The EuropeansApril 20, 2022
A SCOTCH merchant invited me with such cordiality to come and stay with him.
He was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in the city, the cabmen I employed insisted on being paid beforehand every time I rode in their vehicles.
This distrust was occasioned by the scanty feeling of respect most of the Europeans in Manila inspired in the minds of the natives. Many later observations confirmed this impression.
What a different state of things exists in Java and Singapore! The reason, however, is easily explained.
The Dutch are as unable as the English to acclimatise themselves in tropical countries. They get all they can out of those countries.
- The Dutch by slavery and monopoly
- The English by commerce.
These are done by a few individuals, whose official position and the largeness of whose undertakings place them far above the people.
In Java, moreover, the Europeans are the governing class. The natives are the governed. Even in Singapore, the humblest white man so thoroughly understands the art of keeping the natives at a distance, that custom, if not the law, allows him all the privileges of a higher caste.
The difference of religion widens the gap. Finally, every European there speaks the native language while the natives are totally ignorant of the foreign language.
The Dutch officials are educated at home in schools specially devoted to the East Indian service. The secret of the Dutch power over the native populations is in their art of:
- managing the natives
- upholding their own prestige
These are essential in their Dutch education.
The Dutch, therefore, manage their intercourse with the natives, no matter how much they intend to get out of them, in strict accordance with customary usage (adat). They never:
- offend the native sense of honour
- expose themselves in their own mutual intercourse, which remains a sealed book to the inhabitants.
Things are different in the Philippines.
With the exception of those officials whose stay is limited by the rules of the service, or by the place-hunting that ensues at every change in the Spanish ministry, few Spaniards who have once settled in the colony ever return home.
It is forbidden to the priests, and most of the rest have no means of doing so.
A considerable portion of them consist of subaltern officers, soldiers, sailors, political delinquents and refugees whom Spain has got rid of; and not seldom of adventurers deficient both in means and desire for the journey back, for their life in the colony is far pleasanter than that they were forced to lead in Spain.
These latter arrive without the slightest knowledge of the country and without being in the least prepared for a sojourn there. Many of them are so lazy that they won’t take the trouble to learn the language even if they marry a native woman. Their servants understand Spanish, and clandestinely watch the conversation and the actions, and become acquainted with all the secrets, of their indiscreet masters, to whom the natives remain an enigma which their conceit prevents them attempting to decipher,
Thus, the natives’ respect for Europeans is reduced by these uneducated, improvident, and extravagant Spaniards who are all determined to play the master in the colony.
The relative standing of the natives naturally profits by all this, and it would be difficult to find a colony in which the natives, taken all in all, feel more comfortable than in the Philippines.
They have adopted the religion, the manners, and the customs of their rulers. Though legally not on an equal footing with the latter, they are by no means separated from them by the high barriers, with which, except in Java, the churlish reserve of the English has surrounded the natives of the other colonies.
The same religion, a similar form of worship, an existence intermixed with that of the indigenous population, all tend to strengthen the ties between the Europeans. and the Indians. That they have done so is proved by the existence of the proportionately numerous band of half-castes who inhabit the islands.
The Spaniards and the Portuguese appear to be the only Europeans who take root in tropical countries. They can permanently and fruitfully amalgamate with the natives, a result contributed to in no small degree by the celibacy of the priesthood. *
- Bertillon (Acclimatement and Acclimatation, Dict. Encycl. des Sciences Medicales) ascribes the capacity of the Spaniards for acclimatisation in tropical countries to the large admixture of Syrian and African blood which flows in their veins.
The ancient Iberians reached Spain from Chaldea across Africa. The Phænicians and Carthaginians had flourishing colonies in the peninsula. The Moors possessed Spain for a century, and ruled with great splendour. This led to a mixture of race.
Thus Spanish blood has 3 distinct times been abundantly crossell with that of Africa.
The warm climate of the peninsula must also largely contribute to render its inhabitants fit for life in the tropics. The pure Indo-European race has never succeeded in establishing itself on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, much less in the arid soil of the tropics.
In Martinique, around 9,000 whites live off of the toil of 125,000 natives. Their native population is diminishing instead of increasing.
The French Creoles seem to have lost the power of maintaining themselves, in proportion to the existing means of subsistence, and of multiplying.
Families which do not from time to time fortify themselves with a strain of fresh European blood, die out in from three to four generations.
The same thing happens in the English, but not in the Spanish Antilles, although the climate and the natural surroundings are the same.
According to Ramon de la Sagra, the death-rate is smaller among the Creoles, and greater among the natives, than it is in Spain; the mortality among the garrison, however, is considerable. The same writer states that the real acclimatisation of the Spanish race takes place by selection; the unfit die, and the others thrive.