Mirror of Literature,  12 (1828), 213–16.

On National Varieties  [2/2]



Essay, Serial


Human Species, Race, Cultural Geography, Climatology, History of Science, Nationalism, Exploration, Education, Progress

People mentioned:

Joseph Banks , Daniel C Solander

    Asserts the difficulty of establishing a rule 'which would define the variations of national manners as having any reference to climate' (213). Surveys nations and characteristics in relation to this topic. Drawing on George Berkeley, considers the relative merits of southern and northern European climates in regard to the development of the intellect. Argues that the narrower diffusion of learning among the peoples of northern countries provides a greater incentive for individuals to excel, 'which is one way of accounting for the giants of science that have appeared in the north' (214–15). Argues that 'the northern nations have a stronger apprehension of abstract propositions, and a greater fondness for generalizing'. Considers climate to have little effect even on bodily characteristics of the human races. Concludes that 'the capacities for improvement of races, as of individuals, [...] have been differently bestowed by nature; but that none are actually incapable of culture'. Argues that 'the Negroes', 'American Indians', and 'the Esquimaux' are particularly difficult races to improve, but that even here education will have beneficial effects. (215)

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