Art. V.—Speculations on the Physiological Changes Obtaining in the English Race when Transplanted to New Zealand.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 30th Sept., 1876.]
Having studied at odd times the changes produced in English people by a residence in this colony, and also peculiarities in their offspring, an account of the points which interested me, and my speculations on these matters, make up this paper. I regret that I have been unable to weld them into a compact mass, and that consequently this paper is not so continuous as is desirable in a communication to a scientific society.
Science teaches us that all plants and animals are acted upon by the surrounding conditions—in other phrase, by their environment—and that any change in the environment causes many changes in the organism; and therefore, in studying the changes obtaining in an immigrant, it is absolutely necessary that we should possess some knowledge of the environment.
Of the 100,000,000 square miles of water on the globe, 25,000,000 square miles are in the northern, and 75,000,000 square miles—three times as much—in the southern hemisphere. From this vast sheet vapour is constantly rising, and the enormous amount of this vapour is demonstrated by the fact that off Cape Horn, and in other parts of the southern ocean, the barometer stands permanently at a low level, ranging between 28° and 29°—i.e., an inch or more below that in the northern hemisphere. Dr. Ballot says that in about 40° N. the average barometric pressure is over 760 millimetres, but in 50° S. it falls to 750 millimetres. These observations are deduced from an immense mass of barometric readings.
In New Zealand we see a steady lowering of pressure from Mongonui, in the north, to Invercargill, in the south, and the presence of this vapour
greatly affects the New Zealand climate. Professor Tyndall showed, by elaborate and delicate instruments, that the vapour in the air made it tolerably transparent as regards the transmission of direct rays, but rendered it opaque to the rays reflected from the earth; and he showed, further, that the opacity of the vapour of water was 16,000 times greater than that of pure dry air, and that this vapour acted as a blanket by preventing the escape of heat; therefore, the greater the quantity of vapour, the warmer and more equable the climate, and for this reason the isothermal lines agree more closely with the parallels of latitude in the south than they do in the north.
By means of this vapour, as Maury first suggested, much heat is carried from place to place; this heat, though latent, is readily liberated by the condensation of the vapour. When the vapour-laden winds strike the coast of New Zealand, they are forced by the mountain chains to ascend; there cooled, the vapour condenses and falls as rain. By the extraction of the vapour the air is rendered heavy, and it is also warmed by the large amount of liberated heat, His theory explains these phenomena—the raininess of the west of New Zealand as contrasted with the dryness of the east coast, and the fact that on the eastern side, these winds, though tumbling down from cool mountain tops, are yet warm—often hot. This latent heat, when liberated, is a powerful agent in increasing the force and regularity of winds in this hemisphere. Because of the greater dryness of the air on the east coast, the thermometric variations are there much more marked than on the west coast.
According to Maury, whose statement is founded on an enormous number of barometric readings, the pressure of the atmosphere is, in the southern hemisphere, from 10lb. to 50lb. per square foot less than that in the northern hemisphere. The surface of an average man is 35 square feet, and such a man in England sustains a pressure of 35,560lbs., or nearly 16 tons (“Ganot's Physics”); but in New Zealand the pressure is lightened, and though at any one moment this difference of pressure may seem small and unworthy of notice, yet it is not really so. Ramifying everywhere through the skin are minute blood-vessels; these, the walls of the chest, the air-cells of the lungs, and indeed all the internal organs, are subjected to a lessened pressure. This lessened pressure will slightly change the cerebral circulation, and will therefore also slightly affect the immigrant's thinking powers. The lessening of pressure on the chest walls, though apparently trivial, is not so, because the immigrant respires 19 times a minute; and if, at each respiration, he lifts only one pound less each time to a given height, yet in the 24 hours he will lift 27,500 pounds (i.e., twelve
tons) less than when at home. Though in healthy people it may be difficult to detect many changes arising from these causes, we may see that they really are very powerful. Phthisical patients, after a short residence here, improve (the pathological changes fade out), and often they become robust. A lessened atmospheric pressure is also very beneficial in many acute diseases, and especially in those of the lungs. The fierce New Zealand gales pump air into rooms at high pressures, and thus increase disease and retard recovery. Diminution of atmospheric pressure, too, causes a change in the shape and size of the various organs—e.g., the Aymaras, who inhabit the Andean heights, have long deep chests, with large lungs and short legs; these and other peculiarities of structure in them are directly due to lowered atmospheric pressure.
People who climb lofty mountains soon experience great fatigue because their legs feel so heavy. When walking, our limbs swing freely like pendulums, and feel of little or no weight because of the peculiar formation of the hip, knee, and ankle-joints. If all the muscles and ligaments were cut through which attach the thigh to the trunk it would not fall off, because the atmosphere presses the head of the femur against the acetabulum. This pressure is 25 pounds. In like manner the leg is attached to the thigh by a large joint, the pressure on which is 60 pounds; so with the ankle joint —thus the weight of each limb, both upper and lower, is much lessened. As in ascending a height, so in any case where the pressure is lessened, the weight of the limbs will increase, and therefore fatigue would a little earlier set in during a long walk in New Zealand than in England.
Yet other altered climatic conditions affect the immigrant. Though the amount of heat received by each hemisphere is exactly equal, yet is its distribution unequal; for, owing to the earth's position, the southern summer is nearly eight days shorter than the northern, and its winter so much longer (Somerville). The solar rays fall more directly on the southern hemisphere, and their heating power is consequently greater by one-eighteenth of their whole intensity; but as solar rays are composed of heat, light, and actinic rays, all three act more directly and more intensely in the southern hemisphere. As each of these varieties powerfully affects all organic and inorganic substances, therefore variations in the amount or intensity, or distribution of all combined, or of each one singly, affects the immigrant both directly and indirectly. In vegetation is easily seen the effect of sunlight—for vegetation grown in the dark is pale, and often sickly. Moreover, Sachs, a German botanist, has shown that, in the sunlight, starch grains travel in ten or fifteen minutes from the stems of plants to the chlorophyll grains in the leaves, and that these and many other changes would not occur if the light and actinic rays were absent. He also shows
that carbonic acid (Co2), the principal food of plants, cannot be decomposed under a lower temperature than 2,500° Fah.; but plants, by the aid of sunlight, easily decompose and utilize it, and to plant-life the presence of abundant light rays is absolutely indispensable; or, as Fiske eloquently expresses it, “The slower undulations penetrating the soil set in motion the atoms of the rootlet, and enable them to shake hydrogen atoms out of equilibrium with the oxygen atoms which cluster about them in the compound molecules of the water. The swifter undulations are arrested by the leaves, where they communicate their motor energy to the atoms of chlorophyll, and thus enable them to dislodge adjacent atoms of carbon from the carbonic acid in which they are suspended.” These changes, so poetically described, are greater in New Zealand than in England, and in the internal economy of each individual certain similar changes obtain. The increased heat causes a diminution in the quantity of carbonic acid excreted by each human individual. Vierordt proved that every rise in temperature of 10° Fah. caused the individual to exhale two cubic inches less per minute. According to this scale, the Englishman who at home would excrete eight ounces of carbon in 24 hours by his lungs, would in New Zealand exhale only about seven ounces;—this means that the man in New Zealand would eat less, and would do less work, than when at home.
A popular belief asserts that men can adapt themselves to any climate, and can flourish there. This belief is wrong. It is true that the genus homo can endure a cold in Siberia of 109° Fah., or 120° Fah. (i.e., 150° of frost), or, in a Persian desert, a heat of 179° Fah., a difference of 300°; but varieties, or species, of man will not bear transplanting to markedly opposite climates. The Esquimaux and the Fantees would soon die if they changed places. A scanty remnant of the original colony might survive the change for a few years, but the majority would soon perish; and probably, after one or two generations at most, the race would become extinct. Even with less extremes similar results obtain: Englishmen in India, Sierra Leone, and in Guiana die fast, and but for a constant stream of immigration would, in two or three generations, become extinct. So, too, the Dutch in Java are all immigrants from Holland. The climate of New York is fatal to the tropical bred negro.
Of course, the climate of New Zealand is nothing like as hot as in some of these countries, yet the greater intensity and directness of the solar rays, as compared with those in Great Britain, does produce certain marked changes. Experiments very numerous, and conducted on large numbers of persons, prove that all our functions are carried on more quickly in summer than in winter; men and animals gain weight in spring and summer, and lose it in autumn and winter; the hair, too, grows more quickly in summer
than in winter. After a short stay here the skin is browned—more tanned—a change arising directly from the greater force of the actinic and light rays acting on the hœmatosine and pigment cells. The hair grows abundantly, and often sooner turns grey. The bright English skin tints are toned down, and there seems a tendency to spareness. Lack of energy, lassitude, and premature ageing are also noticeable features.
The greater warmth will tend to check an imported national vice, and, though it may seem venturesome to give an opinion, it seems pretty certain that drunkenness will not be so prevalent in young New Zealand as among the parent stock. Drunkenness is a form of vice specially suited to cold climates, and one that, perhaps, more than any other vice, is affected by heat and cold. Young Victorians, young Queenslanders, and young New South Walesmen, seem to inherit all the vices of their fathers except drunkenness, and any physiologist who looks at them can at once see, from their general spareness of frame and general lack of vigour, that they as a class must be sober. Young New Zealanders, who are much the same in appearance, look unfit for drunkenness. Many of the changes just enumerated will be continued and multiplied in the offspring. The monotony of the climate, its freedom from great extremes of heat and cold, is an unfortunate thing, for frost and snow, alternating with summer sultriness, stimulates mens bodies, the vital functions are actively carried on, and the lassitude and indolence generated by prolonged summer heat give place to energy. In India, in the Cape of Good Hope, and in Australia the Englishman works less, and for a shorter time, with his muscles and brains than he would have done had he remained at home. The Englishman imports to this colony a stock of energy and a habit of working, but undoubtedly in his offspring may be seen a diminution of this energy, and as generations succeed each other the difference will increase.
Besides the amount and distribution of heat, light, and actinic rays, of calms and storms, of rain and drought, of electricity and magnetism, there are doubtless very many other important conditions which affect the immigrant, but unfortunately our knowledge of the laws of life is too limited to allow us to do more than speculate upon them. For instance, upon the chemical constitution of the soil may depend the success and welfare of a nation. Animal chemistry reveals the startling fact that the amount of phosphorus varies with the amount of mental activity. By analysis of infants' brains, 8 parts in 1,000 are found to be phosphorus. In youths' brains, whose minds are active, it rises to 16 per 1,000; and in adults, when the mind is most active, the amount increases to 18 per 1,000; in the aged, whose minds work little, it falls to 10 per 1,000; and in idiots, it never at any time rises above 8 per 1000, and the amount of brain work
done can be roughly measured by the quantity of phosphates excreted. “Ohne phospher kein gedunke”—“Without phosphorus no thought”—was the saying of a German philosopher. If therefore the soil be deficient in phosphates, or it be in difficultly disintegratable forms, it must be deficient in the cereals and animal food, and the English immigrant eating such cereals and such meat will lack phosphorus—be wanting in brain power. A nation's greatness depends chiefly on its brain power, and in the fierce struggle for existence it is certain that if the soil of a nation were markedly deficient in phosphorus it would succumb to that nation whose soil contained it largely.
The great geologist Lyell tells us that at the mouth of a land-locked sea a bar was raised, that the water became brackish, and that the oysters and fish grew scarce. As oysters and fish contain large quantities of phosphorus, this elevation of a single strip of land actually affected the thought power of the coastal people.
The quantity of lime in the soil will affect the colonial born, for the bones owe their rigidity to the amount of lime they contain. If this lime be not supplied in proper quantity in the food, the cartilagenous rods bend under the weight of the body, and then are seen the crooked rickety limbs so common among the London poor. On the other hand goitre and cretinism are by learned pathologists attributed to a superabundance of lime in the water, and thus explain it:—At birth the bones of the base of the skull are soft and expand with the growth of the brain, and not till after some years do they become completely ossified, i. e., rendered hard and unyielding. In cretins the temporal sphenoid and occipital bones ossify early, and the brain shut in a rigid case cannot develop, hence cretinism and goitre result.
Last year, at the British Association, a Mr. Cooper showed that the mental condition of nations varied with amount and varieties of inorganic impurities in their drinking water, and that all their social, political, and religious qualities might be changed by these impurities. He goes still further and says that by analyzing fossil bones it would be possible to tell the amount of salts contained in the water they drank. Thus for example, by analyzing and comparing both ancient Maori and English skeletons, we could tell approximately the difference in the chemical impurities of the water of the Waikato or of the Severn. And though Mr. Cooper's theory of impurities in water affect a nation's political, social, and religious life, yet really there is nothing physiologically objectionable in the theory, for we know that certain things, as opium, alcohol, tea, indian hemp, &c., do powerfully stimulate or depress men's brains. Indeed, Sir J. Mackintosh
used to say that the difference between one man's mind and another depended solely on the amount of coffee drunk by each.
Young New Zealand.
Though intensely interesting are all questions connected with the immigrants; of equal, if not greater interest are those concerning their offspring; that “every goose thinks its gosling a swan” has passed into a proverb, and old colonists here and in Australia do look with very partial eyes on their offspring. They magnify the good qualities, and are blind to the defects of their succeeding generation. Indeed, many of them loudly assert that young New Zealand is superior physically and mentally to the parent stock. In the Yankees we see the effects produced by a transplantation of our race, and in Victoria and New South Wales already the type is rapidly changing. The epithet “cornstalk” graphically depicts one change. In New South Wales and Victoria the colonial born grow tall and thin, wanting the breadth and robustness of the parent race, in these respects resembling the “slab-sided Yankee.” In young New Zealand the same changes obtain: they are spare, wanting in solidity and less of bulk. Other points are noteworthy. The noses and features are more regular. The great variety of noses and the irregular features and amorphous faces so common in an English crowd would be absent in a crowd of colonial born. Uniformity is here the rule.
The doctrine of evolution teaches us that types are not persistent as was formerly thought. That on the contrary, the rule is not persistence but change. The anthropomorphous apes are prognathous, powerful in crushing with their massive teeth. Savages are less prognathous; their jaws are smaller, their crania larger. Civilized men are less prognathous; their jaws smaller, with dwarfed teeth, and the crania bigger, the forehead looms large above the shrinking features. In the Yankees a still further change is going on. The children's jaws are smaller than those of the English, and the teeth appearing in these small jaws want room, jostle, and displace each other. Often, too, the dentes sapientiœ are cut late, or not at all. These smaller jaws, with greater width between the rami of the inferior maxilla, give rise to the “lantern” jaws, and, combined with a large forehead, show a further change. In young New Zealand the same changes are apparently to be found. The symphyses menti are pointed, the alveolar edge of the maxillœ too small; overcrowding and irregularity of the teeth result. It is probable, too, that the highly carnivorous diet of these persons will increase certain of these changes.
The bright tints of English complexions are in the complexions of young New Zealand, replaced by faded colours, duller hues. It is a curious fact that very few dark complexioned children are born in New Zealand, for, however dark may be the parents—however raven their locks, or black their
eyes—their offspring will almost invariably have duller tints. I find it impossible to faithfully paint in words what I consider the distinguishing marks of the young New Zealander. They are most marked in the female. It is, however, very often quite easy to distinguish the colonial born and bred by their looks.
Encouraged by the ardent sun's rays, and unchecked by biting cold, both English plants and English animals here quickly attain maturity. So, too, their offsprings quickly grow, and are early developed. But this early forcing is the precursor of early decay. In Australia, under a fierce sun, the children grow quickly, but like hot-house flowers they early fade, and their mental and physical powers are well nigh exhausted at an age when the Englishman is in his prime. They lack stamina. The New Zealand and colonial youth and young man is physically and mentally weaker than persons of similar age at home. They are less robust; hard work and privations soon affect them. The colonial generation, too, is constitutionally weak. The individuals are often, as they say, “seedy”; any attack of disease quickly prostrates them, and the recoveries are tardy. The women fade, become old and haggard, after rearing a small family. Like the males, they early bloom and quickly fade.
In one of his singularly suggestive and delightful works, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes startles the reader by remarking that “the finest women are raised under glass,” and then exclaims:—“Good, dry, well-ventilated houses, well-paved streets, every possible comfort, and an absence of hardships are as necessary to produce fine women as a green-house and warmth to exotic flowers.” Probably owing to the absence of these things is due some of the defects just mentioned.
The conclusions I draw are these:—Partly owing to the climate, and partly to other changes in the environment, the immigrants' vital capacities diminish, their physical energies deteriorate; and that these alterations are more fully developed in their offspring, and that it is certain that the race would alter much and very decidedly deteriorate, were it not for a constant stream of immigrants.