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Title: How to Observe - Morals and Manners
Author: Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    "Hélas! où donc chercher, où trouver le bonheur?
    ----Nulle part tout entier, partout avec mesure."

    "Opening my journal-book, and dipping my pen in my ink-horn, I
    determined, as far as I could, to justify myself and my
    countrymen in wandering over the face of the earth."


    Dorset Street, Fleet Street.


"The best mode of exciting the love of observation is by teaching 'How
to Observe.' With this end it was originally intended to produce, in one
or two volumes, a series of hints for travellers and students, calling
their attention to the points necessary for inquiry or observation in
the different branches of Geology, Natural History, Agriculture, the
Fine Arts, General Statistics, and Social Manners. On consideration,
however, it was determined somewhat to extend the plan, and to separate
the great divisions of the field of observation, so that those whose
tastes led them to one particular branch of inquiry might not be
encumbered with other parts in which they do not feel an equal

The preceding passage is contained in the notice accompanying the first
work in this series--Geology, by Mr. De la Bèche, published in 1835.
Thus, the second work in the series is in continuation of the plan above


    PART I. REQUISITES FOR OBSERVATION.                 Page

    INTRODUCTION                                           1

    CHAP. I.   Philosophical Requisites.
                   Section I.                             11
                   Section II.                            14
                   Section III.                           21
                   Section IV.                            27

    CHAP. II.  Moral Requisites                           40

    CHAP. III. Mechanical Requisites                      51

    PART II.   WHAT TO OBSERVE                            61

    CHAP. I.   Religion                                   68
                   Churches                               80
                   Clergy                                 84
                   Superstitions                          90
                   Suicide                                94

    CHAP. II.  General Moral Notions                     101
                   Epitaphs                              108
                   Love of Kindred and Birth-place       111
                   Talk of Aged and Children             113
                   Character of prevalent Pride          114
                   Character of popular Idols            118
                   Epochs of Society                     122
                   Treatment of the Guilty               124
                   Testimony of Criminals                129
                   Popular Songs                         132
                   Literature and Philosophy             137

    CHAP. III. Domestic State                            144
                   Soil and Aspect of the Country        153
                   Markets                               154
                   Agricultural Class                    155
                   Manufacturing Class                   157
                   Commercial Class                      158
                   Health                                161
                   Marriage and Woman                    167
                   Children                              181

    CHAP. IV.  Idea of Liberty                           183
                   Police                                184
                   Legislation                           188
                   Classes in Society                    190
                   Servants                              192
                   Imitation of the Metropolis           196
                   Newspapers                            197
                   Schools                               198
                   Objects and Form of Persecution       203

    CHAP. V.   Progress                                  206
                   Conditions of Progress                209
                   Charity                               213
                   Arts and Inventions                   216
                   Multiplicity of Objects               218

    CHAP. VI. Discourse                                  221

    PART III. MECHANICAL METHODS                         231






    "Inest sua gratia parvis."

    "Les petites choses n'ont de valeur que de la part de ceux qui
    peuvent s'élever aux grandes."--DE JOUY.

There is no department of inquiry in which it is not full as easy to
miss truth as to find it, even when the materials from which truth is to
be drawn are actually present to our senses. A child does not catch a
gold fish in water at the first trial, however good his eyes may be, and
however clear the water; knowledge and method are necessary to enable
him to take what is actually before his eyes and under his hand. So it
is with all who fish in a strange element for the truth which is living
and moving there: the powers of observation must be trained, and habits
of method in arranging the materials presented to the eye must be
acquired before the student possesses the requisites for understanding
what he contemplates.

The observer of Men and Manners stands as much in need of intellectual
preparation as any other student. This is not, indeed, generally
supposed, and a multitude of travellers act as if it were not true. Of
the large number of tourists who annually sail from our ports, there is
probably not one who would dream of pretending to make observations on
any subject of physical inquiry, of which he did not understand even the
principles. If, on his return from the Mediterranean, the unprepared
traveller was questioned about the geology of Corsica, or the public
buildings of Palermo, he would reply, "Oh, I can tell you nothing about
that--I never studied geology; I know nothing about architecture." But
few, or none, make the same avowal about the morals and manners of a
nation. Every man seems to imagine that he can understand men at a
glance; he supposes that it is enough to be among them to know what they
are doing; he thinks that eyes, ears, and memory are enough for morals,
though they would not qualify him for botanical or statistical
observation; he pronounces confidently upon the merits and social
condition of the nations among whom he has travelled; no misgiving ever
prompts him to say, "I can give you little general information about the
people I have been seeing; I have not studied the principles of morals;
I am no judge of national manners."

There would be nothing to be ashamed of in such an avowal. No wise man
blushes at being ignorant of any science which it has not suited his
purposes to study, or which it has not been in his power to attain. No
linguist wrings his hands when astronomical discoveries are talked of in
his presence; no political economist covers his face when shown a shell
or a plant which he cannot class; still less should the artist, the
natural philosopher, the commercial traveller, or the classical scholar,
be ashamed to own himself unacquainted with the science which, of all
the sciences which have yet opened upon men, is, perhaps, the least
cultivated, the least definite, the least ascertained in itself, and the
most difficult in its application.

In this last characteristic of the science of Morals lies the excuse of
as many travellers as may decline pronouncing on the social condition of
any people. Even if the generality of travellers were as enlightened as
they are at present ignorant about the principles of Morals, the
difficulty of putting those principles to interpretative uses would
deter the wise from making the hasty decisions, and uttering the large
judgments, in which travellers have hitherto been wont to indulge. In
proportion as men become sensible how infinite are the diversities in
man, how incalculable the varieties and influences of circumstances,
rashness of pretension and decision will abate, and the great work of
classifying the moral manifestations of society will be confided to the
philosophers, who bear the same relation to the science of society as
Herschel does to astronomy, and Beaufort to hydrography.

Of all the tourists who utter their decisions upon foreigners, how many
have begun their researches at home? Which of them would venture upon
giving an account of the morals and manners of London, though he may
have lived in it all his life? Would any one of them escape errors as
gross as those of the Frenchman who published it as a general fact that
people in London always have, at dinner parties, soup on each side, and
fish at four corners? Which of us would undertake to classify the morals
and manners of any hamlet in England, after spending the summer in it?
What sensible man seriously generalizes upon the manners of a street,
even though it be Houndsditch or Cranbourn-Alley? Who pretends to
explain all the proceedings of his next-door neighbour? Who is able to
account for all that is said and done by the dweller in the same
house,--by parent, child, brother, or domestic? If such judgments were
attempted, would they not be as various as those who make them? And
would they not, after all, if closely looked into, reveal more of the
mind of the observer than of the observed?

If it be thus with us at home, amidst all the general resemblances, the
prevalent influences which furnish an interpretation to a large number
of facts, what hope of a trustworthy judgment remains for the foreign
tourist, however good may be his method of travelling, and however long
his absence from home? He looks at all the people along his line of
road, and converses with a few individuals from among them. If he
diverges, from time to time, from the high road,--if he winds about
among villages, and crosses mountains, to dip into the hamlets of the
valleys,--he still pursues only a line, and does not command the
expanse; he is furnished, at best, with no more than a sample of the
people; and whether they be indeed a sample, must remain a conjecture
which he has no means of verifying. He converses, more or less, with,
perhaps, one man in ten thousand of those he sees; and of the few with
whom he converses, no two are alike in powers and in training, or
perfectly agree in their views on any one of the great subjects which
the traveller professes to observe; the information afforded by one is
contradicted by another; the fact of one day is proved error by the
next; the wearied mind soon finds itself overwhelmed by the multitude of
unconnected or contradictory particulars, and lies passive to be run
over by the crowd. The tourist is no more likely to learn, in this way,
the social state of a nation, than his valet would be qualified to speak
of the meteorology of the country from the number of times the umbrellas
were wanted in the course of two months. His children might as well
undertake to exhibit the geological formation of the country from the
pebbles they picked up in a day's ride.

I remember some striking words addressed to me, before I set out on my
travels, by a wise man, since dead. "You are going to spend two years in
the United States," said he. "Now just tell me,--do you expect to
understand the Americans by the time you come back? You do not: that is
well. I lived five-and-twenty years in Scotland, and I fancied I
understood the Scotch; then I came to England, and supposed I should
soon understand the English. I have now lived five-and-twenty years
here, and I begin to think I understand neither the Scotch nor the

What is to be done? Let us first settle what is not to be done.

The traveller must deny himself all indulgence of peremptory decision,
not only in public on his return, but in his journal, and in his most
superficial thoughts. The experienced and conscientious traveller would
word the condition differently. Finding peremptory decision more trying
to his conscience than agreeable to his laziness, he would call it not
indulgence, but anxiety; he enjoys the employment of collecting
materials, but would shrink from the responsibility of judging a

The traveller must not generalize on the spot, however true may be his
apprehension--however firm his grasp, of one or more facts. A raw
English traveller in China was entertained by a host who was
intoxicated, and a hostess who was red-haired; he immediately made a
note of the fact that all the men in China were drunkards, and all the
women red-haired. A raw Chinese traveller in England was landed by a
Thames waterman who had a wooden leg. The stranger saw that the wooden
leg was used to stand in the water with, while the other was high and
dry. The apparent economy of the fact struck the Chinese; he saw in it
strong evidence of design, and wrote home that in England one-legged men
are kept for watermen, to the saving of all injury to health, shoe, and
stocking, from standing in the river. These anecdotes exhibit but a
slight exaggeration of the generalizing tendencies of many modern
travellers. They are not so much worse than some recent tourists' tales,
as they are better than the old narratives of "men whose heads do grow
beneath their shoulders."

Natural philosophers do not dream of generalizing with any such speed as
that used by the observers of men; yet they might do it with more
safety, at the risk of an incalculably smaller mischief. The geologist
and the chemist make a large collection of particular appearances,
before they commit themselves to propound a principle drawn from them,
though their subject matter is far less diversified than the human
subject, and nothing of so much importance as human emotions,--love and
dislike, reverence and contempt, depends upon their judgment. If a
student in natural philosophy is in too great haste to classify and
interpret, he misleads, for a while, his fellow-students (not a very
large class); he vitiates the observations of a few successors; his
error is discovered and exposed; he is mortified, and his too docile
followers are ridiculed, and there is an end; but if a traveller gives
any quality which he may have observed in a few individuals as a
characteristic of a nation, the evil is not speedily or easily
remediable. Abject thinkers, passive readers, adopt his words; parents
repeat them to their children; and townspeople spread the judgment into
the villages and hamlets--the strongholds of prejudice; future
travellers see according to the prepossessions given them, and add their
testimony to the error, till it becomes the work of a century to reverse
a hasty generalization. It was a great mistake of a geologist to assign
a wrong level to the Caspian Sea; and it is vexatious that much time and
energy should have been devoted to account for an appearance which,
after all, does not exist. It is provoking to geologists that they
should have wasted a great deal of ingenuity in finding reasons for
these waters being at a different level from what it is now found that
they have; but the evil is over; the "pish!" and the "pshaw!" are said;
the explanatory and apologetical notes are duly inserted in new
editions of geological works, and nothing more can come of the mistake.
But it is difficult to foresee when the British public will believe that
the Americans are a mirthful nation, or even that the French are not
almost all cooks or dancing-masters. A century hence, probably, the
Americans will continue to believe that all the English make a regular
study of the art of conversation; and the lower orders of French will be
still telling their children that half the people in England hang or
drown themselves every November. As long as travellers generalize on
morals and manners as hastily as they do, it will probably be impossible
to establish a general conviction that no civilized nation is
ascertainably better or worse than any other on this side barbarism, the
whole field of morals being taken into the view. As long as travellers
continue to neglect the safe means of generalization which are within
the reach of all, and build theories upon the manifestations of
individual minds, there is little hope of inspiring men with that spirit
of impartiality, mutual deference, and love, which are the best
enlighteners of the eyes and rectifiers of the understanding.

Above all things, the traveller must not despair of good results from
his observations. Because he cannot establish true conclusions by
imperfect means, he is not to desist from doing anything at all. Because
he cannot safely generalize in one way, it does not follow that there is
no other way. There are methods of safe generalization of which I shall
speak by-and-by. But, if there were not such within his reach, if his
only materials were the discourse, the opinions, the feelings, the way
of life, the looks, dress, and manners of individuals, he might still
afford important contributions to science by his observations on as wide
a variety of these as he can bring within his mental grasp. The
experience of a large number of observers would in time yield materials
from which a cautious philosopher might draw conclusions. It is a safe
rule, in morals as in physics, that no fact is without its use. Every
observer and recorder is fulfilling a function; and no one observer or
recorder ought to feel discouragement, as long as he desires to be
useful rather than shining; to be the servant rather than the lord of
science, and a friend to the home-stayers rather than their dictator.

One of the wisest men living writes to me, "No books are so little to be
trusted as travels. All travellers do and must generalize too rapidly.
Most, if not all, take a fact for a principle, or the exception for the
rule, more or less; and the quickest minds, which love to reason and
explain more than to observe with patience, go most astray. My faith in
travels received a mortal wound when I travelled. I read, as I went
along, the books of those who had preceded me, and found that we did not
see with the same eyes. Even descriptions of nature proved false. The
traveller had viewed the prospect at a different season, or in a
different light, and substituted the transient for the fixed. Still I
think travels useful. Different accounts give means of approximation to
truth; and by-and-by what is fixed and essential in a people will be
brought out."

It ought to be an animating thought to a traveller that, even if it be
not in his power to settle any one point respecting the morals and
manners of an empire, he can infallibly aid in supplying means of
approximation to truth, and of bringing out "what is fixed and essential
in a people." This should be sufficient to stimulate his exertions and
satisfy his ambition.



    "Only I believe that this is not a bow for every man to shoot in
    that counts himself a teacher, but will require sinews almost
    equal to those which Homer gave Ulysses; yet I am withal
    persuaded that it may prove much more easy in the essay than it
    now seems at a distance."--MILTON.

There are two parties to the work of observation on Morals and
Manners--the observer and the observed. This is an important fact which
the traveller seldom dwells upon as he ought; yet a moment's
consideration shows that the mind of the observer--the instrument by
which the work is done, is as essential as the material to be wrought.
If the instrument be in bad order, it will furnish a bad product, be the
material what it may. In this chapter I shall point out what requisites
the traveller ought to make sure that he is possessed of before he
undertakes to offer observations on the Morals and Manners of a people.


He must have made up his mind as to what it is that he wants to know. In
physical science, great results may be obtained by hap-hazard
experiments; but this is not the case in Morals. A chemist can hardly
fail of learning something by putting any substances together, under new
circumstances, and seeing what will arise out of the combination; and
some striking discoveries happened in this way, in the infancy of the
science; though no one doubts that more knowledge may be gained by the
chemist who has an aim in his mind, and who conducts his experiment on
some principle. In Morals, the latter method is the only one which
promises any useful results. In the workings of the social system, all
the agents are known in the gross--all are determined. It is not their
nature, but the proportions in which they are combined, which have to be

What does the traveller want to know? He is aware that, wherever he
goes, he will find men, women, and children; strong men and weak men;
just men and selfish men. He knows that he will everywhere find a
necessity for food, clothing, and shelter; and everywhere some mode of
general agreement how to live together. He knows that he will everywhere
find birth, marriage, and death; and therefore domestic affections. What
results from all these elements of social life does he mean to look for?

For want of settling this question, one traveller sees nothing truly,
because the state of things is not consistent with his speculations as
to how human beings ought to live together; another views the whole with
prejudice, because it is not like what he has been accustomed to see at
home; yet each of these would shrink from the recognition of his folly,
if it were fully placed before him. The first would be ashamed of having
tried any existing community by an arbitrary standard of his own--an act
much like going forth into the wilderness to see kings' houses full of
men in soft raiment; and the other would perceive that different
nations may go on judging one another by themselves till doomsday,
without in any way improving the chance of self-advancement and mutual
understanding. Going out with the disadvantage of a habit of mind
uncounteracted by an intellectual aim, will never do. The traveller may
as well stay at home, for anything he will gain in the way of social

The two considerations just mentioned must be subordinated to the grand
one,--the only general one,--of the relative amount of human happiness.
Every element of social life derives its importance from this great
consideration. The external conveniences of men, their internal emotions
and affections, their social arrangements, graduate in importance
precisely in proportion as they affect the general happiness of the
section of the race among whom they exist. Here then is the wise
traveller's aim,--to be kept in view to the exclusion of prejudice, both
philosophical and national. He must not allow himself to be perplexed or
disgusted by seeing the great ends of human association pursued by means
which he could never have devised, and to the practice of which he could
not reconcile himself. He is not to conclude unfavourably about the diet
of the multitude because he sees them swallowing blubber, or scooping
out water-melons, instead of regaling themselves with beef and beer. He
is not to suppose their social meetings a failure because they eat with
their fingers instead of with silver forks, or touch foreheads instead
of making a bow. He is not to conclude against domestic morals, on
account of a diversity of methods of entering upon marriage. He might
as well judge of the minute transactions of manners all over the world
by what he sees in his native village. There, to leave the door open or
to shut it bears no relation to morals, and but little to manners;
whereas, to shut the door is as cruel an act in a Hindoo hut as to leave
it open in a Greenland cabin. In short, he is to prepare himself to
bring whatever he may observe to the test of some high and broad
principle, and not to that of a low comparative practice. To test one
people by another, is to argue within a very small segment of a circle;
and the observer can only pass backwards and forwards at an equal
distance from the point of truth. To test the morals and manners of a
nation by a reference to the essentials of human happiness, is to strike
at once to the centre, and to see things as they are.


Being provided with a conviction of what it is that he wants to know,
the traveller must be furthermore furnished with the means of gaining
the knowledge he wants. When he was a child, he was probably taught that
eyes, ears, and understanding are all-sufficient to gain for him as much
knowledge as he will have time to acquire; but his self-education has
been a poor one, if he has not become convinced that something more is
needful--the enlightenment and discipline of the understanding, as well
as its immediate use. It is not enough for a traveller to have an active
understanding, equal to an accurate perception of individual facts in
themselves; he must also be in possession of principles which may serve
as a rallying point for his observations, and without which he cannot
determine their bearings, or be secure of putting a right interpretation
upon them. A traveller may do better without eyes, or without ears, than
without such principles, as there is evidence to prove. Holman, the
blind traveller, gains a wonderful amount of information, though he is
shut out from the evidence yielded by the human countenance, by way-side
groups, by the aspect of cities, and the varying phenomena of country
regions. In his motto, he indicates something of his method.

    "Sightless to see, and judge thro' judgment's eyes,
       To make four senses do the work of five,
     To arm the mind for hopeful enterprise,
       Are lights to him who doth in darkness live."

In order to "judge through judgment's eyes," those eyes must be made
strong and clear; and a traveller may gain more without the bodily organ
than with an untrained understanding. The case of the Deaf Traveller[A]
leads us to say the same about the other great avenue of knowledge. His
writings prove, to all who are acquainted with them, that, though to a
great degree deprived of that inestimable commentary upon perceived
facts--human discourse--the Deaf Traveller is able to furnish us with
more knowledge of foreign people than Fine-Ear himself could have done
without the accompaniments of analytical power and concentrative
thought. All senses, and intellectual powers, and good habits, may be
considered essential to a perfect observation of morals and manners; but
almost any one might be better spared than a provision of principles
which may serve as a rallying point and a test of facts. The blind and
the deaf travellers must suffer under a deprivation or deficiency of
certain classes of facts. The condition of the unphilosophical traveller
is much worse. It is a chance whether he puts a right interpretation on
any of the facts he perceives.

Many may object that I am making much too serious a matter of the
department of the business of travelling under present notice. They do
not pretend to be moral philosophers;--they do not desire to be
oracles;--they attempt nothing more than to give a simple report of what
has come under their notice. But what work on earth is more serious than
this of giving an account of the most grave and important things which
are transacted on this globe? Every true report is a great good; every
untrue report is a great mischief. Therefore, let there be none given
but by persons in some good degree qualified. Such travellers as will
not take pains to provide themselves with the requisite thought and
study should abstain from reporting at all.

It is a mistake, however, to suppose that the study shown to be
requisite is vast and deep. Some knowledge of the principles of Morals
and the rule of Manners is required, as in the case of other sciences to
be brought into use on a similar occasion; but the principles are few
and simple, and the rule easy of application.

The universal summary notions of Morals may serve a common traveller in
his judgments as to whether he would like to live in any foreign
country, and as to whether the people there are as agreeable to him as
his own nation. For such an one it may be sufficient to bear about the
general notions that lying, thieving, idleness, and licentiousness are
bad; and that truth, honesty, industry, and sobriety are good; and for
common purposes, such an one may be trusted to pronounce what is
industry and what idleness; what is licentiousness and what sobriety.
But vague notions, home prepossessions, even on these great points of
morals, are not sufficient, in the eyes of an enlightened traveller, to
warrant decisions on the moral state of nations who are reared under a
wide diversity of circumstances. The true liberality which alone is
worthy to contemplate all the nations of the earth, does not draw a
broad line through the midst of human conduct, declaring all that falls
on the one side vice, and all on the other virtue; such a liberality
knows that actions and habits do not always carry their moral impress
visibly to all eyes, and that the character of very many must be
determined by a cautious application of a few deep principles. Is the
Shaker of New England a good judge of the morals and manners of the Arab
of the Desert? What sort of a verdict would the shrewdest gipsy pass
upon the monk of La Trappe? What would the Scotch peasant think of the
magical practices of Egypt? or the Russian soldier of a meeting of
electors in the United States? The ideas of right and wrong in the minds
of these people are not of the enlarged kind which would enable them to
judge persons in situations the most opposite to their own. The true
philosopher, the worthy observer, first contemplates in imagination the
area of humanity, and then ascertains what principles of morals are
applicable to them all, and judges by these.

The enlightened traveller, if he explore only one country, carries in
his mind the image of all; for, only in its relation to the whole of the
race can any one people be judged. Almost without exaggeration, he may
be said to see what the rhapsodist in Volney saw.

"There, from above the atmosphere, looking down upon the earth I had
quitted, I beheld a scene entirely new. Under my feet, floating in empty
space, a globe similar to that of the moon, but less luminous, presented
to me one of its faces.... 'What!' exclaimed I, 'is that the earth which
is inhabited by human beings?'"[B]

The differences are, that, instead of "one of its faces," the moralist
would see the whole of the earth in one contemplation; and that, instead
of a nebulous expanse here, and a brown or grey speck there,--continents,
seas, or volcanoes,--he would look into the homes and social assemblies
of all lands. In the extreme North, there is the snow-hut of the
Esquimaux, shining with the fire within, like an alabaster lamp left
burning in a wide waste; within, the beardless father is mending his
weapons made of fishbones, while the dwarfed mother swathes her infant in
skins, and feeds it with oil and fat. In the extreme East, there is the
Chinese family in their garden, treading its paved walks, or seated under
the shade of its artificial rocks; the master displaying the claws of his
left hand as he smokes his pipe, and his wife tottering on her deformed
feet as she follows her child,--exulting over it if it be a boy; grave
and full of sighs if heaven have sent her none but girls. In the extreme
South, there is the Colonist of the Cape, lazily basking before his door,
while he sends his labourer abroad with his bullock-waggon, devolves the
business of the farm upon the women, and scares from his door any poor
Hottentot who may have wandered hither over the plain. In the extreme
West, there is the gathering together on the shores of the Pacific of the
hunters laden with furs. The men are trading, or cleaning their arms, or
sleeping; the squaws are cooking, or dyeing with vegetable juices the
quills of the porcupine or the hair of the moose-deer. In the intervals
between these extremities, there is a world of morals and manners, as
diverse as the surface of the lands on which they are exhibited. Here is
the Russian nobleman on his estate, the lord of the fate of his serfs,
but hard pressed by the enmity of rival nobles, and silenced by the
despotism of his prince; his wife leads a languid life among her spinning
maidens; and his young sons talk of the wars in which they shall serve
their emperor in time to come. There is the Frankfort trader, dwelling
among equals, fixing his pride upon having wronged no man, or upon having
a son distinguished at the university, or a daughter skilled in domestic
accomplishments; while his wife emulates her neighbours in supporting the
comfort and respectability of the household. Here is the French peasant
returning from the field in total ignorance of what has taken place in
the capital of late; and there is the English artizan discussing with his
brother-workman the politics of the town, or carrying home to his wife
some fresh hopes of the interference of parliament about labour and
wages. Here is a conclave of Cardinals, consulting upon the interests of
the Holy See; there a company of Brahmins setting an offering of rice
before their idol. In one direction, there is a handful of citizens
building a new town in the midst of a forest; in another, there is a
troop of horsemen hovering on the horizon, while a caravan is traversing
the Desert. Under the twinkling shadows of a German vineyard, national
songs are sung; from the steep places of the Swiss mountains the Alp-horn
resounds; in the coffee-house at Cairo, listeners hang upon the voice of
the romance reciter; the churches of Italy echo with solemn hymns; and
the soft tones of the child are heard, in the New England parlour, as the
young scholar reads the Bible to parent or aged grandfather.

All these, and more, will a traveller of the most enlightened order
revolve before his mind's eye as he notes the groups which are presented
to his senses. Of such travellers there are but too few; and vague and
general, or merely traditional, notions of right and wrong must serve
the purpose of the greater number. The chief evil of moral notions being
vague or traditional is, that they are irreconcileable with liberality
of judgment; and the great benefit of an ascertainment of the primary
principles of morals is, that such an investigation dissolves prejudice,
and casts a full light upon many things which cease to be fearful and
painful when they are no longer obscure. We all know how different a
Sunday in Paris appears to a sectarian, to whom the word of his priest
is law; and to a philosopher, in whom religion is indigenous, who
understands the narrowness of sects, and sees how much smaller even
Christendom itself is than Humanity. We all know how offensive the
prayers of Mahomedans at the corners of streets, and the pomp of
catholic processions, are to those who know no other way than entering
into their closet, and shutting the door when they pray; but how felt
the deep thinker who wrote the Religio Medici? He was an orderly member
of a Protestant church, yet he uncovered his head at the sight of a
crucifix; he could not laugh at pilgrims walking with peas in their
shoes, or despise a begging friar; he could "not hear an Ave Maria bell
without an elevation;" and it is probable that even the Teraphim of the
Arabs would not have been wholly absurd, or the car of Juggernaut itself
altogether odious in his eyes. Such is the contrast between the sectary
and the philosopher.


As an instance of the advantage which a philosophical traveller has over
an unprepared one, look at the difference which will enter into a man's
judgment of nations, according as he carries about with him the vague
popular notion of a Moral Sense, or has investigated the laws under
which feelings of right and wrong grow up in all men. It is worth while
to dwell a little on this important point.

Most persons who take no great pains to think for themselves, have a
notion that every human being has feelings, or a conscience, born with
him, by which he knows, if he will only attend to it, exactly what is
right and wrong; and that, as right and wrong are fixed and immutable,
all ought to agree as to what is sin and virtue in every case. Now,
mankind are, and always have been, so far from agreeing as to right and
wrong, that it is necessary to account in some manner for the wide
differences in various ages, and among various nations. A great
diversity of doctrines has been put forth for the purpose of lessening
the difficulty; but they all leave certain portions of the race under
the condemnation or compassion of the rest for their error, blindness,
or sin. Moreover, no doctrines yet invented have accounted for some
total revolutions in the ideas of right and wrong, which have occurred
in the course of ages. A person who takes for granted that there is an
universal Moral Sense among men, as unchanging as he who bestowed it,
cannot reasonably explain how it was that those men were once esteemed
the most virtuous who killed the most enemies in battle, while now it is
considered far more noble to save life than to destroy it. They cannot
but wonder how it was that it was once thought a great shame to live in
misery, and an honour to commit suicide; while now the wisest and best
men think exactly the reverse. And, with regard to the present age, it
must puzzle men who suppose that all ought to think alike on moral
subjects, that there are parts of the world where mothers believe it a
duty to drown their children, and that eastern potentates openly deride
the king of England for having only one wife instead of one hundred.
There is no avoiding illiberality, under this belief,--as the
philosopher understands illiberality. There is no avoiding the
conclusion that the people who practice infanticide and polygamy are
desperately wicked; and that minor differences of conduct are, abroad as
at home, so many sins.

The observer who sets out with a more philosophical belief, not only
escapes the affliction of seeing sin wherever he sees difference, and
avoids the suffering of contempt and alienation from his species, but,
by being prepared for what he witnesses, and aware of the causes, is
free from the agitation of being shocked and alarmed, preserves his
calmness, his hope, his sympathy; and is thus far better fitted to
perceive, understand, and report upon the morals and manners of the
people he visits. His more philosophical belief, derived from all fair
evidence and just reflexion, is, that every man's feelings of right and
wrong, instead of being born with him, grow up in him from the
influences to which he is subjected. We see that in other cases,--with
regard to science, to art, and to the appearances of nature,--feelings
grow out of knowledge and experience; and there is every evidence that
it is so with regard to morals. The feelings begin very early; and this
is the reason why they are supposed to be born with men; but they are
few and imperfect in childhood, and, in the case of those who are
strongly exercised in morals, they go on enlarging and strengthening and
refining through life. See the effect upon the traveller's observations
of his holding this belief about conscience! Knowing that some
influences act upon the minds of all people in all countries, he looks
everywhere for certain feelings of right and wrong which are as sure to
be in all men's minds as if they were born with them. For instance, to
torment another without any reason, real or imaginary, is considered
wrong all over the world. In the same manner, to make others happy is
universally considered right. At the same time, the traveller is
prepared to find an infinite variety of differences in smaller matters,
and is relieved from the necessity of pronouncing each to be a vice in
one party or another. His own moral education having been a more
elevated and advanced one than that of some of the people he
contemplates, he cannot but feel sorrow and disgust at various things
that he witnesses; but it is ignorance and barbarism that he mourns, and
not vice. When he sees the Arab or American Indian offer daughter or
wife to the stranger, as a part of the hospitality which is, in the
host's mind, the first of duties, the observer regards the fact as he
regards the mode of education in old Sparta, where physical hardihood
and moral slavery constituted a man most honourable. If he sees an
American student spend the whole of his small fortune, on leaving
college, in travelling in Europe, he will not blame him as he would
blame a young Englishman for doing the same thing. The Englishman would
be a spendthrift; the American is wise: and the reason is, that their
circumstances, prospects, and therefore their views of duty, are
different. The American, being sure of obtaining an independent
maintenance, may make the enlargement of his mind, and the cultivation
of his tastes by travel, his first object; while the conscientious
Englishman must fulfil the hard conditions of independence before he can
travel. Capital is to him one of the chief requisites of honest
independence; while to the American it is in the outset no requisite at
all. To go without clothing was, till lately, perfectly innocent in the
South Sea Islands; but now that civilization has been fairly established
by the missionaries, it has become a sin. To let an enemy escape with
his life is a disgrace in some countries of the world; while in others
it is held more honourable to forgive than to punish him. Instances of
such varieties and oppositions of conscience might be multiplied till
they filled a volume, to the perplexity and grief of the
unphilosophical, and the serene instruction of the philosophical

The general influences under which universal ideas and feelings of right
and wrong are formed, are dispensed by the Providence under which all
are educated. That man should be happy is so evidently the intention of
his Creator, the contrivances to that end are so multitudinous and so
striking, that the perception of the aim may be called universal.
Whatever tends to make men happy, becomes a fulfilment of the will of
God. Whatever tends to make them miserable, becomes opposition to his
will. There are, and must be, a host of obstacles to the express
recognition of, and practical obedience to, these great principles; but
they may be discovered as the root of religion and morals in all
countries. There are impediments from ignorance, and consequent error,
selfishness, and passion: the most infantile men mistake the means of
human happiness, and the wisest have but a dim and fluctuating
perception of them: but yet all men entertain one common conviction,
that what makes people happy is good and right, and that what makes them
miserable is evil and wrong. This conviction is at the bottom of
practices which seem the most inconsistent with it. When the Ashantee
offers a human sacrifice, it is in order to secure blessings from his
gods. When the Hindoo exposes his sick parent in the Ganges, he thinks
he is putting him out of pain by a charmed death. When Sand stabbed
Kotzebue, he believed he was punishing and getting rid of an enemy and
an obstacle to the welfare of his nation. When the Georgian planter
buys and sells slaves, he goes on the supposition that he is preserving
the order and due subordination of society. All these notions are shown
by philosophy to be narrow, superficial, and mistaken. They have been
outgrown by many, and are doubtless destined to be outgrown by all; but,
acted upon by the ignorant and deluded, they are very different from the
wickedness which is perpetrated against better knowledge. But these
things would be wickedness, perpetrated against better knowledge, if the
supposition of a universal, infallible Moral Sense were true. The
traveller who should consistently adhere to the notion of a Moral Sense,
must pronounce the Ashantee worshipper as guilty as Greenacre: the
Hindoo son a parricide, not only in fact, but in the most revolting
sense of the term: Sand, a Thurtell: and the Georgian planter such a
monster of tyranny as a Sussex farmer would be if he set up a
whipping-post for his labourers, and sold their little ones to gipsies.
Such judgments would be cruelly illiberal. The traveller who is
furnished with the more accurate philosophy of Conscience would arrive
at conclusions, not only more correct, but far less painful; and,
without any laxity of principle, far more charitable.

So much for one instance of the advantage to the traveller of being
provided with definite principles, to be used as a rallying point and
test of his observations, instead of mere vague moral notions and
general prepossessions, which can serve only as a false medium, by which
much that he sees must necessarily be perverted or obscured.


The traveller having satisfied himself that there are some universal
feelings about right and wrong, and that in consequence some parts of
human conduct are guided by general rules, must next give his attention
to modes of conduct, which seem to him good or bad, prevalent in a
nation, or district, or society of smaller limits. His first general
principle is, that the law of nature is the only one by which mankind at
large can be judged. His second must be, that every prevalent virtue or
vice is the result of the particular circumstances amidst which the
society exists.

The circumstances in which a prevalent virtue or vice originates, may or
may not be traceable by a traveller. If traceable, he should spare no
pains to make himself acquainted with the whole case. If obscure, he
must beware of imputing disgraces to individuals, as if those
individuals were living under the influences which have made himself
what he is. He will not blame a deficiency of moral independence in a
citizen of Philadelphia so severely as in a citizen of London; seeing,
as he must do, that the want of moral independence is a prevalent fault
in the United States, and that there must be some reason for it. Again,
he will not look to the Polish peasant for the political intelligence,
activity, and principle which delight him in the log-house of the
American farmer. He sees that Polish peasants are generally supine, and
American farmers usually interested about politics; and that there must
be reasons for the difference.

In a majority of cases such reasons are, to a great extent,
ascertainable. In Spain, for instance, there is a large class of
wretched and irretrievable beggars; and their idleness, dirt, and lying
trouble the very soul of the traveller. What is the reason of the
prevalence of this degraded class and of its vices? A Court Lady[C]
wrote, in ancient days, piteous complaints of the poverty of the
sovereign, the nobility, the army, and the destitute ladies who waited
upon the queen. The sovereign could not give his attendants their
dinners; the nobility melted down their plate and sold their jewels; the
soldiers were famishing in garrison, so that the young deserted, and the
aged and invalids wasted away, actually starved to death. The lady
mentions with surprise, that a particularly large amount of gold and
silver had arrived from the foreign possessions of Spain that year, and
tries to account for the universal misery by saying that a great
proportion of these riches was appropriated by merchants who supplied
the Spaniards with the necessaries of life from abroad; and she speaks
of this as an evil. She is an example of an unphilosophical
observer,--one who could not be trusted to report--much less to account
for--the morals and manners of the people before her eyes. What says a
philosophical observer?[D] "Spain and Portugal, the countries which
possess the mines, are, after Poland, perhaps the two most beggarly
countries in Europe."--"Their trade to their colonies is carried on in
their own ships, and is much greater" (than their foreign commerce,) "on
account of the great riches and extent of those colonies. But it has
never introduced any considerable manufactures for distant sale into
either of those countries, and the greater part of both remains
uncultivated."--"The proportion of gold and silver to the annual produce
of the land and labour of Spain is said to be very considerable, and
that you frequently find there a profusion of plate in houses where
there is nothing else which would in other countries be thought suitable
or correspondent to this sort of magnificence. The cheapness of gold and
silver, or, what is the same thing, the dearness of all commodities,
which is the necessary effect of this redundance of the precious metals,
discourages both the agriculture and manufactures of Spain and Portugal,
and enables foreign nations to supply them with many sorts of rude, and
with almost all sorts of manufactured produce, for a smaller quantity of
gold and silver than what they themselves can either raise or make them
for at home."--When it is considered that in Spain gold and silver are
called wealth, and that there is little other; that manufactures and
commerce scarcely exist; that agriculture is discouraged, and that
therefore there is a lack of occupation for the lower classes, it may be
fairly concluded that the idle upper orders will be found lazy, proud,
and poor; the idle lower classes in a state of beggary; and that the
most virtuous and happy part of the population will be those who are
engaged in tilling the soil, and in the occupations which are absolutely
necessary in towns. One may see with the mind's eye the groups of
intriguing grandees, who have no business on their estates to occupy
their time and thoughts; or the crowd of hungry beggars, thronging round
the door of a convent, to receive the daily alms; or the hospitable and
courteous peasants, of whom a traveller[E] says, "There is a civility to
strangers, and an easy style of behaviour familiar to this class of
Spanish society, which is very remote from the churlish and awkward
manners of the English and German peasantry. Their sobriety and
endurance of fatigue are very remarkable; and there is a constant
cheerfulness in their demeanour which strongly prepossesses a stranger
in their favour."--"I should be glad if I could, with justice, give as
favourable a picture of the higher orders of society in this country;
but, perhaps, when we consider their wretched education, and their early
habits of indolence and dissipation, we ought not to wonder at the state
of contempt and degradation to which they are reduced. I am not speaking
the language of prejudice, but the result of the observations I have
made, in which every accurate observer among our countrymen has
concurred with me, in saying that the figures and countenances of the
higher orders are as much inferior to those of the peasants, as their
moral qualities are in the view I have given of them."--All this might
be foreseen to be unavoidable in a country where the means of living are
passively derived from abroad, and where the honour and rewards of
successful industry are confined to a class of the community. The mines
should bear the blame of the prevalent faults of the saucy beggars and
beggarly grandees of Spain.

To any one who has at all considered at home the bearings of a social
system which is grounded upon physical force, or those of the opposite
arrangements which rely upon moral power, it can be no mystery abroad
that there should be prevalent moral characteristics among the subjects
of such systems; and the vices which exist under them will be, however
mourned, leniently judged. Take the Feudal System as an instance, first,
and then its opposite. A little thought makes it clear what virtues and
vices will be almost certain to subsist under the influences of each.

The baron lives in his castle, on a rock or some other eminence, whence
he can overlook his domains, or where his ancestor reared his abode for
purposes of safety. During this stage of society there is little
domestic refinement and comfort. The furniture is coarse; the library is
not tempting; and the luxurious ease of cities is out of the question.
The pleasures of the owner lie abroad. There he devotes himself to rough
sports, and enjoys his darling luxury,--the exercise of power. Within
the dwelling the wife and her attendants spend their lives in
handiworks, in playing with the children and keeping them in order, in
endless conversation on the few events which come under their notice,
and in obedience to and companionship with the priest. While the master
is hunting, or gathering together his retainers for the feast, the women
are spinning or sewing, gossiping, confessing, or doing penance; while
the priest studies in his apartment, shares in the mirth, or soothes the
troubles of the household, and rules the mind of the noble by securing
the confidence of his wife. Out of doors, there are the retainers, by
whatever name they may be called. Their poor dwellings are crowded round
the castle of the lord; their patches of arable land lie nearest, and
the pastures beyond; that, at least, the supply of human food may be
secured from any enemy. These portions of land are held on a tenure of
service; and, as the retainers have no property in them, and no interest
in their improvement, and are, moreover, liable to be called away from
their tillage at any moment, to perform military or other service, the
soil yields sorry harvests, and the lean cattle are not very ornamental
to the pastures. The wives of the peasantry are often left, at an hour's
warning, in the unprotected charge of their half-clothed and untaught
children, as well as of the cattle and the field.--The festivals of the
people are on holy days, and on the return of the chief from war, or
from a pre-eminent chase.

Now, what must be the morals of such a district as this? and, it may be
added, of the whole country of which it forms a part? for, if there be
one feudal settlement of the kind, there must be more; and the society
is in fact made up of a certain number of complete sets of persons,--of
establishments like this.--There is no need to go back some centuries
for an original to the picture: it exists in more than one country in
Europe now.

This kind of society is composed of two classes only; those who have
something, and those who have nothing. The chief has property, some
knowledge, and great power. With individual differences, the chiefs may
be expected to be imperious, from their liberty and indulgence of will;
brave, from their exposure to toil and danger; contemptuous of men, from
their own supremacy; superstitious, from the influence of the priest in
the household; lavish, from the permanency of their property; vain of
rank and personal distinction, from the absence of pursuits unconnected
with self; and hospitable, partly from the same cause, and partly from
their own hospitality being the only means of gratifying their social

The clergy will be politic, subservient, studious, or indolent,
kind-hearted, effeminate, with a strong tendency to spiritual pride, and
love of spiritual dominion. It will be surprising, too, if they are not
driven into infidelity by the credulity of their pupils.

The women will be ignorant and superstitious, for want of varied
instruction; brave, from the frequent presence or promise of danger;
efficient, from the small division of labour which is practicable in the
superintendence of such a family; given to gossip and uncertainty of
temper, from the sameness of their lives; devoted to their husbands and
children, from the absence of all other important objects; and vain of
such accomplishments as they have, from an ignorance of what remains to
be achieved.

The retainers must be ignorant,--physically strong and imposing,
perhaps, but infants in mind, and slaves in morals. Their worship is
idolatry--of their chief. The virtues permitted to them are fidelity,
industry, domestic attachment, and sobriety. It is difficult to see what
others are possible. Their faults are all comprehended in the word

These characteristics may be extended to the divisions of the nation
corresponding to those of the household: for the sovereign is only a
higher feudal chief: his nobles are a more exalted sort of serfs; and
those who are masters at home become slaves at court. Under this system,
who would be so hardy as to treat brutality in a serf, cunning in a
priest, prejudice in a lady, and imperiousness in a lord, as any thing
but the results--inevitable as mournful--of the state of society?

Feudalism is founded upon physical force, and therefore bears a relation
to the past alone. Right begins in might, and all the social relations
of men have originated in physical superiority. The most prevalent ideas
of the feudal period arise out of the past; what has been longest
honoured is held most honourable; and the understanding of men,
unexercised by learning, and undisciplined by society and political
action, falls back upon precedent, and reposes there. The tastes, and
even the passions, of the feudal period bear a relation to antiquity.
Ambition, prospective as it is in its very nature, has, in this case, a
strong retrospective character. The glory that the descendant derives
from his fathers, he burns to transmit. The past is everything: the
future, except in as far as it may resemble the past, is nothing.

Such, with modifications, have been the prevalent ideas, tastes, and
passions of the civilized world, till lately. The opposite state of
society, which has begun to be realized, occasions prevalent ideas, and
therefore prevalent virtues and vices, of an opposite character.

As commerce enlarges, as other professions besides the clerical arise,
as trades become profitable, as cities swell in importance, as
communication improves, raising villages into towns, and hamlets into
villages, and the affairs of central communities become spread through
the circumference, the lower classes rise, the chiefs lose much of their
importance, the value of men for their intrinsic qualifications is
discovered, and such men take the lead in managing the affairs of
associated citizens. Instead of all being done by orders issued from a
central power,--commands carrying forth an imperious will, and bringing
back undoubting obedience,--social affairs begin to be managed by the
heads and hands of the parties immediately interested. Self-government
in municipal affairs takes place; and, having taken place in any one set
of circumstances, it appears likely to be employed within a wider and a
wider range, till all the government of the community is of that
character. The United States are the most remarkable examples now before
the world of the reverse of the feudal system,--its principles, its
methods, its virtues and vices. In as far as the Americans revert, in
ideas and tastes, to the past, this may be attributed to the transition
being not yet perfected,--to the generation which organized the republic
having been educated amidst the remains of feudalism. There are still
Americans who boast of ancestors high in the order of birth rather than
of merit; who in talking of rank have ideas of birth in their minds, and
whose tastes lie in the past. But such will be the case while the
literature of the world breathes the spirit of former ages, and softens
the transition to an opposite social state. A new literature, new modes
of thought, are daily arising, which point more and more towards the
future. We have already records of the immediate state of the minds and
fortunes of men and of communities, and not a few speculations which
stretch far forward into the future. Every year is the admission more
extensively entered into that moral power is nobler than physical force;
there is more earnestness in the conferences of nations, and less
proneness to war. The highest creations of literature itself, however
long ago produced, are now discovered to bear as close a relation to the
future as the past. They are for all time, through all its changes.
While pillars of light in the dim regions of antiquity, they pass over
in the dawn, and are still before us, casting their shadows to our feet
as guides into the dazzling future. Pre-eminent among them is the Book
which never had any retrospective character in it. It never sanctioned
physical force, pride of ancestry, of valour, of influence, or any other
pride. It never sanctioned arbitrary division of ranks. It never lauded
the virtues of feudalism in their disconnection with other virtues; it
never spared the faults of feudalism, on the ground of their being the
necessary product of feudal circumstances; neither does it now laud and
tolerate the virtues and vices developed by democracy. This guide has
never yet taken up its rest. It is in advance of all existing
democracies, as it ever was of all despotisms. The fact is, that, while
all manifestations of eminent intellectual and moral force have an
imperishable quality, this supreme book has not only an immortal
freshness, but bears no relation to time:--to it "one day is as a
thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

What are the prevalent virtues and faults which are to be looked for in
the future,--or in those countries which represent somewhat of the
future, as others afford a weakened image of the past? What allowance is
the traveller in America to make? Almost precisely the reverse of what
he would make in Russia.

In-door luxury has succeeded to out-door sports: the mechanical arts
flourish from the elevation of the lower classes, and prowess is gone
out of fashion. The consequence of this is that the traveller sees
ostentation of personal luxury instead of retinue. In the course of
transition to the time when merit will constitute the highest claim to
rank, wealth succeeds to birth: but even already, the claims of wealth
give way before those of intellect. The popular author has more
observance than the millionaire in the United States. This is
honourable, and yields promise of a still better graduation of ranks.
Where moral force is recognized as the moving power of society, it seems
to follow that the condition of Woman must be elevated; that new
pursuits will be opened to her, and a wider and stronger discipline be
afforded to her powers. It is not so in America; but this is owing to
the interference of other circumstances with the full operation of
democratic principles. The absence of an aristocratic or a sovereign
will impels men to find some other will on which to repose their
individual weakness, and with which to employ their human veneration.
The will of the majority becomes their refuge and unwritten law. The few
free-minded resist this will, when it is in opposition to their own, and
the slavish many submit. This is accordingly found to be the most
conspicuous fault of the Americans. Their cautious subservience to
public opinion,--their deficiency of moral independence,--is the crying
sin of their society. Again, the social equality by which the whole of
life is laid open to all in a democratic republic, in which every man
who has power in him may attain all to which that power is a requisite,
cannot but enhance the importance of each in the eyes of all; and the
consequence is a mutual respect and deference, and also a mutual
helpfulness, which are in themselves virtues of a high order, and
preparatives for others. In these the Americans are exercised and
accomplished to a degree never generally attained in any other country.
This class of virtues constitutes their distinguishing honour, their
crowning grace in the company of nations.--Activity and ingenuity are a
matter of course where every man's lot is in his own hands.
Unostentatious hospitality and charity might, in some democracies, be
likely to languish; but the Americans have the wealth of a young
country, and the warmth of a young national existence, as stimulus and
warrant for pecuniary liberality of every kind.--Popular vanity, and the
subservience of political representatives, are the chief dangers which
remain to be alluded to; and there will probably be no republic for ages
where these will not be found in the form of prevalent vices.--If, under
a feudal system, there is a wholesome exercise of reverence in the
worship of ancestry, there is, under the opposite system, a no less
salutary and perpetual impulse to generosity in the care for posterity.
The one has been, doubtless, a benignant influence, tempering the
ruggedness and violence of despotism; the other will prove an elevating
force, lifting men above the personal selfishness and mutual
subservience which are the besetting perils of equals who unite to
govern by their common will.

Whatever may be his philosophy of individual character, the reflective
observer cannot travel, with his mind awake, without admitting that
there can be no question but that national character is formed, or
largely influenced, by the gigantic circumstances which, being the
product of no individual mind, are directly attributable to the great
Moral Governor of the human race. Every successive act of research or
travel will impress him more and more deeply with this truth, which, for
the sake of his own peace and liberality, it would be well that he
should carry about with him from the outset. He will not visit
individuals with any bitterness of censure for participating in
prevalent faults. He will regard social virtues and graces as shedding
honour on all whom they overshadow, from the loftiest to the lowliest;
while he is not disposed to indulge contempt, or anything but a mild
compassion, for any social depravity or deformity which, being the clear
result of circumstances, and itself a circumstance, may be considered as
surely destined to be remedied, as the wisdom of associated, like that
of individual man, grows with his growth, and strengthens with his



    "I respect knowledge; but I do not despise ignorance. They think
    only as their fathers thought, worship as they worshipped. They
    do no more."--ROGERS.

                        "He was alive
    To all that was enjoyed where'er he went,
    And all that was endured."          WORDSWORTH.

The traveller, being furnished with the philosophical requisites for the
observation of morals and manners,

1stly. With a certainty of what it is that he wants to know,--

2ndly. With principles which may serve as a rallying point and test of
his observations,--

3rdly. With, for instance, a philosophical and definite, instead of a
popular and vague, notion about the origin of human feelings of right
and wrong,--

4thly. And with a settled conviction that prevalent virtues and vices
are the result of gigantic general influences,--is yet not fitted for
his object if certain moral requisites be wanting in him.

An observer, to be perfectly accurate, should be himself perfect. Every
prejudice, every moral perversion, dims or distorts whatever the eye
looks upon. But as we do not wait to be perfect before we travel, we
must content ourselves with discovering, in order to avoidance, what
would make our task hopeless, and how we may put ourselves in a state to
learn at least something truly. We cannot suddenly make ourselves a
great deal better than we have been, for such an object as observing
Morals and Manners; but, by clearly ascertaining what it is that the
most commonly, or the most grossly, vitiates foreign observation, we may
put a check upon our spirit of prejudice, and carry with us restoratives
of temper and spirits which may be of essential service to us in our

The observer must have sympathy; and his sympathy must be untrammelled
and unreserved. If a traveller be a geological inquirer, he may have a
heart as hard as the rocks he shivers, and yet succeed in his immediate
objects: if he be a student of the fine arts, he may be as silent as a
picture, and yet gain his ends: if he be a statistical investigator, he
may be as abstract as a column of figures, and yet learn what he wants
to know: but an observer of morals and manners will be liable to
deception at every turn, if he does not find his way to hearts and
minds. Nothing was ever more true than that "as face answers to face in
water, so is the heart of man." To the traveller there are two meanings
in this wise saying, both worthy of his best attention. It means that
the action of the heart will meet a corresponding action, and that the
nature of the heart will meet a corresponding nature. Openness and
warmth of heart will be greeted with openness and warmth:--this is one
truth. Hearts, generous or selfish, pure or gross, gay or sad, will
understand, and therefore be likely to report of, only their like:--this
is another truth.

There is the same human heart everywhere,--the universal growth of mind
and life,--ready to open to the sunshine of sympathy, flourishing in the
enclosures of cities, and blossoming wherever dropped in the wilderness;
but folding up when touched by chill, and drooping in gloom. As well
might the Erl-king go and play the florist in the groves and plains of
the tropics, as an unsympathizing man render an account of society. It
will all turn to stubble and sapless rigidity before his eyes.

There is the same human heart everywhere; and, if the traveller has a
good one himself, he will presently find this out, whatever may have
been his fears at home of checks to his sympathy from difference of
education, objects in life, &c. There is no place where people do not
suffer and enjoy; where love is not the high festival of life; where
birth and death are not occasions of emotion; where parents are not
proud of their boy-children; where thoughtful minds do not speculate
upon the two eternities; where, in short, there is not broad ground on
which any two human beings may meet and clasp hands, if they have but
unsophisticated hearts. If a man have not sympathy, there is no point of
the universe--none so wide even as the Mahomedan bridge over the
bottomless pit--where he can meet with his fellow. Such an one is indeed
floundering in the bottomless pit, with only the shadows of men ever
flitting about him.

I have mentioned elsewhere, what will well bear repetition,--that an
American merchant, who had made several voyages to China, dropped a
remark by his own fire-side on the narrowness which causes us to
conclude, avowedly or silently, that, however well men may use the
light they have, they cannot be more than nominally our brethren, unless
they have our religion, our philosophy, and our methods of attaining
both. He said he often recurred, with delight, to the conversations he
had enjoyed with his Chinese friends on some of the highest speculative,
and some of the deepest and widest practical subjects, which his
fellow-citizens of New England were apt to think could be the business
only of Protestant Christians. This American merchant's observations on
oriental morals and manners had an incalculable weight after he had said
this; for it was known that he had seen into hearts, as well as met
faces, and discovered what people's minds were busy about, as their
hands were pursuing the universal employment of earning their

Unless a traveller interprets by his sympathies what he sees, he cannot
but misunderstand the greater part of that which comes under his
observation. He will not be admitted with freedom into the retirements
of domestic life; the instructive commentary on all the facts of
life,--discourse,--will be of a slight and superficial character. People
will talk to him of the things they care least about, instead of seeking
his sympathy about the affairs which are deepest in their hearts. He
will be amused with public spectacles, and informed of historical and
chronological facts; but he will not be invited to weddings and
christenings; he will hear no love-tales; domestic sorrows will be kept
as secrets from him; the old folks will not pour out their stories to
him, nor the children bring him their prattle. Such a traveller will be
no more fitted to report on morals and manners than he would be to give
an account of the silver mines of Siberia by walking over the surface,
and seeing the entrance and the product.

"Human conduct," says a philosopher, "is guided by rules." Without these
rules, men could not live together, and they are also necessary to the
repose of individual minds. Robinson Crusoe could not have endured his
life for a month without rules to live by. A life without purpose is
uncomfortable enough; but a life without rules would be a wretchedness
which, happily, man is not constituted to bear. The rules by which men
live are chiefly drawn from the universal convictions about right and
wrong which I have mentioned as being formed everywhere, under strong
general influences. When sentiment is connected with these rules, they
become religion; and this religion is the animating spirit of all that
is said and done. If the stranger cannot sympathize in the sentiment, he
cannot understand the religion; and without understanding the religion,
he cannot appreciate the spirit of words and acts. A stranger who has
never felt any strong political interest, and cannot sympathize with
American sentiment about the majesty of social equality, and the beauty
of mutual government, can never understand the political religion of the
United States; and the sayings of the citizens by their own fire-sides,
the perorations of orators in town-halls, the installations of public
servants, and the process of election, will all be empty sound and
grimace to him. He will be tempted to laugh,--to call the world about
him mad,--like one who, without hearing the music, sees a room-full of
people begin to dance. The case is the same with certain Americans who
have no antiquarian sympathies, and who think our sovereigns mad for
riding to St. Stephen's in the royal state-coach, with eight horses
covered with trappings, and a tribe of grotesque footmen. I have found
it an effort of condescension to inform such observers that we should
not think of inventing such a coach and appurtenances at the present
day, any more than we should the dress of the Christ-Hospital boys. If
an unsympathizing stranger is so perplexed by a mere matter of external
arrangement,--a royal procession, or a popular election,--what can he be
expected to make of that which is far more important, more intricate,
more mysterious,--neighbourly and domestic life? If he knows and feels
nothing of the religion of these, he could learn but little about them,
even if the roofs of all the houses of a city were made transparent to
him, and he could watch all that is done in every parlour, kitchen, and
nursery in a circuit of five miles.

What strange scenes and transactions must such an one think that there
are in the world! What would he have thought of the spectacle one day
seen in Hayti, when Toussaint L'Ouverture ranged his negro forces before
him, called out thirteen men from the ranks by name, and ordered them to
repair to a certain spot to be immediately shot? What would he have
thought of these thirteen men for crossing their arms upon their
breasts, bowing their heads submissively, and yielding instant
obedience? He might have pronounced Toussaint a ferocious despot, and
the thirteen so many craven fools: while the facts wear a very different
aspect to one who knows the minds of the men. It was necessary to the
good-will of a society but lately organized out of chaos, to make no
distinction between negro and other insurgents; and these thirteen men
were ringleaders in a revolt, Toussaint's nephew being one of them.
This accounts for the general's share in the transaction. As for the
negroes, the General was also the Deliverer,--an object of worship to
people of his colour. Obedience to him was a rule, exalted by every
sentiment of gratitude, awe, admiration, pride, and love, into a
religion; and a Haytian of that day would no more have thought of
resisting a command of Toussaint, than of disputing a thunder-stroke or
an earthquake.--What would an unsympathizing observer make of the
Paschal supper, as celebrated in the houses of Hebrews throughout the
world,--of the care not to break a bone of the lamb,--of the company all
standing, the men girded and shod as for a journey, and the youngest
child of the household invariably asking what this is all for? What
would the observer call it but mummery, if he had no feeling for the
awful traditional and religious emotion involved in the symbol?--What
would such an one think of the terrified flight of two Spanish nobles
from the wrath of their sovereign, incurred by their having saved his
beloved queen from being killed by a fall from her horse? What a puzzle
is here,--even when all the facts of the case are known;--that the king
was looking from a balcony to see his queen mount her Andalusian horse:
that the horse reared, plunged, and bolted, throwing the queen, whose
foot was entangled in the stirrup: that she was surrounded with
gentlemen who stood aloof, because by the law of Spain it was death to
any but her little pages to touch the person, and especially the foot of
the queen, and her pages were too young to rescue her; that these two
gentlemen devoted themselves to save her; and having caught the horse,
and extricated the royal foot, fled for their lives from the legal
wrath of the king! Whence such a law? From the rule that the queen of
Spain has no legs. Whence such a rule? From the meaning that the queen
of Spain is a being too lofty to touch the earth. Here we come at last
to the sentiment of loyal admiration and veneration which sanctifies the
law and the rule, and interprets the incident. To a heartless stranger
the whole appears a mere solemn absurdity, fit only to be set aside, as
it was apparently by pardon from the king being obtained by the instant
intercession of the queen. But in the eyes of every Spaniard the
transaction was, in all its parts, as far from absurdity as the danger
of the two nobles was real and pressing.--Again, what can a heartless
observer understand by the practice, almost universal in the world, of
celebrating the naming of children? The Christian parent employs a form
by which the infant is admitted as a lamb of Christ's flock: the Chinese
father calls his kindred together to witness the conferring first of the
surname, and then of "the milk-name,"--some endearing diminutive, to
cease with infancy: the Moslem consults an astrologer before giving a
name to his child: and the savage selects a name-sake for his infant
from among the beasts or birds, with whose characteristic quality he
would fain endow his offspring. What a general rule is here, exalted by
a universal sentiment into an act of religion! The ceremonial observed
in each case is widely different in its aspect to one who sees in it
merely a cumbrous way of transacting a matter of convenience, and to
another who perceives in it the initiation of a new member into the
family of mankind, and a looking forward to,--an attempt to make
provision for, the future destiny of an unconscious and helpless being.

Thus it will be through the whole range of the traveller's observation.
If he be full of sympathy, every thing he sees will be instructive, and
the most important matters will be the most clearly revealed. If he be
unsympathizing, the most important things will be hidden from him, and
symbols (in which every society abounds) will be only absurd or trivial
forms. The stranger will be wise to conclude, when he sees anything
seriously done which appears to him insignificant or ludicrous, that
there is more in it than he perceives, from some deficiency of knowledge
or feeling of his own.

The other way in which heart is found to answer to heart is too obvious
to require to be long dwelt upon. Men not only see according to the
light they shed from their own breasts,--whether it be the sunshine of
generosity or the hell-flames of bad passions,--but they attract to
themselves spirits like their own. The very same persons appear very
differently to a traveller who calls into exercise all their best
qualities, and to one who has an affinity with their worst: but it is a
yet more important consideration that actually different elements of
society will range themselves round the observer according to the
scepticism or faith of his temper, the purity or depravity of his
tastes, and the elevation or insignificance of his objects. The
Americans, somewhat nettled with the injustice of English travellers'
reports of their country, have jokingly proposed to take lodgings in
Wapping for some thorough-bred American vixen, of low tastes and coarse
manners, and employ her to write an account of English morals and
manners from what she might see in a year's abode in the choice locality
selected for her. This would be no great exaggeration of the process of
observation of foreigners which is perpetually going on.

What should gamesters know of the philanthropists of the society they
pass through? or the profligate, of the real state of domestic life?
What can the moral sceptic report of religious or philosophical
confessorship in any nation? or the sordid trader, of the higher kinds
of intellectual cultivation? or the dandy, of the extent and
administration of charity? It may be said that neither can the
philanthropic traveller--the missionary--see otherwise than partially
for want of "knowledge of the world;" that persons of sober habits can
learn nothing that is going on in the moral depths of society; and the
good are actually scoffed at for their absence from many scenes of human
life, and their supposed ignorance of many things in human nature. But
it is certain that the best part of every man's mind is far more a
specimen of himself than the worst; and that the characteristics of a
society, in like manner, are to be traced in the wisest and most genial
of its pervading ideas and common transactions, instead of those
disgraceful ones which are common to all. Swindlers, drunkards, people
of low tastes and bad passions, are found in every country, and nowhere
characterise a nation; while the reverence of man in America, the
pursuit of speculative truth in Germany, philanthropic enterprise in
France, love of freedom in Switzerland, popular education in China,
domestic purity in Norway,--each of these great moral beauties is a star
on the forehead of a nation. Goodness and simplicity are indissolubly
united. The bad are the most sophisticated, all the world over; and the
good the least. It may be taken as a rule that the best qualities of a
people, as of an individual, are the most characteristic--(what is
really _best_ being tested, not by prejudice, but principle). He has the
best chance of ascertaining these best qualities who has them in
himself; and he who has them not may as well pretend to give a picture
of a metropolitan city by showing a map of its drainage, as report of a
nation after an intercourse with its knaves and its profligates. To
stand on the highest pinnacle is the best way of obtaining an accurate
general view, in contemplating a society as well as a city.



    "He travels and expatiates, as the bee
     From flower to flower, so he from land to land:
     The manners, customs, policy, of all
     Pay contribution to the stores he gleans."--_The Task._

    "Thy speaking of my tongue, and I thine, most truly falsely, must
    needs be granted to be much at one."--_King Henry V._

No philosophical or moral fitness will qualify a traveller to observe a
people if he does not select a mode of travelling which will enable him
to see and converse with a great number and variety of persons. An
ambassador has no chance of learning much of the people he visits
anywhere but in a new country like America. While he is _en route_, he
is too stately in appearance to allow of any familiarity on the part of
the people by the road-side. His carriages might almost as well roll
through a city of the dead, for anything he will learn from intercourse
with the living. The case is not much better when a family or a party of
friends travel together on the Continent, committing the business of the
expedition to servants, and shrinking from intercourse, on all social
occasions, with English shyness or pride.

The behaviour of the English on the Continent has become a matter of
very serious consequence to the best informed and best mannered of their
countrymen, as it has long been to the natives into whose society they
may happen to fall. I have heard gentlemen say that they lose half their
pleasure in going abroad, from the coldness and shyness with which the
English are treated; a coldness and shyness which they think fully
warranted by the conduct of their predecessors in travel. I have heard
ladies say that they find great difficulty in becoming acquainted with
their neighbours at the tables-d'hôte; and that, when they have
succeeded, an apology for the reluctance to converse has been offered,
in the form of explanation that English travellers generally "appear to
dislike being spoken to" so much as to render it a matter of civility to
leave them alone. The travelling arrangements of the English seem
designed to cut them off from companionship with the people they go to
see; and they preclude the possibility of studying morals and manners in
a way which is perfectly ludicrous to persons of a more social
temperament and habits.

A good deal may be learned on board steam-boats, and in such vehicles as
the American stages; and when accommodations of the kind become common,
it will be difficult for the sulkiest Englishman to avoid admitting some
ideas into his mind from the conversation and actions of the groups
around him. When steam-boats ply familiarly on the Indus, and we have
the rail-road to Calcutta which people are joking about, and another
across the Pampas,--when we make trips to New Zealand, and think little
of a run down the west coast of Africa,--places where we shall go for
fashion's sake, and cannot go boxed up in a carriage of Long Acre
origin,--our countrymen will, perforce, exchange conversation with the
persons they meet, and may chance to get rid of the unsociability for
which they are notorious, and by which they cast a veil over hearts and
faces, and a shadow over their own path, wherever they go.

Meantime, the wisest and happiest traveller is the pedestrian. If
gentlemen and ladies want to see pictures, let them post to Florence,
and be satisfied with learning what they can from the windows by the
way. But if they want to see either scenery or people, let all who have
strength and courage go on foot. I prefer this even to horseback. A
horse is an anxiety and a trouble. Something is sure to ail it; and one
is more anxious about its accommodation than about one's own. The
pedestrian traveller is wholly free from care. There is no such freeman
on earth as he is for the time. His amount of toil is usually within his
own choice,--in any civilized region. He can go on and stop when he
likes: if a fit of indolence overtakes him, he can linger for a day or a
week in any spot that pleases him. He is not whirled past a beautiful
view almost before he has seen it. He is not tantalized by the idea that
from this or that point he could see something still finer, if he could
but reach it. He can reach almost every point his wishes wander to. The
pleasure is indescribable of saying to one's self, "I will go
there,"--"I will rest yonder,"--and forthwith accomplishing it. He can
sit on a rock in the midst of a rushing stream as often in a day as he
likes. He can hunt a waterfall by its sound; a sound which the
carriage-wheels prevent other travellers from hearing. He can follow out
any tempting glade in any wood. There is no cushion of moss at the foot
of an old tree that he may not sit down on if he pleases. He can read
for an hour without fear of passing by something unnoticed while his
eyes are fixed upon his book. His food is welcome, be its quality what
it may, while he eats it under the alders in some recess of a brook. He
is secure of his sleep, be his chamber ever so sordid; and when his
waking eyes rest upon his knapsack, his heart leaps with pleasure as he
remembers where he is, and what a day is before him. Even the weather
seems to be of less consequence to the pedestrian than to other
travellers. A pedestrian journey presupposes abundance of time, so that
the traveller can rest in villages on rainy days, and in the shade of a
wood during the hours when the sun is too powerful. And if he prefers
not waiting for the rain, it is not the evil to him that it would be in
cities and in the pursuit of business. The only evil of rain that I know
of, to healthy persons in exercise, is that it spoils the clothes; and
the clothes of a pedestrian traveller are not usually of a spoilable
quality. Rain does not deform the face of things everywhere as it does
in a city. It adds a new aspect of beauty occasionally to a wood, to
mountains, to lake and ocean scenery. I remember a hale, cheerful
pedestrian tourist whom we met frequently among the White Mountains of
New Hampshire, and whom we remarked as being always the briskest of the
company at the hotel table in the evening, and the merriest at
breakfast. He had the best of it one day, when we passed him in
Franconia Defile, after a heavy rain had set in. We were packed in a
waggon which seemed likely to fill with water before we got to our
destination; and miserable enough we looked, drenched and cold. The
traveller was marching on over the rocky road, his book safe in its
oil-skin cover, and his clothes-bag similarly protected; his face
bright and glowing with exercise, and his summer jacket of linen
feeling, as he told us, all the pleasanter for being wet through. As he
passed each recess of the defile, he looked up perpetually to see the
rain come smoking out of the fissures of the rocks; and when he reached
the opening by which he was to descend to the plain, he stood still, to
watch the bar of dewy yellow light which lay along the western sky where
the sun had just set. He looked just as happy on other days. Sometimes
we passed him lying along on a hill side; sometimes talking with a
family at the door of a log-house; sometimes reading as he walked under
the shade of the forest. I, for one, often longed to dismiss our waggon
or barouche, and to follow his example.

One peculiar advantage of pedestrian travelling is the pleasure of a
gradual approach to celebrated or beautiful places. Every turn of the
road gains in interest; every object that meets the eye seems to have
some initiative meaning; and when the object itself at last appears,
nothing can surpass the delight of flinging one's self on the ground to
rest upon the first impression, and to interpose a delicious pause
before the final attainment. It is not the same thing to desire your
driver to stop when you come to the point of view. The first time that I
felt this was on a pedestrian tour in Scotland, when I was at length to
see mountains. The imagination of myself and my companion had fixed
strongly on Dunkeld, as being a scene of great beauty, and our first
resting-place among the mountains. The sensation had been growing all
the morning. Men, houses, and trees had seemed to be growing
diminutive,--an irresistible impression to the novice in mountain
scenery: the road began to follow the windings of the Tay, a sign that
the plain was contracting into a pass. Beside a cistern, on a green bank
of this pass, we had dined; a tract of heath next lay before us, and we
traversed it so freshly and merrily as to be quite unaware that we were
getting towards the end of our seventeen miles, though still conscious
that the spirit of the mountains was upon us. We were deeply engaged in
talk, when a winding of the road brought us in full view of the lovely
scene which is known to all who have approached Dunkeld by the Perth
road. We could scarcely believe that this was _it_, so soon. We turned
to our map and guide-book, and found that we were standing on the site
of Birnam wood; that Dunsinane hill was in sight, and that it was indeed
the old cathedral tower of Dunkeld that rose so grandly among the
beeches behind the bridge. We took such a long and fond gaze as I never
enjoyed from a carriage window. If it was thus with an object of no more
importance or difficulty of attainment than Dunkeld, what must it be to
catch the first view of the mysterious temples that

    "Stand between the mountains and the sea;
     Awful memorials, but of whom we know not!"

or to survey from a height, at sunrise, the brook Kedron and the valley
of Jehoshaphat!

What is most to our present purpose, however, is the consideration of
the facilities afforded by pedestrian travelling for obtaining a
knowledge of the people. We all remember Goldsmith's travels with his
flute, his sympathies, his cordiality of heart and manner, and his
reliance on the hospitality of the country people. Such an one as he is
not bound to take up with such specimens as he may meet with by the side
of the high road; he can penetrate into the recesses of the country, and
drop into the hamlet among the hills, and the homesteads down the lanes,
and now and then spend a day with the shepherd in his fold on the downs;
he can stop where there is a festival, and solve many a perplexity by
carrying over the conversation of one day into the intercourse of the
next, with a fresh set of people; he can obtain access to almost every
class of persons, and learn their own views of their own affairs. His
opportunities are inestimable.

If it were a question which could learn most of Morals and Manners by
travel,--the gentleman accomplished in philosophy and learning,
proceeding in his carriage, with a courier,--or a simple pedestrian
tourist, furnished only with the language, and with an open heart and
frank manners,--I should have no doubt that the pedestrian would return
more familiar with his subject than the other. If the wealthy scholar
and philosopher could make himself a citizen of the world for the time,
and go forth on foot, careless of luxury, patient of fatigue, and
fearless of solitude, he would be not only of the highest order of
tourists, but a benefactor to the highest kind of science; and he would
become familiarized with what few are acquainted with,--the best
pleasures, transient and permanent, of travel. Those who cannot pursue
this method will achieve most by laying aside state, conversing with the
people they fall in with, and diverging from the high road as much as

Nothing need be said on a matter so obvious as the necessity of
understanding the language of the people visited. Some familiarity with
it must be attained before anything else can be done. It seems to be
unquestioned, however, that a good deal of the unsociability of the
English abroad is owing not so much to contempt of their neighbours, as
to the natural pride which makes them shrink from attempting what they
cannot do well. I am confident that we say much less than we feel about
the awkwardness and constraint of our first self-committals to a foreign
language. It is impossible but that every one must feel the weight of
the penalty of making himself ridiculous at every step, and of
presenting a kind of false appearance of himself to every one with whom
he converses. A German gentleman in America, who has exactly that right
degree of self-respect which enabled him to set strenuously about
learning English, of which he did not understand a word, and who
mastered it so completely as to lecture in faultless English at the end
of two years, astonished a party of friends one day, persuaded as they
were that they perfectly knew him, and that the smooth and deliberate
flow of his beautiful language was a consequence of the calmness of his
temper, and the philosophical character of his mind. A German woman with
children came begging to the house while the party were at their
dessert. The professor caught her tones when the door of the dining-room
was open; he rushed into the hall, presently returned for a dish or two,
and emptied the gingerbread, and other material of the dessert, into her
lap. The company went out to see, and found the professor transformed;
he was talking with a rapidity and vehemence which they had never
supposed him capable of; and one of the party told me how sorry she
felt, and has felt ever since, to think of the state of involuntary
disguise in which he is living among those who would know him best.
Difference of language is undeniably a cause of great suffering and
difficulty, magnificent and incalculable as are its uses. It is no
exception to the general rule that every great good involves some evil.

Happily, however, the difficulty may be presently so far surmounted as
not to interfere with the object of observing Morals and Manners.
Impossible as it may be to attain to an adequate expression of one's
self in a foreign tongue, it is easy to most persons to learn to
understand it perfectly when spoken by others. During this process, a
common and almost unavoidable mistake is to suppose a too solemn and
weighty meaning in what is expressed in an unfamiliar language. This
arises partly from our having become first acquainted with the language
in books; and partly from the meaning having been attained with effort,
and seeming, by natural association, worth the pains. The first French
dialogues which a child learns, seem more emphatic in their meanings
than the same material would in English; and the student of German finds
a grandeur in lines of Schiller, and in clauses of Herder's and
Krummacher's Parables, which he looks for in vain when he is practised
in the language. It is well to bear this in mind on a first entrance
into a foreign society, or the traveller may chance to detect himself
treasuring up nonsense, and making much of mere trivialities, because
they reached him clothed in the mystery of a strange language. He will
be like lame Jervas, when he first came up from the mine in which he was
born, caressing the weeds he had gathered by the road side, and refusing
till the last moment to throw away such wonderful and beautiful things.
The raw traveller not only sees something mysterious, picturesque, or
classical in every object that meets his eye after passing the frontier,
from the children's toys to palaces and general festivals, but is apt to
discern wisdom and solemnity in everything that is said to him, from the
greeting of the landlord to the speculations of the politician. If not
guarded against, this natural tendency will more or less vitiate the
observer's first impressions, and introduce something of the ludicrous
into his record of them.

From the consideration of the requisites for observation in the
traveller himself, we now proceed to indicate what he is to observe, in
order to inform himself of foreign Morals and Manners.



    "Nous nous en tiendrons aux moeurs, aux habitudes extérieures
    dont se forme, pour les differentes classes de la société, une
    sorte de physionomie morale, où se retracent les moeurs
    privées."                                   DE JOUY.

It is a perpetual wonder to an inexperienced person that the students of
particular classes of facts can learn so much as they do from a single
branch of inquiry. Tell an uninformed man of the daily results of the
study of Fossil Remains, and he will ask how the student can possibly
know what was done in the world ages before man was created. It will
astonish a thoughtless man to hear the statements about the condition of
the English nation which are warranted by the single study of the
administration of the Poor Laws, since their origin. Some physiognomists
fix their attention on a single feature of the human face, and can
pretty accurately interpret the general character of the mind from it:
and I believe every portrait painter trusts mainly to one feature for
the fidelity of his likenesses, and bestows more study and care on that
one than on any other.

A good many features compose the physiognomy of a nation; and scarcely
any traveller is qualified to study them all. The same man is rarely
enlightened enough to make investigation at once into the religion of a
people, into its general moral notions, its domestic and economical
state, its political condition, and the facts of its progress;--all
which are necessary to a full understanding of its morals and manners.
Few have even attempted an inquiry of this extent. The worst of it is
that few dream of undertaking the study of any one feature of society at
all. We should by this time have been rich in the knowledge of nations
if each intelligent traveller had endeavoured to report of any one
department of moral inquiry, however narrow; but, instead of this, the
observations offered to us are almost purely desultory. The traveller
hears and notes what this and that and the other person says. If three
or four agree in their statements on any point, he remains unaware of a
doubt, and the matter is settled. If they differ, he is perplexed, does
not know whom to believe, and decides, probably, in accordance with
prepossessions of his own. The case is almost equally bad, either way.
He will hear only one side of every question if he sees only one class
of persons,--like the English in America, for instance, who go commonly
with letters of introduction from merchants at home to merchants in the
maritime cities, and hear nothing but federal politics, and see nothing
but aristocratic manners. They come home with notions which they suppose
to be indisputable about the great Bank question, the state of parties,
and the relations of the General and State governments; and with words
in their mouths of whose objectionable character they are
unaware,--about the common people, mob government, the encroachment of
the poor upon the rich, and so on. Such partial intercourse is fatal to
the observations of a traveller; but it is less perplexing and painful
at the time than the better process of going from one set of people to
another, and hearing what all have to say. No traveller in the United
States can learn much of the country without conversing equally with
farmers and merchants, with artizans and statesmen, with villagers and
planters; but, while discharging this duty, he will be so bewildered
with the contrariety of statements and convictions, that he will often
shut his note-book in a state of scepticism as to whether there be any
truth at all shining steadily behind all this tempest of opinions. Thus
it is with the stranger who traverses the streets of Warsaw, and is
trusted with the groans of some of the outraged mourners who linger in
its dwellings; and then goes to St. Petersburg, and is presented with
evidences of the enlightenment of the Czar, of his humanity, his
paternal affection for his subjects, and his general superiority to his
age. At Warsaw the traveller called him a miscreant; at Petersburg he is
required to pronounce him a philanthropist. Such must be the uncertainty
of judgment when it is based upon the testimony of individuals. To
arrive at the facts of the condition of a people through the discourse
of individuals, is a hopeless enterprise. The plain truth is--it is
beginning at the wrong end.

The grand secret of wise inquiry into Morals and Manners is to begin
with the study of THINGS, using the DISCOURSE OF PERSONS as a commentary
upon them.

Though the facts sought by travellers relate to Persons, they may most
readily be learned from Things. The eloquence of Institutions and
Records, in which the action of the nation is embodied and perpetuated,
is more comprehensive and more faithful than that of any variety of
individual voices. The voice of a whole people goes up in the silent
workings of an institution; the condition of the masses is reflected
from the surface of a record. The Institutions of a nation,--political,
religious, or social,--put evidence into the observer's hands as to its
capabilities and wants which the study of individuals could not yield in
the course of a lifetime. The Records of any society, be they what they
may, whether architectural remains, epitaphs, civic registers, national
music, or any other of the thousand manifestations of the common mind
which may be found among every people, afford more information on Morals
in a day than converse with individuals in a year. Thus also must
Manners be judged of, since there never was a society yet, not even a
nunnery or a Moravian settlement, which did not include a variety of
manners. General indications must be looked for, instead of
generalizations being framed from the manners of individuals. In cities,
do social meetings abound? and what are their purposes and character?
Are they most religious, political, or festive? If religious, have they
more the character of Passion Week at Rome, or of a camp-meeting in
Ohio? If political, do the people meet on wide plains to worship the Sun
of the Celestial Empire, as in China; or in town-halls, to remonstrate
with their representatives, as in England; or in secret places, to
spring mines under the thrones of their rulers, as in Spain? If
festive, are they most like an Italian carnival, where everybody laughs;
or an Egyptian holiday, when all eyes are solemnly fixed on the whirling
Dervishes? Are women there? In what proportions, and under what law of
liberty? What are the public amusements? There is an intelligible
difference between the opera at Milan, and the theatre at Paris, and a
bull-fight at Madrid, and a fair at Leipzig, and a review at St.
Petersburg.--In country towns, how is the imitation of the metropolis
carried on? Do the provincials emulate most in show, in science, or in
the fine arts?--In the villages, what are the popular amusements? Do the
people meet to drink or to read, to discuss, or play games, or dance?
What are the public houses like? Do the people eat fruit and tell
stories? or drink ale and talk politics or call for tea and saunter
about? or coffee and play dominoes? or lemonade and laugh at Punch? Do
they crowd within four walls, or gather under the elm, or spread
themselves abroad over the cricket-field or the yellow sands?--There is
as wide a difference among the humbler classes of various countries as
among their superiors in rank. A Scotch burial is wholly unlike the
ceremonies of the funeral pile among the Cingalese; and an interment in
the Greek church little resembles either. A conclave of White Boys in
Mayo, assembled in a mud hovel on a heath, to pledge one another to
their dreadful oath, is widely different from a similar conclave of
Swiss insurgents, met in a pine wood on a steep, on the same kind of
errand: and both are as little like as may be to the heroes of the last
revolution in Paris, or to the companies of Covenanters that were wont
to meet, under a similar pressure of circumstances, in the defiles of
the Scottish mountains.--In the manners of all classes, from the highest
to the lowest, are forms of manners enforced in action, or dismissed in
words? Is there barbarous freedom in the lower, while there is formality
in the higher ranks, as in newly settled countries? or have all grown up
together to that period of refined civilization when ease has superseded
alike the freedom of the Australian peasantry, and the etiquette of the
court of Ava?--What are the manners of professional men of the society,
from the eminent lawyer or physician of the metropolis down to the
village barber? The manners of the great body of the professional men
must indicate much of the requisitions of the society they serve.--So,
also, must every circumstance connected with the service of society: its
character, whether slavish or free, abject or prosperous, comprehensive
or narrow in its uses, must testify to the desires and habits, and
therefore to the manners of a community, better than the conversation or
deportment of any individual in the society can do. A traveller who
bears all this in mind can hardly go wrong. Every thing that he looks
upon will instruct him, from an aqueduct to a punch-bowl, from a
penitentiary to an aviary, from the apparatus of a university to the
furniture of an alehouse or a nursery. When it was found that the chiefs
of the Red men could not be impressed with any notion of the
civilization of the Whites by all that many white men could say, they
were brought into the cities of the Whites. The exhibition of a ship was
enough for some. The warriors of the prairies were too proud to utter
their astonishment,--too noble to hint, even to one another, their fear;
but the perspiration stood on their brows as they dumbly gazed, and no
word of war passed their lips from that hour. Another, who could listen
with calmness to the tales of boastful traders in the wilderness, was
moved from his apathy by seeing a workman in a glasshouse put a handle
upon a pitcher. He was transported out of his silence and reserve: he
seized and grasped the hand of the workman, crying out that it was now
plain that he had had intercourse with the Great Spirit. By the evidence
of things these Indians had learned more of the manners of the Whites
than had ever been taught them by speech.--Which of us would not learn
more of the manners of the Pompeians by a morning's walk among the
relics of their abodes and public halls than by many a nightly
conference with certain of their ghosts?

The usual scholastic division of Morals is into personal, domestic, and
social or political morals. The three kinds are, however, so apt to run
into one another,--so practically inseparable,--that the traveller will
find the distinction less useful to him than some others which he can
either originate or adopt.

It appears to me that the Morals and Manners of a nation may be included
in the following departments of inquiry--the Religion of the people;
their prevalent Moral Notions; their Domestic State; their Idea of
Liberty; and their Progress, actual or in prospect.



    "Dieu nous a dit, Peuples, je vous attends."
                                                DE BERANGER.

Of religion, in its widest sense, (the sense in which the traveller must
recognize it,) there are three kinds; not in all cases minutely
distinguishable, but bearing different general impress; viz. the
Licentious, the Ascetic, and the Moderate. These kinds are not divided
from each other by the boundaries of sects. We cannot say that pagan
religions come under one head, and Mahomedanism under another, and
Christianity under a third. The difference lies not in creeds, but in
spirit. Many pagans have been as moderate as any Christians; many
Christians as licentious as any pagans; many Mahomedans as licentious,
and many as ascetic, as any pagans or Christians. The truer distinction
seems to be that the licentious religions of the world worship
unspiritualized nature,--material objects and their movements, and the
primitive passions of man: that the ascetic despises nature, and
worships its artificial restraints: and that the moderate worships
spiritualized nature,--God in his works, both in the material universe
and in the disciplined human mind, with its regulated affections.

The Licentious religion is always a ritual one. Its gods are natural
phenomena and human passions personified; and, when once the power of
doing good or harm is attributed to them, the idea of propitiation
enters, and a ritual worship begins. Earthquakes, inundations, the
chase, love, revenge,--all these agents of evil and good are to be
propitiated, and sacrifices and prayers are to be offered to them; in
these rites alone religious acts are supposed to be performed. This,
however modified, is a low state of religious sentiment. It may show
itself among the Hindoos dipping in the Ganges, or among Christians who
accept absolution in its grossest sense. In either case its tendency is
to render the worshipper satisfied with a low moral state, and to
perpetuate his taste for selfish indulgence.

The Ascetic religions are ritual also. The Pharisees of old need but be
cited to show why; and there is a set of people in the Society Islands
now who seem to be spiritually descended from the ascetic priests of
Judaism. The inhabitants of the Society Islands are excluded from many
innocent privileges and natural pleasures by the Tabu; and the Pharisees
in just the same manner laid burdens upon men's shoulders too heavy to
be borne, ordaining irksome ceremonies to be proofs of holiness, and
extravagant self-denial to be required by devotion. Spiritual licence
has always kept pace with this extravagance of self-denial. Spiritual
vices,--pride, vanity, and hypocrisy,--are as fatal to high morals under
this state of religious sentiment as sensual indulgence under the other:
and it does not matter much to the moral welfare of the people sunk in
it, whether they exist under a profession of Christianity, or of
Mahomedanism, or of paganism. The morals of those people are low who
engage themselves to serve God by a slothful life in monastic celibacy,
no less than those of the Fakîrs, who let their nails grow through the
backs of their hands, or those of the wretched mothers in the islands of
the Pacific, who strangle their infants, and cast them at the feet of
their grinning idol.

The Moderate is the least of a ritual religion of the three, and drops
such rites as it has in proportion to its advance towards purity.
Religion in its purity is not a pursuit, but a temper; and its
expression is not by sacrifices, by prayers in the corners of the
streets, by fasts or public exhibitions. The highest manifestations of
this order of religion are found in Christian countries; though in
others there are individuals, and even orders of men, who understand
that the orderly enjoyment of all blessings that Providence has
bestowed, and the regulated workings of all human affections, are the
truest homage to the Maker of all. As there are Christians whose
reliance is upon their ritual worship, and who enter upon a monastic
life, so there are Mahomedans and pagans whose high religious aim is
self-perfection, sought through the free but disciplined exercise of
their whole nature.

The dependence of morals upon the character of the religion is clear. It
is clear that among a people whose gods are supposed to be licentious,
whose priests are licentious, and where worship is associated with the
indulgence of the passions, political and domestic morals must be very
low. What purity can be expected of a people whose women are demanded
in turn for the obscene service of the Buddhist temple; and what
humanity from the inhabitants of districts whose dwellings are
necessarily closed against the multitudes flocking to the festivals of
Juggernaut,--multitudes from amidst which thousands annually drop down
dead, so that their skeletons strew the road to the abominable
temple?--Where asceticism is the character of the religion, the natural
and irrepressible exercise of human affections becomes licentiousness,
so called; and, of consequence, it soon becomes licentiousness in fact,
according to the general rule that a bad name changes that to which it
is affixed into a bad quality.--Hannah and Philip grew up in a Moravian
settlement; and, Moravians as they were, they loved. The days came when
the destiny of each was decided by lot. It was scarcely possible that
they should draw a lot to marry each other; yet both secretly hoped to
the last. Philip drew a missionary lot, and Hannah another husband. They
were allowed to shake hands once before parting. "Good-bye, Hannah!"
"Good-bye, Philip!" was all that was said. If Hannah had gone off with
Philip, it would have been called a profligate act; and, if they were
sound Moravians, it would in fact have been so: whereas, in a community
of really high morals, the profligacy would have been seen to lie in
Hannah's marrying a man she did not love.

To proceed with the dependence of the morals on the character of the
religion,--it is clear that in proportion as any religion encourages
licentiousness, either positively or negatively,--encourages, that is to
say, the excess of the passions, might will have the victory over
right; the weak will succumb to the strong; and thus the condition of
the poorer classes depends on the character of the religion of their
country. In proportion as the religion tends to licentiousness, will the
poorer classes be liable to slavery. In proportion as the religion tends
to asceticism, will be the amount (other things being equal) of the
hardship and want which they must sustain. In proportion as the religion
approximates to the moderate, (the use without the abuse of means of
enjoyment,) will the poorer classes rise to a condition of freedom and

The character of the religion serves, in like manner, as an index to
that of the government. A licentious religion cannot be adopted by a
people who are so moderate in their passions as to be able to govern
themselves. One would not look for a display of meats offered to idols
in the Capitol of the American Congress. An ascetic religion, too,
inflicts personal and mutual wrongs which could never be endured among a
people who agree to govern one another. There is no power which could
induce such to submit to privations and sufferings which can be
tolerable to none but devotees,--a small fraction of every society.
Absolutism is commonly the character of the government of any country
where either of these religions prevails;--a despotism more or less
tempered by a variety of influences. It is the observer's business to
bring the religion and the government into comparison, and to see how
the latter is modified by the coexistence of the former.

The friendly, no less than the domestic and political relations of
society, are dependent upon the prevailing religion. Under the
licentious, the manners will be made up of the conventional and the
gross. A Burmese minister was sitting on the poop of a steam-vessel when
a squall came on. "I suggested to his Excellency," says Mr. Crawford,
"the convenience of going below, which he long resisted, under the
apprehension of committing his dignity by placing himself in a situation
where persons might tread over his head; for this singular antipathy is
common both to the Burmese and Siamese. The prejudice is more especially
directed against the fair sex,--a pretty conclusive proof of the
estimation in which they are held. His Excellency seriously demanded to
know whether any woman had ever trod upon the poop; and, being assured
in the negative, he consented at length to enter the cabin." The house
fixed for the residence of an American missionary was not allowed to be
fitted up, as it stood on ground which was higher than the king's barge
as it lay in the river; and such a spectacle would not become the king's
dignity. The prime minister of this same king was one day, for absence
from his post at a fire, "spread out in the hot sun." He was extended on
his back in the public road for some hours in the most sultry part of
the day, with a heavy weight upon his chest,--the public executioners
being employed to administer the punishment. Nor is the king alone
authorized to perpetrate such barbarisms. A creditor is permitted to
seize the wife, children, and slaves of a debtor, and bind them at his
door to broil in the sun of Ava. Here we see in perfection the union of
the conventional and the gross in manners; and such manners cannot be
conceived to coexist with any religion of a higher character than

Under ascetic forms, what grossness there is will be partially
concealed; but there will be no nearer an approach to simplicity than
under the licentious. The religion being made still to consist much in
observances, the society becomes formal in proportion as it believes
itself growing pure. We must again take an extreme case for an example.
The Shakers of America are as sophisticated a set of persons as can be
found; with their minds, and even their public discourses, full of the
one subject of their celibacy, and their intercourse with each other
graduated according to strict rules of etiquette. So extreme an
asceticism can never now spread in any nation to such an extent as to
bear a relation to its general government: but it is observable that
such societies of ascetics live under a despotism;--one of their own
appointment, if the general will has not furnished them with one.

Under the moderate aspect of religion is an approximation towards
simplicity of social manners alone to be found. There is as yet only a
remote anticipation of it in any country in the world; only a remote
anticipation of that ease of social manners which must exist there alone
where the enjoyments of life are freely used without abuse. It matters
not that the licentious and the ascetic parties each boast of having
attained this consummation,--the one under the name of ease, and the
other of simplicity. There is too much pain attendant upon grossness to
justify the boast of ease; and too much effort in asceticism to admit of
the grace of simplicity. It is the observer's business to mark, wherever
he goes, the degree in which the one is chastened and the other relaxed,
giving place to the higher form of the moderate, which, if society
learns from experience, as the individual does, must finally prevail.
When many individuals of a society attain that self-forgetfulness which
is promoted by a high and free religious sentiment, but which is
incompatible with either licentious or ascetic tendencies, the tone of
manners in that society will be much raised. When, free from the
grossness of self-indulgence, and from the constraint of self-denial,
every one spontaneously thinks more of his neighbour than of himself,
the world will witness, at last, the perfection of manners. It is clear
that the high morals of which such refined manners will be the
expression, must greatly depend on the exaltation of the religious
sentiment from which they emanate.

The traveller may possibly object the difficulty of classing societies
by their religious tendencies, and ask whether minds of every sort are
not to be found in all numerous assemblages of persons. This is true:
but yet there is a prevailing religious sentiment in all communities.
Religious, like other sentiment, is modified by the strong general
influences under which each society lives; and in it, as in other kinds,
there will be general resemblance, with particular differences under it.
It is well known that even sects, exclusive in their opinions and
straitened by forms, differ in different countries almost as much as if
there were no common bond. Not only is episcopacy not the same religion
among born East Indians as in England, but the Quakers of the United
States, though like the English in doctrine and in manners, are easily
distinguishable from them in religious sentiment: and even the Jews,
who might be expected to be the same all over the world, differ in
Russia, Persia, and Great Britain as much as if a spirit of division had
been sent among them. They not only appear here in furs, there in cotton
or silk, and elsewhere in broadcloth; but the hearts they bear beneath
the garments, the thoughts that stir under the cap, the turban, and the
hat, are modified in their action as the skies under which they move are
in aspect. They are strongly tinctured with the national sentiment of
Russia, Persia, and England; and if the fond dream of some of them (in
which, by the way, large numbers of their body have ceased to
sympathize,) could come true, and they should ever be brought together
within their ancient borders, they would find that their religion, so
unique in its fixedness, though one in word, is many in spirit.--Much
more easy is the assimilation between different forms of Christianity,
and between Christianity and an elevated natural religion: and the
search can never therefore be in vain for a pervading religious
sentiment among the various religious institutions of any and every

It is, of course, more difficult to discover this religious sentiment
among a nation enlightened enough to be divided in theological matters,
than among a rude people who regulate their devotions by the bidding of
a single order of priests. The African traveller, passing up the Niger,
sees at a glance what all the worshippers on the banks feel, and must
feel, towards the deities to whom their temples are erected. A rude
shed, with a doll,--an image of deformity,--perched on a stand, and
supposed to be enjoying the fumes of the cooking going on before his
face;--a place of worship like this, in its character of the habitation
of a deity, and of a sensual deity, leaves no doubt as to what the
religious sentiment of a country must be where there is no dissent from
such a worship. In such a society there are absolutely none to feel that
their deep palm groves are a nobler temple than human hands can rear.
There are none who see that it is by a large divine benignity that all
the living creatures of that region are made happy in their rank
seclusion. There is no feeling of gratitude in the minds of those who
see the myriads of gay butterflies that flit in the glare of noon, and
the river-horse which bathes in the shady places of the mysterious great
stream. There a god is seen only in his temple, and there is nothing
known of any works of his. That he is great, is learned only through the
word of his priests, who say that yams are too common a food for him,
and that nothing less than hippopotamus' flesh must be cooked beneath
his shrine. That he is good is an idea which has not yet entered any
mind.--In other places, the religious sentiment is almost equally
unquestionable; as when every man in Cairo is seen in his turn to put on
the dress of pilgrimage, and direct his steps to Mount Arafat. Here the
sentiment is of a higher order, but equally evident and uniform.--A
further advance, with somewhat less uniformity of sentiment, is found
among the followers of the Greek church in a Russian province. The
peasants there make a great point of having time for their devotions;
and those who have the wherewithal to offer some showy present at a
shrine are complacent. They make the sign of the cross, and have therein
done their whole duty: and if some speculative worshipper of the Virgin
with Three Hands is not satisfied about the way in which his patroness
came by her third hand, he keeps his doubts to himself when he tells his
sins to his confessor.--A still further advance, with an increased
diversity, may be met with among the simple Vaudois, the general
characteristics of whose faith are alike, but who entertain it, some
more in the spirit of fear, others more in the spirit of love. The
prevailing sentiment among them is of the ascetic character, as the
stranger may perceive, who sees the peasantry marching in serene gravity
to their plain places of worship on the mountain pinnacle, or under the
shelter yielded by a clump of black pines amidst a waste of snow: but
here the clergy are more guides than dictators; and not a few may be
found who doubt their opinions, and find matter for thoughtless delight,
rather than religious awe, when they follow the echoes from steep to
steep, and watch for the gleams of the summer lightning playing among
the defiles.--The diversity grows more striking as civilization
advances; but it has not yet become perplexing in the most enlightened
nations in the world. In England, in France, in America, there is a
distinct religious sentiment: in England, where there is every variety
of dissent from the established faith; in America, where there is every
variety of opinion, and no establishment at all; and in France, now in
that state which most baffles observation,--a state of transition from
an exaggerated superstition to a religious faith which is being groped
for, but is not yet found. Even in this uncertain state, no one can
confound the religious sentiment of New England and of France; and an
observation of their places of worship will indicate their differences.
In New England, the populous towns have their churches in the midst,
spacious and conspicuous,--not exhibiting any of the signs of antique
origin which are impressed on those of Europe, and to be accounted for
only by the immediate religious tastes of the people. In new
settlements, the church rises side by side with the house of
entertainment, and is obviously considered one of the necessaries of
social life. The first thing to be learned about a fresh inhabitant is,
how he stands disposed towards the church, whatever may be its
denomination. In France, such of the old churches as are still used for
their ancient purpose, bespeak a ritual religion, and therefore a
religion light and gay in its spirit; all religions being so which cast
responsibility into outward observances, especially where the outward
observances are not of a very burdensome character. If nuns in their
cloister, and Jews in their synagogues, have been characterized by the
lightness of their religious spirit, well may the Catholics of an
enlightened country be so, discarding the grossest and most burdensome
of their rites, and retaining the ritual principle. The searchers after
a new faith in France must increase by millions before they can change
the character of the religious sentiment of the country; and perhaps
before that which is now gross can be elevated into what is genial, and
before a mixture of levity and fear can be changed into the cheerful
earnestness of a moderate or truly catholic religious conviction, the
ancient churches of France may be standing in ruins,--objects for the
research of the antiquary.

The rule of examining things before persons must be observed in
ascertaining the religious sentiment of any country. A stranger in
England might interrogate everybody he saw, and be little wiser at the
end of a year. He might meet a fanatic one day, an indifferent person
the next, and a calmly convinced one the third: he might go from a
Churchman to a Jew; from a Jew to a Quaker; from a Quaker to a Catholic;
and every day be farther from understanding the prevailing religious
sentiment of the country. A much shorter and surer method is, to examine
the Places of Worship, the condition of the Clergy, the Popular
Superstitions, the observance of Holy Days, and some other particulars
of the kind.

       *       *       *       *       *

First, for the Churches. There is that about all places of worship which
may tell nearly as plain a tale as the carved idols, with messes of rice
before them, in Hindoo temples; or as the human bones hung round the hut
of an African god. The proportion and resemblance of modern places of
worship to those which were built in dark times of superstition; the
suitability or incongruity of all that is of late introduction into
their furniture and worship with what had its origin in those dim
ages;--such circumstances as these cannot but indicate whether the
common religious sentiment is as nearly as possible the same as in
centuries past, or whether it is approximating, slowly or rapidly,
towards the ascetic or the moderate.

There is evidence in the very forms of churches. The early Christian
churches were in the basilica form,--bearing a resemblance to the Roman
courts of justice. This is supposed to have arisen from the churches
being, in fact, the courts of spiritual justice, where penance was
awarded by the priest to the guilty, and absolution granted to the
penitent. From imitation, the Christian churches of all Europe for
centuries bore this form; and even some built since the Reformation
preserve it. But they have something of their own which serves as a
record of their own times. The history of the Crusades does not present
a more vivid picture of feudal society than shines out from the nooks of
our own cathedrals. The spirit of monachism is as distinguishable as if
the cowled ghosts of the victims were actually seen flitting along the
aisles. What say the chantries ranged along the sides? There perpetual
prayers were to be kept up for the prosperity of a wealthy family and
its retainers in life, and for their welfare after death. What says the
chapter-house? There the powerful members of the church hierarchy were
wont to assemble, to use and confirm their rule. What say the cloisters?
Under their shelter did the monks go to and fro in life; and in the plot
of ground enclosed by these sombre passages were they laid in death.
What says the Ladye chapel? What say the niches with their stone basins?
They tell of the intercessory character of the sentiment, and of the
ritual character of the worship of the times when they were set up. The
handful of worshippers here collected from among the tens of thousands
of a cathedral town also testify to the fact that such establishments
could not be originated now, and are no longer in harmony with the
spirit of the multitude.--The contrast of the most modern sacred
buildings tells as plain a tale:--the red-brick meeting-house of the
Friends; the stone chapel of the less rigid dissenters, standing back
from the noise of the busy street; the aristocratic chapel nestling
amidst the shades of the nobleman's park; and the village church in the
meadow, with its neighbouring parsonage. These all tell of a diversity
of opinion; but also of something else. The more ancient buildings are
scantily attended; the more modern are thronged;--and indeed, if they
had not been wanted by numbers, they would not have been built. This
speaks the decline of a ritual religion, and the preference of one which
is more exclusively spiritual in its action.

In Scotland the kirks look exactly suitable to the population which
throngs towards them, with sober dress and gait, and countenances of
solemnity. These edifices stand in severe simplicity, whether on the
green shore of a lake, or in the narrow street of a town; and asceticism
is marked on every stone of the walls, and every article of their

No one who has travelled in Ireland can forget the aspect of its places
of worship,--the lowly Catholic chapels, with their beggarly ornaments
of lace and crucifixes, placed in the midst of villages, the whole of
whose inhabitants crowd within those four walls; and a little way off,
in a field, or on an eminence by the road side, the Protestant church,
one end in ruins, and with ample harbourage for the owl, while the rest
is encompassed with nettles and thorns, and the mossy grave-stones are
half hidden by rank grass. In a country where the sun rises upon
contrasts like these, it is clear in what direction the religious
sentiment of the people is indulged.

What the stranger may thus learn in our own country, we may learn in
his, whatever it be. The large plain churches of Massachusetts, their
democratic benches (in the absence of aristocratic pews) silently filled
for long hours of a Sabbath, as still as a summer noon, by hundreds and
thousands who restore the tones of their pilgrim ancestors in their
hymn-singing, and seem to carry about their likeness in their faces,
cannot fail to instruct the observer.--Then there is the mosque at
Cairo, with its great tank or fountain of ablution in the midst; and its
broad pavement spread out for men of every degree to kneel on together;
its doors standing wide from sunrise to sunset, for the admission of all
but women and strangers; its outside galleries, from which the summons
to prayer is sounded;--these things testify to the ritual character of
the worship, and to the low type of the morals of a faith which despises
women and strangers, giving privileges to the strong from which the weak
are excluded.--Then there is the Buddhist temple, rearing its tapering
form in a recess of the hills, with its colossal stone figures guarding
the entrance, and others sanctifying the interior,--all eloquently
explaining that physical force is worshipped here: its images of saints
show that the intercessory superstition exists; and the drum and gong,
employed to awaken the attention of the gods, can leave little danger of
misapprehension to the observer. There are lanterns continually burning,
and consecrated water, sanctified to the cure of diseased eyes.--Such
places of worship tell a very plain tale; while there is not perhaps a
church on earth which does not convey one that is far from obscure.

The traveller must diligently visit the temples of nations; he must mark
their locality, whether placed among men's dwellings or apart from them;
their number, whether multiplied by diversity of theological opinion;
and their aspect, whether they are designed for the service of a ritual
or a spiritual religion. Thus he may, at the same time, ascertain the
character of the most prominent form of religion, and that of the
dissent from it; which must always illustrate each other.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next to the Churches comes the consideration of the Clergy. The clergy
are usually the secondary potentates of a young country. In a young
country, physical force, and that which comes to represent it, is the
first great power; and knowledge is the next. The clergy are the first
learned men of every nation; and when the streams of knowledge are only
just issuing from the fountain, and the key is in the hands of the
clergy, they enjoy, rightly and unavoidably, a high degree of
consequence. Knowledge spreads abroad; and it is as impossible for man
to dam it up as for the fool to stop the Danube by filling the narrow
channel at its source with his great boots,--crying out the while, "How
the people will wonder when the Danube does not come!" As knowledge
becomes diffused, the consequence of the clergy declines. If that
consequence is to be preserved, it must be by their attaining the same
superiority in morals which they once held in intellect. Where the
clergy are now a cherished class, it is, in fact, on the supposition of
this moral superiority,--a claim for whose justification it would be
unreasonable to look, and for the forfeiture of which the clergy should
be less blamed than those who expect that, in virtue of a profession,
any class of men should be better than others. Moral excellence has no
regard to classes and professions; and religion, being not a pursuit but
a temper, cannot, in fact, be professionally cultivated with personal
advantage. It will be for the traveller to note whether this is more or
less understood where he travels; whether the clergy are viewed with
indifference as mere professional men; or whether they are reverenced
for their supposed holiness; or for their real superiority in learning;
or whether the case wears the lowest aspect of all--when the clergy are
merely the jugglers and puppet-masters of the multitude. A patient
consideration of this will lead to a pretty safe conclusion as to the
progress the people have made in knowledge, and the spiritual freedom
which it brings;--a freedom which is at once a virtue and a cause of

The observer must note what the clergy themselves consider their
function to be;--whether to guide individual minds; or to cultivate
theological and other studies, in order to place their results at the
disposal of the minds with which they have to deal; or to express in
worship the feelings of those minds; or to influence the social
institutions by which the minds of the people are modified; or to do any
other of the many things which the priests of different countries, and
ages, and faiths, have in turn included in their function. He will note
whether they are most like the tyrannical Brahmins, who at one
stroke--by declaring the institution of Caste to be of divine
authority--obtained boundless control over a thousand generations,
subjecting all intellects and all hands to a routine which could be
easily superintended by the forty thousand of the favoured priestly
race; or whether they are like the Christian clergy of the dark ages, a
part of whose duty it was to learn the deepest secrets of the proudest
and lowliest,--thus obtaining the means of bringing to pass what events
they wished, both in public and private life;--or whether they are like
such students as have been known in the theological world,--men who have
not crossed the threshold of their libraries for eighteen years, and who
are satisfied with their lives, if they have been able to elevate
Biblical science, and to throw any new light on sacred history;--or
whether they are like the American clergy of the present day, whose
exertions are directed towards the art of preaching;--or whether they
are like the ministers of the Established Church in England, who are
politically represented, and large numbers of whom employ their
influence for political purposes. Each of these kinds of clergy must be
yielded by a particular state of society, and could not belong to any
other. The Hindoos must be in a low degree of civilization, and sunk in
a deadly superstition, or they would tolerate no Brahmins. The people of
four centuries ago must have depended solely upon their priests for
knowledge and direction, or they would not have submitted to their
inquisitorial practices. Germany must have advanced far in her
appreciation of philosophical and critical research in theology, or she
would not have such devoted students as she can boast of. The Americans
cannot have attained to any high practice of spiritual liberty, or they
could not follow preaching so zealously as they do. The English cannot
have fully understood, or taken to heart the principles of the
Reformation, which have so long been their theme of eulogy, or they
would not foster a political hierarchy within the bosom of their church.

As the studies of the clergy lie in the past, as the days of their
strongest influence are behind, and as the religious feelings of men
have hitherto reposed on the antique, and are but just beginning to
point towards the future, it is natural, it is unavoidable, that the
clergy should retard rather than aid the progress of society. A
disposition to assist in the improvement of institutions is what ought
not to be looked for from any priestly class; and, if looked for, it
will not be found. Such a mode of operation must appear to them
suicidal. But much may be learned by comparing the degree of clerical
resistance to progression with the proportion of favour in which the
clergy are held by the people. Where that resistance is greatest, and a
clerical life is one of peculiar worldly ease, the state of morals and
manners must be low. Where that resistance is least, where any social
improvement whatever is found to originate with the clergy, and where
they bear a just share of toil, the condition of morals and manners
cannot be very much depressed. Where there is an undue partition of
labour and its rewards among the clergy themselves,--where some do the
work and others reap the recompence,--the fair inference is that morals
and manners are in a state of transition. Such a position of affairs
cannot be a permanent one; and the observer may be assured that the
morals and manners of the people are about to be better than they have
been.--The characteristics of the clergy will indicate, or at least
direct attention to, the characteristics of dissent: and any extensive
form of dissent is no other than the most recent exposition of the
latest condition of morals among a large, active, and influential
portion of the people. A foreign traveller in Germany, in Luther's time,
could learn but little of the moral state of that empire, if he shut his
eyes to the philosophy and the deeds of the reformers. If he saw nothing
in the train of nuns winding down into the valleys from their now
unconsecrated convent on the steep; if the tidings of the marriage of
Catherine de Boria came to him like any other wedding news; if he did
not mark the subdued triumph in family faces when the Book--Luther's
Bible--was brought out for the daily lecture; if the decrees of Worms
seemed to him like the common orders of the church, and the levelling of
altars and unroofing of crypts was in his eyes but masons' work, he was
not qualified to observe the people of Germany, and had no more title to
report of them than if he had never left home. Thus it is now, in less
extreme cases. The traveller in Spain knows little of the Spaniards
unless he is aware of the theological studies, and the worship without
forms, which are carried on in private by those who are keeping alive
the fires of liberty in that priest and tyrant-ridden country. The
foreigner in England will carry away but a partial knowledge of the
religious sentiment of the people if he enters only the cathedrals of
cities and the steepled churches in the villages, passing by the square
meeting-houses in the manufacturing towns, and hearing nothing of the
conferences, the assemblies, and the missionary enterprises of the
dissenters. The same may be said of observation in every country
enlightened enough to have shaken off its subservience to an
unquestioned and irresponsible priesthood: that is, of every country
advanced enough to maintain dissent.

The expressions of established forms of prayer convey more information
as to the state of the clergy than of the people; since these
expressions are furnished by the clergy, and continue to be prompted by
them, while the people have no means of dismissing or changing the words
of their framed prayers for long after the words may have ceased to
represent the feeling. The traveller will receive such objectionable
expressions as he may hear, not as indications of the then present
sentiments of the crowd of worshippers, but rather as evidencing the
disinclination of the clergy to change. It would be hard, for instance,
to impute to Moslem worshippers in general the formation of such desires
as are uttered by the school-boys of Cairo at the close of their daily
attendance. "O God! destroy the infidels and polytheists, thine enemies,
the enemies of the religion! O God! make their children orphans, and
defile their abodes, and cause their feet to slip, and give them and
their families, and their households, and their women, and their
children, and their relations by marriage, and their brothers, and their
friends, and their possessions, and their race, and their wealth, and
their lands, as booty to the Moslems! O Lord of all creatures!"--It
would be unjust to impute a horror of "sudden death" to all who use the
words of prayer against it which are found in the Litany of the Church
of England. Sudden death deserved to be classed among the most deadly
evils when the Litany was framed,--in the days of the viaticum; but now
it would be unjust to a multitude of worshippers who use the Litany to
suppose that they are afraid to commit themselves to the hands of their
Father without a passport from a priest; and that they are not willing
to die in the way which pleases God,--some rather preferring, probably,
a mode which will save those who are nearest and dearest to them the
anguish of suspense, or of witnessing hopeless decline. In all antique
forms of devotion there must be expressions which are inconsistent with
the philosophy and the tastes of the time; and these are to be regarded
therefore as no indications of such philosophy and taste, but as an
evidence, more or less distinct, of the condition of the clergy in
enlightenment and temper.

       *       *       *       *       *

The splendid topic of human Superstitions can be only just touched upon
here. In this boundless field, strewn with all the blossoms of all
philosophy, the human observer may wander for ever. He can never have
done culling the evidence that it presents, or enjoying the promise
which it yields. All that we can now do is just to suggest that as the
superstitions of all nations are the embodiment of their idealized
convictions, the state of religious sentiment may be learned from them
almost without danger of mistake.

No society is without its superstitions, any more than it is without its
convictions and its imaginations. Even under the moderate form of
religion, there is room for superstition; and the ascetic, which glories
in having put away the superstitions of the licentious forms, has
superstitions of its own.--The followers of an ascetic religion have
more or less belief in judgments,--in retributive evils, arbitrarily
inflicted. Among them may be gathered a harvest of tales of divine
interference,--from the bee stinging the tip of the swearer's tongue to
the sudden death of false witnesses. Among them do superstitions about
times and seasons flourish, even to the forgetfulness that the Sabbath
is made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Some ascetics have faith
in the lot,--like the Moravians in ordering marriage, or Wesley in
opening his Bible to light upon texts. Others believe in warnings of
evil; and most dread the commission of ritual fully as much as of moral
sins. To play even a hymn tune on the piano on Sundays is an offence in
the Highlands of Scotland; and to miss prayers is a matter of penance in
a convent. The superstitions of the ascetic are scarcely fewer or more
moderate than those of the licentious form of religion; the chief
difference between the two lies in the spirit from which they emanate.
The superstitions of the ascetic arise from the spirit of fear; those of
the heathen arise perhaps equally from the spirit of love and the spirit
of fear.

It seems as if the portents which present themselves to ascetic
minds must necessarily be of evil, since the only good which their
imaginations admit is supposed to be secured by grace, and by acts of
service or self-denial. To the Fakîr, to the Shaker, to the nun, no
good remains over and above what has been long claimed, while
punishment may follow any breach of observance. On the other hand,
before one who makes himself gods of the movements of inanimate nature
and human passions, the two worlds of evil and good lie open, and he
is perpetually on the watch for messengers from both. The poor pagan
looks for tokens of his gods being pleased or angry; of their
intentions of giving him a good or a bad harvest; or of their sending
him a rich present or afflicting him with a bereavement. Whatever he
wants to know, he seeks for in portents;--whether he shall live
again,--whether his departed friends think of him,--whether his child
shall be fortunate or wretched,--whether his enemy or he shall
prevail. It is open to the traveller's observation whether these
superstitions are of a generous or selfish kind,--whether they elevate
the mind with hope, or depress it with fear,--whether they nourish the
faith of the spirit, or extort merely the service of the lip and hand.

The Swiss herdsmen believe that the three deliverers (the founders of
the Helvetic Confederacy) sleep calmly in a cave near the Lake of
Lucerne; and that, whenever their country is in her utmost need, they
will come forth in their antique garb, and assuredly save her. This is a
superstition full of veneration and hope.--When the Arabs see a falling
star, they believe it to be a dart thrown by God at a wanderer of the
race of the genii, and they exclaim, "May God transfix the enemy of the
faith!" Here we find in brief the spirit of their religion.--In Brazil,
a bird which sings plaintively at night is listened to with intent
emotion, from its being supposed to be sent with tidings from the dead
to the living. The choice of a bird with a mournful instead of a lively
note speaks volumes.--The three angels in white that come to give
presents to good children in Germany at Christmas, come in a good
spirit.--There is a superstition in China which has a world of
tenderness in it. A father collects a hundred copper coins from a
hundred families, and makes the metal into a lock which he hangs, as a
charm, round his child's neck, believing that he locks his child to life
by this connection with a hundred persons in full vigour.--But, as is
natural, death is the region of the Unseen to which the larger number of
portents relates. The belief of the return of the dead has been held
almost universally among the nations; and their unseen life is the grand
theme of speculation wherever there are men to speculate. The Norwegians
lay the warrior's horse, and armour, and weapons, beside him. The
Hindoos burn the widow. The Malabar Indians release caged birds on the
newly-made grave, to sanction the flight of the soul. The Buccaneers
(according to Penrose) concealed any large booty that fell into their
hands, till they should have leisure to remove it,--murdering and
burying near it any helpless wretch whom they might be able to capture,
in order that his spirit might watch over the treasure, and drive from
the spot all but the parties who had signed their names in a
round-robin, in claim of proprietorship. The professors of many faiths
resemble each other in practices of propitiation or atonement
laboriously executed on behalf of the departed. Some classes of mourners
act towards their dead friends in a spirit of awe; some in fear; but
very many in love. The trust in the immortality of the affections is the
most general feature in superstitions of this class; and it is a fact
eloquent to the mind of the observer.--An only child of two poor savages
died. The parents appeared inconsolable; and the father soon sank under
his grief. From the moment of his death, the mother was cheerful. On
being asked what had cheered her, she said she had mourned for her
child's loneliness in the world of spirits: now he had his father with
him, and she was happy for them both. What a divine spirit of
self-sacrifice is here! but there is scarcely a superstition sincerely
entertained which does not tell as plain a tale. Those which express
fear indicate moral abasement, greater or less. Those which express
trust and love indicate greater or less moral elevation and purity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The practice of Suicide is worth the contemplation of a traveller, as
affording some clear indications as to religious sentiment. Suicide in
the largest sense is here intended,--the voluntary surrender of life
from any cause.

There has been a stage in the moral advancement of every nation when
suicide, in one form or another, has been considered a duty; and it is
impossible to foresee the time when it will cease to be so considered.
It was a necessary result from the idea of honour once prevalent in the
most civilized societies, when men and women destroyed themselves to
avoid disgrace. The defeated warrior, the baffled statesman, the injured
woman, destroyed themselves when the hope of honour was gone. In the
same age, as in every succeeding one, there have been suicides who have
devoted themselves for others, presenting a series of tales which may
almost redeem the disgraces which darken the annals of the race.--The
most illustrious of the Christian Fathers, immersed in the superstitions
about the transcendent excellence of the virtue of chastity which have
extinguished so many other virtues, and injured the morals of society to
this day, by sacrificing other principles to fanaticism on this,
permitted women to kill themselves to escape from violence which left
the mind in its purity, and the will in its rectitude.--Martyrdom for
the truth existed also before the venerating eyes of men,--the noblest
kind of suicide: it attracted glory to itself from the faithful heart of
the race; and, from its thus attracting glory, it became a means of
gaining glory, and sank from being martyrdom to be a mere fanatical
self-seeking. While the spirit of persecution was roaming abroad,
seeking whom it might devour, there were St. Theresas roaming abroad,
seeking to be devoured, from a spirit of cupidity after the crown of
martyrdom.--Soldiers, in all times and circumstances, pledge themselves
to the possible duty of suicide by the very act of becoming soldiers.
They engage to make the first charge, and to mount a breach if called
upon. And there have been found soldiers for every perilous service that
has been required, throughout all wars. There have been volunteers to
mount the breach, solitary men or small bands to hold narrow bridges and
passes, from the first incursion of tribe upon tribe in barbarous
conflict, up to the suicide of Van Speyk, whose monument is still fresh
from the chisel in the Nieuw Kerk of Amsterdam. Van Speyk commanded a
gun-boat which was stranded in a heavy gale, and boarded by the
Belgians,--the foe. Van Speyk had sworn never to surrender his boat, and
his suicide was a point of military honour. He seems to have considered
the matter thus; for he prayed for pardon of his crime of
self-destruction after laying his lighted cigar on the open barrel of
powder which blew up the boat. The remaining suicides (except, of
course, the insane,) are justified by none. Persons who shrink from
suffering so far as to withdraw from their duties, and to forsake those
to whom their exertions are due, are objects of contemptuous compassion
in the present day, when, moral having succeeded to physical force in
men's esteem, it is seen to be nobler to endure evils than to hide one's
spirit from them.

Every society has its suicides, and much may be learned from their
character and number, both as to the notions on morals which prevail,
and the religious sentiment which animates to or controls the act. It is
with the last that we now have to do.--The act of laying down life is
one thing among a people who have dim and mournful anticipations of a
future life, like the ancient Greeks; and quite another among those who,
like the first Christians, have a clear vision of bliss and triumph in
the world on which they rush. Suicide is one thing to a man who is
certain of entering immediately upon purgatory; and to another whose
first step is to be upon the necks of his enemies; and to a third who
believes that he is to lie conscious in his grave for some thousands of
years; and to a fourth who has no idea that he shall survive or revive
at all. When Curtius leaped into the gulf, he probably leaped into utter
darkness, other than physical; but when Guyon of Marseilles sunned
himself for the last time in the balcony of the house where he was shut
up with the plague-spotted body which he was to die in dissecting, he
had faith that he should step out of a waxing and waning sunlight into a
region which "had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in
it, the glory of God being the light of it." The sick Moslem who,
falling behind his troop, and fearing to lie unburied, scoops his grave
and lies down in it, wrapped in his grave-clothes, and covers himself
up, except the face, leaving it to the winds to heap sand upon it,
trembles the while at the thought of the two examining angels, who are
this night to prove and perhaps torture him. The English lady who took
laudanum on learning that she had a fatal disease, from fear of becoming
loathsome to a husband for whom she had lived, had before her the
prominent idea of reunion with him; so that life in one world presented
as much of hope as in the other of despair.--Nations share in
differences like these, according to the prevalent religious sentiment;
and from this species of act may the sentiment be more or less correctly

Suicide is very common among a race of Africans who prefer it to
slavery. They believe in a life of tropical ease and freedom after
death, and rush into it so eagerly on being reduced to slavery, that
the planters of Cuba refuse them in the market, knowing that after a few
hours, or days, in spite of all precautions, nothing but their dead
bodies will remain in the hands of their masters. The French have, of
late years, abounded in suicides, while there are few or none in
Ireland. The most vain and the most sympathetic part of the French
multitude were found to be the classes which yielded the victims. If a
young lady and her lover shot one another with pistols tied with pink
ribbons, two or three suicides amidst blue and green ribbons were sure
to follow the announcement of the first in the newspaper, till a
sensible physician suggested that suicides should not be noticed in
newspapers, or should be treated with ridicule: the advice was acted
upon, and proved by the result to be sound. This profusion of
self-murders could not have taken place amidst a serious belief of an
immediate entrance upon purgatory, such as is held by the majority of
the Irish. Only in a state of vague speculation as to another life could
the future have operated as so slight a check upon the rash impulses of
the present. The Irish, an impetuous race, like the French, and with a
good share of vanity, of sympathy, and of sentiment, are probably
deterred from throwing away life by those religious convictions and
sentiments which the French once held in an equal degree, but from which
they are now passing over into another state.

A single act of suicide is often indicative, negatively or positively,
of a state of prevalent sentiment. A single instance of the Suttee
testifies to the power of Brahmins, and the condition of Hindoo
worshippers, in a way which cannot be mistaken. An American child of
six years old accidentally witnessed in India such a spectacle. On
returning home, she told her mother she had seen hell, and was whipped
for saying so,--not knowing why, for she spoke in all earnestness, and,
as it seems to us, with eloquent truth.--The somewhat recent
self-destruction of an estimable English officer, on the eve of a
court-martial, might fully instruct a stranger on the subject of
military honour in this country. This officer fell in the collision of
universal and professional principles. His justice and humanity had led
him to offer a kindly bearing towards an irresolute mob of rioters, in
the absence of authority to act otherwise than as he did, and of all
co-operation from the civil power; his military honour was placed in
jeopardy, and the innocent man preferred self-destruction to meeting the
risk; thus testifying that numbers here sustain an idea of honour which
is at variance with that which they expect to prevail elsewhere and
hereafter.--Every act of self-devotion for others, extending to death,
testifies to the existence of philanthropy, and to its being regarded as
an honour and a good. Every voluntary martyrdom tells a national tale as
plain as that written in blood and spirit by Arnold Von Winkelried, in
1386. When the Swiss met their oppressors at the battle of Sempach, it
appeared impossible for the Swiss to charge with effect, so thick was
the hedge of Austrian lances. Arnold Von Winkelried cried, "I will make
a lane for you! Dear companions, remember my family!" He clasped an
armful of the enemy's lances, and made a sheaf of them in his body. His
comrades entered the breach, and won the battle. They remembered his
family, and their descendants commemorate the sacrifice to this day;
thus bearing testimony to the act being a trait of the national spirit.

By observations such as these, may the religious sentiment of a people
be ascertained. While making them, or struggling with the difficulties
of opposing evidence, the observer has to bear in mind,--first, that the
religious sentiment does everywhere exist, however low its tone, and
however uncouth its expression; secondly, that personal morals must
greatly depend on the low or high character of the religious sentiment;
and, thirdly, that the philosophy and morals of government accord with
both,--despotism of some sort being the natural rule where licentious
and ascetic religions prevail; and democratic government being possible
only under a moderate form of religion, where the use without the abuse
of all blessings is the spirit of the religion of the majority.



    "Une différente coutume donnera d'autres principes naturels. Cela
    se voit par expérience; et s'il y en a d'ineffaçables à la coutume,
    il y en a aussi de la coutume ineffaçables à la  nature."--PASCAL.

Next to the religion of a people, it is necessary to learn what are
their Ideas of Morals. In speaking of the popular notion of a Moral
Sense, it was mentioned that, so far from there being a general
agreement on the practice of morals, some things which are considered
eminently right in one age or country are considered eminently wrong in
another; while the people of each age or country, having grown up under
common influences, think and feel sufficiently alike to live together in
a general agreement as to right and wrong. It is the business of the
traveller to ascertain what this general agreement is in the society he

In one society, spiritual attainments will be the most highly honoured,
as in most religious communities. In another, the qualities attendant
upon intellectual eminence will be worshipped,--as now in countries
which are the most advanced in preparation for political
freedom,--France, Germany, and the United States. In others, the moral
qualities allied to physical or extrinsic power are chiefly
venerated,--as in all uncivilized countries, and all which lie under
feudal institutions.

The lower moral qualities which belong to the last class have been
characteristics of nations. The valour of the Spartans, the love of
glory of the Romans and the French, the pride of the Spaniards,--these
infantile moral qualities have belonged to a people as distinctly as to
an individual.--Those which are in alliance with intellectual eminence
are not so strikingly characteristic of entire nations; though we praise
the Athenians for their love of letters and honour of philosophy; the
Italians for their liberality towards art, and their worship of it while
a meaner glory was the fashion of the world; the Germans for their
speculative enterprise, and patience of research; and the Americans for
their reverence for intellect above military fame and the splendour of
wealth.--No high spiritual qualities have ever yet characterized a
nation, or even--in spite of much profession--any considerable
community. Hospitality and beneficence have distinguished some religious
societies: the non-resistance of Quakers, the industry of Moravians, and
of several kinds of people united on the principle of community of
property, may be cited: but this seems to be all. The enforced
temperance, piety, and chastity of monastic societies go for nothing in
this view; because, being enforced, they indicate nothing of the
sentiment subsequent to the taking of the vow. The people of the United
States have come the nearest to being characterized by lofty spiritual
qualities. The profession with which they set out was high,--a
circumstance greatly to their honour, though (as might have been
expected) they have not kept up to it. They are still actuated by
ambition of territory, and have not faith enough in moral force to rely
upon it, as they profess to do. The Swiss, in their unshaken and
singularly devoted love of freedom, seem to be spiritually distinguished
above other nations: but they have no other strong characteristic of
this highest class.

The truth is that, whatever may be the moral state of nations when the
human world emerges hereafter from its infancy, high spiritual qualities
are now matters of individual concern, as those of the intellectual
class were once; and their general prevalence is a matter of prospective
vision alone. Time was when the swampy earth resounded with the tramp
and splash of monstrous creatures, whom there was no reason present to
classify, and no language to name. Then, after a certain number of ages,
the earth grew drier; palm-groves and tropical thickets flourished where
Paris now stands; and the waters were collected into lakes in the
regions where the armies of Napoleon were of late encamped. Then came
the time when savage, animal man appeared, using his physical force like
the lower animals, and taught by the experience of its deficiency that
he was in possession of another kind of force. Still, for ages, the use
he made of reason was to overcome the physical force of others, and to
render available his own portion. On this principle, and for this
object, variously modified, and more or less refined, have societies
been formed to this day; though, as morals are the fruit of which
intellect is the blossom, spiritualism--faith in moral power--has
existed in individuals ever since the first free exercise of reason.
While all nations were ravaging one another as they had opportunity,
there were always parents who did not abuse their physical power over
their children. In the midst of a general worship of power, birth, and
wealth, the affections have wrought out in individual minds a preference
of obscurity and poverty for the sake of spiritual objects. Amidst the
supremacy of the worship of honour and social ease, there have always
been confessors who could endure disgrace for the truth, and martyrs who
could die for it.--Such individual cases have never been wanting: and,
in necessary connexion with this fact, there has always been a sympathy
in this pure moral taste,--an appreciation which could not but help its
diffusion. Thence arose the formation of communities for the fostering
of holiness,--projects which, however mistaken in their methods and
injurious in their consequences, have always commanded, and do still
command, sympathy, from the venerableness of their origin. Not all the
stories of the abuses of monastic institutions can destroy the respect
of every ingenuous mind for the spiritual preferences out of which they
arose. The Crusades are still holy, notwithstanding all their
defilements of vain-glory, superstition, and barbarism of various kinds.
The retreat of the Pilgrim Fathers to the forests of the New World
silences the ridicule of the thoughtless about the extravagances of
Puritanism in England.

Thus far has the race advanced; and, having thus advanced, there is
reason to anticipate that the age may come when the individual worship
of spiritual supremacy may expand into national; when a people may agree
to govern one another with the smallest possible application of physical
force; when goodness shall come to be naturally more honoured than
birth, wealth, or even intellect; when ambition of territory shall be
given up; when all thought of war shall be over; when the pursuit of the
necessaries and luxuries of external life shall be regarded as means to
an end; and when the common aim of exertion shall be self and mutual
perfection. It does not seem to be rash to anticipate such a state of
human affairs as this, when an aspiration like the following has been
received with sympathy by thousands of republicans united under a
constitution of ideas. "Talent and worth are the only eternal grounds of
distinction. To these the Almighty has affixed his everlasting patent of
nobility; and these it is which make the bright, 'the immortal names,'
to which our children may aspire, as well as others. It will be our own
fault if, in our land, society as well as government is not organized on
a new foundation."--"Knowledge and goodness,--these make degrees in
heaven, and they must be the graduating scale of a true democracy."[F]

Meantime, it is the traveller's business to learn what is the species of
Moral Sentiment which lies deepest in the hearts of the majority of the

       *       *       *       *       *

He will find no better place of study than the Cemetery,--no more
instructive teaching than Monumental Inscriptions. The brief language of
the dead will teach him more than the longest discourses of the living.

He will learn what are the prevalent views of death; and when he knows
what is the common view of death, he knows also what is the aspect of
life to no small number;--that is, he will have penetrated into the
interior of their morals.--If it should ever be fully determined that
the pyramids of Egypt were designed solely as places of sepulture, they
will cease to be the mute witness they have been for ages. They will
tell at least that death was not regarded as the great leveller,--that
kings and peasants were not to sleep side by side in death, any more
than in life. How they contrast with the Moravian burial-grounds, where
all are laid in rows as they happen to be brought to the grave, and
where memorial is forbidden!--The dead of Constantinople are cast out
from among the living in waste, stillness, and solitude. The cemeteries
lie beyond the walls, where no hum from the city is heard, and where the
dark cypresses overhanging the white marble tombs give an air of
mourning and desolation to the scene. In contrast with these are the
church-yards of English cities, whose dead thus lie in full view of the
living; the school-boy trundles his hoop among them, and the news of the
day is discussed above their place of rest. This fact of where the dead
are laid is an important one. If out of sight, death and religion may or
may not be connected in the general sentiment; if within or near the
places of worship, they certainly are so connected. In the cemeteries of
Persia, the ashes of the dead are ranged in niches of the walls: in
Egypt we have the most striking example of affection to the body, shown
in the extraordinary care to preserve it; while some half-civilized
people seem to be satisfied with putting their dead out of sight, by
summarily sinking them in water, or hiding them in the sand; and the
Caffres throw their dead to the hyenas,--impelled to this, however, not
so much by disregard of the dead, as by a superstitious fear of death
taking place in their habitations, which causes them to remove the
dying, and expose them in this state to beasts of prey. The burial of
the dead by the road-side by some of the ancients, seems to have brought
death into the closest relation with life; and when the place chosen is
taken in connexion with the inscriptions on the tombs,--words addressed
to the wayfarer as from him who lies within,--from the pilgrim now at
rest to the pilgrim still on his way, they give plain indications of the
views of death and life entertained by those who placed them.

Much may be learned from the monumental inscriptions of all nations. The
first epitaph is supposed to be traced back to the year of the world
2700, when the scholars of Linus, the Theban poet, bewailed their master
in verses which were inscribed upon his tomb. From that day to this,
wherever there have been letters, there have been epitaphs; and, where
letters have been wanting, there have been symbols. Mysterious symbolic
arrangements are traced in the monumental mounds in the interior of the
American continent, where a race of whom we know nothing else flourished
before the Red man opened his eyes upon the light. One common rule,
drawn from a universal sentiment, has presided at the framing of all
epitaphs for some thousands of years. "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" is the
universal agreement of mourners.[G] It follows that epitaphs must
everywhere indicate what is there considered good.

The observer must give his attention to this. Among a people "whose
merchants are princes," the praise of the departed will be in a
different strain from that which will be found among a warlike nation,
or a community of agriculturists. Here one may find monumental homage to
public spirit, in the form of active citizenship; there to domestic
virtue as the highest honour. The glory of eminent station, of ancient
family, of warlike deeds, and of courtly privileges may be conspicuously
exhibited in one district; while in another the dead are honoured in
proportion to their contempt of human greatness, even when won by
achievements; to their having lived with a sole regard "to things unseen
and eternal." An inscription which breathes the pride of a noble family
in telling that "all the sons were brave, and all the daughters chaste,"
presents a summary of the morals of the age and class to which it
belongs. It tells that the supreme honour of men was to be brave, and of
women to be chaste; excluding the supposition of each sharing the virtue
of the other: whereas, when courage and purity shall be understood in
their full signification, it will have become essential to the honour of
a noble family that all the sons should be also pure, and all the
daughters brave. Then bravery will signify moral rather than physical
courage, and purity of mind will be considered no attribute of sex.

Even the nature of the public services commemorated, where public
service is considered the highest praise, may indicate much. It is a
fact of no small significance whether a man is honoured after death for
having made a road, or for having founded a monastery, or endowed a
school; whether he introduced a new commodity, or erected a church;
whether he marched adventurously in the pursuit of conquest, or fought
bravely among his native mountains to guard the homes of his countrymen
from aggression. The German, the French, the Swiss monuments of the
present century all tell the common tale that men have lived and died:
but with what various objects did they live! and in what a variety of
hope and heroism did they die! All were proud of their respective
differences while they lived; and, now that their contests are at an
end, they afford materials of speculation to the stranger who ponders
upon their tombs.

A variety, perhaps a contrariety of praise, may be found in the epitaphs
of a country, a city, or a single cemetery. Where this diversity is
found, it testifies to the diversity of views held, and therefore to the
freedom of the prevailing religious sentiment. Everywhere, however,
there is an affection and esteem for certain virtues. Disinterestedness,
fidelity, and love are themes of praise everywhere. Some may have no
sympathy for the deeds of the warrior, and others for the discoveries of
the philosopher and the adventurer; but the honoured parent, the devoted
child, the philanthropic citizen, are sure of their tribute from all

Even if there were a variety of praise proportioned to the diversity of
hearts and minds that utter it, the inscriptions of a cemetery cannot
but breathe a spirit which must animate, more or less, the morals of the
society. For instance, the cemetery of Père la Chaise utters, from end
to end, one wail. It is all mourning, and no hope. Every expression of
grief, from tender regret to blank despair, is to be found there; but
not a hint of consolation, except from memory. All is over, and the
future is vacant. A remarkable contrast to this is seen in the cemetery
of Mount Auburn, Massachusetts. The religious spirit of New England is
that which has hope for one of its largest elements, and which was
believed by the Puritan fathers to forbid the expression of sorrow. One
of those fathers made an entry in his journal, in the early days of the
colony, that it had pleased God to take from him by an accident his
beloved son Henry, whom he committed to the Lord's mercy;--and this was
all. In a similar spirit are the epitaphs at Mount Auburn framed. There
is a religious silence about the sorrows of the living, and every
expression of joy, thanksgiving, and hope for the dead. One who had
never heard of death, might take this for the seed-field of life; for
the oratory of the happy; for the heaven of the hopeful. Parents invite
their children from the grave to follow them. Children remind their
parents that the term of separation will be short; and all repose their
hopes together on an authority which is to them as stable and
comprehensive as the blue sky which is over all.--What a contrast is
here! and how eloquent as to the moral views of the respective nations!
There is not a domestic attachment or social relation which is not
necessarily modified, elevated, or depressed by the conviction of its
being transient or immortal,--an end or means to a higher end. Though
human hearts are so far alike as that there must be a hope of reunion,
more or less defined and assured, in all who love, and a practical
falling below the elevation of this hope in those even who enjoy the
strongest assurance,--yet the moral notions of any society must be very
different where the ground of hope is taken for granted, and where it is
kept wholly out of sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

The observer may obtain further light upon the moral ideas of a people
by noting the degree of their Attachment to Kindred and Birth-place.
This species of attachment is so natural, that none are absolutely
without it; but it varies in degree, according as the moral taste of the
people goes to enhance or to subdue it. The Swiss and the American
parent both send their children abroad; but with what different feelings
and views! The Swiss father dismisses his daughter to teach in a school
at Paris or London, and his sons to commerce or war. He resigns himself
to a hard necessity, and supports them with suggestions of the honour of
virtuous independence, and of the delight of returning when it is
achieved. They, in their exile, can never see a purple shade upon a
mountain side, a gleaming sheet of water, or a nestling village, without
a throb of the heart, and a sickening longing for home.--The New
England mother, with her tribe of children around her on her hill-side
farm, nourishes them with tales of the noble extent of their
country,--how its boundary is ever shifting westwards, and what a wild
life it is there in the forest, with the Red men for neighbours, and
inexhaustible wealth in the soil, ready for the hand which shall have
enterprise to work for it. She tells of one and another, but lately boys
like her children, who are now judges and legislators,--founders of
towns, or having counties named after them. As her young people grow up,
they part off eagerly from the old farm,--one into a southern city,
another into the western forest, a third to a prairie in a new
territory; and the daughters marry, and go over the mountains too. The
mother may have sighs to conceal, but she does conceal them; and the
sons, so far from lingering,--are impatient till they are gone. Their
idea of national honour,--both their patriotic and their personal
ambition,--is concerned; and they welcome the hour of dispersion as the
first step towards the great objects of their life. Some return to the
old neighbourhood to take a wife; but they do not think of passing their
second childhood where they spent their first,--any more than the Greek
colonists who swarmed from their narrow native districts. The settlers
of the west go there, not to obtain a certain amount of personal
property, but land, station, and power.--How different again are the
Scotch--the people of the strongest family attachments! In the modified
and elevated feudalism of clanship, pride and love of kindred constitute
the animating social principle. Their clan-music is to them what the
Ranz de Vaches is to the Swiss: the one echoing the harmonics of social
intercourses, as the other revives the melodies of mountain life.
Through the love of kindred, the love of birth-place flourishes among
the Scotch. The Highland emigrants in Canada not only clasp hands when
they hear played the march of their clan, but wept when they found that
heather would not grow in their newly-adopted soil.

       *       *       *       *       *

The traveller must talk with Old People, and see what is the character
of the garrulity of age. He must talk with Children, and mark the
character of the aspirations of childhood. He will thus learn what is
good in the eyes of those who have passed through the society he
studies, and in the hopes of those who have yet to enter upon it. Is it
the aged mother's pride that her sons are all unstained in honour, and
her daughters safe in happy homes? or does she boast that one is a
priest, and another a peeress? Does the grandmother relate that all her
descendants who are of age are "received church-members"? or that her
favourite grandchild has been noticed by the emperor? Do the old men
prose of a single happy love, or of exploits of gallantry? or of
commercial success, or of political failure? What is the section of life
to which the greatest number of ancient memories cling? Is it to
struggles for a prince in disguise, or to a revolutionary conflict? Is
it to the removal of a social oppression, or to a season of domestic
trial, or to an accession of personal consequence? Is it the having
acquired an office or a title? or the having assisted in the abolition
of slavery? or the having conversed with a great author? or the having
received a nod from a prince, or a curtsey from a queen? or have you to
listen to details of the year of the scarcity, or the season of the
plague?--What are the children's minds full of? The little West Indian
will not talk of choosing a profession, any more than the infant
Portuguese will ask for books. One nation of children will tell of the
last saint's day, and another will refer every thing to the emperor.
Elsewhere you will be treated with legends without end; or you will be
instructed about bargains and wages; or the boys will ask you why a
king's son should be king whether the people like him or not; and the
girls will whisper something to you about their brother being President
some day. As the minds of the young are formed, generally speaking, to
an adaptation to the objects presented to them, their preference of
warlike to commercial, or literary to political honour, is an eloquent
circumstance: and so of their sense of greatness in any
direction,--whether it be of the physical order, or the intellectual, or
the spiritual.

       *       *       *       *       *

From this, the transition is natural to the study of the character of
the Pride of each nation. Learn what people glory in, and you learn much
of both the theory and practice of their morals. All nations, like all
individuals, have pride, sooner or later, in one thing or another. It is
a stage through which they have to pass in their moral progression, and
out of which the most civilized have not yet advanced, nor discerned
that they will have to advance, though the passion becomes moderated at
each remove from barbarism. It is by no means clear that the essential
absurdity of each is relieved by its dilution. Hereafter, the most
modern pride of the most civilized people may appear as ridiculous in
its nature as the grossest conceit of utter barbarians now appears to
us; but, still, the direction taken by the general pride must show what
class of objects is held in most esteem.

The Chinese have no doubt that all other countries are created for the
benefit of theirs; they call their own "the central empire," as certain
philosophers once called our earth the centre round which everything
else was to revolve. They call it the Celestial Empire, of which their
ruler is the Sun: "they profess to rule barbarians by misrule, like
beasts, and not like native subjects." Here we have the extreme of
national pride, which must involve various moral qualities;--all the bad
ones which are the consequence of ignorance, subservience to domestic
despotism, and contempt of the race of man; and the good ones which are
the consequence of national seclusion,--cheerful industry, social
complacency, quietness, and order.--The Arab pride bears a resemblance
to the Chinese, but is somewhat refined and spiritualized. The Arabs
believe that the earth, "spread out like a bed," and upheld by a
gigantic angel (the angel standing upon a rock, and the rock upon a
bull, and the bull upon a fish, and the fish floating upon water, and
the water upon darkness,)--that the earth, thus upheld, is surrounded by
the Circumambient Ocean; that the inhabited part of the earth is to the
rest but as a tent in the desert; and that in the very centre of this
inhabited part is--Mecca. Their exclusive faith makes a part of their
nationality, and their insolence shows itself eminently in their
devotions. Their spiritual supremacy is their strong point; and they can
afford to be somewhat less outwardly contemptuous to the race at large,
from the certainty they have that all will be made plain and
indisputable at last, when the followers of the Prophet alone will be
admitted to bliss, and the punishments of the future world will be
eternal to all but wicked Mahomedans. There will be found among the
Arabs, in accordance with this pride, a strong mutual fidelity; and,
among the best class of believers, a real devotion and a kindly
compassion towards outcasts; while, among lower orders of minds, we may
expect to witness the extreme exasperation of vindictiveness, insult,
and rapacity.--We may pass over the pride of caste in India, of royal
race in Africa, and the wild notions of Caribbean and Esquimaux dignity,
which are almost as painful to contemplate as the freaks of pride in
Bedlam. There is quite enough to look upon in the most civilized parts
of the earth.--The whole national character of the Spaniards might be
inferred from their particularly notorious pride; the quarterings of
German barons are a popular joke; the French pride of military glory is
an index to the national morals of France; while, in the United States,
the pride of Washington and of territory is oddly combined and
contrasted. Nothing can be more indicative of the true moral state of
the Americans; they hang between the past and the future, with many of
the feudal prepossessions of the past, mingled with the democratic
aspirations which relate to the future. The ambition and pride of
territory belong to the first, and their pride in the leader of their
revolution to the last: he is their personification of that moral power
to which they profess allegiance. The consequences of this arbitrary
union of two kinds of national pride may be foreseen. The Americans
unite some of the low qualities of feudalism with some of the highest of
a more equal social organization. Without the first, slavery, cupidity,
and ostentation could not exist to any great extent; without the others,
there could not be the splendid moral conflict which we now see going on
in opposition to slavery, nor the reverence for man which is the
loveliest feature of American morals and manners.

From the aristocratic pride of the English the stranger might draw
inferences no less correct. If it is found that there is scarcely a
gamekeeper or a tradesman among us who is not stiffened with prejudices
about rank; that gossips can tell what noblemen pay, and which do not
pay, their tradesmen's bills; that persons who have never seen a lord
can furnish all information about the genealogy and intermarriages of
noble families; that every class is emulating the manners of the one
above it; and that democratic principles are held chiefly in the
manufacturing districts, or, if in country regions, among the tenantry
of landlords of liberal politics;--the moral condition of such a people
lies, as it were, mapped out beneath the eye of the observer. They must
be orderly, eminently industrious, munificent in their grants to rulers,
and mechanically oppressive to the lowest class of the ruled; nationally
complacent, while wanting in individual self-respect; reverentially
inclined towards the lofty minority, and contemptuously disposed
towards the lowly majority of their race; a generous devotion being
advantageously mingled, however, with the select reverence, and a kindly
spirit of protection with the gross contempt. Such, to the eye of an
observer, are the qualities involved in English pride. Upon this moral
material, everywhere diffused, should the traveller observe and reflect.

       *       *       *       *       *

Man-worship is as universal a practice as that of the higher sort of
religion. As men everywhere adore some supposed agents of unseen things,
they are, in like manner, disposed to do homage to what is venerable
when it is presented to their eyes in the actions of a living man. This
man-worship is one of the most honourable and one of the most hopeful
circumstances in the mind of the race. An individual here and there may
scoff at the credulity of others, and profess unbelief in human virtue;
but no society has ever yet wanted faith in man. Every community has its
saints, its heroes, its sages,--whose tombs are visited, whose deeds are
celebrated, whose words have become the rules by which men live.

Now, the moral taste of a people is nowhere more clearly shown than in
its choice of idols. Of these idols there are two kinds;--those whose
divinity is confirmed by the lapse of time, like Gustavus Adolphus among
the Swedes, Tell in Switzerland, Henri IV. among the French, and
Washington among the Americans; and those who are still living, and upon
whose daily doings a multitude of eyes are fixed.

Those of the first class reign singly; their uncontested sway is over
national character, as well as the affections of individual minds; and
from their character may that of the whole people be, in certain
respects, inferred. Who supposes that the Swiss would have been the same
as they are, if Tell's character and deeds could have been hidden in
oblivion from the moment those deeds were done? What would the Americans
have been now if every impression of Washington could have been effaced
from their minds fifty years ago? This is not the place in which to
enlarge on the power--the greatest power we know of--which man exercises
over men through their affections; but it is a fact which the observer
should keep ever in view. The existence of a great man is one of those
gigantic circumstances,--one of those national influences,--which have
before been mentioned as modifying the conscience--the feelings about
right and wrong--in a whole people. The pursuits of a nation for ever
may be determined by the fact of the great man of five centuries being a
poet, a warrior, a statesman, or a maritime adventurer. The morals of a
nation are influenced to all eternity by the great man's being ambitious
or moderate, passionate or philosophical, licentious or self-governed.
Certain lofty qualities he must have, or he could not have attained
greatness,--energy, perseverance, faith, and consequently earnestness.
These are essential to his immortality; upon the others depends the
quality of his influence; and upon these must the observer of the
present generation reflect.

It is not by dogmas that Christianity has permanently influenced the
mind of Christendom. No creeds are answerable for the moral revolution
by which physical has been made to succumb to moral force; by which
unfortunates are cherished by virtue of their misfortunes; by which the
pursuit of speculative truth has become an object worthy of
self-sacrifice. It is the character of Jesus of Nazareth which has
wrought to these purposes. Notwithstanding all the obscuration and
defilement which that character has sustained from superstition and
other corruption, it has availed to these purposes, and must prevail
more and more now that it is no longer possible to misrepresent his
sayings and conceal his deeds, as was done in the dark ages. In all
advancing time, as corruption is surmounted, there are more and more who
vividly feel that life does not consist in the abundance that a man
possesses, but in energy of spirit, and in a power and habit of
self-sacrifice: there are perpetually more and more who discern and live
by the persuasion that the pursuit of worldly power and ease is a matter
totally apart from the function of Christianity; and this persuasion has
not been wrought into activity by declarations of doctrine in any form,
but by the spectacle, vivid before the eye of the mind, of the Holy One
who declined the sword and the crown, lived without property, and
devoted himself to die by violence, in an unparalleled simplicity of
duty. The being himself is the mover here; and every great man is, in a
similar manner, however inferior may be the degree, a spring by which
spirits are moved. By the study of them may much of the consequent
movement be understood. The observer of British morals should gather up
the names of their idols; he will hear of Hampden, Bacon, Shakspeare,
Newton, Howard, and Wesley. In Scotland, he will hear of Bruce and
Knox. What a flood of light do these names shed on our _morale_! It is
the same with the Englishman abroad when his attention is referred in
France to Henri IV, Richelieu, Turenne, and Napoleon, to Bossuet and
Fenelon, to Voltaire, and their glorious list of natural philosophers:
in Italy, to Lorenzo de' Medici, Galileo, and their constellations of
poets and artists: in Germany, to Charles V, Luther, Schwartz, Göthe,
Copernicus, Handel, and Mozart. There is in every nation a succession of
throned gods, each of whom is the creator of some region of the national
mind, and has formed men into more or less of his own likeness.

The other kind of idols are those who are still living, and whose
influence upon morals and manners is strong, but may or may not be
distinguishably permanent. These afford a less faithful evidence,--but
yet an evidence which is not to be neglected. The spirit of the times is
seen in the character of the idols of the day, however the nation may be
divided in its choice of idols, and however many sects there may be in
the man-worship of the generation. In our own day, for instance, how
plainly is the movement of society discerned, from the fact of the
eminence of philanthropists in many countries! Whether they presently
sink, or continue to rise, they testify to a prevailing feeling in
society. Père Enfantin in France, Wilberforce in England, Garrison in
America,--these are watchmen set on a pinnacle (whoever may object to
their being there) who can tell us "what of the night," and how a new
morning is breaking. Whether they may be most cause or effect, whether
they have more or less decidedly originated the interest of which they
are the head, it is clear that there is a certain adaptation between
themselves and the general mind, without which they could not have risen
to be what they are.--Every society has always its idols. If there are
none by merit, at any moment, station is received as a qualification.
Large numbers are always worshipping the heads of the aristocracy, of
whatever kind they may be; and there is rarely a long interval in which
there is not some warrior, some poet, artist, or philanthropist on whom
the multitude are flinging crowns and incense. The popularity of Byron
testified to the existence of a gloomy discontent in a multitude of
minds, as the adoration of De Béranger discloses the political feelings
of the French. Statesmen rarely command an overwhelming majority of
worshippers, because interest enters much more than sentiment into
politics: but every author, or other artist who can reach the general
mind,--every preacher, philanthropist, soldier, or discoverer, who has
risen into an atmosphere of worship in pursuit of a purpose, is a fresh
Peter the Hermit, meeting and stimulating the spirit of his time, and
exhibiting its temper to the observer,--foreign as to either clime or
century. The physical observer of a new region might as well shut his
eyes to the mountains, and omit to note which way the streams run, as
the moral observer pass by the idols of a nation with a heedless gaze.

       *       *       *       *       *

Side by side with this lies the inquiry into the great Epochs of the
society visited. Find out what individuals and nations date from, and
you discover what events are most interesting to them. A child reckons
from his first journey, or his entrance upon school: a man from his
marriage, his beginning practice in his profession, or forming a fresh
partnership in trade; if he be a farmer, from the year of a good or bad
crop; if he be a merchant, from the season of a currency pressure; if he
be an operative, from the winter of the Strike: a matron dates from the
birth of her children; her nursemaid from her change of place. Nations,
too, date from what interests them most. It is important to learn what
this is. The major date of American citizens is the Revolution; their
minor dates are elections, and new admissions into the Union. The people
at Amsterdam date from the completion of the Stadt Huis; the Spaniards
from the achievement of Columbus; the Germans from the deed of Luther;
the Haytians from the abduction of Toussaint L'Ouverture; the Cherokees
from treaties with the Whites; the people of Pitcairn's Island from the
mutiny of the Bounty; the Turks, at present, from the massacre of the
Janissaries; the Russians from the founding of St. Petersburgh and the
deaths of its monarchs; the Irish (for nearer times than the battle of
the Boyne) by the year of the fever, the year of the rebellion, the year
of the famine. There is a world of instruction in this kind of fact; and
if a new species of epoch, of which there is a promise, should
arise,--if the highest works of men should come to be looked upon as the
clearest operations of Providence,--if Germany or Europe should date
from Göthe as the civilized world does from Columbus,--this sole test
might reveal almost the entire moral state of society.

       *       *       *       *       *

The treatment of the Guilty is all-important as an index to the moral
notions of a society. This class of facts will hereafter yield
infallible inferences as to the principles and views of governments and
people upon vice, its causes and remedies. At present, such facts must
be used with great caution, because the societies of civilized countries
are in a state of transition from the old vindictiveness to a purer
moral philosophy. The ancient methods, utterly disgraceful as they are,
must subsist till society has fully agreed upon and prepared for better
ones; and it would be harsh to pronounce upon the humanity of the
English from their prisons, or the justice of the French from their
galley system. The degrees of reliance upon brute force and upon public
opinion are yet by no means proportioned to the civilization of
respective societies, as at first sight might be expected, and as must
be before punishments and prisons can be taken as indications of morals
and manners.

The treatment of the guilty in savage lands, and also in countries under
a despotism, indicates the morals of rulers only,--except in so far as
it points out the political subservience of the people. It is true that
the Burmese must needs be in a deplorable social state, if their king
can "spread out" his prime minister in the sun, as formerly described:
but the mercy or cruelty of his subjects can be inferred only from the
liberty they may have and may use to treat one another in the same
manner. In their case, we see that such a power is possessed and put to
use. The creditor exposes his debtor's wife, children, and slaves, to
the same noon-day sun which broils the prime minister. In Austria, it
would be harsh to suppose that subjects have any desire to treat one
another as the Emperor and his minister treat political offenders within
the walls of the castle of Spielburg. The Russians at large are not to
be made answerable for the transportation of coffles of nobles and
gentlemen to the silver mines of Siberia, and the regiments on the
frontier. It is only under a representative government that prisons, and
the treatment of criminals under the law, can be fairly considered a
test of the feelings of the majority.

It is too true, however, that punishments are almost everywhere
vindictive in their character; and have more relation to some supposed
principle of "not letting vice go unpunished," than either to the
security of society, or the reformation of the offender. The few
exceptions that exist are a far more conclusive testimony to an
advancing state of morals than the old methods are to the vindictiveness
of the mind of the society which they corrupt and deform. The
Philadelphia penitentiary is a proof of the thoughtful and laborious
humanity of those who instituted it; but Newgate cannot be regarded as
the expressed decision of the English people as to how criminals should
be guarded. Such a prison would not now be instituted by any civilized
nation. Its existence is to be interpreted, not as a token of the
cruelty and profligacy of the mind of society, but of its ignorance of
the case, or of its bigoted adherence to ancient methods, or of its
apathy in regard to improvements to which there is no peremptory call of
self-interest. Any one of these is enough, Heaven knows, for any
society to have to answer for; enough to yield, by contrast, surpassing
honour to the philanthropy which has pulled down the pillory, and is
labouring to supersede the hangman, and to convert every prison in the
civilized world into an hospital for the cure of moral disease. But the
reform has begun; the spirit of Howard is on its pilgrimage; and
barbarous as is still our treatment of the guilty, better days are in

What the traveller has to observe then is, first, whether there has been
any amelioration of the treatment of criminals in countries where the
people have a voice upon it: and, in countries despotically ruled,
whether public sentiment is moved about the condition of state
criminals, and whether men treat one another vindictively in their
appeals to the laws of citizenship: whether there is a Burmese cruelty
in the exercise of the legal rights of the creditor; whether there is a
reluctance to plunge others into the woes of legal penalties; or whether
offenders are considered as beyond the pale of sympathy. It may thus
appear whether the people entertain the pernicious notion that there is
a line drawn for human conduct, on one side of which all is virtue, and
on the other all vice; or whether they are approximating to the more
philosophical and genial belief that all wickedness is weakness and woe,
and that therefore the guilty need more care and tenderness in the
arrangement of the circumstances under which they live than those who
enjoy greater strength against temptation, and an ease of mind which
criminals can never know. In some parts of the United States this
general persuasion is remarkably evident, and is an incontestable proof
of the advanced state of morals there. In some prisons of the United
States, as much care is bestowed on the arrangements by which the guilty
are preserved from contaminating one another, are exposed to good
influences and precluded from bad, as in any infirmary on the
ventilation of the wards, and the diet and nursing of the sick. In such
a region, vindictiveness in social punishments must be going out, and
Christ-like views of human guilt and infirmity beginning to prevail.

The same conclusions may be drawn from an observation of the methods of
legal punishment. Recklessness of human life is one of the surest
symptoms of barbarism, whether life is taken by law or by assassination.
As men grow civilized, and learn to rate the spiritual higher and higher
above the physical life, human life grows sacred. The Turk orders off
the head of a slave almost without a serious thought. The New Zealanders
have murdered men by scores, to supply their dried and grinning heads to
English purchasers, who little imagined the cost at which they were
obtained. This is the way in which life is squandered in savage
societies. Up to a comparatively high point of civilization, the law
makes free with life, long after the private expenditure of it has been
checked or has ceased. Duels, brawls, assassinations, have nearly been
discontinued, and even war in some measure discountenanced, before the
law duly recognises the sacredness of human life. But the time comes.
One generation after another grows up with a still improving sense of
the majesty of life,--of the mystery of the existence of such a being as
man,--of the infinity of ideas and emotions in the mind of each, and of
the boundlessness of his social relations. These recognitions may not be
express; but they are sufficiently real to hold back the hand from
quenching life. The reluctance to destroy such a creation is found to be
on the increase. Men prefer suffering wrong to being accessary to so
fearful an act as what now appears a judicial murder: the law is left
unused,--is evaded,--and it becomes necessary to alter it. Capital
punishments are restricted,--are further restricted,--are abolished.
Such is the process. It is now all but completed in the United States:
it is advancing rapidly in England. During its progress further light is
thrown on the moral notions of a represented people by a change in the
character of other (called inferior) punishments. Bodily torments and
disfigurements go out. Torture and mutilation are discontinued, and
after a while the grosser mental inflictions. The pillory (as mere
ignominious exposure) was a great advance upon the maiming with which it
was once connected; but it is now discontinued as barbarous. All
ignominious exposure will ere long be considered equally
barbarous,--including capital punishment, of which such exposure is the
recommendatory principle. To refer once more to the Pennsylvania
case,--these notions of ignominious exposure are there so far outgrown,
that avoidance of it is the main principle of the management. Seclusion,
under the guardianship of the law, is there the method,--on the
principle of consideration to the weak, and of supreme regard to the
feeling of self-respect in the offender,--the feeling in which he is
necessarily most deficient. When we consider the brutalizing methods of
punishment in use in former times, and now in some foreign countries,
in contrast with the latest instituted and most successful, we cannot
avoid perceiving that such are indications of the moral notions of those
at whose will they exist, be they a council of despots, or an
association of nations. We cannot avoid perceiving from them what
barbarism is held to be justice in some ages and countries; and how that
which would then and there be condemned as culpable leniency, comes
elsewhere to be considered less than justice. The treatment of the
guilty is one of the strongest evidences as to the general moral notions
of society, when it is evidence at all; that is, when the guilty are in
the hands of society.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another species of evidence of which travellers are not in the
habit of making use, but which is well worth their attention,--the
Conversation of convicted Criminals. There are not many places in the
world where it is possible to obtain this, without a greater sacrifice
of comfort than the ordinary tourist is disposed to make. There is
little temptation to enter prisons where squalid wretches are crowded
together in dirt, noise, and utter profligacy; where no one of them
could speak seriously for fear of the ridicule of his comrades; where
the father sees his young son corrupted before his eyes, and the mother
utters cruel jests upon the frightened child that hides its face in her
apron. In scenes like these, there is nothing for the stranger to do and
to learn. The whole is one great falsehood, where the people are acting
falsely under false circumstances. It affords an enterprise for the
philanthropist, but no real knowledge for the observer. He may pass by
such places, knowing that they are pretty much alike in all countries
where they exist. Criminals herded together in virtue of their
criminality, and outraged into a diabolical hardihood, must present one
uniform aspect of disgust. What variety should there be in them? About
as much as in the leper settlements in the wildernesses of the world two
thousand years ago.

The traveller will not be permitted to see the state prisoners of any
despotic government; but wherever the subject of prison reform has been
entertained, (and Howard's spirit is at work in many countries of the
world,) there will probably be opportunity to converse with offenders in
a better way than by singling them out from the crowd, in a spirit of
condescension, and asking them a few questions, in the answers to which
you can place no confidence. If you can converse face to face with a
convict, as man with man, you can hardly fail to be instructed. If he
has been long deprived of equal conversation, his heart will be full;
his disposition will be to trust you; his impulse will be to confide to
you his offence, and all the details connected with it. By thus
conversing with a variety of offenders, you will be put in possession of
the causes of crime, of the views of society upon the relative gravity
of offences, and of the condition of hope or despair in which those are
left who have broken the laws, and are delivered over to shame.

Much light will also be thrown upon the seat of the disorders of
society. Putting political offences aside, as varying in number in
proportion to the nature of the government, almost all the rest are
offences against property. Nine out of ten convicts, perhaps, are
punished for taking the money or money's worth of another. Here is a
hint as to the respects in which society is most mistaken in its
principles, and weakest in its organization. Of the offences against the
person, some are occasioned by the bad habits which attend the practice
of depredation on property; thieves are drunkards, and drunkards are
brawlers:--but the greater number arise out of domestic miseries. Where
there are fewest assaults occasioned by conjugal injuries and domestic
troubles, the state of morals is the purest. Where they abound, it is
clear that the course of love does not run smooth; and that, from the
workings of some bad principles, domestic morals are in a low state. In
Austria and Prussia, state criminals abound; while in America such a
thing is rarely heard of. In America, a youthful and thriving country,
offences against property for the most part arise out of bad personal
habits, which again are occasioned by domestic misery of some kind; this
domestic misery, however, being itself less common than in an older
state of society. In England almost all the offences are against
property, and are so multitudinous as to warrant a stranger's conclusion
that the distribution of property among us must be extremely faulty, the
oppression of certain classes by others very severe, and our political
morals very low; in short, that the aristocratic spirit rules in
England. From the tales of convicts,--how they were reared, what was the
nature of the snares into which they fell, what opportunity of
retrieving themselves remained, and what was the character of the
influences which sank them into misery,--much cannot but be learned of
the moral atmosphere in which they were reared. From their present state
of mind,--whether they revert in affection to their homes, or to the
society from which they have been snatched,--whether they look forward
with hope or fear, or are incapable of looking forward at all,--it will
appear whether the justice and benevolence of the community have secured
the commonest blessings of moral life to these its lowest members, or
whether they have been utterly crushed by the selfishness of the society
into which they were born. To have criminals at all may in time come to
be a disgrace to a community; meantime, their number and quality are an
evidence as to its prevalent moral notions, which the intelligent
observer will not disregard.

       *       *       *       *       *

[H]"The SONGS of every nation must always be the most familiar and truly
popular part of its poetry. They are uniformly the first fruits of the
fancy and feeling of rude societies; and, even in the most civilized
times, are _the only_ poetry of the great body of the people. Their
influence, therefore, upon the character of a country has been
universally felt and acknowledged. Among rude tribes, it is evident that
their songs must, at first, take their tone from the prevailing
character of the people. But, even among them, it is to be observed
that, though generally expressive of the fiercest passions, they yet
represent them with some tincture of generosity and good feeling, and
may be regarded as the first lessons and memorials of savage virtue. An
Indian warrior, at the stake of torture, exults, in wild numbers, over
the enemies who have fallen by his tomahawk, and rejoices in the
anticipated vengeance of his tribe. But it is chiefly by giving
expression to the loftiest sentiments of invincible courage and
fortitude, that he seeks to support himself in the midst of his
torments. 'I am brave and intrepid!' he exclaims,--'I do not fear death
nor any kind of torture! He who fears them is a coward--he is less than
a woman. Death is nothing to him who has courage!' As it is thus the
very best parts of their actual character that are dwelt upon even in
the barbarous songs of savages, these songs must contribute essentially
to the progress of refinement, by fostering and cherishing every germ of
good feeling that is successively developed during the advancement of
society. When selfishness begins to give way to generosity,--when mere
animal courage is in some degree ennobled by feelings of patriotic
self-devotion,--and, above all, when sensual appetite begins to be
purified into love,--it is then that the popular songs, by acquiring a
higher character themselves, come to produce a still more powerful
reaction upon the character of the people. These songs, produced by the
most highly-gifted of the tribe,--by those who feel most strongly, and
express their feelings most happily,--convey ideas of greater elevation
and refinement than are as yet familiar; but not so far removed from the
ordinary habits of thinking as to be unintelligible. The hero who
devotes himself to death for the safety of his country, with a firmness
as yet almost without example in the actual history of the race,--and
the lover, who follows his mistress through every danger, and perhaps
dies for her sake,--become objects on which every one delights to dwell,
and models which the braver and nobler spirits are thus incited to
emulate. The songs of rude nations, accordingly, and those in which they
take most pleasure, are filled with the most romantic instances of
courage, fidelity, and generosity; and it cannot be supposed that such
delightful and elevating pictures of human nature can be constantly
before the eyes of any people, without producing a great effect on their
character. The same considerations are applicable to the effects of
popular ballads upon the most numerous classes of society, even in
civilized nations."

It appears that popular songs are both the cause and effect of general
morals: that they are first formed, and then react. In both points of
view they serve as an index of popular morals. The ballads of a people
present us, not only with vivid pictures of the common objects which are
before their eyes,--given with more familiarity than would suit any
other style of composition,--but they present also the most prevalent
feelings on subjects of the highest popular interest. If it were not so,
they would not have been popular songs. The traveller cannot be wrong in
concluding that he sees a faithful reflection of the mind of a people in
their ballads. When he possesses the popular songs of former centuries,
he holds the means of transporting himself back to the scenes of the
ancient world, and finds himself a spectator of its most active
proceedings. Wars are waged beneath his eye, and the events of the chase
grow to a grandeur which is not dreamed of now. Love, the passion of all
times, and the staple of all songs, varies in its expression among
every people and in every age, and appears still another and yet the
same. The lady of ballads is always worthy of love and song; but there
are instructive differences in the treatment she receives. Sometimes she
is oppressed by a harsh parent; sometimes wrongfully accused by a wicked
servant, or a false knight; sometimes her soft nature is exasperated
into revenge; sometimes she is represented as fallen, but always, in
that case, as enduring retribution. Upon the whole, the testimony is
strong in favour of bravery in men, and purity in women, and constancy
in both;--and this in the whole range of popular poetry, from ancient
Arabic effusions, through centuries of European song, up to the Indian
chants which may yet be heard on the shores of the wide western lakes.
The distinguishing attributes of great men bear a strong resemblance,
from the days when all Greece rang with the musical celebration of
Harmodius and Aristogiton, through the age of Charlemagne, up to the
triumphs of Bolivar: and women have been adored for the same qualities,
however variously set forth, from the virgin with gazelle eyes of three
thousand years ago, to the dames who witnessed the conflicts of the Holy
Land, and onwards to the squaw who calls upon her husband not to forget
her in the world of spirits, and to our Burns' Highland Mary.

What the traveller has to look to is, that he does not take one aspect
of the popular mind for the whole, or a temporary state of the popular
mind for a permanent one,--though, from the powerful action of national
song, this temporary state is likely to become a permanent one by its
means. As an instance of the first, the observer would be mistaken in
judging of more than a class of English from some of the best songs they
have,--Dibdin's sea songs. They are too fair a representation of the
single class to which they pertain, though they have done much to foster
and extend the spirit of generosity, simplicity, activity, gaiety, and
constant love, which they breathe. They have undoubtedly raised the
character of the British navy, and are to a great degree indicative of
the naval spirit with us: but they present only one aspect of the
national mind. In Spain, again, the songs with which the mountains are
ringing, and whose origin is too remote to be traced, are no picture of
the conventional mind of the aristocratic classes. As an instance of the
false conclusions which might be drawn from the popular songs of a brief
period, we may look to the revolutionary poetry of France. It would be
unfair to judge of the French people by their _ça ira_ or the
_Carmagnole_, however true an expression such songs may be of the spirit
of the hour. The nation had lived before under "une monarchie absolue
tempérée par des chansons;" the absolutism grew too galling; and then
the songs took the tone of fury which protracted oppression had bred. It
was not long before the tone was again changed. Napoleon was harassed on
his imperial throne by tokens of a secret understanding, unfriendly to
his interests: those tokens were songs ambiguously worded, or set to
airs which were used as signs; and treason, which he could not reach,
was perpetually spoken and acted within ear-shot and before his eyes.
When the royal family returned, the songs of De Béranger passed in like
manner from lip to lip, and the restored throne trembled to the echo. In
France, morals have for many years found their chief expression in
politics; and from the songs of Paris may the traveller learn the
political feelings of the time. Under representative governments, where
politics are the chief expression of morals, the songs of the people
cannot but be an instructive study to the observer; and scarcely less so
in countries where, politics being forbidden, the domestic and friendly
relations must be the topics through which the most general ideas and
feelings will flow out.

The rudest and the most advanced nations abound in songs. They are heard
under the plantain throughout Africa, as in the streets of Paris. The
boatmen on the Nile, and the children of Cairo on their way to school,
cheer the time with chants; as do the Germans in their vineyards, and in
the leisure hours of the university. The Negro sings of what he sees and
feels,--the storm coming over the woods, the smile of his wife, and the
coolness of the drink she gives him. The Frenchman sings the woes of the
state prisoner, and the shrewd self-cautionings of the citizen. The
songs of the Egyptian are amatory, and of the German varied as the
accomplishments of the nation,--but in their moral tone earnest and
pure. The more this mode of expression is looked into, the more
serviceable it will be found to the traveller's purposes of observation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The subject of the Literature of nations, as a means of becoming
familiar with their moral ideas, is too vast to be enlarged on here. The
considerations connected with it are so obvious, too, that the traveller
to whom they would not occur can be but little qualified for the work
of observing.

It is clear that we cannot know the mind of a nation, any more than of
an individual, by merely looking at it, without hearing any speech.
National literature is national speech. By this are its prevalent ideas
and feelings uttered. It is necessarily so; for books which do not meet
sympathy from numbers die immediately, and books which strike upon the
sympathies of all never die. Between the two extremes, of books which
command the sympathies of a class, and those which are the delight of
all, there is an extensive gradation, from which the careful observer
may almost frame for himself a scale of popular morals and manners. I
mean, of course, in countries where there is a copious classical, or a
growing modern literature. A people which happens to be without a
literature,--the Americans, for instance,--must be judged of, as
cautiously as may be, by such other means of utterance as they may
have,--the political institutions which the present generation has
formed or assented to,--their preferences in selection from the
literature of other countries; and so on. But there is a far greater
danger of their being misunderstood than there can ever be with regard
to a nation which speaks for itself through books. "A country which has
no national literature," writes a student of man, "or a literature too
insignificant to force its way abroad, must always be to its neighbours,
at least in every important spiritual respect, an unknown and
misestimated country. Its towns may figure on our maps; its revenues,
population, manufactures, political connexions, may be recorded in
statistical books: but the character of the people has no symbol and no
voice; we cannot know them by speech and discourse, but only by mere
sight and outward observation of their habits and procedure."[I]

The very fact of there being no literature in a nation may, however,
yield inferences as to its mental and moral state. There is a very
limited set of reasons why a people is without speech. They are
barbarous, or they are politically oppressed; or the nation is young,
and busy in providing and securing the means of national existence; or
it has the same language with another people, and therefore the full
advantage of its literature, as if it were not foreign. These seem to be
nearly all the reasons for national silence; and any one of them affords
some means of insight into the morals and manners of the dumb people.

As for those which have utterance, they either speak freshly from day to
day, or they show their principles and temper by the choice they make
from among their own classics. Whatever is most accordant with their
sympathies, they dwell upon; so that the selection is a sure indication
of what the popular sympathies are. The same may be said of the
comparative popularity of modern books; but they may reveal only a
temporary state of feeling, and the traveller has to separate this
species of evidence from the more important kind which testifies to the
permanent affections and convictions of a people. The revelling of the
French in Voltaire, of the Germans in Werter, and of the English in
Byron, was, in each case, a highly important revelation of popular
feeling; but it is not a circumstance from which to judge of the fixed
national character of any of the three. It was a sign of the times, and
not signs of nations. Voltaire pulled down certain erections which could
not stand any longer, and was worshipped as a denier of untruths,--the
popular mind being then ripe for the exploding of errors. But here ended
the vocation of Voltaire. The French are now busy, to the extent of
their energy, in doing what ought to follow upon the exposure of
errors;--they are searching after truth. Pretences having been
destroyed, they are now propounding and trying principles; and works
which propose new and sounder erections find favour in preference to
such as only expose and ridicule old sins and mistakes.--Werter was
popular because it expressed the universal restlessness and discontent
under which not only Germany, but Europe was suffering. Multitudes found
their uncomfortable feelings uttered for them; and Werter was, in fact,
the groan of a continent. Old superstitions, tyrannies, and ignorance
were becoming intolerable, and no way was seen out of them; and the
voice of complaint was hailed with universal sympathy. So it was with
the poetry of Byron, adopted and echoed as it was, and will for some
time continue to be, by the sufferers under an aristocratic constitution
of society, whether they be oppressed by force from without, or by
weariness, satiety, and disgust from within. The permanent state of the
English mind is not represented in Byron, and could not be guessed at
from his writings, except by inference from the woes of a particular
order of minds: but his popularity was an admirable sign of the times,
for such observers as were capable of interpreting it. Probably, in all
ages since the pen and the press began their work, literature has been
the expression of the popular mind; but it seems to have become
peculiarly forcible, as a general utterance, of late. Whatever truth
there may be in speculations about the growing infrequency of "immortal
works,"--about the age being past for the production of books which
shall become classics,--it appears that literature is assuming more and
more the character of letters written to those whom their subjects may
concern, and becoming more and more a familiar utterance of the general
mind of the day. In the popular modern works of Germany there is deep
and warm religious sentiment, while the most unflinching examination
into the philosophy and fact of revelation is widely encouraged. In
England, there is a growing taste for works which exhibit the life of
the lower orders of society, though all aristocratic prepossessions
appear in practice as strong as ever. This seems to indicate that our
philosophy has a democratic tendency under which a general opinion will
be formed, which will, in time, be expressed in practice. The French,
again, are devouring, at the rate of two new volumes every three days,
novels which are, in fact, letters to those whom they may concern on the
condition and prospects of men and women in society. The pictures are
something more than mere delineations. They carry with them principles
by which the position of the members of the community is to be tested.
The social position of Woman is a prominent topic. The first principles
of social organization are involved in the groundwork of the simplest
stories: and the universal reception of this product of literature shows
that those whom it concerns are all. What an enormous loss of knowledge
must the traveller sustain who omits to observe and reflect upon the
spirit of the fresh literature of a people, or of its preferences among
the literature of the past!

He must note whether a people has recent dramatic productions: if not,
whether and why the times are unfavourable to that kind of literature;
and if there is dramatic production, what are the pictures of life that
it presents.

He must obtain at least some general idea of what the mental philosophy
of the society is,--not so much because mental philosophy affects the
national mind, as because it emanates from it. Is it a gross material,
or a refined analytical, or a massy mystical philosophy? The first is
usually found in the sceptical stage of the mind of a nation; the last
in its healthy infancy; while the other is rarely to be found at all,
except as the product of an individual mind of a high order. Few
travellers will have occasion to give much attention to this part of
their task of observation; as, among all the nations of the earth, there
is not one in ten that has any mental philosophy at all.

All have Fiction (other than dramatic); and this must be one of the
observer's high points of view. There is no need to spend words upon
this proposition. It requires no proof that the popular fictions of a
people, representing them in their daily doings and common feelings,
must be a mirror of their moral sentiments and convictions, and of their
social habits and manners. The saying this is almost like offering an
identical proposition. The traveller should stock his carriage with the
most popular fictions, whether of the present day, or of a recent or
ancient time. He should fill up his leisure with them. He should
separate what they have that is congenial with his own habit of mind,
from that with which he can least sympathize, and search into the origin
of the latter. This will be something of a guide to him as to what is
permanent and universal in the sentiments and convictions of the people,
and what is to be regarded as a distinctive feature of the particular
society or time.

It is impossible but that, by the diligent use of these means, the
observer must learn much of the general moral notions of the people he
studies,--of what they approve and disapprove,--what they eschew and
what they seek,--what they love and hate, desire and fear;--of what, in
short, yields them most internal trouble or peace.



    "How lived, how loved, how died they?"

Geologists tell us that they can answer for the modes of life of the
people of any extensive district by looking at the geological map of the
region. Put a geological map of England before one who understands it,
and he will tell you that the inhabitants of the western parts, from
Cornwall, through Wales, and up through Cumberland into Scotland, are
miners and mountaineers; here living in clusters round the shaft of a
mine, and there sprinkled over the hills, and secluded in the valleys.
He will tell you that, on the middle portion of the surface, from
Devonshire, up through Leicestershire, to the Yorkshire coast, the wide
pastures are covered with flocks, while the people are collected into
large manufacturing towns; an ordinary map showing, at the same time,
that Kidderminster, Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, and Nottingham,
Sheffield, Huddersfield, and Leeds, with many others, lie in this
district. He will tell you that the third range, comprehending the
eastern part of the island, is studded with farms, and that tillage is
the great occupation and interest of the inhabitants.

The moralist might follow up the observations of the geologist with an
account of the general characteristics of societies engaged in these
occupations. He knows that a distinct intellectual and moral character
belongs to miners, to artisans, and to agriculturists; he knows that
miners are prone to superstition, and to speculation in business, from
the incalculable nature of their pursuits, the hap-hazard character of
their enterprises; he knows that an artisan population is active-minded,
communicative, capable and fond of concert; that among them is found the
greatest proportion of religious dissent and political sagacity, of
knowledge and its results in action. He knows that an agricultural
people are less of a society than the others; that they are as mentally
sluggish in comparison with operatives, as they are physically superior
to them; that they make far less use of speech; are more attached to
what is habitual and ancient, and have less enterprise and desire of
change. They are, in fact, the representatives of the past,--of feudal
times; while an artisan population is a prophecy of the future, and the
beginning of the fulfilment. The ideas of equal rights, of
representation of person as well as property, and all other democratic
notions, originate in towns, and chiefly in manufacturing towns. Loyalty
to the person rather than the function of rulers, pride in land and love
of it as the blessing of blessings, and jealousy of every other
interest, are found wherever corn springs up in the furrows, and there
are farm-houses to be miniature representations of the old feudal

Such are the general tendencies, modified according to circumstances.
There are influences which make certain artisans in England tories, and
certain landlords and tenants liberals; and there may be times and
places where whole societies may have their characteristics modified;
but there is rarely or never a complete departure from the general rule.
Landlords and their posse of tenants, called liberal, soon find a point
beyond which they cannot go, and from which they tend back into the
politics of their order; and there is often but a single step for tory
artisans into ultra-radicalism; it turns out to be a spurious toryism.
So it is possible that there might have been here and there a democrat
in La Vendée in 1793, and a sprinkling of royalists in Lyons in 1817.
Yet La Vendée and Linois may be taken as representatives of the two
kinds of society. The weaving population of Lyons are, like that of
manufacturing towns generally, disposed to irritability by physical
uneasiness, nourishing their ideas and feelings by communication,
suffering from the consequences of partial knowledge, having glimpses of
a better social state, and laying the blame of their adversities on a
deficiency of protection by the government; enterprising and nicely
skilled in the improvement of their articles of manufacture, and ever
full of aspiration. The inhabitants of La Vendée are so diametrically
opposite in their social circumstances and characteristics, that their
bias in politics is a matter of course. Here is a description of the
face of the district at the time that Lyons was as intensely republican
as La Vendée was royalist:--

"Only two great roads traversed this sequestered region, running nearly
parallel, at a distance of more than seventy miles from each other. The
country, though rather thickly peopled, contained, as may be supposed,
few large towns; and the inhabitants, devoted almost entirely to rural
occupations, enjoyed a great deal of leisure. The noblesse or gentry of
the country were very generally resident on their estates, where they
lived in a style of simplicity and homeliness which had long disappeared
from every other part of the kingdom. No grand parks, fine gardens, or
ornamented villas; but spacious clumsy chateaux, surrounded with farm
offices, and cottages for the labourers. Their manners and way of life,
too, partook of the same primitive rusticity. There was great
cordiality, and even much familiarity, in the intercourse of the
seigneurs with their dependants: they were followed by large trains of
them in their hunting expeditions, which occupied so great a part of
their time. Every man had his fowling-piece, and was a marksman of fame
or pretensions. The peasants resorted familiarly to their landlords for
advice, both legal and medical; and they repaid the visits in their
daily rambles, and entered with interest into all the details of their
agricultural operations. From all this there resulted a certain
innocence and kindliness of character, joined with great hardihood and
gaiety. Though not very well educated, the population were exceedingly
devout; though theirs was a kind of superstitious and traditional
devotion, it must be owned, rather than an enlightened or rational
faith. They had the greatest veneration for crucifixes and images of
their saints, and had no idea of any duty more imperious than that of
attending on all the solemnities of religion. They were singularly
attached also to their curés, who were almost all born and bred in the
country, spoke their _patois_, and shared in all their pastimes and
occupations. When a hunting-match was to take place, the clergyman
announced it from the pulpit after prayers, and then took his
fowling-piece and accompanied his congregation to the thicket."[J]

The chief contrasting features of these two kinds of society may be
recognized in all parts of the civilized world. The most intensely loyal
of the loyal Chinese will be found irrigating the terraces of the
mountains, or busy in the ploughing-matches of the plains; and the least
contented will be found at the loom. Spain is removed from a capacity
for social freedom just in proportion to the discouragement of
manufactures. The vine-growing districts of Germany are the most, and
the commercial towns the least, acquiescent in the rule under which they
are living. Russia will be despotically governed as long as she has no
manufactures; and England and the United States are rescued, by the full
establishment of their manufactures, from all danger of a retrogradation
towards feudalism.

The way in which these considerations concern us in this place is, that
public and private morals, no less than manners, depend on the degree of
feudalism which is left in the community. We have spoken before of the
morals of the feudal and democratic states of society; and what we are
now pointing out is, that these states, with their attendant morals and
manners, may be discerned from the face of the country, and the
consequent occupations of its inhabitants.

It appears as if a geological map might be a useful guide to the
researches of the moralist,--an idea which would have appeared insanely
ridiculous half a century ago, but now reasonable enough. If the
traveller be no geologist, so that he cannot, by his own observation,
determine the nature of the soil, and thence infer, for his general
guidance, the employments and mental and moral state of the people, he
must observe the face of the country along the road he travels. He will
do better still by mounting any eminences which may be within reach,
whether they be churches, pillars, pyramids, pagodas, baronial castles
on rocks, or peaks of mountains; thence he should look abroad, from
point to point, through the whole region, and mark out what he sees
spread beneath him. Are there pastures extended to the horizon, with
herdsmen and flocks sprinkled over them, and in the midst a cloud of
smoke overhanging a town, from which roads part off in many directions?
Or is it a scene of shadowy mountains, with streams leaping from their
fissures, and no signs of human habitation but the machinery of a mine,
with rows of dwellings near heaps of piled rubbish? Or is the whole
intersected with fences, and here dark with fallows, there yellow with
corn, while farmsteads terminate the lanes, and the dwellings and
grounds of rich proprietors are seen at intervals, with each a hamlet
resting against its boundaries? Is this the kind of scene, whether the
great house be called mansion, or chateau, or villa, or schloss; whether
the produce be corn, or grapes, or tea, or cotton? A person gifted with
a precocity of science in the twelfth century might have prophesied what
is now happening from the picture stretched beneath him as he gazed
from an eminence on the banks of the Don or the Calder. He might see,
with the bodily eye, only

    "Meadows trim with daisies pied,
     Shallow brooks and rivers wide,"

with clusters of houses in the far distance, and Robin Hood with his
merry men lurking in the thickets of the forest, or basking under the
oaks: but with the prophetic eye of science he might discern the
multitudes that were, in course of time, to be living in Sheffield or
Huddersfield; the stimulus that would be given to enterprise, the
thronging of merchants to this region, the physical sufferings, the
moral pressure, that must come; the awakening of intelligence, and the
arousing of ambition. In the real scene, a cloud-shadow might be passing
over a meadow; in the ideal, a smoke-cloud would be resting upon a
hundred thousand human beings. In the real scene, a warbling lark might
be springing from the grass; in the ideal, a singer[K] of a higher order
might appear remonstrating with feudalism from amidst the roar of the
furnace-blast and the din of the anvil; and then, when his complaint of
social oppression is done, starting forwards to the end of all, and
singing the requiem of the world itself.

      "Whose trade is poaching. Honest Jem works not,
    Begs not; but thrives by plundering beggars here.
    Wise as a lord, and quite as good a shot,
    He, like his betters, lives in hate and fear,
    And feeds on partridge because bread is dear.
    Sire of six sons apprenticed to the jail,
    He prowls in arms, the Tory of the night;
    With them he shares his battles and his ale;
    With him they feel the majesty of might."
    "He reads not, writes not, thinks not; scarcely feels:
    Steals all he gets; serves Hell with all he steals."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Yes, and the sail-less worlds which navigate
    Th' unutterable deep that hath no shore,
    Will lose their starry splendour soon or late,
    Like tapers quenched by Him whose will is fate!
    Yes, and the angel of Eternity,
    Who numbers worlds and writes their names in light,
    One day, O Earth, will look in vain for thee,
    And start, and stop in his unerring flight;
    And with his wings of sorrow and affright
    Veil his impassioned brow and heavenly tears!"

Somewhat in the same way as such a supposed philosophic observer might
be imagined to foresee that democratic strains of remonstrance would
here succeed to foresters' and freebooters' songs, may a well-qualified
observer of the present day discern the interior mechanism and the
remote issues of what lies beneath his eyes. While surveying the vast
prairies on the banks of the deep rivers of the Western world, he may
safely anticipate the time when self-governing communities will swarm
where now a settler's log-house and enclosure are the only break in the
wide surface of verdure. While looking down upon the harvests of
Volhynia, or watching the processions of wagons laden with corn, and
slowly wending their way down to Odessa, he may securely conclude that
no vivacious artisan population will enliven this region for a long time
to come; that the inhabitants will continue attached to the despotism
under which they live; and that the morals of a despotism--the morals
which coexist with gross ignorance and social subservience--may be
looked for and found for at least an age.

Some preparation may thus be made by a glance over the face of the
country. Much depends on whether it is flat or mountainous, pasture or
arable land. It appears from fact, too, that much depends on minor
circumstances,--even on whether it is damp or dry. It is amusing to the
traveller in Holland to observe how new points of morals spring up out
of its swamps, as in the East from the dryness of the deserts. To injure
the piles on which the city is built, is at Amsterdam a capital offence;
and no inhabitant could outgrow the shame of tampering with the
vegetation by which the soil of the dykes is held together. While Irish
children are meritoriously employed in gathering rushes to make candles,
and sedges for thatch, "the veriest child in Holland would resent as an
injury any suspicion that she had rooted up a sedge or a rush, which had
been planted to strengthen the embankments."[L] Such are certain points
of morals in a country where water is the great enemy. In the East,
where drought is the chief foe, it is a crime to defile or stop up a
well, and the greatest of social glories is to have made water flow
where all before was dry. In Holland, a malignant enemy cuts the dyke,
as the last act of malice: in Arabia, he fills up the wells. In Holland,
a distinct sort of moral feeling seems to have grown up about
intemperance in drink. The humidity of the climate, and the scarcity of
clear, wholesome water, obliges the inhabitants to drink much of other
liquids. If moderation in them were not made a point of conscience of
the first importance, the consequences of their prevalent use would be
dreadful. The success of this particular moral effort is great.
Drunkenness is almost as rare in Holland as carelessness in keeping
accounts, and tampering with the dykes. There is no country in the world
whose morals have more clearly grown out of its circumstances than
Holland. On the theory of an infallible Moral Sense, it would be as
difficult to account for a Dutchman's tenderness of conscience on any of
the above three heads, as for a soldier's agony at the imputation of
sleeping upon guard, or an Alabama planter's resentment at being charged
with putting the alphabet in the way of a mulatto.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having noted the aspect of the country, the observer's next business is
to ascertain the condition of the inhabitants as to the supply of the
Necessaries of life. He knows that nothing remains to be learned of the
domestic morals of people who are plunged in hopeless poverty. There is
no foundation for good morals among such. They herd together, desperate
or depressed; they have no prospect; their self-respect is prostrated;
they have nothing to lose, there is nothing for them to gain by any
effort that they can make.--But it is needless to speak of this. When we
treat of the domestic morals of any class, it is always presupposed that
they are not in circumstances which render total immorality almost

In agricultural districts, the condition of the inhabitants may be
learned by observation of the markets. An observing traveller has said,
"To judge at once of a nation, we have only to throw our eyes on the
markets and the fields. If the markets are well supplied, the fields
well cultivated, all is right. If otherwise, we may say, and say truly,
these people are barbarous and oppressed."[M] This, though a rather
sweeping judgment, is founded in truth, and is well worthy of being
borne in mind in travelling. It so happens that the negroes of Hayti are
abundantly supplied with the necessaries, and with many of the comforts
of life; that they are by no means barbarous, and far from being
oppressed; and yet they have few roads, and scarcely any markets. They
grow up in the midst of plenty; but, when a countryman is about to kill
a hog, he sends his son round among his neighbours on horseback, to give
notice to any who wish for pork, to send for it on a certain day. Their
wretched, barbarous, oppressed countrymen in South Carolina, meanwhile,
have excellent markets. The Saturday night's market at Charleston might
beguile a careless foreigner into the belief that those who throng it
are a free and prosperous people. Thus the rule above quoted does not
always hold. Yet it is true that the existence and good quality of
markets testify to the existence and good quality of other desirable

Where markets are abundantly and variously supplied, it is clear that
there must be a large demand for the comforts of life, and a diversity
of domestic wants. It is clear that there must be industry to meet this
demand, and competence to justify it. There must be social security, or
the industry and competence would not be put to so hazardous a use. It
_may_ happen, as at Charleston, that the capital is the masters' (whose
the profits may also be, at any moment); that the industry is called
forth by a delusive hope; and that the briskness of the transactions at
market is ascribable to the pleasure slaves have in social meetings; but
better things may usually be inferred from a well-supplied and
well-conducted market.

       *       *       *       *       *

The traveller's other researches in agricultural regions will be into
the Tenure of lands,--whether they are held in small separate
properties;--whether such properties are held by individuals, or shared
with any kind of partners;--whether portions are rented from landlords;
and, if so, whether any order of middlemen are concerned in the
business;--whether the land is chiefly held by large owners; and, if so,
whether the labourers are attached to the soil under feudal
arrangements, or whether they are free labourers working for wages.

The homes of the agricultural population will be found to vary in aspect
as any one of these systems prevails. In young and prosperous countries,
the system of small separate properties is found to conduce to
independence and the virtues which result from it, though it is not
favourable to knowledge and enlightenment. Families live much to
themselves; and thus, while forming strong domestic attachments, they
lose sight of what is going on in the world. They become unused to the
light of society, and get to dislike and fear it. The labourers, in such
case, usually live with the family, whether they be brothers, as often
happens in Switzerland; sons, as in many a farm-house of the United
States; or hired servants, as in former times in England,--and still in
some retired parts. In each case the picture is easily filled in by the
imagination. All are engaged, throughout the year, in the business of
living. The work is never ending, still beginning; or, if it has
intervals, they are dull and weary, from the absence of interests
wherewith to occupy them. The employments of life are innocent, and the
principle of association is harmless; but if there be ignorance and
prejudice in the region, in these farm-houses will they be found; and in
company with them morals of a high order are not to be looked for.

If small properties are held in partnership, poverty is present or
threatening. The condition of affairs cannot be lasting; and this may be
well; for narrow means and partnership in a property which requires to
be managed by skill are more favourable to discontent and disagreement
than to a kindly social state.

The middleman system is favourable or unfavourable to morals, just in
proportion as it is so to prosperity. Every one knows the wretchedness
of it in Ireland, and that there are numerous instances in Italy of the
complete success of the métayer plan.

Where the land is the property of large owners, and is tilled by
labourers, there must be more or less of the feudal temper and manners
remaining. Where the labourers are attached to the soil, there must
necessarily exist whatever good arises from the certainty of the means
of subsistence, coupled with the evils of subservience to the will of
the lord, mental sluggishness, and ignorance. Where they are not
irremovably attached to the soil, habit and helplessness have usually
much of the same effect. The son hedges, ditches, or ploughs where his
father hedged, ditched, or ploughed; he takes his beer, or cider, or
thin wine, (according to the country he lives in,) at the same house of
entertainment, and gossips about the doings of the lord and his family,
much as labourers were wont to gossip two hundred years ago.

It is the business of the traveller to note which mode of agricultural
life prevails, and how the morals which pertain to it are modified by
particular circumstances.

       *       *       *       *       *

He must make the same kind of observations on the Manufacturing and
Commercial Classes of the country he visits. Here again the chief
differences in morals and manners arise out of the comparative
prosperity or adversity of the class. Take the cotton manufacture.
Passing by the Chinese operative plying his shuttle as he sits under his
bamboo shed, and the Hindoo drawing out his fine thread under the shade
of the palm, what differences there are among artisans of the same
race,--Europeans and of European extraction! In Massachusetts there are
villages of artisans, where whole streets of houses are their property;
the church on the green in the midst is theirs; the Lyceum, with its
library and apparatus, is theirs. There are rows of neat
frame-dwellings, painted white or yellow, with piazzas before and
behind, and Venetian blinds to every window,--all growing up out of the
earnings of girls, who bring their widowed mothers to preside over their
establishments. Others are paying off the mortgages on their fathers'
farms. Others are procuring for their brothers a learned education in a
college. In the cotton settlements of Europe what a contrast! At the
best, operatives can only provide for their wants, and the placing out
of their children, by a life of strenuous toil. At the worst, they herd
together, many families in one house,--often in one room; decency is
discarded; recklessness succeeds, to such a degree that, in certain
sections of the society, there is scarcely a man of thirty-five who is
not a grandfather. Among such there is a barbarism as savage as among
the most vicious aristocracy of the worst feudal times. The lowest
artisan population of the present day may vie in corruption with the
noblesse of France on the eve of the first revolution. It is for the
traveller to observe what grade in the wide interval between the
operatives of Massachusetts, and those of Lyons and Stockport, is
occupied by the artisans of the places he visits.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon the extent of the Commerce of a country depends much of the
character of its morals. Old virtues and vices dwindle away, and new
ones appear. The old members of a rising commercial society complain of
the loss of simplicity of manners, of the introduction of new wants, of
the relaxation of morals, of the prevalence of new habits. The young
members of the same society rejoice that prudery is going out of
fashion, that gossip is likely to be replaced by the higher kind of
intercourse which is introduced by strangers, and by an extension of
knowledge and interests: they even decide that domestic morals are purer
from the general enlargement and occupation of mind which has succeeded
to the _ennui_ and selfishness in which licentiousness often originates.
A highly remarkable picture of the two conditions of the same place may
be obtained by comparing Mrs. Grant's account of the town of Albany, New
York, in her young days,[N] with the present state of the city. She
tells us of the plays of the children on the green slope which is now
State Street; of the tea-drinkings and working parties, of the gossip,
bickerings, and virulent petty enmities of the young society, with its
general regularity and occasional back-sliding; with the gentle
despotism of its opulent members, and the more or less restive or
servile obedience of the subordinate personages. In place of all this,
the stranger now sees a city with magnificent public buildings, and
private houses filled with the products of all the countries of the
world. The inhabitants are too busy to be given to gossip, too
unrestrained in their intercourse with numbers to retain much prudery:
social despotism and subservience have become impossible: there is a
generous spirit of enterprise, an enlargement of knowledge, an
amelioration of opinion. There is, on the other hand, perhaps a decrease
of kindly neighbourly regard, and certainly a great increase of the low
vices which are the plague of commercial cities. Such is the
transformation wrought by commerce. An observer who can also
speculate,--one who looks before and after,--will conclude that, amidst
some evil, the change is advantageous; and that good must, on the whole,
arise from enlarged intercourses between men and societies. Seeing in
commerce the instrument by which all the inhabitants of the earth are in
time to be brought into common possession of all true ideas, and
sympathy in all good feelings, he will mark the progress made by the
society he visits towards this end. He will mark whether its merchants
as a body have a spirit of generous enterprise or of sordid
self-interest; whether they entertain a respect for learning and a taste
for art,--bringing the one from abroad, and cherishing the other at
home;--whether, in short, the merchants are the princes or the
money-grubbers of the community. The spirit of this class will determine
that of their subordinates. If the masters of commerce are liberal and
enlightened, their servants will be thriving, and will have the virtues
which wait upon self-respect: if the contrary, they will be debased. A
Jewish money-lender is no more like a merchant of Salem or Bourdeaux
than Malay porters at Macao are like the clerk class of Amsterdam. In
the mercantile orders of society may be found the extremes of honour,
generosity, diligence, and accuracy,--and of treachery, meanness, and
selfish carelessness. It is the traveller's business to note the
tendencies to the one or the other,--from the vexatious hog and yam
traffic of the islands of the South Sea, to the magnificent transactions
of the traders of Hamburgh.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Health of a community is an almost unfailing index of its morals. No
one can wonder at this who considers how physical suffering irritates
the temper, depresses energy, deadens hope, induces recklessness, and,
in short, poisons life. The domestic affections, too, are apt to
languish through disappointment in countries where the average of death
is very high. There is least marriage in unhealthy countries, and most
in healthy ones,--other circumstances being equal. The same kind of
spirit (however largely diluted) prevails in sickly regions as in
societies which are visited by a pestilence. Study the tempers of the
people who are subject to goîtres, of those who live in marshes, of
those who encounter an annual tropical fever; and contrast it with that
of dwellers on mountains, and in dry prairies, and in well-ventilated
towns. What selfishness, apathy, and discontent in the one class! and
what kindliness, briskness, and cheerfulness in the other! In the United
States, wide spreading as the country is, and comprehending every
variety of people, and almost of climate, the common deficiency of
health produces moral effects which must strike the most careless
traveller. The epicurean temper of the south, and the puritanic mood of
the north, are alike stimulated by this. In the south, the overseers,
whose business it is to encounter the fever, seem to be always
practically saying, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." There
is a recklessness among the trading classes there, a heathen levity and
grossness, which are doubtless in a great degree owing to the presence
of slavery, but also in part to the certainty of a very large annual
mortality. Not the purest Christianity itself could preserve a people so
placed from a more or less modified fatalism. The richer members of
society leave their homes for some months of every year, and go
northwards; and this perpetual unsettling of their families has a bad
effect upon the habits of the young people and the comfort of their
parents. It operates against domestic diligence, tranquillity, and
satisfaction with home pleasures. In the north, there is a perpetual
preaching about death, enforced by the never-ceasing recurrence of it;
but it has not the effect of making people less worldly-minded than
others. It serves only to shade life with apprehension, uncertainty, and
bereavement; and, it is to be feared, to give to the vanity of many
minds the direction of false heroism about meeting death. This seems too
serious a subject for the exercise of human vanity; yet that purpose it
has served, perhaps, in all societies; and in none more than in New
England. The greater number of very young people, everywhere, who cannot
be aware of the importance of life, and of the simplicity of death as
its close, have romantic thoughts about dying early; and, in a country
where an unusual proportion do die early, this species of vain-glory is
likely to flourish. The pain felt everywhere by really enlarged and
religious minds on seeing a false resignation exhibited, and hearing
shallow sentimentalities given out on the brink of the grave, is
peculiarly felt in a region where mourning mothers may be seen who have
lost eight, twelve, or fifteen children, and where scarcely an
enterprise of any extent can be undertaken which is not almost sure to
be interrupted or baffled by sickness or death.--When these
considerations are dwelt upon, and when it is remembered what the
consequences of a low state of health must be to each future generation,
it seems scarcely extravagant to say that the best influence upon the
morals of the American nation would be such as might improve their

Good and bad health are both cause and effect of good and bad morals. No
proof of this is needed, nor any further dwelling upon the proposition.
The fact, however, points out to the observer the duty of obtaining a
correct general estimate of the health of the community he visits.

There are two principal methods by which he may obtain the knowledge he
wants,--by examining civic registers, and by visiting burial-grounds.

A faithful register of births, marriages, and deaths, is wished for by
enlightened philanthropists of all advanced countries, far more as a
test of national morals and the national welfare, than as a matter of
the highest social convenience. For this the physiologist waits as the
means of determining the physical condition of the nation; as a guide to
him in suggesting and prescribing the methods by which the national
health may be improved, and the average of life prolonged.--For this the
legislator waits as the means of determining the comparative proneness
of the people to certain kinds of social offences, and the causes of
that proneness; that the law may be framed so as to include (as all wise
laws should include) the largest preventive influence with the greatest
certainty of retribution.--For this the philanthropist waits as a guide
to him in forming his scheme of universal education; and without
this,--without knowing how many need education altogether,--how many
under one set of circumstances, and how many under another,--he can
proceed only in darkness, or amidst the delusions of false lights. He is
only perplexed by the partial knowledge, which is all that his utmost
efforts enable him to obtain. If he goes into every house of every town
and village in his district, he is no nearer to an understanding of the
intellectual and moral condition of the nation than he was before: for
other districts have a different soil and different occupations; the
employments of the people, their diseases and their resources, are
unlike; and, under these diverse influences, their physical, and
therefore moral and intellectual condition, must vary. The reports of
Philanthropic Societies do little more for him, drawn up as they are
with partial objects and under exclusive influences: parliamentary
disclosures are of little more use. Vague statements about the increase
of drunkenness, resistance to one kind of law or another, alarm and
distress him; but such statements again are partial, and so often
brought forward for a particular object, that they afford no safe guide
to him who would form a general preventive or remedy. Thus it is under
all partial methods of observation; but when the philanthropist shall
gain access to a register of the national births, marriages, and deaths,
he will have under his hand all the materials he requires, as completely
as if he were hovering over the kingdom, comprehending all its districts
in one view, and glancing at will into all its habitations.

The comparative ages of the dead will indicate to him not only the
amount of health, but the comparative force of various species of
disease; and from the character of its diseases, and the amount of its
health, much of the moral state of a people may be safely pronounced
upon. The proportion of marriages to births and deaths is always an
indication of the degree of comfort enjoyed, and of the consequent
purity of morals; and, therefore, of the degree in which education is
present or needed. A large number of children, and a large proportion of
marriages, indicate physical and moral welfare, and therefore a
comparative prevalence of education. A large number of births, and a
small proportion of marriages, indicate the reverse. When these
circumstances are taken in connexion with the prevailing occupations of
the district to which they relate, the philanthropist has arrived at a
sufficient certainty as to the means of education required, and the
method in which they are to be applied.

There is, unfortunately, in all countries, an insufficiency of records
framed for the purpose of induction, and subsequent practical use. The
chief of a tribe, proud in proportion to his barbarian insignificance,
may from time to time indulge himself by numbering the people whom he
considers as his property; and an ambitious and warlike emperor may
organize a conscription; and these records may remain to fulfil
hereafter far more exalted purposes than those for which they were
designed: but these instances are few; and in the art of constructing
tables, and ascertaining averages, the most civilized people are still,
for want of practice, in a state of unskilfulness. But, in the absence
of that which would spare observers the task of ascertaining results for
themselves, they must take the best they can get. A traveller must
inquire for any public registers which may exist in all districts, and
note and reflect upon the facts he finds there. In case of there being
none such, it is possible that the physicians of the district may be
able to afford information from private documents of the same nature. If
not, there remain the cemeteries.

The calculators of longevity believe that they may now, by taking down
the dates from the first thirty tombstones in the cemeteries of the
districts they pass through, learn the comparative healthiness and
length of life of the inhabitants of the country. However this may be,
there is no doubt that a large variety and extent of information may be
thus obtained. The observer can ascertain where the fatal diseases of
infancy most prevail,--which is the same thing as knowing that the
physical and moral condition of the people is low; as a large proportion
(not mere number) of deaths in infancy is a most unfavourable symptom of
society. He can ascertain where consumption prevails, where fever, and
where the largest proportion attains to length of days. It is much to
know what character disease and death wear in any district. One
character of Morals and Manners prevails where the greater number die
young, and another where they die old; one where they are cut off by
hardship; another where they waste away under a lingering disease; and
yet another where they abide their full time, and then come to their
graves like a shock of corn in its season. The grave-yards on the
heights of the Alleghanies will tell a different tale of Morals and
Manners from the New Orleans' cemetery, glaring in the midst of the
swamp; and so would the burial-places in the suburbs of Irish cities,
if their contents were known, from those of the hardy Waldenses, or of
the decent and thriving colonists of Frederick's-oord.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Marriage compact is the most important feature of the domestic state
on which the observer can fix his attention. If he be a thinker, he will
not be surprised at finding much imperfection in the marriage state
wherever he goes. By no arrangements yet attempted have purity of
morals, constancy of affection, and domestic peace been secured to any
extensive degree in society. Almost every variety of method is still in
use, in one part of the world or another. The primitive custom of
brothers marrying sisters still subsists in some Eastern regions.
Polygamy is very common there, as every one knows. In countries which
are too far advanced for this, every restraint of law, all sanction of
opinion, has been tried to render the natural method,--the restriction
of one husband to one wife,--successful, and therefore universal and
permanent. Law and opinion have, however, never availed to anything like
complete success. Even in thriving young countries, where no
considerations of want, and few of ambition, can interfere with domestic
peace,--where the numbers are equal, where love has the promise of a
free and even course, and where religious sentiment is directed full
upon the sanctity of the marriage state,--it is found to be far from
pure. In almost all countries, the corruption of society in this
department is so deep and wide-spreading, as to vitiate both moral
sentiment and practice in an almost hopeless degree. It neutralizes
almost all attempts to ameliorate and elevate the condition of the
race.--There must be something fearfully wrong where the general result
is so unfortunate as this. As in most other cases of social suffering,
the wrong will be found to lie less in the methods ordained and put in
practice, than in the prevalent sentiment of society, out of which all
methods arise.

It is necessary to make mention (however briefly) of the kinds of false
sentiment from which the evil of conjugal unhappiness appears to
spring.--The sentiment by which courage is made the chief ground of
honour in men, and chastity in women, coupled with the inferiority in
which women have ever been sunk, was sure to induce profligacy. As long
as men were brave nothing more was required to make them honourable in
the eyes of society: while the inferior condition of women has ever
exposed those of them who were not protected by birth and wealth to the
profligacy of men.--The shallowness of the sentiment of honour is
another great evil. In its origin, honour includes self-respect and the
respect of others. In time, "from its intimate connexion with what is
personal in interest and feeling, it is greatly exposed to degenerate
into a false and misguiding sentiment. Connecting itself with the
notions of character which prevail by chance in the community, rather
than with the rule of right and of God, it has erected a false standard
of estimate." The requisitions of honour come to be viewed as regarding
only equals, or those who are hedged about with honour, and they are
neglected with regard to the helpless. Men of honour use treachery with
women,--with those to whom they promise marriage, and with those to
whom, in marrying, they promised fidelity, love, and care; and yet their
honour is, in the eyes of society, unstained.--Feudal ambition is
another sentiment fraught with evil to marriage. In a society where
pride and ostentation prevail, where rank and wealth are regarded as
prime objects of pursuit, marriage comes to be regarded as a means of
obtaining these. Wives are selected for their connexions and their
fortune, and the love is placed elsewhere.--Any one of these corrupt
species of sentiment, and of some others which exist, must ruin domestic
peace, if the laws of each country were as wise as they are now, for the
most part, faulty, and as powerful as they are now ineffectual.--If the
traveller will bear these things in mind, he will gain light upon the
moral sentiment of the society by the condition of domestic life in it;
and again, what he knows of the prevalent moral sentiment of the society
will cast light upon the domestic condition of its members.

Another thing to be carefully remembered is, that asceticism and
licentiousness universally coexist. All experience proves this; and
every principle of human nature might prophesy the proof. Passions and
emotions cannot be extinguished by general rules. Self-mortification can
spring only out of a home-felt principle, and not from the will of
another, or of any number of others. The exhibition only can be
restrained, and the visible conduct ordered by rule. In consequence, it
is found that no greater impurity of mind exists than among associated
ascetics; and nowhere are crimes of the licentious class so gross, other
circumstances being equal, as in communities which have the puritanic
spirit. Any one well-informed on the subject is aware that there is much
coarseness in the manners of the Quakers; and their regard for the
pleasures of the table is open to the observation of all. Nowhere are
drunkenness and infanticide more disgusting and horrible, when they do
occur, than in Calvinistic Scotland. The bottomless corruption of Vienna
is notorious; and much of it is traceable to a species of political
asceticism,--to artificial restrictions other than religious, but
producing similar effects. Politics are a forbidden topic of
conversation. Under this rule, literature is a forbidden topic too; for
literary and philosophical necessarily induces political communication.
In Vienna may be seen the singular spectacle of an assembled multitude
who read, not one of whom opens his lips upon books, or their subject
matter. What then remains? Gallantry. The intellect being silenced, the
passions run riot; and the excessive corruption of the society,--a
corruption which is notorious over the civilized world,--is the natural
consequence. It may safely be assumed that wherever artificial
restraints are imposed on the passions, or on the intellects and
pursuits of men, there must be licentiousness, precisely proportioned to
the severity of the restraint.

Celibacy of the clergy, or of any other class of men, involves
polygamy, virtual if not avowed, in some other class. To this the
relaxation of domestic morals in the higher orders of all Catholic
societies bears testimony as strongly as the existence of allowed
polygamy in India. It is everywhere professed that Christianity puts
an end to polygamy; and so it does, as Christianity is understood in
Protestant countries; but a glance at the state of morals in countries
where celibacy is the religion of the clergy,--among the higher ranks
in Italy, in France, in Spain,--shows that, while the name of polygamy
is disclaimed, the thing is held in no great abhorrence. This is
mentioned here simply as matter of fact, necessary to our inquiry as to
how to observe morals and manners. It is notorious that, wherever
celibacy is extensively professed, there is not only, as a consequence,
a frequent breach of profession, but a much larger indulgence extended
to other classes, in consequence of the restrictions on one. The methods
of marriage in Italy and France,--the disposing of the woman at an early
age, and before she is capable of giving an enlightened consent,--often
even without the form of asking her consent,--on the understanding,
tacit or avowed, that she may hereafter place her affections
elsewhere,--these proceedings could have been adopted, could now be
persevered in, only in countries where partial asceticism had induced a
corresponding licentiousness.--The same fact,--the invariable proportion
of asceticism and licentiousness,--exists where by some it would be
least looked for,--in societies which have the reputation of being
eminently pure; and this consideration is sufficient to extinguish all
boasting, all assumption of unquestionable moral superiority in one
people over another. It is not only that each nation likes its own
notions of morals better than those of its neighbours; but that the
very same things which are avowed among those who are called the
grossest, happen with that which considers itself the most pure. Such
superiority as there is is owing, perhaps, in no case to severity of
religious sentiment and discipline, but rather to the worldly ease which
blesses a young and thinly peopled country, and to the high cultivation
of a society which furnishes its members with an extraordinary diversity
of interests and pursuits.

Marriage exists everywhere, to be studied by the moral observer. He must
watch the character of courtships wherever he goes;--whether the young
lady is negociated for and promised by her guardians, without having
seen her intended; like the poor girl who, when she asked her mother to
point out her future husband from among a number of gentlemen, was
silenced with the rebuke, "What is that to you?"--or whether they are
left free to exchange their faith "by flowing stream, through wood, or
craggy wild," as in the United States;--or whether there is a medium
between these two extremes, as in England. He must observe how fate is
defied by lovers in various countries. We have seen what was the
acquiescence of Philip and Hannah in their eternal separation. None but
Moravians, perhaps, would have so parted for ever. Scotch lovers agree
to come together after so many years spent in providing the
"plenishing." Irish lovers conclude the business, in case of difficulty,
by appearing before the priest the next morning. There is recourse to a
balcony and rope-ladder in one country; a steam-boat and back-settlement
in another; trust and patience in a third; and intermediate
flirtations, to pass the time, in a fourth. He must note the degree of
worldly ambition which attends marriages, and which may therefore be
supposed to stimulate them,--how much space the house with two rooms in
humble life, and the country-seat and carriages in higher life, occupy
in the mind of bride or bridegroom.--He must observe whether conjugal
infidelity excites horror and rage, or whether it is so much a matter of
course as that no jealousy interferes to mar the arrangements of mutual
convenience.--He must mark whether women are made absolutely the
property of their husbands, in mind and in estate; or whether the wife
is treated more or less professedly as an equal party in the
agreement.--He must observe whether there is an excluded class, victims
to their own superstition or to a false social obligation, wandering
about to disturb by their jealousy or licentiousness those whose lot is
happier.--He must observe whether there are domestic arrangements for
home enjoyments, or whether all is planned on the supposition of
pleasure lying abroad; whether the reliance is on books, gardens, and
play with children, or on the opera, parties, the ale-house, or dances
on the green.--He must mark whether the ladies are occupied with their
household cares in the morning, and the society of their husbands in the
evening, or with embroidery and looking out of balconies; with receiving
company all day, or gadding abroad; with the library or the nursery;
with lovers or with children.--In each country, called civilized, he
will meet with almost all these varieties: but in each there is such a
prevailing character in the aspect of domestic life, that intelligent
observation will enable him to decide, without much danger of mistake,
as to whether marriage is merely an arrangement of convenience, in
accordance with low morals, or a sacred institution, commanding the
reverence and affection of a virtuous people. No high degree of this
sanctity can be looked for till that moderation is attained which,
during the prevalence of asceticism and its opposite, is reached only by
a few. That it yet exists nowhere as the characteristic of any
society,--that all the blessings of domestic life are not yet open to
all, so as to preclude the danger of any one encroaching on his
neighbour,--is but too evident to the travelled observer. He can only
mark the degree of approximation to this state of high morals wherever
he goes.

The traveller everywhere finds woman treated as the inferior party in a
compact in which both parties have an equal interest. Any agreement thus
formed is imperfect, and is liable to disturbance; and the danger is
great in proportion to the degradation of the supposed weaker party. The
degree of the degradation of woman is as good a test as the moralist can
adopt for ascertaining the state of domestic morals in any country.

The Indian squaw carries the household burdens, trudging in the dust,
while her husband on horseback paces before her, unencumbered but by his
own gay trappings. She carries the wallet with food, the matting for the
lodge, the merchandize (if they possess any), and her infant. There is
no exemption from labour for the squaw of the most vaunted chief. In
other countries the wife may be found drawing the plough, hewing wood
and carrying water; the men of the family standing idle to witness her
toils. Here the observer may feel pretty sure of his case. From a
condition of slavery like this, women are found rising to the highest
condition in which they are at present seen, in France, England, and the
United States,--where they are less than half-educated, precluded from
earning a subsistence, except in a very few ill-paid employments, and
prohibited from giving or withholding their assent to laws which they
are yet bound by penalties to obey. In France, owing to the great
destruction of men in the wars of Napoleon, women are engaged, and
successfully engaged, in a variety of occupations which have been
elsewhere supposed unsuitable to the sex. Yet there remains so large a
number who cannot, by the most strenuous labour in feminine employments,
command the necessaries of life, while its luxuries may be earned by
infamy, that the morals of the society are naturally bad. Great
attention has of late been given to this subject in France: the social
condition of women is matter of thought and discussion to a degree which
promises some considerable amelioration. Already, women can do more in
France than anywhere else; they can attempt more without ridicule or
arbitrary hinderance: and the women of France are probably destined to
lead the way in the advance which the sex must hereafter make. At
present, society is undergoing a transition from a feudal state to one
of mutual government; and women, gaining in some ways, suffer in others
during the process. They have, happily for themselves, lost much of the
peculiar kind of observance which was the most remarkable feature of the
chivalrous age; and it has been impossible to prevent their sharing in
the benefits of the improvement and diffusion of knowledge. All
cultivation of their powers has secured to them the use of new power; so
that their condition is far superior to what it was in any former age.
But new difficulties about securing a maintenance have arisen. Marriage
is less general; and the husbands of the greater number of women are not
secure of a maintenance from the lords of the soil, any more than women
are from being married. The charge of their own maintenance is thrown
upon large numbers of women, without the requisite variety of
employments having been opened to them, or the needful education
imparted. A natural consequence of this is, that women are educated to
consider marriage the one object in life, and therefore to be extremely
impatient to secure it. The unfavourable influence of these results upon
the happiness of domestic life may be seen at a glance.

This may be considered the sum and substance of female education in
England; and the case is scarcely better in France, though the
independence and practical efficiency of women there are greater than in
any other country. The women in the United States are in a lower
condition than either, though there is less striving after marriage,
from its greater frequency, and little restriction is imposed upon the
book-learning which women may obtain. But the old feudal notions about
the sex flourish there, while they are going out in the more advanced
countries of Europe; and these notions, in reality, regulate the
condition of women. American women generally are treated in no degree as
equals, but with a kind of superstitious outward observance, which, as
they have done nothing to earn it, is false and hurtful. Coexisting
with this, there is an extreme difficulty in a woman's obtaining a
maintenance, except by the exercise of some rare powers. In a country
where women are brought up to be indulged wives, there is no hope, help,
or prospect for such as have not money and are not married.

In America, women can earn a maintenance only by teaching, sewing,
employment in factories, keeping boarding-houses, and domestic service.
Some governesses are tolerably well paid,--comparing their earnings with
those of men. Employment in factories, and domestic service, are well
paid. Sewing is so wretched an occupation everywhere, that it is to be
hoped that machinery will soon supersede the use of human fingers in a
labour so unprofitable. In Boston, Massachusetts, a woman is paid
ninepence (sixpence English) for making a shirt.--In England, besides
these occupations, others are opening; and, what is of yet greater
consequence, the public mind is awakening to the necessity of enlarging
the sphere of female industry. Some of the inferior branches of the fine
arts have lately offered profitable employment to many women. The
commercial adversity to which the country has been exposed from time to
time, has been of service to the sex, by throwing hundreds and thousands
of them upon their own resources, and thus impelling them to urge claims
and show powers which are more respected every day.--In France this is
yet more conspicuously the case. There, women are shopkeepers,
merchants, professional accountants, editors of newspapers, and employed
in many other ways, unexampled elsewhere, but natural and respectable
enough on the spot.

Domestic morals are affected in two principal respects by these
differences. Where feminine occupations of a profitable nature are few,
and therefore overstocked, and therefore yielding a scanty maintenance
with difficulty, there is the strongest temptation to prefer luxury with
infamy to hardship with unrecognized honour. Hence arises much of the
corruption of cities,--less in the United States than in Europe, from
the prevalence of marriage,--but awful in extent everywhere. Where vice
is made to appear the interest of large classes of women, the observer
may be quite sure that domestic morals will be found impure. If he can
meet with any society where the objects of life are as various and as
freely open to women as to men, there he may be sure of finding the
greatest amount of domestic purity and peace; for, if women were not
helpless, men would find it far less easy to be vicious.

The other way in which domestic morals are affected by the scope which
is allowed to the powers of women, is through the views of marriage
which are induced. Marriage is debased by being considered the one
worldly object in life,--that on which maintenance, consequence, and
power depend. Where the husband marries for connexion, fortune, or an
heir to his estate, and the wife for an establishment, for consequence,
or influence, there is no foundation for high domestic morals and
lasting peace; and in a country where marriage is made the single aim of
all women, there is no security against the influence of some of these
motives even in the simplest and purest cases of attachment. The
sordidness is infused from the earliest years; the taint is in the mind
before the attachment begins, before the objects meet; and the evil
effects upon the marriage state are incalculable.

All this--the sentiment of society with regard to Woman and to Marriage,
the social condition of Woman, and the consequent tendency and aim of
her education,--the traveller must carefully observe. Each civilized
society claims for itself the superiority in its treatment of woman. In
one, she is indulged with religious shows, and with masquerades, or
Punch, as an occasional variety. In another, she is left in honourable
and undisputed possession of the housekeeping department. In a third,
she is allowed to meddle, behind the scenes, with the business which is
confided to her husband's management. In a fourth, she is satisfied in
being the cherished domestic companion, unaware of the injury of being
doomed to the narrowness of mind which is the portion of those who are
always confined to the domestic circle. In a fifth, she is flattered at
being guarded and indulged as a being requiring incessant fostering, and
too feeble to take care of herself. In a sixth society, there may be
found expanding means of independent occupation, of responsible
employment for women; and here, other circumstances being equal, is the
best promise of domestic fidelity and enjoyment.

It is a matter of course that women who are furnished with but one
object,--marriage,--must be as unfit for anything when their aim is
accomplished as if they had never had any object at all. They are no
more equal to the task of education than to that of governing the state;
and, if any unexpected turn of adversity befals them, they have no
resource but a convent, or some other charitable provision. Where, on
the other hand, women are brought up capable of maintaining an
independent existence, other objects remain when the grand one is
accomplished. Their independence of mind places them beyond the reach of
the spoiler; and their cultivated faculty of reason renders them worthy
guardians of the rational beings whose weal or woe is lodged in their
hands. There is yet, as may be seen by a mere glance over society, only
a very imperfect provision made anywhere for doing justice to the next
generation by qualifying their mothers; but the observer of morals may
profit by marking the degrees in which this imperfection approaches to
barbarism. Where he finds that girls are committed to convents for
education, and have no alternative in life but marriage, in which their
will has no share, and a return to their convent, he may safely conclude
that there a plurality of lovers is a matter of course, and domestic
enjoyments of the highest kind undesired and unknown. He may conclude
that as are the parents, so will be the children; and that, for one more
generation at least, there will be little or no improvement. But where
he finds a variety of occupations open to women; where he perceives them
not only pursuing the lighter mechanic arts, dispensing charity and
organizing schools for the poor, but occupied in education, and in the
study of science and the practice of the fine arts, he may conclude that
here resides the highest domestic enjoyment which has yet been attained,
and the strongest hope of a further advance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Children in all countries are, as Mrs. Grant of Laggan says, first
vegetables, and then they are animals, and then they come to be people;
but their way of growing out of one stage into another is as different,
in different societies, as their states of mind when they are grown up.
They all have limbs, senses, and intellects; but their growth of heart
and mind depends incalculably upon the spirit of the society amidst
which they are reared. The traveller must study them wherever he meets
them. In one country, multitudes of them lie about in the streets,
basking in the sun, and killing vermin; while the children of the very
poorest persons of another country are decently clothed, and either
busily occupied with such domestic employments as they are capable of,
or at school, or playing among the rocks, or climbing trees, or crawling
about the wooden bridges, without fear or danger. From this one symptom,
the observer might learn the poverty and idleness of the lower classes
of Spain, and the comfort and industry of those of the United States. As
to the children of the richer classes, there is the widest difference in
the world between those who are the idols of their mothers, (as in
societies where the heart's love is lavished on the children which has
not been engaged by the husband,) and those who are early steeped in
corruption, (as in slave countries,) and those who are reared
philosophers and saints, and those to whom home is a sunny paradise
hedged round with love and care, and those who are little men and women
of the world from the time they can walk alone. All these kinds of
children exist,--sure breathings of the moral atmosphere of their homes.
The traveller must watch them, talk with them, and learn from their
bearing towards their parents, and the bent of their affections, what is
the spirit of the families of the land.

From observation on these classes of facts,--the Occupation of the
people, the respective Characters of the occupied classes, the Health of
the population, the state of Marriage and of Women, and the character of
Childhood,--the moralist may learn more of the private life of a
community than from the conversation of any number of the individuals
who compose it.



      "He who taught man to vanquish whatsoever
        Can be between the cradle and the grave,
      Crowned him the King of Life. O vain endeavour,
        If on his own high will, a willing slave,
    He has enthroned the oppression and the oppressor!
        What if earth can clothe and feed
        Amplest millions at their need,
    And power in thought be as the tree within the seed?
      Or what if Art, an ardent intercessor,
        Diving on fiery wings to Nature's throne,
      Checks the great mother stooping to caress her,
        And cries, Give me, thy child, dominion
    Over all height and depth? If Life can breed
      New wants, and wealth from those who toil and groan
      Rend of thy gifts and her's a thousandfold for one."

The same rule--of observing Things in preference to relying upon the
Discourse of persons--holds good in the task of ascertaining the Idea of
Liberty entertained and realized by any society. The Things to be
observed for this purpose are those which follow.

The most obvious consideration of all is the amount of feudal
arrangements which remain,--so obvious as to require only a bare
mention. If people are satisfied to obey the will of a lord of the soil,
to go out to hunt or to fight at his bidding, to require his consent to
marriages among his dependants, and to hold whatever they have at his
permission, their case is clear. They are destitute of any idea of
liberty, and can be considered at best only half-civilized.--It matters
little whether all this subservience is yielded to the owner of an
estate, or the sovereign of the country, represented by his police or
soldiery. Blind, ignorant obedience to any ruling power which the
subjects had no hand in constituting, on the one part, and the
enforcement of that obedience on the other, is the feudal temper.

A sleek Austrian of the middle ranks stood, of late, smoking at his
door. A practical joker, who had a mind to see how far the man's
deference for the police would carry him, drew towards him, and
whispered in his ear, "You must dance." The Austrian stared. "Dance, I
say!" repeated the stranger, with an air of authority. "Why must I
dance?" asked the Austrian, when he had removed the pipe from his mouth.
"Because I, an agent of the police, insist upon it." The Austrian
instantly began capering, and continued his exercise till desired to
stand still, assured that he had satisfied the police.--In the United
States, the contrast is amusing. On occasions of public assembly, the
appeal is made to the democratic sentiment of the people to preserve
order. If an orator is to hold forth on an anniversary, the soldiers
(most citizen-like militia) may be seen putting their arms round the
necks of newly arrived listeners, in supplication that they will leave
seats vacant for the band. If a piece of plate is to be presented to a
statesman, and twice as many people throng to the theatre as the
building will hold, harangues may be heard from the neighbouring
balconies,--appeals to the gallantry and kindliness of the crowd,--which
are found quite as effectual in controlling the movements of the
assemblage as any number of bayonets or constables' staves could be.

This leads to the mention of the Police of a country as a sure sign of
the idea of liberty existing within it. Where the soldiery are the
guards of social order, it makes all the difference whether they are
royal troops,--a destructive machinery organized against the people,--or
a National Guard, springing up when needed from among the people, for
the people's sake,--or a militia, like the American, mentioned
above,--virtually stewards of the meeting, and nothing more. Whatever
may be thought of the comparative ease of proceeding, on any given
occasion, between a police like that of Paris, and a constabulary like
that of the American cities, (a mockery to European rulers,) it is a
striking fact that order has been generally preserved for half a
century, in a country where public meetings are a hundred times as
numerous as in any kingdom in Europe, by means which would in Europe be
no means at all. It is clear that the idea of liberty must be elevated,
and the love of social order intelligent and strong, where the peace has
been kept through unanimity of will. With the exception of outrages
growing out of the institution of slavery, (which require a deeper
treatment than any species of constabulary can practise,) the United
States, with opportunities of disturbance which have been as a hundred
to one, have exhibited fewer instances of a breach of public order than
any other country in the same space of time; and this order has been
preserved by the popular will, in the full knowledge on all hands that
no power existed to control this will. This is a fact which speaks
volumes in favour of the principles, if not the policy, of the American

In the United States, the traveller may proceed a thousand miles in any
direction, or live ten years in one place, without the idea of control,
beyond that of social convenience, being once presented to his mind.
Paul Louis Courier gives us the experience of an acquaintance of his.
"Un homme que j'ai vu arrive d'Amérique. Il y est resté trois ans sans
entendre parler de ce que nous appelons ici l'autorité. Il a vécu trois
ans sans être gouverné, s'ennuyant à périr."--In France, he cannot go in
search of the site of the Bastille without finding himself surrounded by
watchers before he has stood five minutes.--In Italy, his trunks are
opened to examine the books he carries, and compare them with the list
of proscribed works.--In Spain, he can say nothing in public that is not
likely to be known to the authorities before the day is out; or in
private that is not in possession of some priest after the next period
of confession.--In Switzerland, he finds that he is free to do any thing
but make inquiries about the condition of the country. If he asks, as
the Emperor Joseph did before him, "Quels sont les revenues de votre
république?" he may receive the same answer, "Ils excedent nos
dépenses."--In Germany, his case is like that of the inhabitants of the
cities;--his course is open and agreeable as long as he pursues inferior
objects, but it is made extremely inconvenient to him to gratify his
interest in politics.--In Poland, evidences of authority will meet his
observation in every direction, while he will rarely hear the name of
its head.--In Russia, he will find the people speaking of their despot
as their father, and will perceive that it is more offensive to allude
to the mortality of emperors than to talk lightly to children of the
death of their parents. A gentleman in the suite of an English
ambassador inquired, after having been conducted over the imperial
palace at St. Petersburgh, which of the rooms he had seen was that in
which the Emperor Paul was killed. No answer was returned to his
question, nor to his repetition of it. He imprudently persisted till
some reply was necessary. His guide whispered, with white lips, "Paul
was not killed. Emperors do not die; they transpire out of life."

Such are some of the relations of the people to authority which will
strike the observation of the traveller in the most civilized of foreign
countries. These will be further illustrated by the smallest
circumstances which meet his eye that can in any way indicate what are
the functions of the police, and where it has most or least authority.
The Emperor Paul issued an ukase about shoestrings, which it was highly
penal to disobey. His son has lately ordained the precise measurement of
whiskers, and cut of the hair behind, to be observed by the officers of
the army. In some regions, all men go armed: in others, it is penal to
wear arms: in others, people may do as they please. In some countries,
there are costumes of classes enforced by law: in others, by opinion:
while fashion is the only dictator in a third. In some societies
citizens must obtain leave from the authorities to move from place to
place: in others, strangers alone are plagued with passports: in
others, there is perfect freedom of locomotion for all.--In his
observation of the workings of authority, as embodied in a police, his
own experience of restraint or liberty will afford him ample material
for thought, and ground of inference.

Such restraint as exists derives its character chiefly from its origin.
It makes a wide difference whether the police are the creatures of a
despotic sovereign who treats his subjects as property; or whether they
are the agents of a representative government, appointed by responsible
rulers for the public good; or whether they are the servants of a
self-governing people, chosen by those among whom their work lies. It
makes a wide difference whether they are in the secret pay of an
irresponsible individual, or appointed by command of a parliament, or
elected by a concourse of citizens. In any case, their existence and
their function testify to the absence or presence of a general idea of
liberty among the people; and to its nature, if present.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is taken for granted that the traveller is informed, before he sets
out, respecting the form of Government and general course of Legislation
of the nation he studies. He will watch both, attending upon the
administration as well as the formation of laws,--visiting, where it is
allowed, the courts of justice as well as the halls of parliament. But
he must remember that neither the composition of the government, nor the
body of the laws, nor the administration of them, is an evidence of
what the idea of liberty at present is among the people, except in a
democratic republic, where the acts of the government are the result of
the last expression of the national will. Every other representative
system is too partial for its legislative acts to be more than the
expression of the will of a party; and the great body of laws is
everywhere, except in America, the work of preceding ages. Though,
therefore, the observer will allow no great legislative and
administrative acts to pass without his notice, he will apply himself to
other sets of circumstances to ascertain what is the existing idea of
liberty prevalent among the people. He will observe, from certain facts
of their position, what this idea must be; and, from certain classes of
their own deeds, what it actually is.

One of the most important circumstances is, whether the population is
thinly sprinkled over the face of the country, or whether it is
collected into neighbourly societies. This all-important condition has
been alluded to so often already that it is only necessary to remind the
observer never to lose sight of it. "Plus un peuple nombreux se
rapproche," says Rousseau, "moins le gouvernement peut usurper sur le
souverain. L'avantage d'un gouvernement tyrannique est donc en ceci,
d'agir à grandes distances. A l'aide des points d'appui qu'il se donne,
sa force augmente au loin, comme celle des léviers. Celle du peuple, au
contraire, n'agit que concentrée: elle s'évapore et se perd en
s'étendant, comme l'effet de la poudre éparse à terre, et qui ne prend
feu que grain à grain. Les pays les moins peuplés sont ainsi les plus
propres à la tyrannie. Les bêtes féroces ne règnent que dans les

It is obvious enough that the Idea of Liberty, which can originate only
in the intercourse of many minds, as the liberty itself can be wrought
out only by the labours of many united hands, is not to be looked for
where the people live apart, and are destitute of any knowledge of the
interests and desires of the community at large.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whether the society is divided into Two Classes, or whether there is a
Gradation, is another important consideration. Where there are only two,
proprietors and labourers, the Idea of Liberty is deficient or absent.
The proprietory class can have no other desires on the subject than to
repress the encroachments of the sovereign above them, or of the servile
class below them: and in the servile class the conception of liberty is
yet unformed. Only in barbarous countries, in countries where slavery
subsists, and in some few strongholds of feudalism, is this decided
division of society into two classes now to be found. Everywhere else
there is more or less gradation; and in the most advanced countries the
classes are least distinguishable. Below those members who, in European
societies, are distinguished by birth, there is class beneath class of
capitalists, though it is usual to comprehend them all, for convenience
of speech, under the name of the middle class. Thus society in Great
Britain, France, and Germany is commonly spoken of as consisting of
three classes; while the divisions of the middle class are, in fact,
very numerous. The small shopkeeper is not of the same class with the
landowner, or wealthy banker, or professional man; while their views of
life, their political principles, and their social aspirations, are as
different as those of the peer and the mechanic.

There are two pledges of the advancement of the idea of liberty in a
community:--the one is the mingling of the functions of proprietor and
labourer throughout the whole of a society ruled by a representative
government; the other is the graduation of ranks by some other principle
than hereditary succession.

In ancient times most men were proprietors and labourers too; but under
despotic rule. Societies which have once come under the representative
principle are not likely to retrograde to this state; while there are
influences ever at work to exalt the function of labour, and to extend
that of proprietorship. Wherever this mixture of functions has gone the
furthest,--wherever the mechanic classes are becoming capitalists, and
proprietors are liable to sink down from their ancient honour, unless
they can secure respect by personal qualifications, the idea of liberty
is, to a considerable degree, confirmed and elevated. In such a case, it
is clear that both the power and the desire of encroachment on the part
of the upper class must be lessened, and that of resistance on the part
of the lower increased.--The other improvement follows upon this.
Proprietorship, with its feudal influences, having lost caste (though it
has gained in true dignity), some other ground of distinction must
succeed. If we may judge by what is before our eyes in the Western
world, talent is likely to be the next successor. It is to be hoped that
talent will, in its turn, give way to moral worth,--the higher degrees
of which imply, however, superiority of mental power. The preference of
personal qualifications to those of external endowment has already begun
in the world, and is fast making its way. Such distinction of ranks as
there is in America originates in mental qualifications. Statesmen, who
rise by their own power, rank highest; and then authors. The wealthiest
capitalist gives place, in the estimation of all, to a popular orator, a
successful author, or an eminent clergyman.--In France, the honours of
the peerage and the offices of the state are given to men of science,
philosophy, and literature. The same is the case in some parts of
Germany: and, even in aristocratic England, the younger members of her
Upper House are unsatisfied with being merely peers, and are anxious to
push their way in literature, as well as in politics.--The traveller
must give earnest heed to symptoms like these, knowing that as the
barriers of ranks are thrown down, and personal obtain the ascendant
over hereditary qualifications, social coercion must be relaxed, and the
sentiment of liberty exalted.

       *       *       *       *       *

In close connexion with this, he must observe the condition of Servants.
The treatment and conduct of domestics depend on causes which lie far
deeper than the principles and tempers of particular servants and
masters, as may be seen by a glance at domestic service in England,
Scotland, and Ireland. In England, the old Saxon and Norman feud
smoulders, (however unconscious the parties may be of the fact,) in the
relation of master and servant. Domestics who never heard of either
Norman or Saxon entertain a deep-rooted conviction of their masters'
interests and their own being directly opposed, and are subject to a
strong sense of injury. Masters who never bestow a thought on the
transactions of the twelfth century, complain of a doggedness,
selfishness, and case-hardened indifference in the class of domestics,
which kindness cannot penetrate, or penetrates only to pervert. The
relation is therefore a painful one in England. There is little
satisfaction to be obtained between the extremes of servility and
defiance, by which the conduct of servants is almost as distinctly
marked now as when the nation was younger by seven centuries. The
English housewives complain that confidence only makes their maid
servants conceited, and that indulgence spoils them.--In Ireland, the
case is of the same nature, but much aggravated. The injury of having an
aristocracy of foreigners forced on the country, to whom the natives are
to render service, is more recent, and the impression more consciously
retained. The servants are ill-treated, and they yield bad service in
return. It is mournful to see the arrangement of Dublin houses. The
drawing-rooms are palace-like, while the servants' apartments are dark
and damp dungeons. It is wearisome to hear the complaints of the dirt,
falsehood, and faithlessness of Irish servants,--complaints which their
mistresses have ever ready for the ear of the stranger; and it is
disgusting to witness the effects in the household. It is equally sad
and ludicrous to see the mistress of some families enter the breakfast
room, with a loaf of bread under her arm, the butter-plate in one hand,
and a bunch of keys in the other;--to see her cut from the loaf the
number of slices required, and send them down to be toasted,--explaining
that she is obliged to lock up the very bread from the thievery of her
servants, and informing against them as if she expected them to be
worthy of trust, while she daily insults them with the refusal of all
trust,--even to the care of the bread-pan. In Scotland, the case is
widely different. Servitude and clanship are there connected, instead of
servitude and conquest. The service is willing in proportion; and the
faults of domestics are not those common to the oppressed, but rather
those proceeding from pride and self-will. The Scotch domestic has still
the pride in the chief of the name which cherishes the self-respect of
every member of a clan; and in the service of the chief there is
scarcely any exertion which the humblest of his name would not make. The
results are obvious. There is a better understanding between the two
classes than in the other divisions of the kingdom: and Scotch masters
and mistresses obtain a satisfaction from their domestics which no
degree of justice and kindness in English and Irish housekeepers can
secure. The dregs of an oppression of centuries cannot be purged away by
the action of individual tempers, be they of the best. The causes of
misunderstanding, as we have said, lie deep.

The principles which regulate the condition of domestic servants in
every country form thus a deep and wide subject for the traveller's
inquiries. In America, he will hear frequent complaints from the ladies
of the pride of their maid servants, and of the difficulty of settling
them, while he sees that some are the most intimate friends of the
families they serve; and that not a few collect books, and attend
courses of scientific lectures. The fact is that, in America, a conflict
is going on between opposite principles, and the consequences of the
struggle show themselves chiefly in the relation between master and
servant. The old European notions of the degradation of servitude
survive in the minds of their American descendants, and are nourished by
the presence of slavery on the same continent, and by the importation of
labourers from Europe which is perpetually going on. In conflict with
these notions are the democratic ideas of the honourableness of
voluntary service by contract. It is found difficult, at first, to
settle the bounds of the contract; and masters are liable to sin, from
long habit, on the side of imperiousness, and the servants on that of
captiousness and jealousy of their own rights. Such are the
inconveniences of a transition state;--a state, however, upon which it
should be remembered that other societies have yet to enter. In an Irish
country-house, the guest sometimes finds himself desired to keep his
wardrobe locked up.--In England, he perceives a restraint in the address
of each class to the class above it.--In France, a washerwoman speaks
with as much ease to a duchess as a duchess to a washerwoman.--In
Holland, the domestics have chambers as scrupulously neat as their
masters'.--In Ireland, they sleep in underground closets.--In New York,
they can command their own accommodation.--In Cuba they sleep, like
dogs, in the passages of the family dwellings. These are some of the
facts from which the observer is to draw his inferences, rather than
from the manners of some individuals of the class whom he may meet. In
his conclusions from such facts he can hardly be wrong, though he may
chance to become acquainted with a footman of the true heroic order in
Dublin, and a master in Cuba who respects his own servants, and a
cringing lackey in New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

A point of some importance is whether the provincial inhabitants depend
upon the management and imitate the modes of life of the metropolis, or
have principles and manners of their own. Where there is least freedom
and the least desire of it, everything centres in the metropolis. Where
there is most freedom, each "city, town, and vill," thinks and acts for
itself. In despotic countries, the principle of centralization actuates
everything. Orders are issued from the central authorities, and the
minds of the provinces are saved all trouble of thinking for themselves.
Where self-government is permitted to each assemblage of citizens, they
are stimulated to improve their idea and practice of liberty, and are
almost independent of metropolitan usages. The traveller will find that
"Paris is France," as everybody has heard, and that the government of
France is carried on in half-a-dozen apartments in the capital, with
little reference to the unrepresented thousands who are living some
hundreds of miles off: while, if he casts a glance over Norway, he may
see the people on the shores of the fiords, or in the valleys between
the pine-steeps, quietly making their arrangements for controlling the
central authority, even abolishing the institution of hereditary
nobility in opposition to the will of the king; but legally, peaceably,
and in all the simplicity of determined independence,--the result of a
matured idea of liberty. The observer will note whether the pursuits and
amusements of the provincial inhabitants originate in the circumstances
of the locality, or whether they are copies from those of the
metropolis; whether the great city be spoken of with reverence, scorn,
or indifference, or not spoken of at all: whether, as in a Pennsylvanian
village, the society could go on if the capital were swallowed up by an
earthquake; or whether, as in Prussia, the favour of the central power
is as the breath of the nostrils of the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

Newspapers are a strong evidence of the political ideas of a
people;--not individual newspapers; for no two, perhaps, fully agree in
principles and sentiment, and it is to be feared that none are
positively honest. Not by individual newspapers must the traveller form
his judgment, but by the freedom of discussion which he may find to be
permitted, or the restraints upon discussion imposed. The idea of
liberty must be low and feeble among a people who permit the government
to maintain a severe censorship; and it must be powerful and effectual
in a society which can make all its complaints through a newspaper,--be
the reports of the newspapers upon the state of social affairs as dismal
as they may. Whatever revilings of a tyrannical president, or of a
servile congress, a traveller may meet with in any number of American
journals, he may fairly conclude that both the one and the other must
be nearly harmless if they are discussed in a newspaper. The very
existence of the newspapers he sees testifies to the prevalence of a
habit of reading, and consequently of education--to the wide diffusion
of political power--and to the probable safety and permanence of a
government which is founded on so broad a basis, and can afford to
indulge so large a licence. Whatever he may be told of the patriotism of
a sovereign, let him give it to the winds if he finds a space in a
newspaper made blank by the pen of a censor. The tameness of the
Austrian journals tells as plain a tale as if no censor had ever
suppressed a syllable;--as much so as the small size of a New Orleans
paper compared with one of New York, or as the fiercest bluster of a
Cincinnati Daily or Weekly, on the eve of the election of a president.

       *       *       *       *       *

In countries where there is any Free Education, the traveller must
observe its nature; and especially whether the subjects of it are
distinguished by any sort of badge. The practice of badging, otherwise
than by mutual consent, is usually bad: it is always suspicious. The
traveller will note whether free education is conferred by charitable
bequest, (a practice originating in times when the doctrine of expiation
was prevalent, and continued to this day by its union with charity,) or
whether it is framed at the will of the sovereign, that his young
subjects may be trained to his own purposes,--as in the case of the
Emperor of Russia and his young Polish victims; or whether it arises
from the union of such a desire with a more enlightened object,--as may
be witnessed in Prussia; or whether it is provided by the sovereign
people,--by universal consent, as the right of every individual born
into the community, and as the necessary qualification for the enjoyment
of social privileges,--as in the United States. The English Christ
Hospital boys are badged: Napoleon's Polytechnic pupils were badged; so
are the Czar's orphan charge. Wherever the meddling or ostentatious
charity of antique times is in existence,--times when the idea of
liberty was low and confined,--this badging is to be looked for; and
also wherever it is necessary to the purposes of the potentate to keep a
register of the young subjects who may become his instruments or his
foes:--but where education is absolutely universal, where any citizen
has a right to put every child, not otherwise educated, into the
school-house of his township, and where the rising generation are
destined to take care of themselves, and legislate after their own will,
no badging will be found. This apparently trifling fact is worth the
attention of the observer.

The extent of popular education is a fact of the deepest significance.
Under despotisms there will be the smallest amount of it; and in
proportion to the national idea of the dignity and importance of
man,--idea of liberty, in short,--will be its extent, both in regard to
the number it comprehends, and to the enlargement of their studies. The
universality of education is inseparably connected with a lofty idea of
liberty; and till the idea is realized in a constantly expanding system
of national education, the observer may profitably note for reflection
the facts whether he is surrounded on a frontier by a crowd of whining
young beggars, or whether he sees a parade of charity scholars,--these
all in blue caps and yellow stockings, and those all in white tippets
and green aprons; or whether he falls in with an annual or quarterly
assembly of teachers, met to confer on the best principles and methods
of carrying on an education which is itself a matter of course.

In countries where there is any popular Idea of Liberty, the
universities are considered its stronghold, from their being the places
where the young, active, hopeful, and aspiring meet,--the youths who are
soon to be citizens, and who have here the means of daily communication
of their ideas, for many years together. It would be an interesting
inquiry how many revolutions, warlike or bloodless, have issued from
seats of learning; and yet more, how many have been planned for which
the existing powers, or the habits of society, have been too strong. If
the universities are not so constituted as to admit of this fostering of
free principles, they are pretty sure to retain the antique notions in
accordance with which they were instituted, and to fall into the rear of
society in morals and manners. It is the traveller's business to observe
the characteristics of these institutions, and to reflect whether they
are likely to aid or to retard the progress of the nation in which they

There are universities in almost every country; but they are as little
like one another as the costumes that are found in Switzerland and
India; and the one speak as plainly of morals and manners as the other
of climate. It is needless to point out that countries which contain
only aristocratic halls of learning, or schools otherwise devoid of an
elastic principle, must be in a state of comparative barbarism; because,
in such a case, learning (so called there) must be confined to a few,
and probably to the few who can make the least practical use of it.
Where the universities are on such a plan as that, preserving their
primary form, they can admit increasing numbers, the state of intellect
is likely to be a more advanced one. But a more favourable symptom is
where seats of learning are multiplied as society enlarges, modified in
their principles as new departments of knowledge open, and as new
classes arise who wish to learn. That country is in a state of
transition--of progression--where the ancient universities are honoured
for as much as they can give, while new schools arise to supply their
deficiencies, and Mechanics' Institutes, or some kindred establishments,
flourish by the side of both. This state of things, this variety in the
pursuit of knowledge, can exist only where there is a freedom of
thought, and consequent diversity of opinion, which argues a vigorous
idea of liberty.

The observer must not, however, rest satisfied with ascertaining the
proportion of the means of education to the people who have to be
educated. He must mark the objects for which learning is pursued. The
two most strongly contrasted cases which can be found are probably those
of Germany and (once more) the United States. In the United States, it
is well known, a provision of university education is made as ample as
that of schools for an earlier stage; yet no one pretends that a highly
finished education is to be looked for in that country. The cause is
obvious. In a young nation, the great common objects of life are entered
upon earlier, and every preparatory process is gone through in a more
superficial manner. Seats of learning are numerous and fully attended,
both in Germany and America, and they testify in each to a pervading
desire of knowledge. Here the agreement ends. The German student may,
without being singular, remain within the walls of his college till time
silvers his hairs; or he has even been known to pass eighteen years
among his books, without once crossing the threshold of his study. The
young American, meanwhile, satisfied at the end of three years that he
knows as much as his neighbours, settles in a home, engages in farming
or commerce, and plunges into what alone he considers the business of
life. Each of these pursues his appropriate objects: each is right in
his own way: but the difference of pursuit indicates a wider difference
of sentiment between the two countries than the abundance of the means
of learning in each indicates a resemblance. The observer must therefore
mark, not only what and how many are the seats of learning, but who
frequent them; whether there are many, past the season of youth, who
make study the business of their lives; or whether all are of that class
who regard study merely as a part of the preparation which they are
ordained to make for the accomplishment of the commonest aims of life.
He can scarcely take his evening walk in the precincts of a university
without observing a difference so wide as this.

The great importance of the fact lies in this,--that increase of
knowledge is necessary to the secure enlargement of freedom. Germany may
not, it is true, require learning in her youth for political purposes,
but because learning has become the taste, the characteristic honour of
the nation; but this knowledge will infallibly work out, sooner or
later, her political regeneration. America requires knowledge in her
sons because her political existence itself depends upon their mental
competency. The two countries will probably approximate gradually
towards a sympathy which is at present out of the question. As America
becomes more fully peopled, a literature will grow up within her, and
study will assume its place among the chief objects of life. The great
ideas which are the employment of the best minds of Germany must work
their way out into action; and new and immediately practical kinds of
knowledge will mingle themselves, more and more largely, with those to
which she has been, in times past, devoted. The two countries may thus
fall into a sympathetic correspondence on the mighty subjects of human
government and human learning, and the grand idea of liberty may be made
more manifest in the one, and disciplined and enriched in the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

One great subject of observation and speculation remains--the objects
and form of Persecution for Opinion in each country. Persecution for
opinion is always going on among a people enlightened enough to
entertain any opinions at all. There must always be, in such a nation,
some who have gone further in research than others, and who, in making
such an advance, have overstepped the boundaries of popular sympathy.
The existence and sufferings of such are not to be denied because there
are no fires at the stake, and no organized and authorized Inquisition,
and because formal excommunication is gone out of fashion. Persecution
puts on other forms as ages elapse; but it is not extinct. It can be
inflicted out of the province of law, as well as through it; by a
neighbourhood as well as from the Vatican. A wise and honest man may be
wounded through his social affections, and in his domestic relations, as
effectually as by flames, fetters, and public ignominy. There are wise
and good persons in every civilized country, who are undergoing
persecution in one form or another every day.

Is it for precocity in science? or for certain opinions in politics? or
for a peculiar mode of belief in the Christian religion, or unbelief of
it? or for championship of an oppressed class? or for new views in
morals? or, for fresh inventions in the arts, apparently interfering
with old-established interests? or for bold philosophical speculation?
Who suffers arbitrary infliction, in short, and how, for any mode of
thinking, and of faithful action upon thought? An observer would reject
whatever he might be told of the paternal government of a prince, if he
saw upon a height a fortress in which men were suffering _carcere duro_
for political opinions. In like manner, whatever a nation may tell him
of its love of liberty should go for little if he sees a virtuous man's
children taken from him on the ground of his holding an unusual
religious belief; or citizens mobbed for asserting the rights of
negroes; or moralists treated with public scorn for carrying out allowed
principles to their ultimate issues; or scholars oppressed for throwing
new light into the sacred text; or philosophers denounced for bringing
fresh facts to the surface of human knowledge, whether they seem to
agree or not with long-established suppositions.

The kind and degree of infliction for opinion which is possible, and is
practised in the time and place, will indicate to the observer the
degree of imperfection in the popular idea of liberty. This is a kind of
fact easy to ascertain, and worthy of all attention.



                      "'Tis the sublime of man,
    Our noontide majesty, to know ourselves
    Parts and proportions of one wondrous whole!
    This fraternizes man, this constitutes
    Our charities and bearings."

    "Then let us pray that come it may,
      As come it will for a' that,
    That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,
      May bear the gree, and a' that.
    For a' that, and a' that,
      It's coming yet, for a' that,
    That man to man, the warld o'er,
      Shall brothers be for a' that."

However widely men may differ as to the way to social perfection, all
whose minds have turned in that direction agree as to the end. All agree
that if the whole race could live as brethren, society would be in the
most advanced state that can be conceived of. It is also agreed that the
spirit of fraternity is to be attained, if at all, by men discerning
their mutual relation, as "parts and proportions of one wondrous whole."
The disputes which arise are about how these proportions are to be
arranged, and what those qualifications should be by which some shall
have an ascendancy over others.

This cluster of questions is not yet settled with regard to the
inhabitants of any one country. The most advanced nations are now in a
condition of internal conflict upon them. As for the larger idea,--that
nations as well as individuals are "parts and proportions of one
wondrous whole," it has hardly yet passed the lips or pen of any but
religious men and poets. Its time will come when men have made greater
progress, and are more at ease about the domestic arrangements of
nations. As long as there are, in every country of the world, multitudes
who cannot by any exertion of their own redeem themselves from hardship,
and their children from ignorance, there is quite enough for justice and
charity to do at home. While this is doing,--while the English are
striving to raise the indigent classes of their society, the French
speculating to elevate the condition of woman, and to open the career of
life to all rational beings, the Germans waiting to throw off the
despotism of absolute rulers, and the Americans struggling to free the
negroes,--the fraternal sentiment will be growing, in preparation for
yet higher results. The principle, acted upon at home, will be gaining
strength for exercise abroad; and the more any society becomes like a
band of brothers, the more powerful must be the sympathy which it will
have to offer to other such bands.

Far off as may be the realization of such a prospect, it is a prospect.
For many ages poets and philosophers have entertained the idea of a
general spirit of fraternity among men. It is the one great principle of
the greatest religion which has ever nourished the morals of mankind.
It is the loftiest hope on which the wisest speculators have lived.
Poets are the prophets, and philosophers the analysers of the fate of
men, and religion is the promise and pledge of unseen powers to those
who believe in them. That cannot be unworthy of attention, of hope, of
expectation, which the poets and the analysers of the race, have reposed
upon, and on which the best religion of the world (and that which
comprehends all others) is based. That which has never, for all its
splendour, been deemed absurd by the wisest of the race is now beginning
to be realized. We have now something more to show for our hope than
what was before enough for the highest minds. The fraternal spirit has
begun to manifest itself by its workings in society. The helpless are
now aided expressly on the ground of their helplessness,--not from the
emotions of compassion excited by the spectacle of suffering in
particular cases, but in a nobler and more abstract way. Classes,
crowds, nations of sufferers are aided and protected by strangers,
powerful and at ease, who never saw an individual of the suffering
thousands, and who have none but a spiritual interest in their welfare.
Since missions to barbarous countries, action against slavery, and the
care of the blind, deaf and dumb, and paupers, have become labours of
society, the fraternity of men has ceased to be a mere aspiration, or
even prophecy and promise. It is not only that the high-placed watchmen
of the world have announced that the day is coming,--it has dawned; and
there is every reason to expect that it will brighten into noon.

The traveller must be strangely careless who, in observing upon the
morals of a people, omits to mark the manifestations of this
principle;--to learn what is its present strength, and what the promise
of its growth. By fixing his observation on this he may learn, and no
otherwise can he learn, whether the country he studies is advancing in
wisdom and happiness, or whether it is stationary, or whether it is
going back. The probabilities of its progress are wholly dependent upon
this.--It will not take long to point out what are the signs of
progression which he must study.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is of great consequence whether the nation is insular or continental,
independent or colonial. Though the time seems to be come when the sea
is to be made a highway, as easy of passage as the land, such has not
been the case till now. Even in the case of Great Britain,--the most
accessible of islands, and the most tempting to access,--before the last
series of wars, a much smaller number of strangers visited her than
could have been supposed to come if they had only to pass land
frontiers. During the wars, she was almost excluded from continental
society. The progress that her people have made in liberality and
humanity since communication has been rendered easy, is so striking that
it is impossible to avoid supposing the enlarged commerce of mind which
has taken place to be one of the chief causes of the improvement. It is
probable that the advancement of the nation would have been still
greater if the old geological state of junction with the continent had
been restored for the last twenty years. She would then have been
almost such a centre of influx as France has been, and by which France
has so far profited that the French are now, it is believed, the most
active-minded and morally progressive nation in the world. Much of the
vigour and progression of France is doubtless owing to other causes; but
much also to her rapid and extensive intercourse with the minds of many
nations. The condition of the inhabitants of other islands is likely to
be less favourable to progression than that of the British, in
proportion as they have less intercourse. They are likely to have even
more than the English proportion of self-satisfaction, dislike of
foreigners, and reserve. Generally speaking, the inhabitants of islands
are found to be to those of continental countries as villagers to
citizens: they have good qualities of their own, but are behind the
world. Malta has not the chance that she would have if we could annex
her to the South of France; nor will the West India islands advance as
they would do if we could throw them all into one, and intersect the
whole with roads leading on either side from the great European and
American cities.

Malta and the West India islands have, however, the additional
disadvantage of being colonies. The moral progression of a people can
scarcely begin till they are independent. Their morals are overruled by
the mother-country,--by the government and legislation she imposes, by
the rulers she sends out, by the nature of the advantages she grants and
the tribute she requires, by the population she pours in from home, and
by her own example. Accordingly, the colonies of a powerful country
exhibit an exaggeration of the national faults, with only infant
virtues of their own, which wait for freedom to grow to maturity, and
among which an enlarged sympathy with the race is seldom found. This is
a temper uncongenial with a confined, dependent, and imitative society;
and the first strong symptoms of it are usually found in the persons of
those whose mission it is to lead the colony out of its minority into

These are conditions of a people which may guide the traveller's
observations by showing him what to expect. Remembering these
conditions, he will mark the greater or less enlargement and generosity
of the spirit of society, and learn from these the fact or promise of
progression, or whether it is too soon to look for either.

There is another important condition which can hardly escape his notice:
whether the people are homogeneous or composed of various races. The
inhabitants of New England are a remarkable specimen of the first, as
the inhabitants of the middle states of America will be of the last, two
or three generations hence. Almost all the nations of Europe are
mongrel; and those which can trace their descent from the greatest
variety of ancestors have, other circumstances remaining the same, the
best chance of progression. Among a homogeneous people, ancestral
virtues flourish; but these carry with them ancestral faults as their
shadow; and there is a liability of a new fault being added,--resistance
to the spirit of improvement. If the chances of severity of ancient
virtue are lessened in the case of a mongrel people, there is a
counterbalancing advantage in the greater diversity of interests,
enlargement of sympathy, and vigour of enterprise introduced by the
close union of the descendants of different races. The people of New
England, almost to a man descended from the pilgrim fathers, have the
strong religious principle and feeling, the uprightness, the domestic
attachment, and the principled worldly prudence of their ancestors, with
much of their asceticism (and necessarily attendant cant) and bigotry.
Their neighbours in the middle states are composed of contributions from
all countries of the civilized world, and have, as yet, no distinctive
character; but it is probable that a very valuable one will be formed,
in course of time, from such elements as the genial gaiety of the
cavaliers, the patient industry of the Germans and Dutch, the vivacity
of the French, the sobriety of the Scotch, the enterprise of the Irish,
and the domestic tastes of the Swiss,--all of which, with their
attendant drawbacks, go to compose the future American character. The
chief pride of the New Englanders is in their unmixed descent;--a
virtuous pride, but not the most favourable to a progression which must
antiquate some of the qualities to which they are most attached. The
European components of the other population cherish some of the feudal
prejudices and the territorial pride which they imported with them, and
this is their peculiar drawback: but it appears that the enlarged
liberality which they enjoy from being intermingled more than
countervails the religious spirit of New England in opening the general
heart and mind to the interests of the race at large. The progression of
the middle states seems likely to be more rapid than that of New
England, though the inhabitants of the northern states have hitherto
taken and kept the lead.

It is the traveller's business to enter upon this course of observation
wherever he goes. When he has ascertained the conditions under which the
national character is forming,--whether its situation is insular or
continental, colonial or independent, and whether it is descended from
one race or more, he will proceed to observe the facts which indicate
progress or the reverse.

       *       *       *       *       *

The most obvious of these facts is the character of charity. Charity is
everywhere. The human heart is always tender, always touched by visible
suffering, under one form or another. The form which this charity takes
is the great question.

In young and rude countries, an open-handed charity pervades the land.
Everyone who comes in want to a dwelling has his immediate want
relieved. The Arab gives from his mess to the hungerer who appears at
the entrance of his tent. The negro brings rice and milk to the
traveller who lies fainting under the palm. The poor are fed round
convent-doors, morning and evening, where there are convents. In
Ireland, it is a common practice to beg, in order to rise in the
world,--a clear testimony to the practice of charity there. In all
societies, the poor help the poorer; the depressed class aids the
destitute. The existence of the charity may be considered a certainty.
The inquiry is about its direction.

The lowest order of charity is that which is satisfied with relieving
the immediate pressure of distress in individual cases. A higher is that
which makes provision on a large scale for the relief of such distress;
as when a nation passes on from common alms-giving to a general
provision for the destitute. A higher still is when such provision is
made in the way of anticipation, or for distant objects; as when the
civilization of savages, the freeing of slaves, the treatment of the
insane, or the education of the blind and deaf mutes is undertaken. The
highest charity of all is that which aims at the prevention rather than
the alleviation of evil. When any considerable number of a society are
engaged in this work, the spirit of fraternity is busy there, and the
progression of the society is ascertained. In such a community, it is
allowed that though it is good to relieve the hungry, it is better to
take care that all who work shall eat, as a matter of right: that though
it is good to provide for the comfort and reformation of the guilty, it
is better to obviate guilt: that though it is good to teach the ignorant
who come in one's way, it is better to provide the means of knowledge,
as of food, for all. In short, it is a nobler charity to prevent
destitution, crime, and ignorance, than to relieve individuals who never
ought to have been made destitute, criminal, and ignorant.

This war against the evils themselves, in preference to, but accompanied
by, relief of the victims, has begun in many countries; and those which
are the most busily occupied in the work must be considered the most
advanced, and the most certain to advance. The observer must note the
state of the work everywhere. In one country he will see the poor fed
and clothed by charity, without any effort being made to relieve them
from the pressure by which they are sunk in destitution. The spirit of
brotherhood is not there; and such charity has nothing of the spirit of
hope and progress in it. In another country, he will see the independent
insisting on the right of the destitute to relief, and providing by law
or custom for such relief. This is a great step, inasmuch as the
interests of the helpless are taken up by the powerful,--a movement
which must have something of the fraternal spirit for its impulse. In a
third, he hears of prison discipline societies, missionary societies,
temperance societies, and societies for the abolition of slavery. This
is better still. It is looking wide,--so wide as that the spirit of
charity acts as seeing the invisible,--the pagan trembling under the
tabu, the negro outraged in his best affections, and the criminal hidden
in the foul retreat of the common jail. It is also a training for
looking deep; for these methods of charity all go to prevent the woes of
future heathen generations, future slaves, drunkards, and criminals, as
well as to soften the lot of those who exist. If, in a fourth society,
the observer finds that the charity has gone deep as well as spread
wide, and that the benevolent are tugging at the roots of indigence and
crime, he may place this society above all the rest as to the brightness
of its prospects. Such a movement can proceed only from the spirit of
fraternity,--from the movers feeling it their own concern that any are
depressed and endangered as they would themselves refuse to be. The
elevation of the depressed classes in such a society, and the consequent
progression of the whole, may be considered certain; for "sooner will
the mother forget her sucking child" than the friends of their race
forsake those for whom they have cared and laboured with disinterested
love and toil. Criminals will never be plunged back into their former
state in America, nor women in France, nor negroes in the colonies of
England. The spirit of justice (which is ultimately one with charity)
has gone forth, not only conquering, but still to conquer.

To the prospects of the sufferers of society let the observer look; and
he will discern the prospects of the society itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Useful arts and inventions spread so rapidly in these days of improving
communication, that they are no longer the decisive marks of
enlightenment in a people that they were when each nation had the
benefit of its own discoveries, and little more. Yet it is worthy of
remark what kinds of improvement are the most generally adopted; whether
those which enhance the luxury of the rich, or such as benefit the whole
society. It is worthy of remark whether the newest delight is in
splendid club-houses, where gentlemen may command the rarest luxuries at
a smaller expense than would have been possible without the aid of the
principle of economy of association, or in the groups of mechanics'
dwellings, where the same principle is applied in France to furnishing
numbers with advantages of warmth, light, cookery, and cleanliness,
which they could no otherwise have enjoyed. It is worth observing
whether there are most mechanical inventions dedicated to the
selfishness of the rich, or committed to the custom of the working
classes. If the rich compose the great body of purchasers who are to be
considered by inventors, the working classes are probably depressed. If
there are most purchasers among the most numerous classes, the working
order is rising, and the state of things is hopeful.--How speed the
great discoveries and achievements which cannot, by any management, be
confined to the few? How prospers the steam-engine, the
rail-road,--strong hands which cannot be held back, by which a multitude
of the comforts of life are extended to the poor, who could not reach up
to them before? Do men glory most in the activity of these, or in the
invention of a new pleasure for the satiated?

In the finer arts, for whom are heads and hands employed? The study of
the ruins of all old countries tells the antiquary of the lives of the
rich alone. There are churches which record the living piety or the
dying penitence of the rich; priories and convents which speak of
monkish idleness, and the gross luxuries which have cloaked themselves
in asceticism; there are palaces of kings, castles of nobles, and villas
of opulent commoners; but nowhere, except in countries recently
desolated by war, are the relics of the abodes of the poor the study of
the traveller. If he now finds skill bestowed on the buildings which are
the exclusive resort of the labouring classes, and taste employed in
their embellishment, it is clear that the order is rising. The record of
each upward heave will remain for the observation of the future
traveller, in the buildings to which they resort;--a record as
indisputable as a mountain fissure presents to the geologist.

Time was when the dwellings of the opulent were ornamented with costly
and beautiful works of art, while the eye of the peasant and the artisan
found no other beauty to rest on than the face of his beloved, and the
forms of his children. At this day, there are countries in Europe where
the working man aspires to nothing more than to stick up an image of the
Virgin, gay with coloured paper, in a corner of his dwelling. But there
are other lands where a higher taste for beauty is gratified. There are
good prints provided cheap, to hang in the place of the ancient sampler
or daub. Casts from all the finest works of the statuary, ancient and
modern, are hawked about the streets, and may be seen in the windows
where green parrots and brown cats in plaster used to annoy the eye. In
societies where the working class is thus worked for, in the
gratification of its finer tastes, the class must be rising. It is
rising into the region of intellectual luxury, and must have been borne
up thither by the expansion of the fraternal spirit.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great means of progress, for individuals, for nations, and for the
race at large, is the multiplication of Objects of interest. The
indulgence of the passions is the characteristic of men and societies
who have but one occupation and a single interest; while the passions
cause comparatively little trouble where the intellect is active, and
the life diversified with objects. Pride takes a safe direction,
jealousy is diverted from its purposes of revenge, and anger combats
with circumstances, instead of with human foes. The need of mutual aid,
the habit of co-operation caused by interest in social objects, has a
good effect upon men's feelings and manners towards each other; and out
of this grows the mutual regard which naturally strengthens into the
fraternal spirit. The Russian boor, imprisoned in his serfhood, cannot
comprehend what it is to care for any but the few individuals who are
before his eyes, and the Grand Lama has probably no great sympathy with
the race; but in a town within whose compass almost all occupations are
going forward, and where each feels more or less interest in what
engages his neighbour, nothing of importance to the race can become
known without producing more or less emotion. A famine in India, an
earthquake in Syria, causes sorrow. The inhabitants meet to petition
against the wrongs inflicted on people whom they have never seen, and
give of the fruits of their labour to sufferers who have never heard of
them, and from whom they can receive no return of acknowledgment. It is
found that the more pursuits and aims are multiplied, the more does the
appreciation of human happiness expand, till it becomes the interest
which predominates over all the rest. This is an interest which works
out its own gratification, more surely than any other. Wherever,
therefore, the greatest variety of pursuits is met with, it is fair to
conclude that the fraternal spirit of society is the most vigorous, and
the society itself the most progressive.

This is as far as any nation has as yet attained,--to a warmer than
common sympathy among its own members, and compassion for distant
sufferers. When the time comes for nations to care for one another, and
co-operate as individuals, such a people will be the first to hold out
the right hand.

       *       *       *       *       *

Manners have not been treated of separately from Morals in any of the
preceding divisions of the objects of the traveller's observation. The
reason is, that manners are inseparable from morals, or, at least, cease
to have meaning when separated. Except as manifestations of morals, they
have no interest, and can have no permanent existence. A traveller who
should report of them exclusively is not only no philosopher, but does
not merit the name of an observer; for he can have no insight into the
matter which he professes to convey an account of. His interpretation of
what is before his eyes is more likely to be wrong than correct, like
that of the primitive star-gazers, who reported that the planets went
backwards and forwards in the sky. To him, and to him only, who has
studied the principles of morals, and thus possessed himself of a key to
the mysteries of all social weal and woe, will manners be an index
answering as faithfully to the internal movements, harmonious or
discordant, of society, as the human countenance to the workings of the
human heart.



    "He that questioneth much shall learn much, and content much;
    but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the
    persons whom he asketh; for he shall give them occasion to
    please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually
    gather knowledge."

The Discourse of individuals is an indispensable commentary upon the
classes of national facts which the traveller has observed. To begin the
work of observation with registering this private discourse, is, as has
been said, useless, from the diversity that there is in men's minds, and
from the narrowness of the mental vision of each as he stands in a
crowd. The testimony of no two would be found to agree; and, if the
traveller depended upon them for his general facts, he could never
furnish a record which could be trusted. But, the facts being once
obtained by stronger evidence than individual testimony,--certain fixed
points being provided round which testimony may gather,--the discourse
of individuals assumes its proper value, and becomes illustrative where
before it would have been only bewildering. The traveller must obtain
all that he can of it. He must seek intercourse with all classes of the
society he visits,--not only the rich and the poor, but those who may be
classed by profession, pursuit, habits of mind, and turn of manners. He
must converse with young men and maidens, old men and children, beggars
and savans, postillions and potentates. He must study little ones at
their mothers' knees, and flirtations in ball-rooms, and dealings in the
market-place. He must overhear the mirth of revellers, and the grief of
mourners. Wherever there is speech, he must devote himself to hear.

One way in which discourse serves as a commentary upon the things he has
observed is in the exhibition of certain general characters of its own,
which are accordant with the general facts he has registered. The
conversation of almost every nation has its characteristics, like that
of smaller societies. The style of discourse in an English village is
unlike that of a populous town; and the people of a town which is no
thoroughfare talk differently from the inhabitants of one which is. In
the same way is the general discourse of a whole people modified. In one
country less regard is paid to truth in particulars, to circumstantial
accuracy, than in another. One nation has more sincerity; another more
kindliness in speech. One proses; another is light and sportive. One is
frank; another reserved. One flatters the stranger; another is careless
of him: and the discourse of the one is designed to produce a certain
effect upon him; while that of the other flows out spontaneously, or is
restrained, according to the traveller's own apparent humour. Such
characteristics of the general discourse may be noted as a
corroboration of suppositions drawn from other facts. They may be taken
as evidence of the respective societies being catholic or puritanic in
spirit; crude or accomplished; free and simple, or restrained and
cautious; self-satisfied, or deficient in self-respect. The observer
must be very careful not to generalize too hastily upon the discourse
addressed to him; but there are everywhere large conclusions which he
cannot help making. However wide the variety of individuals with whom he
may converse, it is scarcely likely that he will meet in Spain with any
number who will prose like the Americans; or in Germany with many who
will treat him with the light jests of the French. Such general
tendencies of any society as he may have been informed of by the study
of things, he will find evidenced also by the general character of its

Another way in which discourse serves as a commentary, is by showing
what interests the people most. If the observer goes with a free mind
and an open heart, not full of notions and feelings of his own, but
ready to resign himself to those of the people he visits,--if he commits
himself to his sympathies, and makes himself one with those about him,
he cannot but presently discover and appreciate what interests them

A high Tory in America will be more misled than enlightened by what is
said to him, and so will a bigoted Republican in England. A prim Quaker
will not understand the French from half a year of Parisian
conversation, any more than a mere dandy would feel at home at Jena or
Heidelberg. But a traveller free from gross prejudice and selfishness
can hardly be many days in a new society without learning what are its
chief interests. Even savages would speak to him of the figure-head of
their canoe; and others would go through, in time, each its own range of
topics, till the German had poured out to him his philosophical views,
and the Frenchman his solicitudes for the amelioration of society, and
the American his patriotic aspirations, and the Swiss his domestic
sentiment. Whatever may be the restrictions imposed by rulers upon
discourse, whatever may be the penalties imposed upon particular kinds
of communication, all are unavailing in the presence of sympathy. At its
touch the abundance of the heart will gush out at the lips. Men are so
made that they cannot but speak of what interests them most to those who
most share the interest. This is a decree of nature by which the decrees
of despots are annulled. The power of a ruler may avail to keep an
observer on his own side the frontier; but, if he has once passed it, it
is his own fault if he does not become as well acquainted with the
prevailing sentiment of the inhabitants, amidst the deadest public
silence, as if it were shouted out to the four winds. If he carries a
simple mind and an open heart, there is no mine in Siberia so deep but
the voice of complaint will come up to him from it, and no home so
watched by priests but that he will know what is concealed from the
confessor. All this would do little more than mislead him by means of
his sympathies, if such confidence were his only means of knowledge;
but, coming in corroboration of what he has learned in the large
elsewhere, it becomes unquestionable evidence of what it is that
interests the people most.

He must bear in mind that there are a few universal interests which
everywhere stand first, and that it is the modification of these by
local influences which he has to observe; and also what comes next in
order to these. For instance, the domestic are the primary interests
among all human beings. It is so where the New England father dismisses
his sons to the West,--and where the Hindoo mother deserts her infants
to seek the shade of her husband through the fire,--and where the
Spanish parent consigns her youngest to the convent,--as truly as where
the Norwegian peasant enlarges his roof to admit another and another
family of his descendants. It is for the traveller to trust the words
and tones of parental love which meet his ear in every home of every
land; and to mark by what it is that this prime and universal interest
is modified, so as to produce such sacrifice of itself. Taking the
affection for granted, which the private discourse of parents and
children compels him to do, what light does he find cast upon the
influence of the priests here, and pride of territory there;--upon the
superstition which is the weakness of one people, and the social
ambition in the midst of poverty which is the curse of another!

He must also find out from the conversation of the people he visits what
is their particular interest, from observing what ranks next to those
which are universal. In one country, parents love their families first,
and wealth next; in another, their families first, and glory next; in a
third, their families first, and liberty next; and so on, through the
whole range of objects of human desire. Once having discerned the mode,
he will find it easy to take the suffrage without much danger of

The chief reason why the discourse of individuals, apart from the
observation of classes of facts, is almost purely deceptive as to
morals, is that the traveller can see no more than one in fifty thousand
of the people, and has no security that those he meets are a sample of
the whole. This difficulty does not interfere with one very important
advantage which he may obtain from conversation,--knowledge of and light
upon particular questions. A stranger might wish to learn the state of
Christianity in England. If he came to London, and began with
conversation, he might meet a Church-of-England-man one day, a Catholic
the next, a Presbyterian the third, a Quaker the fourth, a Methodist the
fifth, and so on, till the result was pure bewilderment. But if he
conversed with intelligent persons, he would find that questions were
pending respecting the church and dissent,--involving the very
principles of the administration of religion. The opinions he hears upon
these questions may be as various as the persons he converses with. He
may be unable to learn the true characters of the statesmen and
religious leaders concerned in their management: but he gains something
of more value. Light is thrown upon the state of things from which alone
these questions could have arisen. From free newspapers he might have
learned the nature of the controversy; but in social intercourse much
more is presented to him. He sees the array of opinions marshalled on
each side, or on all the sides of the question; and receives an
infinite number of suggestions and illustrations which could never have
reached him but from the conflict of intellects, and the diversity of
views and statements with which he is entertained in discourse. The
traveller in every country should thus welcome the discussion of
questions in which the inhabitants are interested, taking strenuous care
to hear the statements of every party. From the intimate connexion of
certain modes of opinion with all great questions, he will gain light
upon the whole condition of opinion from its exhibition in one case. New
subjects of research will be brought within his reach; new paths of
inquiry will be opened; new trains of ideas will be awakened, and fresh
minds brought into communication with his own. If he can secure the good
fortune of conversing with the leaders on both sides of great
questions,--with the men who have made it a pursuit to collect all the
facts of the case, and to follow out its principles,--there is no
estimating his advantage. There is, perhaps, scarcely one great subject
of national controversy which, thus opened to him, would not afford him
glimpses into all the other general affairs of the day; and each time
that his mind grasps a definite opposition of popular opinion, he has
accomplished a stage in his pilgrimage of inquiry into the tendencies of
a national mind. He will therefore be anxious to engage all he meets in
full and free conversation on prevailing topics, leaving it to them to
open their minds in their own way, and only taking care of his
own,--that he preserves his impartiality, and does no injustice to
question or persons by bias of his own.

In arranging his plans for conversing with all kinds of people, the
observer will not omit to cultivate especially the acquaintance of
persons who themselves see the most of society. The value of their
testimony on particular points must depend much on that of their minds
and characters; but, from the very fact of their having transactions
with a large portion of society, they cannot avoid affording many lights
to a stranger which he could obtain by no other means. The conversation
of lawyers in a free country, of physicians, of merchants and
manufacturers in central trading situations, of innkeepers and of
barbers everywhere, must yield him much which he could not have
collected for himself. The minds of a great variety of people are daily
acting upon the thoughts of such, and the facts of a great variety of
lives upon their experience; and whether they be more or less wise in
the use of their opportunities, they must be unlike what they would have
been in a state of seclusion. If the stranger listens to what they are
most willing to tell, he may learn much of popular modes of thinking and
feeling, of modes of living, acting, and transacting, which will confirm
and illustrate impressions and ideas which he had previously gained from
other sources.

The result of the whole of what he hears will probably be to the
traveller of the same kind with that which the journey of life yields to
the wisest of its pilgrims. As he proceeds, he will learn to condemn
less, and to admire, not less, but differently. He will find no
intellect infallible, no judgment free from prejudice, and therefore no
affections without their bias; but, on the other hand, he will find no
error which does not branch out of some truth; no wrath which has not
some reason in it; nothing wrong which is not the perversion of
something right; no wickedness that is not weakness. If he is compelled
to give up the adoration of individuals, the man-worship which is the
religion of young days, he surrenders with it the spirit of contempt
which ought also to be proper to youth. To a healthy mind it is
impossible to mix largely with men, under a variety of circumstances,
and wholly to despise either societies or individuals; so magnificent is
the intellect of men in combination, so universal are their most
privately nourished affections. He must deny himself the repose of
implicit faith in the intellect of any one; but he cannot refuse the
luxury of trust in the moral power of the whole. Instead of the complete
set of dogmas with which he was perhaps once furnished, on the authority
of a few individuals, he brings home a store of learning on the great
subject of human prejudices: but he cannot have watched the vast effects
of a community of sentiment,--he cannot have observed multitudes
tranquillized into social order, stimulated to social duty, and even
impelled to philanthropic self-sacrifice, without being convinced that
men were made to live in a bond of brotherhood. He cannot have sat in
conversation under the village elm, or in sunny vineyards, or by the
embers of the midnight fire, without knowing how spirit is formed to
unfold itself to spirit; and how, when the solitary is set in families,
his sympathies bind him to them by such a chain as selfish interest
never yet wove. He cannot have travelled wisely and well without being
convinced that moral power is the force which lifts man to be not only
lord of the earth, but scarcely below the angels; and that the higher
species of moral power, which are likely to come more and more into
use, clothe him in a kind of divinity to which angels themselves might
bow.--No one will doubt this who has been admitted into that range of
sanctuaries, the homes of nations; and who has witnessed the godlike
achievements of the servants, sages, and martyrs, who have existed
wherever man has been.



    "In sea-voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and
    sea, men make diaries; but in land-travel, wherein so much is to
    be observed, they omit it."--BACON.

    "Stick to your journal course; the breach of custom
    Is breach of all."--_Cymbeline._

Travellers cannot be always on the alert, any more than other men. Their
hours of weariness and of capricious idleness come, as at home; and
there is no security against their occurring at inconvenient
times,--just when some characteristic spectacle is to be witnessed, or
some long-desired information is in waiting. By a little forethought,
the observer may guard against some of the effects of seizures of
apathy. If he would rather sleep in the carriage than get out to see a
waterfall, he can only feel ashamed, and rouse himself to do his duty:
but, by precaution, he may guard himself from passing by some things
less beautiful than waterfalls, and to have seen which is less necessary
to his reputation as a traveller; but which yet he will be more sorry
eventually to have lost.

To keep himself up to his business, and stimulate his flagging
attention, he should provide himself, before setting out, with a set of
queries, so prepared as to include every great class of facts connected
with the condition of a people, and so divided and arranged as that he
can turn to the right set at the fitting moment.--These queries are not
designed to be thrust into the hand of any one who may have information
to give. They should not even be allowed to catch his eye. The traveller
who has the air of taking notes in the midst of conversation, is in
danger of bringing away information imperfect as far as it goes, and
much restricted in quantity in comparison with what it would be if he
allowed it to be forgotten that he was a foreigner seeking information.
If he permits the conversation to flow on naturally, without checking it
by the production of the pencil and tablets, he will, even if his memory
be not of the best, have more to set down at night than if he noted on
the spot, as evidence, what a companion might be saying to him. But a
glance in the morning at his list of queries may suggest inquiries which
he might not otherwise remember to make; and they will help him
afterwards to arrange the knowledge he has gained. He can be constantly
adding to them as he goes along, and as new subjects arise, till he is
in possession of a catechism on the facts which indicate morals and
manners; which must prevent his researches being so capricious, and his
information so vague as his moods and his idleness would otherwise
occasionally make them.

The character of these queries must, of course, depend much on where the
traveller means to go. A set which would suit one nation would not
completely apply to any other. The observer will do wisely to employ
his utmost skill in framing them. His cares will be better bestowed on
this than even on his travelling appointments, important as these are to
his comfort. When he has done his best in the preparation of his lists,
he must still keep on the watch to enlarge them, as occasion arises.

Some travellers unite in one the functions of the query list and the
journal: having the diary headed and arranged for the reception of
classified information. But this seems to be debasing the function of a
journal, whose object ought to be to reflect the mind of a traveller,
and give back to him hereafter the image of what he thought and felt day
by day. This is its primary function;--a most useful one, as every
traveller knows who has kept one during a year's wandering in a foreign
country. On his return, he laughs at the crudity of the information, and
the childishness of the impressions, set down in the opening pages; and
traces, with as much wonder as interest, the gradual expansion of his
knowledge, education of his perceptions, and maturing of his judgments
as to what is before him, as week succeeds to week, and each month
mellows the experience of the last.

The subordinate purpose of the journal is to record facts; and the way
in which this is done ought not to depend on the stationer's rule, but
on the nature of the traveller's mind. No man can write down daily all
that he learns in a day's travel. It ought to be a matter of serious
consideration with him what he will insert, and what trust to his
memory. The simplest method seems to be to set down what is most likely
to be let slip, and to trust to the memory what the affections and
tastes of the traveller will not allow him to forget. One who especially
enjoys intimate domestic intercourse will write, not fireside
conversations, but the opinions of statesmen, and the doctrine of
parties on great social questions. One whose tastes are religious will
note less on the subject of public worship and private religious
discourse, than dates, numbers, and facts on subjects of subordinate
interest. All should record anecdotes and sayings which illustrate
character. These are disjointed, and will escape almost any memory, if
not secured in writing. Those who do not draw should also note scenery.
A very few descriptive touches will bring back a landscape, with all its
human interest, after a lapse of years: while perhaps there is no memory
in the world which will present unaided the distinctive character of a
succession of scenes. The returned traveller is ashamed to see the
extent of his record of his personal feelings. His changes of mood, his
sufferings from heat or cold, from hunger or weariness, are the most
interesting things to him at the moment; and down they go, in the place
of things much better worth recording, and he pays the penalty in many a
blush hereafter. His best method will be to record as little as possible
about himself; and, of other things, most of what he is pretty sure to
forget, and least of what he can hardly help remembering.

Generally speaking, he will find it desirable to defer the work of
generalization till he gets home. In the earlier stages of his journey,
at least, he will restrict his pen to the record of facts and
impressions; or, if his mind should have an unconquerable theorizing
tendency, he will be so far cautious as to put down his inferences
conjecturally. It is easy to do this; and it may make an eternal
difference to the observer's love of truth, and attainment of it,
whether he preserves his philosophic thoughts in the form of dogmas or
of queries.

Though it is commonly spoken of as a settled thing that the journal
should be written at night, there are many who do not agree to this.
There are some whose memory fails when the body is tired, and who find
themselves clear-headed about many things in the morning which were but
imperfectly remembered before they had the refreshment of sleep. The
early morning is probably the best time for the greater number; but it
is a safe general rule that the journal should be written in the
interval when the task is pleasantest. Whether the regularity be
pleasant or not, (and to the most conscientious travellers it is the
most agreeable,) the entries ought to be made daily, if possible. The
loss incurred by delay is manifest to any one who has tried. The
shortest entries are always those which have been deferred. The delay of
a single day is found to reduce the matter unaccountably. In the midst
of his weariness and unwillingness to take out his pen, the traveller
may comfort himself by remembering that he will reap the reward of
diligence in satisfaction when he gets home. He may assure himself that
no lines that he can write can ever be more valuable than those in which
he hives his treasures of travel. If he turns away from the task, he
will have uneasy feelings connected with his journey as often as he
looks back upon it;--feelings of remorse for his idleness, and of regret
for irretrievable loss. If, on the other hand, he perseveres in the
daily duty, he will go forward each morning with a disburthened mind,
and will find, in future years, that he loves the very blots and
weather-stains on the pages which are so many remembrancers of his
satisfactory labours and profitable pleasures.

Besides the journal, the traveller should have a note-book,--always at
hand,--not to be pulled out before people's eyes, for the entry of facts
related, but to be used for securing the transient appearances which,
though revealing so much to an observing mind, cannot be recalled with
entire precision. In all the countries of the world, groups by the
wayside are the most eloquent of pictures. The traveller who lets
himself be whirled past them, unobservant or unrecording, loses more
than any devices of inquiry at his inn can repair. If he can sketch, he
should rarely allow a characteristic group of persons, or nook of
scenery, to escape his pencil. If he cannot use the pencil, a few
written words will do. Two lines may preserve for him an exemplification
which may be of great future value.--The farmers' wives of New England,
talking over the snake-fence at sunset, are in themselves an
illustration of many things: so is the stern Indian in his
blanket-cloak, standing on a mound on the prairie; so is the chamois
hunter on his pinnacle, and the pedestrian student in the valleys of the
Hartz, and the pine-cutters on the steeps of Norway, and the travelling
merchant on the dyke in Holland, and the vine-dressers in Alsace, and
the beggars in the streets of Spanish cities, and all the children of
all countries at their play. The traveller does not dream of passing
unnoticed the cross in the wilderness, beneath which some brother
pilgrim lies murdered; or the group of brigands seen in the shadow of
the wood; or a company of Sisters of Charity, going forth to their deeds
of mercy; or a pair of inquisitors, busy on the errands of the Holy
Office; or anything else which strongly appeals to his imagination or
his personal feelings. These pictures, thus engraved in his memory, he
may safely leave to be entered in his journal, night or morning: but
groups and scenes which ought to be quite as interesting, because they
reveal the thoughts and ways of men, (the more familiarly the more
faithfully,) should be as earnestly observed; and, to give them a chance
of equal preservation, they should be noted on the instant. If a
foreigner opens his eyes after a nap in travelling an Irish road, would
it not be wise to note at once what he sees that he could not see
elsewhere? He perceives that the green lanes which branch off from the
road are more crowded with foliage, and less definite in their windings,
than any other green lanes he has seen near high roads. The road itself
is _sui generis_, with its border of rank grass, with tufts of
straggling briers, and its rough stone walls, fringed with weeds, and
gay with wild flowers. A beggarly wretch is astride on the top, singing
the Doxology to the tune of Paudeen O'Rafferty, and keeping time with
his heels: and, some way off, an old man crouches in the grass, playing
cards,--the right hand against the left,--reviling the winner, and
tenderly consoling the loser. Presently the stranger passes a roofless
hut, where he sees, either a party of boys and girls throwing turf for a
handful of meal, or a beggar-woman and her children resting in the shade
of the walls to eat their cold potatoes. Such scenes could be beheld
nowhere but in Ireland: but there is no country in the world where
groups and pictures as characteristic do not present themselves to the
observing eye, and in such quick succession that they are liable to be
confused and lost, if not secured at the moment by brief touches of
pencil or pen. The note-book should be the repository of such.

Mechanical methods are nothing but in proportion to the power which uses
them; as the intellectual accomplishments of the traveller avail him
little, and may even bring him back less wise than he went out,--a
wanderer from truth, as well as from home,--unless he sees by a light
from his heart shining through the eyes of his mind. He may see, and
hear, and record, and infer, and conclude for ever; and he will still
not understand if his heart be idle,--if he have not sympathy. Sympathy
by itself may do much: with fit intellectual and mechanical aids, it
cannot but make the traveller a wise man. His journey may be but for a
brief year, or even month; but if, by his own sympathy, he grasps and
brings home to himself the life of a fresh portion of his race, he gains
a wisdom for which he will be the better for ever.


[A] Penny Magazine, vol. ii. p. 309.

[B] Volney's Survey of the Revolutions of Empires, pp. 25, 26.

[C] Mme. D'Aunoy.

[D] Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations."

[E] Jacob, "Travels in the South of Spain."

[F] HOME, by Miss Sedgwick, pp. 37, 39.

[G] An exception to this may meet the eye of a traveller once in a
lifetime. There is a village church-yard in England where the following
inscription is to be seen. After the name and date occurs the following:

               He was a Bad Son,
                 A Bad Husband,
                 A Bad Father.
    "The wicked shall be turned into Hell."

[H] Edinburgh Review, vol. xxxix. p. 67.

[I] Edinburgh Review, vol. xlvi. p. 309.

[J] Edinburgh Review, vol. xxvi. pp. 7, 8.

[K] Corn Law Rhymer. Elliott of Sheffield.

[L] Travels of Minna and Godfrey in Many Lands, p. 53.

[M] Rogers's Italy, p. 172.

[N] Memoirs of an American Lady.


    Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



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SKETCHES OF POPULAR TUMULTS; illustrative of the Evils of Social
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To supply a manifest deficiency in the books already published for the
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1. _Farm Service._


2. _House Service_

    Servant of all Work
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    Errand Boy
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    Grocer, Cheesemonger, Oilman, Tobacconist
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Transcriber's Notes:

Archaic and unexpected spelling and hyphenation have been retained as
they appear in the original publication, including recompence,
negociated, hinderance, befals, proprietory, tabu and savans. The
following changes to the original publication have been made:

    Page 43
    will not pour out their stores _changed to_
    will not pour out their stories

    Page 239
    the occupations which the mass o
    the occupations which the mass of

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