cold and the artificial life is all removed. Men live in a freer, wider, warmer air; their doors and windows stand open day and might; the scent of flowers and the hum of insects blow in upon them with every breeze; their brother man and sister woman are more patent in every action to their eyes; the world shows itself more frankly : it has fewer secrets, and readier sympathies. I don’t mean to say the result is all gain. Far from it. There are evils inherent in tropical life which, as a noble lord remarks of nature generally, “no preacher can heal.” But viewed as education, like Saint-Simon’s thieving, it is all valuable. I should think most men who have once passed through a tropical experience would no more wish that full chapter blotted out of their lives than they would consent to lose their university culture, their Continental travel, or their literary, scientific, or artistic education. And what are the elments of this tropical curriculum which give it such immense educational value ! I think they are manifold. A few only may be selected as of typical importance. In the first place, because first in order of realization, there is its value as a mental bouleversement, a revolution in ideas, a sort of moral and intellectual cold shower-bath, a nervous shock to the system generally. The patient or pupil gets so thoroughly upset in all his preconceived ideas; he finds all round him a life so different from the life to which he has been accustomed in colder regions, that he wakes up suddenly, rubs his eyes hard, and begins to look about him for some general explanation of the world he lives in. It is good for the ordinary man to get thus unceremoniously upset. Take the average young intelligence of the London streets, with its glib ideas already formed from supply and demand in a civilized country, where soil is appropriated, and classes distinct, and commodities drop as it were from the