[Those curious about the history of the Victorian Web (which began years before the WWW in another hypermedia system) might be interested to learn that this document was one of the very first written specifically for what became this site by someone outside Brown University. (The materials on public health that Professor Wohl also contributed came from his previously published book [GPL].]
fricans and other supposedly inferior groups, such as Irishmen, Indians, Maoris, and women, all displayed, it was held, childlike characteristics. Thus the Saturday Review of 8 September 1866 could refer to the Indian as "childish and impulsive," the term impulsive referring to lack of weighed, considered thought. Similarly, Francis Galton's "Hereditary Talent and Character" in the 1865 Macmillan's Magazine argued that "the Negro has strong impulsive habits, and neither patience, reticence, nor dignity." This prejudice had behind it the scientific theories of arrested development and recapitulation, the second of which held that the children of more advanced peoples recapitulate the adults of more primitive ancestors. If Irish adults, for example, display "child-like" emotions or conduct, then they are clearly closer to primitive early man. (What effect would such theories have upon etiquette and codes of behavior? upon attitudes towards art and literature? dress? sexuality?)
Herbert Spencer similarly argued that "the intellectual traits of the uncivilized . . . are traits recurring in the children of the civilized." This emphasis upon the childlike qualities of supposedly lower races certainly parallels the frequent references one comes across of the immature working classes. Repeatedly one reads that they had no thought for the morrow, that they wallowed in instant gratification, and that they were irresponsible, impulsive, and self-indulgent, spending a week's wages on ribbons or a hat.
Last modified 1990