National Geographic : 1906 Jan
GEOGRAPHIC LITERATURE The Effects of Tropical Light on White Men. By Major Chas. E. Woodruff, Surgeon U. S. Army. Pp. 358. New York and London: Rebman Company. 1905. Dr Woodruff advances here a start ling theory that light is a curse. He is keenly aware that he is antagonistic to all the teachings of the medical profes sion. Hence he girds on his scientific armor in the first part of his volume, and treats very technically of the effects of light upon life, both plant and animal, finally reaching the basis of his thesis, that the color of man's skin is directly proportioned to the "intensity of the light of the country to which his ancestors approved their adjust ment by centuries or millenniums of survival in health and vigor." Thus we find all gradations of color, from the black in the tropics to the blonde in northwestern Europe. It is nature's method to guard against the destruc tive rays of the sun by layers of pig ment over the body. Having found his hobby, he rides it hard. Life in cities is injurious, not because of little light, as we have been generally taught, but because of the re flection from the walls and pavements. The farmer is guarded by the trees and vegetation. We are fanatics demand ing so many windows in our school rooms. The less light, the less deaths from Florida to Vancouver. Instead of swearing at the clouds and rain, the people on the North Pacific coast of our land should thank God that they are protected from His sunshine. Of the four great races, black, yellow, *olive,and blonde, each has its zoological zone. Only death awaits the one that crosses its boundaries, northward or southward, but they can migrate along the parallels of latitude as they desire. Armed with his theory, Dr Woodruff confidently solves the greatest prob- lems. The half-breeds disappear be cause they are too dark for the upper latitude and not dark enough for the lower ones. There is no need for alarm over the race issue among us, as the negro is doomed to extinction. The same sad fate awaits the white people who go too far southward. It is an absurdity to speak of whites being ac climatized in the tropics, as they can never fit themselves to the warmth of those regions. His explanation of our nervousness as compared with Europe is very pat. We have got too far south ward of our original home, and are thus leading an existence unnatural for us. We shall all become brunettes unless constantly infused with the blonde from Europe. Our mothers and those in New Zealand cannot nurse their babies, because our race is degenerating, pay ing the penalty for migrating toward the equator. But Dr Woodruff looks deeper than the skin. With him difference of color carries grades of intellect. The blondes are the brainiest, as they developed un der the harsher natural conditions that would produce the best type by selec tion. It was early waves from that dark corner in Europe that made Greece and Rome the pagan stars of antiquity, and those nations declined when the masterful northerners became extinct under the fiercer rays of the sun. They have kept up this spirit,,. and today rule large stretches of the tropics,but can never exterminate those black and brown subjects, as the heat there saps the blonde vitality in three generations. These later blondes are largely Protestants, because that sys tem means independence of thought, while southern Europe is Catholic and brunette. The United States is in the Semitic or olive belt, and we shall be come mostly brunette, but the superior blonde will always be our captains.