Singing) of the Nordic Man
From "Short Talks with the Dead" (1926)
Talking (and singing) of the Nordic Man
Behold, my child, the Nordic man,
And be as like him, as you can;
His legs are long, his mind is slow,
His hair is lank and made of tow.
And here we have the Alpine Race:
Oh! What a broad and foolish face!
His skin is of a dirty yellow.
He is a most unpleasant fellow.
The most degraded of them all
Mediterranean we call.
His hair is crisp, and even curls,
And he is saucy with the girls.
This translation is my own. I offer it with diffidence, for I recognize
that it does not reproduce the deep organ tones of the original.
But it gives the substance of that fine poem, and it is only with the
substance- I mean the description of The Race which it conveys-
that I have here to deal
I heard so much about the Nordic Man in these last few months
that I was moved to collect recently a great mass of information
upon him and to co-odinate it. Upon the Alpine Man and the
Mediterranean Man I am not so erudite: nor is it indeed to any
great purpose that I should be- for they are clearly inferior.
But the Nordic Man is worth anybody's trouble; and here is what
I have found out about him.
He is the Conqueror and the Adventurer, He is the Lawgiver
and the essentially Moral Man. He arranges the world as it should
be arranged. He does everything for his own good and for the
good of others. He is a natural Leader. Even those who hate him,
fear him; all respect him. The Alpine Man sits sullen at his feet
awaiting his orders; the Mediterranean Man flies in terror from
But it is not enough to learn these general characters in the
Nordic Man, pleasing though they are. No sound biologist could
be content until he knew something intimate of his origin and
habits; where he may be found, what he does, and how to tell him
This, then, is what I have found about the Nordic Man. I have
space only for the most salient points, but I hope to complete the
picture in detail when I shall have leisure to write my book on the
species. It will be fully illustrated and will have a very complete
The Nordic Man is born either in the West End of London or
in a pleasant country house, standing in its own park-like grounds.
That is the general rule; he is; however, sometimes born in a
parsonage and rather more frequently in a Deanery or a Bishop's
Palace, or a Canon's house in a Close. Some of this type have been
born in North Oxford; but none (that I can discover) in pro-
vincial manufacturing towns, and certainly one east of Charing
Cross or south of the river.
The Nordic Man has a nurse to look after him while he is a baby,
and she has another domestic at her service. He has a night and a
day nursery, and he is full of amusing little tricks which endear
him to his parents as he grows through babyhood to childhood.
Towards the age of ten or eleven, the Nordic Man goes to a
preparatory school, the headmaster of which is greatly trusted by
the Nordic Man's parents, especially by the Nordic Man's mother.
He early learns to Play the Game, and is also grounded in the
elements of Good Form, possibly the Classics and even, exception-
ally, some modern tongue. He plays football and cricket; usually,
but not always, he is taught to swim.
Thence the Nordic Man proceeds to what is called a Public
School, where he stays till he is about eighteen. He then goes
either to Oxford or Cambridge, or into the Army. He does not
stay long in the Army; while from the University he proceeds
either to a profession (such as the Bar, or writing advertisements
or to residence upon his estate. This last he can only do if his
father dies early.
The Nordic Man lives in comfort and even luxury through
manhood; he shoots, he hunts, he visits the South of France, he
plays bridge. He hates the use of scents; he changes for dinner into
a special kind of clothes every day. He is extremely particular
about shaving, and he wears his hair cut short and even bald.
The Nordic does not bother much about Religion, so when he
approaches death he has to distract himself with some hobby,
often that of his health. He dies of all sorts of things, but more and
more of the cancer; after his death his sons, nephews, or cousins
take up the role of the Nordic Man and perpetuate the long and
Such is the life story of the Nordic Man. I have only given it in
its broadest lines, and have left out a great many sub-sections;
but what I have said will be sufficient to indicate places in which
he is to be surprised and the kind of things which you will there
find him doing. As for his character, which lies at the root of all
this great performance, that is less easily describe, for one might
as well attempt to describe a colour or a smell; but I can attempt
some indications of it.
The Nordic Man dislikes all cruelty to animals, and is himself
kind to them in the following scale: first the dog, then the horse
then the cat, then birds, and so on till you get to insects, after
which he stops caring. Microbes, oddly enough, he detests. He will
treat them in the most callous manner.
The Nordic Man is very reserved save in the matter of speech-
making. He hates to betray an emotion, but he hates still more the
complete concealment of it. He has therefore established a number
of conventions whereby it may be known when he is angry,
pleased or what not; but he has no convention for fear, for he is
never afraid. The is reminds me that the Nordic Man despises
conflict with lethal weapons unless it be against the enemies of his
country; but he delights in watching, and will sometimes himself
practise, conflict conducted with stuffed gloves. As for fighting
with his fee, he would nt dream of it; nor does he ever bite.
The Nordic Man is generous and treats all men as his equals,
especially those whom he feels to be somewhat inferior in rank
and wealth. This is a very beautiful trait in the Nordic Man, and
causes him to believe that he is everywhere beloved. On the other
hand, the Nordic Man prefers to live with those richer than himself.
The Nordic Man detests all ostentation in dress, and detests even
more the wearing of cheap clothes. He loves it to be known that
his clothes were costly. No Nordic Man wears a made-up tie.
The Nordic Man boasts that he is not addicted to the Arts, and
here he is quite right; but he is an excellent collector of work done
by the inferior Mediterranean race, and is justly proud of the rare
successes of his own people in this field. In the same way the
Nordic Man will tell you with emphasis that he cannot write.
Herein he tells the truth. Yet, oddly enough, he is convinced that
non one has ever been able to write except Nordic Men; and this
article of faith he applies particularly to True Poetry, which (he
conceives can only be inspired in his own tongue.
The Nordic Man does everything better than anybody else does
it, and himself proclaims this truth unceasingly; but where he
particularly shines is in the administration of justice. For he will
condemn a man to imprisonment or death with greater rapidity
than will the member of any other race. In giving judgment he is,
unlike the rest of the human species unmoved by any bias of class
or blood, let alone of personal interest. On this account his services
as a magistrate are sought far and wide though-out the world , and
his life is never in danger save from disappointed suitors or those
who have some imaginary grievance against him.
The Nordic Man is a great traveller. He climbs mountains he
faces with indifferent tropical heat and arctic cold. He is a very
I must conclude by telling you all that I am not obtaining these
details from any personal observations, as the part of the country
in which I live has very few Nordic Men, and most of them are
away during the greater part of the year staying either in the houses
of other Nordic Men or in resorts of ritual pleasure upon the
Continent. But I have had the whole thing described to me most
carefully by a friend of mine who was for a long time himself a
Nordic Man, until he had the misfortune to invest in British Dyes
and crashed. He guarantees me the accuracy of his description.
Immediately after I had written those few words you have just
read about the Nordic Man, I received a great quantity of letters
from-- I was about to write 'from all quarters of the world,' when
I suddenly remembered that there would not be time for that, and
that the lie would stick out-- a great quantity of letters, I say, from
all sorts of people. I show at once how widely I am read, and what
interest my handling of the great subject aroused.
Some of these letters are abusive, some laudatory some critical,
all three categories are to me sacred when the writes have the
courage to give name an address and I would not divulge to the
public the confidence they contain. But I think I may be be allowed
to answer here such correspondents as refuse to give name and
address. They will serves as examples to show how little the true
doctrine of the Nordic Man has, so far, penetrated the masses.
Of course it will soak though at last, as all great scientific truths
do-- such as the doctrine of Natural Selection and the peculiar
properties of the stuff called Ether, not to speak of Magna Charta,
which even the poorest scavenger in the street to-day reveres as
the origin of his freedom.
But so far this new discovery of the Nordic Man has not spread
as it should have done.
Thus the first of my correspondents (who signs 'Gallio' and
gives no address but Brighton) is puzzled by the apparent aptitude
of the Romans in their best period for administration and govern-
ment, and even, in a primitive fashion, for war. He admits that all
this may be much exaggerated, and from what he has seen of the
Romans (he was down among them lately) he cannot believe all
he hears of their ancestors. But still (he supposes) there must be a
solid kernel of truth in it; for after all, the name 'Roman' was given
to a great number of institutions-- including the Empire itself--
and he asks me-- rather crudely-- how this was possible if the
Mediterranean race were as vile as our greatest authorities have
discovered it to be? It is odd that the simple answer to this difficulty
has not occurred to the writer. It is that those who governed the
Empire, and led the armies, called 'Romans' were Nordic. This
could be proved in several ways, but all of them might be open to
objection save the unanswerable one that if these men had not been
Nordic they could not have succeeded as they did. The Scipios,
the Julian House, Hadrian-- to cite at random-- were manifestly and
necessarily Nordic: for men do not act as they acted unless they are
of pure-bred Nordic stock.
The same is true of other manifestations of intelligence and
vigor in the Mediterranean countries. Thus the Italians and even the
Greeks have left a considerable body of remarkable literature both
in prose and in verse, and in the case of Italy, we have even quite
modern examples of literary excellence-- at least, so I am assured
by those who are acquainted with the idioms of the inferior races.
But upon examination it will always be found that the authors,
though using a base medium, were Nordic. The committee which
we collectively call by the mythological term 'Homer,' and which
drew up and passed certainly the Iliad and possibly the Odyssey.
were clearly Nordic in composition. Catullus was as Nordic as
he could be. The Nordic character of Aristotle is a commonplace.
Dante was Nordic. So was Leopardi.
Take any outstanding Italian or other Mediterranean name and
you will find upon close inspection that the man to whom it is
attached was of the Nordic type: Napolean Buonaparte occurs at
once to the mind.
Another correspondent has come upon the thing from a different
angle. He knows enough of the great new discovery to understand
the term 'cephalic index,' and he has had his own cephalic index
taken by a cephalogian who practises in Ealing. He did so under
the impression, or course, that he was of sound Nordic stock; but to
his horror the measurements have come out to an extreme form of
Alpine! He asks me what he is to do about it? I can assure him
(and though I do not claim to be an expert in Moronovitalogy I am
fairly well up in my elements) that his anxiety is groundless.
Though, of course skull measurements is the basis of the three great
divisions, yet if a man have Nordic qualities clearly apparent in
his birth and culture, these easily predominate over what might be
the natural tendencies of brachycephalic humanity. It would be a
fine state of things, indeed, if we had to rule out of the Nordic
excellence all those great men of the English past who, so far as
we can judge from their portraits had something flat-headed
A third correspondent-- who signs her letter 'Onyx'-- is troubled
about her children. There are five: three charming boys and two
delightful girls. She has measured their heads with her husband's
callipers ( he is an architect in full employment) and she finds that
her second eldest painfully Alpine, only her second youngest
clearly Nordic; while the one in the middle, a boy (by name, she
tells me, Ethelred), seems to be a strange mixture of all three.
I cannot reply personally to this correspondent, as she does not
give an address; but I trust that these lines will meet her eye.
I would have her not that in the first place the skulls of children
are no index to shape they will have when they fossilize in
mature years; and next, that even if these varied types appear in
her family, it is not remarkable, for all three types are present in
England. Moreover, she may have travelled.
A fourth correspondent, a clergyman I fancy, who signs
'Scholasticus,' writes me a long rigmarole (I cannot call it by any
politer name), in which he calls the whole theory subversive of
sound morals, and asks whether we are to believe that man 'created
in the image of his Maker, and responsible to his Creator,' etc.
Really, to this kind of thing there is only one answer. Science
does not clash with religion; it clashes with nothing except unreason
and untruth. Science is simply organized knowledge, based upon
experementing and accurate measurement over so wide a field as to
be established with absolute certitude. Now Science clearly proves
that these three races, the Nordic, the Alpine, and the Mediterranean,
exist side by side in Europe, and affirms that the Nordic (to which
all scientific men belong) possesses those qualities upon which alone
men can pride themselves. Science demonstrates the defects and
vices of the Alpine, and the baseness and degradation of the
Mediterranean stock. If my reverend critic likes to knock his head
against a stone wall, I cannot help it. But is seems to me an extra-
ordinary thing to find any man possessed of enough education to
write consecutively opposing (at this time of day) established
scientific truths in the name of hypothetical principles the figments
of imagination and vanity. His "Creator," "image," "responsibility,'
are all of them mere words; not one of them has been establish
by accurate and repeated measurement, nor have they one single
experiment conducted under scientific conditions to support them;
while on the other side we have the unanimous agreement of
Meyerbath, Karsowitz, Brahmsohn, Farrago, Cent-Six, Blauwven-
feld, Tabouche, Smith of Milwaukee (Hamilcar Q. Smith- perhaps
the greatest authority of all), van Houten and his famous relative
Klotz- but why should I prolong the list? My objector will look
in vain though all the distinguished ranks of modern science to
find a single name supporting his ridiculous assumptions of a 'God,'
"Free Will,' and what not. All agree that our characters and actions
proceed from a cephalic index, and all are agreed upon the relative
values of the three main races of Europe.
PS.--To my correspondent 'Tiny,' who has also given no
address, I must reply in the brief postscript. No, the facial angle,
as measured from the point of the chin tangentially, the parietal
curve of the forehead, and from the cusp of the left nostril to the
base of the corresponding ear-lobe, is no longer the criterion of
character. I thought I had made that plain. Thirty-five years ago,
when I was a boy, all scientists agreed that the facial angle
was the one certain and only test of moral attitude and intellectual
power; but that opinion is not universally abandoned. and the
facial angle is replaced by the cephalic index.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
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