That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:44 pm

by Arthur, comte de Gobineau (From the French of Count A. De Gobineau)
With an analytical introduction and copious historical notes by H. Hotz
To which is added an appendix containing a summary of the latest scientific facts bearing upon the question of unity or plurality of species by J.C. Nott, M.D., of Mobile
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1856




To the Statesmen of America, This Work, The First On the Races of Men Contemplated From the Point of View of the Statesman and Historian Rather Than the Naturalist, is respectfully dedicated by the American Editor

Table of Contents:

• Editor's Preface
• Analytical Introduction
• Chapter 1: Political Catastrophes
• Chapter 2: Alleged Causes of Political Catastrophes Examined
• Chapter 3: Influence of Government Upon the Longevity of Nations
• Chapter 4: Definition of the Word Degeneracy -- Its Cause
• Chapter 5: The Moral and Intellectual Diversity of Races is Not the Result of Political Institutions
• Chapter 6: This Diversity Is Not the Result of Geographical Situation
• Chapter 7: Influence of Christianity Upon Moral and Intellectual Diversity of Races
• Introductory Note to Chapters 8 and 9
• Chapter 8: Civilization
• Chapter 9: Elements of Civilization -- Continued
• Chapter 10: Question of Unity or Plurality of Races
• Chapter 11: Permanency of Types
• Chapter 12: Classification of Races
• Note to the Preceding Chapter
• Chapter 13: Perfectibility of Man
• Chapter 14: Mutual Relations of Different Modes of Intellectual Culture
• Chapter 15: Moral and Intellectual Characteristics of the Three Great Varieties
• Appendix
• Footnotes
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:44 pm

Editor's Preface

It has been truly observed that a good book seldom requires, and a bad one never deserves, a long preface. When a foreign book, however, is obtruded on the notice of the public, it is but just that the reasons for so doing should be explained; and, in the present case, this is the more necessary, as the title of the work might lead many to believe that it was intended to re-agitate the question of unity or plurality of the human species—a question which the majority of readers consider satisfactorily and forever settled by the words of Holy Writ. Such, however, is not the purpose of either the author or the editor. The design of this work is, to contribute toward the knowledge of the leading mental and moral characteristics of the various races of men which have subsisted from the dawn of history to the present era, and to ascertain, if possible, the degree to which they are susceptible of improvement. The annals of the world demonstrate beyond a doubt, that the different branches of the human family, like the individual members of a community, are endowed with capacities, different not only in degree but in kind, and that, in proportion to these endowments, they have contributed, and still contribute to that great march of progress of the human race, which we term civilization. To portray the nature of these endowments, to estimate the influence of each race in the destinies of all, and to point out the effects of mixture of races in the rise and fall of great empires, has been the task to the accomplishment of which, though too extensive for one man, the author has devoted his abilities. The troubles and sufferings of his native country, from sudden political gyrations, led him to speculate upon their causes, which he believes are to be traced to the great variety of incongruous ethnical elements composing the population of France. The deductions at which he arrived in that field of observation he subjected to the test of universal history; and the result of his studies for many years, facilitated by the experiences of a diplomatic career, are now before the American public in a translation. That a work, on so comprehensive a subject, should be exempt from error, cannot be expected, and is not pretended; but the aim is certainly a noble one, and its pursuit cannot be otherwise than instructive to the statesman and historian, and no less so to the general reader. In this country, it is peculiarly interesting and important, for not only is our immense territory the abode of the three best defined varieties of the human species—the white, the negro, and the Indian—to which the extensive immigration of the Chinese on our Pacific coast is rapidly adding a fourth, but the fusion of diverse nationalities is nowhere more rapid and complete; nowhere is the great problem of man's perfectibility being solved on a grander scale, or in a more decisive manner. While, then, nothing can be further removed from our intentions, or more repugnant to our sentiments, than to wage war on religion, or throw ridicule on the labors of the missionary and philanthropist, we thought it not a useless undertaking to lay before our countrymen the opinions of a European thinker, who, without straining or superseding texts to answer his purposes, or departing in any way from the pure spirit of Christianity, has reflected upon questions which with us are of immense moment and constant recurrence.

H. H.
Philadelphia, Nov. 1, 1855.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:47 pm

Part 1 of 2

Analytical Introduction

Before departing on one's travels to a foreign country, it is well to cast a glance on the map, and if we expect to meet and examine many curiosities, a correct itinerary may not be an inconvenient travelling companion. In laying before the public the present work of Mr. Gobineau, embracing a field of inquiry so boundless and treating of subjects of such vast importance to all, it has been thought not altogether useless or inappropriate to give a rapid outline of the topics presented to the consideration of the reader—a ground-plan, as it were, of the extensive edifice he is invited to enter, so that he may afterwards examine it at leisure, and judge of the symmetry of its parts. This, though fully sensible of the inadequacy of his powers to the due execution of the task, the present writer has endeavored to do, making such comments on the way, and using such additional illustrations as the nature of the subject seemed to require.

Whether we contemplate the human family from the point of view of the naturalist or of the philosopher, we are struck with the marked dissimilarity of the various groups. The obvious physical characteristics by which we distinguish what are termed different races, are not more clearly defined than the psychical diversities observable among them. "If a person," says the learned vindicator of the unity of the human species, [1] "after surveying some brilliant ceremony or court pageant in one of the splendid cities of Europe, were suddenly carried into a hamlet in Negro-land, at the hour when the sable tribes recreate themselves with dancing and music; or if he were transported to the saline plains over which bald and tawny Mongolians roam, differing but little in hue from the yellow soil of their steppes, brightened by the saffron flowers of the iris and tulip; if he were placed near the solitary dens of the Bushman, where the lean and hungry savage crouches in silence, like a beast of prey, watching with fixed eyes the birds which enter his pitfall, or greedily devouring the insects and reptiles which chance may bring within his grasp; if he were carried into the midst of an Australian forest, where the squalid companions of kangaroos may be seen crawling in procession, in imitation of quadrupeds, would the spectator of such phenomena imagine the different groups which he had surveyed to be the offspring of one family? And if he were led to adopt that opinion, how would he attempt to account for the striking diversities in their aspect and manner of existence?"

These diversities, so graphically described by Mr. Prichard, present a problem, the solution of which has occupied the most ingenious minds, especially of our times. The question of unity or plurality of the human species has of late excited much animated discussion; great names and weighty authorities are enlisted on either side, and a unanimous decision appears not likely to be soon agreed upon. But it is not my purpose, nor that of the author to whose writings these pages are introductory, to enter into a contest which to me seems rather a dispute about words than essentials. The distinguishing physical characteristics of what we term races of man are recognized by all parties, and whether these races are distinct species or permanent varieties [2] only of the same, cannot affect the subject under investigation. In whatever manner the diversities among the various branches of the human family may have originated, whether they are primordial or were produced by external causes, their permanency is now generally admitted. "The Ethiopian cannot change his skin." If there are, or ever have been, external agencies that could change a white man into a negro, or vice versa, it is obvious that such causes have either ceased to operate, or operate only in a lapse of time so incommensurable as to be imponderable to our perceptions, for the races which now exist can be traced up to the dawn of history, and no well-authenticated instance of a transformation under any circumstances is on record. In human reasoning it is certainly legitimate to judge of the future by the experiences of the past, and we are, therefore, warranted to conclude that if races have preserved their identity for the last two thousand years, they will not lose it in the next two thousand.

It is somewhat singular, however, that while most writers have ceased to explain the physical diversities of races by external causes, such as climate, food, etc., yet many still persist in maintaining the absolute equality of all in other respects, referring such differences in character as are undeniable, solely to circumstances, education, mode of life, etc. These writers consider all races as merely in different stages of development, and pretend that the lowest savage, or at least his offspring, may, by judicious training, and in course of time, be rendered equal to the civilized man. Before mentioning any facts in opposition to this doctrine, let us examine the reasoning upon which it is based.

"Man is the creature of circumstances," is an adage extended from individuals to races, and repeated by many without considering its bearing. The celebrated author of Wealth of Nations [3] says, "that the difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, arises, not so much from nature, but from habit and education." That a mind, which, with proper nurture, might have graced a philosopher, should, under unfavorable circumstances, remain forever confined in a narrow and humble sphere, does not, indeed, seem at all improbable; but Dr. Smith certainly does not mean to deny the existence of natural talents, of innate peculiar capacities for the accomplishment of certain purposes. This is what they do who ascribe the mental inequality of the various branches of the human family to external circumstances only. "The intellectual qualities of man," say they, "are developed entirely by education. The mind is, at first, a perfect blank, fitted and ready to receive any kind of impressions. For these, we are dependent on the political, civil, and religious institutions under which we live, the persons with whom we are connected, and the circumstances in which we are placed in the different periods of life. Wholly the creatures of association and habit, the characters of men are formed by the instruction, conversation, and example of those with whom they mix in society, or whose ideas they imbibe in the course of their reading and studies." [4] Again: "As all men, in all nations, are of the same species, are endowed with the same senses and feelings, and receive their perceptions and ideas through similar organs, the difference, whether physical or moral, that is observed in comparing different races or assemblages of men, can arise only from external and adventitious circumstances." [5] The last position is entirely dependent on the first; if we grant the first, relating to individuals, the other follows as a necessary consequence. For, if we assume that the infinite intellectual diversities of individuals are owing solely to external influences, it is self-evident that the same diversities in nations, which are but aggregations of individuals, must result from the same causes. But are we prepared to grant this first position—to assert that man is but an automaton, whose wheelwork is entirely without—the mere buffet and plaything of accident and circumstances? Is not this the first step to gross materialism, the first argument laid down by that school, of which the great Locke has been stigmatized as the father, because he also asserts that the human mind is at first a blank tablet. But Locke certainly could not mean that all these tablets were the same and of equal value. A tablet of wax receives an impression which one of marble will not; on the former is easily effaced what the other forever retains. We do not deny that circumstances have a great influence in moulding both moral and intellectual character, but we do insist that there is a primary basis upon which the degree of that influence depends, and which is the work of God and not of man or chance. What agriculturist could be made to believe that, with the same care, all plants would thrive equally well in all soils? To assert that the character of a man, whether good or wicked, noble or mean, is the aggregate result of influences over which he has no control, is to deny that man is a free agent; it is infinitely worse than the creed of the Buddhist, who believes that all animated beings possess a detached portion of an all-embracing intelligence, which acts according to the nature and capacity of the machine of clay that it, for the time, occupies, and when the machine is worn out or destroyed, returns, like a rivulet to the sea, to the vast ocean of intelligence whence it came, and in which again it is lost. In the name of common sense, daily observation, and above all, of revelation, we protest against a doctrine which paves the road to the most absurd as well as anti-religious conclusions. In it we recognize the fountain whence flow all the varied forms and names under which Atheism disguises itself. But it is useless to enter any further upon the refutation of an argument which few would be willing seriously to maintain. It is one of those plausible speculations which, once admitted, serve as the basis of so many brilliant, but airy, theories that dazzle and attract those who do not take the trouble of examining their solidity.

Once we admit that circumstances, though they may impede or favor the development of powers, cannot give them; in other words, that they can call into action, but cannot create, moral and intellectual resources; no argument can be drawn from the unity of species in favor of the mental equality of races. If two men, the offspring of the same parents, can be the one a dunce, the other a genius, why cannot different races, though descended of the same stock, be different also in intellectual endowments? We should laugh at, or rather, pity the man who would try to persuade us that there is no difference in color, etc., between the Scandinavian and the African, and yet it is by some considered little short of heresy to affirm, that there is an imparity in their minds as well as in their bodies.

We are told—and the objection seems indeed a grave one—that if we admit psychical as well as physical gradations in the scale of human races, the lowest must be so hopelessly inferior to the higher, their perceptions and intellectual capacities so dim, that even the light of the gospel cannot illumine them. Were it so, we should at once abandon the argument as one above human comprehension, rather than suppose that God's mercy is confined to any particular race or races. But let us earnestly investigate the question. On so vital a point the sacred record cannot but be plain and explicit. To it let us turn. Man—even the lowest of his species—has a soul. However much defaced God's image, it is vivified by His breath. To save that soul, to release it from the bondage of evil, Christ descended upon earth and gave to mankind, not a complicated system of philosophy which none but the learned and intellectual could understand, but a few simple lessons and precepts, comprehensible to the meanest capacity. He did not address himself to the wise of this world, but bade them be like children if they would come unto him. The learned Pharisees of Judea jeered and ridiculed him, but the poor woman of Canaan eagerly picked up the precious crumbs of that blessed repast which they despised. His apostles were chosen from among the lowly and simple, his first followers belonged to that class. He himself hath said: [6] "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." How then shall we judge of the degree of intellect necessary to be a follower of Jesus? Are the most intellectual, the best informed men generally the best Christians? Or does the word of God anywhere lead us to suppose that at the great final judgment the learned prelate or ingenious expositor of the faith will be preferred to the humble, illiterate savage of some almost unknown coast, who eagerly drinks of the living water whereof whosoever drinketh shall never thirst again?

This subject has met with the attention which its importance deserves, at the hands of Mr. Gobineau, and he also shows the fallacy of the idea that Christianity will remove the mental inequality of races. True religion, among all nations who are blessed with it and sincerely embrace it, will purify their morals, and establish friendly relations between man and his fellow-man. But it will not make anintellectually inferior race equal to a superior one, because it was not designed to bestow talents or to endow with genius those who are devoid of it. Civilization is essentially the result of man's intellectual gifts, and must vary in its character and degree like them. Of this we shall speak again in treating of the specific differences of civilization, when the term Christian civilization will also be examined.

One great reason why so many refuse to recognize mental as well as physical differences among races, is the common and favorite belief of our time in the infinite perfectibility of man. Under various forms this development-theory, so flattering to humanity, has gained an incredible number of adherents and defenders. We believe ourselves steadily marching towards some brilliant goal, to which every generation brings us nearer. We look with a pity, almost amounting to contempt, upon those who preceded us, and envy posterity, which we expect to surpass us in a ratio even greater than we believe ourselves to surpass our ancestors. It is indeed a beautiful and poetic idea that civilization is a vast and magnificent edifice of which the first generation laid the corner-stone, and to which each succeeding age contributes new materials and new embellishments. It is our tower of Babel, by which we, like the first men after the flood, hope to reach heaven and escape the ills of life. Some such idea has flattered all ages, but in ours it has assumed a more definite form. We point with pride to our inventions, annihilating—we say—time and distance; our labor-saving machines refining the mechanic and indirectly diffusing information among all classes, and confidently look forward to a new era close at hand, a millennium to come. Let us, for a moment, divest ourselves of the conceit which belongs to every age, as well as to every country and individual; and let us ask ourselves seriously and candidly: In what are we superior to our predecessors? We have inventions that they had not, it is true, and these inventions increase in an astonishing ratio; we have clearer ideas of the laws which govern the material world, and better contrivances to apply these laws and to make the elements subservient to our comfort. But has the human mind really expanded since the days of Pythagoras and Plato? Has the thinker of the nineteenth century faculties and perceptions which they had not? Have we one virtue more or one vice less than former generations? Has human nature changed, or has it even modified its failings? Though we succeed in traversing the regions of air as easily and swifter than we now do broad continents and stormy seas; though we count all the worlds in the immensity of space; though we snatch from nature her most recondite secrets, shall we be aught but men? To the true philosopher these conquests over the material world will be but additional proofs of the greatness of God and man's littleness. It is the vanity and arrogance of the creature of clay that make him believe that by his own exertions he can arrive at God-like perfection. The insane research after the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life may be classed among the many other futile attempts of man to invade the immutable decree: "Thus far, and no farther." To escape from the moral and intellectual imperfections of his nature, there is but one way; the creature must humbly and devoutly cast himself into the ever-open arms of the Creator and seek for knowledge where none knocketh in vain. This privilege he has enjoyed in all ages, and it is a question which I would hesitate to answer whether the progress of physical science has not, in many cases at least, rather the effect of making him self-sufficient and too confident in his own powers, than of bringing him nearer to the knowledge of the true God. It is one of the fatal errors of our age in particular, to confound the progress of physical science with a supposed moral progress of man. Were it so, the Bible would have been a revelation of science as well as of religion, and that it is not is now beginning to be conceded, though by no means so generally as true theology would require; for the law of God was intended for every age, for every country, for every individual, independent of the state of science or a peculiar stage of civilization, and not to be modified by any change which man might make in his material existence. With due deference, then, to those philosophers who assert that the moral nature of the human species has undergone a change at various periods of the world's history; and those enthusiasts who dream of an approaching millennium, we hold, that human nature has always been the same and always will be the same, and that no inventions or discoveries, however promotive of his material well-being, can effect a moral change or bring him any nearer to the Divine essence than he was in the beginning of his mundane existence. Science and knowledge may indeed illumine his earthly career, but they can shed no light upon the path he is to tread to reach a better world.

Christ himself has recognized the diversity of intellectual gifts in his parable of the talents, from which we borrow the very term to designate those gifts; and if, in a community of pure and faithful Christians, there still are many degrees and kinds of talents, is it reasonable to suppose that in that millennium—the only one I can imagine—when all nations shall call on His name with hope and praise, all mental imparities of races will be obliterated? There are, at the present time, nations upon whom we look down as being inferior in civilization to ourselves, yet they are as good—if, indeed, not better—Christians than we are as a people. The progress of physical science, by facilitating the intercourse between distant parts of the world, tends, indeed, to diffuse true religion, and in this manner—and this manner only—promotes the moral good of mankind. But here it is only an instrument, and not an agent, as the machines which the architect uses to raise his building materials do not erect the structure.

One more reason why the unity of the human species cannot be considered a proof of equal intellectual capability of races. It is a favorite method of naturalists to draw an analogy between man and the brute creation; and, so far as he belongs to the animal kingdom, this method is undoubtedly correct and legitimate. But, with regard to man's higher attributes, there is an impassable barrier between him and the brute, which, in the heat of argument, contending parties have not always sufficiently respected. The great Prichard himself seems sometimes to have lost sight of it. [7] Thus, he speaks of "psychological" diversities in varieties of the same undoubted species of animal, though it is obvious that animals can have no psychological attributes. But I am willing to concede to Mr. Prichard all the conclusions he derives from this analogy in favor of unity of the human species. All dogs, he believes, are derived from one pair; yet, there are a number of varieties of dogs, and these varieties are different not only in external appearance, but in what Mr. Prichard would call psychological qualities. No shepherd expects to train a common cur to be the intelligent guardian of a flock; no sportsman to teach his hounds, or their unmixed progeny, to perform the office of setters. That the characteristics of every variety of dogs are permanent so long as the breed remains pure, every one knows, and that their distinctive type remains the same in all countries and through all time, is proved by the mural paintings of Egypt, which show that, 2,000 years B. C., they were as well known as in our day. [8] If, then, this permanency of "psychological" (to take Mr. Prichard's ground) diversity is compatible with unity of origin in the dog, why not in the case of man? I am far from desiring to call into question the unity of our species, but I contend that the rule must work both ways, and if "psychological" diversities can be permanent in the branches of the same species of animals, they can be permanent also in the branches of the human family.

In the preceding pages, I have endeavored to show that the unity of species is no proof of equal intellectual capability of races, that mental imparities do not conflict with the universality of the gospel tidings, and that the permanency of these imparities is consistent with the reasoning of the greatest expounder of the unity theory. I shall now proceed to state the facts which prove the intellectual diversities among the races of man. In doing so, it is important to guard against an error into which so many able writers have fallen, that of comparing individuals rather than masses.

What we term national character, is the aggregate of the qualities preponderating in a community. It is obvious that when we speak of the artistic genius of the Greeks, we do not mean that every native of Hellas and Ionia was an artist; and when we call a nation unwarlike or valorous, we do not thereby either stigmatize every individual as a coward, or extol him as a hero. The same is the case with races. When, for example, we assert that the black race is intellectually inferior to the white, it is not implied that the most intelligent negro should still be more obtuse than the most stupid white man. The maximum intellect and capacity of one race may greatly exceed the minimum of another, without placing them on an equality. The testimony of history, and the results of philanthropic experiment, are the data upon which the ethnologist must institute his inquiries, if he would arrive at conclusions instructive to humanity.

Let us take for illustration the white and the black races, supposed by many to represent the two extremes of the scale of gradation. The whole history of the former shows an uninterrupted progress; that of the latter, monotonous stagnation. To the one, mankind owes the most valuable discoveries in the domain of thought, and their practical application; to the other, it owes nothing. For ages plunged in the darkest gloom of barbarism, there is not one ray of even temporary or borrowed improvement to cheer the dismal picture of its history, or inspire with hope the disheartened philanthropist. At the boundary of its territory, the ever-encroaching spirit of conquest of the European stops powerless. [9] Never, in the history of the world, has a grander or more conclusive experiment been tried than in the case of the negro race. We behold them placed in immediate possession of the richest island in the richest part of the globe, with every advantage that climate, soil, geographical situation, can afford; removed from every injurious contact, yet with every facility for constant intercourse with the most polished nations of the earth; inheriting all that the white race had gained by the toil of centuries in science, politics, and morals; and what is the result? As if to afford a still more irrefragable proof of the mental inequality of races, we find separate divisions of the same island inhabited, one by the pure, the other by a half-breed race; and the infusion of the white blood in the latter case forms a population incontestably and avowedly superior. In opposition to such facts, some special pleader, bent upon establishing a preconceived notion, ransacks the records of history to find a few isolated instances where an individual of the inferior race has displayed average ability, and from such exceptional cases he deduces conclusions applicable to the whole mass! He points with exultation to a negro who calculates, a negro who is an officer of artillery in Russia, a few others who are employed in a counting-house. And yet he does not even tell us whether these raræ aves are of pure blood or not, as is often the case. [10] Moreover, these instances are proclaimed to the world with an air of triumph, as if they were drawn at random from an inexhaustible arsenal of facts, when in reality they are all that the most anxious research could discover, and form the stock in trade of every declaimer on the absolute equality of races.

Had it pleased the Creator to endow all branches of the human family equally, all would then have pursued the same career, though, perhaps, not all with equal rapidity. Some, favored by circumstances, might have distanced others in the race; a few, peculiarly unfortunately situated, would have lagged behind. Still, the progress of all would have been in the same direction, all would have had the same stages to traverse. Now is this the case? There are not a few who assert it. From our earliest infancy we are told of the savage, barbarous, semi-civilized, civilized, and enlightened states. These we are taught to consider as the steps of the ladder by which man climbs up to infinite perfection, we ourselves being near the top, while others are either a little below us, or have scarcely yet firmly established themselves upon the first rounds. In the beautiful language of Schiller, these latter are to us a mirror in which we behold our own ancestors, as an adult in the children around him re-witnesses his own infancy. This is, in a measure, true of nations of the same race, but is it true with regard to different races? It is little short of presumption to venture to combat an idea perhaps more extensively spread than any of our time, yet this we shall endeavor to do. Were the differences in civilization which we observe in various nations of the world, differences of degree only, and not of kind, it is obvious that the most advanced individual in one degree must closely approach the confines of a higher. But this is not the case. The highest degree of culture known to Hindoo or Chinese civilization, approaches not the possessor one step nearer to the ideas and views of the European. The Chinese civilization is as perfect, in its own way, as ours, nay more so. [11] It is not a mere child, or even an adult not yet arrived at maturity; it is rather a decrepit old man. It too has its degrees; it too has had its periods of infancy, of adult age, of maturity. And when we contemplate its fruits, the immense works which have been undertaken and completed under its ægis, the systems of morals and politics to which it gave rise, the inventions which signalized its more vigorous periods, we cannot but admit that it is entitled in a high degree to our veneration and esteem. [12] Moreover it has excellencies which our civilization as yet has not; it pervades all classes, ours not. In the whole Chinese empire, comprising, as it does, one-third of the human race, we find few individuals unable to read and write; in China proper, none. How many European countries can pretend to this? And yet, because Chinese civilization has a different tendency from ours, because its course lies in another direction, we call it a semi-civilization. At what time of the world's history then have we—the civilized nations—passed through this stage of semi-civilization?

The monuments of Sanscrit literature, the magnificent remains of palaces and temples, the great number of ingenious arts, the elaborate systems of metaphysics, attest a state of intellectual culture, far from contemptible, among the Hindoos. Yet their civilization, too, we term a semi-civilization, albeit it is as little like the Chinese as it is like anything ever seen in Europe.

Few who will carefully investigate and reflect upon these facts, will doubt that the terms Hindoo, Chinese, European civilization, are not indicative of degrees only, but mean the respective development of powers essentially different in their nature. We may consider our civilization the best, but it is both arrogant and unphilosophical to consider it as the only one, or as the standard by which to measure all others. This idea, moreover, is neither peculiar to ourselves nor to our age. The Chinese even yet look upon us as barbarians; the Hindoos probably do the same. The Greeks considered all extra-Hellenic peoples as barbarians. The Romans ascribed the same pre-excellency to themselves, and the predilections for these nations, which we imbibe already in our academic years from our classical studies, cause us to share the same opinion, and to view with their prejudices nations less akin to us than they. The Persians, for instance, whom the Greeks self-complacently styled outside-barbarians, were, in reality, a highly cultivated people, as no one can deny who will examine the facts which modern research has brought to light. Their arts, if not Hellenic, still attained a high degree of perfection. Their architecture, though not of Grecian style, was not inferior in magnificence and splendor. Nay, I for one am willing to render myself obnoxious to the charge of classical heresy, by regarding the pure Persians as a people, in some respects at least, superior to the Greeks. Their religious system seems to me a much purer, nobler one than the inconsistent, immoral mythology of our favorites. Their ideas of a good and an evil power in perpetual conflict, and of a mediator who loves and protects the human race; their utter detestation of every species of idolatry, have to me something that prepossesses me in their favor.

I have now alleged, in a cursory manner, my principal reasons for considering civilizations as specifically distinct. To further dilate upon the subject, though I greatly desire to do so, would carry me too far; not, indeed, beyond the scope of the inquiries proposed in this volume, but beyond the limited space assigned for my introduction. I shall add only, that—assuming the intellectual equality of all branches of the human family—we can assign no causes for the differences of degree only of their development. Geographical position cannot explain them, because the people who have made the greatest advance, have not always been the most favorably situated. The greatest geographical advantages have been in possession of others that made no use of them, and became of importance only by changing owners. To cite one of a thousand similar instances. The glorious Mississippi Valley, with its innumerable tributary streams, its unparalleled fertility and mineral wealth, seems especially adapted by nature for the abode of a great agricultural and commercial nation. Yet, the Indians roamed over it, and plied their canoes on its rivers, without ever being aware of the advantages they possessed. The Anglo-Saxon, on the contrary, no sooner perceived them than he dreamed of the conquest of the world. We may therefore compare such and other advantages to a precious instrument which it requires the skill of the workman to use. To ascribe differences of civilizations to the differences of laws and political institutions, is absolutely begging the question, for such institutions are themselves an effect and an inherent portion of the civilization, and when transplanted into foreign soils, never prosper. That the moral and physical well-being of a nation will be better promoted when liberty presides over her councils than when stern despotism sits at the helm, no one can deny; but it is obvious that the nation must first be prepared to receive the blessings of liberty, lest they prove a curse.

Here is the place for a few remarks upon the epithet Christian, applied to our civilization. Mr. Gobineau justly observes, that he knows of no social or political order of things to which this term may fitly be said to belong. We may justly speak of a Brahminic, Buddhistic, Pagan, Judaic civilization, because the social or political systems designated by these appellations were intimately connected with a more or less exclusive theocratical formula. Religion there prescribed everything: social and political laws, government, manners, nay, in many instances, dress and food. But one of the distinguishing characteristics of Christianity is its universality. Right at the beginning it disclaimed all interference in temporal affairs. Its precepts may be followed under every system of government, in every path of life, every variety of modes of existence. Such is, in substance, Mr. Gobineau's view of the subject. To this I would add a few comments of my own. The error is not one of recent date. Its baneful effects have been felt from almost the first centuries of the establishment of the Church down to our times. Human legislation ought, indeed, to be in strict accordance with the law of God, but to commend one system as Christian, and proscribe another as unchristian, is opening the door to an endless train of frightful evils. This is what, virtually, they do who would call a civilization Christian, for civilization is the aggregate social and political development of a nation, or a race, and the political is always in direct proportion to the social progress; both mutually influence each other. By speaking of a Christian civilization, therefore, we assert that some particular political as well as social system, is most conformable to the spirit of our religion. Hence the union of church and State, and the influence of the former in temporal affairs—an influence which few enlightened churchmen, at least of our age, would wish to claim. Not to speak of the danger of placing into the hands of any class of men, however excellent, the power of declaring what legislation is Christian or not, and thus investing them with supreme political as well as spiritual authority; it is sufficient to point out the disastrous effects of such a system to the interests of the church itself. The opponents of a particular political organization become also the opponents of the religion which advocates and defends it. The indifferentism of Germany, once so zealous in the cause of religion, is traceable to this source. The people are dissatisfied with their political machinery, and hate the church which vindicates it, and stigmatizes as impious every attempt at change. Indeed, one has but to read the religious journals of Prussia, to understand the lukewarmness of that people. Mr. Brace, in his Home Life in Germany, says that many intelligent natives of that country had told him: Why should we go to church to hear a sermon that extols an order of things which we know to be wicked, and in the highest degree detestable? How can a religion be true which makes adherence to such an order a fundamental article of its creed?

One of the features of our constitution which Mr. De Tocqueville most admires, is the utter separation of church and State. Mere religious toleration practically prevails in most European countries, but this total disconnection of the religious from the civil institutions, is peculiar to the United States, and a lesson which it has given to the rest of the world.

I do not mean that every one who makes use of the word Christian civilization thereby implies a union of church and State, but I wish to point out the principle upon which this expression is based, viz: that a certain social and political order of things is more according to the spirit of the Christian religion than another; and the consequences which must, or at least may, follow from the practical acceptation of this principle. Taking my view of the subject, few, I think, will dispute that the term Christian civilization is a misnomer. Of the civilizing influence of Christianity, I have spoken before, but this influence would be as great in the Chinese or Hindoo civilizations, without, in the least, obliterating their characteristic features.

Few terms of equal importance are so vaguely defined as the term civilization; few definitions are so difficult. In common parlance, the word civilization is used to designate that moral, intellectual, and material condition at which the so-called European race, whether occupying the Eastern or the Western continent, has arrived in the nineteenth century. But the nations comprised in this race differ from one another so extensively, that it has been found necessary to invent a new term: enlightenment. Thus, Great Britain, France, the United States, Switzerland, several of the States of the German Confederacy, Sweden, and Denmark, are called enlightened; while Russia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil, and the South American republics are merely civilized. Now, I ask, in what does the difference consist?

Is the diffusion of knowledge by popular education to be the test? Then Great Britain and France would fall far below some countries now placed in the second, or even third rank. Denmark and China would be the most civilized countries in the world; nay, even Thibet, and the rest of Central Asia, would take precedence before the present champions of civilization. The whole of Germany and Switzerland would come next, then the eastern and middle sections of the United States, then the southern and western; and, after them, Great Britain and France. Still retaining the same scale, Russia would actually be ranked above Italy, the native clime of the arts. In Great Britain itself, Scotland would far surpass England in civilization [13].

Is the perfection to which the arts are carried, the test of civilization? Then Bavaria and Italy are the most civilized countries. Then are we far behind the Greeks in civilization. Or, are the useful arts to carry the prize? Then the people showing the greatest mechanical genius is the most civilized.

Are political institutions to be the test? Then the question, "Which is the best government?" must first be decided. But the philosophic answer would be: "That which is best adapted to the genius of the people, and therefore best answers the purposes for which all government is instituted." Those who believe in the abstract superiority of any governmental theory, may be compared to the tailor who would finish some beau-ideal of a coat, without taking his customer's measure. We could afford to laugh at such theorists, were not their schemes so often recorded in blood in the annals of the world. Besides, if this test be admitted, no two could agree upon what was a civilized community. The panegyrist of constitutional monarchy would call England the only civilized country; the admirer of municipal liberty would point to the Hanse towns of the Middle Ages, and their miserable relics, the present free cities of Germany; the friend of sober republicanism would exclude from the pale of civilization all but the United States and Switzerland; the lover of pure democracy would contend that mankind had retrograded since the time of Athens, and deplore that civilization was now confined to some few rude mountain or nomadic tribes with few and simple wants; finally, the defender of a paternal autocracy would sigh for the days of Trajan or Marcus Aurelius, and hesitate whether, in our age, Austria or Russia deserved the crown.

Neither pre-eminence in arts and sciences, nor in popular instruction, nor in government, can singly be taken as the test of civilization. Pre-eminence in all, no country enjoys. Yet all these are signs of civilization—the only ones by which we distinguish and recognize it. How, then, shall we define this term? I would suggest a simple and, I think, sufficiently explicit definition: Civilization is the continuous development of man's moral and intellectual powers. As the aggregate of these differs in different nations, so differs the character of their civilization. In one, civilization manifests itself in the perfection of the arts, either useful or polite; in another, in the cultivation of the sciences; in a third; in the care bestowed upon politics, or, in the diffusion of knowledge among the masses. Each has its own merits, each its own defects; none combines the excellencies of all, but whichever combines the most with fewest defects, may be considered the best, or most perfect. It is because not keeping this obvious truth in view that John Bull laughs (or used to laugh) self-complacently at Monsieur Crapaud, and that we ourselves sometimes laugh at his political capers, forgetting that the thinkers of his nation have, for the last century at least, led the van in science and politics—yes, even in politics. [14] It is, for the same reason, that the Frenchman laughs at the German, or the Dutchman; that the foreigner cannot understand that there is an American civilization as well, and, bringing his own country's standard along with him, finds everything either too little or too great; or, that the American, going to the native soil of the ripest scholars in the world, and seeing brick and mortar carried up by hand to the fourth story of a building in process of erection, [15] or seeing five men painfully perform a job which his youngest son would have accomplished without trouble by the simplest, perhaps self-invented, contrivance, revolves in his own mind how it is possible that these people—when the schoolmaster is abroad, too—are still so many centuries "behind the time." Thus each nation has its own standard by which it judges its neighbors; but when extra-European nations, such as the Chinese or Hindoos, are to be judged, all unite in voting them outside barbarians.

Here, then, we have indubitable proofs of moral and intellectual diversities, not only in what are generally termed different races, but even in nations apparently belonging to the same race. Nor do I see in this diversity ought that can militate against our ideas of universal brotherhood. Among individuals, diversity of talent does not preclude friendly intercourse; on the contrary, it promotes it, for rivals seldom are friends. Neither does superior ability exempt us from the duties which we owe to our fellow-man.

I have repeatedly made use of the analogy between societies and the individuals that compose them. I cannot more clearly express my idea of civilization than by recurring to it again. Civilization, then, is to nations what the development of his physical and intellectual powers is to an individual; indeed, it is nothing but the aggregate result of all these individual powers; a common reservoir to which each contributes a share, whether large or small. The analogy may be extended further. Nations may be considered as themselves members of societies, bearing the same relations to each other and to the whole, as individuals. Thus, all the nations of Europe contribute, each in its own manner and degree, to what has been called the European civilization. And, in the same manner, the nations of Asia form distinct systems of civilizations. But all these systems ultimately tend to one great aim—the general welfare of mankind. I would therefore carefully distinguish between the civilizations of particular nations, of clusters of nations, and of the whole of our species. To borrow a metaphor from the mechanism of the universe, the first are like the planets of a solar system, revolving—though in different orbits, and with different velocities—around the same common centre; but the solar systems again—with all their planets—revolve round another, more distant point.

Let us take two individuals of undoubted intellect. One may be a great mathematician, the other a great statesman. Place the first at the head of a cabinet, the second in an observatory, and the mathematician will as signally fail in correctly observing the changes in the political firmament, as the other in noting those in the heavenly. Yet, who would decide which had the superior intellect? This diversity of gifts is not the result of education. No training, however ingenious, could have changed an Arago into a Pitt, or vice versa. Raphael could under no circumstances have become a Handel, or either of them a Milton. Nay, men differ in following the same career. Can any one conceive that Michael Angelo could ever have painted Vandyke's pictures, Shakspeare written Milton's verses, Mozart composed Rossini's music, or Jefferson followed Hamilton's policy? Here, then, we have excellencies, perhaps of equal degree, but of very different kinds. Nature, from her inexhaustible store, has not only unequally, but variously, bestowed her favors, and this infinite variety of gifts, as infinite as the variety of faces, God has doubtless designed for the happiness of men, and for their more intimate union, in making them dependent one on another. As each creature sings his Maker's praise in his own voice and cadence, the sparrow in his twitter, the nightingale in her warble, so each human being proclaims the Almighty's glory by the rightful use of his talents, whether great or small, for the promotion of his fellow-creatures' happiness; one may raise pious emotion in the breast by the tuneful melody of his song; another by the beauty and vividness of his images on canvas or in verse; a third discovers new worlds—additional evidences of His omnipotence who made them—and, by his calculations, demonstrates, even to the sceptic, the wonderful mechanism of the universe; to another, again, it is given to guide a nation's councils, and, by His assistance, to avert danger, or correct evils. Fie upon those who would raise man's powers above those of God, and ascribe diversity of talents to education and accident, rather than to His wisdom and design. Can we not admire the Almighty as well in the variety as in a fancied uniformity of His works? Harmony consists in the union of different sounds; the harmony of the universe, in the diversity of its parts.

What is true of a society composed of individuals, is true of that vast political assemblage composed of nations. That each has a career to run through, a destiny to fulfil, is my firm and unwavering belief. That each must be gifted with peculiar qualities for that purpose, is a mere corollary of the proposition. This has been the opinion of all ages: "The men of Bœotia are noted for their stolidity, those of Attica for their wit." Common parlance proves that it is now, to-day, the opinion of all mankind, whatever theorists may say. Many affect to deride the idea of "manifest destiny" that possesses us Anglo-Americans, but who in the main doubts it? Who, that will but cast one glance on the map, or look back upon our history of yesterday only, can think of seriously denying that great purposes have been accomplished, will still be accomplished, and that these purposes were designed and guided by something more than blind chance? Unroll the page of history—of the great chain of human events, it is true, we perceive but few links; like eternity, its beginning is wrapt in darkness, its end a mystery above human comprehension—but, in the vast drama presented to us, in which nations form the cast, we see each play its part, then disappear. Some, as Mr. Gobineau has it, act the kings and rulers, others are content with inferior roles.

As it is incompatible with the wisdom of the Creator, to suppose that each nation was not specially fitted [16] for the part assigned to it, we may judge of what they were capable of by what they have accomplished.

History, then, must be our guide; and never was epoch more propitious, for never has her lamp shone brighter. The study of this important science, which Niebuhr truly calls the magistra vitæ, has received within our days an impulse such as it never had before. The invaluable archæological treasures which the linguists and antiquarians of Europe have rescued from the literature and monuments of the great nations of former ages, bring—as it were—back to life again the mouldered generations of the dim past. We no longer content ourselves with chronological outlines, mere names, and unimportant accounts of kings and their quarrels; we seek to penetrate into the inner life of those multitudes who acted their part on the stage of history, and then disappeared, to understand the modes of thought, the feelings, ideas, instincts, which actuated them, and made them what they were. The hoary pyramids of the Nile valley are forced to divulge their age, the date of a former civilization; the temples and sepulchres, to furnish a minute account of even the private life of their builders; [17] the arrow-headed characters on the disinterred bricks of the sites of Babylon and Nineveh, are no longer a secret to the indefatigable orientalists; the classic writers of Hindostan and China find their most zealous scholiasts, and profoundest critics, in the capitals of Western Europe. The dross of childish fables, which age after age has transmitted to its successor under the name of history, is exposed to the powerful furnace of reason and criticism, and the pure ore extracted, by such men as Niebuhr, Heeren, Ranke, Gibbon, Grote. The enthusiastic lover of ancient Rome now sees her early history in clearer, truer colors than did her own historians.

But, if history is indispensable to ethnology, the latter is no less so to a true understanding of history. The two sciences mutually shed light on one another's path, and though one of them is as yet in its infancy, its wonderful progress in so short a time, and the almost unparalleled attention which it has excited at all hands, are bright omens for the future. It will be obvious that, by ethnology, we do not mean ethnography, with which it has long been synonymous. Their meaning differs in the same manner, they bear almost the same relation to one another as geology and geography. While ethnography contents herself with the mere description and classification of the races of man, ethnology, to borrow the expressive language of the editor of the London Ethnological Journal, "investigates the mental and physical differences of mankind, and the organic laws upon which they depend; seeks to deduce from these investigations principles of human guidance, in all the important relations of social and national existence." [18] The importance of this study cannot be better expressed than in the words of a writer in the North British Review for August, 1849: "No one that has not worked much in the element of history, can be aware of the immense importance of clearly keeping in view the differences of race that are discernible among the nations that inhabit different parts of the world.... In speculative history, in questions relating to the past career and the future destinies of nations,it is only by a firm and efficient handling of this conception of our species, as broken up into so many groups or masses, physiologically different to a certain extent, that any progress can be made, or any available conclusions accurately arrived at." [19]

But in attempting to divide mankind into such groups, an ethnologist is met by a serious and apparently insurmountable difficulty. The gradation of color is so imperceptible from the clearest white to the jettest black; and even anatomical peculiarities, normal in one branch, are found to exist, albeit in exceptional cases, in many others; so that the ethnographers scarce know where to stop in their classification, and while some recognize but three grand varieties, others contend for five, for eleven, or even for a much greater number. This difficulty arises, in my estimation, mainly from the attempt to class mankind into different species, that is, groups who have a separate origin; and also, from the proneness to draw deductions from individual instances, by which almost any absurdity can be sustained, or truth refuted. As we have already inveighed against the latter error, and shall therefore try to avoid falling into it; and as we have no desire to enter the field of discussion about unity or plurality of species, we hope, in a great measure, to obviate the difficulties that beset the path of so many inquirers. By the word race [20] we mean, both here and in the body of the work, such branches of the human family as are distinguished in the aggregate by certain well-defined physical or mental peculiarities, independent of the question whether they be of identical or diverse origin. For the sake of simplicity, these races are arranged in several principal classes, according to their relative affinities and resemblances. The most popular system of arrangement is that of Blumenbach, who recognizes five grand divisions, distinguished by appellations descriptive either of color or geographical position, viz: the White, Circassian, or European; the Yellow, Altaic, Asiatic, or Mongolian; the Red, American, or Indian; the Brown, or Malay; and, lastly, the Black, African, or negro. This division, though the most commonly adopted, has no superior claims above any other. Not only are its designations liable to very serious objections, but it is, in itself, entirely arbitrary. The Hottentot differs as much from the negro as the latter does from the Malay; and the Polynesian from the Malay more than the American from the Mongolian. Upon the same principle, then, the number of classes might be indefinitely extended. Mr. Gobineau thought three classes sufficient to answer every purpose, and these he calls respectively the white, yellow, and black. Mr. Latham, [21] the great ethnographer, adopts a system almost precisely similar to our author's, and upon grounds entirely different. Though, for my own part, I should prefer a greater number of primary divisions, I confess that this coincidence of opinion in two men, pursuing, independent of, and unknown to each other, different paths of investigation, is a strong evidence of the correctness of their system, which, moreover, has the merit of great simplicity and clearness.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:47 pm

Part 2 of 2

It must be borne in mind that the races comprised under these divisions, are by no means to be considered equal among themselves. We should lay it down as a general truth, that while the entire groups differ principally in degree of intellectual capacity, the races comprised in each differ among themselves rather in kind. Thus, we assert upon the testimony of history, that the white races are superior to the yellow; and these, in turn, to the black. But the Lithuanian and the Anglo-Saxon both belong to the same group of races, and yet, history shows that they differ; so do the Samoyede and the Chinese, the negro of Lower Guinea, and the Fellah. These differences, observable among nations classed under the same head, as, for instance, the difference between the Russians and Italians (both white), we express in every day's language by the word "genius." Thus, we constantly hear persons speak of the artistic, administrative, nautical genius of the Greeks, Romans, and Phenicians, respectively; or, such phrases as these, which I borrow from Mr. Gobineau: "Napoleon rightly understood the genius of his nation when he reinstated the Church, and placed the supreme authority on a secure basis; Charles I. and his adviser did not, when they attempted to bend the neck of Englishmen under the yoke of absolutism." But, as the word genius applied to the capacities or tendencies of a nation, in general implies either too much or too little, it has been found convenient, in this work, to substitute for it another term—instinct. By the use of this word, it was not intended to assimilate man to the brute, to express aught differing from intellect or the reasoning capacity; but only to designate the peculiar manner in which that intellect or reasoning capacity manifests itself; in other words, the special adaptation of a nation for the part assigned to it in the world's history; and, as this part is performed involuntarily and, for the most part, unconsciously, the term was deemed neither improper nor inappropriate. I do not, however, contend for its correctness, though I could cite the authority of high names for its use in this sense; I contend merely for its convenience, for we thereby gain an easy method of making distinctions of kind in the mental endowments of races, in cases where we would hesitate to make distinctions of degree. In fact, it is saying of multitudes only what we say of an individual by speaking of histalent; with this difference, however, that by talent we understand excellency of a certain order, while instinct applies to every grade. Two persons of equal intellectual calibre may have, one a talent for mathematics, the other for literature; that is, one can exhibit his intellect to advantage only in calculation, the other only in writing. Thus, of two nations standing equally high in the intellectual scale, one shall be distinguished for the high perfection attained in the fine arts, the other for the same perfection in the useful.

At the risk of wearying the reader with my definitions, I must yet inflict on him another which is essential to the right understanding of the following pages. In common parlance, the terms nation and people have become strictly synonymous. We speak indifferently of the French people, or the French nation; the English people, or the English nation. If we make any distinction at all, we perhaps designate by the first expression the masses; by the second, rather the sovereignty. Thus, we say the French people are versatile, the French nation is at war with Russia. But even this distinction is not always made.

My purpose is to restore the word nation to its original signification, in which it expresses the same as the word race, including, besides, the idea of some sort of political organization. It is, in fact, nothing but the Latin equivalent of that word, and was applied, like tribe, to a collection of individuals not only living under the same government, but also claiming a closer consanguinity to one another than to their neighbors. It differs from tribe only in this respect, that it is applied to greater multitudes, as for instance to a coalescence of several closely-allied tribes, which gives rise to more complicated political forms. It might therefore be defined by an ethnologist as a population consisting of homogeneous ethnical elements.

The word people, on the contrary, when applied to an aggregation of individuals living under the same government, implies no immediate consanguineous ties among them. Nation does not necessarily imply political unity; people, always. Thus, we speak of the Greek nation, though the Greeks were divided into a number of independent and very dissimilar sovereignties; but, we say the Roman people, though the whole population of the empire obeyed the same supreme head. The Russian empire contains within its limits, besides the Russians proper, an almost equal number of Cossacks, Calmucks, Tartars, Fins, and a number of other races, all very different from one another and still more so from the Russians, not only in language and external appearance, but in manners, modes of thinking: in one word, in instincts. By the expression Russian people I should therefore understand the whole population of that empire; by Russian nation, only the dominant race to which the Czar belongs. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of keeping in view this distinction, as I shall prove by another instance. The Hungarian people are very nearly equally divided (exclusive of about one million Germans) into two nations, the Magyars and the Sclaves. Not only have these two, though for centuries occupying the same soil, remained unmixed and distinct, but the most intense antipathy exists between them, which only requires an occasion to display itself in acts of bloodshed and relentless cruelty, that would make the tenants of hell shudder. Such an occasion was the recent revolution, in which, while the Magyars fought like lions for their independence, the Sclaves, knowing that they would not participate in any advantage the others might gain, proved more formidable opponents than the Austrians. [22]

If I have been successful in my discrimination between the two words, it follows plainly that a member of one nation, strictly speaking, can no more become a member of another by process of law, than a man, by adopting a child, can make it the fruit of his loins. This rule, though correct in the abstract, does not always apply to individual cases; but these, as has already been remarked, cannot be made the groundwork of general deductions. In conclusion of this somewhat digressional definition, I would observe that, owing to the great intermixture of the European populations, produced by their various and intimate mutual relations, it does not apply with the same force to them as to others, and this I regard as the reason why the signification of the word has become modified.

If we will carefully examine the history of great empires, we shall be able, in almost every instance, to trace their beginning to the activity of what, in the strictest sense of the word, may be called a nation. Gradually, as the sphere of that nation expands, it incorporates, and in course of time amalgamates with foreign elements.

Nimrod, we learn from sacred history, established the Assyrian empire. At first, this consisted of but little more than the city of Babylon, and must necessarily have contained a very homogeneous population, if from no other cause than its narrow geographical limits. At the dawn of profane history, however, we find this empire extending over boundless tracts, and uniting under one rule tribes and nations of the most dissimilar manners and tongues.

The Assyrian empire fell, and that of the Medes rose on its ruins. The Median monarchy had an humble beginning. Dejoces, says tradition, united the independent tribes of the Medes. Later, we find them ruling nations whose language they did not understand, whose manners they despised.

The Persian empire exceeded in grandeur its mighty predecessors. Originating in a rebellion of a few liberty-loving tribes, concerted and successfully executed by a popular leader (Cyrus), two generations of rulers extended its boundaries to the banks of the Nile. In Alexander's time, it was a conglomeration of a countless number of nations, many of whom remained under their hereditary rulers while rendering allegiance, and paying tribute to the great king.

I pass over the Macedonian empire, as of too short a duration to be a fair illustration. The germ of the Roman empire consisted of a coalescence of very closely allied tribes: Romulus's band of adventurers (who must have come from neighboring communities), the Sabines, Albans, and Latins. At the period of its downfall, it ruled, at least nominally, over every then known race.

In all these instances, the number of which might be further increased, we find homogeneousness of population at first, ethnical mixture and confusion at the end. "But what does this prove? will be asked. That too great an extension of territory is the cause of weakness? The idea is old, and out of date in our times, when steam and electricity bring the outskirts of the largest empire in closer proximity than formerly were the frontiers of the humblest sovereignty." Extension of territory does not itself prove a cause of weakness and ruin. The largest empire in the world is that of China, and, without steam or electricity, it has maintained itself for 4,000 years, and bids fair, spite of the present revolution, to last a good long while yet. But, when extension of territory is attended with the incorporation of heterogeneous masses, having different interests, different instincts, from the conqueror, then indeed the extension must be an element of weakness, and not of strength.

The armies which Xerxes led into Greece were not Persians; but a small fragment of that motley congregation, the élite, the leaven of the whole mass, was composed of the king's countrymen. Upon this small body he placed his principal reliance, and when, at the fatal battle of Salamis, he beheld the slaughter of that valiant and noble band, though he had hundreds of thousands yet at his command, he rent his garments and fled a country which he had well-nigh conquered. Here is the difference between the armies of Cyrus and those of Xerxes and Darius. The rabbles which obeyed the latter, perhaps contained as much valor as the ranks of the enthusiastic followers of the first, though the fact of their fighting under Persian standards might be considered as a proof of their inferiority. But what interest had they in the success of the great king? To forge still firmer their own fetters? Could the name of Cyrus, the remembrance of the storming of Sardis, the siege of Babylon, the conquest of Egypt, fire them with enthusiasm? Perhaps, in some of those glorious events, their forefathers became slaves to the tyrants they now serve, tyrants whose very language they do not understand.

The last armies of tottering Rome were drafted from every part of her boundless dominions, and of the men who were sent to oppose the threatening barbarians of the north, some, it might be, felt the blood of humbled Greece in their veins; some had been torn from a distant home in Egypt, or Libya; others, perhaps, remembered with pride how their ancestors had fought the Romans in the times of Juba, or Mithridates; others, again, boiled with indignation at the oppression of their Gallic brethren;—could those men respect the glorious traditions of Rome, could they be supposed to emulate the former legions of the proud city?

It is not, then, an extensive territory that ruins nations; it is a diversity of instincts, a clashing of interests among the various parts of the population. When each province is isolated in feelings and interests from every other, no external foe is wanted to complete the ruin. Ambitious and adroit men will soon arise who know how to play upon these interests, and employ them for the promotion of their own schemes.

Nations, in the various stages of their career, have often been compared to individuals. They have, it is said, their period of infancy, of youth, of manhood, of old age. But the similitude, however striking, is not extended further, and, while individuals die a natural death, nations are supposed always to come to a violent end. Probably, we do not like to concede that all nations, like all individuals, must ultimately die a natural death, even though no disease anticipates it; because we dislike to recognize a rule which must apply to us as well. Each nation fancies its own vitality imperishable. When we are young, we seldom seriously think of death; in the same manner, societies in the period of their youthful vigor and energy, cannot conceive the possibility of their dissolution. In old age and decrepitude, they are like the consumptive patient, who, while fell disease is severing the last thread that binds him to the earth, is still forming plans for years to come. Falling Rome dreamed herself eternal. Yet, the mortality of nations admits of precisely the same proof as that of individuals—universal experience. The great empires that overshadowed the world, where are they? The memory of some is perpetuated in the hearts of mankind by imperishable monuments; of others, the slightest trace is obliterated, the vaguest remembrance vanished. As the great individual intelligences, whose appearance marks an era in the history of human thought, live in the minds of posterity, even though no gorgeous tombstone points out the resting-place of their hull of clay; while the mausoleum of him whose grandeur was but temporary, whose influence transient only, carries no meaning on its sculptured surface to after ages; even so the ancient civilizations which adorned the globe, if their monuments be not in the domain of thought, their gigantic vestiges serve but to excite the wonder of the traveller and antiquary, and perplex the historian. Their sepulchres, however grand, are mute. [23]

Many have been the attempts to detect the causes why nations die, in order to prevent that catastrophe; as the physicians of the Middle Ages, who thought death was always the consequence of disease, sought for the panacea that was to cure all ills and thus prolong life forever. But nations, like individuals, often survive the severest attacks of the most formidable disease, and die without sickness. In ancient times, those great catastrophes which annihilated the political existence of millions, were regarded as direct interpositions of Providence, visiting in its wrath the sins of a nation, and erecting a warning example for others; just as the remarkable destruction of a noted individual, or the occurrence of an unusual phenomenon was, and by many is even now, ascribed to the same immediate agency. But when philosophy discovered that the universe is governed by pre-established, immutable laws, and refused to credit miracles not sanctioned by religion; then the dogma gained ground that punishment follows the commission of sin, as effect does the cause; and national calamities had to be explained by other reasons. It was then said, nations die of luxury, immorality, bad government, irreligion, etc. In other words, success was made the test of excellency and failure of crime. If, in individual life, we were to lay it down as an infallible rule, that he who commits no excesses lives forever, or at least very long; and he who does, will immediately die; that he who is honest in his dealings, will always prosper more than he who is not; we should have a very fluctuating standard of morality, since it has pleased God to sometimes try the good by severe afflictions, and let the wicked prosper. We should therefore be often called upon to admire what is deserving of contempt or punishment, and to seek for guilt in the innocent. This is what we do in nations. Wicked institutions have been called good, because they were attended with success; good ones have been pronounced bad, because they failed.

A more critical study of history has demonstrated the fallibility of this theory, which is now in a great measure discarded, and another adopted in its stead. It is argued that, at a certain period in its existence, a nation infallibly becomes degenerated, and thus falls. But, asks Mr. Gobineau, what is degeneracy? A nation is said to be degenerated when the virtues of its ancestry are lost. But why are they lost? Because the nation is degenerated. Is not this like the reasoning in the child's story-book: Why is Jack a bad boy? Because he disobeys his parents. Why does he disobey his parents? Because he is a bad boy.

It is necessary, then, to show what degeneracy is. This step in advance, Mr. Gobineau attempts to make. He shows that each race is distinguished by certain capabilities, which, if its civilizing genius is sufficiently strong to enable it to assume a rank among the nations of the world, determine the character of its social and political development. Like the Phenicians, it may become the merchant and barterer of the world; or, like the Greeks, the teacher of future generations; or, like the Romans, the model-giver of laws and forms. Its part in the drama of history may be an humble one or a proud, but it is always proportionate to its powers. These powers, and the instincts or aspirations which spring from them, never change as long as the race remains pure. They progress and develop themselves, but never alter their nature. The purposes of the race are always the same. It may arrive at great perfection in the useful arts, but, without infiltration of a different element, will never be distinguished for poetry, painting, sculpture, etc.; and vice versa. Its nature may be belligerent, and it will always find causes for quarrel; or it may be pacific, and then it will manage to live at peace, or fall a prey to a neighbor.

In the same manner, the government of a race will be in accordance with its instincts, and here I have the weighty authority of the author of Democracy in America, in my favor, and the author's whom I am illustrating. "A government," says De Tocqueville, [24] "retains its sway over a great number of citizens, far less by the voluntary and rational consent of the multitude, than by that instinctive, and, to a certain extent, involuntary agreement, which results from similarity of feelings, and resemblances of opinions. I will never admit that men constitute a social body, simply because they obey the same head and the same laws. A society can exist only when a great number of men consider a great number of things in the same point of view; when they hold the same opinions upon many subjects, and when the same occurrences suggest the same thoughts and impressions to their minds." The laws and government of a nation are always an accurate reflex of its manners and modes of thinking. "If, at first, it would appear," says Mr. Gobineau, "as if, in some cases, they were the production of some superior individual intellect, like the great law-givers of antiquity; let the facts be more carefully examined, and it will be found that the law-giver—if wise and judicious—has contented himself with consulting the genius of his nation, and giving a voice to the common sentiment. If, on the contrary, he be a theorist like Draco, his system remains a dead letter, soon to be superseded by the more judicious institutions of a Solon who aims to give to his countrymen, not the best laws possible, but the best he thinks them capable of receiving." It is a great and a very general error to suppose that the sense of a nation will always decide in favor of what we term "popular" institutions, that is to say, such in which each individual shares more or less immediately in the government. Its genius may tend to the establishment of absolute authority, and in that case the autocrat is but an impersonation of the vox populi, by which he must be guided in his policy. If he be too deaf or rash to listen to it, his own ruin will be the inevitable consequence, but the nation persists in the same career.

The meaning of the word degeneracy is now obvious. This inevitable evil is concealed in the very successes to which a nation owes its splendor. Whether, like the Persians, Romans, &c., it is swallowed up and absorbed by the multitudes its arms have subjected, or whether the ethnical mixture proceeds in a peaceful manner, the result is the same. Even where no foreign conquests add suddenly hundreds of thousands of a foreign population to the original mass, the fertility of uncultivated fields, the opulence of great commercial cities, and all the advantages to be found in the bosom of a rising nation, accomplish it, if in a less perceptible, in a no less certain manner. The two young nations of the world are now the United States and Russia. See the crowds which are thronging over the frontiers of both. Both already count their foreign population by millions. As the original population—the initiatory element of the whole mass—has no additions to its numbers but its natural increase, it follows that the influent elements must, in course of time, be of equal strength, and the influx still continuing, finally absorb it altogether. Sometimes a nation establishes itself upon the basis of a much more numerous conquered population, as in the case of the Frankish conquerors of Gaul; then the amalgamation of ranks and classes produces the same results as foreign immigration. It is clear that each new ethnical element brings with it its own characteristics or instincts, and according to the relative strength of these will be the modifications in government, social relations, and the whole tendencies of the race. The modifications may be for the better, they may be for the worse; they may be very gradual, or very sudden, according to the merit and power of the foreign influence; but in course of time they will amount to radical, positive changes, and then the original nation has ceased to exist.

This is the natural death of human societies. Sometimes they expire gently and almost imperceptibly; oftener with a convulsion and a crash. I shall attempt to explain my meaning by a familiar simile. A mansion is built which in all respects suits the taste and wants of the owner. Succeeding generations find it too small, too dark, or otherwise ill adapted to their purposes. Respect for their progenitor, and family association, prevent, at first, very extensive changes, still each one makes some; and as these associations grow fainter, the changes become more radical, until at last nothing of the old house remains. But if it had previously passed into the hands of a stranger, who had none of these associations to venerate and respect, he would probably have pulled it down at once and built another.

An empire, then, falls, when the vitalizing principle which gave it birth is exhausted; when its parts are connected by none but artificial ties, and artificial ties are all those which unite races possessed of different instincts. This idea is expressed in the beautiful image of the inspired prophet, when he tells the mighty king that great truth, which so many refuse to believe, that all earthly kingdoms must perish until "the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." [25] "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them." [26]

I have now illustrated, to the best of my abilities, several of the most important propositions of Mr. Gobineau, and attempted to sustain them by arguments and examples different from those used by the author. For a more perfect exposition I must refer the reader to the body of the work. My purpose was humbly to clear away such obstacles as the author has left in the path, and remove difficulties that escaped his notice. The task which I have set myself, would, however, be far from accomplished, were I to pass over what I consider a serious error on his part, in silence and without an effort at emendation.

Civilization, says Mr. Gobineau, arises from the combined action and mutual reaction of man's moral aspirations, and the pressure of his material wants. This, in a general sense, is obviously true. But let us see the practical application. I shall endeavor to give a concise abstract of his views, and then to point out where and why he errs.

In some races, says he, the spiritual aspirations predominate over their physical desires, in others it is the reverse. In none are either entirely wanting. According to the relative proportion and intensity of either of these influences, which counteract and yet assist each other, the tendency of the civilization varies. If either is possessed in but a feeble degree, or if one of them so greatly outweighs the other as to completely neutralize its effects, there is no civilization, and never can be one until the race is modified by intermixture with one of higher endowments. But if both prevail to a sufficient extent, the preponderance of either one determines the character of the civilization. In the Chinese, it is the material tendency that prevails, in the Hindoo the other. Consequently we find that in China, civilization is principally directed towards the gratification of physical wants, the perfection of material well-being. In other words, it is of an eminently utilitarian character, which discourages all speculation not susceptible of immediate practical application.

This well describes the Chinese, and is precisely the picture which M. Huc, who has lived among them for many years, and has enjoyed better opportunities for studying their genius than any other writer, gives of them in his late publication. [27]

Hindoo culture, on the contrary, displays a very opposite tendency. Among that nation, everything is speculative, nothing practical. The toils of human intellect are in the regions of the abstract where the mind often loses itself in depths beyond its sounding. The material wants are few and easily supplied. If great works are undertaken, it is in honor of the gods, so that even their physical labor bears homage to the invisible rather than the visible world. This also is a tolerably correct picture.

He therefore divides all races into these two categories, taking the Chinese as the type of the one and the Hindoos as that of the other. According to him, the yellow races belong pre-eminently to the former, the black to the latter, while the white are distinguished by a greater intensity and better proportion of the qualities of both. But this division, and no other is consistent with the author's proposition, by assuming that in the black races the moral preponderates over the physical tendency, comes in direct conflict not only with the plain teachings of anatomy, but with all we know of the history of those races. I shall attempt to show wherein Mr. Gobineau's error lies, an error from the consequences of which I see no possibility for him to escape, and suggest an emendation which, so far from invalidating his general position, tends rather to confirm and strengthen it. In doing so, I am actuated by the belief that even if I err, I may be useful by inviting others more capable to the task of investigation. Suggestions on important subjects, if they serve no other purpose than to provoke inquiry, are never useless. The alchemists of the Middle Ages, in their frivolous pursuit of impossibilities, discovered many invaluable secrets of nature and laid the foundation of that science which, by explaining the intimate mutual action of all natural bodies, has become the indispensable handmaiden of almost every other.

The error, it seems to me, lies in the same confusion of distinct ideas, to which I had already occasion to advert. In ordinary language, we speak of the physical and moral nature of man, terming physical whatever relates to his material, and moral what relates to his immaterial being. Again, we speak of mind, and though in theory we consider it as a synonyme of soul, in practical application it has a very different signification. A person may cultivate his mind without benefiting his soul, and the term a superior mind, does not necessarily imply moral excellency. That mental qualifications or acquisitions are in no way connected with sound morality or true piety, I have pointed out before. Should any further illustrations be necessary, I might remark that the greatest monsters that blot the page of history, have been, for the most part, men of what are called superior minds, of great intellectual attainments. Indeed, wickedness is seldom very dangerous, unless joined to intellect, as the common sense of mankind has expressed in the adage that a fool is seldom a knave. We daily see men perverting the highest mental gifts to the basest purposes, a fact which ought to be carefully weighed by those who believe that education consists in the cultivation of the intellect only. I therefore consider the moral endowments of man as practically different from the mental or intellectual, at least in their manifestations, if not in their essence. To define my idea more clearly, let me attempt to explain the difference between what I term the moral and the intellectual nature of man. I am aware of the dangerous nature of the ground I am treading, but shall nevertheless make the attempt to show that it is in accordance with the spirit of religion to consider what in common parlance is called the moral attributes of man, and which would be better expressed by the word psychical, as divisible into two, the strictly moral, and the intellectual.

The former is what leads man to look beyond his earthly existence, and gives even the most brutish savage some vague idea of a Deity. I am making no rash or unfounded assertion when I declare, Mr. Locke's weighty opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, that no tribe has ever been discovered in which some notion of this kind, however rude, was wanting, and I consider it innate—a yearning, as it were, of the soul towards the regions to which it belongs. The feeling of religion is implanted in our breast; it is not a production of the intellect, and this the Christian church confirms when it declares that faith we owe to the grace of God.

Intellect is that faculty of soul by which it takes cognizance of, classes and compares the facts of the material world. As all perceptions are derived through the senses, it follows that upon the nicety of these its powers must in a great measure depend. The vigor and delicacy of the nerves, and the size and texture of the brain in which they all centre, form what we call native intellectual gifts. Hence, when the body is impaired, the mind suffers; "mens sana in corpore sano;" hence, a fever prostrates, and may forever destroy, the most powerful intellect; a glass of wine may dim and distort it. Here, then, is the grand distinction between soul and mind. The latter, human wickedness may annihilate; the former, man killeth not. I should wish to enter more fully upon this investigation, not new, indeed, in speculative science, yet new in the application I purpose to make of it, were it not for fear of wearying my reader, to whom my only apology can be, that the discussion is indispensable to the proper investigation of the moral and intellectual diversities of races. When I say moral diversities, I do not mean that man's moral endowments, strictly speaking, are unequal. This assertion I am not prepared to make, because—as religion is accessible and comprehensible to them all—it may be supposed that these are in all cases equal. But I mean that the manifestation of these moral endowments varies, owing to causes which I am now about to consider. I have said that the moral nature of man leads him to look beyond the confines of the material world. This, when not assisted by revelation, he attempts to do by means of his intellect. The intellect is, as it were, the visual organ by which the soul scans the abyss between the present and the future existence. According to the dimness or brightness of this mental eye, are his perceptions. If the intellectual capacity is weak, he is content with a grovelling conception of the Deity; if powerful, he erects an elaborate fabric of philosophical speculations. But, as the Almighty has decreed that human intellect, even in its sublimest flight, cannot soar to His presence; it follows that the most elaborate fabric of the philosopher is still a human fabric, that the most perfect human theology is still human, and hence—the necessity of revelation. This divine light, which His mercy has vouchsafed us, dispenses with, and eclipses, the feeble glimmerings of human intellect. It illumines as well the soul of the rude savage as of the learned theologian; of the illiterate as of the erudite. Nay, very often the former has the advantage, for the erudite philosopher is prone to think his own lamp all-sufficient. If it be objected that a highly cultivated mind, if directed to rightful purposes, will assist in gaining a nobler conception of the Deity, I shall not contradict, for in the study of His works, we learn still more to admire the Maker. But I insist that true piety can, and does exist without it, and let those who trust so much in their own powers beware lest they lean upon a broken staff.

The strictly moral attributes of man, therefore, those attributes which enable him to communicate with his Maker, are common—probably in equal degree—to all men, and to all races of men. But his communications with the external world depend on his physical conformation. The body is the connecting link between the spirit and the material world, and, by its intimate relations to both, specially adapted to be the means of communication between them. There seems to me nothing irrational or irreligious in the doctrine that, according to the perfectness of this means of communication, must be the intercourse between the two. A person with dull auditory organs can never appreciate music, and whatever his talents otherwise may be, can never become a Meyerbeer or a Mozart. Upon quickness of perception, power of analysis and combination, perseverance and endurance, depend our intellectual faculties, both in their degree and their kind; and are not they blunted or otherwise modified in a morbid state of the body? I consider it therefore established beyond dispute, that a certain general physical conformation is productive of corresponding mental characteristics. A human being, whom God has created with a negro's skull and general physique, can never equal one with a Newton's or a Humboldt's cranial development, though the soul of both is equally precious in the eyes of the Lord, and should be in the eyes of all his followers. There is no tendency to materialism in this idea; I have no sympathy with those who deny the existence of the soul, because they cannot find it under the scalpel, and I consider the body not the mental agent, but the servant, the tool.

It is true that science has not discovered, and perhaps never will discover, what physical differences correspond to the differences in individual minds. Phrenology, starting with brilliant promises, and bringing to the task powers of no mean order, has failed. But there is a vast difference between the characteristics by which we distinguish individuals of the same race, and those by which we distinguish races themselves. The former are not strictly—at least not immediately—hereditary, for the child most often differs from both parents in body and mind, because no two individuals, as no two leaves of one tree, are precisely alike. But, although every oak-leaf differs from its fellow, we know the leaf of the oak-tree from that of the beech, or every other; and, in the same manner, races are distinguished by peculiarities which are hereditary and permanent. Thus, every negro differs from every other negro, else we could not tell them apart; yet all, if pure blood, have the same characteristics in common that distinguish them from the white. I have been prolix, but intentionally so, in my discrimination between individual distinction and those of race, because of the latter, comparative anatomy takes cognizance; the former are left to phrenology, and I wished to remove any suspicion that in the investigation of moral and intellectual diversities of races, recourse must be had to the ill-authenticated speculations of a dubious science. But, from the data of comparative anatomy, attained by a slow and cautious progress, we deduce that races are distinguished by certain permanent physical characteristics; and, if these physical characteristics correspond to the mental, it follows as an obvious conclusion that the latter are permanent also. History ratifies the conclusion, and the common sense of mankind practically acquiesces in it.

To return, then, to our author. I would add to his two elements of civilization a third—intellect per se; or rather, to speak more correctly, I would subdivide one of his elements into two, of which one is probably dependent on physical conformation. The combinations will then be more complex, but will remove every difficulty.

I remarked that although we may consider all races as possessed of equal moral endowments, we yet may speak of moral diversities; because, without the light of revelation, man has nothing but his intellect whereby to compass the immaterial world, and the manifestation of his moral faculties must therefore be in proportion to the clearness of his intellectual, and their preponderance over the animal tendencies. The three I consider as existing about in the following relative proportions in the three great groups under which Mr. Gobineau and Mr. Latham [28] have arranged the various races—a classification, however, which, as I already observed, I cannot entirely approve.


But the races comprised in each group vary among themselves, if not with regard to the relative proportion in which they possess the elements of civilization, at least in their intensity. The following formulas will, I think, apply to the majority of cases, and, at the same time, bring out my idea in a clearer light:—

If the animal propensities are strongly developed, and not tempered by the intellectual faculties, the moral conceptions must be exceedingly low, because they necessarily depend on the clearness, refinement, and comprehensiveness of the ideas derived from the material world through the senses. The religious cravings will, therefore, be contented with a gross worship of material objects, and the moral sense degenerate into a grovelling superstition. The utmost elevation which a population, so constituted, can reach, will be an unconscious impersonation of the good aspirations and the evil tendencies of their nature under the form of a good and an evil spirit, to the latter of which absurd and often bloody homage is paid. Government there can be no other than the right which force gives to the strong, and its forms will be slavery among themselves, and submissiveness of all to a tyrannical absolutism.

When the same animal propensities are combined with intellect of a higher order, the moral faculties have more room for action. The penetration of intellect will not be long in discovering that the gratification of physical desires is easiest and safest in a state of order and stability. Hence a more complex system of legislation both social and political. The conceptions of the Deity will be more elevated and refined, though the idea of a future state will probably be connected with visions of material enjoyment, as in the paradise of the Mohammedans.

Where the animal propensities are weak and the intellect feeble, a vegetating national life results. No political organization, or of the very simplest kind. Few laws, for what need of restraining passions which do not exist. The moral sense content with the vague recognition of a superior being, to whom few or no rites are rendered.

But when the animal propensities are so moderate as to be subordinate to an intellect more or less vigorous, the moral aspirations will yearn towards the regions of the abstract. Religion becomes a system of metaphysics, and often loses itself in the mazes of its own subtlety. The political organization and civil legislation will be simple, for there are few passions to restrain; but the laws which regulate social intercourse will be many and various, and supposed to emanate directly from the Deity.

Strong animal passions, joined to an intellect equally strong, allow the greatest expanse for the moral sense. Political organizations the most complex and varied, social and civil laws the most studied, will be the outward character of a society composed of such elements. Internally we shall perceive the greatest contrasts of individual goodness and wickedness. Religion will be a symbolism of human passions and the natural elements for the many, an ingenious fabric of moral speculations for the few.

I have here rapidly sketched a series of pictures from nature, which the historian and ethnographer will not fail to recognize. Whether the features thus cursorily delineated are owing to the causes to which I ascribe them, I must leave for the reader to decide. My space is too limited to allow of my entering into an elaborate argumentation. But I would observe that, by taking this view of the subject, we can understand why all human—and therefore false—religions are so intimately connected with the social and political organization of the peoples which profess them, and why they are so plainly mapped out on the globe as belonging to certain races, to whom alone they are applicable, and beyond whose area they cannot extend: while Christianity knows no political or social forms, no geographical or ethnological limits. The former, being the productions of human intellect, must vary with its variation, and perish in its decay, while revelation is universal and immutable, like the Intelligence of which it is the emanation.

It is time now to conclude the task, the accomplishment of which has carried me far beyond the limits I had at first proposed to myself. If I have so long detained the reader on the threshold of the edifice, it was to facilitate his after progress, and to give him a chart, that he may not lose himself in the vast field it covers. There he may often meet me again, and if I be sometimes deemed officious with my proffered explanations, he will at least give me credit for good intentions, and he may, if he chooses, pass me without recognition. Both this introduction and notes in the body of the work were thought necessary for several reasons. First, the subject is in some measure a new one, and it was important to guard against misconception, and show, right at the beginning, what was attempted to be proved, and in what manner. Secondly, the author wrote for a European public, and many allusions are made, or positions taken, upon an assumed knowledge of facts, of which the general reader on this side of the ocean can be supposed to have but a slight and vague apprehension. Thirdly, the author has, in many cases, contented himself with abstract reasoning, and therefore is sometimes chargeable with obscureness, on which account familiar illustrations have been supplied. Fourthly, the volume now presented to the reader is one of a series of four, the remainder of which, if this meets the public approbation, may in time appear in an English garb. But it was important to make this, as much as possible, independent of the others and complete in itself. The discussion of the moral and intellectual diversities of the various groups of the human family, is, as I have before shown, totally independent of the question of unity or diversity of species; yet, as it increases the interest attached to the solution of that question, which has been but imperfectly discussed by the author, my esteemed friend, Dr. J. C. Nott, who has so often and so ably treated the subject, has promised to furnish, in notes and an appendix, such additional facts pertaining to his province as a naturalist, as may assist the reader in arriving at a correct opinion.

With regard to the translation, it must be observed that it is not a literal rendering of the original. The translator has aimed rather at giving the meaning, than the exact words or phraseology of the author, at no time, however, departing from the former. He has, in some instances, condensed or omitted what seemed irrelevant, or useless to the discussion of the question in this country, and in a few cases, he has transposed a sentence to a different part of the paragraph, where it seemed more in its place, and more effective. To explain and justify these alterations, we must remind our readers that the author wrote for a public essentially different from that of the translator; that continental writers on grave subjects are in general more intent upon vindicating their opinions than the form in which they express them, and seldom devote that attention to style which English or American readers expect; to which may be added that Count Gobineau wrote in the midst of a multiplicity of diplomatic affairs, and had no time, even if he had thought it worth his while, to give his work that literary finish which would satisfy the fastidious. Had circumstances permitted, this translation would have been submitted to his approbation, but at the time of its going to press he is engaged in the service of his country at the court of Persia.

For obtruding the present work on the notice of the American public, no apology will be required. The subject is one of immense importance, and especially in this country, where it can seldom be discussed without adventitious circumstances biassing the inquirers. To the philanthropist, the leading idea of the book, "that different races, like different individuals, are specially fitted for special purposes, for the fulfilment of which they are accountable in the measure laid down in Holy Writ: 'To whom much is given, from him much will be asked,' and that they are equal only when they truly and faithfully perform the duties of their station"—to the philanthropist, this idea must be fraught with many valuable suggestions. So far from loosening the ties of brotherhood, it binds them closer, because it teaches us not to despise those who are endowed differently from us; and shows us that they, too, may have excellencies which we have not.

To the statesman, the student of history, and the general reader, it is hoped that this volume will not be altogether useless, and may assist to a better understanding of many of the problems that have so long puzzled the philosopher. The greatest revolutions in national relations have been accomplished by the migrations of races, the most calamitous wars that have desolated the globe have been the result of the hostility of races. Even now, a cloud is lowering in the horizon. The friend of peace and order watches it with silent anxiety, lest he hasten its coming. The spirit of mischief exults in its approach, but fears to betray his plans. Thus, western and central Europe now present the spectacle of a lull before the storm. Monarchs sit trembling on their thrones, while nations mutter curses. Nor have premonitory symptoms been wanting. Three times, within little more than half a century, have the eruptions of that ever-burning political volcano—France—shaken the social and political system of the civilized world, and shown the amount of combustible materials, which all the efforts of a ruling class cannot always protect from ignition. The grand catastrophe may come within our times. And, is it the result of any particular social condition, the action of any particular class in the social scale, the diffusion of any particular political principles? No, because the revolutionary tendencies are various, and even opposite; if republican in one place, monarchical in another; if democratic in France, aristocratic in Poland. Nor is it a particular social class wherein the revolutionary principle flourishes, for the classes which, in one country, wish subversion, in another, are firmly attached to the established order of things. The poor in Germany are proletarians and revolutionists; in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, the enthusiastic lovers of their king. The better classes in the former country are mostly conservative; in the latter, they are the makers, or rather attempters, of revolutions. Nor is it any particular social condition, for no class is so degraded as it has been; never was poverty less, and prosperity greater in Europe than in the present century; and everywhere the political institutions are more liberal than ever before. Whence, then, this gathering storm? Does it exist only in the minds of the visionary, or is it a mere bugbear of the timorous? Ask the prudent statesman, the traveller who pierces the different strata of the population; look behind the grates of the State-prisons; count—if this be possible—the number of victims of military executions in Germany and Austria, in 1848 and 1849; read the fearful accounts of the taking of Vienna, of Rome, of Ancona, of Venice, during the same short space of time. Everywhere the same cry: Nationality. It is not the temporary ravings of a mob rendered frantic by hunger and misery. It is a question of nationality, a war of races. Happy we who are removed from the immediate scene of the struggle, and can be but remotely affected by it. Yet, while I write, it seems as though the gales of the Atlantic had blown to our peaceful shores some taints of the epidemic that rages in the Old World. May it soon pass over, and a healthy atmosphere again prevail!

H. H.
Mobile, Aug. 20, 1855.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:51 pm

Diversity of Races.

Chapter 1: Political Catastrophes

Perishable condition of all human societies—Ancient ideas concerning this phenomenon—Modern theories.

The downfall of civilizations is the most striking, and, at the same time, the most obscure of all the phenomena of history. If the sublime grandeur of this spectacle impresses the mind with awe, the mystery in which it is wrapped presents a boundless field for inquiry and meditation to a reflecting mind. The study of the birth and growth of nations is, indeed, fraught with many valuable observations: the gradual development of human societies, their successes, conquests, and triumphs, strike the imagination in a lively manner, and excite an ever increasing interest. But these phenomena, however grand and interesting, seem susceptible of an easy explanation. We consider them as the necessary consequences of the intellectual and moral endowments of man. Once we admit the existence of these endowments, their results will no longer surprise us.

But we perceive that, after a period of glory and strength, all societies formed by man begin to totter and fall; all, I said, because there is no exception. Scattered over the surface of our globe, we see the vestiges of preceding civilizations, many of which are known to us only by name, or have not left behind them even that faint memorial, and are recorded only by the mute stones in the depths of primeval forests. [30] If we glance at our modern States, we are forced to the conclusion that, though their date is but of yesterday, some of them already exhibit signs of old age. The awful truth of prophetic language about the instability of all things human, applies with equal force to political bodies and to individuals, to nations and their civilizations. Every association of men for social and political purposes, though protected by the most ingenious social and political ties and contrivances, conceals among the very elements of its life, the germ of inevitable destruction, contracted the day it was formed. This terrible fact is proved by the history of all ages as well as of our own. It is owing to a natural law of death which seems to govern societies as well as individuals; but, does this law operate alike in all cases? is it uniform like the result it brings about, and do all civilizations perish from the same pre-existing cause?

A superficial glance at the page of history would tempt us to answer in the negative, for the apparent causes of the downfall of the great empires of antiquity were very different in each case. Yet, if we pierce below the surface, we find in this very necessity of decay, which weighs so imperiously upon all societies without exception, the evidence of the existence of some general, though concealed, cause, producing a natural death, even where no external causes anticipate it by violent destruction. We also discover that all civilizations, after a short duration, exhibit, to the acute observer, certain intimate disturbances, difficult to define, but whose existence is undeniable; and that these present in all cases an analogous character. Finally, if we distinguish the ruin of civilizations from that of States (for we sometimes see the same culture subsist in a country under foreign domination, and survive the destruction of the political body which gave it birth; while, again, comparatively slight misfortunes cause it to be transformed, or to disappear altogether), we become more and more confirmed in the idea that this principle of death in all societies is not only a necessary condition of their life, independent, in a great measure, of external causes, but is also uniform in all. To fix and determine this principle, and to trace its effects in the lives of those nations, of whom history has left us records, has been my object and endeavor in the studies, the results of which I now lay before the reader.

The fact that every human agglomeration, and the peculiar culture resulting from it, is doomed to perish, was not known to the ancients. Even in the epochs immediately preceding ours, it was not believed. The religious spirit of Asiatic antiquity looked upon the great political catastrophes in the same light that they did upon the sudden destruction of an individual: as a demonstration of Divine wrath, visiting a nation or an individual whose sins had marked them out for signal punishment, which would serve as an example to those criminals whom the rod had as yet spared. The Jews, misunderstanding the meaning of the promise, believed their empire imperishable. Rome, at the very moment when the threatening clouds lowered in the horizon of her grandeur, entertained no doubt as to the eternity of hers. [31] But our generation has profited by experience; and, as no one presumes to doubt that all men must die, because all who came before us have died; so we are firmly convinced, that the days of nations, as of individuals, however many they be, are numbered. The wisdom of the ancients, therefore, will afford us but little assistance in the unravelling of our subject, if we except one fundamental maxim: that the finger of Divine Providence is always visible in the conduct of the affairs of this world. From this solid basis we shall not depart, accepting it in the full extent that it is recognized by the church. It cannot be contested that no civilization will perish without the will of God, and to apply to the mortal condition of all societies, the sacred axiom by which the ancients explained certain remarkable, and, in their opinion, isolated cases of destruction, is but proclaiming a truth of the first order, of which we must never lose sight in our researches after truths of secondary importance. If it be further added that societies perish by their sins, I willingly accede to it; it is but drawing a parallel between them and individuals who also find their death, or accelerate it, by disobedience to the laws of the Creator. So far, there is nothing contradictory to reason, even when unassisted by Divine light; but these two truths once admitted and duly weighed, the wisdom of the ancients, I repeat, affords no further assistance. They did not search into the ways by which the Divine will effected the ruin of nations; on the contrary, they were rather inclined to consider these ways as essentially mysterious, and above comprehension. Seized with pious terror at the aspect of the wrecks, they easily imagined that Providence had specially interfered thus to strike and completely destroy once powerful states. Where a miracle is recorded by the Sacred Scriptures, I willingly submit; but where that high testimony is wanting, as it is in the great number of cases, we may justly consider the ancient theory as defective, and not sufficiently enlightened. We may even conclude, that as Divine Justice watches over nations unremittingly, and its decrees were pronounced ere the first human society was formed, they are also enforced in a predeterminate manner, and according to the unalterable laws of the universe, which govern both animated nature and the inorganic world.

If we have cause to reproach the philosophers of the earlier ages, for having contented themselves, in attempting to fathom the mystery, with the vindication of an incontestable theological truth, but which itself is another mystery; at least, they have not increased the difficulties of the question by making it a theme for a maze of errors. In this respect, they rank highly above the rationalist schools of various epochs.

The thinkers of Athens and Rome established the doctrine, which has retained its ground to our days, that states, nations, civilizations, perished only through luxury, enervation, bad government, corruption of morals, fanaticism. All these causes, either singly or combined, were supposed to account for the downfall of civilizations. It is a necessary consequence of this doctrine, that where neither of these causes are in operation, no destructive agency is at work. Societies would therefore possess this advantage over individuals, that they could die no other but a violent death; and, to establish a body politic as durable as the globe itself, nothing further would be necessary than to elude the dangers which I enumerated above.

The inventors of this thesis did not perceive its bearing. They considered it as an excellent means for illustrating the doctrine of morality, which, as is well known, was the sole aim of their historical writings. In their narratives of events, they were so strongly preoccupied with showing the happy rewards of virtue, and the disastrous results of crime and vice, that they cared little for what seemed to furnish no illustration. This erroneous and narrow-minded system often operated contrary to the intention of the authors, for it applied, according to occasion, the name of virtue and vice in a very arbitrary manner; still, to a great extent, the severe and laudable sentiment upon which it was based, excuses it. If the genius of a Plutarch or a Tacitus could draw from history, studied in this manner, nothing but romances and satires, yet the romances were sublime, and the satires generous.

I wish I could be equally indulgent to the writers of the eighteenth century, who made their own application of the same theory; but there is, between them and their teachers, too great a difference. While the ancients were attached to the established social system, even to a fault, our moderns were anxious for destruction, and greedy of untried novelties. The former exerted themselves to deduce useful lessons from their theory; the latter have perverted it into a fearful weapon against all rational principles of government, which they stigmatized by every term that mankind holds in horror. To save societies from ruin, the disciples of Voltaire would destroy religion, law, industry, commerce; because, if we believe them, religion is fanaticism; laws, despotism; industry and commerce, luxury and corruption.

I have not the slightest intention of entering the field of polemics; I wished merely to direct attention to the widely diverging results of this principle, when applied by Thucydides, or the Abbé Raynal. Conservative in the one, cynically aggressive in the other, it is erroneous in both.

The causes to which the downfall of nations is generally ascribed are not the true ones, and whilst I admit that these evils may be rifest in the last stages of dissolution of a people, I deny that they possess in themselves sufficient strength, and so destructive an energy, as to produce the final, irremediable catastrophe.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:51 pm

Chapter 2: Alleged Causes of Political Catastrophes Examined

Fanaticism—Aztec Empire of Mexico.—Luxury—Modern European States as luxurious as the ancient.—Corruption of morals—The standard of morality fluctuates in the various periods of a nation's history: example, France—Is no higher in youthful communities than in old ones—Morality of Paris.—Irreligion—Never spreads through all ranks of a nation—Greece and Rome—Tenacity of Paganism.

Before entering upon my reasons for the opinion expressed at the end of the preceding chapter, it will be necessary to explain and define what I understand by the term society. I do not apply this term to the more or less extended circle belonging to a distinct sovereignty. The republic of Athens is not, in my sense of the word, a society; neither is the kingdom of Magadha, the empire of Pontus, or the caliphat of Egypt in the time of the Fatimites. These are fragments of societies, which are transformed, united, or subdivided, by the operation of those primordial laws into which I am inquiring, but whose existence or annihilation does not constitute the existence or annihilation of a society. Their formation is, for the most part, a transient phenomenon, which exerts but a limited, or even indirect influence upon the civilization that gave it birth. By the term society, I understand an association of men, actuated by similar ideas, and possessed of the same general instincts. This association need by no means be perfect in a political sense, but must be complete from a social point of view. Thus, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, India, China, have been, or are still, the theatres upon which distinct societies have worked out their destinies, to which the perturbations in their political relations were merely secondary. I shall, therefore, speak of the fractions of these societies only when my reasoning applies equally to the whole. I am now prepared to proceed to the examination of the question before us, and I hope to prove that fanaticism, luxury, corruption of morals, and irreligion, do not necessarily occasion the ruin of nations.

All these maladies, either singly or combined, have attacked, and sometimes with great virulence, nations which nevertheless recovered from them, and were, perhaps, all the more vigorous afterward.

The Aztec empire, in Mexico, seemed to flourish for the especial glory and exaltation of fanaticism. What can there be more fanatical than a social and political system, based on a religion which requires the incessant and profuse shedding of the blood of fellow-beings? [32]Our remote ancestors, the barbarous nations of Northern Europe, did indeed practise this unholy rite, but they never chose for their sacrifices innocent victims, [33] or, at least, such as they considered so: the shipwrecked and prisoners of war, were not considered innocent. But, for the Mexicans, all victims were alike; with that ferocity, which a modern physiologist [34]recognizes as a characteristic of the races of the New World, they butchered their own fellow-citizens indiscriminately, and without remorse or pity. And yet, this did not prevent them from being a powerful, industrious, and wealthy nation, who might long have continued to blaspheme the Deity by their dark creed, but for Cortez's genius and the bravery of his companions. In this instance, then, fanaticism was not the cause of the downfall. [35]

Nor are luxury or enervation more powerful in their effects. These vices are almost always peculiar to the higher classes, and seldom penetrate the whole mass of the population. But I doubt whether among the Greeks, the Persians, or the Romans, whose downfall they are said to have caused, luxury and enervation, albeit in a different form, had risen to a higher pitch than we see them to-day in some of our modern States, in France, Germany, England, and Russia, for instance. The two last countries are especially distinguished for the luxury prevalent among the higher classes, and yet, these two countries seem to be endued with a vitality much more vigorous and promising than most other European States. In the Middle Ages, the Venetians, Genoese, Pisanese, accumulated in their magazines the treasures and luxuries of the world; yet, the gorgeous magnificence of their palaces, and the splendid decorations of their vessels, did certainly not diminish their power, or subvert their dominion. [36]

Even the corruption of morals, this most terrible of all scourges, is not necessarily a cause of national ruin. If it were, the prosperity of a nation, its power and preponderance, would be in a direct ratio to the purity of its manners; and it is hardly necessary to say that this is not the case. The odd fashion of ascribing all sorts of imaginary virtues to the first Romans, is now pretty much out of date. [37] Few would now dare to hold up as models of morality those sturdy patricians of the old school, who treated their women as slaves, their children as cattle, and their creditors like wild beasts. If there should still be some who would defend so bad a cause, their reasoning could easily be refuted, and its want of solidity shown. Abuse of power, in all epochs, has created equal indignation; there were deeper reasons for the abolition of royalty than the rape of Lucretia, for the expulsion of the decemvirs than the outrage of Appius; but these pretexts for two important revolutions, sufficiently demonstrate the public sentiment with regard to morals. It is a great mistake to ascribe the vigor of a young nation to its superior virtues; since the beginning of historical times, there has not been a community, however small, among which all the reprehensible tendencies of human nature were not visible, notwithstanding which, it has increased and prospered. There are even instances where the splendor of a state was owing to the most abominable institutions. The Spartans are indebted for their renown, and place in history, to a legislation fit only for a community of bandits. [38]

So far from being willing to accord to youthful communities any superiority in regard to morals, I have no doubt that, as nations advance in age and consequently approach their period of decay, they present to the eyes of the moralist a far more satisfactory spectacle. [39] Manners become milder; men accommodate themselves more readily to one another; the means of subsistence become, if not easier, at least more varied; reciprocal obligations are better defined and understood; more refined theories of right and wrong gain ground. It would be difficult to show that at the time when the Greek arms conquered Darius, or when Greek liberty itself fled forever from the battle-field of Chæronæa, or when the Goths entered Rome as victors; that the Persian monarchy, Athens, or the imperial city, in those times of their downfall, contained a smaller proportion of honest and virtuous people than in the most glorious epochs of their national existence.

But we need not go so far back for illustrations. If any one were required to name the place where the spirit of our age displayed itself in the most complete contrast with the virtuous ages of the world (if such there were), he would most certainly point out Paris. Yet, many learned and pious persons have assured me, that nowhere, and in no epoch, could more practical virtue, solid piety, greater delicacy of conscience, be found than within the precincts of this great and corrupt city. The ideal of goodness is as exalted, the duties of a Christian as well understood, as by the most brilliant luminaries of the Church in the seventeenth century. I might add, that these virtues are divested of the bitterness and severity from which, in those times, they were not always exempt; and that they are more united with feelings of toleration and universal philanthropy. [40] Thus we find, as if to counterbalance the fearful aberrations of our own epoch, in the principal theatre of these aberrations, contrasts more numerous and more striking, than probably blessed the sight of the faithful in preceding ages.

I cannot even perceive that great men are wanting in those periods of corruption and decay; on the contrary, these periods are often signalized by the appearance of men remarkable for energy of character and stern virtue. [41] If we look at the catalogue of Roman emperors, we find a great number of them as exalted in merit as in rank; we meet with names like those of Trajan, Antoninus Pius, Septimius Severus, Alexander Severus, Jovian; and if we glance beneath the throne, we see a glorious constellation of great doctors of our faith, of martyrs, and apostles of the primitive church; not to consider the number of virtuous pagans. Active, firm, and valorous minds filled the camps and the forums, so that it may reasonably be doubted whether Rome, in the times of Cincinnatus, possessed so great a number of eminent men in every department of human activity. Many other examples might be alleged, to prove that senile and tottering communities, so far from being deficient in men of virtue, talent, and action, possess them probably in greater number than young and rising states; and that their general standard of morals is often higher.

Public morality, indeed, varies greatly at different periods of a nation's history. The history of the French nation, better than any other, illustrates this fact. Few will deny that the Gallo-Romans of the fifth and sixth centuries, though a subject race, were greatly superior in point of morals to their heroic conquerors. [42] Individually taken, they were often not inferior to the latter in courage and military virtue. [43] The intermixture of the two races, during the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries, reduced the standard of morals among the whole nation to a disgraceful level. In the three succeeding centuries, the picture brightens again. Yet, this period of comparative light was succeeded by the dark scenes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when tyranny and debauchery ran riot over the land, and infected all classes of society, not excepting the clergy; when the nobles robbed their vassals, and the commonalty sold their country to a foreign foe. This period, so distinguished for the total absence of patriotism, and every honest sentiment, was emphatically one of decay; the state was shaken to its very foundation, and seemed ready to bury under its ruins so much shame and dishonor. But the crisis passed; foreign and intestine foes were vanquished; the machinery of government reconstructed on a firmer basis; the state of society improved. Notwithstanding its bloody follies, the sixteenth century dishonors less the annals of the nation than its predecessors, and it formed the transition period to the age of those pure and ever-brilliant lights, Fenelon, Bossuet, Montausier, and others. This period, again, was succeeded by the vices of the regency, and the horrors of the Revolution. Since that time, we have witnessed almost incredible fluctuations of public morality every decade of years.

I have sketched rapidly, and merely pointed out the most prominent changes. To do even this properly, much more to descend to details, would require greater space than the limits and designs of this work permit. But I think what I have said is sufficient to show that the corruption of public morals, though always a great, is often a transient evil, a malady which may be corrected or which corrects itself, and cannot, therefore, be the sole cause of national ruin, though it may hasten the catastrophe.

The corruption of public morals is nearly allied to another evil, which has been assigned as one of the causes of the downfall of empires. It is observed of Athens and Rome, that the glory of these two commonwealths faded about the same time that they abandoned their national creeds. These, however, are the only examples of such a coincidence that can be cited. The religion of Zoroaster was never more flourishing in the Persian empire, than at the time of its downfall. Tyre, Carthage, Judea, the Mexican and Peruvian empires expired at the moment when they embraced their altars with the greatest zeal and devotion. Nay, I do not believe that even at Athens and Rome, the ancient creed was abandoned until the day when it was replaced in every conscience, by the complete triumph of Christianity. I am firmly convinced that, politically speaking, irreligion never existed among any people, and that none ever abandoned the faith of their forefathers, except in exchange for another. In other words, there never was such a thing as a religious interregnum. The Gallic Teutates gave way to the Jupiter of the Romans; the worship of Jupiter, in its turn, was replaced by Christianity. It is true that, in Athens, not long before the time of Pericles, and in Rome, towards the age of the Scipios, it became the fashion among the higher classes, first to reason upon religious subjects, next to doubt them, and finally to disbelieve them altogether, and to pride themselves upon scepticism. But though there were many who joined in the sentiment of the ancient "freethinker" who dared the augurs to look at one another without laughing, yet this scepticism never gained ground among the mass of the people.

Aspasia at her evening parties, and Lelius among his intimates, might ridicule the religious dogmas of their country, and amuse themselves at the expense of those that believed them. But at both these epochs, the most brilliant in the history of Greece and Rome, it would have been highly dangerous to express such sentiments publicly. The imprudence of his mistress came near costing Pericles himself dearly, and the tears which he shed before the tribunal, were not in themselves sufficiently powerful to save the fair sceptic. The poets of the times, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and afterwards Æschylus, found it necessary, whatever were their private sentiments, to flatter the religious notions of the masses. The whole nation regarded Socrates as an impious innovator, and would have put to death Anaxagoras, but for the strenuous intercession of Pericles. Nor did the philosophical and sceptical theories penetrate the masses at a later period. Never, at any time, did they extend beyond the sphere of the elegant and refined. It may be objected that the opinion of the rest, the mechanics, traders, the rural population, the slaves, etc., was of little moment, as they had no influence in the policy of the state. If this were the case, why was it necessary, until the last expiring throb of Paganism, to preserve its temples and pay the hierophants? Why did men, the most eminent and enlightened, the most sceptical in their religious notions, not only don the sacerdotal robe, but even descend to the most repugnant offices of the popular worship? The daily reader of Lucretius [44] had to snatch moments of leisure from the all-absorbing game of politics, to compose a treatise on haruspicy. I allude to the first Cæsar. [45] And all his successors, down to Constantine, were compelled to unite the pontificial with the imperial dignity. Even Constantine himself, though as a Christian prince he had far better reasons for repugnance to such an office than any of his predecessors, was compelled to compromise with the still powerful ancient religion of the nation. [46] This is a clear proof of the prevalence of the popular sentiment over the opinion of the higher and more enlightened classes. They might appeal to reason and common sense, against the absurdities of the masses, but the latter would not, could not, renounce one faith until they had adopted another, confirming the old truth, that in the affairs of this world, the positive ever takes precedent over the negative. The popular sentiment was so strong that, in the third century, it infected even the higher classes to some extent, and created among them a serious religious reaction, which did not entirely subside until after the final triumph of Christianity. The revolution of ideas which gradually diffused true religion among all classes, is highly interesting, and it may not be altogether irrelevant to my subject, to point out the principal causes which occasioned it.

In the latter stages of the Roman empire, the armies had acquired such undue political preponderance, that from the emperor, who inevitably was chosen by them, down to the pettiest governor of a district, all the functionaries of the government issued from the ranks. They had sprung from those popular masses, of whose passionate attachment to their faith I have already spoken, and upon attaining their elevated stations, came in contact with the former rulers of the country, the old distinguished families, the municipal dignitaries of cities, in fact those classes who took pride and delight in sceptical literature. At first there was hostility between these latter and the real rulers of the state, whom they would willingly have treated as upstarts, if they had dared. But as the court gave the tone, and all the minor military chiefs were, for the most part, devout and fanatic, the sceptics were compelled to disguise their real sentiments, and the philosophers set about inventing systems to reconcile the rationalistic theories with the state religion. This revival of pagan piety caused the greater number of the persecutions. The rural populations, who had suffered their faith to be outraged by the atheists so long as the higher classes domineered over them, now, that the imperial democracy had reduced all to the same level, were panting for revenge; but, mistaking their victims, they directed their fury against the Christians. The real sceptics were such men as King Agrippa, who wishes to hear St. Pau. [47] from mere curiosity; who hears him, debates with him, considers him a fool, but never thinks of persecuting him because he differs in opinion; or Tacitus, the historian, who, though full of contempt for the believers in the new religion, blames Nero for his cruelties towards them.

Agrippa and Tacitus were pagan sceptics. Diocletian was a politician, who gave way to the clamors of an incensed populace. Decius and Aurelian were fanatics, like the masses they governed, and from whom they had sprung.

Even after the Christian religion had become the religion of the state, what immense difficulties were experienced in attempting to bring the masses within its pale! So hopeless was in some places the contest with the local divinities, that in many instances conversion was rather the result of address, than the effect of persuasion. The genius of the holy propagators of our religion was reduced to the invention of pious frauds. The divinities of the groves, fields, and fountains, were still worshipped, but under the name of the saints, the martyrs, and the Virgin. After being for a time misdirected, these homages would finally find the right way. Yet such is the obstinacy with which the masses cling to a faith once received, that there are traces of it remaining in our day. There are still parishes in France, where some heathenish superstition alarms the piety, and defies the efforts of the minister. In Catholic Brittany, even in the last centuries, the bishop in vain attempted to dehort his flock from the worship of an idol of stone. The rude image was thrown into the water, but rescued by its obstinate adorers; and the assistance of the military was required to break it to pieces. Such was, and such is the longevity of paganism. I conclude, therefore, that no nation, either in ancient or modern times, ever abandoned its religion without having duly and earnestly embraced another, and that, consequently, none ever found itself, for a moment, in a state of irreligion, which could have been the cause of its ruin.

Having denied the destructive effects of fanaticism, luxury, and immorality, and the political possibility of irreligion, I shall now speak of the effects of bad government. This subject is well worthy of an entire chapter.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:52 pm

Chapter 3: Influence of Government Upon the Longevity of Nations.

Misgovernment defined—Athens, China, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc.—Is not in itself a sufficient cause for the ruin of nations.

I am aware of the difficulty of the task I have undertaken in attempting to establish a truth, which by many of my readers will be regarded as a mere paradox. That good laws and good government exert a direct and powerful influence upon the well-being and prosperity of a nation, is an indisputable fact, of which I am fully convinced; but I think that history proves that they are not absolute conditions of the existence of a community; or, in other words, that their absence is not necessarily productive of ruin. Nations, like individuals, are often preyed upon by fearful diseases, which show no outward traces of the ravages within, and which, though dangerous, are not always fatal. Indeed, if they were, few communities would survive the first few years of their formation, for it is precisely during that period that the government is worst, the laws most imperfect, and least observed. But here the comparison between the body political and the human organization ceases, for while the latter dreads most the attack of disease during infancy, the former easily overcomes it at that period. History furnishes innumerable examples of successful contest on the part of young communities with the most formidable and most devastating political evils, of which none can be worse than ill-conceived laws, administered in an oppressive or negligent manner. [48]

Let us first define what we understand by bad government. The varieties of this evil are as various as nations, countries, and epochs. It were impossible to enumerate them all. Yet, by classing them under four principal categories, few varieties will be omitted.

A government is bad, when imposed by foreign influence. Athens experienced this evil under the thirty tyrants. Yet she shook off the odious yoke, and patriotism, far from expiring, gained renewed vigor by the oppression.

A government is bad, when based upon absolute and unconditional conquest. Almost the whole extent of France in the fourteenth century, groaned under the dominion of England. The ordeal was passed, and the nation rose from it more powerful and brilliant than before. China was overrun and conquered by the Mongol hordes. They were ejected from its territories, after having previously undergone a singular transformation. It next fell into the hands of the Mantchoo conquerors, but though they already count the years of their reign by centuries, they are now at the eve of experiencing the same fate as their Mongol predecessors.

A government is especially bad, when the principles upon which it was based are disregarded or forgotten. This was the fate of the Spanish monarchy. It was based upon the military spirit of the nation, and upon its municipal freedom, and declined soon after these principles came to be forgotten. It is impossible to imagine greater political disorganization than this country represented. Nowhere was the authority of the sovereign more nominal and despised; nowhere did the clergy lay themselves more open to censure. Agriculture and industry, following the same downward impulse, were also involved in the national marasmus. Yet Spain, of whom so many despaired, at a moment when her star seemed setting forever, gave the glorious example of heroic and successful resistance to the arms of one who had hitherto experienced no check in his career of conquest. Since that, the better spirit of the nation has been roused, and there is, probably, at this time, no European state with more promising prospects, and stronger vitality. [49]

A government is also very bad, when, by its institutions, it authorizes an antagonism either between the supreme power and the nation, or among the different classes of which it is composed. This was the case in the Middle Ages, when the kings of France and England were at war with their great vassals, and the peasants in perpetual feud with the lords. In Germany, the first effects of the liberty of thought, were the civil wars of the Hussites, Anabaptists, and other sectaries. Italy, at a more remote period, was so distracted by the division of the supreme authority for which emperor, pope, nobles, and municipalities contended, that the masses, not knowing whom to obey, in many instances finished by obeying neither. Yet in the midst of all these troubles, Italian nationality did not perish. On the contrary, its civilization was at no time more brilliant, its industry never more productive, its foreign influence never greater.

If communities have survived such fearful political tempests, it cannot well be said that national ruin is a necessary cause of misgovernment. Besides, wise and happy reigns are few and far between, in the history of every nation; and these few are not considered such by all. Historians are not unanimous in their praise of Elizabeth, nor do they all consider the reign of William and Mary as an epoch of prosperity for England. Truly this science of statesmanship, the highest and most complicated of all, is so disproportionate to the capacity of man, [50] and so various are the opinions concerning it, that nations have early and frequent opportunities of learning to accommodate themselves to misgovernment, which, in its worst forms, is still preferable to anarchy. It is a well-proved fact, which even a superficial study of history will clearly demonstrate, that communities often perish under the best government of a long series that came before. [51]
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:52 pm

Chapter 4: Definition of the Word Degeneracy -- Its Cause

Skeleton history of a nation—Origin of castes, nobility, etc.—Vitality of nations not necessarily extinguished by conquest—China, Hindostan—Permanency of their peculiar civilizations.

If the spirit of the preceding pages has been at all understood, it will be seen that I am far from considering these great national maladies, misgovernment, fanaticism, irreligion, and immorality, as mere trifling accidents, without influence or importance. On the contrary, I sincerely pity the community which is afflicted by such scourges, and think that no efforts can be misdirected which tend to mitigate or remove them. But I repeat, that unless these disorganizing elements are grafted upon another more destructive principle, unless they are the consequences of a greater, though concealed, evil; we may rest assured that their ravages are not fatal, and that society, after a shorter or longer period of suffering, will escape their toils, perhaps with renewed vigor and youth.

The examples I have alleged seem to me conclusive; their number, if necessary, might be increased to any extent. But the conviction has already gained ground, that these are but secondary evils, to which an undue importance has hitherto been attached, and that the law which governs the life and death of societies must be sought for elsewhere, and deeper. It is admitted that the germ of destruction is inherent in the constitution of communities; that so long as it remains latent, exterior dangers are little to be dreaded; but when it has once attained full growth and maturity, the nation must die, even though surrounded by the most favorable circumstances, precisely as a jaded steed breaks down, be the track ever so smooth.

Degeneracy was the name given to this cause of dissolution. This view of the question was a great step towards the truth, but, unfortunately, it went no further; the first difficulty proved insurmountable. The term was certainly correct, etymologically and in every other respect, but how is it with the definition. A people is said to be degenerated, when it is badly governed, abuses its riches, is fanatical, or irreligious; in short, when it has lost the characteristic virtues of its forefathers. This is begging the question. Thus, communities succumb under the burden of social and political evils only when they are degenerate, and they are degenerate only when such evils prevail. This circular argument proves nothing but the small progress hitherto made in the science of national biology. I readily admit that nations perish from degeneracy, and from no other cause; it is when in that wretched condition, that foreign attacks are fatal to them, for then they no longer possess the strength to protect themselves against adverse fortune, or to recover from its blows. They die, because, though exposed to the same perils as their ancestors, they have not the same powers of overcoming them. I repeat it, the term degeneracyis correct; but it is necessary to define it, to give it a real and tangible meaning. It is necessary to say how and why this vigor, this capacity of overcoming surrounding dangers, are lost. Hitherto, we have been satisfied with a mere word, but the thing itself is as little known as ever. [52] The step beyond, I shall attempt to make.

In my opinion, a nation is degenerate, when the blood of its founders no longer flows in its veins, but has been gradually deteriorated by successive foreign admixtures; so that the nation, while retaining its original name, is no longer composed of the same elements. The attenuation of the original blood is attended by a modification of the original instincts, or modes of thinking; the new elements assert their influence, and when they have once gained perfect and entire preponderance, the degeneration may be considered as complete. With the last remnant of the original ethnical principle, expires the life of the society and its civilization. The masses, which composed it, have thenceforth no separate, independent, social and political existence; they are attracted to different centres of civilization, and swell the ranks of new societies having new instincts and new purposes.

In attempting to establish this theorem, I am met by a question which involves the solution of a far more difficult problem than any I have yet approached. This question, so momentous in its bearings, is the following:—

Is there, in reality, a serious and palpable difference in the capacity and intrinsic worth of different branches of the human family?

For the sake of clearness, I shall advance, à priori, that this difference exists. It then remains to show how the ethnical character of a nation can undergo such a total change as I designate by the term degeneracy.

Physiologists assert that the human frame is subject to a constant wear and tear, which would soon destroy the whole machine, but for new particles which are continually taking the form and place of the old ones. So rapid is this change said to be, that, in a few years, the whole framework is renovated, and the material identity of the individual changed. The same, to a great extent, may be said of nations, only that, while the individual always preserves a certain similarity of form and features, those of a nation are subject to innumerable and ever-varying changes. Let us take a nation at the moment when it assumes a political existence, and commences to play a part in the great drama of the world's stage. In its embryo, we call it a tribe.

The simplest and most natural political institution is that of tribes. It is the only form of government known to rude and savage nations. Civilization is the result of a great concentration of powerful physical and intellectual forces, [53] which, in small and scattered fragments, is impossible. The first step towards it is, therefore, undoubtedly, the union of several tribes by alliance or conquest. Such a coalescence is what we call a nation or empire. I think it admits of an easy demonstration, that in proportion as a human family is endowed with the capacity for intellectual progress, it exhibits a tendency to enlarge the circle of its influence and dominion. On the contrary, where that capacity is weak, or wanting, we find the population subdivided into innumerable small fragments, which, though in perpetual collision, remain forever detached and isolated. The stronger may massacre the weaker, but permanent conquest is never attempted; depredatory incursions are the sole object and whole extent of warfare. This is the case with the natives of Polynesia, many parts of Africa, and the Arctic regions. Nor can their stagnant condition be ascribed to local or climatical causes. We have seen such wretched hordes inhabiting, indifferently, temperate as well as torrid or frigid zones; fertile prairies and barren deserts; river-shores and coasts as well as inland regions. It must therefore be founded upon an inherent incapacity of progress. The more civilizable a race is, the stronger is the tendency for aggregation of masses. Complex political organizations are not so much the effect as the cause of civilization. [54] A tribe with superior intellectual and physical endowments, soon perceives that, to increase its power and prosperity, it must compel its neighbors to enter into the sphere of its influence. Where peaceful means fail, war is resorted to. Territories are conquered, a division into classes established between the victorious and the subjugated race; in one word, a nation has made its appearance upon the theatre of history. The impulse being once given, it will not stop short in the career of conquest. If wisdom and moderation preside in its councils, the tracks of its armies will not be marked by wanton destruction and bloodshed; the monuments, institutions, and manners of the conquered will be respected; superior creations will take the place of the old, where changes are necessary and useful;—a great empire will be formed. [55] At first, and perhaps for a long time, victors and vanquished will remain separated and distinct. But gradually, as the pride of the conqueror becomes less obtrusive, and the bitterness of defeat is forgotten by the conquered; as the ties of common interest become stronger, the boundary line between them is obliterated. Policy, fear, or natural justice, prompts the masters to concessions; intermarriages take place, and, in the course of time, the various ethnical elements are blended, and the different nations composing the state begin to consider themselves as one. This is the general history of the rise of all empires whose records have been transmitted to us. [56] An inferior race, by falling into the hands of vigorous masters, is thus called to share a destiny, of which, alone, it would have been incapable. Witness the Saxons by the Norman conquest. [57] But, if there is a decided disparity in the capacity of the two races, their mixture, while it ennobles the baser, deteriorates the nobler; a new race springs up, inferior to the one, though superior to the other, and, perhaps, possessed of peculiar qualities unknown to either. The modification of the ethnical character of the nation, however, does not terminate here.

Every new acquisition of territory, by conquest or treaty, brings an addition of foreign blood. The wealth and splendor of a great empire attract crowds of strangers to its capital, great inland cities, or seaports. Apart from the fact that the conquering race—that which founds the empire, and supports and animates it—is, in most cases, inferior in numbers to the masses which it subdued and assimilated; the conspicuous part which it takes in the affairs of the state, renders it more directly exposed to the fatal results of battles, proscriptions, and revolts. [58] In some instances, also, it happens that the substratum of native populations are singularly prolific—witness the Celts and Sclaves. Sooner or later, therefore, the conquering race is absorbed by the masses which its vigor and superiority have aggregated. The very materials of which it erected its splendor, and upon which it based its strength, are ultimately the means of its weakness and destruction. But the civilization which it has developed, may survive for a limited period. The forward impulse, once imparted to the mass, will still propel it for a while, but its force is continually decreasing. Manners, laws, and institutions remain, but the spirit which animated them has fled; the lifeless body still exhibits the apparent symptoms of life, and, perhaps, even increases, but the real strength has departed; the edifice soon begins to totter, at the slightest collision it will crumble, and bury beneath its ruins the civilization which it had developed.

If this definition of degeneracy be accepted, and its consequences admitted, the problem of the rise and fall of empires no longer presents any difficulty. A nation lives so long as it preserves the ethnical principle to which it owes its existence; with this principle, it loses theprimum mobile of its successes, its glory, and its civilization: it must therefore disappear from the stage of history. Who can doubt that if Alexander had been opposed by real Persians, the men of the Arian stock, whom Cyrus led to victory, the issue of the battle of Arbela would have been very different. Or if Rome, in her decadence, had possessed soldiers and senators like those of the time of Fabius, Scipio, and Cato, would she have fallen so easy a prey to the barbarians of the North?

It will be objected that, even had the integrity of the original blood remained intact, a time must have come when they would find their masters. They would have succumbed under a series of well-combined attacks, a long-continued overwhelming pressure, or simply by the chances of a lost battle. The political edifice might have been destroyed in this manner, not the civilization, not the social organization. Invasion and defeat would have been reverses, sad ones, indeed, but not irremediable. There is no want of facts to confirm this assertion.

In modern times, the Chinese have suffered two complete conquests. In each case they have imposed their manners and their institutions upon the conquerors; they have given them much, and received but little in return. The first invaders, after having undergone this change, were expelled; the same fate is now threatening the second. [59] In this case the vanquished were intellectually and numerically superior to their victors. I shall mention another case where the victors, though intellectually superior, are not possessed of sufficient numerical strength to transform the intellectual and moral character of the vanquished.

The political supremacy of the British in Hindostan is perfect, yet they exert little or no moral influence over the masses they govern. All that the utmost exertion of their power can effect upon the fears of their subjects, is an outward compliance. The notions of the Hindoo cannot be replaced by European ideas—the spirit of Hindoo civilization cannot be conquered by any power, however great, of the law. Political forms may change, and do change, without materially affecting the basis upon which they rest; Hyderabad, Lahore, and Delhi may cease to be capitals: Hindoo society will subsist, nevertheless. A time must come, sooner or later, when India will regain a separate political existence, and publicly proclaim those laws of her own, which she now secretly obeys, or of which she is tacitly left in possession.

The mere accident of conquest cannot destroy the principle of vitality in a people. At most, it may suspend for a time the exterior manifestations of that vitality, and strip it of its outward honors. But so long as the blood, and consequently the culture of a nation, exhibit sufficiently strong traces of the initiatory race, that nation exists; and whether it has to deal, like the Chinese, with conquerors who are superior only materially; or whether, like the Hindoos, it maintains a struggle of patience against a race much superior in every respect; that nation may rest assured of its future—independence will dawn for it one day. On the contrary, when a nation has completely exhausted the initiatory ethnical element, defeat is certain death; it has consumed the term of existence which Heaven had granted it—its destiny is fulfilled. [60]

I, therefore, consider the question as settled, which has been so often discussed, as to what would have been the result, if the Carthaginians, instead of succumbing to the fortune of Rome, had conquered Italy. As they belonged to the Phenician family, a stock greatly inferior to the Italian in political capacity, they would have been absorbed by the superior race after the victory, precisely as they were after the defeat. The final result, therefore, would have been the same in either case.

The destiny of civilizations is not ruled by accident; it depends not on the issue of a battle, a thrust of a sword, the favors or frowns of fickle fortune. The most warlike, formidable, and triumphant nations, when they were distinguished for nothing but bravery, strategical science, and military successes, have never had a nobler fate than that of learning from their subjects, perhaps too late, the art of living in peace. The Celts, the nomad hordes of Central Asia, are memorable illustrations of this truth.

The whole of my demonstration now rests upon one hypothesis, the proof of which I have reserved for the succeeding chapters: the moral and intellectual diversities of the various branches of the human family.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:53 pm

Chapter 5: The Moral and Intellectual Diversity of Races is Not the Result of Political Institutions

Antipathy of races—Results of their mixture—The scientific axiom of the absolute equality of men, but an extension of the political—Its fallacy—Universal belief in unequal endowment of races—The moral and intellectual diversity of races not attributable to institutions—Indigenous institutions are the expression of popular sentiments; when foreign and imported, they never prosper—Illustrations: England and France—Roman Empire—European Colonies—Sandwich Islands—St. Domingo—Jesuit missions in Paraguay.

The idea of an innate and permanent difference in the moral and mental endowments of the various groups of the human species, is one of the most ancient, as well as universally adopted, opinions. With few exceptions, and these mostly in our own times, it has formed the basis of almost all political theories, and has been the fundamental maxim of government of every nation, great or small. The prejudices of country have no other cause; each nation believes in its own superiority over its neighbors, and very often different parts of the same nation regard each other with contempt. There seems to exist an instinctive antipathy among the different races, and even among the subdivisions of the same race, of which none is entirely exempt, but which acts with the greatest force in the least civilized or least civilizable. We behold it in the characteristic suspiciousness and hostility of the savage; in the isolation from foreign influence and intercourse of the Chinese and Japanese; in the various distinctions founded upon birth in more civilized communities, such as castes, orders of nobility and aristocratic privileges. [61] Not even a common religion can extinguish the hereditary aversion of the Arab [62] to the Turk, of the Kurd to the Nestorian of Syria; or the bitter hostility of the Magyar and Sclave, who, without intermingling, have inhabited the same country for centuries. But as the different types lose their purity and become blended, this hostility of race abates; the maxim of absolute and permanent inequality is first discussed, then doubted. A man of mixed race or caste will not be apt to admit disparity in his double ancestry. The superiority of particular types, and their consequent claims to dominion, find fewer advocates. This dominion is stigmatized as a tyrannical usurpation of power. [63] The mixture of castes gives rise to the political axiom that all men are equal, and, therefore, entitled to the same rights. Indeed, since there are no longer any distinct hereditary classes, none can justly claim superior merit and privileges. But this assertion, which is true only where a complete fusion has taken place, is applied to the whole human race—to all present, past, and future generations. The political axiom of equality which, like the bag of Æolus, contains so many tempests, is soon followed by the scientific. It is said—and the more heterogeneous the ethnical elements of a nation are, the more extensively the theory gains ground—that, "all branches of the human family are endowed with intellectual capacities of the same nature, which, though in different stages of development, are all equally susceptible of improvement." This is not, perhaps, the precise language, but certainly the meaning. Thus, the Huron, by proper culture, might become the equal of the Englishman and Frenchman. Why, then, I would ask, did he never, in the course of centuries, invent the art of printing or apply the power of steam; why, among the warriors of his tribe, has there never arisen a Cæsar or a Charlemagne, among his bards and medicine-men, a Homer or a Hippocrates?

These questions are generally met by advancing the influence of climate, local circumstances, etc. An island, it is said, can never be the theatre of great social and political developments in the same measure as a continent; the natives of a southern clime will not display the energy of those of the north; seacoasts and large navigable rivers will promote a civilization which could never have flourished in an inland region;—and a great deal more to the same purpose. But all these ingenious and plausible hypotheses are contradicted by facts. The same soil and the same climate have been visited, alternately, by barbarism and civilization. The degraded fellah is charred by the same sun which once burnt the powerful priest of Memphis; the learned professor of Berlin lectures under the same inclement sky that witnessed the miseries of the savage Finn.

What is most curious is, that while the belief of equality may influence institutions and manners, there is not a nation, nor an individual but renders homage to the contrary sentiment. Who has not heard of the distinctive traits of the Frenchman, the German, the Spaniard, the English, the Russ. One is called sprightly and volatile, but brave; the other is sober and meditative; a third is noted for his gravity; a fourth is known by his coldness and reserve, and his eagerness of gain; a fifth, on the contrary, is notorious for reckless expense. I shall not express any opinion upon the accuracy of these distinctions, I merely point out that they are made daily and adopted by common consent. The same has been done in all ages. The Roman of Italy distinguished the Roman of Greece by the epithet Græculus, and attributed to him, as characteristic peculiarities, want of courage and boastful loquacity. He laughed at the colonist of Carthage, whom he pretended to recognize among[ thousands by his litigious spirit and bad faith. The Alexandrians passed for wily, insolent, and seditious. Yet the doctrine of equality was as universally received among the Romans of that period as it is among ourselves. If, then, various nations display qualities so different; if some are eager for war and glory; others, lovers of their ease and comfort, it follows that their destinies must be very diverse. The strongest will act in the great tragedy of history the roles of kings and heroes, the weaker will be content with the humbler parts.

I do not believe that the ingenuity of our times has succeeded in reconciling the universally adopted belief in the special character of each nation with the no less general conviction that they are all equal. Yet this contradiction is very flagrant, the more so as its partisans are not behindhand in extolling the superiority of the Anglo-Saxons of North America over all the other nations of the same continent. It is true that they ascribe that superiority to the influence of political institutions. But they will hardly contest the characteristic aptitude of the countrymen of Penn and Washington, to establish wherever they go liberal forms of government, and their still more valuable ability to preserve them, when once established. Is not this a very high prerogative allotted to that branch of the human family? the more precious, since so few of the groups that have ever inhabited the globe possessed it.

I know that my opponents will not allow me an easy victory. They will object to me the immense potency of manners and institutions; they will show me how much the spirit of the government, by its inherent and irresistible force, influences the development of a nation; how vastly different will be its progress when fostered by liberty or crushed by despotism. This argument, however, by no means invalidates my position.

Political institutions can have but two origins: either they emanate from the people which is to be governed by them, or they are the invention of a foreign nation, by whom they are imposed, or from whom they are copied.

In the former case, the institutions are necessarily moulded upon the instincts and wants of the people; and if, through carelessness or ignorance, they are in aught incompatible with either, such defects will soon be removed or remedied. In every independent community the law may be said to emanate from the people; for though they have not apparently the power of promulgating it, it cannot be applicable to them unless it is consonant with their views and sentiments: it must be the reflex of the national character. [64] The wise law-giver, to whose superior genius his countrymen seem solely indebted, has but given a voice to the wants and desires of all. The mere theorist, like Draco, finds his code a dead letter, and destined soon to give place to the institutions of the more judicious philosopher who would give to his compatriots "not the best laws possible, but such only as they were capable of receiving." When Charles I., guided by the fatal counsels of the Earl of Strafford, attempted to curb the English nation under the yoke of absolutism, king and minister were treading the bloody quagmire of theories. But when Ferdinand the Catholic ordered those terrible, but, in the then condition of the nation, politically necessary persecutions of the Spanish Moors, or when Napoleon re-established religion and authority in France, and flattered the military spirit of the nation—both these potentates had rightly understood the genius of their subjects, and were building upon a solid and practical foundation.

False institutions, often beautiful on paper, are those which are not conformed to the national virtues or failings, and consequently unsuitable to the country, though perhaps perfectly practicable and highly useful in a neighboring state. Such institutions, were they borrowed from the legislation of the angels, will produce nothing but discord and anarchy. Others, on the contrary, which the theorist will eschew, and the moralist blame in many points, or perhaps throughout, may be the best adapted to the community. Lycurgus was no theorist; his laws were in strict accordance with the spirit and manners of his countrymen. [65] The Dorians of Sparta were few in number, valiant, and rapacious; false institutions would have made them but petty villains—Lycurgus changed them into heroic brigands. [66]

The influence of laws and political institutions is certainly very great; they preserve and invigorate the genius of a nation, define its objects, and help to attain them; but though they may develop powers, they cannot create them where they do not already exist. They first receive their imprint from the nation, and then return and confirm it. In other words, it is the nation that fashions the laws, before the laws, in turn, can fashion the nation. Another proof of this fact are the changes and modifications which they undergo in the course of time.

I have already said above, that in proportion as nations advance in civilization, and extend their territory and power, their ethnical character, and, with it, their instincts, undergo a gradual alteration. New manners and new tendencies prevail, and soon give rise to a series of modifications, the more frequent and radical as the influx of blood becomes greater and the fusion more complete.

England, where the ethnical changes have been slower and less considerable than in any other European country, preserves to this day the basis of the social system of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The municipal organization of the times of the Plantagenets and the Tudors flourishes in almost all its ancient vigor. There is the same participation of the nobility in the government, and the same manner of composing that nobility; the same respect for ancient families, united to an appreciation of those whose merits raise them above their class. Since the accession of James I., and still more since the union, in Queen Anne's reign, there has indeed been an influx of Scotch and Irish blood; foreign nations have also, though imperceptibly, furnished their contingent to the mixture; alterations have consequently become more frequent of late, but without, as yet, touching the original spirit of the constitution.

In France, the ethnical elements are much more numerous, and their mixtures more varied; and there it has repeatedly happened that the principal power of the state passed suddenly from the hands of one race to those of another. Changes, rather than modifications, have therefore taken place in the social and political system; and the changes were abrupt or radical, in proportion as these races were more or less dissimilar. So long as the north of France, where the Germanic element prevailed, preponderated in the policy of the country, the fabric of feudalism, or rather its inform remains, maintained their ground. After the expulsion of the English in the fifteenth century, the provinces of the centre took the lead. Their efforts, under the guidance of Charles VII., had recently restored the national independence, and the Gallo-Roman blood naturally predominated in camp and council. From this time dates the introduction of the taste for military life and foreign conquests, peculiar to the Celtic race, and the tendency to concentrate and consolidate the sovereign authority, which characterized the Roman. The road being thus prepared, the next step towards the establishment of absolute power was made at the end of the sixteenth century, by the Aquitanian followers of Henry IV., who had still more of the Roman than of the Celtic blood in their veins. The centralization of power, resulting from the ascendency of the southern populations, soon gave Paris an overweening preponderance, and finally made it, what it now is, the sovereign of the state. This great capital, this modern Babel, whose population is a motley compound of all the most varied ethnical elements, no longer had any motive to love or respect any tradition or peculiar tendency, and, coming to a complete rupture with the past, hurried France into a series of political and social experiments of doctrines the most remote from, and repulsive to, the ancient customs and traditional tendencies of the realm.

These examples seem to me sufficient to prove that political institutions, when not imposed by foreign influence, take their mould from the national character, not only in the first place, but throughout all subsequent changes. Let us now examine the second case, when a foreign code is, nolens volens, forced upon a nation by a superior power.

There are few instances of such attempts. Indeed, they were never made on a grand scale, by any truly sagacious governments of either ancient or modern times. The Romans were too politic to indulge in such hazardous experiments. Alexander, before them, had never ventured it, and his successors, convinced, either by reason or instinct, of the futility of such efforts, had been contented to reign, like the conqueror of Darius, over a vast mosaic of nations, each of which retained its own habits, manners, laws, and administrative forms, and, at least so long as it preserved its ethnical identity, resembled its fellow-subjects in nothing but submission to the same fiscal and military regulations.

There were, it is true, among the nations subdued by the Romans, some whose codes contained practices so utterly repugnant to their masters, that the latter could not possibly have tolerated them. Such were the human sacrifices of the Druids, which were, indeed, visited with the severest penalties. But the Romans, with all their power, never succeeded in completely extirpating this barbarous rite. In the Narbonnese, the victory was easy, for the Gallic population had been almost completely replaced by Roman colonists; but the more intact tribes of the interior provinces made an obstinate resistance; and, in the peninsula of Brittany, where, in the fourth century, a British colony re-imported the ancient instincts with the ancient blood, the population, in spite of the Romans, continued, either from patriotism or veneration for their ancient traditions, to butcher fellow-beings on their altars, as often as they could elude the vigilance of their masters. All revolts began with the restoration of this fearful feature of the national creed, and even Christianity could not entirely efface its traces, until after protracted and strenuous efforts. As late as the seventeenth century, the shipwrecked were murdered, and wrecks plundered in all the maritime provinces where the Kimric blood had preserved itself unmixed. These barbarous customs were in accordance with the manners of a race which, not being yet sufficiently admixed, still remained true to its irrepressible instincts.

One characteristic of European civilization is its intolerance. Conscious of its pre-eminence, we are prone to deny the existence of any other, or, at least, to consider it as the standard of all. We look with supreme contempt upon all nations that are not within its pale, and when they fall under our influence, we attempt to convert them to our views and modes of thinking. Institutions which we know to be good and useful, but which persuasion fails to propagate among nations to whose instincts they are foreign, we force upon them by the power of our arms. Where are the results? Since the sixteenth century, when the European spirit of discovery and conquest penetrated to the east, it does not seem to have operated the slightest change in the manners and mode of existence of the populations which it subjected.

I have already adduced the example of British India. All the other European possessions present the same spectacle. The aborigines of Java, though completely subjugated by the Dutch, have not yet made the first step towards embracing the manners of their conquerors. Java, at this day, preserves the social regulations of the time of its independence. In South America, where Spain ruled with unrestrained power for centuries, what effect has it produced? The ancient empires, it is true, are no longer; their traces, even, are almost obliterated. But while the native has not risen to the level of his conqueror, the latter has been degraded by the mixture of blood. [67] In the North, a different method has been pursued, but with results equally negative; nay, in the eyes of philanthropy, more deplorable; for, while the Spanish Indians have at least increased in numbers, [68] and even mixed with their masters, to the Red-Man of the North, the contact with the Anglo-Saxon race has been death. The feeble remnants of these wretched tribes are fast disappearing, and disappearing as uncivilized, as uncivilizable, as their ancestors. In Oceanica, the same observation holds good. The number of aborigines is daily diminishing. The European may disarm them, and prevent them from doing him injury, but change them he cannot. Where-ever he is master, they no longer eat one another, but they fill themselves with firewater, and this novel species of brutishness is all they learn of European civilization.

There are, indeed, two governments framed by nations of a different race, after our models: that of the Sandwich Islands, and that of St. Domingo. A glance at these two countries will complete the proof of the futility of any attempts to give to a nation institutions not suggested by its own genius.

In the Sandwich Islands, the representative system shines with full lustre. We there find an Upper House, a Lower House, a ministry who govern, and a king who reigns; nothing is wanted. Yet all this is mere decoration; the wheel-work that moves the whole machine, the indispensable motive power, is the corps of missionaries. To them alone belongs the honor of finding the ideas, of presenting them, and carrying them through, either by their personal influence over their neophytes, or, if need be, by threats. It may be doubted, however, whether the missionaries, if they had no other instruments but the king and chambers, would not, after struggling for a while against the inaptitude of their pupils, find themselves compelled to take a more direct, and, consequently, more apparent part in the management of affairs. This difficulty is obviated by the establishment of a ministry composed of Europeans, or half-bloods. Between them and the missionaries, all public affairs are prearranged; the rest is only for show. King Kamehameha III. is, it seems, a man of ability. For his own account, he has abandoned tattooing, and although he has not yet succeeded in dissuading all his courtiers from this agreeable practice, he enjoys the satisfaction of seeing their countenances adorned with comparatively slight designs. The mass of the nation, the country nobility and common people, persist upon this as all other points, in the ancient ideas and customs. [69] Still, a variety of causes tend to daily increase the European population of the Isles. The proximity of California makes them a point of great interest to the far-seeing energy of our nations. Runaway sailors, and mutineers, are no longer the only white colonists; merchants, speculators, adventurers of all sorts, collect there in considerable numbers, build houses, and become permanent settlers. The native population is gradually becoming absorbed in the mixture with the whites. It is highly probable that, ere long, the present representative form of government will be superseded by an administration composed of delegates from one or all of the great maritime powers.

Of one thing I feel firmly convinced, that these imported institutions will take firm root in the country, but the day of their final triumph, by a necessary synchronism, will be that of the extinction of the native race.

In St. Domingo, national independence is intact. There are no missionaries exercising absolute, though concealed, control, no foreign ministry governing in the European spirit; everything is left to the genius and inspiration of the population. In the Spanish part of the island, this population consists of mulattoes. I shall not speak of them. They seem to imitate, in some fashion, the simplest and easiest features of our civilization. Like all half-breeds, they have a tendency to assimilate with that branch of their genealogy which does them most honor. They are, therefore, capable of practising, in some degree, our usages. The absolute question of the capacity of races cannot be studied among them. Let us cross the mountain ridge which separates the republic of Dominica from the empire of Hayti.

There we find institutions not only similar to ours, but founded upon the most recent maxims of our political wisdom. All that, since sixty years, the voice of the most refined liberalism has proclaimed in the deliberative assemblies of Europe, all that the most zealous friends of the freedom and dignity of man have written, all the declarations of rights and principles, have found an echo on the banks of Artibonite. No trace of Africa remains in the written laws, or the official language; the recollections of the land of Ham are officially expunged from every mind; once more, the institutions are completely European. Let us now examine how they harmonize with the manners.

What a contrast! The manners are as depraved, as beastly, as ferocious as in Dahomey [70] or the country of the Fellatahs. The same barbarous love of ornament, combined with the same indifference to form; beauty consists in color, and provided a garment is of gaudy red, and adorned with imitation gold, taste is little concerned with useless attention to materials or fitness; and as for cleanliness, this is a superfluity for which no one cares. You desire an audience with some high functionary: you are ushered into the presence of an athletic negro, stretched on a wooden bench, his head wrapped in a dirty, tattered handkerchief, and surmounted by a three-cornered hat, profusely decorated with gold. The general apparel consists of an embroidered coat (without suitable nether-garments), a huge sword, and slippers. You converse with this mass of flesh, and are anxious to discover what ideas can occupy a mind under so unpromising an exterior. You find an intellect of the lowest order combined with the most savage pride, which can be equalled only by as profound and incurable a laziness. If the individual before you opens his mouth, he will retail all the hackneyed common-places that the papers have wearied you with for the last half century. This barbarian knows them by heart; he has very different interests, different instincts; he has no ideas of his own. He will talk like Baron Holbach, reason like Grimm, and at the bottom has no serious care except chewing tobacco, drinking spirits, butchering his enemies, and propitiating his sorcerers. The rest of the time he sleeps.

The state is divided into two factions, not separated by incompatibility of politics, but of color—the negroes and the mulattoes. The latter, doubtless, are superior in intelligence, as I have already remarked with regard to the Dominicans. The European blood has modified the nature of the African, and in a community of whites, with good models constantly before their eyes, these men might be converted into useful members of society. But, unfortunately, the superiority of numbers belongs at present to the negroes, and these, though removed from Africa by several generations, are the same as in their native clime. Their supreme felicity is idleness; their supreme reason, murder. Among the two divisions of the island the most intense hatred has always prevailed. The history of independent Hayti is nothing but a long series of massacres: massacres of mulattoes by the negroes, when the latter were strongest; of the negroes by the mulattoes, when the power was in their hands. The institutions, with all their boasted liberality and philanthropy, are of no use whatever. They sleep undisturbedly and impotently upon the paper on which they were written, and the savage instincts of the population reign supreme. Conformably to the law of nature which I pointed out before, the negro, who belongs to a race exhibiting little aptitude for civilization, entertains the most profound horror for all other races. Thus we see the Haytien negroes energetically repel the white man from their territory, and forbid him even to enter it; they would also drive out the mulattoes, and contemplate their ultimate extermination. Hostility to the foreigner is the primum mobile of their local policy. Owing to the innate laziness of the race, agriculture is abandoned, industry not known even by name, commerce drivelling; misery prevents the increase of the population, while continual wars, insurrections, and military executions diminish it continually. The inevitable and not very remote consequence of such a condition of things is to convert into a desert a country whose fertility and natural resources enriched generations of planters, which in exports and commercial activity surpassed even Cuba. [71]

These examples of St. Domingo and the Sandwich Islands seem to me conclusive. I cannot, however, forbear, before definitely leaving the subject, from mentioning another analogous fact, the peculiar character of which greatly confirms my position. I allude to the attempts of the Jesuit missionaries to civilize the natives of Paraguay. [72]

These missionaries, by their exalted intelligence and self-sacrificing courage, have excited universal admiration; and the most decided enemies of their order have never refused them an unstinted tribute of praise. If foreign institutions have ever had the slightest chance of success with a nation, these assuredly had it, based as they were upon the power of religious feelings, and supported and applied with a tact as correct as it was refined. The fathers were of the pretty general opinion that barbarism was to nations what childhood is to the individual, and that the more savage and untutored we find a people, the younger we may conclude them to be. To educate their neophytes to adolescence, they therefore treated them like children. Their government was as firm in its views and commands as it was mild and affectionate in its forms. The aborigines of the American continent have generally a tendency to republicanism; a monarchy or aristocracy is rarely found among them, and then in a very restricted form. The Guaranis of Paraguay did not differ, in this respect, from their congeners. By a happy circumstance, however, these tribes displayed rather more intelligence and less ferocity than their neighbors, and seemed capable, to some extent, of conceiving new wants and adopting new ideas. About one hundred and twenty thousand souls were collected in the villages of the missions, under the guidance of the fathers. All that experience, daily study, and active charity could teach the Jesuits, was employed for the benefit of their pupils; incessant efforts were made to hasten success, without hazarding it by rashness. In spite of all these cares, however, it was soon felt that the most absolute authority over the neophytes could hardly constrain them to persist in the right path, and occasions were not wanting that revealed the little real solidity of the edifice. [73]

When the measures of Count Aranda deprived Paraguay of its pious and skilful civilizers, the sad truth appeared in complete light. The Guaranis, deprived of their spiritual guides, refused all confidence in the lay directors sent them by the Spanish crown. They showed no attachment to their new institutions. Their taste for savage life revived, and at present there are but thirty-seven little villages still vegetating on the banks of the Parana, the Paraguay, and Uraguay, and these contain a considerable nucleus of half-breed population. The rest have returned to the forest, and live there in as savage a state as the western tribes of the same stock, the Guaranis and Cirionos. I will not say that the deserters have readopted their ancient manners completely, but there is little trace left of the pious missionaries' labors, and this because it is given to no human race to be oblivious of its instincts, nor to abandon the path in which the Creator has placed them.

It may be supposed, had the Jesuits continued to direct their missions in Paraguay, that their efforts, assisted by time, would have been crowned with better success. I am willing to concede this, but on one condition only, always the same: that a group of Europeans would gradually have settled in the country under the protection of the Jesuit directors. These would have modified, and finally completely transformed the native blood, and a state would have been formed, bearing probably an aboriginal name, whose inhabitants might have prided themselves upon descending from autochthonic ancestors, though as completely belonging to Europe as the institutions by which they might be governed.
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:53 pm

Chapter 6: This Diversity is Not the Result of Geographical Situation

America—Ancient empires—Phenicians and Romans—Jews—Greece and Rome—Commercial cities of Europe—Isthmus of Darien.

It is impossible to leave entirely out of the question the influence which climate, the nature of the soil, and topographical circumstances, exert upon the development of nations. This influence, so much overrated by many of the learned, I shall investigate more fully, although I have rapidly glanced at it already, in another place.

It is a very common opinion that a nation living under a temperate sky, not too warm to enervate the man, nor too cold to render the soil unproductive; on the shores of large rivers, affording extensive and commodious means of communication; in plains and valleys adapted to varied cultivation; at the foot of mountains pregnant with the useful and precious ores—that a nation thus favored by nature, would soon be prompted to cast off barbarism, and progress rapidly in civilization. [74] On the other hand, and by the same reasoning, it is easily admitted that tribes, charred by an ardent sun, or benumbed by unceasing cold, and having no territory save sterile rocks, would be much more liable to remain in a state of barbarism. According to this hypothesis, the intellectual powers of man could be developed only by the aid of external nature, and all his worth and greatness are not implanted in him, but in the objects without and around. Specious as is this opinion at first sight, it has against it all the numerous facts which observation furnishes.

Nowhere, certainly, is there a greater variety of soil and climate than in the extensive Western Continent. Nowhere are there more fertile regions, milder skies, larger and more numerous rivers. The coasts are indented with gulfs and bays; deep and magnificent harbors abound; the most valuable riches of the mineral kingdom crop out of the ground; nature has lavished on the soil her choicest and most variegated vegetable productions, and the woods and prairies swarm with alimentary species of animals, presenting still more substantial resources. And yet, the greater part of these happy countries is inhabited, and has been for a series of centuries, by tribes who ignore the most mediocre exploration of all these treasures.

Several of them seem to have been in the way of doing better. A meagre culture, a rude knowledge of the art of working metals, may be observed in more than one place. Several useful arts, practised with some ingenuity, still surprise the traveller. But all this is really on a very humble scale, and never formed what might be termed a civilization. There certainly has existed at some very remote period, a nation which inhabited the vast region extending from Lake Erie to the Mexican Gulf. There can be no doubt that the country lying between the Alleghany and the Rocky Mountains, and extending from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico, was, at some very remote epoch, inhabited by a nation that has left remarkable traces of its existence behind. [75] The remains of buildings, inscriptions on rocks, the tumuli. [76] and mummies which they inclose, indicate a high degree of intellectual culture. But there is no evidence that between this mysterious people and the tribes now wandering over its tombs, there is any very near affinity. However this may be, if by inheritance or slavish imitation the now existing aborigines derive their first knowledge of the arts which they now rudely practise, from the former masters of the soil, we cannot but be struck by their incapacity of perfecting what they had been taught; and I see in this a new motive for adhering to my opinion, that a nation placed amid the most favorable geographical circumstances, is not, therefore, destined to arrive at civilization.

On the contrary, there is between the propitiousness of soil and climate and the establishment of civilization, a complete independence. India was a country which required fertilization; so was Egypt. [77] Here we have two very celebrated centres of human culture and development. China, though very productive in some parts, presented in others difficulties of a very serious character. The first events recorded in its history are struggles with rivers that had burst their bonds; its heroes are victors over the ruthless flood; the ancient emperors distinguished themselves by excavating canals and draining marshes. The country of the Tigris and Euphrates, the theatre of Assyrian splendor and hallowed by our most sacred traditions, those regions where, Syncellus says, wheat grew spontaneously, possess a soil so little productive, when unassisted by art, that only a vast and laborious system of irrigation can render it capable of giving the means of subsistence to its inhabitants. Now that the canals are filled up or obstructed, sterility has reassumed its former dominion. I am, therefore, inclined to think that nature had not so greatly favored these countries as is usually supposed. Yet, I shall not discuss this point.

I am willing to admit that China, Egypt, India, and Mesopotamia were regions perfectly adapted in every respect to the establishment of great empires, and the consequent development of brilliant civilizations. But it cannot be disputed that these nations, to profit by these superior advantages, must have previously brought their social system to a high degree of perfection. Before the great watercourses became the highways of commerce, industry, or at least agriculture, must have flourished to some extent. The great advantages accorded to these countries presuppose, therefore, in the nations that have profited by them, a peculiar intellectual vocation, and even a certain anterior degree of civilization. But from these specially favored regions let us glance elsewhere.

When the Phenicians migrated from the southeast, they fixed their abode on an arid, rocky coast, inclosed by steep and ragged mountains. Such a geographical situation would appear to preclude a people from any expansion, and force them to remain forever dependent on the produce of their fisheries for sustenance. The utmost that could be expected of them was to see them petty pirates. They were pirates, indeed, but on a magnificent scale; and, what is more, they were bold and successful merchants and speculators. They planted colonies everywhere, while the barren rocks of the mother country were covered with the palaces and temples of a wealthy and luxurious community. Some will say, that "the very unpropitiousness of external circumstances forced the founders of Tyre and Sidon to become what they were. Necessity is the mother of invention; their misery spurred them on to exertion; had they inhabited the plains of Damascus, they would have been content with the peaceful products of agriculture, and would probably never have become an illustrious nation." [78]

And why does not misery spur on other nations placed under similar circumstances? The Kabyles of Morocco are an ancient race; they have had sufficient time for reflection, and, moreover, every possible inducement for mere imitation; yet they have never imagined any other method for alleviating their wretched lot except petty piracy. The unparalleled facilities for commerce afforded by the Indian archipelago and the island clusters of the Pacific, have never been improved by the natives; all the peaceful and profitable relations were left in the hands of foreign races—the Chinese, Malays, and Arabs; where commerce has fallen into the hands of a semi-indigenous or half-breed population, it has instantly commenced to languish. What conclusions can we deduce from these observations than that pressing wants are not sufficient for inciting a nation to profit by the natural facilities of its coasts and islands, and that some special aptitude is needed for establishing a commercial state even in localities best adapted for that purpose.

But I shall not content myself with proving that the social and political aptitudes of races are not dependent on geographical situations, whether these be favorable or unfavorable; I shall, moreover, endeavor to show that these aptitudes have no sort of relation with any exterior circumstances. The Armenians, in their almost inaccessible mountains, where so many other nations have vegetated in a state of barbarism from generation to generation, and without any access to the sea, attained, already at a remote period, a high state of civilization. The Jews found themselves in an analogous position; they were surrounded by tribes who spoke kindred dialects, and who, for the most part, were nearly related to them in blood. Yet, they excelled all these groups. They were warriors, agriculturists, and merchants. Under a government in which theocracy, monarchy, patriarchal authority, and popular will, were singularly complicated and balanced, they traversed centuries of prosperity and glory. The difficulties which the narrow limits of their patrimonial domain opposed to their expansion, were overcome by an intelligent system of emigration. What was this famous Canaan? Modern travellers bear witness to the laborious and well-directed efforts by which the Jewish agriculturists maintained the factitious fertility of their soil. Since the chosen race no longer inhabits these mountains and plains, the wells where Jacob's flocks drank are dried up; Naboth's vineyard is invaded by the desert, Achab's palace-gardens filled with thistles. In this miserable corner of the world, what were the Jews? A people dextrous in all they undertook, a free, powerful, intelligent people, who, before losing bravely, and against a much superior foe, the title of independent nation, had furnished to the world almost as many doctors as merchants. [79]

Let us look at Greece. Arcadia was the paradise of the shepherd, and Bœotia, the favored land of Ceres and Triptolemus: yet, Arcadia and Bœotia play but a very inferior part in history. The wealthy Corinth, the favorite of Plutus and Venus, also appears in the second rank. To whom pertains the glory of Grecian history? To Attica, whose whitish, sandy soil afforded a scanty sustenance to puny olive-trees; to Athens, whose principal commerce consisted in books and statues. Then to Sparta, shut up in a narrow valley between masses of rocks, where victory went in search of it.

Who would dare to assert that Rome owed her universal empire to her geographical position? In the poor district of Latium, on the banks of a tiny stream emptying its waters on an almost unknown coast, where neither Greek nor Phenician vessel ever landed, except by accident, the future mistress of the world was born. So soon as the nations of the earth obeyed the Roman standard, politicians found the metropolis ill-placed, and the eternal city was neglected: even abandoned. The first emperors, being chiefly occupied with the East, resided in Greece almost continually. Tiberius chose Caprea, in the centre of his empire. His successors went to Antioch. Several lived at Trebia. Finally, a decree deprived Rome of the very name of capital, and gave it to Milan. If the Romans have conquered the world, it is certainly in spite of the locality whence issued forth their first armies, and not on account of its advantages.

In modern history, the proofs of the correctness of my position are so abundant, that I hardly know how to select. I see prosperity abandoning the coasts of the Mediterranean, evidence that it was not dependent on them. The great commercial cities of the Middle Ages rise where no theorist of a preceding age could have predicted them. Novogorod flourishes in an almost arctic region, Bremen on a coast nearly as cold. The Hanse-towns of Germany rise in a country where civilization has scarcely dawned; Venice appears at the head of a long, narrow gulf. Political preponderance belongs to places before unknown. Lyons, Toulouse, Narbonne, Marseilles, Bordeaux, lose the importance assigned them by the Romans, and Paris becomes the metropolis—Paris, then a third-rate town, too far from the sea for commerce, too near it for the Norman barges. In Italy, cities formerly obscure, surpass the capital of the popes. Ravenna rises in the midst of marshes; Amalfi, for a long time, enjoys extensive dominion. It must be observed, that in all these changes accident has no part: they all are the result of the presence of a victorious and preponderating race. It is not the place which determines the importance of a nation, it is the nation which gives to the place its political and economical importance.

I do not, however, deny the importance of certain situations for commercial depots, or for capitals. The observations made with regard to Alexandria and Constantinople, are incontestable. [80] There are, upon our globe, various points which may be called the keys of the world. Thus, it is obvious that a city, built on the proposed canal which is to pierce the Isthmus of Darien, would act an important part in the affairs of the world.

But, such a part a nation may act well or badly, or even not at all, according to its merits. Aggrandize Chagres, and let the two oceans unite under her walls, the destiny of the city would depend entirely on the race by which it was peopled. If this race be worthy of their good fortune, they will soon discover whether Chagres be the point whence the greatest benefits can be derived from the union of the two oceans; and, if it is not, they will leave it, and then, untrammelled, develop elsewhere their brilliant destinies. [81]
Site Admin
Posts: 33545
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest