There’s a very nasty-sounding bit of racism, apparently taken from Darwin's 'Descent of Man', that seems to be all over the Web. This is the quoted passage:
"At some future period... the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes [negros] will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man (in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian), and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla."
Googling for a string of text taken from the above reveals that this quote is in use verbatim all over the Web, especially on Creationist websites, as anti-evolution propaganda: evolution is racist, apparently. Therefore all pro-evolutionists are racists. Who knew?
I decided to look this up, and went and got an ebook of 'Descent' from Project Gutenberg. I found the quoted passage, but there are some interesting differences between the propaganda quote and the original as written by Darwin, and in context.
The most blatant of these is the little [negros] (sic) in the agitprop. This appears to be a creationist insertion, and it's quite clearly incorrect. By 'anthropomorphous apes' Darwin is plainly referring simply to the apes with human shapes - tailless, and presumably given to bipedal walking: gorillas, chimps and the rest. Whether the insertion is a dirty trick or an honest mistake I have no idea, but it sets a nasty tone.
The rest of the paragraph is Darwin talking about, interestingly enough, 'missing links' - the gaps between one representative of a species and another - with particular reference to humans and other primates:
“The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae--between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
(Italics are mine, to distinguish the quoted bit)
Darwin's line on 'savage races' is a little jarring today, but is hardly remarkable in context and at the time. Members of the soi-disant 'civilised races' travelled to foreign lands, and met people who dressed in skins if at all, ate bark, bugs, lizards and leaves, and spent a lot of time killing each other - living, in other words, a life that they saw as intermediate between animals and their own. These observers were already accustomed to a stratified, hierarchical society of royals, nobles, gentlemen, servants and slaves. Small wonder that at the time they saw the indigenous people of these strange lands as lower orders of humanity, some more animal than man. They had no reason to suppose that the descendants of these savages could ever approach their level of sophistication. Even their (white) servants back home showed no such ability, David Copperfield notwithstanding.
(Perhaps the British should have remembered that when the civilised Romans arrived, they were no more than 'savages' themselves - living in straw huts and caves, and painting themselves blue.)
The antagonism that existed between the Civilised and the Savage was hardly one-sided: there tended to be little affection between the groups, for any number of reasons, notably distaste and envy respectively. Aggression was frequent, as were outright wars between indigenous peoples and invading settlers. Explorers and settlers routinely marched into countries and began displacing the locals, and slaughtering them if they objected. African, Australian, Asian and American indigenous peoples all suffered the same fate. Darwin was hardly alone in believing (though not, you'll notice, necessarily advocating) that this would end in the extermination of the Savages. He believed - as the paragraph describes - that this was a natural process by which intra-species gaps were widened.
One interesting factor is that his prediction has essentially come to pass: the 'savages' are indeed almost extinct throughout the world. Instead of being entirely exterminated, however, The remains of their cultures have mostly chosen to adopt the ways of the 'civilised': wearing T-shirts, smoking Marlboros, drinking Coke and watching TV. Quite what Darwin would have made of this convergence, and which group won the battle, is hard to say.