11 JUNE 1937, Page 28


Half-Caste. By Cedric Dover. With a Preface on Prejudices by Lancelot Hogben. (Secker and Warburg. los. 6d.) -

WRITERS on miscegenation are accustomed to appeal for pronouncements as to its beneficial or deleterious consequences for posterity to a scientific opinion which is far from unanimous regarding them. Mr. Dover's approach to the problem, though not exceptional in this respect, is in many ways a fresh one. A Eurasian, with a formidable record of research in biology behind him, he combines, perhaps uniquely, the faculties of both subject and observer, and if a few passages in his book seem to belie the claim on its dust-cover that the author displays much of the "supreme impartiality of the mongrel," those who appreciate the often unenviable lot of the partially " coloured " peoples, which he describes so feelingly, will condone an occasional expression of bitterness. Here, then, is a marginal man" speaking for his kind and speaking with a challenge that is not to be ignored. In seeing as a condition of the fullest development of a classless society, a trend towards "that greater biological and cultural uniformity," which he believes would result from the prolonged crossing of different human stocks, Mr. Dover does not conceal his political leanings. It is open to question, however, whether the eventual amalgamation of the principal varieties of man can yet be predicted with any confidence, and one is inclined to judge -from Mr. Dover's thesis that the egalitarian is more to the fore in it than the bio- logist. With the limitations of present knowledge, only the•boldest voice dares to proclaim a pan-racial millennium.

The first five chapters of Half-Caste deal with inter- marriage, with the function of cross-breds in the diffusion of culture and with current prejudices about race, a word

Mr. Dover, like other recent writers, would prefer to see replaced by the term "ethnic group." Both he and Professor Hogben, who contributes a stimulating preface, have a lot of fun at the expense of the eugenics movement, which does not require the services of the reviewer to defend it. The "newer genetical school" of anthropology is another butt, yet Mr. Dover clings to some doubtfully tenable views of the conventional anthropologists when he discusses early " Mediterranean " types in five pages devoted to the racial composition of the English. It is strange that so well-informed an inquirer should be content to accept traditional inferences rather than the conclusions of such an authority as Dr. G. M. Morant, who from a detailed investigation of skeletal remains has shown the Neolithic population of this country to possess "clear ' Nordic ' and no ' Mediterranean ' affinities." Mr. Dover's discovery that today "the Nordic type is being increasingly eliminated, the majority of modern Englishmen being impressively Mediterranean in aspect," together with ,a later statement that "physically and culturally and tem- peramentally the world's mixed breeds have a distinct affinity with the Mediterranean type," has a faint flavour of Madison Grant about it, though he is anything but a Nordicist. (This digression would be unnecessary if Mr. Dover had not chosen to ride his Mediterranean horse to death.) In his sixth and seventh chapters he is on safer ground with an account of the history and aspirations of the Anglo-Indians, "new style," and a moving study of the Eurasian poet and rationalist Derozio, who Idled at the age of twenty-three a century ago. The rest of the book is chiefly concerned with a survey Of mixed communities, large and small, which are treated brilliantly and with a wealth of citation. It ends with a consideration of Precepts and Policies, of which the tenor of Mr. Dover's has already been indicated. The biblio- graphical appendix could not easily be bettered.

Half-Caste deserves a wide public. It is strong meat and will be distasteful to many conservatives. Those anxious to acquaint themselves with the direction of certain miscegenatory sentiments at the present time are well advised to buy and