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Title: History of Civilization in England,  Vol. 1 of 3
Author: Buckle, Henry Thomas
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Civilization in England,  Vol. 1 of 3" ***

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                        CIVILIZATION IN ENGLAND.

                          HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE.

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.
                                VOL. I.

                             _NEW EDITION._

                            60 YORK STREET.

                     ANALYTICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                               CHAPTER I.



  Materials for writing history                                       1-3

  Narrow range of knowledge possessed by historians                   4-5

  Object of the present work                                            6

  Human actions, if not the result of fixed laws, must be due
  to chance or to supernatural interference                             8

  Probable origin of free-will and predestination                    9-12

  Theological basis of predestination, and metaphysical basis
  of free-will                                                      12-16

  The actions of men are caused by their antecedents, which
  exist either in the human mind or in the external world           18-20

  Therefore history is the modification of man by nature, and
  of nature by man                                                  20-21

  Statistics prove the regularity of actions in regard to
  murder and other crimes                                           22-26

  Similar proof respecting suicides                                 27-29

  Also respecting the number of marriages annually contracted       31-32

  And respecting the number of letters sent undirected                 32

  The historian must ascertain whether mind or nature has most
  influenced human actions; and therefore there can be no
  history without physical science                                  33-35

  NOTE A. Passages from Kant on free-will and necessity             35-38

                              CHAPTER II.


  Man is affected by four classes of physical agents; namely,
  climate, food, soil, and the general aspect of nature             39-41

  Operation of these agents on the accumulation of wealth           41-51

  Their operation on the distribution of wealth                     51-64

  Illustrations of these principles from Ireland                    65-67

  From Hindustan                                                    69-82

  From Egypt                                                        82-93

  From Central America                                              93-94

  And from Mexico and Peru                                             95

  Operation of physical laws in Brazil                            101-108

  Influence of the general aspects of nature upon the imagination
  and the understanding                                           118-119

  Under some aspects, nature is more prominent than man;
  under others, man more than nature                                  120

  In the former case the imagination is more stimulated than
  the understanding, and to this class all the earliest
  civilizations belong                                            120-121

  The imagination is excited by earthquakes and volcanoes         122-124

  And by danger generally                                         125-126

  Also by an unhealthy climate making life precarious             126-130

  From these causes the civilizations exterior to Europe are
  mainly influenced by the imagination, those in Europe by the
  understanding                                                   130-132

  This proposition illustrated by a comparison between Hindustan
  and Greece                                                      132-147

  Further illustration from Central America                       147-148

  Chemical and physiological note on the connection between food
  and animal heat                                                 148-151

                              CHAPTER III.


  In the last chapter, two leading facts have been established,
  which broadly separate Europe from other parts of the world     152-156

  Hence it appears that of the two classes of mental and physical
  laws the mental are the more important for the history of
  Europe                                                          156-157

  Examination of the two metaphysical methods of generalizing
  mental laws                                                     158-165

  Failure of these methods                                        165-167

                              CHAPTER IV.


  The historical method of studying mental laws is superior to
  the metaphysical method                                         168-174

  The progress of society is twofold, moral and intellectual      174-175

  Comparison of the moral with the intellectual element               175

  There is no evidence that the natural faculties of man improve  176-177

  Progress, therefore, depends on an improvement in the
  circumstances under which the faculties come into play              178

  The standard of action having varied in every age, the causes
  of action must be variable                                          179

  But moral truths have not changed                                   179

  And intellectual truths are constantly changing                     181

  Intellectual truths are the cause of progress                       182

  Ignorant men are mischievous in proportion to their sincerity   183-185

  Illustrations of this from Rome and Spain                       185-188

  The diminution of religious persecution is owing to the
  progress of knowledge                                           188-190

  The diminution of the warlike spirit is owing to the same cause 190-192

  Illustrations from Russia and Turkey                            195-197

  As civilization advances, men of intellect avoid becoming
  soldiers                                                            198

  Illustrations of this from ancient Greece and modern Europe     198-202

  The three principal ways in which the progress of knowledge
  has lessened the warlike spirit are:
  1. The invention of gunpowder                                   203-209
  2. The discoveries made by political economists                 210-211
  3. The application of steam to purposes of travelling           219-223

  Inference to be drawn as to the causes of social progress       224-226

                               CHAPTER V.


  Recapitulation of preceding arguments                               227

  Moral feelings influence individuals, but do not affect society
  in the aggregate                                                228-229

  This being as yet little understood, historians have not
  collected proper materials for writing history                      230

  Reasons why the present history is restricted to England        231-235

  Comparison of the history of England with that of France        235-236

  With that of Germany                                            237-240

  With that of the United States of America                       240-242

  Necessity of ascertaining the fundamental laws of intellectual
  progress                                                          243

  Much may be gained in that respect from studying the histories
  of Germany, America, France, Spain, and Scotland                244-246

  Deductive spirit in Scotland                                    246-252

  Influence of religion on the progress of society                253-266

  Illustration from the efforts of missionaries                   254-256

  Illustration from the Hebrews                                   257-258

  Illustration from the early history of Christianity             259-262

  And from Sweden and Scotland                                    263-266

  Influence of literature on the progress of society              268-272

  Influence of government on the progress of society              272-287

  Illustrated by repeal of the corn-laws                          273-274

  The best legislation abrogates former legislation                   275

  The interference of politicians with trade has injured trade    276-278

  Legislators have caused smuggling with all its attendant crimes 278-280

  They have also increased hypocrisy and perjury                  281-283

  By their laws against usury they have increased usury           283-284

  By other laws they have hindered the advance of knowledge       284-285

  England has been less interfered with in these ways than
  other nations, and is therefore more prosperous than they       286-287

                              CHAPTER VI.


  Conclusions arrived at by the preceding investigations              288

  An inquiry into the changes in historical researches will throw
  light on the changes in society                                 289-290

  The earliest histories are ballads                              291-295

  One cause of error in history was the invention of writing      296-300

  A change of religion in any country also tends to corrupt its
  early history                                                   300-307

  But the most active cause of all was the influence of the
  clergy                                                          307-308

  Absurdities which were consequently believed                    309-317

  Illustration of this from the history of Charlemagne by Turpin  318-321

  And from the history of the Britons by Geoffrey                 321-325

  The first improvement in writing history began in the
  fourteenth and fifteenth centuries                                  325

  But credulity was still prevalent, as is seen in Comines        327-328

  And in the predictions of St[oe]ffler respecting the Deluge         330

  Also in the work of Dr. Horst on the Golden Tooth               331-332

                              CHAPTER VII.


  This absurd way of writing history was the natural result of the
  state of the age                                                    333

  The spirit of doubt was a necessary precursor of improvement        334

  Hence the supreme importance of scepticism                      335-336

  Origin of religious toleration in England                           337

  Hooker contrasted with Jewel                                    339-343

  Scepticism and spirit of inquiry on other subjects              343-346

  This tendency displayed in Chillingworth                        347-350

  Chillingworth compared with Hooker and Jewel                        350

  Subsequent movement in the same direction, and increasing
  indifference to theological matters                             352-355

  Great advantage of this                                         356-358

  Under James I. and Charles I. this opposition to authority
  assumes a political character                                   359-361

  Under Charles II. it takes a frivolous form at court                363

  Influence of this spirit upon Sir Thomas Browne                 365-367

  Its influence upon Boyle                                        367-370

  It causes the establishment of the Royal Society                    371

  Impetus now given to physical science, and attempts of the
  clergy to oppose it                                                 372

  The clergy are naturally hostile to physical science, because
  it lessens their own power                                      372-373

  Illustration of this by the superstition of sailors and
  agriculturists as compared with soldiers and mechanics          375-380

  Legislative improvements in the reign of Charles II. in spite
  of political degradation                                        380-386

  These improvements were due to the sceptical and inquiring
  spirit                                                          387-388

  Aided by the vices of the king                                      388

  And by his dislike of the church                                    389

  He encouraged Hobbes, and neglected the ablest of the clergy    390-393

  The clergy, to recover their ground, allied themselves with
  James II.                                                       394-396

  This alliance was dissolved by the Declaration of Indulgence    397-399

  The clergy then united with the dissenters and brought about
  the Revolution of 1688                                          399-400

  Importance of the Revolution                                    401-403

  But the clergy regretted it, and repented of their own act          403

  Hostility between them and William III.                         405-410

  Hence a schism in the church                                    410-413

  Fresh encouragement thus given to scepticism                    413-414

  Convocation first despised, and then abolished                  414-415

  After the Revolution the ablest men confine themselves to
  secular professions, and avoided entering the church                415

  The clergy lost all offices out of the church, and their
  numbers diminished in both Houses of Parliament                 416-418

  The church rallied for a moment under Anne                      418-420

  But was weakened by the dissenters, headed by Wesley and
  Whitefield                                                      420-424

  Theology separated from morals and from politics                424-426

  Rapid succession of sceptical controversies                     427-429

  Knowledge begins to be diffused, and takes a popular form       430-433

  Political meetings, and publication of parliamentary debates    433-434

  Doctrine of personal representation, and idea of independence       436

  Corresponding change in the style of authors                    436-439

  Hence great reforms became inevitable                           439-440

  This tendency was aided by George I. and George II.             441-443

  But discouraged by George III., under whom began a dangerous
  political reaction                                              444-446

  Ignorance of George III.                                            446

  Subserviency of Pitt                                            446-449

  Incompetence of other statesmen, and the king's hatred of
  great men                                                       449-451

  Deterioration of the House of Lords                             451-455

  Ability and accomplishments of Burke                            458-461

  He opposed the views of George III., and was neglected by him   462-467

  Burke's subsequent hallucinations and violence                  467-476

  The king now favoured him                                       476-477

  Policy of George III. respecting America                        478-482

  This policy reacted upon England                                482-483

  Policy in regard to France                                      483-486

  This also reacted upon England                                      486

  And produced arbitrary laws against the liberties of England    487-493

  Which were zealously enforced by the executive                  494-496

  Gloomy political prospects of England late in the eighteenth
  century                                                         496-498

  But, owing to the progress of knowledge, a counter reaction
  was preparing                                                   498-502

  To which, and to the increasing power of public opinion,
  England owes her great reforms of the nineteenth century        502-505

                        LIST OF AUTHORS QUOTED.

[In order to assist those who wish to verify my references, and also
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                    *       *       *       *       *


                        _GENERAL INTRODUCTION._

                               CHAPTER I.


Of all the great branches of human knowledge, history is that upon which
most has been written, and which has always been most popular. And it
seems to be the general opinion that the success of historians has, on
the whole, been equal to their industry; and that if on this subject
much has been studied, much also is understood.

This confidence in the value of history is very widely diffused, as we
see in the extent to which it is read, and in the share it occupies in
all plans of education. Nor can it be denied that, in a certain point of
view, such confidence is perfectly justifiable. It cannot be denied that
materials have been collected which, when looked at in the aggregate,
have a rich and imposing appearance. The political and military annals
of all the great countries in Europe, and of most of those out of
Europe, have been carefully compiled, put together in a convenient form,
and the evidence on which they rest has been tolerably well sifted.
Great attention has been paid to the history of legislation, also to
that of religion: while considerable, though inferior, labour has been
employed in tracing the progress of science, of literature, of the fine
arts, of useful inventions, and, latterly, of the manners and comforts
of the people. In order to increase our knowledge of the past,
antiquities of every kind have been examined; the sites of ancient
cities have been laid bare, coins dug up and deciphered, inscriptions
copied, alphabets restored, hieroglyphics interpreted, and, in some
instances, long-forgotten languages reconstructed and re-arranged.
Several of the laws which regulate the changes of human speech have been
discovered, and, in the hands of philologists, have been made to
elucidate even the most obscure periods in the early migration of
nations. Political economy has been raised to a science, and by it much
light has been thrown on the causes of that unequal distribution of
wealth which is the most fertile source of social disturbance.
Statistics have been so sedulously cultivated, that we have the most
extensive information, not only respecting the material interests of
men, but also respecting their moral peculiarities; such as, the amount
of different crimes, the proportion they bear to each other, and the
influence exercised over them by age, sex, education, and the like. With
this great movement physical geography has kept pace: the phenomena of
climate have been registered, mountains measured, rivers surveyed and
tracked to their source, natural productions of all kinds carefully
studied, and their hidden properties unfolded: while every food which
sustains life has been chemically analysed, its constituents numbered
and weighed, and the nature of the connexion between them and the human
frame has, in many cases, been satisfactorily ascertained. At the same
time, and that nothing should be left undone which might enlarge our
knowledge of the events by which man is affected, there have been
instituted circumstantial researches in many other departments; so that
in regard to the most civilized people, we are now acquainted with the
rate of their mortality, of their marriages, the proportion of their
births, the character of their employments, and the fluctuations both
in their wages and in the prices of the commodities necessary to their
existence. These and similar facts have been collected, methodized, and
are ripe for use. Such results, which form, as it were, the anatomy of a
nation, are remarkable for their minuteness; and to them there have been
joined other results less minute, but more extensive. Not only have the
actions and characteristics of the great nations been recorded, but a
prodigious number of different tribes in all the parts of the known
world have been visited and described by travellers, thus enabling us to
compare the condition of mankind in every stage of civilization, and
under every variety of circumstance. When we moreover add, that this
curiosity respecting our fellow-creatures is apparently insatiable; that
it is constantly increasing; that the means of gratifying it are also
increasing, and that most of the observations which have been made are
still preserved;--when we put all these things together, we may form a
faint idea of the immense value of that vast body of facts which we now
possess, and by the aid of which the progress of mankind is to be

But if, on the other hand, we are to describe the use that has been made
of these materials, we must draw a very different picture. The
unfortunate peculiarity of the history of man is, that although its
separate parts have been examined with considerable ability, hardly any
one has attempted to combine them into a whole, and ascertain the way in
which they are connected with each other. In all the other great fields
of inquiry, the necessity of generalization is universally admitted, and
noble efforts are being made to rise from particular facts in order to
discover the laws by which those facts are governed. So far, however, is
this from being the usual course of historians, that among them a
strange idea prevails, that their business is merely to relate events,
which they may occasionally enliven by such moral and political
reflections as seem likely to be useful. According to this scheme, any
author who from indolence of thought, or from natural incapacity, is
unfit to deal with the highest branches of knowledge, has only to pass
some years in reading a certain number of books, and then he is
qualified to be an historian; he is able to write the history of a great
people, and his work becomes an authority on the subject which it
professes to treat.

The establishment of this narrow standard has led to results very
prejudicial to the progress of our knowledge. Owing to it, historians,
taken as a body, have never recognized the necessity of such a wide and
preliminary study as would enable them to grasp their subject in the
whole of its natural relations. Hence the singular spectacle of one
historian being ignorant of political economy; another knowing nothing
of law; another nothing of ecclesiastical affairs and changes of
opinion; another neglecting the philosophy of statistics, and another
physical science: although these topics are the most essential of all,
inasmuch as they comprise the principal circumstances by which the
temper and character of mankind have been affected, and in which they
are displayed. These important pursuits being, however, cultivated, some
by one man, and some by another, have been isolated rather than united:
the aid which might be derived from analogy and from mutual illustration
has been lost; and no disposition has been shown to concentrate them
upon history, of which they are, properly speaking, the necessary

Since the early part of the eighteenth century, a few great thinkers
have indeed arisen, who have deplored the backwardness of history, and
have done everything in their power to remedy it. But these instances
have been extremely rare: so rare, that in the whole literature of
Europe there are not more than three or four really original works which
contain a systematic attempt to investigate the history of man according
to those exhaustive methods which in other branches of knowledge have
proved successful, and by which alone empirical observations can be
raised to scientific truths.

Among historians in general, we find, after the sixteenth century, and
especially during the last hundred years, several indications of an
increasing comprehensiveness of view, and of a willingness to
incorporate into their works subjects which they would formerly have
excluded. By this means their assemblage of topics has become more
diversified, and the mere collection and relative position of parallel
facts has occasionally suggested generalizations no traces of which can
be found in the earlier literature of Europe. This has been a great
gain, in so far as it has familiarized historians with a wider range of
thought, and encouraged those habits of speculation, which, though
liable to abuse, are the essential condition of all real knowledge,
because without them no science can be constructed.

But, notwithstanding that the prospects of historical literature are
certainly more cheering now than in any former age, it must be allowed
that, with extremely few exceptions, they are only prospects, and that
as yet scarcely anything has been done towards discovering the
principles which govern the character and destiny of nations. What has
been actually effected I shall endeavour to estimate in another part of
this introduction: at present it is enough to say, that for all the
higher purposes of human thought history is still miserably deficient,
and presents that confused and anarchical appearance natural to a
subject of which the laws are unknown, and even the foundation

  [1] A living writer, who has done more than any other to raise the
      standard of history, contemptuously notices 'l'incohérente
      compilation de faits déjà improprement qualifiée _d'histoire_.'
      _Comte_, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. v. p. 18. There is much in
      the method and in the conclusions of this great work with which I
      cannot agree; but it would be unjust to deny its extraordinary

Our acquaintance with history being so imperfect, while our materials
are so numerous, it seems desirable that something should be done on a
scale far larger than has hitherto been attempted, and that a strenuous
effort should be made to bring up this great department of inquiry to a
level with other departments, in order that we may maintain the balance
and harmony of our knowledge. It is in this spirit that the present
work has been conceived. To make the execution of it fully equal to the
conception is impossible: still I hope to accomplish for the history of
man something equivalent, or at all events analogous, to what has been
effected by other inquirers for the different branches of natural
science. In regard to nature, events apparently the most irregular and
capricious have been explained, and have been shown to be in accordance
with certain fixed and universal laws. This has been done because men of
ability, and, above all, men of patient, untiring thought, have studied
natural events with the view of discovering their regularity: and if
human events were subjected to a similar treatment, we have every right
to expect similar results. For it is clear that they who affirm that the
facts of history are incapable of being generalized, take for granted
the very question at issue. Indeed they do more than this. They not only
assume what they cannot prove, but they assume what in the present state
of knowledge is highly improbable. Whoever is at all acquainted with
what has been done during the last two centuries, must be aware that
every generation demonstrates some events to be regular and predictable,
which the preceding generation had declared to be irregular and
unpredictable: so that the marked tendency of advancing civilization is
to strengthen our belief in the universality of order, of method, and of
law. This being the case, it follows that if any facts, or class of
facts, have not yet been reduced to order, we, so far from pronouncing
them to be irreducible, should rather be guided by our experience of the
past, and should admit the probability that what we now call
inexplicable will at some future time be explained. This expectation of
discovering regularity in the midst of confusion is so familiar to
scientific men, that among the most eminent of them it becomes an
article of faith: and if the same expectation is not generally found
among historians, it must be ascribed partly to their being of inferior
ability to the investigators of nature, and partly to the greater
complexity of those social phenomena with which their studies are

Both these causes have retarded the creation of the science of history.
The most celebrated historians are manifestly inferior to the most
successful cultivators of physical science: no one having devoted
himself to history who in point of intellect is at all to be compared
with Kepler, Newton, or many others that might be named.[2] And as to
the greater complexity of the phenomena, the philosophic historian is
opposed by difficulties far more formidable than is the student of
nature; since, while on the one hand, his observations are more liable
to those causes of error which arise from prejudice and passion, he, on
the other hand, is unable to employ the great physical resource of
experiment, by which we can often simplify even the most intricate
problems in the external world.

  [2] I speak merely of those who have made history their main pursuit.
      Bacon wrote on it, but only as a subordinate object; and it
      evidently cost him nothing like the thought which he devoted to
      other subjects.

It is not, therefore, surprising that the study of the movements of Man
should be still in its infancy, as compared with the advanced state of
the study of the movements of Nature. Indeed the difference between the
progress of the two pursuits is so great, that while in physics the
regularity of events, and the power of predicting them, are often taken
for granted even in cases still unproved, a similar regularity is in
history not only not taken for granted, but is actually denied. Hence it
is that whoever wishes to raise history to a level with other branches
of knowledge, is met by a preliminary obstacle; since he is told that in
the affairs of men there is something mysterious and providential, which
makes them impervious to our investigations, and which will always hide
from us their future course. To this it might be sufficient to reply,
that such an assertion is gratuitous; that it is by its nature incapable
of proof; and that it is moreover opposed by the notorious fact that
everywhere else increasing knowledge is accompanied by an increasing
confidence in the uniformity with which, under the same circumstances,
the same events must succeed each other. It will, however, be more
satisfactory to probe the difficulty deeper, and inquire at once into
the foundation of the common opinion that history must always remain in
its present empirical state, and can never be raised to the rank of a
science. We shall thus be led to one vast question, which indeed lies at
the root of the whole subject, and is simply this: Are the actions of
men, and therefore of societies, governed by fixed laws, or are they the
result either of chance or of supernatural interference? The discussion
of these alternatives will suggest some speculations of considerable

For, in reference to this matter, there are two doctrines, which appear
to represent different stages of civilization. According to the first
doctrine, every event is single and isolated, and is merely considered
as the result of a blind chance. This opinion, which is most natural to
a perfectly ignorant people, would soon be weakened by that extension of
experience which supplies a knowledge of those uniformities of
succession and of co-existence that nature constantly presents. If, for
example, wandering tribes, without the least tincture of civilization,
lived entirely by hunting and fishing, they might well suppose that the
appearance of their necessary food was the result of some accident which
admitted of no explanation. The irregularity of the supply, and the
apparent caprice with which it was sometimes abundant and sometimes
scanty, would prevent them from suspecting anything like method in the
arrangements of nature; nor could their minds even conceive the
existence of those general principles which govern the order of events,
and by a knowledge of which we are often able to predict their future
course. But when such tribes advance into the agricultural state, they,
for the first time, use a food of which not only the appearance, but the
very existence, seems to be the result of their own act. What they sow,
that likewise do they reap. The provision necessary for their wants is
brought more immediately under their own control, and is more palpably
the consequence of their own labour. They perceive a distinct plan, and
a regular uniformity of sequence, in the relation which the seed they
put into the ground bears to the corn when arrived at maturity. They are
now able to look to the future, not indeed with certainty, but with a
confidence infinitely greater than they could have felt in their former
and more precarious pursuits.[3] Hence there arises a dim idea of the
stability of events; and for the first time there begins to dawn upon
the mind a faint conception of what at a later period are called the
Laws of Nature. Every step in the great progress will make their view of
this more clear. As their observations accumulate, and as their
experience extends over a wider surface, they meet with uniformities
that they had never suspected to exist, and the discovery of which
weakens that doctrine of chance with which they had originally set out.
Yet a little further, and a taste for abstract reasoning springs up; and
then some among them generalize the observations that have been made,
and despising the old popular opinion, believe that every event is
linked to its antecedent by an inevitable connexion, that such
antecedent is connected with a preceding fact; and that thus the whole
world forms a necessary chain, in which indeed each man may play his
part, but can by no means determine what that part shall be.

  [3] Some of the moral consequences of thus diminishing the
      precariousness of food are noticed by M. Charles Comte in his
      _Traité de Législation_, vol. ii. pp. 273-275. Compare _Mill's
      History of India_, vol. i. pp. 180-181. But both these able writers
      have omitted to observe that the change facilitates a perception of
      the regularity of phenomena.

Thus it is that, in the ordinary march of society, an increasing
perception of the regularity of nature destroys the doctrine of Chance,
and replaces it by that of Necessary Connexion. And it is, I think,
highly probable that out of these two doctrines of Chance and Necessity
there have respectively arisen the subsequent dogmas of Free Will and
Predestination. Nor is it difficult to understand the manner in which,
in a more advanced state of society, this metamorphosis would occur. In
every country, as soon as the accumulation of wealth has reached a
certain point, the produce of each man's labour becomes more than
sufficient for his own support: it is therefore no longer necessary that
all should work; and there is formed a separate class, the members of
which pass their lives for the most part in the pursuit of pleasure; a
very few, however, in the acquisition and diffusion of knowledge. Among
these last there are always found some who, neglecting external events,
turn their attention to the study of their own minds;[4] and such men,
when possessed of great abilities, become the founders of new
philosophies and new religions, which often exercise immense influence
over the people who receive them. But the authors of these systems are
themselves affected by the character of the age in which they live. It
is impossible for any man to escape the pressure of surrounding
opinions; and what is called a new philosophy or a new religion is
generally not so much a creation of fresh ideas, but rather a new
direction given to ideas already current among contemporary thinkers.[5]
Thus, in the case now before us, the doctrine of Chance in the external
world corresponds to that of Free Will in the internal: while the other
doctrine of Necessary Connexion is equally analogous to that of
Predestination; the only difference being that the first is a
development by the metaphysician, the second by the theologian. In the
first instance, the metaphysician setting out with the doctrine of
Chance, carries into the study of the mind this arbitrary and
irresponsible principle, which in its new field becomes Free Will; an
expression by which all difficulties seem to be removed, since perfect
freedom, itself the cause of all actions, is caused by none, but, like
the doctrine of Chance, is an ultimate fact admitting of no further
explanation.[6] In the second instance, the theologian taking up the
doctrine of Necessary Connexion recasts it into a religious shape; and
his mind being already full of conceptions of order and of uniformity,
he naturally ascribes such undeviating regularity to the prescience of
Supreme Power; and thus to the magnificent notion of One God there is
added the dogma that by Him all things have from the beginning been
absolutely pre-determined and preordained.

  [4] On the relation between this and the previous creation of wealth,
      see _Tennemann_, _Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. i. p. 30; 'Ein
      gewisser Grad von Cultur und Wohlstand ist eine nothwendige äussere
      Bedingung der Entwickelung des philosophischen Geistes. So lange
      der Mensch noch mit den Mitteln seiner Existenz und der Befriedigung
      seiner thierischen Bedürfnisse beschäftiget ist, so lange gehet die
      Entwickelung und Bildung seiner Geisteskräfte nur langsam von
      statten, und er nähert sich nur Schritt vor Schritt einer freiern
      Vernunftthätigkeit.' ... 'Daher finden wir, dass man nur in denen
      Nationen anfing zu philosophiren, welche sich zu einer
      beträchtlichen Stufe des Wohlstandes und der Cultur emporgehoben
      hatten.' Hence, as I shall endeavour to prove in the next chapter,
      the immense importance of the physical phenomena which precede and
      often control the metaphysical. In the history of the Greek mind we
      can distinctly trace the passage from physical to metaphysical
      inquiries. See _Grote's History of Greece_, vol. iv. p. 519, edit.
      1847. That the atomic doctrine, in its relation to chance, was a
      natural precursor of Platonism, is remarked in _Broussais_, _Examen
      des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. i. pp. 53, 54, an able though
      one-sided work. Compare, respecting the Chance of the atomists,
      _Ritter's History of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. i. p. 553; an
      hypothesis, as Ritter says, 'destructive of all inner energy;'
      consequently antagonistic to the psychological hypothesis which
      subsequently sprang up and conquered it. That physical researches
      came first, is moreover attested by Diogenes Laertius: [Greek: Merê
      de philosophias tria, physikon, êthikon, dialektikon; physikon men,
      to peri kosmou, kai tôn en autô; êthikon de, to peri biou kai tôn
      pros hêmas; dialektikon de, to amphoterôn tous logous presbeuon;
      kai mechri men' Archelaou to physikon eidos ên apo de Sôkratous,
      hôs proeirêtai, to êthikon; apo de Zênônos tou 'Eleatou, to
      dialektikon.] _De Vitis Philosophorum Pro[oe]m._ segm. 18, vol. i.
      p. 12: compare lib. ii. segm. 16, vol. i. p. 89.

  [5] Beausobre has some good remarks on this in his learned work
      _Histoire Critique de Manichée_, vol. i. p. 179, where he says that
      the great religious heresies have been founded on previous
      philosophies. Certainly no one acquainted with the history of
      opinions will admit the sweeping assertion of M. Stahl that 'la
      philosophie d'un peuple a sa racine dans sa théologie.' _Klimrath_,
      _Travaux_, vol. ii. p. 454, Paris, 1843.

  [6] 'Also ist ein Wille, dem die blose gesetzgebende Form der Maxime
      allein zum Gesetze dienen kann, ein freier Wille.' _Kritik der
      praktischen Vernunft_ in _Kant's Werke_, vol. iv. p. 128. 'Hat
      selber für sich eigentlich keinen Bestimmungsgrund.' _Metaphysik
      der Sitten_ in _Werke_, vol. v. p. 12. 'Die unbedingte Causalität
      der Ursache.' _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_ in _Werke_, vol. ii.
      p. 339. See also _Prolegomena zu jeder künftigen Metaphysik_ in
      vol. iii. p. 268.

These opposite doctrines of free will and predestination[7] do, no
doubt, supply a safe and simple solution of the obscurities of our
being; and as they are easily understood, they are so suited to the
average capacity of the human mind, that even at the present day an
immense majority of men are divided between them; and they have not only
corrupted the sources of our knowledge, but have given rise to religious
sects, whose mutual animosities have disturbed society, and too often
embittered the relations of private life. Among the more advanced
European thinkers there is, however, a growing opinion that both
doctrines are wrong or, at all events, that we have no sufficient
evidence of their truth. And as this is a matter of great moment, it is
important, before we proceed further, to clear up as much of it as the
difficulties inherent in these subjects will enable us to do.

  [7] That these doctrines, when treated according to the ordinary
      methods of reasoning, not only oppose but exclude each other, would
      be universally admitted if it were not for a desire generally felt
      to save certain parts of each: it being thought dangerous to give
      up free will on account of weakening moral responsibility, and
      equally dangerous to give up predestination on account of impugning
      the power of God. Various attempts have therefore been made to
      reconcile liberty with necessity, and make the freedom of man
      harmonize with the foreknowledge of the Deity. Compare on this
      point a remarkable letter from Locke to Molyneux (_Locke's Works_,
      vol. viii. p. 305), with the argument in one of Bentley's Sermons
      (_Monk's Life of Bentley_, vol. ii. pp. 7, 8); also _Ritter's Hist.
      of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. iv. pp. 143, 144; _Tennemann_, _Gesch.
      der Philosophie_, vol. iv. pp. 301-304; _Copleston's Inquiry into
      the Doctrines of Necessity and Predestination_, pp. 6, 7, 46, 69,
      70, 85, 92, 108, 136; _Mosheim's Ecclesiastical Hist._, vol. i.
      p. 207, vol. ii. p. 96; _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. iv.
      pp. 294, 389-391; _Bishop of Lincoln on Tertullian_, 1845, p. 323;
      _Hodgson on Buddhism_, in _Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. ii.
      p. 232.

Whatever doubts may be thrown on the account which I have given of the
probable origin of the ideas of free will and predestination, there
can, at all events, be no dispute as to the foundation on which those
ideas are now actually based. The theory of predestination is founded on
a theological hypothesis; that of free will on a metaphysical
hypothesis. The advocates of the first proceed on a supposition for
which, to say the least of it, they have as yet brought forward no good
evidence. They require us to believe that the Author of Creation, whose
beneficence they at the same time willingly allow, has, notwithstanding
His supreme goodness, made an arbitrary distinction between the elect
and the non-elect; that He has from all eternity doomed to perdition
millions of creatures yet unborn, and whom His act alone can call into
existence: and that He has done this, not in virtue of any principle of
justice, but by a mere stretch of despotic power.[8] This doctrine owes
its authority among Protestants to the dark though powerful mind of
Calvin; but in the early Church it was first systematically methodized
by Augustin, who appears to have borrowed it from the Manicheans.[9] At
all events, and putting aside its incompatibility with other notions
which are supposed to be fundamental,[10] it must, in a scientific
investigation, be regarded as a barren hypothesis, because, being beyond
the province of our knowledge, we have no means of ascertaining either
its truth or its falsehood.

  [8] Even Ambrose, who never went so far as Augustin, states this
      principle in its repulsive nakedness: 'Deus quos dignat vocat, quos
      vult religiosos facit.' _Neander_, vol. iv. p. 287. Calvin declares
      'that God, in predestinating from all eternity one part of mankind
      to everlasting happiness, and another to endless misery, was led to
      make this distinction by no other motive than His own good pleasure
      and free will.' _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._, vol. ii. p. 103, see also
      p. 100; and _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of England_, vol. i.
      p. 552.

  [9] On the Manichæan origin of Augustin's opinions, compare _Potter_,
      _Esprit de l'Eglise_, vol. ii. p. 171, Paris, 1821; _Tomline's
      Refutation of Calvinism_, 1817, pp. 571-576; _Southey's Book of the
      Church_, 1824, vol. i. pp. 301, 302; _Matter_, _Hist. du
      Gnosticisme_, 1828, vol. i. p. 325. However, Beausobre (_Histoire
      de Manichée_, vol. ii. pp. 33-40) seems to have proved a difference
      between the election of Augustin and that of Basilides.

  [10] On the absurdity of 'an omnipotent arbitrary Deity,' and on the
       incongruity of such a combination with [Greek: physei kalon kai
       dikaion], see _Cudworth's Intellect. Syst._, vol. i. pp. 45, 419,
       vol. iii. p. 241, vol. iv. p. 160. See also _Theodicee_ in _Kant's
       Werke_, vol. vi. pp. 141, 142, and _Metaphysik der Sitten_ in vol.
       v. p. 332, upon 'den göttlichen Zweck in Ansehung des menschlichen

The other doctrine, which has long been celebrated under the name of
Free Will, is connected with Arminianism; but it in reality rests on the
metaphysical dogma of the supremacy of human consciousness. Every man,
it is alleged, feels and knows that he is a free agent: nor can any
subtleties of argument do away with our consciousness of possessing a
free will.[11] Now the existence of this supreme jurisdiction, which is
thus to set at defiance all the ordinary methods of reasoning, involves
two assumptions: of which the first, though possibly true, has never
been proved; and the other is unquestionably false. These assumptions
are, that there is an independent faculty called consciousness, and that
the dictates of that faculty are infallible. But, in the first place, it
is by no means certain that consciousness is a faculty; and some of the
ablest thinkers have been of opinion that it is merely a state or
condition of the mind.[12] Should this turn out to be the case, the
argument falls to the ground; since, even if we admit that all the
faculties of the mind, when completely exercised, are equally accurate,
no one will make the same claim for every condition into which the mind
itself may be casually thrown. However, waiving this objection, we may,
in the second place, reply, that even if consciousness is a faculty, we
have the testimony of all history to prove its extreme fallibility.[13]
All the great stages through which, in the progress of civilization,
the human race has successively passed, have been characterized by
certain mental peculiarities or convictions, which have left their
impress upon the religion, the philosophy, and the morals of the age.
Each of these convictions has been to one period a matter of faith, to
another a matter for derision;[14] and each of them has, in its own
epoch, been as intimately bound up with the minds of men, and become as
much a part of their consciousness, as is that opinion which we now term
freedom of the will. Yet it is impossible that all these products of
consciousness can be true, because many of them contradict each other.
Unless, therefore, in different ages there are different standards of
truth, it is clear that the testimony of a man's consciousness is no
proof of an opinion being true; for if it were so, then two propositions
diametrically opposed to each other might both be equally accurate.
Besides this, another view may be drawn from the common operations of
ordinary life. Are we not in certain circumstances conscious of the
existence of spectres and phantoms; and yet is it not generally admitted
that such beings have no existence at all? Should it be attempted to
refute this argument by saying that such consciousness is apparent and
not real, then I ask, What is it that judges between the consciousness
which is genuine and that which is spurious?[15] If this boasted
faculty deceives us in some things, what security have we that it will
not deceive us in others? If there is no security, the faculty is not
trustworthy. If there is a security, then, whatever it may be, its
existence shows the necessity for some authority to which consciousness
is subordinate, and thus does away with that doctrine of the supremacy
of consciousness, on which the advocates of free will are compelled to
construct the whole of their theory. Indeed, the uncertainty as to the
existence of consciousness as an independent faculty, and the manner in
which that faculty, if it exists, has contradicted its own suggestions,
are two of the many reasons which have long since convinced me that
metaphysics will never be raised to a science by the ordinary method of
observing individual minds; but that its study can only be successfully
prosecuted by the deductive application of laws which must be
discovered historically, that is to say, which must be evolved by an
examination of the whole of those vast phenomena which the long course
of human affairs presents to our view.

  [11] Johnson said to Boswell, 'Sir, we _know_ our will is free, and
       there's an end on't.' _Boswell's Life of Johnson_, edit. Croker,
       1848, p. 203. 'La question: Sommes-nous libres? me paraît
       au-dessous de la discussion. Elle est résolue par le témoignage de
       la conscience attestant que dans certains cas nous pourrions faire
       le contraire de ce que nous faisons.' _Cousin_, _Hist. de la
       Philosophie_, I. Série, vol. i. pp. 190, 191. 'Die Freiheit des
       Menschen, als moralischen Wesens, gründet sich auf das sittliche
       Bewusstseyn.' _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philosophie_, vol. v.
       p. 161. That this is the only ground for believing in the freedom
       of the will is so evident, that we need not notice the mystical
       proof of Philo (_Ritter's Ancient Philosophy_, vol. iv. p. 447);
       nor the physical one of the Basilidian monads (_Beausobre_, _Hist.
       de Manichée_, vol. ii. p. 23); still less the argument of
       Bardesanes, who thought to demonstrate freedom by the variety of
       human customs! _Matter_, _Hist. du Gnosticisme_, vol. i. p. 323,
       which should be compared with _Burdach's Physiologie comme Science
       d'Observation_, vol. v. p. 50, Paris, 1839.

  [12] Mr. James Mill (_Analysis of the Mind_, vol. i. pp. 171, 172) says
       that consciousness and belief are the same, and that great error
       has arisen from calling 'consciousness a feeling distinct from all
       other feelings.' According to Locke (_Essay concerning Human
       Understanding_, book ii. chap. i., Works, vol. i. p. 89),
       'consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man's own
       mind.' Brown (_Philosophy of the Mind_, pp. 67, 68) denies that
       consciousness is a faculty: and Sir W. Hamilton complains of
       'Reid's degradation of consciousness into a special faculty.'
       _Notes to Reid's Works_, pp. 223, 297, 373. M. Cousin (_Hist. de
       la Philosophie_, II. Série, vol. i. p. 131) pronounces
       consciousness to be 'phénomène complexe;' and at p. 94, 'la
       _condition_ nécessaire de l'intelligence c'est la conscience:'
       while a still later writer (_Jobert's New System of Philosophy_,
       vol. i. p. 25) declares that 'we have the consciousness of our
       consciousness--this is certain.' The statement in Alciphron,
       Dialogue vii. (_Berkeley's Works_, vol. i. pp. 505, 506) is equally
       unsatisfactory: and what still further perplexes the question is
       the existence of what is now recognised as 'double consciousness.'
       See on this extraordinary phenomenon _Elliotson's Physiology_,
       pp. 367-369, 1165; _Mayo's Physiology_, pp. 195, 196; _Prichard's
       Treatise on Insanity_, pp. 450, 451; _Carpenter's Human
       Physiology_, p. 379.

  [13] This requires explanation. Consciousness is infallible as to the
       _fact_ of its testimony; but fallible as to the _truth_. That we
       are conscious of certain phenomena, is a proof that those phenomena
       exist in the mind, or are presented to it; but to say that this
       demonstrates the truth of the phenomena is to go a step further,
       and not only offer a testimony, but also pass a judgment. The
       moment we do this, we introduce the element of fallibility; because
       consciousness and judgment put together cannot be always right,
       inasmuch as judgment is often wrong.

The late Blanco White, a thinker of considerable subtlety, says: 'The
important distinction between _libertas a necessitate_ and _libertas a
coactione_, is seldom attended to. Nothing whatever can _force_ my will:
every man is more or less conscious of that fact: but at the same time
we are, or may be, equally conscious that we are never decided without a
motive.' _Life of B. White_, by Himself, 1845, vol. iii. p. 90. But how
can a man be conscious 'that nothing whatever _can_ force his will'?
This is not consciousness, but judgment: it is a judgment of what may
be, not a consciousness of what is. If there is any meaning in the word
'consciousness,' it must refer solely to the present, and can never
include future contingencies as to what _may_ be or _can_ be.

  [14] As Herder says, 'Was diese Nation ihrem Gedankenkreise
       unentbehrlich hält, daran hat jene nie gedacht oder hält es gar
       für schädlich.' _Ideen zur Gesch. der Menschheit_, vol. ii. p. 130.

  [15] Plato was struck by the extreme difficulty of finding a standard
       in the human mind whereby we may test the truth or falsehood of
       spectral phenomena and dreams. And the only conclusion to which
       this consummate thinker could arrive, was that whatever appears
       true to the individual mind is true for him: which, however, is an
       evasion of the problem, not a solution of it. See the Theætetus,
       where Plato, as usual, puts his own speculations into the mouth of
       Socrates. He opens the question at the beginning of sec. 39
       (_Platonis Opera_, vol. iii. p. 426, edit. Bekker, Lond. 1826),
       [Greek: Mê toinun apolipômen rhson elleipon autou. lepetai de
       enupniôn te peri kai nosôn, tôn te allôn kai manias], &c. These are
       the supposed sources of error; but Socrates, after discussing them,
       and entangling Theætetus in a maze, sums up at the end of sec. 45,
       p. 434, [Greek: alêthês ara emoi êh emê aisthêsis.] See further,
       p. 515, on the formation of erroneous judgments; and respecting the
       assertions made by many of the Greeks that [Greek: pasa phantsia
       alêthês] and [Greek: pasa duxa alêthês], compare _Cudworth_,
       vol. iii. p. 379, vol. iv. p. 118. For physiological considerations
       concerning the preservation of consciousness in dreams and in
       insanity, see _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_,
       vol. i. p. 406; his _Cours de Phrénologie_, p. 49; _Esquirol_,
       _Maladies Mentales_, vol. i. p. 97, vol. ii. p. 790; _Simon's
       Pathology_, p. 204; _Holland's Medical Notes_, p. 434; _Henle_,
       _Anatomie Générale_, vol. ii. p. 287; _Burdach_, _Traité de
       Physiologie_, vol. v. p. 223. See, too, the passages in Tennemann
       which connect this difficulty with the theory of representation
       (_Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. i. p. 357, vol. ii. pp. 119,
       159, vol. iii. p. 406, vol. iv. p. 418); and the attempt of
       Berkeley (_Works_, vol. i. pp. 93, 101, 176) to turn it into a
       defence of his own system, on the ground that our belief respecting
       the external world may be as false when we are awake as when we
       dream. The solution offered by the Stoics is merely a verbal and
       unproved distinction: [Greek: diapherei de phantasia kai phantasma.
       phantasma men gar esti dokêsis dianoias oia ginetai kata tous
       upnous; phantasia de esti tupôsis en psuchê toutestin alloiôsis,
       hôs ho Chrusippos en tê duôdekatê peri psuchês uphistatai.] _Diog.
       Laert. de Vitis Philos._ lib. vii. segm. 50, vol. i. p. 395.

Fortunately, however, for the object of this work, the believer in the
possibility of a science of history is not called upon to hold either
the doctrine of predestined events, or that of freedom of the will;[16]
and the only positions which, in this stage of the inquiry, I shall
expect him to concede are the following: That when we perform an action,
we perform it in consequence of some motive or motives; that those
motives are the results of some antecedents; and that, therefore, if we
were acquainted with the whole of the antecedents, and with all the laws
of their movements, we could with unerring certainty predict the whole
of their immediate results. This, unless I am greatly mistaken, is the
view which must be held by every man whose mind is unbiased by system,
and who forms his opinions according to the evidence actually before
him.[17] If, for example, I am intimately acquainted with the character
of any person, I can frequently tell how he will act under some given
circumstances. Should I fail in this prediction, I must ascribe my error
not to the arbitrary and capricious freedom of his will, nor to any
supernatural pre-arrangement, for of neither of these things have we the
slightest proof; but I must be content to suppose either that I had been
misinformed as to some of the circumstances in which he was placed, or
else that I had not sufficiently studied the ordinary operations of his
mind. If, however, I were capable of correct reasoning, and if, at the
same time, I had a complete knowledge both of his disposition and of all
the events by which he was surrounded, I should be able to foresee the
line of conduct which, in consequence of those events, he would

  [16] Meaning by free will, a cause of action residing in the mind, and
       exerting itself independently of motives. If any one says that we
       have this power of acting without motives, but that in the
       practical exercise of the power we are always guided by motives
       either conscious or unconscious--if any one says this, he asserts
       a barren proposition, which does not interfere with my views, and
       which may or may not be true, but which most assuredly no one has
       ever yet succeeded in proving.

  [17] That is, according to the phenomenal evidence presented to the
       understanding, and estimated by the ordinary logic with which the
       understanding is conversant. But Kant has made a most remarkable
       attempt to avoid the practical consequences of this, by asserting
       that freedom, being an idea produced by the reason, must be
       referred to transcendental laws of the reason; that is, to laws
       which are removed from the domain of experience, and cannot be
       verified by observation. In regard, however, to the scientific
       conceptions of the understanding (as distinguished from the Reason)
       he fully admits the existence of a Necessity destructive of
       Liberty. In Note A, at the end of this chapter, I shall put
       together the most important passages in which Kant unfolds this

  [18] This is, of course, an hypothetical case, merely given as an
       illustration. We never can know the whole of any man's antecedents,
       or even the whole of our own; but it is certain that the nearer we
       approach to a complete knowledge of the antecedent, the more
       likely we shall be to predict the consequent.

Rejecting, then, the metaphysical dogma of free will, and the
theological dogma of predestined events,[19] we are driven to the
conclusion that the actions of men, being determined solely by their
antecedents, must have a character of uniformity, that is to say, must,
under precisely the same circumstances, always issue in precisely the
same results. And as all antecedents are either in the mind or out of
it, we clearly see that all the variations in the results, in other
words, all the changes of which history is full, all the vicissitudes of
the human race, their progress or their decay, their happiness or their
misery, must be the fruit of a double action; an action of external
phenomena upon the mind, and another action of the mind upon the

  [19] The doctrine of providential interference is bound up with that of
       predestination, because the Deity, foreseeing all things, must have
       foreseen His own intention to interfere. To deny this foresight, is
       to limit the omniscience of God. Those, therefore, who hold that,
       in particular cases, a special providence interrupts the ordinary
       course of events, must also hold that in each case the interruption
       had been predestined; otherwise they impeach one of the Divine
       attributes. For, as Thomas Aquinas puts it (_Neander's History of
       the Church_, vol. viii. p. 176), 'knowledge, as knowledge, does not
       imply, indeed, causality; but in so far as it is a knowledge
       belonging to the artist who forms, it stands in the relation of
       causality to that which is produced by his art.'

       The same argument is stated by Alciphron, though not quite so
       conclusively; _Dialogue_ vii. sec. 20 in _Berkeley's Works_,
       vol. i. p. 515: and as to the impossibility of Omniscience having
       new knowledge or an afterthought, see _Hitchcock's Religion of
       Geology_, 1851, pp. 267, 328; an ingenious work, but one which
       leaves all the real difficulties untouched. Compare _Ritter's Hist.
       of Ancient Philos._ vol. iv. pp. 326, 327, with _Tennemann_,
       _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. vi. pp. 151, 342-345, vol. ix. pp. 81-94,
       vol. xi. p. 178; and in particular, the question raised (vol. viii.
       p. 242), 'Ob das Vorherwissen Gottes die Ursache der künftigen
       Dinge sey, oder nicht.' It was to meet all this, that some asserted
       the eternity of matter, and others the existence of two original
       principles, one good and one evil. _Beausobre_, _Histoire de
       Manichée_, vol. ii. pp. 145, 146, 252, 336.

These are the materials out of which a philosophic history can alone be
constructed. On the one hand, we have the human mind obeying the laws of
its own existence, and, when uncontrolled by external agents, developing
itself according to the conditions of its organization. On the other
hand, we have what is called Nature, obeying likewise its laws; but
incessantly coming into contact with the minds of men, exciting their
passions, stimulating their intellect, and therefore giving to their
actions a direction which they would not have taken without such
disturbance. Thus we have man modifying nature, and nature modifying
man; while out of this reciprocal modification all events must
necessarily spring.

The problem immediately before us, is to ascertain the method of
discovering the laws of this double modification: and this, as we shall
presently see, leads us into a preliminary inquiry as to which of the
two modifications is the more important; that is to say, whether the
thoughts and desires of men are more influenced by physical phenomena,
or whether the physical phenomena are more influenced by them. For it is
evident that whichever class is the more active, should if possible be
studied before the other; and this, partly because its results will be
more prominent, and therefore more easy to observe; and partly because
by first generalizing the laws of the greater power we shall leave a
smaller residue of unexplained facts than if we had begun by
generalizing the laws of the lesser power. But, before entering into
this examination, it will be convenient to state some of the most
decisive proofs we now possess of the regularity with which mental
phenomena succeed each other. By this means the preceding views will be
considerably strengthened; and we shall, at the same time, be able to
see what those resources are which have been already employed in
elucidating this great subject.

That the results actually effected are extremely valuable is evident,
not only from the wide surface which the generalizations cover, but also
from the extraordinary precautions with which they have been made. For
while most moral inquiries have depended on some theological or
metaphysical hypothesis, the investigations to which I allude are
exclusively inductive; they are based on collections of almost
innumerable facts, extending over many countries, thrown into the
clearest of all forms, the form of arithmetical tables; and finally,
they have been put together by men who, being for the most part mere
government officials,[20] had no particular theory to maintain, and no
interest in distorting the truth of the reports they were directed to

  [20] _Dufau_, _Traité de Statistique_, pp. 75, 148.

The most comprehensive inferences respecting the actions of men, which
are admitted by all parties as incontestable truths, are derived from
this or from analogous sources; they rest on statistical evidence, and
are expressed in mathematical language. And whoever is aware of how much
has been discovered by this single method, must not only recognize the
uniformity with which mental phenomena succeed each other, but must, I
think, feel sanguine that still more important discoveries will be made,
so soon as there are brought into play those other powerful resources
which even the present state of knowledge will abundantly supply.
Without, however, anticipating future inquiries, we are, for the moment,
only concerned with those proofs of the existence of a uniformity in
human affairs which statisticians have been the first to bring forward.

The actions of men are by an easy and obvious division separated into
two classes, the virtuous and the vicious; and as these classes are
correlative, and when put together compose the total of our moral
conduct, it follows that whatever increases the one, will in a relative
point of view diminish the other; so that if we can in any period detect
a uniformity and a method in the vices of a people, there must be a
corresponding regularity in their virtues; or if we could prove a
regularity in their virtues, we should necessarily infer an equal
regularity in their vices; the two sets of actions being, according to
the terms of the division, merely supplementary to each other.[21] Or,
to express this proposition in another way, it is evident that if it can
be demonstrated that the bad actions of men vary in obedience to the
changes in the surrounding society, we shall be obliged to infer that
their good actions, which are, as it were, the residue of their bad
ones, vary in the same manner; and we shall be forced to the further
conclusion, that such variations are the result of large and general
causes, which, working upon the aggregate of society, must produce
certain consequences, without regard to the volition of those
particular men of whom the society is composed.

  [21] Some moralists have also established a third class of actions,
       which they call indifferent, as belonging neither to virtue nor to
       vice; and hence there arose the famous doctrine of probability,
       set up by several eminent Romish casuists, and hotly attacked by
       Pascal. But this, if we put aside its worst feature, namely its
       practical bearings, is merely a question of definition; inasmuch
       as every indifferent act must lean on the side either of evil or
       of good, and may therefore be referred to the category to which it
       inclines; and certainly every increase of vice diminishes virtue
       relatively, though not always absolutely. Among the Greek
       philosophers there was a schism on this point: [Greek: Areskei de
       autois] (i.e. the Stoics) [Greek: mêden meson einai aretês kai
       kakias; tôn peripatêtikôn metaxu aretês kai kakias einai legontôn
       tên prokopên]. _Diog. Laert. de Vitis Philosophorum_, lib. vii.
       segm. 127, vol. i. p. 445.

Such is the regularity we expect to find, if the actions of men are
governed by the state of the society in which they occur; while, on the
other hand, if we can find no such regularity, we may believe that their
actions depend on some capricious and personal principle peculiar to
each man, as free will or the like. It becomes, therefore, in the
highest degree important to ascertain whether or not there exists a
regularity in the entire moral conduct of a given society; and this is
precisely one of those questions for the decision of which statistics
supply us with materials of immense value.

For the main object of legislation being to protect the innocent against
the guilty, it naturally followed that European governments, so soon as
they became aware of the importance of statistics, should begin to
collect evidence respecting the crimes they were expected to punish.
This evidence has gone on accumulating, until it now forms of itself a
large body of literature, containing, with the commentaries connected
with it, an immense array of facts, so carefully compiled, and so well
and clearly digested, that more may be learned from it respecting the
moral nature of Man than can be gathered from all the accumulated
experience of preceding ages.[22] But as it will be impossible in this
Introduction to give anything like a complete statement of those
inferences which, in the actual state of statistics, we are authorized
to draw, I shall content myself with examining two or three of the most
important, and pointing out the connexion between them.

  [22] I say this advisedly: and whoever has examined these subjects must
       be aware of the way in which writers on morals repeat the
       commonplace and hackneyed notions of their predecessors; so that a
       man, after reading everything that has been written on moral
       conduct and moral philosophy, will find himself nearly as much in
       the dark as when his studies first began. The most accurate
       investigators of the human mind have hitherto been the poets,
       particularly Homer and Shakespeare; but these extraordinary
       observers mainly occupied themselves with the concrete phenomena
       of life; and if they analyzed, as they probably did, they have
       concealed the steps of the process, so that now we can only verify
       their conclusions empirically. The great advance made by the
       statisticians consists in applying to these inquiries the doctrine
       of averages, which no one thought of doing before the eighteenth

Of all offences, it might well be supposed that the crime of murder is
one of the most arbitrary and irregular. For when we consider that this,
though generally the crowning act of a long career of vice, is often the
immediate result of what seems a sudden impulse; that when premeditated,
its committal, even with the least chance of impunity, requires a rare
combination of favourable circumstances for which the criminal will
frequently wait; that he has thus to bide his time, and look for
opportunities he cannot control; that when the time has come his heart
may fail him; that the question whether or not he shall commit the crime
may depend on a balance of conflicting motives, such as fear of the law,
a dread of the penalties held out by religion, the prickings of his own
conscience, the apprehension of future remorse, the love of gain,
jealousy, revenge, desperation;--when we put all these things together,
there arises such a complication of causes, that we might reasonably
despair of detecting any order or method in the result of those subtle
and shifting agencies by which murder is either caused or prevented. But
now, how stands the fact? The fact is, that murder is committed with as
much regularity, and bears as uniform a relation to certain known
circumstances, as do the movements of the tides, and the rotations of
the seasons. M. Quetelet, who has spent his life in collecting and
methodizing the statistics of different countries, states, as the result
of his laborious researches, that 'in everything which concerns crime,
the same numbers re-occur with a constancy which cannot be mistaken; and
that this is the case even with those crimes which seem quite
independent of human foresight, such, for instance, as murders, which
are generally committed after quarrels arising from circumstances
apparently casual. Nevertheless, we know from experience that every
year there not only take place nearly the same number of murders, but
that even the instruments by which they are committed are employed in
the same proportion.'[23] This was the language used in 1835 by
confessedly the first statistician in Europe, and every subsequent
investigation has confirmed its accuracy. For later inquiries have
ascertained the extraordinary fact that the uniform reproduction of
crime is more clearly marked, and more capable of being predicted, than
are the physical laws connected with the disease and destruction of our
bodies. Thus, for instance, the number of persons accused of crime in
France between 1826 and 1844 was, by a singular coincidence, about equal
to the male deaths which took place in Paris during the same period, the
difference being that the fluctuations in the amount of crime were
actually smaller than the fluctuations in the mortality; while a similar
regularity was observed in each separate offence, all of which obeyed
the same law of uniform and periodical repetition.[24]

  [23] 'Dans tout ce qui se rapporte aux crimes, les mêmes nombres se
       reproduisent avec une constance telle, qu'il serait impossible de
       la méconnaître, même pour ceux des crimes qui sembleraient devoir
       échapper le plus à toute prévision humaine, tels que les meurtres,
       puisqu'ils se commettent, en général, à la suite de rixes qui
       naissent sans motifs, et dans les circonstances, en apparence,
       les plus fortuites. Cependant l'expérience prouve que non-seulement
       les meurtres sont annuellement à peu près en même nombre, mais
       encore que les instrumens qui servent à les commettre sont employés
       dans les mêmes proportions.' _Quetelet sur l'Homme_, Paris, 1835,
       vol. i. p. 7; see also vol. ii. pp. 164, 247.

  [24] 'Thus in twenty years' observations, the number of persons accused
       of various crimes in France, and registered under their respective
       ages, scarcely varies at any age from year to year, comparing the
       proportion per cent. under each age with the totals. The number of
       persons accused in all France, in the years 1826 to 1844, was about
       equal to the deaths of males registered in Paris; but singularly
       enough, the former results are more regular than the latter,
       notwithstanding the accidental causes which might affect
       them;--notwithstanding even a revolution in Paris, which convulsed
       society and brought in a new dynasty.' _Brown on the Uniform Action
       of the Human Will_, in _The Assurance Magazine_, no. viii., July
       1852, pp. 349, 350. That the variations in crime are less than
       those of mortality, is also noticed in _Statistique Morale_,
       pp. 18, 34, in _Mémoires de l'Académie de Belgique_, vol. xxi.,
       Bruxelles, 1848, 4to.

This, indeed, will appear strange to those who believe that human
actions depend more upon the peculiarities of each individual than on
the general state of society. But another circumstance remains behind
still more striking. Among public and registered crimes there is none
which seems so completely dependent on the individual as suicide.
Attempts to murder or to rob may be, and constantly are, successfully
resisted; baffled sometimes by the party attacked, sometimes by the
officers of justice. But an attempt to commit suicide is much less
liable to interruption. The man who is determined to kill himself is not
prevented at the last moment by the struggles of an enemy; and, as he
can easily guard against the interference of the civil power,[25] his
act becomes as it were isolated; it is cut off from foreign
disturbances, and seems more clearly the product of his own volition
than any other offence could possibly be. We may also add that, unlike
crimes in general, it is rarely caused by the instigation of
confederates; so that men, not being goaded into it by their companions,
are uninfluenced by one great class of external associations which
might hamper what is termed the freedom of their will. It may,
therefore, very naturally be thought impracticable to refer suicide to
general principles, or to detect anything like regularity in an offence
which is so eccentric, so solitary, so impossible to control by
legislation, and which the most vigilant police can do nothing to
diminish. There is also another obstacle that impedes our view: this is,
that even the best evidence respecting suicide must always be very
imperfect. In cases of drowning, for example, deaths are liable to be
returned as suicides which are accidental; while, on the other hand,
some are called accidental which are voluntary.[26] Thus it is, that
self-murder seems to be not only capricious and uncontrollable, but also
very obscure in regard to proof; so that on all these grounds it might
be reasonable to despair of ever tracing it to those general causes by
which it is produced.

  [25] The folly of lawgivers thinking that by their enactments they can
       diminish suicide, is exposed by M. C. Comte in his _Traité de
       Législation_, vol. i. p. 486. See also some good remarks by
       Jefferson, in his observations on criminal law in _Appendix to
       Jefferson's Memoirs, by Randolph_, vol. i. pp. 126, 127. Heber
       (_Journey through India_, vol. i. pp. 389, 390) found that the
       English Government had vainly attempted to check the suicides
       frequently committed at Benares by drowning: and in our country
       the interference of legislators is met by the perjury of jurors,
       since, as Bentham says, English juries do not hesitate to violate
       their oaths by declaring the suicide to be _non compos_.
       _Principles of Penal Law_, in _Bentham's Works_, edit. Bowring,
       1843, vol. i. pp. 479, 480. In regard to the determination of the
       individual, and the impossibility of baffling his intention, there
       are cases recorded of persons who, being deprived of the ordinary
       means of destruction, put an end to life by holding their breath;
       while others effected their purpose by turning back the tongue so
       as to exclude air from the larynx. _Elliotson's Human Physiology_,
       pp. 491, 492.

  [26] This also applies to other cases besides those of drowning. See
       _Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence_, 1846, pp. 587, 597; and on the
       difficulty of always distinguishing a real suicide from an apparent
       one, see _Esquirol_, _Maladies Mentales_, vol. i. p. 575. From a
       third to a half of all suicides are by drowning. Compare _Dufau_,
       _Traité de Statistique_, p. 304; _Winslow's Anatomy of Suicide_,
       1840, p. 277; _Quetelet_, _Statistique Morale_, p. 66. But among
       these, many are no doubt involuntary; and it is certain that
       popular opinion grossly exaggerates the length of time during which
       it is possible to remain under water. _Brodie's Surgery_, 1846,
       pp. 89-92.

These being the peculiarities of this singular crime, it is surely an
astonishing fact, that all the evidence we possess respecting it points
to one great conclusion, and can leave no doubt on our minds that
suicide is merely the product of the general condition of society, and
that the individual felon only carries into effect what is a necessary
consequence of preceding circumstances.[27] In a given state of
society, a certain number of persons must put an end to their own life.
This is the general law; and the special question as to who shall commit
the crime depends, of course, upon special laws; which, however, in
their total action, must obey the large social law to which they are all
subordinate. And the power of the larger law is so irresistible, that
neither the love of life nor the fear of another world can avail
anything towards even checking its operation. The causes of this
remarkable regularity I shall hereafter examine; but the existence of
the regularity is familiar to whoever is conversant with moral
statistics. In the different countries for which we have returns, we
find year by year the same proportion of persons putting an end to their
own existence; so that, after making allowance for the impossibility of
collecting complete evidence, we are able to predict, within a very
small limit of error, the number of voluntary deaths for each ensuing
period; supposing, of course, that the social circumstances do not
undergo any marked change. Even in London, notwithstanding the
vicissitudes incidental to the largest and most luxurious capital in the
world, we find a regularity greater than could be expected by the most
sanguine believer in social laws; since political excitement, mercantile
excitement, and the misery produced by the dearness of food, are all
causes of suicide, and are all constantly varying.[28] Nevertheless, in
this vast metropolis, about 240 persons every year make away with
themselves; the annual suicides oscillating, from the pressure of
temporary causes, between 266, the highest, and 213, the lowest. In
1846, which was the great year of excitement caused by the railway
panic, the suicides in London were 266; in 1847 began a slight
improvement, and they fell to 256; in 1848 they were 247; in 1849 they
were 213; and in 1850 they were 229.[29]

  [27] 'Tout semble dépendre de causes déterminées. Ainsi, nous trouvons
       annuellement à peu près le même nombre de suicides, non-seulement
       en général, mais encore en faisant la distinction des sexes, celle
       des âges, ou même celle des instruments employés pour se détruire.
       Une année reproduit si fidèlement les chiffres de l'année qui a
       précédé, qu'on peut prévoir ce qui doit arriver dans l'année qui
       va suivre.' _Quetelet_, _Statistique Morale_, 1848, p. 35; see
       also p. 40.

  [28] On the causes of suicides, see _Burdach's Traité de Physiologie_,
       vol. v. pp. 476-478; and _Forry's Climate and its Endemic
       Influences_, p. 329. The latest researches of M. Casper confirm
       the statement of earlier statisticians, that suicide is more
       frequent among Protestants than among Catholics. _Casper_,
       _Denkwürdigkeiten zur medicinischen Statistik_, Berlin, 1846,
       p. 139.

  [29] See the tables in the _Assurance Magazine_, no. iv. p. 309, no.
       v. p. 34, no. viii. p. 350. These are the only complete
       consecutive returns of London suicides yet published; those issued
       by the police being imperfect. _Assurance Magazine_, no. v. p. 53.
       From inquiries made for me at the General Register Office, in
       January 1856, I learnt that there was an intention of completing
       the yearly returns, but I do not know if this has since been done.

Such is some, and only some, of the evidence we now possess respecting
the regularity with which, in the same state of society, the same crimes
are necessarily reproduced. To appreciate the full force of this
evidence, we must remember that it is not an arbitrary selection of
particular facts, but that it is generalized from an exhaustive
statement of criminal statistics, consisting of many millions of
observations, extending over countries in different grades of
civilization, with different laws, different opinions, different morals,
different habits. If we add to this, that these statistics have been
collected by persons specially employed for that purpose, with every
means of arriving at the truth, and with no interest to deceive, it
surely must be admitted that the existence of crime according to a fixed
and uniform scheme, is a fact more clearly attested than any other in
the moral history of man. We have here parallel chains of evidence
formed with extreme care, under the most different circumstances, and
all pointing in the same direction; all of them forcing us to the
conclusion, that the offences of men are the result not so much of the
vices of the individual offender as of the state of society into which
that individual is thrown.[30] This is an inference resting on broad and
tangible proofs accessible to all the world; and as such cannot be
overturned, or even impeached, by any of those hypotheses with which
metaphysicians and theologians have hitherto perplexed the study of
past events.

  [30] 'L'expérience démontre en effet, avec toute l'évidence possible,
       cette opinion, qui pourra sembler paradoxale au premier abord, que
       _c'est la société qui prépare le crime, et que le coupable n'est
       que l'instrument qui l'exécute_.' _Quetelet sur l'Homme_, vol. ii.
       p. 325.

Those readers who are acquainted with the manner in which in the
physical world the operations of the laws of nature are constantly
disturbed, will expect to find in the moral world disturbances equally
active. Such aberrations proceed, in both instances, from minor laws,
which at particular points meet the larger laws, and thus alter their
normal action. Of this, the science of mechanics affords a good example
in the instance of that beautiful theory called the parallelogram of
forces; according to which the forces are to each other in the same
proportion as is the diagonal of their respective parallelograms.[31]
This is a law pregnant with great results; it is connected with those
important mechanical resources, the composition and resolution of
forces; and no one acquainted with the evidence on which it stands, ever
thought of questioning its truth. But the moment we avail ourselves of
it for practical purposes, we find that in its action it is warped by
other laws, such as those concerning the friction of air, and the
different density of the bodies on which we operate, arising from their
chemical composition, or, as some suppose, from their atomic
arrangement. Perturbations being thus let in, the pure and simple action
of the mechanical law disappears. Still, and although the results of the
law are incessantly disturbed, the law itself remains intact.[32] Just
in the same way, the great social law, that the moral actions of men
are the product not of their volition, but of their antecedents, is
itself liable to disturbances which trouble its operation without
affecting its truth. And this is quite sufficient to explain those
slight variations which we find from year to year in the total amount of
crime produced by the same country. Indeed, looking at the fact that the
moral world is far more abundant in materials than the physical world,
the only ground for astonishment is that these variations should not be
greater; and from the circumstance that the discrepancies are so
trifling, we may form some idea of the prodigious energy of those vast
social laws, which, though constantly interrupted, seem to triumph over
every obstacle, and which, when examined by the aid of large numbers,
scarcely undergo any sensible perturbation.[33]

  [31] The diagonal always giving the resultant when each side represents
       a force; and if we look on the resultant as a compound force, a
       comparison of diagonals becomes a comparison of compounds.

  [32] A law of nature being merely a generalization of relations, and
       having no existence except in the mind, is essentially intangible;
       and therefore, however small the law may be, it can never admit of
       exceptions, though its operation may admit of innumerable
       exceptions. Hence, as Dugald Stewart (_Philosophy of the Mind_,
       vol. ii. p. 211) rightly says, we can only refer to the laws of
       nature 'by a sort of figure or metaphor.' This is constantly lost
       sight of even by authors of repute; some of whom speak of laws as
       if they were causes, and therefore liable to interruption by larger
       causes; while other writers pronounce them to be 'delegated
       agencies' from the Deity. Compare _Prout's Bridgewater Treatise_,
       pp. 318, 435, 495; _Sadler's Law of Population_, vol. ii. p. 67;
       _Burdach's Physiologie_, vol. i. p. 160. Mr. Paget, in his able
       work, _Lectures on Pathology_, vol. i. p. 481, vol. ii. p. 542,
       with much greater accuracy calls such cases 'apparent exceptions'
       to laws; but it would be better to say, 'exceptions to the
       operations of laws.' The context clearly proves that Mr. Paget
       distinctly apprehends the difference; but a slight alteration of
       this kind would prevent confusion in the minds of ordinary readers.

  [33] Mr. Rawson, in his _Inquiry into the Statistics of Crime in England
       and Wales_ (published in the _Journal of the Statistical Society_,
       vol. ii. pp. 316-344), says, p. 327, 'No greater proof can be given
       of the possibility of arriving at certain constants with regard to
       crime, than the fact which appears in the following table, that the
       greatest variation which has taken place during the last three
       years, in the proportion of any class of criminals at the same
       period of life, has not exceeded a half per cent.' See also _Report
       of British Association for 1839, Transac. of Sec._, p. 118. Indeed,
       all writers who have examined the evidence are forced to admit this
       regularity, however they may wish to explain it. M. Dufau (_Traité
       de Statistique_, p. 144) says, 'Les faits de l'ordre moral sont,
       aussi bien que ceux de l'ordre naturel, le produit de causes
       constantes et régulières,' &c.; and at p. 367, 'C'est ainsi que le
       monde moral se présente à nous, de ce point de vue, comme offrant,
       de même que le monde physique, un ensemble continu d'effets dus à
       des causes constantes et régulières, dont il appartient surtout à
       la statistique de constater l'action.' See to the same effect
       _Moreau-Christophe des Prisons en France_, Paris, 1838, pp. 53,

Nor is it merely the crimes of men which are marked by this uniformity
of sequence. Even the number of marriages annually contracted, is
determined, not by the temper and wishes of individuals, but by large
general facts, over which individuals can exercise no authority. It is
now known that marriages bear a fixed and definite relation to the price
of corn;[34] and in England the experience of a century has proved that,
instead of having any connexion with personal feelings, they are simply
regulated by the average earnings of the great mass of the people:[35]
so that this immense social and religious institution is not only
swayed, but is completely controlled, by the price of food and by the
rate of wages. In other cases, uniformity has been detected, though the
causes of the uniformity are still unknown. Thus, to give a curious
instance, we are now able to prove that even the aberrations of memory
are marked by this general character of necessary and invariable order.
The post-offices of London and of Paris have latterly published returns
of the number of letters which the writers, through forgetfulness,
omitted to direct; and, making allowance for the difference of
circumstances, the returns are year after year copies of each other.
Year after year the same proportion of letter-writers forget this simple
act; so that for each successive period we can actually foretell the
number of persons whose memory will fail them in regard to this
trifling and, as it might appear, accidental occurrence.[36]

  [34] 'It is curious to observe how intimate a relation exists between
       the price of food and the number of marriages.' ... 'The relation
       that subsists between the price of food and the number of marriages
       is not confined to our own country; and it is not improbable that,
       had we the means of ascertaining the facts, we should see the like
       result in every civilized community. We possess the necessary
       returns from France; and these fully bear out the view that has
       been given.' _Porter's Progress of the Nation_, vol. ii. pp. 244,
       245, London, 1838.

  [35] 'The marriage returns of 1850 and 1851 exhibit the excess which
       since 1750 has been invariably observed when the substantial
       earnings of the people are above the average.' _Journal of
       Statistical Society_, vol. xv. p. 185.

  [36] See _Somerville's Physical Geography_, vol. ii. pp. 409-411, which,
       says this able writer, proves that 'forgetfulness as well as free
       will is under constant laws.' But this is using the word 'free
       will' in a sense different from that commonly employed.

To those who have a steady conception of the regularity of events, and
have firmly seized the great truth that the actions of men, being guided
by their antecedents, are in reality never inconsistent, but, however
capricious they may appear, only form part of one vast scheme of
universal order, of which we in the present state of knowledge can
barely see the outline--to those who understand this, which is at once
the key and the basis of history, the facts just adduced, so far from
being strange, will be precisely what would have been expected and ought
long since to have been known. Indeed, the progress of inquiry is
becoming so rapid and so earnest, that I entertain little doubt that
before another century has elapsed, the chain of evidence will be
complete, and it will be as rare to find an historian who denies the
undeviating regularity of the moral world, as it now is to find a
philosopher who denies the regularity of the material world.

It will be observed, that the preceding proofs of our actions being
regulated by law, have been derived from statistics; a branch of
knowledge which, though still in its infancy,[37] has already thrown
more light on the study of human nature than all the sciences put
together. But although the statisticians have been the first to
investigate this great subject by treating it according to those methods
of reasoning which in other fields have been found successful; and
although they have, by the application of numbers, brought to bear upon
it a very powerful engine for eliciting truth--we must not, on that
account, suppose that there are no other resources remaining by which it
may likewise be cultivated: nor should we infer that because the
physical sciences have not yet been applied to history, they are
therefore inapplicable to it. Indeed, when we consider the incessant
contact between man and the external world, it is certain that there
must be an intimate connexion between human actions and physical laws;
so that if physical science had not hitherto been brought to bear upon
history, the reason is, either that historians have not perceived the
connexion, or else that, having perceived it, they have been destitute
of the knowledge by which its workings can be traced. Hence there has
arisen an unnatural separation of the two great departments of inquiry,
the study of the internal and that of the external: and although, in the
present state of European literature, there are some unmistakable
symptoms of a desire to break down this artificial barrier, still it
must be admitted that as yet nothing has been actually accomplished
towards effecting so great an end. The moralists, the theologians, and
the metaphysicians, continue to prosecute their studies without much
respect for what they deem the inferior labours of scientific men; whose
inquiries, indeed, they frequently attack, as dangerous to the interests
of religion, and as inspiring us with an undue confidence in the
resources of the human understanding. On the other hand, the cultivators
of physical science, conscious that they are an advancing body, are
naturally proud of their own success; and, contrasting their discoveries
with the more stationary position of their opponents, are led to despise
pursuits the barrenness of which has now become notorious.

  [37] Achenwall, in the middle of the eighteenth century, is usually
       considered to be the first systematic writer on statistics, and is
       said to have given them their present name. See _Lewis_, _Methods
       of Observation and Reasoning in Politics_, 1852, vol. i. p. 72;
       _Biographie Universelle_, vol. i. p. 140; _Dufau_, _Traité de
       Statistique_, pp. 9, 10. Even so late as 1800, the Bishop of
       Llandaff wrote to Sir John Sinclair, 'I must think the kingdom is
       highly indebted to you for bringing forward a species of knowledge
       (statistics) wholly new in this country, though not new in other
       parts of Europe.' _Sinclair's Correspondence_, vol. i. p. 230.
       Sinclair, notwithstanding his industry, was a man of slender
       powers, and did not at all understand the real importance of
       statistics, of which, indeed, he took a mere practical view.
       Since then statistics have been applied extensively to medicine;
       and still more recently, and on a smaller scale, to philology and
       to jurisprudence. Compare _Bouillaud_, _Philosophie Médicale_,
       pp. 96, 186; _Renouard_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. ii. pp. 474,
       475; _Esquirol_, _Maladies Mentales_, vol. ii. pp. 665-667;
       _Holland's Medical Notes_, pp. 5, 472; _Vogel's Pathological
       Anatomy_, pp. 15-17; _Simon's Pathology_, p. 180; _Phillips on
       Scrofula_, pp. 70, 118, &c.; _Prichard's Physical Hist. of
       Mankind_, vol. iv. p. 414; _Eschbach_, _Etude du Droit_,
       pp. 392-394.

It is the business of the historian to mediate between these two
parties, and reconcile their hostile pretensions by showing the point at
which their respective studies ought to coalesce. To settle the terms of
this coalition, will be to fix the basis of all history. For since
history deals with the actions of men, and since their actions are
merely the product of a collision between internal and external
phenomena, it becomes necessary to examine the relative importance of
those phenomena; to inquire into the extent to which their laws are
known; and to ascertain the resources for future discovery possessed by
these two great classes, the students of the mind and the students of
nature. This task I shall endeavour to accomplish in the next two
chapters: and if I do so with anything approaching to success, the
present work will at least have the merit of contributing something
towards filling up that wide and dreary chasm, which, to the hindrance
of our knowledge, separates subjects that are intimately related, and
should never be disunited.

                    *       *       *       *       *

                                NOTE A.

'Der Begriff der Freiheit ist ein reiner Vernunftbegriff, der eben darum
für die theoretische Philosophie transcendent, d. i. ein solcher ist,
dem kein angemessenes Beispiel in irgend einer möglichen Erfahrung
gegeben werden kann, welcher also keinen Gegenstand einer uns möglichen
theoretischen Erkenntniss ausmacht, und schlechterdings nicht für ein
constitutives, sondern lediglich als regulatives, und zwar nur bloss
negatives Princip der speculativen Vernunft gelten kann, im praktischen
Gebrauche der selben aber seine Realität durch praktische Grundsätze
beweist, die, als Gesetze, eine Causalität der reinen Vernunft,
unabhängig von allen empirischen Bedingungen (dem Sinnlichen überhaupt),
die Willkühr zu bestimmen, und einen reinen Willen in uns beweisen, in
welchem die sittlichen Begriffe und Gesetze ihren Ursprung haben.'
_Metaphysik der Sitten_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. v. pp. 20, 21. 'Würden
die Gegenstände der Sinnenwelt für Dinge an sich selbst genommen, und
die oben angeführten Naturgesetze für Gesetze der Dinge an sich selbst,
so wäre der Widerspruch' (_i.e._ between Liberty and Necessity)
'unvermeidlich. Ebenso, wenn das Subject der Freiheit gleich den übrigen
Gegenständen als blose Erscheinung vorgestellt würde, so könnte
ebensowohl der Widerspruch nicht vermieden werden; denn es würde
ebendasselbe von einerlei Gegenständen in derselben Bedeutung zugleich
bejaht und verneint werden. Ist aber Naturnothwendigkeit bloss auf
Erscheinungen bezogen, und Freiheit bloss auf Dinge an sich selbst, so
entspringt kein Widerspruch, wenn man gleich beide Arten von Causalität
annimmt oder zugibt, so schwer oder unmöglich es auch sein möchte, die
von der letzteren Art begreiflich zu machen.' ... 'Natur also und
Freiheit eben demselben Dinge, aber in verschiedener Beziehung, einmal
als Erscheinung, das andre Mal als einem Dinge an sich selbst ohne
Widerspruch beigelegt werden können.' ... 'Nun kann ich ohne
Widerspruch sagen: alle Handlungen vernünftiger Wesen, sofern sie
Erscheinungen sind (in irgend einer Erfahrung angetroffen werden),
stehen unter der Naturnothwendigkeit; eben dieselben Handlungen aber,
bloss respective auf das vernünftige Subject und dessen Vermögen, nach
blosser Vernunft zu handeln, sind frei.' _Prolegomena zu jeder künftigen
Metaphysik_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. iii. pp. 268-270. 'Denn ein
Geschöpf zu sein und als Naturwesen bloss dem Willen seines Urhebers zu
folgen; dennoch aber als freihandelndes Wesen (welches seinen vom
äusseren Einfluss unabhängigen Willen hat, der dem ersteren vielfältig
zuwider sein kann), der Zurechnung fähig zu sein, und seine eigene That
doch auch zugleich als die Wirkung eines höheren Wesens anzusehen: ist
eine Vereinbarung von Begriffen, die wir zwar in der Idee einer Welt,
als des höchsten Gutes, zusammen denken müssen; die aber nur der
einsehen kann, welcher bis zur Kenntniss der übersinnlichen
(intelligiblen) Welt durchdringt und die Art einsieht, wie sie der
Sinnenwelt zum Grunde liegt.' _Theodicee_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. vi.
p. 149. 'Nun wollen wir annehmen, die durch unsere Kritik nothwendig
gemachte Unterscheidung der Dinge, als Gegenstände der Erfahrung, von
eben denselben, als Dingen an sich selbst, wäre gar nicht gemacht, so
müsste der Grundsatz der Causalität und mithin der Naturmechanismus in
Bestimmung derselben durchaus von allen Dingen überhaupt als wirkenden
Ursachen gelten. Von eben demselben Wesen also, z. B. der menschlichen
Seele, würde ich nicht sagen können, ihr Wille sei frei, und er sei doch
zugleich der Naturnothwendigkeit unterworfen, d. i. nicht frei, ohne in
einen offenbaren Widerspruch zu gerathen; weil ich die Seele in beiden
Sätzen in eben derselben Bedeutung, nämlich als Ding überhaupt (als
Sache an sich selbst), genommen habe und, ohne vorhergehende Kritik,
auch nicht anders nehmen konnte. Wenn aber die Kritik nicht geirrt hat,
da sie das Object in zweierlei Bedeutung nehmen lehrt, nämlich als
Erscheinung, oder als Ding an sich selbst; wenn die Deduction ihrer
Verstandesbegriffe richtig ist, mithin auch der Grundsatz der Causalität
nur auf Dinge im ersten Sinne genommen, nämlich so fern sie Gegenstände
der Erfahrung sind, geht, eben dieselben aber nach der zweiten Bedeutung
ihm nicht unterworfen sind, so wird eben derselbe Wille in der
Erscheinung (den sichtbaren Handlungen) als dem Naturgesetze nothwendig
gemäss und so fern nicht frei, und doch andererseits, als einem Dinge an
sich selbst angehörig, jenem nicht unterworfen, mithin als frei gedacht,
ohne dass hiebei ein Widerspruch vorgeht.' _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_,
in _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. p. 24. 'Und hier zeigt die zwar gemeine,
aber betrügliche Voraussetzung der absoluten Realität der Erscheinungen
sogleich ihren nachtheiligen Einfluss, die Vernunft zu verwirren. Denn
sind Erscheinungen Dinge an sich selbst, so ist Freiheit nicht zu
retten. Alsdann ist Natur die vollständige und an sich hinreichend
bestimmende Ursache jeder Begebenheit, und die Bedingung derselben ist
jederzeit nur in der Reihe der Erscheinungen enthalten, die sammt ihrer
Wirkung unter dem Naturgesetze nothwendig sind. Wenn dagegen
Erscheinungen für Nichts mehr gelten, als sie in der That sind, nämlich
nicht für Dinge an sich, sondern blosse Vorstellungen, die nach
empirischen Gesetzen zusammenhängen, so müssen sie selbst noch Gründe
haben, die nicht Erscheinungen sind.' ... 'Hier habe ich nur die
Anmerkung machen wollen, dass, da der durchgängige Zusammenhang aller
Erscheinungen in einem Context der Natur ein unnachlässliches Gesetz
ist, dieses alle Freiheit nothwendig umstürzen müsste, wenn man der
Realität der Erscheinungen hartnäckig anhängen wollte. Daher auch
diejenigen, welche hierin der gemeinen Meinung folgen, niemals dahin
haben gelangen können, Natur und Freiheit mit einander zu vereinigen.'
_Kritik_, in _Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 419, 420. Finally, at p. 433, 'Man
muss wohl bemerken, dass wir hiedurch nicht die Wirklichkeit der
Freiheit, als eines der Vermögen, welche die Ursache von den
Erscheinungen unserer Sinnenwelt enthalten, haben darthun wollen. Denn
ausser dass dieses gar keine transcendentale Betrachtung, die bloss mit
Begriffen zu thun hat, gewesen sein würde, so könnte es auch nicht
gelingen, indem wir aus der Erfahrung niemals auf Etwas, was gar nicht
nach Erfahrungsgesetzen gedacht werden muss, schliessen können. Ferner
haben wir auch gar nicht einmal die Möglichkeit der Freiheit beweisen
wollen; denn dieses wäre auch nicht gelungen, weil wir überhaupt von
keinem Realgrunde und keiner Causalität aus blossen Begriffen _a priori_
die Möglichkeit erkennen können. Die Freiheit wird hier nur als
transcendentale Idee behandelt, wodurch die Vernunft die Reihe der
Bedingungen in der Erscheinung durch das sinnlich Unbedingte schlechthin
aufzuheben denkt, dabei sich in eine Antinomie mit ihren eigenen
Gesetzen, welche sie dem empirischen Gebrauche des Verstandes
vorschreibt, verwickelt. Dass nun diese Antinomie auf einem blossen
Scheine beruhe, und dass Natur der Causalität aus Freiheit wenigstens
nicht widerstreite, das war das Einzige, was wir leisten konnten, und
woran es uns auch einzig und allein gelegen war.'

These passages prove that Kant saw that the phenomenal reality of Free
Will is an indefensible doctrine: and as the present work is an
investigation of the laws of phenomena, his transcendental philosophy
does not affect my conclusions. According to Kant's view (and with which
I am inclined to agree) the ordinary metaphysical and theological
treatment of this dark problem is purely empirical, and therefore has no
value. The denial of the supremacy of consciousness follows as a natural
consequence, and is the result of the Kantian philosophy, and not, as is
often said, the base of it.

                              CHAPTER II.


If we inquire what those physical agents are by which the human race is
most powerfully influenced, we shall find that they may be classed under
four heads: namely, Climate, Food, Soil, and the General Aspect of
Nature; by which last, I mean those appearances which, though presented
chiefly to the sight, have, through the medium of that or other senses,
directed the association of ideas, and hence in different countries have
given rise to different habits of national thought. To one of these four
classes, may be referred all the external phenomena by which Man has
been permanently affected. The last of these classes, or what I call the
General Aspect of Nature, produces its principal results by exciting the
imagination, and by suggesting those innumerable superstitions which are
the great obstacles to advancing knowledge. And as, in the infancy of a
people, the power of such superstitions is supreme, it has happened that
the various Aspects of Nature have caused corresponding varieties in the
popular character, and have imparted to the national religion
peculiarities which, under certain circumstances, it is impossible to
efface. The other three agents, namely, Climate, Food, and Soil, have,
so far as we are aware, had no direct influence of this sort; but they
have, as I am about to prove, originated the most important consequences
in regard to the general organization of society, and from them there
have followed many of those large and conspicuous differences between
nations, which are often ascribed to some fundamental difference in the
various races into which mankind is divided. But while such original
distinctions of race are altogether hypothetical,[38] the discrepancies
which are caused by difference of climate, food, and soil, are capable
of a satisfactory explanation, and, when understood, will be found to
clear up many of the difficulties which still obscure the study of
history. I purpose, therefore, in the first place, to examine the laws
of these three vast agents in so far as they are connected with Man in
his social condition; and having traced the working of those laws with
as much precision as the present state of physical knowledge will allow,
I shall then examine the remaining agent, namely, the General Aspect of
Nature, and shall endeavour to point out the most important divergencies
to which its variations have, in different countries, naturally given

  [38] I cordially subscribe to the remark of one of the greatest thinkers
       of our time, who says of the supposed differences of race, 'of all
       vulgar modes of escaping from the consideration of the effect of
       social and moral influences on the human mind, the most vulgar is
       that of attributing the diversities of conduct and character to
       inherent natural differences.' _Mill's Principles of Political
       Economy_, vol. i. p. 390. Ordinary writers are constantly falling
       into the error of assuming the existence of this difference, which
       may or may not exist but which most assuredly has never been
       proved. Some singular instances of this will be found in _Alison's
       History of Europe_, vol. ii. p. 336, vol. vi. p. 136, vol. viii.
       pp. 525, 526, vol. xiii. p. 347; where the historian thinks that
       by a few strokes of his pen he can settle a question of the
       greatest difficulty, connected with some of the most intricate
       problems in physiology. On the supposed relation between race and
       temperament, see _Comte_, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. iii. p. 355.

Beginning, then, with climate, food, and soil, it is evident that these
three physical powers are in no small degree dependent on each other:
that is to say, there is a very close connexion between the climate of a
country and the food which will ordinarily be grown in that country;
while at the same time the food is itself influenced by the soil which
produces it, as also by the elevation or depression of the land, by the
state of the atmosphere, and, in a word, by all those conditions to the
assemblage of which the name of Physical Geography is, in its largest
sense, commonly given.[39]

  [39] As to the proper limits of physical geography, see _Prichard on
       Ethnology_, in _Report of the British Association for_ 1847,
       p. 235. The word 'climate' I always use in the narrow and popular
       sense. Dr. Forry and many previous writers make it nearly coincide
       with 'physical geography:' 'Climate constitutes the aggregate of
       all the external physical circumstances appertaining to each
       locality in its relation to organic nature.' _Forry's Climate of
       the United States and its Endemic Influences_, New York, 1842,
       p. 127.

The union between these physical agents being thus intimate, it seems
advisable to consider them not under their own separate heads, but
rather under the separate heads of the effects produced by their united
action. In this way we shall rise at once to a more comprehensive view
of the whole question; we shall avoid the confusion that would be caused
by artificially separating phenomena which are in themselves
inseparable; and we shall be able to see more clearly the extent of that
remarkable influence, which, in an early stage of society, the powers of
Nature exercise over the fortunes of Man.

Of all the results which are produced among a people by their climate,
food, and soil, the accumulation of wealth is the earliest, and in many
respects the most important. For although the progress of knowledge
eventually accelerates the increase of wealth, it is nevertheless
certain that, in the first formation of society, the wealth must
accumulate before the knowledge can begin. As long as every man is
engaged in collecting the materials necessary for his own subsistence,
there will be neither leisure nor taste for higher pursuits; no science
can possibly be created, and the utmost that can be effected will be an
attempt to economise labour by the contrivance of such rude and
imperfect instruments as even the most barbarous people are able to

In a state of society like this, the accumulation of wealth is the first
great step that can be taken, because without wealth there can be no
leisure, and without leisure there can be no knowledge. If what a people
consume is always exactly equal to what they possess, there will be no
residue, and therefore, no capital being accumulated, there will be no
means by which the unemployed classes may be maintained.[40] But if the
produce is greater than the consumption, an overplus arises, which,
according to well-known principles, increases itself, and eventually
becomes a fund out of which, immediately or remotely, every one is
supported who does not create the wealth upon which he lives. And now it
is that the existence of an intellectual class first becomes possible,
because for the first time there exists a previous accumulation, by
means of which men can use what they did not produce, and are thus
enabled to devote themselves to subjects for which at an earlier period
the pressure of their daily wants would have left them no time.

  [40] By unemployed classes, I mean what Adam Smith calls the
       unproductive classes; and though both expressions are strictly
       speaking inaccurate, the word 'unemployed' seems to convey more
       clearly than any other the idea in the text.

Thus it is that of all the great social improvements the accumulation of
wealth must be the first, because without it there can be neither taste
nor leisure for that acquisition of knowledge on which, as I shall
hereafter prove, the progress of civilization depends. Now, it is
evident that among an entirely ignorant people, the rapidity with which
wealth is created will be solely regulated by the physical peculiarities
of their country. At a later period, and when the wealth has been
capitalized, other causes come into play; but until this occurs, the
progress can only depend on two circumstances: first on the energy and
regularity with which labour is conducted, and secondly on the returns
made to that labour by the bounty of nature. And these two causes are
themselves the result of physical antecedents. The returns made to
labour are governed by the fertility of the soil, which is itself
regulated partly by the admixture of its chemical components, partly by
the extent to which, from rivers or from other natural causes, the soil
is irrigated, and partly by the heat and humidity of the atmosphere. On
the other hand, the energy and regularity with which labour is
conducted, will be entirely dependent on the influence of climate. This
will display itself in two different ways. The first, which is a very
obvious consideration, is, that if the heat is intense, men will be
indisposed, and in some degree unfitted, for that active industry which
in a milder climate they might willingly have exerted. The other
consideration, which has been less noticed, but is equally important,
is, that climate influences labour not only by enervating the labourer
or by invigorating him, but also by the effect it produces on the
regularity of his habits.[41] Thus we find that no people living in a
very northern latitude have ever possessed that steady and unflinching
industry for which the inhabitants of temperate regions are remarkable.
The reason of this becomes clear, when we remember that in the more
northern countries the severity of the weather, and, at some seasons,
the deficiency of light, render it impossible for the people to continue
their usual out-of-door employments. The result is, that the working
classes being compelled to cease from their ordinary pursuits, are
rendered more prone to desultory habits; the chain of their industry is
as it were broken, and they lose that impetus which long-continued and
uninterrupted practice never fails to give. Hence there arises a
national character more fitful and capricious than that possessed by a
people whose climate permits the regular exercise of their ordinary
industry. Indeed, so powerful is this principle, that we may perceive
its operation even under the most opposite circumstances. It would be
difficult to conceive a greater difference in government, laws,
religion, and manners, than that which distinguishes Sweden and Norway
on the one hand, from Spain and Portugal on the other. But these four
countries have one great point in common. In all of them, continued
agricultural industry is impracticable. In the two southern countries,
labour is interrupted by the heat, by the dryness of the weather, and
by the consequent state of the soil. In the two northern countries, the
same effect is produced by the severity of the winter and the shortness
of the days. The consequence is, that these four nations, though so
different in other respects, are all remarkable for a certain
instability and fickleness of character; presenting a striking contrast
to the more regular and settled habits which are established in
countries whose climate subjects the working classes to fewer
interruptions, and imposes on them the necessity of a more constant and
unremitting employment.[42]

  [41] This has been entirely neglected by the three most philosophical
       writers on climate: Montesquieu, Hume, and M. Charles Comte in his
       _Traité de Législation_. It is also omitted in the remarks of
       M. Guizot on the influence of climate, _Civilisation en Europe_,
       p. 97.

  [42] See the admirable remarks in _Laing's Denmark_, 1852, pp. 204, 366,
       367; though Norway appears to be a better illustration than
       Denmark. In _Rey's Science Sociale_, vol. i. pp. 195, 196, there
       are some calculations respecting the average loss to agricultural
       industry caused by changes in the weather; but no notice is taken
       of the connexion between these changes, when abrupt, and the tone
       of the national character.

These are the great physical causes by which the creation of wealth is
governed. There are, no doubt, other circumstances which operate with
considerable force, and which, in a more advanced state of society,
possess an equal, and sometimes a superior, influence. But this is at a
later period; and looking at the history of wealth in its earliest
stage, it will be found to depend entirely on soil and climate: the soil
regulating the returns made to any given amount of labour; the climate
regulating the energy and constancy of the labour itself. It requires
but a hasty glance at past events, to prove the immense power of these
two great physical conditions. For there is no instance in history of
any country being civilized by its own efforts, unless it has possessed
one of these conditions in a very favourable form. In Asia, civilization
has always been confined to that vast tract where a rich and alluvial
soil has secured to man that wealth without some share of which no
intellectual progress can begin. This great region extends, with a few
interruptions, from the east of Southern China to the western coasts of
Asia Minor, of Ph[oe]nicia, and of Palestine. To the north of this
immense belt, there is a long line of barren country which has
invariably been peopled by rude and wandering tribes, who are kept in
poverty by the ungenial nature of the soil, and who, as long as they
remained on it, have never emerged from their uncivilized state. How
entirely this depends on physical causes, is evident from the fact that
these same Mongolian and Tartarian hordes have, at different periods,
founded great monarchies in China, in India, and in Persia, and have, on
all such occasions, attained a civilization nowise inferior to that
possessed by the most nourishing of the ancient kingdoms. For in the
fertile plains of Southern Asia,[43] nature has supplied all the
materials of wealth; and there it was that these barbarous tribes
acquired for the first time some degree of refinement, produced a
national literature, and organized a national polity; none of which
things they, in their native land, had been able to effect.[44] In the
same way, the Arabs in their own country have, owing to the extreme
aridity of their soil,[45] always been a rude and uncultivated people;
for in their case, as in all others, great ignorance is the fruit of
great poverty. But in the seventh century they conquered Persia;[46] in
the eighth century they conquered the best part of Spain;[47] in the
ninth century they conquered the Punjaub, and eventually nearly the
whole of India.[48] Scarcely were they established in their fresh
settlements, when their character seemed to undergo a great change.
They, who in their original land were little else than roving savages,
were now for the first time able to accumulate wealth, and, therefore,
for the first time did they make some progress in the arts of
civilization. In Arabia they had been a mere race of wandering
shepherds;[49] in their new abodes they became the founders of mighty
empires--they built cities, endowed schools, collected libraries; and
the traces of their power are still to be seen at Cordova, at Bagdad,
and at Delhi.[50] Precisely in the same manner, there is adjoining
Arabia at the north, and only separated from it elsewhere by the narrow
waters of the Red Sea, an immense sandy plain, which, covering the whole
of Africa in the same latitude, extends westward until it reaches the
shores of the Atlantic.[51] This enormous tract is, like Arabia, a
barren waste;[52] and therefore, as in Arabia, the inhabitants have
always been entirely uncivilized, acquiring no knowledge, simply because
they have accumulated no wealth.[53] But this great desert is, in its
eastern part, irrigated by the waters of the Nile, the overflowing of
which covers the sand with a rich alluvial deposit, that yields to
labour the most abundant, and indeed the most extraordinary,
returns.[54] The consequence is, that in that spot, wealth was rapidly
accumulated, the cultivation of knowledge quickly followed, and this
narrow strip of land[55] became the seat of Egyptian civilization; a
civilization which, though grossly exaggerated,[56] forms a striking
contrast to the barbarism of the other nations of Africa, none of which
have been able to work out their own progress, or emerge, in any degree,
from the ignorance to which the penury of nature has doomed them.

  [43] This expression has been used by different geographers in different
       senses; but I take it in its common acceptation, without reference
       to the more strictly physical view of Ritter and his followers in
       regard to Central Asia. See _Prichard's Physical History of
       Mankind_, vol. iv. p. 278, edit. 1844. At p. 92, Prichard makes the
       Himalaya the southern boundary of Central Asia.

  [44] There is reason to believe that the Tartars of Thibet received even
       their alphabet from India. See the interesting Essay on Tartarian
       Coins in _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. iv. pp. 276, 277; and
       on the Scythian Alphabet, see vol. xii. p. 336.

  [45] In _Somerville's Physical Geography_, vol. i. p. 132, it is said
       that in Arabia there are 'no rivers;' but Mr. Wellsted (_Travels in
       Arabia_, vol. ii. p. 409) mentions one which empties itself into
       the sea five miles west of Aden. On the streams in Arabia, see
       _Meiners über die Fruchtbarkeit der Länder_, vol. i. pp. 149, 150.
       That the sole deficiency is want of irrigation appears from
       Burckhardt, who says (_Travels in Arabia_, vol. i. p. 240), 'In
       Arabia, wherever the ground can be irrigated by wells, the sands
       may be soon made productive.' And for a striking description of one
       of the oases of Oman, which shows what Arabia might have been with
       a good river system, see _Journal of Geographical Society_, vol.
       vii. pp. 106, 107.

  [46] Mr. Morier (_Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol. vii. p. 230) says, 'the
       conquest of Persia by the Saracens A.D. 651.' However, the fate of
       Persia was decided by the battles of Kudseah and Nahavund, which
       were fought in 638 and 641: see _Malcolm's History of Persia_,
       vol. i. pp. xvi. 139, 142.

  [47] In 712. _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 369.

  [48] They were established in the Punjaub early in the ninth century,
       but did not conquer Guzerat and Malwa until five hundred years
       later. Compare Wilson's note in the _Vishnu Purana_, pp. 481, 482,
       with _Asiatic Researches_, vol. ix. pp. 187, 188, 203. On their
       progress in the more southern part of the Peninsula, see _Journal
       of Asiatic Society_, vol. iii. pp. 222, 223, vol. iv. pp. 28-30.

  [49] 'A race of pastoral barbarians.' _Dickinson on the Arabic
       Language_, in _Journal of Asiat. Society_, vol. v. p. 323. Compare
       _Reynier_, _Economie des Arabes_, pp. 27, 28; where, however, a
       very simple question is needlessly complicated. The old Persian
       writers bestowed on them the courteous appellation of 'a band of
       naked lizard-eaters.' _Malcolm's Hist. of Persia_, vol. i. p. 133.
       Indeed, there are few things in history better proved than the
       barbarism of a people whom some writers wish to invest with a
       romantic interest. The eulogy passed on them by Meiners is rather
       suspicious, for he concludes by saying, 'die Eroberungen der
       Araber waren höchst selten so blutig und zerstörend, als die
       Eroberungen der Tataren, Persen, Türken, u.s.w. in ältern und
       neuern Zeiten waren.' _Fruchtbarkeit der Länder_, vol. i. p. 153.
       If this is the best that can be said, the comparison with Tartars
       and Turks does not prove much; but it is singular that this learned
       author should have forgotten a passage in Diodorus Siculus which
       gives a pleasant description of them nineteen centuries ago on the
       eastern side: _Bibliothec. Hist._ lib. ii. vol. ii. p. 137.
       [Greek: echousi de bion lêstrikon, kai pollên tês homorou chôras
       katatrechontes lêsteuousin], &c.

  [50] The only branch of knowledge which the Arabians ever raised to a
       science was astronomy, which began to be cultivated under the
       caliphs about the middle of the eighth century, and went on
       improving until 'la ville de Bagdad fut, pendant le dixième siècle,
       le théâtre principal de l'astronomie chez les orientaux.'
       _Montucla_, _Histoire des Mathématiques_, vol. i. pp. 355, 364. The
       old Pagan Arabs, like most barbarous people living in a clear
       atmosphere, had such an empirical acquaintance with the celestial
       phenomena as was used for practical purposes; but there is no
       evidence to justify the common opinion that they studied this
       subject as a science. Dr. Dorn (_Transactions of the Asiatic
       Society_, vol. ii. p. 371) says, 'of a scientific knowledge of
       astronomy among them no traces can be discovered.' Beausobre
       (_Histoire de Manichée_, vol. i. p. 20) is quite enthusiastic about
       the philosophy of the Arabs in the time of Pythagoras! and he tells
       us, that 'ces peuples out toujours cultivé les sciences.' To
       establish this fact, he quotes a long passage from a life of
       Mohammed written early in the eighteenth century by
       Boulainvilliers, whom he calls, 'un des plus beaux génies de
       France.' If this is an accurate description, those who have read
       the works of Boulainvilliers will think that France was badly off
       for men of genius; and as to his life of Mohammed, it is little
       better than a romance: the author was ignorant of Arabic, and knew
       nothing which had not been already communicated by Maracci and
       Pococke. See _Biographie Universelle_, vol. v. p. 321.

       In regard to the later Arabian astronomers, one of their great
       merits was to approximate to the value of the annual precession
       much closer than Ptolemy had done. See _Grant's History of
       Physical Astronomy_, 1852, p. 319.

  [51] Indeed it goes beyond it: 'the trackless sands of the Sahara
       desert, which is even prolonged for miles into the Atlantic Ocean
       in the form of sandbanks.' _Somerville's Physical Geography_,
       vol. i. p. 149. For a singular instance of one of these sandbanks
       being formed into an island, see _Journal of Geograph. Society_,
       vol. ii. p. 284. The Sahara desert, exclusive of Bornou and
       Darfour, covers an area of 194,000 square leagues; that is, nearly
       three times the size of France, or twice the size of the
       Mediterranean. Compare _Lyell's Geology_, p. 694, with
       _Somerville's Connexion of the Sciences_, p. 294. As to the
       probable southern limits of the plateau of the Sahara, see
       _Richardson's Mission to Central Africa_, 1853, vol. ii. pp. 146,
       156; and as to the part of it adjoining the Mandingo country, see
       _Mungo Park's Travels_, vol. i. pp. 237, 238. Respecting the
       country south of Mandara, some scanty information was collected by
       Denham in the neighbourhood of Lake Tchad. _Denham's Northern and
       Central Africa_, pp. 121, 122, 144-146.

  [52] Richardson, who travelled through it south of Tripoli, notices its
       'features of sterility, of unconquerable barrenness.' _Richardson's
       Sahara_, 1848, vol. i. p. 86; and see the striking picture at
       p. 409. The long and dreary route from Mourzouk to Yeou, on Lake
       Tchad, is described by Denham, one of the extremely few Europeans
       who have performed that hazardous journey. _Denham's Central
       Africa_, pp. 2-60. Even on the shore of the Tchad there is hardly
       any vegetation, 'a coarse grass and a small bell-flower being the
       only plants that I could discover,' p. 90. Compare his remark on
       Bornou, p. 317. The condition of part of the desert in the
       fourteenth century is described in the _Travels of Ibn Batuta_,
       p. 233, which should be compared with the account given by Diodorus
       Siculus of the journey of Alexander to the temple of Ammon.
       _Bibliothec. Historic._ lib. xvii. vol. vii. p. 348.

  [53] Richardson, who travelled in 1850 from Tripoli to within a few days
       of Lake Tchad, was struck by the stationary character of the
       people. He says, 'neither in the desert nor in the kingdoms of
       Central Africa is there any march of civilization. All goes on
       according to a certain routine established for ages past.'
       _Mission to Central Africa_, vol. i. pp. 304, 305. See similar
       remarks in _Pallme's Travels in Kordofan_, pp. 108, 109.

  [54] Abd-Allatif, who was in Egypt early in the thirteenth century,
       gives an interesting account of the rising of the Nile, to which
       Egypt owes its fertility. _Abd-Allatif_, _Relation de l'Egypte_,
       pp. 329-340, 374-376, and Appendix, p. 504. See also on these
       periodical inundations. _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. iv.
       pp. 101-104; and on the half-astronomical half theological notions
       connected with them, pp. 372-377, vol. v. pp. 291, 292. Compare on
       the religious importance of the Nile _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i.
       p. 409. The expression, therefore, of Herodotus (book ii. chap.
       v. vol. i. p. 484), [Greek: dôron tou potamou] is true in a much
       larger sense than he intended; since to the Nile Egypt owes all
       the physical peculiarities which distinguish it from Arabia and
       the great African desert. Compare _Heeren's African Nations_,
       vol. ii. p. 58; _Reynier_, _Economie des Arabes_, p. 3; _Postan's
       on the Nile and Indus_, in _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. vii.
       p. 275; and on the difference between the soil of the Nile and
       that of the surrounding desert, see _Volney_, _Voyage en Syrie et
       en Egypte_, vol. i. p. 14.

  [55] 'The average breadth of the valley from one mountain-range to the
       other, between Cairo in Lower, and Edfoo in Upper Egypt, is only
       about seven miles; and that of the cultivable land, whose limits
       depend on the inundation, scarcely exceeds five and a half.'
       _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. i. p. 216. According to
       Gerard, 'the mean width of the valley between Syene and Cairo is
       about nine miles.' Note in _Heeren's African Nations_, vol. ii.
       p. 62.

  [56] I will give one instance of this from an otherwise sensible writer,
       and a man too of considerable learning: 'As to the physical
       knowledge of the Egyptians, their cotemporaries gave them credit
       for the astonishing power of their magic; and as we cannot suppose
       that the instances recorded in Scripture were to be attributed to
       the exertion of supernatural powers, we must conclude that they
       were in possession of a more intimate knowledge of the laws and
       combinations of nature than what is professed by the most learned
       men of the present age.' _Hamilton's Ægyptiaca_, pp. 61, 62. It is
       a shame that such nonsense should be written in the nineteenth
       century: and yet a still more recent author (_Vyse on the
       Pyramids_, vol. i. p. 28) assures us that 'the Egyptians, for
       especial purposes, were endowed with great wisdom and science.'
       Science properly so called, the Egyptians had none; and as to
       their wisdom, it was considerable enough to distinguish them from
       barbarous nations like the old Hebrews, but it was inferior to
       that of the Greeks, and it was of course immeasurably below that
       of modern Europe.

These considerations clearly prove that of the two primary causes of
civilization, the fertility of the soil is the one which in the ancient
world exercised most influence. But in European civilization, the other
great cause, that is to say, climate, has been the most powerful; and
this, as we have seen, produces an effect partly on the capacity of the
labourer for work, partly on the regularity or irregularity of his
habits. The difference in the result has curiously corresponded with the
difference in the cause. For, although all civilization must have for
its antecedent the accumulation of wealth, still what subsequently
occurs will be in no small degree determined by the conditions under
which the accumulation took place. In Asia, and in Africa, the condition
was a fertile soil, causing an abundant return; in Europe, it was a
happier climate, causing more successful labour. In the former case, the
effect depends on the relation between the soil and its produce; in
other words, the mere operation of one part of external nature upon
another. In the latter case, the effect depends on the relation between
the climate and the labourer; that is, the operation of external nature
not upon itself, but upon man. Of these two classes of relations, the
first, being the less complicated, is the less liable to disturbance,
and therefore came sooner into play. Hence it is, that, in the march of
civilization, the priority is unquestionably due to the most fertile
parts of Asia and Africa. But although their civilization was the
earliest, it was very far, indeed, from being the best or most
permanent. Owing to circumstances which I shall presently state, the
only progress which is really effective depends, not upon the bounty of
nature, but upon the energy of man. Therefore it is, that the
civilization of Europe, which, in its earliest stage, was governed by
climate, has shown a capacity of development unknown to those
civilizations which were originated by soil. For the powers of nature,
notwithstanding their apparent magnitude, are limited and stationary; at
all events, we have not the slightest proof that they have ever
increased, or that they will ever be able to increase. But the powers of
man, so far as experience and analogy can guide us, are unlimited; nor
are we possessed of any evidence which authorizes us to assign even an
imaginary boundary at which the human intellect will, of necessity, be
brought to a stand. And as this power which the mind possesses of
increasing its own resources, is a peculiarity confined to man, and one
eminently distinguishing him from what is commonly called external
nature, it becomes evident that the agency of climate, which gives him
wealth by stimulating his labour, is more favourable to his ultimate
progress than the agency of soil, which likewise gives him wealth, but
which does so, not by exciting his energies, but by virtue of a mere
physical relation between the character of the soil and the quantity or
value of the produce that it almost spontaneously affords.

Thus far as to the different ways in which climate and soil affect the
creation of wealth. But another point of equal, or perhaps of superior,
importance remains behind. After the wealth has been created, a question
arises as to how it is to be distributed; that is to say, what
proportion is to go to the upper classes, and what to the lower. In an
advanced stage of society, this depends upon several circumstances of
great complexity, and which it is not necessary here to examine.[57] But
in a very early stage of society, and before its later and refined
complications have begun, it may, I think, be proved that the
distribution of wealth is, like its creation, governed entirely by
physical laws; and that those laws are moreover so active as to have
invariably kept a vast majority of the inhabitants of the fairest
portion of the globe in a condition of constant and inextricable
poverty. If this can be demonstrated, the immense importance of such
laws is manifest. For since wealth is an undoubted source of power, it
is evident that, supposing other things equal, an inquiry into the
distribution of wealth is an inquiry into the distribution of power,
and, as such, will throw great light on the origin of those social and
political inequalities, the play and opposition of which form a
considerable part of the history of every civilized country.

  [57] Indeed many of them are still unknown; for, as M. Rey justly
       observes, most writers pay too exclusive an attention to the
       production of wealth, and neglect the laws of its distribution.
       _Rey_, _Science Sociale_, vol. iii. p. 271. In confirmation of
       this, I may mention the theory of rent, which was only discovered
       about half a century ago, and which is connected with so many
       subtle arguments that it is not yet generally adopted; and even
       some of its advocates have shown themselves unequal to defending
       their own cause. The great law of the ratio between the cost of
       labour and the profits of stock, is the highest generalization we
       have reached respecting the distribution of wealth; but it cannot
       be consistently admitted by anyone who holds that rent enters into

If we take a general view of this subject, we may say that after the
creation and accumulation of wealth have once fairly begun, it will be
distributed among two classes, those who labour, and those who do not
labour; the latter being, as a class, the more able, the former the more
numerous. The fund by which both classes are supported is immediately
created by the lower class, whose physical energies are directed,
combined, and as it were economized, by the superior skill of the upper
class. The reward of the workmen is called their wages; the reward of
the contrivers is called their profits. At a later period, there will
arise what may be called the saving class; that is, a body of men who
neither contrive nor work, but lend their accumulations to those who
contrive, and in return for the loan, receive a part of that reward
which belongs to the contriving class. In this case, the members of the
saving class are rewarded for their abstinence in refraining from
spending their accumulations, and this reward is termed the interest of
their money; so that there is made a threefold division--Interest,
Profits, and Wages. But this is a subsequent arrangement, which can only
take place to any extent when wealth has been considerably accumulated;
and in the stage of society we are now considering, this third, or
saving class, can hardly be said to have a separate existence.[58] For
our present purpose, therefore, it is enough to ascertain what those
natural laws are, which, as soon as wealth is accumulated, regulate the
proportion in which it is distributed to the two classes of labourers
and employers.

Now, it is evident that wages being the price paid for labour, the rate
of wages must, like the price of all other commodities, vary according
to the changes in the market. If the supply of labourers outstrips the
demand, wages will fall; if the demand exceeds the supply, they will
rise. Supposing, therefore, that in any country there is a given amount
of wealth to be divided between employers and workmen, every increase in
the number of the workmen will tend to lessen the average reward each
can receive. And if we set aside those disturbing causes by which all
general views are affected, it will be found that, in the long-run, the
question of wages is a question of population; for although the total
sum of the wages actually paid depends upon the largeness of the fund
from which they are drawn, still the amount of wages received by each
man must diminish as the claimants increase, unless, owing to other
circumstances, the fund itself should so advance as to keep pace with
the greater demands made upon it.[59]

  [58] In a still more advanced stage, there is a fourth division of
       wealth, and part of the produce of labour is absorbed by rent.
       This, however, is not an element of price, but a consequence of it;
       and in the ordinary march of affairs, considerable time must elapse
       before it can begin. Rent, in the proper sense of the word, is the
       price paid for using the natural and indestructible powers of the
       soil, and must not be confused with rent commonly so called; for
       this last also includes the profits of stock. I notice this,
       because several of the opponents of Ricardo have placed the
       beginning of rent too early, by overlooking the fact that apparent
       rent is very often profits disguised.

  [59] 'Wages depend, then, on the proportion between the number of the
       labouring population, and the capital or other funds devoted to the
       purchase of labour; we will say, for shortness, the capital. If
       wages are higher at one time or place than at another, if the
       subsistence and comfort of the class of hired labourers are more
       ample, it is, and can be, for no other reason than because capital
       bears a greater proportion to population. It is not the absolute
       amount of accumulation or of production that is of importance to
       the labouring class; it is not the amount even of the funds
       destined for distribution among the labourers; it is the proportion
       between those funds and the numbers among whom they are shared. The
       condition of the class can be bettered in no other way than by
       altering that proportion to their advantage; and every scheme for
       their benefit which does not proceed on this as its foundation, is,
       for all permanent purposes, a delusion.' _Mill's Principles of
       Political Economy_, 1849, vol. i. p. 425. See also vol. ii.
       pp. 264, 265, and _M'Culloch's Political Economy_, pp. 379, 380.
       Ricardo, in his _Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn_,
       has stated, with his usual terseness, the three possible forms of
       this question: 'The rise or fall of wages is common to all states
       of society, whether it be the stationary, the advancing, or the
       retrograde state. In the stationary state, it is regulated wholly
       by the increase or falling-off of the population. In the advancing
       state, it depends on whether the capital or the population advance
       at the more rapid course. In the retrograde state, it depends on
       whether population or capital decrease with the greater rapidity.'
       _Ricardo's Works_, p. 379.

To know the circumstances most favourable to the increase of what may be
termed the wages-fund is a matter of great moment, but is one with which
we are not immediately concerned. The question we have now before us,
regards not the accumulation of wealth, but its distribution; and the
object is, to ascertain what those physical conditions are, which, by
encouraging a rapid growth of population, over-supply the labour market,
and thus keep the average rate of wages at a very low point.

Of all the physical agents by which the increase of the labouring
classes is affected, that of food is the most active and universal. If
two countries, equal in all other respects, differ solely in this--that
in one the national food is cheap and abundant, and in the other scarce
and dear, the population of the former country will inevitably increase
more rapidly than the population of the latter.[60] And, by a parity of
reasoning, the average rate of wages will be lower in the former than in
the latter, simply because the labour-market will be more amply
stocked.[61] An inquiry, therefore, into the physical laws on which the
food of different countries depends, is, for our present purpose, of the
greatest importance; and fortunately it is one respecting which we are
able, in the present state of chemistry and physiology, to arrive at
some precise and definite conclusions.

  [60] The standard of comfort being of course supposed the same.

  [61] 'No point is better established, than that the supply of labourers
       will always ultimately be in proportion to the means of supporting
       them.' _Principles of Political Economy_, chap. xxi. in _Ricardo's
       Works_, p. 176. Compare _Smith's Wealth of Nations_, book i.
       chap. xi. p. 86, and _M'Culloch's Political Economy_, p. 222.

The food consumed by man produces two, and only two, effects necessary
to his existence. These are, first to supply him with that animal heat
without which the functions of life would stop; and secondly, to repair
the waste constantly taking place in his tissues, that is, in the
mechanism of his frame. For each of these separate purposes there is a
separate food. The temperature of our body is kept up by substances
which contain no nitrogen, and are called non-azotized; the incessant
decay in our organism is repaired by what are known as azotized
substances, in which nitrogen is always found.[62] In the former case,
the carbon of non-azotized food combines with the oxygen we take in, and
gives rise to that internal combustion by which our animal heat is
renewed. In the latter case, nitrogen having little affinity for
oxygen,[63] the nitrogenous or azotized food is, as it were, guarded
against combustion;[64] and being thus preserved, is able to perform its
duty of repairing the tissues, and supplying those losses which the
human organism constantly suffers in the wear and tear of daily life.

  [62] The division of food into azotized and non-azotized is said to have
       been first pointed out by Magendie. See _Müller's Physiology_,
       vol. i. p. 525. It is now recognised by most of the best
       authorities. See, for instance, _Liebig's Animal Chemistry_,
       p. 134; _Carpenter's Human Physiology_, p. 685; _Brande's
       Chemistry_, vol. ii. pp. 1218, 1870. The first tables of food
       constructed according to it were by Boussingault; see an elaborate
       essay by Messrs. Lawes and Gilbert on _The Composition of Foods_,
       in _Report of British Association for 1852_, p. 323: but the
       experiments made by these gentlemen are neither numerous nor
       diversified enough to establish a general law; still less can we
       accept their singular assertion, p. 346, that the comparative
       prices of different foods are a test of the nutriment they
       comparatively contain.

  [63] 'Of all the elements of the animal body, nitrogen has the feeblest
       attraction for oxygen; and, what is still more remarkable, it
       deprives all combustible elements with which it combines, to a
       greater or less extent, of the power of combining with oxygen, that
       is, of undergoing combustion.' _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_,
       p. 372.

  [64] The doctrine of what may be called the protecting power of some
       substances is still imperfectly understood, and until late in the
       eighteenth century, its existence was hardly suspected. It is now
       known to be connected with the general theory of poisons. See
       _Turner's Chemistry_, vol. i. p. 516. To this we must probably
       ascribe the fact that several poisons which are fatal when applied
       to a wounded surface, may be taken into the stomach with impunity.
       _Brodie's Physiological Researches_, 1851, pp. 137, 138. It seems
       more reasonable to refer this to chemical laws than to hold, with
       Sir Benjamin Brodie, that some poisons 'destroy life by paralysing
       the muscles of respiration without immediately affecting the
       action of the heart.'

These are the two great divisions of food;[65] and if we inquire into
the laws which regulate the relation they bear to man, we shall find
that in each division the most important agent is climate. When men live
in a hot country, their animal heat is more easily kept up than when
they live in a cold one; therefore they require a smaller amount of that
non-azotized food, the sole business of which is to maintain at a
certain point the temperature of the body. In the same way, they, in the
hot country, require a smaller amount of azotized food, because on the
whole their bodily exertions are less frequent, and on that account the
decay of their tissues is less rapid.[66]

  [65] Prout's well-known division into saccharine, oily, and albuminous,
       appears to me of much inferior value, though I observe that it is
       adopted in the last edition of _Elliotson's Human Physiology_,
       pp. 65, 160. The division by M. Lepelletier into 'les alimens
       solides et les boissons' is of course purely empirical.
       _Lepelletier_, _Physiologie Médicale_, vol. ii. p. 100, Paris,
       1832. In regard to Prout's classification, compare _Burdach's
       Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ix. p. 240, with _Wagner's
       Physiology_, p. 452.

  [66] The evidence of an universal connexion in the animal frame between
       exertion and decay, is now almost complete. In regard to the
       muscular system, see _Carpenter's Human Physiology_, pp. 440, 441,
       581, edit. 1846: 'there is strong reason to believe the waste or
       decomposition of the muscular tissue to be in exact proportion to
       the degree in which it is exerted.' This perhaps would be generally
       anticipated even in the absence of direct proof; but what is more
       interesting, is that the same principle holds good of the nervous
       system. The human brain of an adult contains about one and a half
       per cent of phosphorus; and it has been ascertained, that after
       the mind has been much exercised, phosphates are excreted, and
       that in the case of inflammation of the brain their excretion (by
       the kidneys) is very considerable. See _Paget's Lectures on
       Surgical Pathology_, 1853, vol. i. pp. 6, 7, 434; _Carpenter's
       Human Physiology_, pp. 192, 193, 222; _Simon's Animal Chemistry_,
       vol. ii. p. 426; _Henle_, _Anatomie Générale_, vol. ii. p. 172.
       The reader may also consult respecting the phosphorus of the brain
       the recent very able work of MM. Robin et Verdeil, _Chimie
       Anatomique_, vol. i. p. 215, vol. ii. p. 348, Paris, 1853.
       According to these writers (vol. iii. p. 445), its existence in
       the brain was first announced by Hensing, in 1779.

Since, therefore, the inhabitants of hot climates do, in their natural
and ordinary state, consume less food than the inhabitants of cold ones,
it inevitably follows that, provided other things remain equal, the
growth of population will be more rapid in countries which are hot than
in those which are cold. For practical purposes, it is immaterial
whether the greater plenty of a substance by which the people are fed
arises from a larger supply, or whether it arises from a smaller
consumption. When men eat less, the result will be just the same as if
they had more; because the same amount of nutriment will go farther, and
thus population will gain a power of increasing more quickly than it
could do in a colder country, where, even if provisions were equally
abundant, they, owing to the climate, would be sooner exhausted.

This is the first point of view in which the laws of climate are,
through the medium of food, connected with the laws of population, and
therefore with the laws of the distribution of wealth. But there is also
another point of view, which follows the same line of thought, and will
be found to strengthen the argument just stated. This is, that in cold
countries, not only are men compelled to eat more than in hot ones, but
their food is dearer, that is to say, to get it is more difficult, and
requires a greater expenditure of labour. The reason of this I will
state as briefly as possible, without entering into any details beyond
those which are absolutely necessary for a right understanding of this
interesting subject.

The objects of food are, as we have seen, only two: namely, to keep up
the warmth of the body, and repair the waste in the tissues.[67] Of
these two objects, the former is effected by the oxygen of the air
entering our lungs, and, as it travels through the system, combining
with the carbon which we take in our food.[68] This combination of
oxygen and carbon never can occur without producing a considerable
amount of heat, and it is in this way that the human frame is maintained
at its necessary temperature.[69] By virtue of a law familiar to
chemists, carbon and oxygen, like all other elements, will only unite in
certain definite proportions;[70] so that to keep up a healthy balance,
it is needful that the food which contains the carbon should vary
according to the amount of oxygen taken in: while it is equally needful
that we should increase the quantity of both of these constituents
whenever a greater external cold lowers the temperature of the body. Now
it is obvious that in a very cold climate, this necessity of providing a
nutriment more highly carbonized will arise in two distinct ways. In the
first place, the air being denser, men imbibe at each inspiration a
greater volume of oxygen than they would do in a climate where the air
is rarefied by heat.[71] In the second place, cold accelerates their
respiration, and thus obliging them to inhale more frequently than the
inhabitants of hot countries, increases the amount of oxygen which they
on an average take in.[72] On both these grounds the consumption of
oxygen becomes greater: it is therefore requisite that the consumption
of carbon should also be greater; since by the union of these two
elements in certain definite proportions, the temperature of the body
and the balance of the human frame can alone be maintained.[73]

  [67] Though both objects are equally essential, the former is usually
       the more pressing; and it has been ascertained by experiment, what
       we should expect from theory, that when animals are starved to
       death, there is a progressive decline in the temperature of their
       bodies; so that the proximate cause of death by starvation is not
       weakness, but cold. See _Williams's Principles of Medicine_,
       p. 36; and on the connexion between the loss of animal heat and
       the appearance of _rigor mortis_ in the contractile parts of the
       body, see _Vogel's Pathological Anatomy of the Human Body_, p. 532.
       Compare the important and thoughtful work of Burdach, _Physiologie
       comme Science d'Observation_, vol. v. pp. 144, 436, vol. ix.
       p. 231.

  [68] Until the last twenty or five-and-twenty years, it used to be
       supposed that this combination took place in the lungs; but more
       careful experiments have made it probable that the oxygen unites
       with the carbon in the circulation, and that the blood-corpuscules
       are the carriers of the oxygen. Compare _Liebig's Animal
       Chemistry_, p. 78; _Letters on Chemistry_, pp. 335, 336; _Turner's
       Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 1319; _Müller's Physiology_, vol. i.
       pp. 92, 159. That the combination does not take place in the
       air-cells is moreover proved by the fact that the lungs are not
       hotter than other parts of the body. See _Müller_, vol. i. p. 348;
       _Thomson's Animal Chemistry_, p. 633; and _Brodie's Physiol.
       Researches_, p. 33. Another argument in favour of the red
       corpuscules being the carriers of oxygen, is that they are most
       abundant in those classes of the vertebrata which maintain the
       highest temperature; while the blood of invertebrata contains very
       few of them; and it has been doubted if they even exist in the
       lower articulata and mollusca. See _Carpenter's Human Physiol._
       pp. 109, 532; _Grant's Comparative Anatomy_, p. 472; _Elliotson's
       Human Physiol._ p. 159. In regard to the different dimensions of
       corpuscules, see _Henle_, _Anatomie Générale_, vol. i. pp. 457-467,
       494, 495; _Blainville_, _Physiologie Comparée_, vol. i. pp. 298,
       299, 301-304; _Milne Edwards_, _Zoologie_, part i. pp. 54-56;
       _Fourth Report of British Association_, pp. 117, 118; _Simon's
       Animal Chemistry_, vol. i. pp. 103, 104; and, above all, the
       important observations of Mr. Gulliver (_Carpenter_, pp. 105, 106).
       These additions to our knowledge, besides being connected with the
       laws of animal heat and of nutrition, will, when generalized,
       assist speculative minds in raising pathology to a science. In the
       mean time I may mention the relation between an examination of the
       corpuscules and the theory of inflammation which Hunter and
       Broussais were unable to settle: this is, that the proximate cause
       of inflammation is the obstruction of the vessels by the adhesion
       of the pale corpuscules. Respecting this striking generalization,
       which is still on its trial, compare _Williams's Principles of
       Medicine_, 1848, pp. 258-265, with _Paget's Surgical Pathology_,
       1853, vol. i. pp. 313-317; _Jones and Sieveking's Pathological
       Anatomy_, 1854, pp. 28, 105, 106. The difficulties connected with
       the scientific study of inflammation are evaded in _Vogel's
       Pathological Anatomy_, p. 418; a work which appears to me to have
       been greatly overrated.

  [69] On the amount of heat disengaged by the union of carbon and oxygen,
       see the experiments of Dulong, in _Liebig's Animal Chemistry_,
       p. 44; and those of Despretz, in _Thomson's Animal Chemistry_,
       p. 634. Just in the same way, we find that the temperature of
       plants is maintained by the combination of oxygen with carbon: see
       _Balfour's Botany_, pp. 231, 232, 322, 323. As to the amount of
       heat caused generally by chemical combination, there is an essay
       well worth reading by Dr. Thomas Andrews in _Report of British
       Association for 1849_, pp. 63-78. See also _Report for 1852,
       Transac. of Sec._ p. 40, and _Liebig and Kopp's Reports on the
       Progress of Chemistry_, vol. i. p. 34, vol. iii. p. 16, vol. iv.
       p. 20; also _Pouillet_, _Elémens de Physique_, Paris, 1832,
       vol. i. part i. p. 411.

  [70] The law of definite proportions, which, since the brilliant
       discoveries by Dalton, is the corner-stone of chemical knowledge,
       is laid down with admirable clearness in _Turner's Elements of
       Chemistry_, vol. i. pp. 146-151. Compare _Brande's Chemistry_,
       vol. i. pp. 139-144; _Cuvier_, _Progrès des Sciences_, vol. ii.
       p. 255; _Somerville's Connexion of the Sciences_, pp. 120, 121.
       But none of these writers have considered the law so
       philosophically as M. A. Comte, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. iii.
       pp. 133-176, one of the best chapters in his very profound, but
       ill-understood work.

  [71] 'Ainsi, dans des temps égaux, la quantité d'oxygène consommée par
       le même animal est d'autant plus grande que la température ambiante
       est moins élevée.' _Robin et Verdeil_, _Chimie Anatomique_,
       vol. ii. p. 44. Compare _Simon's Lectures on Pathology_, 1850,
       p. 188, for the diminished quantity of respiration in a high
       temperature; though one may question Mr. Simon's inference that
       _therefore_ the blood is more venous in hot countries than in cold
       ones. This is not making allowance for the difference of diet,
       which corrects the difference of temperature.

  [72] 'The consumption of oxygen in a given time may be expressed by the
       number of respirations.' _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_, p. 314;
       and see _Thomson's Animal Chemistry_, p. 611. It is also certain
       that exercise increases the number of respirations; and birds,
       which are the most active of all animals, consume more oxygen than
       any others. _Milne Edwards_, _Zoologie_, part i. p. 88, part ii.
       p. 371; _Flourens_, _Travaux de Cuvier_, pp. 153, 154, 265, 266.
       Compare, on the connexion between respiration and the locomotive
       organs, _Beclard_, _Anatomie Générale_, pp. 39, 44; _Burdach_,
       _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ix. pp. 485, 556-559; _Carus's
       Comparative Anatomy_, vol. i. pp. 99, 164, 358, vol. ii. pp. 142,
       160; _Grant's Comparative Anatomy_, pp. 455, 495, 522, 529, 537;
       _Rymer Jones's Animal Kingdom_, pp. 369, 440, 692, 714, 720;
       _Owen's Invertebrata_, pp. 322, 345, 386, 505. Thus too it has been
       experimentally ascertained, that in human beings exercise increases
       the amount of carbonic-acid gas. _Mayo's Human Physiology_, p. 64;
       _Liebig and Kopp's Reports_, vol. iii. p. 359.

       If we now put these facts together, their bearing on the
       propositions in the text will become evident; because, on the
       whole, there is more exercise taken in cold climates than in hot
       ones, and there must therefore be an increased respiratory action.
       For proof that greater exercise is both taken and required,
       compare _Wrangel's Polar Expedition_, pp. 79, 102; _Richardson's
       Arctic Expedition_, vol. i. p. 385; _Simpson's North Coast of
       America_, pp. 49,88, which should be contrasted with the contempt
       for such amusements in hot countries. Indeed, in polar regions all
       this is so essential to preserve a normal state, that scurvy can
       only be kept off in the northern part of the American continent by
       taking considerable exercise: see _Crantz_, _History of Greenland_,
       vol. i. pp. 46, 62, 338.

  [73] See the note at the end of this chapter.

Proceeding from these chemical and physiological principles, we arrive
at the conclusion, that the colder the country is in which a people
live, the more highly carbonized will be their food. And this, which is
a purely scientific inference, has been verified by actual experiment.
The inhabitants of the polar regions consume large quantities of
whale-oil and blubber; while within the tropics such food would soon put
an end to life, and therefore the ordinary diet consists almost entirely
of fruit, rice, and other vegetables. Now it has been ascertained by
careful analysis, that in the polar food there is an excess of carbon;
in the tropical food an excess of oxygen. Without entering into details,
which to the majority of readers would be distasteful, it may be said
generally, that the oils contain about six times as much carbon as the
fruits, and that they have in them very little oxygen;[74] while
starch, which is the most universal, and, in reference to nutrition,
the most important constituent in the vegetable world,[75] is nearly
half oxygen.[76]

  [74] 'The fruits used by the inhabitants of southern climes do not
       contain, in a fresh state, more than 12 per cent. of carbon; while
       the blubber and train-oil which feed the inhabitants of polar
       regions contain 66 to 80 per cent. of that element.' _Liebig's
       Letters on Chemistry_, p. 320; see also p. 375, and _Turner's
       Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 1315. According to Prout (_Mayo's Human
       Physiol._ p. 136), 'the proportion of carbon in oily bodies varies
       from about 60 to 80 per cent.' The quantity of oil and fat
       habitually consumed in cold countries is remarkable. Wrangel
       (_Polar Expedition_, p. 21) says of the tribes in the north-east
       of Siberia, 'fat is their greatest delicacy. They eat it in every
       possible shape; raw, melted, fresh, or spoilt.' See also _Simpson's
       Discoveries on the North Coast of America_, pp. 147, 404.

  [75] 'So common, that no plant is destitute of it.' _Lindley's Botany_,
       vol. i. p. 111; and at p. 121, 'starch is the most common of all
       vegetable productions.' Dr. Lindley adds (vol. i. p. 292), that it
       is difficult to distinguish the grains of starch secreted by plants
       from cytoblasts. See also on the starch-granules, first noticed by
       M. Link, _Reports on Botany by the Ray Society_, pp. 223, 370; and
       respecting its predominance in the vegetable world, compare
       _Thomson's Chemistry of Vegetables_, pp. 650-652, 875; _Brande's
       Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 1160; _Turner's Chemistry_, vol. ii.
       p. 1236; _Liebig and Kopp's Reports_, vol. ii. pp. 97, 98, 122.

  [76] The oxygen is 49.39 out of 100. See the table in _Liebig's Letters
       on Chemistry_, p. 379. Amidin, which is the soluble part of starch,
       contains 53.33 per cent. of oxygen. See _Thomson's Chemistry of
       Vegetables_, p. 654, on the authority of Prout, who has the
       reputation of being an accurate experimenter.

The connexion between this circumstance and the subject before us is
highly curious: for it is a most remarkable fact, and one to which I
would call particular attention, that owing to some more general law, of
which we are ignorant, highly carbonized food is more costly than food
in which comparatively little carbon is found. The fruits of the earth,
of which oxygen is the most active principle, are very abundant; they
may be obtained without danger, and almost without trouble. But that
highly carbonized food, which in a very cold climate is absolutely
necessary to life, is not produced in so facile and spontaneous a
manner. It is not, like vegetables, thrown up by the soil; but it
consists of the fat, the blubber, and the oil[77] of powerful and
ferocious animals. To procure it, man must incur great risk and expend
great labour. And although this is undoubtedly a contrast of extreme
cases, still it is evident that the nearer a people approach to either
extremity, the more subject will they be to the conditions by which that
extremity is governed. It is evident that, as a general rule, the colder
a country is, the more its food will be carbonized; the warmer it is,
the more its food will be oxidized.[78] At the same time, carbonized
food, being chiefly drawn from the animal world, is more difficult to
obtain than oxidized food, which is drawn from the vegetable world.[79]
The result has been that among nations where the coldness of the climate
renders a highly carbonized diet essential, there is for the most part
displayed, even in the infancy of society, a bolder and more adventurous
character, than we find among those other nations whose ordinary
nutriment, being highly oxidized, is easily obtained, and indeed is
supplied to them, by the bounty of nature, gratuitously and without a
struggle.[80] From this original divergence there follow many other
consequences, which, however, I am not now concerned to trace; my
present object being merely to point out how this difference of food
affects the proportion in which wealth is distributed to the different

  [77] Of which a single whale will yield 'cent vingt tonneaux.' _Cuvier_,
       _Règne Animal_, vol. i. p. 297. In regard to the solid food,
       Sir J. Richardson (_Arctic Expedition_, 1851, vol. i. p. 243)
       says that the inhabitants of the Arctic regions only maintain
       themselves by chasing whales and 'consuming blubber.'

  [78] It is said, that to keep a person in health, his food, even in the
       temperate parts of Europe, should contain 'a full eighth more
       carbon in winter than in summer.' _Liebig's Animal Chemistry_,
       p. 16.

  [79] The most highly carbonized of all foods are undoubtedly yielded by
       animals; the most highly oxidized by vegetables. In the vegetable
       kingdom there is, however, so much carbon, that its predominance,
       accompanied with the rarity of nitrogen, has induced chemical
       botanists to characterize plants as carbonized, and animals as
       azotized. But we have here to attend to a double antithesis.
       Vegetables are carbonized in so far as they are non-azotized; but
       they are oxidized in opposition to the highly carbonized animal
       food of cold countries. Besides this, it is important to observe
       that the carbon of vegetables is most abundant in the woody and
       unnutritious part, which is not eaten; while the carbon of animals
       is found in the fatty and oily parts, which are not only eaten,
       but are, in cold countries, greedily devoured.

  [80] Sir J. Malcolm (_History of Persia_, vol. ii. p. 380), speaking of
       the cheapness of vegetables in the East, says, 'in some parts of
       Persia fruit has hardly any value.' Cuvier, in a striking passage
       (_Règne Animal_, vol. i. pp. 73, 74), has contrasted vegetable
       with animal food, and thinks that the former, being so easily
       obtained, is the more natural. But the truth is that both are
       equally natural: though when Cuvier wrote scarcely anything was
       known of the laws which govern the relation between climate and
       food. On the skill and energy required to obtain food in cold
       countries, see _Wrangel's Polar Expedition_, pp. 70, 71, 191, 192;
       _Simpson's Discoveries on the North Coast of America_, p. 249;
       _Crantz_, _History of Greenland_, vol. i. pp. 22, 32, 105, 131,
       154, 155, vol. ii. pp. 203, 265, 324.

The way in which this proportion is actually altered has, I hope, been
made clear by the preceding argument; but it may be useful to
recapitulate the facts on which the argument is based. The facts, then,
are simply these. The rate of wages fluctuates with the population;
increasing when the labour-market is under-supplied, diminishing when it
is over-supplied. The population itself, though affected by many other
circumstances, does undoubtedly fluctuate with the supply of food;
advancing when the supply is plentiful, halting or receding when the
supply is scanty. The food essential to life is scarcer in cold
countries than in hot ones; and not only is it scarcer, but more of it
is required;[81] so that on both grounds smaller encouragement is given
to the growth of that population from whose ranks the labour-market is
stocked. To express, therefore, the conclusion in its simplest form, we
may say, that there is a strong and constant tendency in hot countries
for wages to be low, in cold countries for them to be high.

  [81] 'Cabanis' (_Rapports du Physique et du Moral_, p. 313) says, 'Dans
       les temps et dans les pays froids on mange et l'on agit davantage.'
       That much food is eaten in cold countries, and little in hot ones,
       is mentioned by numerous travellers, none of whom are aware of the
       cause. See _Simpson's Discov. on North Coast of America_, p. 218;
       _Custine's Russie_, vol. iv. p. 66; _Wrangel's Expedition_, pp. 21,
       327; _Crantz_, _History of Greenland_, vol. i. pp. 145, 360;
       _Richardson's Central Africa_, vol. ii. p. 46; _Richardson's
       Sahara_, vol. i. p. 137; _Denham's Africa_, p. 37; _Journal of
       Asiatic Society_, vol. v. p. 144, vol. viii. p. 188; _Burckhardt's
       Travels in Arabia_, vol. ii. p. 265; _Niebuhr_, _Description de
       l'Arabie_, p. 45; _Ulloa's Voyage to South America_, vol. i.
       pp. 403, 408; _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. iii. p. 283,
       vol. vi. p. 85, vol. xix. p. 121; _Spix and Martius's Travels in
       Brazil_, vol. i. p. 164; _Southey's History of Brazil_, vol. iii.
       p. 848; _Volney_, _Voyage en Syrie et en Egypte_, vol. i. pp. 379,
       380, 460; _Low's Sarawak_, p. 140.

Applying now this great principle to the general course of history, we
shall find proofs of its accuracy in every direction. Indeed, there is
not a single instance to the contrary. In Asia, in Africa, and in
America, all the ancient civilizations were seated in hot climates; and
in all of them the rate of wages was very low, and therefore the
condition of the labouring classes very depressed. In Europe, for the
first time, civilization arose in a colder climate: hence the reward of
labour was increased, and the distribution of wealth rendered more equal
than was possible in countries where an excessive abundance of food
stimulated the growth of population. This difference produced, as we
shall presently see, many social and political consequences of immense
importance. But before discussing them, it may be remarked that the only
apparent exception to what has been stated is one which strikingly
verifies the general law. There is one instance, and only one, of a
great European people possessing a very cheap national food. This
people, I need hardly say, are the Irish. In Ireland the labouring
classes have for more than two hundred years been principally fed by
potatoes, which were introduced into their country late in the
sixteenth, or early in the seventeenth century.[82] Now, the peculiarity
of the potato is, that until the appearance of the late disease, it was
and perhaps still is, cheaper than any other food equally wholesome. If
we compare its reproductive power with the amount of nutriment contained
in it, we find that one acre of average land sown with potatoes will
support twice as many persons as the same quantity of land sown with
wheat.[83] The consequence is, that in a country where men live on
potatoes, the population will, if other things are tolerably equal,
increase twice as fast as in a country where they live on wheat. And so
it has actually occurred. Until a very few years ago, when the face of
affairs was entirely altered by pestilence and emigration, the
population of Ireland was, in round numbers, increasing annually three
per cent.; the population of England during the same period increasing
one and a half per cent.[84] The result was, that in these two countries
the distribution of wealth was altogether different. Even in England the
growth of population is somewhat too rapid; and the labour-market being
overstocked, the working classes are not sufficiently paid for their
labour.[85] But their condition is one of sumptuous splendour, compared
to that in which only a few years ago the Irish were forced to live. The
misery in which they were plunged has no doubt always been aggravated by
the ignorance of their rulers, and by that scandalous misgovernment
which, until very recently, formed one of the darkest blots on the
glory of England. The most active cause, however, was, that their wages
were so low as to debar them, not only from the comforts, but from the
common decencies of civilized life; and this evil condition was the
natural result of that cheap and abundant food, which encouraged the
people to so rapid an increase, that the labour-market was constantly
gorged.[86] So far was this carried, that an intelligent observer who
travelled through Ireland twenty years ago, mentioned that at that time
the average wages were fourpence a day, and that even this wretched
pittance could not always be relied upon for regular employment.[87]

  [82] Meyen (_Geography of Plants_, 1846, p. 313) says that the potato
       was introduced into Ireland in 1586; but according to
       Mr. M'Culloch (_Dictionary of Commerce_, 1849, p. 1048), 'potatoes,
       it is commonly thought, were not introduced into Ireland till 1610,
       when a small quantity was sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to be planted
       in a garden on his estate in the vicinity of Youghall.' Compare
       _Loudon's Encyclop. of Agriculture_, p. 845: 'first planted by Sir
       Walter Raleigh on his estate of Youghall, near Cork.'

  [83] Adam Smith (_Wealth of Nations_, book i. chap. xi. p. 67) supposes
       that it will support three times as many; but the statistics of
       this great writer are the weakest part of his work, and the more
       careful calculations made since he wrote bear out the statement in
       the text. 'It admits of demonstration that an acre of potatoes will
       feed double the number of people that can be fed from an acre of
       wheat.' _Loudon's Encyclop. of Agriculture_, 5th edit. 1844,
       p. 845. So, too, in _M'Culloch's Dict._ p. 1048, 'an acre of
       potatoes will feed double the number of individuals that can be
       fed from an acre of wheat.' The daily average consumption of an
       able-bodied labourer in Ireland is estimated at nine and a half
       pounds of potatoes for men, and seven and a half for women. See
       _Phillips on Scrofula_, 1846, p. 177.

  [84] _Malthus_, _Essay on Population_, vol. i. pp. 424, 425, 431, 435,
       441, 442; _M'Culloch's Political Economy_, pp. 381, 382.

  [85] The lowest agricultural wages in our time have been in England
       about 1_s._ a day; while from the evidence collected by
       Mr. Thornton in 1845, the highest wages then paid were in
       Lincolnshire, and were rather more than 13_s._ a week; those in
       Yorkshire and Northumberland being nearly as high. _Thornton on
       Over-Population_, pp. 12-15, 24, 25. Godwin, writing in 1820,
       estimates the average at 1_s._ 6_d._ a day. _Godwin on Population_,
       p. 574. Mr. Phillips, in his work _On Scrofula_, 1846, p. 345,
       says, 'at present the ratio of wages is from 9_s._ to 10_s._'

  [86] The most miserable part, namely Connaught, in 1733, contained
       242,160 inhabitants; and in 1821, 1,110,229. See _Sadler's Law of
       Population_, vol. ii. p. 490.

  [87] Mr. Inglis, who in 1834 travelled through Ireland with a particular
       view to its economical state, says, as the result of very careful
       inquiries, 'I am quite confident, that if the whole yearly earnings
       of the labourers of Ireland were divided by the whole number of
       labourers, the result would be under this sum--_Fourpence_ a day
       for the labourers of Ireland.' _Inglis_, _Journey throughout
       Ireland in 1834_, Lond. 1835, 2nd edit. vol. ii. p. 300. At
       Balinasloe, in the county of Galway, 'A gentleman with whom I was
       accidentally in company offered to procure, on an hour's warning,
       a couple of hundred labourers at fourpence even for temporary
       employment.' _Inglis_, vol. ii. p. 17. The same writer says
       (vol. i. p. 263), that at Tralee 'it often happens that the
       labourers, after working in the canal from five in the morning
       until eleven in the forenoon, are discharged for the day with the
       pittance of twopence.' Compare, in _Cloncurry's Recollections_,
       Dublin, 1849, p. 310, a letter from Dr. Doyle written in 1829,
       describing Ireland as 'a country where the market is always
       overstocked with labour, and in which a man's labour is not worth,
       at an average, more than threepence a day.'

Such have been the consequences of cheap food in a country which, on the
whole, possesses greater natural resources than any other in Europe.[88]
And if we investigate on a larger scale the social and economical
condition of nations, we shall see the same principle everywhere at
work. We shall see that, other things remaining equal, the food of a
people determines the increase of their numbers, and the increase of
their numbers determines the rate of their wages. We shall moreover
find, that when the wages are invariably low,[89] the distribution of
wealth being thus very unequal, the distribution of political power and
social influence will also be very unequal; in other words, it will
appear that the normal and average relation between the upper and lower
classes will, in its origin, depend upon those peculiarities of nature,
the operations of which I have endeavoured to indicate.[90] After
putting all these things together, we shall, I trust, be able to
discern, with a clearness hitherto unknown, the intimate connexion
between the physical and moral world; the laws by which that connexion
is governed; and the reasons why so many ancient civilizations reached a
certain stage of development, and then fell away, unable to resist the
pressure of nature, or make head against those external obstacles by
which their progress was effectually retarded.

  [88] It is singular that so acute a thinker as Mr. Kay should, in his
       otherwise just remarks on the Irish, entirely overlook the effect
       produced on their wages by the increase of population. _Kay's
       Social Condition of the People_, vol. i. pp. 8, 9, 92, 223,
       306-324. This is the more observable, because the disadvantages of
       cheap food have been noticed not only by several common writers,
       but by the highest of all authorities on population, Mr. Malthus:
       see the sixth edition of his _Essay on Population_, vol. i. p. 469,
       vol. ii. pp. 123, 124, 383, 384. If these things were oftener
       considered, we should not hear so much about the idleness and
       levity of the Celtic race; the simple fact being, that the Irish
       are unwilling to work, not because they are Celts, but because
       their work is badly paid. When they go abroad, they get good wages,
       and therefore they become as industrious as any other people.
       Compare _Journal of Statistical Society_, vol. vii. p. 24, with
       _Thornton on Over-Population_, p. 425; a very valuable work. Even
       in 1799, it was observed that the Irish as soon as they left their
       own country became industrious and energetic. See _Parliamentary
       History_, vol. xxxiv. p. 222. So, too, in North America, 'they are
       most willing to work hard.' _Lyell's Second Visit to the United
       States_, 1849, vol. i. p. 187.

  [89] By low wages, I mean low reward of labour, which is of course
       independent both of the cost of labour and of the money-rate of

  [90] In a recent work of considerable ingenuity (_Doubleday's True Law
       of Population_, 1847, pp. 25-29, 69, 78, 123, 124, &c.) it is
       noticed that countries are more populous when the ordinary food is
       vegetable than when it is animal; and an attempt is made to explain
       this on the ground that a poor diet is more favourable to fecundity
       than a rich one. But though the fact of the greater increase of
       population is indisputable, there are several reasons for being
       dissatisfied with Mr. Doubleday's explanation.

       1st. That the power of propagation is heightened by poor living, is
       a proposition which has never been established physiologically;
       while the observations of travellers and of governments are not
       sufficiently numerous to establish it statistically.

       2nd. Vegetable diet is as generous for a hot country as animal diet
       is for a cold country; and since we know that, notwithstanding the
       difference of food and climate, the temperature of the body varies
       little between the equator and the poles (compare _Liebig's Animal
       Chemistry_, p. 19; _Holland's Medical Notes_, p. 473; _Pouillet_,
       _Elémens de Physique_, vol. i. part i. p. 414; _Burdach's Traité de
       Physiologie_, vol. ix. p. 663), we have no reason to believe that
       there is any other normal variation, but should rather suppose
       that, in regard to all essential functions, vegetable diet and
       external heat are equivalent to animal diet and external cold.

       3rd. Even conceding, for the sake of argument, that vegetable
       food increases the procreative power, this would only affect the
       number of births, and not the density of population; for a
       greater number of births may be, and often are, remedied by a
       greater mortality; a point in regard to which Godwin, in trying
       to refute Malthus, falls into serious error. _Godwin on
       Population_, p. 317.

       Since writing the above, I have found that these views of Mr.
       Doubleday's were in a great measure anticipated by Fourier. See
       _Rey_, _Science Sociale_; vol. i. p. 185.

If, in the first place, we turn to Asia, we shall see an admirable
illustration of what may be called the collision between internal and
external phenomena. Owing to circumstances already stated, Asiatic
civilization has always been confined to that rich tract where alone
wealth could be easily obtained. This immense zone comprises some of the
most fertile parts of the globe; and of all its provinces, Hindostan is
certainly the one which for the longest period has possessed the
greatest civilization.[91] And as the materials for forming an opinion
respecting India are more ample than those respecting any other part of
Asia,[92] I purpose to select it as an example, and use it to illustrate
those laws which, though generalized from political economy, chemistry,
and physiology, may be verified by that more extensive survey, the means
of which history alone can supply.

  [91] I use the word 'Hindostan' in the popular sense, as extending south
       to Cape Comorin; though, properly speaking, it only includes the
       country north of the Nerbudda. Compare _Mill's History of India_,
       vol. ii. p. 178; _Bohlen_, _das alte Indien_, vol. i. p. 11;
       _Meiners über die Länder in Asien_, vol. i. p. 224. The word
       itself is not found in the old Sanscrit, and is of Persian origin.
       _Halhed's Preface to the Gentoo Laws_, pp. xx. xxi.; _Asiatic
       Researches_, vol. iii. pp. 368, 369.

  [92] So that, in addition to works published on their philosophy,
       religion, and jurisprudence, a learned geographer stated several
       years ago, that 'kein anderes Asiatisches Reich ist in den letzten
       drey Jahrhunderten von so vielen und so einsichtsvollen Europäern
       durchreist und beschrieben worden, als Hindostan.' _Meiners_,
       _Länder in Asien_, vol. i. p. 225. Since the time of Meiners, such
       evidence has become still more precise and extensive; and is, I
       think, too much neglected by M. Rhode in his valuable work on
       India: 'Dem Zwecke dieser Arbeit gemäss, betrachten wir hier nur
       Werke der Hindus selbst, oder Auszüge aus denselben als Quellen.'
       _Rhode_, _Religiöse Bildung der Hindus_, vol. i. p. 43.

In India, the great heat of the climate brings into play that law
already pointed out, by virtue of which the ordinary food is of an
oxygenous rather than of a carbonaceous character. This, according to
another law, obliges the people to derive their usual diet not from the
animal, but from the vegetable world, of which starch is the most
important constituent. At the same time the high temperature,
incapacitating men for arduous labour, makes necessary a food of which
the returns will be abundant, and which will contain much nutriment in a
comparatively small space. Here, then, we have some characteristics,
which, if the preceding views are correct, ought to be found in the
ordinary food of the Indian nations. So they all are. From the earliest
period the most general food in India has been rice,[93] which is the
most nutritive of all the cerealia;[94] which contains an enormous
proportion of starch;[95] and which yields to the labourer an average
return of at least sixty fold.[96]

  [93] This is evident from the frequent and familiar mention of it in
       that remarkable relic of antiquity, the Institutes of Menu. See
       the _Institutes_, in _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. iii. pp. 87,
       132, 156, 200, 215, 366, 400, 403, 434. Thus too, in the
       enumeration of Foods in _Vishnu Purana_, pp. 46, 47, rice is the
       first mentioned. See further evidence in _Bohlen_, _das alte
       Indien_, vol. i. p. 22, vol. ii. pp. 159, 160; _Wilson's Theatre
       of the Hindus_, vol. i. part ii. pp. 15, 16, 37, 92, 95, vol. ii.
       part ii. p. 35, part iii. p. 64; _Notes on the Ma-habharata_, in
       _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. vii. p. 141; _Travels of Ibn
       Batuta in Fourteenth Century_, p. 164; _Colebrooke's Digest of
       Hindu Law_, vol. i. p. 499, vol. ii. pp. 44, 48, 436, 569, vol.
       iii. pp. 11, 148, 205, 206, 207, 266, 364, 530; _Asiatic
       Researches_, vol. vii. pp. 299, 302; _Ward on the Hindoos_, vol.
       i. p. 209, vol. iii. p. 105.

  [94] 'It contains a greater proportion of nutritious matter than any of
       the cerealia.' _Somerville's Physical Geography_, vol. ii. p. 220.

  [95] It contains from 83.8 to 85.07 percent of starch. _Brande's
       Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 1624; _Thomson's Chemistry of Organic
       Bodies_, p. 883.

  [96] It is difficult to collect sufficient evidence to strike an
       average; but in Egypt, according to Savary, rice 'produces eighty
       bushels for one.' _Loudon's Encyclop. of Agriculture_, p. 173. In
       Tennasserim, the yield is from 80 to 100. _Low's History of
       Tennasserim_, in _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. iii. p. 29. In
       South America, 250 fold, according to Spix and Martius (_Travels
       in Brazil_, vol. ii. p. 79); or from 200 to 300, according to
       Southey (_History of Brazil_, vol. iii. pp. 658, 806). The lowest
       estimate given by M. Meyen is forty fold; the highest, which is
       marsh rice in the Philippine Islands, 400 fold. _Meyen's Geography
       of Plants_, 1846, p. 301.

Thus possible is it, by the application of a few physical laws, to
anticipate what the national food of a country will be, and therefore to
anticipate a long train of ulterior consequences. What in this case is
no less remarkable, is that though in the south of the peninsula, rice
is not so much used as formerly, it has been replaced, not by animal
food, but by another grain called ragi.[97] The original rice, however,
is so suited to the circumstances I have described, that it is still the
most general food of nearly all the hottest countries of Asia,[98] from
which at different times it has been transplanted to other parts of the

  [97] _Elphinstone's History of India_, p. 7. Ragi is the Cynosurus
       Corocanus of Linnæus; and, considering its importance, it has been
       strangely neglected by botanical writers. The best account I have
       seen of it is in _Buchanan's Journey through the Countries of
       Mysore, Canara, and Malabar_, vol. i. pp. 100-104, 285, 286, 375,
       376, 403, vol. ii. pp. 103, 104, vol. iii. pp. 239, 240, 296, 297.
       In the large cities, millet is generally used; of which 'a
       quantity sufficient for two meals may be purchased for about a
       halfpenny.' _Gibson on Indian Agriculture_, in _Journal of Asiatic
       Society_, vol. viii. p. 100.

  [98] _Marsden's History of Sumatra_, pp. 56, 59; _Raffles' History of
       Java_, vol. i. pp. 39, 106, 119, 129, 240; _Percival's Ceylon_,
       pp. 337, 364; _Transac. of Society of Bombay_, vol. ii. p. 155;
       _Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. i. p. 510; _Journal of Asiatic
       Society_, vol. i. pp. 228, 247, vol. ii. pp. 44, 64, 251, 257,
       262, 336, 344, vol. iii. pp. 8, 25, 300, 340, vol. iv. pp. 82, 83,
       104, vol. v. pp. 241, 246; _Asiatic Researches_, vol. v. pp. 124,
       229, vol. xii. p. 148, vol. xvi. pp. 171, 172; _Journal of
       Geograph. Society_, vol. ii. p. 86, vol. iii. pp. 124, 295, 300,
       vol. v. p. 263, vol. viii. pp. 341, 359, vol. xix. pp. 132, 137.

  [99] Rice, so far as I have been able to trace it, has travelled
       westward. Besides the historical evidence, there are philological
       probabilities in favour of its being indigenous to Asia, and the
       Sanscrit name for it has been very widely diffused. Compare
       _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii. p. 472, with _Crawfurd's History of
       the Indian Archipelago_, vol. i. p. 358. In the fourteenth
       century, it was the common food on the Zanguebar Coast; and is now
       universal in Madagascar. _Travels of Ibn Batuta in Fourteenth
       Century_, p. 56; _Ellis's History of Madagascar_, vol. i. pp. 39,
       297-304, vol. ii. p. 292; _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. iii.
       p. 212. From Madagascar its seeds were, according to _M'Culloch's
       Dictionary of Commerce_, p. 1105, carried to Carolina late in the
       seventeenth century. It is now cultivated in Nicaragua (_Squier's
       Central America_, vol. i. p. 38) and in South America
       (_Henderson's Hist. of Brazil_, pp. 292, 307, 395, 440, 488),
       where it is said to grow wild. Compare _Meyen's Geography of
       Plants_, pp. 291, 297, with _Azara_, _Voyages dans l'Amérique
       Méridionale_, vol. i. p. 100, vol. ii. p. 80. The ancient Greeks,
       though acquainted with rice, did not cultivate it; and its
       cultivation was first introduced into Europe by the Arabs. See
       _Humboldt_, _Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. ii. pp. 409, 410.

In consequence of these peculiarities of climate, and of food, there has
arisen in India that unequal distribution of wealth which we must expect
to find in countries where the labour-market is always redundant.[100]
If we examine the earliest Indian records which have been
preserved--records between two and three thousand years old--we find
evidence of a state of things similar to that which now exists, and
which, we may rely upon it, always has existed ever since the
accumulation of capital once fairly began. We find the upper classes
enormously rich, and the lower classes miserably poor. We find those by
whose labour the wealth is created, receiving the smallest possible
share of it; the remainder being absorbed by the higher ranks in the
form either of rent or of profit. And as wealth is, after intellect, the
most permanent source of power, it has naturally happened that a great
inequality of wealth has been accompanied by a corresponding inequality
of social and political power. It is not, therefore, surprising that
from the earliest period to which our knowledge of India extends, an
immense majority of the people, pinched by the most galling poverty, and
just living from hand to mouth, should always have remained in a state
of stupid debasement, broken by incessant misfortune, crouching before
their superiors in abject submission, and only fit either to be slaves
themselves or to be led to battle to make slaves of others.[101]

  [100] So far as food is concerned, Diodorus Siculus notices the
        remarkable fertility of India, and the consequent accumulation of
        wealth. See two interesting passages in _Bibliothec. Hist._ lib.
        ii. vol. ii. pp. 49, 50, 108, 109. But of the economical laws of
        distribution he, like all the ancient writers, was perfectly

  [101] An able and very learned apologist for this miserable people says,
        'The servility so generally ascribed to the Hindu is never more
        conspicuous than when he is examined as an evidence. But if it be
        admitted that he acts as a slave, why blame him for not
        possessing the virtues of a free man? _The oppression of ages has
        taught him implicit submission._' _Vans Kennedy_, in
        _Transactions of the Society of Bombay_, vol. iii. p. 144.
        Compare the observations of Charles Hamilton in _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. i. p. 305.

To ascertain the precise value of the average rate of wages in India for
any long period, is impossible; because, although the amount might be
expressed in money, still the value of money, that is, its purchasing
power, is subject to incalculable fluctuations, arising from changes in
the cost of production.[102] But, for our present purpose, there is a
method of investigation which will lead to results far more accurate
than any statement could be that depended merely on a collection of
evidence respecting the wages themselves. The method is simply this:
that inasmuch as the wealth of a country can only be divided into wages,
rent, profits, and interest, and inasmuch as interest is on an average
an exact measure of profits,[103] it follows that if among any people
rent and interest are both high, wages must be low.[104] If, therefore,
we can ascertain the current interest of money, and the proportion of
the produce of the soil which is absorbed by rent, we shall get a
perfectly accurate idea of the wages; because wages are the residue,
that is, they are what is left to the labourers after rent, profits, and
interest have been paid.

  [102] The impossibility of having a standard of value, is clearly
        pointed out in _Turgot's Réflexions sur la Formation et la
        Distribution des Richesses_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. v. pp. 51, 52.
        Compare _Ricardo's Works_, pp. 11, 28-30, 46, 166, 253, 270, 401,
        with _M'Culloch's Principles of Political Economy_, pp. 298, 299,

  [103] _Smith's Wealth of Nations_, book i. chap. ix. p. 37; where,
        however, the proposition is stated rather too absolutely, since
        the risks arising from an insecure state of society must be taken
        into consideration. But that there is an average ratio between
        interest and profits is obvious, and is distinctly laid down by
        the Sanscrit jurists. See _Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law_,
        vol. i. pp. 72, 81.

  [104] Ricardo (_Principles of Political Economy_, chap. vi. in _Works_,
        p. 65) says, 'whatever increases wages, necessarily reduces
        profits.' And in chap. xv. p. 122, 'whatever raises the wages of
        labour, lowers the profits of stock.' In several other places he
        makes the same assertion, very much to the discomfort of the
        ordinary reader, who knows that in the United States, for
        instance, wages and profits are both high. But the ambiguity is
        in the language, not in the thought; and in these and similar
        passages Ricardo by wages meant cost of labour, in which sense
        the proposition is quite accurate. If by wages we mean the reward
        of labour, then there is no relation between wages and profits;
        for when rent is low, both of them may be high, as is the case in
        the United States. That this was the view of Ricardo is evident
        from the following passage: 'Profits, it cannot be too often
        repeated, depend on wages; not on nominal but real wages; not on
        the number of pounds that may be annually paid to the labourer,
        but on the number of days' work necessary to obtain those
        pounds.' _Political Economy_, chap. vii., _Ricardo's Works_, p.
        82. Compare _Mill's Principles of Political Economy_, vol. i. p.
        509, vol. ii. p. 225.

Now it is remarkable, that in India both interest and rent have always
been very high. In the _Institutes of Menu_, which were drawn up about
B.C. 900,[105] the lowest legal interest for money is fixed at fifteen
per cent., the highest at sixty per cent.[106] Nor is this to be
considered as a mere ancient law now fallen into disuse. So far from
that, the _Institutes of Menu_ are still the basis of Indian
jurisprudence;[107] and we know on very good authority, that in 1810 the
interest paid for the use of money varied from thirty-six to sixty per

  [105] I take the estimate of Mr. Elphinstone (_History of India_, pp.
        225-228) as midway between Sir William Jones (_Works_, vol. iii.
        p. 56) and Mr. Wilson (_Rig Veda Sanhita_, vol. i. p. xlvii.).

  [106] _Institutes of Menu_, chap. viii. sec. 140-142, in _Works of Sir
        W. Jones_, vol. iii. p. 295. The subsequent Sanscrit commentators
        recognize nearly the same rate of interest, the minimum being
        fifteen per cent. See _Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law_, vol. i.
        pp. 29, 36, 43, 98, 99, 237, vol. ii. p. 70.

  [107] In _Colebrooke's Digest_, vol. i. p. 454, and vol. iii. p. 229,
        Menu is called 'the highest authority of memorial law,' and 'the
        founder of memorial law.' The most recent historian of India, Mr.
        Elphinstone, says (_Hist. of India_, p. 83) 'the code of Menu is
        still the basis of the Hindu jurisprudence; and the principal
        features remain unaltered to the present day.' This remarkable
        code is also the basis of the laws of the Burmese, and even of
        those of the Laos. _Journal of the Asiatic Society_, vol. ii. p.
        271, vol. iii. pp. 28, 296, 332, vol. v. p. 252.

  [108] See, in _Mill's History of India_, vol. i. p. 317, the report of a
        committee of the House of Commons in 1810, in which it is stated
        that the ryots paid 'the heavy interest of three, four, and five
        per cent. per month.' Ward, writing about the same time, mentions
        as much as seventy-five per cent. being given, and this
        apparently without the lender incurring any extraordinary risk.
        _Ward on the Hindoos_, vol. ii. p. 190.

Thus much as to one of the elements of our present calculation. As to
the other element, namely, the rent, we have information equally precise
and trustworthy. In England and Scotland, the rent paid by the
cultivator for the use of land is estimated in round numbers, taking one
farm with another, at a fourth of the gross produce.[109] In France, the
average proportion is about a third;[110] while in the United States of
North America it is well known to be much less, and, indeed, in some
parts, to be merely nominal.[111] But in India the legal rent, that is,
the lowest rate recognized by the law and usage of the country, is
one-half of the produce; and even this cruel regulation is not strictly
enforced, since in many cases rents are raised so high, that the
cultivator not only receives less than half the produce, but receives so
little as to have scarcely the means of providing seed to sow the ground
for the next harvest.[112]

  [109] Compare the table in _Loudon's Encyclopædia of Agriculture_, p.
        778, with _Mavor's note in Tusser's Five Hundred Points of
        Husbandry_, p. 195, Lond. 1812, and _M'Culloch's Statistical
        Account of the British Empire_, 1847, vol. i. p. 560.

  [110] This is the estimate I have received from persons well acquainted
        with French agriculture. The rent, of course, varies in each
        separate instance, according to the natural powers of the soil,
        according to the extent to which those powers have been improved,
        and according to the facilities for bringing the produce to
        market. But, notwithstanding these variations, there must be in
        every country an average rent, depending upon the operation of
        general causes.

  [111] Owing to the immense supply of land preventing the necessity of
        cultivating those inferior soils which older countries are glad
        to use, and are therefore willing to pay a rent for the right of
        using. In the United States, profits and wages (i.e. the reward
        of the labourer, not the cost of labour) are both high, which
        would be impossible if rent were also high.

  [112] See _Rammohun Roy on the Judicial and Revenue Systems of India_,
        1832, pp. 59-61, 63, 69, 92, 94. At p. 69, this high authority
        says of the agricultural peasantry of Bengal: 'In an abundant
        season, when the price of corn is low, the sale of their whole
        crops is required to meet the demands of the landholder, leaving
        little or nothing for seed or subsistence to the labourer or his
        family.' In Cashmere, the sovereign received half the produce of
        the rice-crop, leaving the other half to the cultivator.
        _Moorcroft's Notices of Cashmere_, in _Journal of Geog. Society_,
        vol. ii. p. 266.

The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is manifest. Rent and
interest being always very high, and interest varying, as it must do,
according to the rate of profits, it is evident that wages must have
been very low; for since there was in India a specific amount of wealth
to be divided into rent, interest, profits, and wages, it is clear that
the first three could only have been increased at the expense of the
fourth; which is saying, in other words, that the reward of the
labourers was very small in proportion to the reward received by the
upper classes. And though this, being an inevitable inference, does not
require extraneous support, it may be mentioned that in modern times,
for which alone we have direct evidence, wages have in India always been
excessively low, and the people have been, and still are, obliged to
work for a sum barely sufficient to meet the exigencies of life.[113]

  [113] Heber (_Journey through India_, vol. i. pp. 209, 356, 357, 359)
        gives some curious instances of the extremely low rate at which
        the natives are glad to work. As to the ordinary wages in India
        in the present century, see _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. i.
        p. 255, vol. v. p. 171; _Rammohun Roy on the Judicial and Revenue
        Systems_, pp. 105, 106; _Sykes's Statistics of the Deccan Reports
        of the British Association_, vol. vi. p. 321; _Ward's View of the
        Hindoos_, vol. iii. p. 207; _Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law_,
        vol. ii. p. 184. On wages in the south of India, the fullest
        information will be found in Buchanan's valuable work, _Journey
        through the Mysore, Canara, and Malabar_, vol. i. pp. 124, 125,
        133, 171, 175, 216, 217, 298, 390, 415, vol. ii. pp. 12, 19, 22,
        37, 90, 108, 132, 217, 218, 315, 481, 523, 525, 562, vol. iii.
        pp. 35, 181, 226, 298, 321, 349, 363, 398, 428, 555. I wish that
        all travellers were equally minute in recording the wages of
        labour; a subject of far greater importance than those with which
        they usually fill their books.

        On the other hand, the riches possessed by the upper classes
        have, owing to this mal-distribution of wealth, been always
        enormous, and sometimes incredible. See _Forbes's Oriental
        Memoirs_, vol. ii. p. 297; _Bohlen_, _das alte Indien_, vol. ii.
        p. 119; _Travels of Ibn Batuta_, p. 41; _Ward's Hindoos_, vol.
        iii. p. 178. The autobiography of the Emperor Jehangueir contains
        such extraordinary statements of his immense wealth, that the
        Editor, Major Price, thinks that some error must have been made
        by the copyist; but the reader will find in _Grote's History of
        Greece_ (vol. xii. pp. 229, 245) evidence of the treasures which
        it was possible for Asiatic rulers to collect in that state of
        society. The working of this unequal distribution is thus stated
        by Mr. Glyn (_Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. i. p. 482): 'The
        nations of Europe have very little idea of the actual condition
        of the inhabitants of Hindustan; they are more wretchedly poor
        than we have any notion of. Europeans have hitherto been too apt
        to draw their opinions of the wealth of Hindustan from the
        gorgeous pomp of a few emperors, sultans, nawabs, and rajahs;
        whereas a more intimate and accurate view of the real state of
        society would have shown that these princes and nobles were
        engrossing all the wealth of the country, whilst the great body
        of the people were earning but a bare subsistence, groaning under
        intolerable burdens, and hardly able to supply themselves with
        the necessaries of life, much less with its luxuries.'

This was the first great consequence induced in India by the cheapness
and abundance of the national food.[114] But the evil by no means
stopped there. In India, as in every other country, poverty provokes
contempt, and wealth produces power. When other things are equal, it
must be with classes of men as with individuals, that the richer they
are, the greater the influence they will possess. It was therefore to be
expected, that the unequal distribution of wealth should cause an
unequal distribution of power; and as there is no instance on record of
any class possessing power without abusing it, we may easily understand
how it was that the people of India, condemned to poverty by the
physical laws of their climate, should have fallen into a degradation
from which they have never been able to escape. A few instances may be
given to illustrate, rather than to prove, a principle which the
preceding arguments have, I trust, placed beyond the possibility of

  [114] Turner, who travelled in 1783 through the north-east of Bengal,
        says: 'Indeed, the extreme poverty and wretchedness of these
        people will forcibly appear, when we recollect how little is
        necessary for the subsistence of a peasant in these regions. The
        value of this can seldom amount to more than one penny per day,
        even allowing him to make his meal of two pounds of boiled rice,
        with a due proportion of salt, oil, vegetables, fish, and chili.'
        _Turner's Embassy to Tibet_, p. 11. Ibn Batuta, who travelled in
        Hindostan in the fourteenth century, says: 'I never saw a country
        in which provisions were so cheap.' _Travels of Ibn Batuta_, p.

To the great body of the Indian people the name of Sudras is given;[115]
and the native laws respecting them contain some minute and curious
provisions. If a member of this despised class presumed to occupy the
same seat as his superiors, he was either to be exiled or to suffer a
painful and ignominious punishment.[116] If he spoke of them with
contempt, his mouth was to be burned;[117] if he actually insulted them,
his tongue was to be slit;[118] if he molested a Brahmin, he was to be
put to death;[119] if he sat on the same carpet with a Brahmin, he was
to be maimed for life;[120] if, moved by the desire of instruction, he
even listened to the reading of the sacred books, burning oil was to be
poured into his ears;[121] if, however, he committed them to memory, he
was to be killed;[122] if he were guilty of a crime, the punishment for
it was greater than that inflicted on his superiors;[123] but if he
himself were murdered, the penalty was the same as for killing a dog, a
cat, or a crow.[124] Should he marry his daughter to a Brahmin, no
retribution that could be exacted in this world was sufficient; it was
therefore announced that the Brahmin must go to hell, for having
suffered contamination from a woman immeasurably his inferior.[125]
Indeed, it was ordered that the mere name of a labourer should be
expressive of contempt, so that his proper standing might be immediately
known.[126] And lest this should not be enough to maintain the
subordination of society, a law was actually made forbidding any
labourer to accumulate wealth;[127] while another clause declared, that
even though his master should give him freedom, he would in reality
still be a slave; 'for,' says the lawgiver--'for of a state which is
natural to him, by whom can he be divested?'[128]

  [115] The Sudras are estimated by Ward (_View of the Hindoos_, vol. iii.
        p. 281) at 'three-fourths of the Hindoos.' At all events, they
        comprise the whole of the working classes; the Vaisyas not being
        husbandmen, as they are often called, but landlords, owners of
        cattle, and traders. Compare _Institutes of Menu_, chap. ix. sec.
        326-333, in _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. iii. pp. 380, 381, with
        _Colebrooke's Digest_, vol. i. p. 15, from which it appears that
        the Vaisyas were always the masters, and that the Sudra was to
        'rely on agriculture for his subsistence.' The division,
        therefore, between 'the industrious and the servile'
        (_Elphinstone's History of India_, p. 12) is too broadly stated,
        and we must, I think, take the definition of M. Rhode: 'Die Kaste
        der Sudras umfasst die ganze arbeitende, oder um Lohn dienende
        Classe des Volks.' _Relig. Bildung der Hindus_, vol. ii. p. 561.

  [116] 'Either be banished with a mark on his hinder parts, or the king
        shall cause a gash to be made on his buttock.' _Institutes of
        Menu_, chap. viii. sec. 281, in _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol.
        iii. p. 315. See also _Ward's View of the Hindoos_, vol. iii. p.

  [117] _Menu_, chap. viii. sec. 271, in _Jones's Works_, vol. iii.
        p. 314.

  [118] _Menu_, chap. viii. sec. 270.

  [119] 'If a Sudra gives much and frequent molestation to a Brahmin, the
        magistrate shall put him to death.' _Halhed's Code of Gentoo
        Laws_, p. 262.

  [120] _Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws_, p. 207. As to the case of striking
         a Brahmin, see _Rammohun Roy on the Veds_, p. 227, 2nd edit. 1832.

  [121] 'And if a Sooder listens to the Beids of the Shaster, then the
        oil, heated as before, shall be poured into his ears; and arzeez
        and wax shall be melted together, and the orifice of his ears
        shall be stopped up therewith.' _Halhed_, p. 262. Compare the
        prohibition in _Menu_, chap. iv. sec. 99, chap. x. sec. 109-111,
        in _Jones's Works_, vol. iii. pp. 174, 398.

  [122] _Halhed_, p. 262: 'the magistrate shall put him to death.' In
        Mrichchakati, the judge says to a Sudra, 'If you expound the
        Vedas, will not your tongue be cut out?' _Wilson's Theatre of the
        Hindus_, vol. i. part ii. p. 170.

  [123] _Ward's View of the Hindoos_, vol. iv. p. 308. To this the only
        exception was in the case of theft. _Mill's History of India_,
        vol. i. pp. 193, 260. A Brahmin could 'on no account be capitally
        punished.' _Asiatic Researches_, vol. xv. p. 44.

  [124] _Menu_, chap. xi. sec. 132, in _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. iii.
        p. 422.

  [125] 'A Brahmin, if he take a Sudra to his bed as his first wife, sinks
        to the regions of torment.' _Institutes of Menu_, chap. iii. sec.
        17, in _Jones_, vol. iii. p. 121. Compare the denial of funeral
        rites, in _Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law_, vol. iii. p. 328.
        And on the different hells invented by the Hindu clergy, see
        _Vishnu Purana_, p. 207; _Ward's View of the Hindoos_, vol. ii.
        pp. 182, 183; _Coleman's Mythology of the Hindus_, p. 113. The
        curious details in _Rhode_, _die Religiöse Bildung der Hindus_,
        vol. i. pp. 392, 393, rather refer to Buddhism, and should be
        compared with _Journal Asiatique_, I. série, vol. viii. pp. 80,
        81, Paris, 1826.

  [126] _Menu_, chap. ii. sec. 31, in _Jones_, vol. iii. p. 87; also
        noticed in _Rhode_, _Relig. Bildung_, vol. ii. p. 561: 'sein Name
        soll schon Verachtung ausdrücken.' So, too, Mr. Elphinstone
        (_History of India_, p. 17): 'the proper name of a Sudra is
        directed to be expressive of contempt.' Compare _Origines du
        Droit_, in _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol. ii. p. 387, Bruxelles,

  [127] _Menu_, chap. x. sec. 129, in _Jones_, vol. iii. p. 401. This law
        is pointed out by Mill (_History of India_, vol. i. p. 195) as an
        evidence of the miserable state of the people, which, Mr. Wilson
        (note in p. 213) vainly attempts to evade.

  [128] 'A Sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from a
        state of servitude; for of a state which is natural to him, by
        whom can he be divested?' _Institutes of Menu_, chap. viii. sec.
        414, in _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. iii. p. 333.

By whom, indeed, could he be divested? I ween not where that power was
by which so vast a miracle could be worked. For in India, slavery,
abject, eternal slavery, was the natural state of the great body of the
people; it was the state to which they were doomed by physical laws
utterly impossible to resist. The energy of those laws is, in truth, so
invincible, that wherever they have come into play, they have kept the
productive classes in perpetual subjection. There is no instance on
record of any tropical country, in which wealth having been extensively
accumulated, the people have escaped their fate; no instance in which
the heat of the climate has not caused an abundance of food, and the
abundance of food caused an unequal distribution, first of wealth, and
then of political and social power. Among nations subjected to these
conditions, the people have counted for nothing; they have had no voice
in the management of the state, no control over the wealth their own
industry created. Their only business has been to labour; their only
duty to obey. Thus there has been generated among them, those habits of
tame and servile submission, by which, as we know from history, they
have always been characterized. For it is an undoubted fact, that their
annals furnish no instance of their having turned upon their rulers, no
war of classes, no popular insurrections, not even one great popular
conspiracy. In those rich and fertile countries there have been many
changes, but all of them have been from above, not from below. The
democratic element has been altogether wanting. There have been in
abundance, wars of kings, and wars of dynasties. There have been
revolutions in the government, revolutions in the palace, revolutions on
the throne; but no revolutions among the people;[129] no mitigation of
that hard lot which nature, rather than man, assigned to them. Nor was
it until civilization arose in Europe, that other physical laws came
into operation, and therefore other results were produced. In Europe,
for the first time, there was some approach to equality, some tendency
to correct that enormous disproportion of wealth and power, which formed
the essential weakness of the greatest of the more ancient countries.
As a natural consequence, it is in Europe that everything worthy of the
name of civilization has originated; because there alone have attempts
been made to preserve the balance of its relative parts. There alone has
society been organized according to a scheme, not indeed sufficiently
large, but still wide enough to include all the different classes of
which it is composed, and thus, by leaving room for the progress of
each, to secure the permanence and advancement of the whole.

  [129] An intelligent observer says, 'It is also remarkable how little
        the people of Asiatic countries have to do in the revolutions of
        their governments. They are never guided by any great and common
        impulse of feeling, and take no part in events the most
        interesting and important to their country and their own
        prosperity.' _M'Murdo on the Country of Sindh_, in _Journal of
        Asiatic Society_, vol. i. p. 250. Compare similar remarks in
        _Herder's Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol. iii. p. 114; and even in
        _Alison's History of Europe_, vol. x. pp. 419, 420.

The way in which certain other physical peculiarities confined to
Europe, have also accelerated the progress of Man by diminishing his
superstition, will be indicated towards the end of this chapter; but as
that will involve an examination of some laws which I have not yet
noticed, it seems advisable, in the first place, to complete the inquiry
now before us; and I therefore purpose proving that the line of argument
which has been just applied to India, is likewise applicable to Egypt,
to Mexico, and to Peru. For by thus including in a single survey, the
most conspicuous civilizations of Asia, Africa, and America, we shall be
able to see how the preceding principles hold good of different and
distant countries; and we shall be possessed of evidence sufficiently
comprehensive to test the accuracy of those great laws which, without
such precaution, I might be supposed to have generalized from scanty and
imperfect materials.

The reasons why, of all the African nations, the Egyptians alone were
civilized, have been already stated, and have been shown to depend on
those physical peculiarities which distinguish them from the surrounding
countries, and which, by facilitating the acquisition of wealth, not
only supplied them with material resources that otherwise they could
never have obtained, but also secured to their intellectual classes the
leisure and the opportunity of extending the boundaries of knowledge. It
is, indeed, true that, notwithstanding these advantages, they effected
nothing of much moment; but this was owing to circumstances which will
be hereafter explained; and it must, at all events, be admitted that
they raised themselves far above every other people by whom Africa was

The civilization of Egypt being, like that of India, caused by the
fertility of the soil, and the climate being also very hot,[130] there
were in both countries brought into play the same laws; and there
naturally followed the same results. In both countries we find the
national food cheap and abundant: hence the labour-market over-supplied;
hence a very unequal division of wealth and power; and hence all the
consequences which such inequality will inevitably produce. How this
system worked in India, I have just attempted to examine; and although
the materials for studying the former condition of Egypt are much less
ample, they are still sufficiently numerous to prove the striking
analogy between the two civilizations, and the identity of those great
principles which regulated the order of their social and political

  [130] Volney (_Voyage en Egypte_, vol. i. pp. 58-63) has a good chapter
        on the climate of Egypt.

If we inquire into the most important circumstances which concerned the
people of ancient Egypt, we shall see that they are exactly the
counterpart of those that have been noticed in India. For, in the first
place, as regards their ordinary food, what rice is to the most fertile
parts of Asia, that are dates to Africa. The palm-tree is found in every
country from the Tigris to the Atlantic;[131] and it supplies millions
of human beings with their daily food in Arabia,[132] and in nearly the
whole of Africa north of the equator.[133] In many parts of the great
African desert it is indeed unable to bear fruit; but naturally it is a
very hardy plant, and produces dates in such profusion, that towards the
north of the Sahara they are eaten not only by man, but also by domestic
animals.[134] And in Egypt, where the palm is said to be of spontaneous
growth,[135] dates, besides being the chief sustenance of the people,
are so plentiful, that from a very early period they have been given
commonly to camels, the only beasts of burden generally used in that

  [131] It is, however, unknown in South Africa. See the account of the
        Palmaceæ in _Lindley's Vegetable Kingdom_, 1847, p. 136, and
        _Meyen's Geog. of Plants_, p. 337.

  [132] 'Of all eatables used by the Arabs, dates are the most favourite.'
        _Burckhardt's Travels in Arabia_, vol. i. p. 56. See also, for
        proof of their abundance in the west of Arabia, vol. i. pp. 103,
        157, 238, vol. ii. pp. 91, 100, 105, 118, 209, 210, 214, 253,
        300, 331. And on the dates of Oman and the east of Arabia, see
        _Wellsted's Travels in Arabia_, vol. i. pp. 188, 189, 236, 276,
        290, 349. Compare _Niebuhr_, _Description de l'Arabie_, pp. 142,
        296. Indeed, they are so important, that the Arabs have different
        names for them according to the stages of their growth. Djewhari
        says, 'La dénomination _balah_ précède le nom _bosr_; car la
        datte se nomme d'abord _tala_, en suite _khalal_, puis _balah_,
        puis _bosr_, puis _rotab_, et enfin _tamr_.' _De Sacy's note to
        Abd-Allatif, Relation, de l'Egypte_, p. 74, and see p. 118. Other
        notices of the dates of Arabia will be found in _Travels of Ibn
        Batuta in Fourteenth Century_, p. 66; _Journal of Asiatic Soc._
        vol. viii. p. 286; _Journal of Geograph. Soc._ vol. iv. p. 201,
        vol. vi. pp. 53, 55, 58, 66, 68, 74, vol. vii. p. 32, vol. ix.
        pp. 147, 151.

  [133] Heeren (_Trade of the African Nations_, vol. i. p. 182) supposes
        that in Africa, dates are comparatively little known south of 26°
        north lat. But this learned writer is certainly mistaken; and a
        reference to the following passages will show that they are
        common as far down as the parallel of Lake Tchad, which is nearly
        the southern limit of our knowledge of Central Africa; _Denham's
        Central Africa_, p. 295; _Clapperton's Journal_, in _Appendix to
        Denham_, pp. 34, 59; _Clapperton's Second Expedition_, p. 159.
        Further east they are somewhat scarcer, but are found much more
        to the south than is supposed by Heeren: see _Pallme's Kordofan_,
        p. 220.

  [134] 'Dates are not only the principal growth of the Fezzan oases, but
        the main subsistence of their inhabitants. All live on dates;
        men, women, and children, horses, asses, and camels, and sheep,
        fowls, and dogs.' _Richardson's Travels in the Sahara_, vol. ii.
        p. 323, and see vol. i. p. 343: as to those parts of the desert
        where the palm will not bear, see vol. i. pp. 387, 405, vol. ii.
        pp. 291, 363. Respecting the dates of western Africa, see
        _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. xii. p. 204.

  [135] 'It flourished spontaneously in the valley of the Nile.'
        _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. p. 372. As further
        illustration of the importance to Africa of this beautiful plant,
        it may be mentioned, that from the high-palm there is prepared a
        peculiar beverage, which in some parts is in great request. On
        this, which is called palm-wine, see _M'William's Medical
        Expedition to the Niger_, pp. 71, 116; _Meredith's Gold Coast of
        Africa_, 1812, pp. 55, 56; _Laird and Oldfield's Expedition into
        the Interior of Africa_, 1837, vol. ii. pp. 170, 213; _Bowdich_,
        _Mission to Ashantee_, pp. 69, 100, 152, 293, 386, 392. But I
        doubt if this is the same as the palm-wine mentioned in
        _Balfour's Botany_, 1849, p. 532. Compare _Tuckey's Expedition to
        the Zaire_, pp. 155, 216, 224, 356.

  [136] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. pp. 175-178. See also on
        the abundance of dates, the extracts from an Arabian geographer
        in _Quatremère_, _Recherches sur l'Egypte_, pp. 220, 221.

From these facts, it is evident that, taking Egypt as the highest type
of African civilization, and India as the highest type of Asiatic
civilization, it may be said that dates are to the first civilization
what rice is to the second. Now it is observable, that all the most
important physical peculiarities found in rice are also found in dates.
In regard to their chemistry, it is well known that the chief principle
of the nutriment they contain is the same in both; the starch of the
Indian vegetable being merely turned into the sugar of the Egyptian. In
regard to the laws of climate, their affinity is equally obvious; since
dates, like rice, belong to hot countries, and flourish most in or near
the tropics.[137] In regard to their increase, and the laws of their
connexion with the soil, the analogy is also exact; for dates, just the
same as rice, require little labour, and yield abundant returns, while
they occupy so small a space of land in comparison with the nutriment
they afford, that upwards of two hundred palm-trees are sometimes
planted on a single acre.[138]

  [137] On their relation to the laws of climate, see the remarks
        respecting the geographical limits of their power of ripening, in
        _Jussieu's Botany_, edit. Wilson, 1849, p. 734.

  [138] 'In the valley of the Nile, a feddan (1-3/4 acre) is sometimes
        planted with 400 trees.' _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol.
        ii. p. 178. At Moorzuk an entire date-palm is only worth about a
        shilling. _Richardson's Central Africa_, vol. i. p. 111.

Thus striking are the similarities to which, in different countries, the
same physical conditions naturally give rise. At the same time, in
Egypt, as in India, the attainment of civilization was preceded by the
possession of a highly fertile soil; so that, while the exuberance of
the land regulated the speed with which wealth was created, the
abundance of the food regulated the proportions into which the wealth
was divided. The most fertile part of Egypt is the Said;[139] and it is
precisely there that we find the greatest display of skill and
knowledge, the splendid remains of Thebes, Carnac, Luxor, Dendera, and
Edfou.[140] It is also in the Said, or as it is often called the
Thebaid, that a food is used which multiplies itself even more rapidly
than either dates or rice. This is the dhourra, which until recently was
confined to Upper Egypt,[141] and of which the reproductive power is so
remarkable, that it yields to the labourer a return of two hundred and
forty for one.[142] In Lower Egypt the dhourra was formerly unknown;
but, in addition to dates, the people made a sort of bread from the
lotos, which sprang spontaneously out of the rich soil of the Nile.[143]
This must have been a very cheap and accessible food; while to it there
was joined a profusion of other plants and herbs, on which the Egyptians
chiefly lived.[144] Indeed so inexhaustible was the supply, that at the
time of the Mohammedan invasion there were, in the single city of
Alexandria, no less than four thousand persons occupied in selling
vegetables to the people.[145]

  [139] On the remarkable fertility of the Said, see _Abd-Allatif_,
        _Relation de l'Egypte_, p. 3.

  [140] The superiority of the ruins in Southern Egypt over those in the
        northern part is noticed by Heeren (_African Nations_, vol. ii.
        p. 69), and must, indeed, be obvious to whoever has studied the
        monuments. In the Said the Coptic was preserved longer than in
        Lower Egypt, and is known to philologists by the name of Misr.
        See _Quatremère_, _Recherches sur la Langue de l'Egypte_, pp. 20,
        41, 42. See also on the Saidic, pp. 134-140, and some good
        remarks by Dr. Prichard (_Physical Hist._ vol. ii. p. 202); who,
        however, adopts the paradoxical opinion of Georgi respecting the
        origin of the language of the Thebaid.

  [141] Abd-Allatif (_Relation de l'Egypte_, p. 32) says, that in his time
        it was only cultivated in the Said. This curious work by
        Abd-Allatif was written in A.D. 1203. _Relation_, p. 423. Meiners
        thinks that Herodotus and other ancient writers refer to the
        dhourra without mentioning it: 'diese Durra muss daher im Herodot
        wie in andern alten Schriftstellern vorzüglich verstanden werden,
        wenn von hundert, zwey hundert, und mehrfältigen Früchten, welche
        die Erde trage, die Rede ist.' _Meiners_, _Fruchtbarkeit der
        Länder_, vol. i. p. 139. According to Volney, it is the Holcus
        Arundinaceus of Linnæus, and appears to be similar to millet; and
        though that accurate traveller distinguishes between them, I
        observe that Captain Haines, in a recent memoir, speaks of them
        as being the same. Compare Haines in _Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol.
        xv. p. 118, with _Volney_, _Voyage en Egypte_, vol. i. p. 195.

  [142] 'The return is in general not less than 240 for one; and the
        average price is about 3_s._ 9_d._ the ardeb, which is scarcely
        3_d._ per bushel.' _Hamilton's Æqyptiaca_, p. 420. In Upper
        Egypt, 'the doura constitutes almost the whole subsistence of the
        peasantry,' p. 419. At p. 96, Hamilton says, 'I have frequently
        counted 3,000 grains in one ear of doura, and each stalk has in
        general four or five ears.' For an account, of the dhourra bread,
        see _Volney_, _Voyage en Egypte_, vol. i. p. 161.

  [143] [Greek: Epean plêrês genêtai ho potamos, kai ta pedia pelagisê,
        phuetai en tô hudati krinea polla, ta Aiguptioi kaleousi lôton;
        tauta epean drepsôsi, auainousi pros hêlion; kai epeita to ek tou
        mesou tou lôtou tê mêkôni eon empheres, ptisantes poieuntai ex
        autou artous optous puri.] _Herodot._ ii. 92, vol. i. p. 688.

  [144] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. pp. 370-372, 400, vol.
        iv. p. 59. Abd-Allatif gives a curious account of the different
        vegetables grown in Egypt early in the thirteenth century.
        _Relation_, pp. 16-36, and the notes of De Sacy, pp. 37-134. On
        the [Greek: kyamos] of Herodotus there are some botanical remarks
        worth reading in the _Correspondence of Sir J. E. Smith_, vol.
        ii. pp. 224-232; but I doubt the assertion, p. 227, that
        Herodotus 'knew nothing of any other kind of [Greek: kyamos] in
        Egypt than that of the ordinary bean.'

  [145] 'When Alexandria was taken by Amer, the lieutenant of the Caliph
        Omer, no less than 4,000 persons were engaged in selling
        vegetables in that city.' _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol.
        ii. p. 372, and see vol. i. p. 277, vol. iv. p. 60. Niebuhr
        (_Description de l'Arabie_, p. 136) says that the neighbourhood
        of Alexandria is so fertile, that 'le froment y rend le
        centuple.' See also on its rich vegetation, _Matter_, _Histoire
        de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. i. p. 52.

From this abundance of the national food, there resulted a train of
events strictly analogous to those which took place in India. In Africa
generally, the growth of population, though on the one hand stimulated
by the heat of the climate, was on the other hand checked by the poverty
of the soil. But on the banks of the Nile this restraint no longer
existed,[146] and therefore the laws already noticed came into
uncontrolled operation. By virtue of those laws, the Egyptians were not
only satisfied with a cheap food, but they required that food in
comparatively small quantities; thus by a double process, increasing the
limit to which their numbers could extend. At the same time the lower
orders were able to rear their offspring with the greater ease, because,
owing to the high rate of temperature, another considerable source of
expense was avoided; the heat being such that, even for adults, the
necessary clothes were few and slight, while the children of the working
classes were entirely naked; affording a striking contrast to those
colder countries where, to preserve ordinary health, a supply of warmer
and more costly covering is essential. Diodorus Siculus, who travelled
in Egypt nineteen centuries ago, says, that to bring up a child to
manhood did not cost more than twenty drachmas, scarcely thirteen
shillings English money; a circumstance which he justly notices as a
cause of the populousness of the country.[147]

  [146] The encouragement given to the increase of population by the
        fertility arising from the inundation of the Nile, is observed by
        many writers, but by none so judiciously as Malthus; _Essay on
        Population_, vol. i. pp. 161-163. This great work, the principles
        of which have been grossly misrepresented, is still the best
        which has been written on the important subject of population,
        though the author, from a want of sufficient reading, often errs
        in his illustrations; while he, unfortunately, had no
        acquaintance with those branches of physical knowledge which are
        intimately connected with economical inquiries.

  [147] [Greek: Trephousi de ta paidia meta tinos euchereias adapanou, kai
        pantelôs apistou ... anupodetôn de tôn pleistôn kai gymnôn
        trephomenon dia tên eukrasian tôn topôn, tên pasan dapanên oi
        goneis, achris an eis hêlikian elthê to teknon, ou pleiô poiousi
        drachmôn eikusi, di as aitias malista tên Aigupton sumbainei
        poluanthrôpia diapherein, kai dia touto pleistas echein megalôn
        ergôn kataskeuas.] _Bibliothec. Hist._ book i. chap. lxxx. vol.
        i. p. 238.

To compress into a single sentence the preceding remarks, it may be said
that in Egypt the people multiplied rapidly, because while the soil
increased their supplies, the climate lessened their wants. The result
was, that Egypt was not only far more thickly peopled than any other
country in Africa, but probably more so than any in the ancient world.
Our information upon this point is indeed somewhat scanty, but it is
derived from sources of unquestioned credibility. Herodotus, who the
more he is understood the more accurate he is found to be,[148] states
that in the reign of Amasis there were said to have been twenty thousand
inhabited cities.[149] This may, perhaps, be considered an exaggeration;
but what is very observable is, that Diodorus Siculus, who travelled in
Egypt four centuries after Herodotus, and whose jealousy of the
reputation of his great predecessor made him anxious to discredit his
statements,[150] does nevertheless, on this important point, confirm
them. For he not only remarks that Egypt was at that time as densely
inhabited as any existing country, but he adds, on the authority of
records which were then extant, that it was formerly the most populous
in the world, having contained, he says, upwards of eighteen thousand

  [148] Frederick Schlegel (_Philos. of Hist._ p. 247, London, 1846) truly
        says, 'The deeper and more comprehensive the researches of the
        moderns have been on ancient history, the more have their regard
        and esteem for Herodotus increased.' His minute information
        respecting Egypt and Asia Minor is now admitted by all competent
        geographers; and I may add, that a recent and very able traveller
        has given some curious proofs of his knowledge even of the
        western parts of Siberia. See Erman's valuable work, _Travels in
        Siberia_, vol. i. pp. 211, 297-301.

  [149] [Greek: 'Ep' Amasios de basileos legetai Aigyptos malis-a dê tote
        eudaimonêsai, kai ta apo tou potamou tê chôrê ginomena, kai ta
        apo tês chôrês toisi anthrôpoisi kai polis en autê genesthai tas
        apasas tote dismurias tas oikeomenas.] _Herodot._ book ii. chap.
        clxxvii. vol. i. pp. 881, 882.

  [150] Diodorus, who, though an honest and painstaking man, was in every
        respect inferior to Herodotus, says, impertinently enough,
        [Greek: osa men oun 'Êrodotos kai tines tôn tas Aiguptiôn prazeis
        sun-tazamenôn eschediakasin, ekousiôs prokrinantes tês alêtheias
        to paradoxologein, kai muthous plattein psuchagôgias eneka,
        parêsomen.] _Biblioth. Hist._ book i. chap. lxix. vol. i. p. 207.
        In other places he alludes to Herodotus in the same tone, without
        actually mentioning him.

  [151] [Greek: Poluanthrôpia de to men palaion polu proesche pantôn tôn
        gnôrizomenon topôn kata, tên oikoumenên, kai kath' êmas de
        oudenos tôn allôn dokei leipesthai. epi men gar tôn archaion
        chronôn esche kômas axiologous, kai poleis pleious tôn murion kai
        oktakischiliôn, ôs en tais anagraphais dranx esti
        katakechôrismenon.] _Diod. Sic. Biblioth. Hist._ book i. chap.
        xxxi. vol. i. p. 89.

These were the only two ancient writers who, from personal knowledge,
were well acquainted with the state of Egypt;[152] and their testimony
is the more valuable because it was evidently drawn from different
sources; the information of Herodotus being chiefly collected at
Memphis, that of Diodorus at Thebes.[153] And whatever discrepancies
there may be between these two accounts, they are both agreed respecting
the rapid increase of the people, and the servile condition into which
they had fallen. Indeed, the mere appearance of those huge and costly
buildings, which are still standing, are a proof of the state of the
nation that erected them. To raise structures so stupendous,[154] and
yet so useless,[155] there must have been tyranny on the part of the
rulers, and slavery on the part of the people. No wealth, however
great, no expenditure, however lavish, could meet the expense which
would have been incurred, if they had been the work of free men, who
received for their labour a fair and honest reward.[156] But in Egypt,
as in India, such considerations were disregarded, because everything
tended to favour the upper ranks of society and depress the lower.
Between the two there was an immense and impassable gap.[157] If a
member of the industrious classes changed his usual employment, or was
known to pay attention to political matters, he was severely
punished;[158] and under no circumstances was the possession of land
allowed to an agricultural labourer, to a mechanic, or indeed to any one
except the king, the clergy, and the army.[159] The people at large were
little better than beasts of burden; and all that was expected from them
was an unremitting and unrequited labour. If they neglected their work,
they were flogged; and the same punishment was frequently inflicted upon
domestic servants, and even upon women.[160] These and similar
regulations were well conceived; they were admirably suited to that vast
social system, which, because it was based on despotism, could only be
upheld by cruelty. Hence it was that, the industry of the whole nation
being at the absolute command of a small part of it, there arose the
possibility of rearing those vast edifices, which inconsiderate
observers admire as a proof of civilization,[161] but which, in reality,
are evidence of a state of things altogether depraved and unhealthy; a
state in which the skill and the arts of an imperfect refinement injured
those whom they ought to have benefited; so that the very resources
which the people had created were turned against the people themselves.

  [152] Notwithstanding the positive assertions of M. Matter (_Hist. de
        l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. ii. p. 285; compare _Hist. du
        Gnosticisme_, vol. i. p. 48), there is no good evidence for the
        supposed travels in Egypt of the earlier Greeks, and it is even
        questionable if Plato ever visited that country. ('Whether he
        ever was in Egypt is doubtful.' _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i. p. 60.)
        The Romans took little interest in the subject (_Bunsen_, vol. i.
        pp. 152-158); and, says M. Bunsen, p. 152, 'with Diodorus all
        systematic inquiry into the history of Egypt ceases, not only on
        the part of the Greeks, but of the ancients in general.' Mr.
        Leake, in an essay on the Quorra, arrives at the conclusion, that
        after the time of Ptolemy, the ancients made no additions to
        their knowledge of African geography. _Journal of Geographical
        Society_, vol. ii. p. 9.

  [153] See on this some good remarks in _Heeren's African Nations_, vol.
        ii. pp. 202-207; and as to the difference between the traditions
        of Thebes and Memphis, see _Matter_, _Histoire de l'Ecole
        d'Alexandrie_, vol. i. p. 7. The power and importance of the two
        cities fluctuated, both being at different periods the capital.
        _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. pp. 54, 55, 244, 445, 446; _Vyse on
        the Pyramids_, vol. iii. pp. 27, 100; _Sharpe's History of
        Egypt_, vol. i. pp. 9, 19, 24, 34, 167, 185.

  [154] Sir John Herschel (_Disc. on Natural Philosophy_, p. 60)
        calculates that the great pyramid weighs twelve thousand seven
        hundred and sixty million pounds. Compare _Lyell's Principles of
        Geology_, p. 459, where the still larger estimate of six million
        tons is given. But according to Perring, the present quantity of
        masonry is 6,316,000 tons, or 82,110,000 cubic feet. See
        _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 155, London, 1854, and _Vyse on the
        Pyramids_, 1840, vol. ii. p. 113.

  [155] Many fanciful hypotheses have been put forward as to the purpose
        for which the pyramids were built; but it is now admitted that
        they were neither more nor less than tombs for the Egyptian
        kings! See _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. pp. xvii. 88, 105, 372,
        389; and _Sharpe's History of Egypt_, vol. i. p. 21.

  [156] For an estimate of the expense at which, one of the pyramids could
        be built in our time by European workmen, see _Vyse on the
        Pyramids_, vol. ii. p. 268. On account, however, of the number of
        disturbing causes, such calculations have little value.

  [157] Those who complain that in Europe this interval is still too
        great, may derive a species of satisfaction from studying the old
        extra-European civilizations.

  [158] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. pp. 8, 9. 'Nor was any
        one permitted to meddle with political affairs, or to hold any
        civil office in the state.' ... 'If any artizan meddled with
        political affairs, or engaged in any other employment than the
        one to which he had been brought up, a severe punishment was
        instantly inflicted upon him.' Compare _Diod. Sic. Bibliothec.
        Hist._ book i. chap. lxxiv. vol. i. p. 223.

  [159] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. i. p. 263, vol. ii. p. 2;
        _Sharpe's History of Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 24.

  [160] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. pp. 41, 42, vol. iii. p.
        69, vol. iv. p. 131. Compare Ammianus Marcellinus, in _Hamilton's
        Ægyptiaca_, p. 309.

  [161] _Vyse on the Pyramids_, vol. i. p. 61, vol. ii. p. 92.

That in such a society as this, much regard should be paid to human
suffering, it would indeed be idle to expect.[162] Still, we are
startled by the reckless prodigality with which, in Egypt, the upper
classes squandered away the labour and the lives of the people. In this
respect, as the monuments yet remaining abundantly prove, they stand
alone and without a rival. We may form some idea of the almost
incredible waste, when we hear that two thousand men were occupied for
three years in carrying a single stone from Elephantine to Sais;[163]
that the Canal of the Red Sea alone, cost the lives of a hundred and
twenty thousand Egyptians;[164] and that to build one of the pyramids
required the labour of three hundred and sixty thousand men for twenty

  [162] 'Ein König ahmte den andern nach, oder suchte ihn zu übertreffen;
        indess das gutmüthige Volk seine Lebenstage am Baue dieser
        Monumente verzehren musste. So entstanden wahrscheinlich die
        Pyramiden und Obelisken Aegyptens. Nur in den ältesten Zeiten
        wurden sie gebauet: denn die spätere Zeit und jede Nation, die
        ein nützliches Gewerbe treiben lernte, bauete keine Pyramiden
        mehr. Weit gefehlt also, dass Pyramiden ein Kennzeichen von der
        Glückseligkeit und Aufklärung des alten Aegyptens seyn sollten,
        sind sie ein unwidersprechliches Denkmal von dem Aberglauben und
        der Gedankenlosigkeit sowohl der Armen, die da baueten, als der
        Ehrgeizigen, die den Bau befahlen.' _Herder's Ideen zur
        Geschichte_, vol. iii. pp. 103, 104: see also p. 293, and some
        admirable remarks in _Volney's Voyage en Egypte_, vol. i. pp.
        240, 241. Even M. Bunsen, notwithstanding his admiration, says of
        one of the pyramids, 'the misery of the people, already
        grievously oppressed, was aggravated by the construction of this
        gigantic building.... The bones of the oppressors of the people
        who for two whole generations harassed hundreds of thousands from
        day to day,' &c. _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 176, a learned and
        enthusiastic work.

  [163] [Greek: Kai touto ekomizon men ep' etea tria dischilioi de oi
        prosetetachato andres agôgees.] _Herodot._ book ii. chap. clxxv.
        vol. i. p. 897. On the enormous weight of the stones which the
        Egyptians sometimes carried, see _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i. p.
        379; and as to the machines employed, and the use of inclined
        roads for the transit, see _Vyse on the Pyramids_, vol. i. p.
        197, vol. iii. pp. 14, 38.

  [164] _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. i. p. 70: but this learned
        writer is unwilling to believe a statement so adverse to his
        favourite Egyptians. It is likely enough that there is some
        exaggeration; still no one can dispute the fact of an enormous
        and unprincipled waste of human life.

  [165] [Greek: Triakonta men yar kai ex muriades andrôn, ôs phasi, tais
        tôn ergôn leitourgais prosêdreusan, to de pan kataskeuasma telos
        esche mogis etôn eikosi dielthontôn.] _Diod. Sic. Bibliothec.
        Hist._ book i. ch. lxiii. vol. i. p. 188.

If, passing from the history of Asia and Africa, we now turn to the New
World, we shall meet with fresh proof of the accuracy of the preceding
views. The only parts of America which before the arrival of the
Europeans were in some degree civilized, were Mexico and Peru;[166] to
which may probably be added that long and narrow tract which stretches
from the south of Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama. In this latter
country, which is now known as Central America, the inhabitants, aided
by the fertility of the soil,[167] seem to have worked out for
themselves a certain amount of knowledge; since the ruins still extant,
prove the possession of a mechanical and architectural skill too
considerable to be acquired by any nation entirely barbarous.[168]
Beyond this, nothing is known of their history; but the accounts we
have of such buildings as Copan, Palenque, and Uxmal, make it highly
probable that Central America was the ancient seat of a civilization, in
all essential points similar to those of India and Egypt; that is to
say, similar to them in respect to the unequal distribution of wealth
and power, and the thraldom in which the great body of the people
consequently remained.[169]

  [166] 'When compared with other parts of the New World, Mexico and Peru
        may be considered as polished states.' _History of America_, book
        vii. in _Robertson's Works_, p. 904. See, to the same effect,
        _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. v. p. 355.

  [167] Compare _Squier's Central America_, vol. i. pp. 34, 244, 358, 421,
        vol. ii. p. 307, with _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. iii.
        p. 59, vol. viii. pp. 319, 323.

  [168] Mr. Squier (_Central America_, vol. ii. p. 68); who explored
        Nicaragua, says of the statues, 'the material, in every case, is
        a black basalt, of great hardness, which, with the best of modern
        tools, can only be cut with difficulty.' Mr. Stephens (_Central
        America_, vol. ii. p. 355) found at Palenque 'elegant specimens
        of art and models for study.' See also vol. iii. pp. 276, 389,
        406, vol. iv. p. 293. Of the paintings at Chichen he says (vol.
        iv. p. 311), 'they exhibit a freedom of touch which could only be
        the result of discipline and training under masters.' At Copan
        (vol. i. p. 151), 'it would be impossible, with the best
        instruments of modern times, to cut stones more perfectly.' And
        at Uxmal (vol. ii. p. 431), 'throughout, the laying and polishing
        of the stones are as perfect as under the rules of the best
        modern masonry.' Our knowledge of Central America is almost
        entirely derived from these two writers; and although the work of
        Mr. Stephens is much the more minute, Mr. Squier says (vol. ii.
        p. 306), what I believe is quite true, that until the appearance
        of his own book in 1853, the monuments in Nicaragua were entirely
        unknown. Short descriptions of the remains in Guatemala and
        Yucatan will be found in _Larenaudière's Mexique et Guatemala_,
        pp. 308-327, and in _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. iii. pp.

  [169] See the remarks on Yucatan in _Prichard's Physical History of
        Mankind_, vol. v. p. 348: 'a great and industrious, though
        perhaps, as the writer above cited (Gallatin) observes, an
        enslaved population. Splendid temples and palaces attest the
        power of the priests and nobles, while as usual no trace remains
        of the huts in which dwelt the mass of the nation.'

But although the evidence from which we might estimate the former
condition of Central America is almost entirely lost,[170] we are more
fortunate in regard to the histories of Mexico and Peru. There are
still existing considerable and authentic materials, from which we may
form an opinion on the ancient state of those two countries, and on the
nature and extent of their civilization. Before, however, entering upon
this subject, it will be convenient to point out what those physical
laws were which determined the localities of American civilization; or,
in other words, why it was that in these countries alone, society should
have been organized into a fixed and settled system, while the rest of
the New World was peopled by wild and ignorant barbarians. Such an
inquiry will be found highly interesting, as affording further proof of
the extraordinary, and indeed irresistible, force with which the powers
of nature have controlled the fortunes of man.

  [170] Dr. M'Culloh (_Researches concerning the Aboriginal History of
        America_, pp. 272-340) has collected from the Spanish writers
        some meagre statements respecting the early condition of Central
        America; but of its social state and history, properly so called,
        nothing is known; nor is it even certain to what family of
        nations the inhabitants belonged, though a recent author can find
        'la civilisation guatemalienne ou misteco-zapotèque et mayaquiche
        vivante pour nous encore dans les ruines de Mitla et de
        Palenque.' _Mexique et Guatemala, par Larenaudière_, p. 8, Paris,
        1843. Dr. Prichard, too, refers the ruins in Central America to
        'the Mayan race:' see _Prichard on Ethnology_, in _Report of
        British Association for 1847_, p. 252. But the evidence for these
        and similar statements is very unsatisfactory.

The first circumstance by which we must be struck, is that in America,
as in Asia and Africa, all the original civilizations were seated in hot
countries; the whole of Peru proper being within the southern tropic,
the whole of Central America and Mexico within the northern tropic. How
the heat of the climate operated on the social and political
arrangements of India and Egypt, I have attempted to examine; and it
has, I trust, been proved that the result was brought about by
diminishing the wants and requirements of the people, and thus producing
a very unequal distribution of wealth and power. But, besides this,
there is another way in which the average temperature of a country
affects its civilization, and the discussion of which I have reserved
for the present moment, because it may be more clearly illustrated in
America than elsewhere. Indeed, in the New World, the scale on which
Nature works, being much larger than in the Old, and her forces being
more overpowering, it is evident that her operations on mankind may be
studied with greater advantage than in countries where she is weaker,
and where, therefore, the consequences of her movements are less

If the reader will bear in mind the immense influence which an abundant
national food has been shown to exercise, he will easily understand how,
owing to the pressure of physical phenomena, the civilization of
America was, of necessity, confined to those parts where alone it was
found by the discoverers of the New World. For, setting aside the
chemical and geognostic varieties of soil, it may be said that the two
causes which regulate the fertility of every country are heat and
moisture.[171] Where these are abundant, the land will be exuberant;
where they are deficient, it will be sterile. This rule is, of course,
in its application subject to exceptions, arising from physical
conditions which are independent of it; but if other things are equal,
the rule is invariable. And the vast additions which, since the
construction of isothermal lines, have been made to our knowledge of
geographical botany, enable us to lay this down as a law of nature,
proved not only by arguments drawn from vegetable physiology, but also
by a careful study of the proportions in which plants are actually
distributed in different countries.[172]

  [171] Respecting the connection between the vegetable productions of a
        country and its geognostic peculiarities, little is yet known;
        but the reader may compare _Meyen's Geography of Plants_, p. 64,
        with _Reports on Botany by the Ray Society_, 1846, pp. 70, 71.
        The chemical laws of soil are much better understood, and have a
        direct practical bearing on the use of manures. See _Turner's
        Chemistry_, vol. ii. pp. 1310-1314; _Brande's Chemistry_, vol. i.
        p. 691, vol. ii. pp. 1867-1869; _Balfour's Botany_, pp. 116-122;
        _Liebig and Kopp's Reports_, vol. ii. pp. 315, 328, vol. iii. p.
        463, vol. iv. pp. 438, 442, 446.

  [172] As to the influence of heat and moisture on the geographical
        distribution of plants, see _Henslow's Botany_, pp. 295-300, and
        _Balfour's Botany_, pp. 560-563. Meyen (_Geog. of Plants_, p.
        263) says, 'I, therefore, after allowing for local circumstances,
        bring the vegetation of islands also under the law of nature,
        according to which the number of species constantly increases
        with increasing heat and corresponding humidity.' On the effect
        of temperature alone, compare a note in _Erman's Siberia_, vol.
        i. pp. 64, 65, with _Reports on Botany by the Ray Society_, pp.
        339, 340. In the latter work, it is supposed that heat is the
        most important of all single agents; and though this is probably
        true, still the influence of humidity is immense. I may mention
        as an instance of this, that it has been recently ascertained
        that the oxygen used by seeds during germination, is not always
        taken from the air, but is obtained by decomposing water. See the
        curious experiments of Edwards and Colin in _Lindley's Botany_,
        vol. ii. pp. 261, 262, London, 1848; and on the direct
        nourishment which water supplies to vegetables, see Burdache's
        great work, _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ix. pp. 254, 398.

A general survey of the continent of America will illustrate the
connexion between this law and the subject now before us. In the first
place, as regards moisture, all the great rivers in the New World are on
the eastern coast, none of them on the western. The causes of this
remarkable fact are unknown;[173] but it is certain that neither in
North, nor in South America, does one considerable river empty itself
into the Pacific; while on the opposite side there are numerous rivers,
some of enormous magnitude, all of great importance, as the Negro, the
La Plata, the San Francisco, the Amazon, the Orinoco, the Mississippi,
the Alabama, the Saint John, the Potomac, the Susquehannah, the
Delaware, the Hudson, and the Saint Lawrence. By this vast water-system
the soil is towards the east constantly irrigated:[174] but towards the
west there is in North America only one river of value, the Oregon;[175]
while in South America, from the Isthmus of Panama to the Straits of
Magellan, there is no great river at all.

  [173] There is a difference between the watersheds of the eastern and
        western ranges, which explains this in part, but not entirely;
        and even if the explanation were more satisfactory than it is, it
        is too proximate to the phenomenon to have much scientific value,
        and must itself be referred to higher geological considerations.

  [174] Of this irrigation some idea may be formed from an estimate that
        the Amazon drains an area of 2,500,000 square miles; that its
        mouth is 96 miles wide; and that it is navigable 2,200 miles from
        its mouth. _Somerville's Physical Geography_, vol. i. p. 423.
        Indeed, it is said in an essay on the Hydrography of South
        America (_Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. ii. p. 250), that
        'with the exception of one short portage of three miles, water
        flows, and is for the most part navigable, between Buenos Ayres,
        in 35° south latitude, to the mouth of the Orinoco, in nearly 9°
        north.' See also on this river-system, vol. v. p. 93, vol. x. p.
        267. In regard to North America, Mr. Rogers (_Geology of North
        America_, p. 8, _Brit. Assoc. for 1834_) says, 'the area drained
        by the Mississippi and all its tributaries is computed at
        1,099,000 square miles.' Compare _Richardson's Arctic
        Expedition_, vol. ii. p. 164.

  [175] The Oregon, or Columbia as it is sometimes called, forms a
        remarkable botanical line, which is the boundary of the
        Californian flora. See _Reports on Botany by the Ray Society_, p.

But as to the other main cause of fertility, namely heat, we find in
North America a state of things precisely the reverse. There we find
that while the irrigation is on the east, the heat is on the west.[176]
This difference of temperature between the two coasts is probably
connected with some great meteorological law; for in the whole of the
northern hemisphere, the eastern part of continents and of islands is
colder than the western.[177] Whether, however, this is owing to some
large and comprehensive cause, or whether each instance has a cause
peculiar to itself, is an alternative, in the present state of
knowledge, impossible to decide; but the fact is unquestionable, and its
influence upon the early history of America is extremely curious. In
consequence of it, the two great conditions of fertility have not been
united in any part of the continent north of Mexico. The countries on
the one side have wanted heat; those on the other side have wanted
irrigation. The accumulation of wealth being thus impeded, the progress
of society was stopped; and until, in the sixteenth century, the
knowledge of Europe was brought to bear upon America, there is no
instance of any people north of the twentieth parallel, reaching even
that imperfect civilization to which the inhabitants of India and of
Egypt easily attained.[178] On the other hand, south of the twentieth
parallel, the continent suddenly changes its form, and, rapidly
contracting, becomes a small strip of land, until it reaches the Isthmus
of Panama. This narrow tract was the centre of Mexican civilization; and
a comparison of the preceding arguments will easily show why such was
the case; for the peculiar configuration of the land secured a very
large amount of coast, and thus gave to the southern part of North
America the character of an island. Hence there arose one of the
characteristics of an insular climate, namely, an increase of moisture
caused by the watery vapour which springs from the sea.[179] While,
therefore, the position of Mexico near the equator gave it heat, the
shape of the land gave it humidity; and this being the only part of
North America in which these two conditions were united, it was likewise
the only part which was at all civilized. There can be no doubt that if
the sandy plains of California and southern Columbia, instead of being
scorched into sterility, had been irrigated by the rivers of the east,
or if the rivers of the east had been accompanied by the heat of the
west, the result of either combination would have been that exuberance
of soil by which, as the history of the world decisively proves, every
early civilization was preceded. But inasmuch as, of the two elements of
fertility, one was deficient in every part of America north of the
twentieth parallel, it followed that, until that line was passed,
civilization could gain no resting-place; and there never has been
found, and we may confidently assert never will be found, any evidence
that even a single ancient nation, in the whole of that enormous
continent, was able to make much progress in the arts of life, or
organize itself into a fixed and permanent society.

  [176] For proof that the mean temperature of the western coast of North
        America is higher than that of the eastern coast, see _Journal of
        Geograph. Society_, vol. ix. p. 380, vol. xi. pp. 168, 216;
        _Humboldt_, _la Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. i. pp. 42, 336;
        _Richardson's Arctic Expedition_, vol. ii. pp. 214, 218, 219,
        259, 260. This is well illustrated by the botanical fact, that on
        the west coast the Coniferæ grow as high as 68° or 70° north
        latitude; while on the east their northern limit is 60°. See an
        Essay on the Morphology of the Coniferæ, in _Reports on Botany by
        the Ray Society_, p. 8, which should be compared with _Forry on
        the Climate of the United States and its Endemic Influences_, New
        York, 1842, p. 89.

  [177] 'Writers on climate have remarked that the eastern coasts of
        continents in the northern hemisphere have a lower mean
        temperature than the western coasts.' _Richardson on North
        American Zoology_, p. 129, _Brit. Assoc. for_ 1836: see also
        _Report for_ 1841, _Sections_, p. 28; _Davis's China_, vol. iii.
        pp. 140, 141; _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. xxii. p. 176.

  [178] The little that is known of the early state of the North-American
        tribes has been brought together by Dr. M'Culloh in his learned
        work, _Researches concerning America_, pp. 119-146. He says, p.
        121, that they 'lived together without laws and civil
        regulations.' In that part of the world, the population has
        probably never been fixed; and we now know that the inhabitants
        of the north-east of Asia have at different times passed over to
        the north-west of America, as in the case of the Tschuktschi, who
        are found in both continents. Indeed, Dobell was so struck by the
        similarity between the North-American tribes and some he met with
        nearly as far west as Tomsk, that he believed their origin to be
        the same. See _Dobell's Travels in Kamtschatka and Siberia_,
        1830, vol. ii. p. 112. And on this question of intercourse
        between the two continents, compare _Crantz's History of
        Greenland_, vol. i. pp. 259, 260, with _Richardson's Arctic
        Expedition_, vol. i. pp. 362, 363, and _Prichard's Physical
        History of Mankind_, vol. iv. pp. 458, 463, vol. v. pp. 371, 378.

  [179] From general physical considerations, we should suppose a relation
        between amount of rain and extent of coast; and in Europe, where
        alone we have extensive meteorological records, the connexion has
        been proved statistically. 'If the quantity of rain that falls in
        different parts of Europe is measured, it is found to be less,
        other things being equal, as we recede from the sea-shore.'
        _Kaemtz's Meteorology_, 1845, p. 139. Compare pp. 91, 94. Hence,
        no doubt, the greater rarity of rain as we advance north from
        Mexico. 'Au nord du 20°, surtout depuis les 22° au 30° de
        latitude, les pluies, que ne durent que pendant les mois de juin,
        de juillet, d'août et de septembre, sont peu fréquentes dans
        l'intérieur du pays.' _Humboldt_, _la Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. i.
        p. 46.

Thus far as to the physical agents which controlled the early destinies
of North America. But in reference to South America, a different train
of circumstances came into play; for the law by virtue of which the
eastern coasts are colder than the western, is not only inapplicable to
the southern hemisphere, but is replaced by another law precisely the
reverse. North of the equator, the east is colder than the west; south
of the equator, the east is hotter than the west.[180] If now, we
connect this fact with what has been noticed respecting the vast
river-system which distinguishes the east of America from the west, it
becomes evident that in South America there exists that coöperation of
heat and humidity in which North America is deficient. The result is,
that the soil in the eastern part of South America is remarkable for its
exuberance, not only within the tropic, but considerably beyond it; the
south of Brazil, and even part of Uruguay, possessing a fertility not to
be found in any country of North America situated under a corresponding

  [180] 'The difference between the climates of the east and west coasts
        of continents and islands, has also been observed in the southern
        hemisphere but here the west coasts are colder than the east,
        while in the northern hemisphere the east coasts are the colder.'
        _Meyen's Geography of Plants_, 1846, p. 24.

On a hasty view of the preceding generalizations, it might be expected
that the eastern side of South America, being thus richly endowed by
nature,[181] would have been the seat of one of those civilizations,
which, in other parts of the world, similar causes produced. But if we
look a little further, we shall find that what has just been pointed
out, by no means exhausts even the physical bearings of this subject,
and that we must take into consideration a third great agent, which has
sufficed to neutralize the natural results of the other two, and to
retain in barbarism the inhabitants of what otherwise would have been
the most flourishing of all the countries of the New World.

  [181] Mr. Darwin, who has written one of the most valuable works ever
        published on South America, was struck by this superiority of the
        eastern coast; and he mentions that 'fruits which ripen well and
        are very abundant, such as the grape and fig, in latitude 41° on
        the east coast, succeed very poorly in a lower latitude on the
        opposite side of the continent.' _Darwin's Journal of
        Researches_, Lond. 1840, p. 268. Compare _Meyen's Geog. of
        Plants_, pp. 25, 188. So that the proposition of Daniell
        (_Meteorological Essays_, p. 104, sec. xiv.) is expressed too
        generally, and should be confined to continents north of the

The agent to which I allude is the trade-wind; a striking phenomenon, by
which, as we shall hereafter see, all the civilizations anterior to
those of Europe were greatly and injuriously influenced. This wind
covers no less than 56° of latitude; 28° north of the equator, and 28°
south of it.[182] In this large tract, which comprises some of the most
fertile countries in the world, the trade-wind blows, during the whole
year, either from the north-east or from the south-east.[183] The causes
of this regularity are now well understood, and are known to depend
partly on the displacement of air at the equator, and partly on the
motion of the earth; for the cold air from the poles is constantly
flowing towards the equator, and thus producing northerly winds in the
northern hemisphere, and southerly winds in the southern. These winds
are, however, deflected from their natural course by the movement of the
earth, as it revolves on its axis from west to east. And as the rotation
of the earth is, of course, more rapid at the equator than elsewhere, it
happens that in the neighbourhood of the equator the speed is so great
as to outstrip the movements of the atmosphere from the poles, and
forcing them into another direction, gives rise to those easterly
currents which are called trade-winds.[184] What, however, we are now
rather concerned with, is not so much an explanation of the trade-winds,
as an account of the way in which this great physical phenomenon is
connected with the history of South America.

  [182] The trade-winds sometimes reach the thirtieth parallel. See
        _Daniell's Meteorological Essays_, p. 469. Dr. Traill (_Physical
        Geography_, Edin. 1838, p. 200), says, 'they extend to about 30°
        on each side of the equator:' but I believe they are rarely found
        so high; though Robertson is certainly wrong in supposing that
        they are peculiar to the tropics; _History of America_, book iv.
        in _Robertson's Works_, p. 781.

  [183] 'In the northern hemisphere the trade-wind blows from the
        north-east, and in the southern from the south-east.' _Meyen's
        Geog. of Plants_, p. 42. Compare _Walsh's Brazil_, vol. i. p.
        112, vol. ii. p. 494; and on the 'tropical east-wind' of the Gulf
        of Mexico, see _Forry's Climate of the United States_, p. 206.
        Dr. Forry says that it has given to the growth of the trees 'an
        inclination from the sea.'

  [184] Respecting the causes of the trade-winds, see _Somerville's
        Connexion of the Physical Sciences_, pp. 136, 137; _Leslie's
        Natural Philosophy_, p. 518; _Daniell's Meteorological Essays_,
        pp. 44, 102, 476-481; _Kaemtz's Meteorology_, pp. 37-39; _Prout's
        Bridgewater Treatise_, pp. 254-256. The discovery of the true
        theory is often ascribed to Mr. Daniell; but Hadley was the real
        discoverer. _Note in Prout_, p. 257. The monsoons, which popular
        writers frequently confuse with the trade-winds, are said to be
        caused by the predominance of land, and by the difference between
        its temperature and that of the sea: see _Kaemtz_, pp. 42-45. On
        what may be called the conversion of the trades into monsoons,
        according to the laws very recently promulgated by M. Dove, see
        _Report of British Association for_ 1847 (_Transac. of Sections_,
        p. 30) and _Report for_ 1848, p. 94. The monsoons are noticed in
        _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii. p. 485; _Asiatic Researches_, vol.
        xviii. part i. p. 261; _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. vii.
        pp. 13, 55; _Journal of Geograph. Society_, vol. ii. p. 90, vol.
        iv. pp. 8, 9, 148, 149, 169, vol. xi. p. 162, vol. xv. pp.
        146-149, vol. xvi. p. 185, vol. xviii. pp. 67, 68, vol. xxiii. p.
        112; _Low's Sarawak_, p. 30.

The trade-wind, blowing on the eastern coast of South America, and
proceeding from the east, crosses the Atlantic Ocean, and therefore
reaches the land surcharged with the vapours accumulated in its passage.
These vapours, on touching the shore, are, at periodical intervals,
condensed into rain; and as their progress westward is checked by that
gigantic chain of the Andes, which they are unable to pass,[185] they
pour the whole of their moisture on Brazil, which, in consequence, is
often deluged by the most destructive torrents.[186] This abundant
supply, being aided by that vast river-system peculiar to the eastern
part of America, and being also accompanied by heat, has stimulated the
soil into an activity unequalled in any other part of the world.[187]
Brazil, which is nearly as large as the whole of Europe, is covered with
a vegetation of incredible profusion. Indeed, so rank and luxuriant is
the growth, that Nature seems to riot in the very wantonness of power. A
great part of this immense country is filled with dense and tangled
forests, whose noble trees, blossoming in unrivalled beauty, and
exquisite with a thousand hues, throw out their produce in endless
prodigality. On their summit are perched birds of gorgeous plumage,
which nestle in their dark and lofty recesses. Below, their base and
trunks are crowded with brushwood, creeping plants, innumerable
parasites, all swarming with life. There, too, are myriads of insects of
every variety; reptiles of strange and singular form; serpents and
lizards, spotted with deadly beauty: all of which find means of
existence in this vast workshop and repository of Nature. And that
nothing may be wanting to this land of marvels, the forests are skirted
by enormous meadows, which, reeking with heat and moisture, supply
nourishment to countless herds of wild cattle, that browse and fatten on
their herbage; while the adjoining plains, rich in another form of life,
are the chosen abode of the subtlest and most ferocious animals, which
prey on each other, but which it might almost seem no human power can
hope to extirpate.[188]

  [185] _Lyell's Principles of Geology_, pp. 201, 714, 715; see also
        _Somerville's Physical Geography_, vol. ii. p. 71. And on this
        confining power of the Cordillera of the Andes, see _Azara_,
        _Voyages dans l'Amérique Méridionale_, vol. i. p. 33. According
        to Dr. Tschudi, the eastern chain is properly the Andes, and the
        western the Cordillera; but this distinction is rarely made.
        _Tschudi's Travels in Peru_, p. 290.

  [186] On the rain of Brazil, see _Daniell's Meteorological Essays_,
        p. 335; _Darwin's Journal_, pp. 11, 33; _Spix and Martius's
        Travels in Brazil_, vol. ii. p. 113; _Gardner's Travels in
        Brazil_, pp. 53, 99, 114, 175, 233, 394.

  [187] Dr. Gardner, who looked at these things with the eye of a
        botanist, says that near Rio de Janeiro the heat and moisture are
        sufficient to compensate even the poorest soil; so that 'rocks,
        on which scarcely a trace of earth is to be observed, are covered
        with vellozias, tillandsias, melastomaceæ, cacti, orchideæ, and
        ferns, and all in the vigour of life.' _Gardner's Travels in
        Brazil_, p. 9. See also on this combination, _Walsh's Brazil_,
        vol. ii. pp. 297, 298, a curious description of the rainy season:
        'For eight or nine hours a day, during some weeks, I never had a
        dry shirt on me; and the clothes I divested myself of at night, I
        put on quite wet in the morning. When it did not rain, which was
        very rare, there shone out in some places a burning sun; and we
        went smoking along, the wet exhaling by the heat, as if we were
        dissolving into vapour.'

  [188] On the natural history of Brazil, I have compared a few notices in
        _Swainson's Geography of Animals_, pp. 75-87, with _Cuvier_,
        _Règne Animal_, vol. i. p. 460, vol. ii. pp. 28, 65, 66, 89, vol.
        iv. pp. 51, 75, 258, 320, 394, 485, 561, vol. v. pp. 40, 195,
        272, 334, 553; _Azara_, _Amérique Méridionale_, vol. i. pp.
        244-388, and the greater part of vols. iii. and iv.; _Winckler_,
        _Geschichte der Botanik_, pp. 378, 576-578; _Southey's History of
        Brazil_, vol. i. p. 27, vol. iii. pp. 315, 823; _Gardner's
        Brazil_, pp. 18, 32-34, 41-44, 131, 330; _Spix and Martius's
        Brazil_, vol. i. pp. 207-209, 238-248, vol. ii. pp. 131, 160-163.
        And as to the forests, which are among the wonders of the world,
        _Somerville's Physical Geog._ vol. ii. pp. 204-206; _Prichard's
        Physical History_, vol. v. p. 497; _Darwin's Journal_, pp. 11,
        24; _Walsh's Brazil_, vol. i. p. 145, vol. ii. pp. 29, 30, 253.

Such is the flow and abundance of life by which Brazil is marked above
all the other countries of the earth.[189] But, amid this pomp and
splendour of Nature, no place is left for Man. He is reduced to
insignificance by the majesty with which he is surrounded. The forces
that oppose him are so formidable that he has never been able to make
head against them, never able to rally against their accumulated
pressure. The whole of Brazil, notwithstanding its immense apparent
advantages, has always remained entirely uncivilized; its inhabitants
wandering savages, incompetent to resist those obstacles which the very
bounty of Nature had put in their way. For the natives, like every
people in the infancy of society, are averse to enterprise; and being
unacquainted with the arts by which physical impediments are removed,
they have never attempted to grapple with the difficulties that stopped
their social progress. Indeed, those difficulties are so serious, that
during more than three hundred years the resources of European knowledge
have been vainly employed in endeavouring to get rid of them. Along the
coast of Brazil, there has been introduced from Europe a certain amount
of that civilization, which the natives by their own efforts could never
have reached. But such civilization, in itself very imperfect, has never
penetrated the recesses of the country; and in the interior there is
still found a state of things similar to that which has always existed.
The people, ignorant, and therefore brutal, practising no restraint, and
recognizing no law, continue to live on in their old and inveterate
barbarism.[190] In their country, the physical causes are so active,
and do their work on a scale of such unrivalled magnitude, that it has
hitherto been found impossible to escape from the effects of their
united action. The progress of agriculture is stopped by impassable
forests, and the harvests are destroyed by innumerable insects.[191] The
mountains are too high to scale, the rivers are too wide to bridge;
every thing is contrived to keep back the human mind, and repress its
rising ambition. It is thus that the energies of Nature have hampered
the spirit of Man. Nowhere else is there so painful a contrast between
the grandeur of the external world and the littleness of the internal.
And the mind, cowed by this unequal struggle, has not only been unable
to advance, but without foreign aid it would undoubtedly have receded.
For even at present, with all the improvements constantly introduced
from Europe, there are no signs of real progress; while, notwithstanding
the frequency of colonial settlements, less than one-fiftieth of the
land is cultivated.[192] The habits of the people are as barbarous as
ever; and as to their numbers, it is well worthy of remark, that Brazil,
the country where, of all others, physical resources are most powerful,
where both vegetables and animals are most abundant, where the soil is
watered by the noblest rivers, and the coast studded by the finest
harbours--this immense territory, which is more than twelve times the
size of France, contains a population not exceeding six millions of

  [189] This extraordinary richness has excited the astonishment of all
        who have seen it. Mr. Walsh, who had travelled in some very
        fertile countries, mentions 'the exceeding fecundity of nature
        which characterizes Brazil.' _Walsh's Brazil_, vol. ii. p. 19.
        And a very eminent naturalist, Mr. Darwin, says (_Journal_, p.
        29), 'In England, any person fond of natural history enjoys in
        his walks a great advantage, by always having something to
        attract his attention; but in these fertile climates, teeming
        with life, the attractions are so numerous that he is scarcely
        able to walk at all.'

  [190] Azara (_Amérique Méridionale_, vol. ii. pp. 1-168) gives a
        curious, but occasionally a disgusting account of the savage
        natives in that part of Brazil south of 16°, to which his
        observations were limited. And as to the inhabitants of other
        parts, see _Henderson's History of Brazil_, pp. 28, 29, 107, 173,
        248, 315, 473; _M'Culloh's Researches concerning America_, p. 77;
        and the more recent account of Dr. Martius, in _Journal of
        Geograph. Society_, vol. ii. pp. 191-199. Even in 1817, it was
        rare to see a native in Rio de Janeiro (_Spix and Martius's
        Travels in Brazil_, vol. i. p. 142); and Dr. Gardner (_Travels in
        Brazil_, pp. 61, 62) says, that 'more than one nation of Indians
        in Brazil' have returned to that savage life from which they had
        apparently been reclaimed.

  [191] Sir C. Lyell (_Principles of Geology_, p. 682) notices 'the
        incredible number of insects which lay waste the crops in
        Brazil;' and Mr. Swainson, who had travelled in that country,
        says 'The red ants of Brazil are so destructive, and at the same
        time so prolific, that they frequently dispute possession of the
        ground with the husbandman, defy all his skill to extirpate their
        colonies, and fairly compel him to leave his fields
        uncultivated.' _Swainson on the Geography and Classification of
        Animals_, p. 87. See more about these insects in _Darwin's
        Journal_, pp. 37-43; _Southey's History of Brazil_, vol. i. pp.
        144, 256, 333-335, 343, vol. ii. pp. 365, 642, vol. iii. p. 876;
        _Spix and Martius's Travels in Brazil_, vol. i. p. 259, vol. ii.
        p. 117; _Cuvier_, _Règne Animal_, vol. iv. p. 320.

  [192] The cultivated land is estimated at from 1-1/2 to 2 per cent. See
        _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._ 1849, vol. i. p. 430.

  [193] During the present century, the population of Brazil has been
        differently stated at different times; the highest computation
        being 7,000,000, and the lowest 4,000,000. Comp. _Humboldt_,
        _Nouv. Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 855; _Gardner's Brazil_, p. 12;
        _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._ 1849, vol. i. pp. 430, 434. Mr. Walsh
        describes Brazil as 'abounding in lands of the most exuberant
        fertility, but nearly destitute of inhabitants.' _Walsh's
        Brazil_, vol. i. p. 248. This was in 1828 and 1829, since which
        the European population has increased; but, on the whole,
        6,000,000 seems to be a fair estimate of what can only be known
        approximatively. In _Alison's History_, vol. x. p. 229, the
        number given is 5,000,000; but the area also is rather

These considerations sufficiently explain why it is, that in the whole
of Brazil there are no monuments even of the most imperfect
civilization; no evidence that the people had, at any period, raised
themselves above the state in which they were found when their country
was first discovered. But immediately opposite to Brazil there is
another country, which, though situated in the same continent, and lying
under the same latitude, is subjected to different physical conditions,
and therefore was the scene of different social results. This is the
celebrated kingdom of Peru, which included the whole of the southern
tropic, and which, from the circumstances just stated, was naturally the
only part of South America where any thing approaching to civilization
could be attained. In Brazil, the heat of the climate was accompanied by
a twofold irrigation, arising first from the immense river-system
incidental to the eastern coast; and secondly, from the abundant
moisture deposited by the trade-winds. From this combination there
resulted that unequalled fertility, which, so far as Man was concerned,
defeated its own ends, stopping his progress by an exuberance, which,
had it been less excessive, it would have aided. For, as we have clearly
seen, when the productive powers of Nature are carried beyond a certain
point, the imperfect knowledge of uncivilized men is unable to cope with
them, or in any way turn them to their own advantage. If, however, those
powers, being very active, are nevertheless confined within manageable
limits, there arises a state of things similar to that noticed in Asia
and Africa; where the profusion of Nature, instead of hindering social
progress, favoured it, by encouraging that accumulation of wealth,
without some share of which progress is impossible.

In estimating, therefore, the physical conditions by which civilization
was originally determined, we have to look, not merely at the
exuberance, but also at what may be called the manageability of Nature;
that is, we have to consider the ease with which the resources may be
used, as well as the number of the resources themselves. Applying this
to Mexico and Peru, we find that they were the countries of America
where this combination most happily occurred. For though their resources
were much less numerous than those of Brazil, they were far more easy to
control; while at the same time the heat of the climate brought into
play those other laws by which, as I have attempted to show, all the
early civilizations were greatly influenced. It is a very remarkable
fact, which, I believe, has never been observed, that even in reference
to latitude, the present limit of Peru to the south corresponds with the
ancient limit of Mexico to the north; while, by a striking, but to me
perfectly natural coincidence, both these boundaries are reached before
the tropical line is passed; the boundary of Mexico being 21° N. lat.,
that of Peru 21-1/2° S. lat.[194]

  [194] Vidaca being the most southerly point of the present Peruvian
        coast; though the conquests of Peru, incorporated with the
        empire, extended far into Chili, and within a few degrees of
        Patagonia. In regard to Mexico, the northern limit of the empire
        was 21°, on the Atlantic coast, and 19° on the Pacific.
        _Prescott's History of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 2.

Such is the wonderful regularity which history, when comprehensively
studied, presents to our view. And if we compare Mexico and Peru with
those countries of the Old World which have been already noticed, we
shall find, as in all the civilizations anterior to those of Europe,
that their social phenomena were subordinate to their physical laws. In
the first place, the characteristics of their national food were
precisely those met with in the most flourishing parts of Asia and
Africa. For although few of the nutritious vegetables belonging to the
Old World were found in the New, their place was supplied by others
exactly analogous to rice and dates; that is to say, marked by the same
abundance, by the same facility of growth, and by the same exuberant
returns; therefore, followed by the same social results. In Mexico and
Peru, one of the most important articles of food has always been maize,
which, we have every reason to believe, was peculiar to the American
continent.[195] This, like rice and dates, is eminently the product of a
hot climate; and although it is said to grow at an elevation of upwards
of 7,000 feet,[196] it is rarely seen beyond the fortieth parallel,[197]
and its exuberance rapidly diminishes with the diminution of
temperature. Thus, for example, in New California, its average yield is
seventy or eighty fold;[198] but in Mexico Proper the same grain yields
three or four hundred fold, and, under very favourable circumstances,
even eight hundred fold.[199]

  [195] A question has been raised as to the Asiatic origin of maize:
        _Reynier_, _Economie des Arabes_, pp. 94, 95. But later and more
        careful researches seem to have ascertained beyond much doubt
        that it was unknown before America was discovered. Compare
        _Meyen's Geography of Plants_, pp. 44, 303, 304; _Walckenaer's
        note in Azara, Amérique Méridionale_, vol. i. p. 149; _Cuvier_,
        _Progrès des Sciences Naturelles_, vol. ii. p. 354; _Cuvier_,
        _Eloges Historiques_, vol. ii. p. 178; _Loudon's Encyclopædia of
        Agriculture_, p. 829; _M'Culloch's Dict. of Commerce_, 1849, p.
        831. The casual notices of maize by Ixtlilxochitl, the native
        Mexican historian, show its general use as an article of food
        before the arrival of the Spaniards: see _Ixtlilxochitl_,
        _Histoire des Chichimèques_, vol. i. pp. 53, 64, 240, vol. ii.
        p. 19.

  [196] 'Maize, indeed, grows to the height of 7,200 feet above the level
        of the sea, but only predominates between 3,000 and 6,000 of
        elevation.' _Lindley's Vegetable Kingdom_, 1847, p. 112. This
        refers to the tropical parts of South America; but the Zea Mais
        is said to have been raised on the slopes of the Pyrenees 'at an
        elevation of 3,000 to 4,000 feet.' See _Austen on the Forty Days'
        Maize_, in _Report of Brit. Assoc. for_ 1849, _Trans. of Sec._
        p. 68.

  [197] M. Meyen (_Geog. of Plants_, p. 302) and Mr. Balfour (_Botany_, p.
        567) suppose that in America 40° is about its limit; and this is
        the case in regard to its extensive cultivation; but it is grown
        certainly as high as 52°, perhaps as high as 54°, north latitude:
        see _Richardson's Arctic Expedition_, 1851, vol. ii. pp. 49, 234.

  [198] 'Sous la zone tempérée, entre les 33 et 38 degrés de latitude, par
        exemple dans la Nouvelle Californie, le maïs ne produit, en
        général, année commune, que 70 à 80 grains pour un.' _Humboldt_,
        _la Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 375.

  [199] 'La fécondité du Tlaolli, ou maïs mexicain, est au-delà de tout ce
        que l'on peut imaginer en Europe. La plante, favorisée par de
        fortes chaleurs et par beaucoup d'humidité, acquiert une hauteur
        de deux à trois mètres. Dans les belles plaines qui s'étendent
        depuis San Juan del Rio à Queretaro, par exemple dans les terres
        de la grande métairie de l'Esperanza, une fanègue de maïs en
        produit quelquefois huit cents. Des terrains fertiles en donnent,
        année commune, trois à quatre cents.' _Humboldt_, _Nouv.
        Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 374. Nearly the same estimate is given by
        Mr. Ward: see _Ward's Mexico_, vol. i. p. 32, vol. ii. p. 230. In
        Central America (Guatemala), maize returns three hundred for one.
        _Mexique et Guatemala, par Larenaudière_, p. 257.

A people who derived their sustenance from a plant of such extraordinary
fecundity, had little need to exercise their industrious energies; while
at the same time they had every opportunity of increasing their numbers,
and thus producing a train of social and political consequences similar
to those which I have noticed in India and in Egypt. Besides this, there
were, in addition to maize, other kinds of food to which the same
remarks are applicable. The potato, which, in Ireland, has brought about
such injurious effects by stimulating the growth of population, is said
to be indigenous to Peru; and although this is denied by a very high
authority,[200] there is, at all events, no doubt that it was found
there in great abundance when the country was first discovered by the
Europeans.[201] In Mexico, potatoes were unknown till the arrival of
the Spaniards; but both Mexicans and Peruvians lived to a great extent
on the produce of the banana; a vegetable whose reproductive powers are
so extraordinary, that nothing but the precise and unimpeachable
testimony of which we are possessed could make them at all credible.
This remarkable plant is, in America, intimately connected with the
physical laws of climate; since it is an article of primary importance
for the subsistence of man whenever the temperature passes a certain
point.[202] Of its nutritive powers, it is enough to say, that an acre
sown with it will support more than fifty persons; whereas the same
amount of land sown with wheat in Europe will only support two
persons.[203] As to the exuberance of its growth, it is calculated that,
other circumstances remaining the same, its produce is forty-four times
greater than that of potatoes, and a hundred and thirty-three times
greater than that of wheat.[204]

  [200] 'La pomme de terre n'est pas indigène au Pérou.' _Humboldt_,
        _Nouv. Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 400. On the other hand, Cuvier
        (_Histoire des Sciences Naturelles_, part ii. p. 185)
        peremptorily says, 'il est impossible de douter qu'elle ne soit
        originaire du Pérou:' see also his _Eloges Historiques_, vol. ii.
        p. 171. Compare _Winckler_, _Gesch. der Botanik_, p. 92: 'Von
        einem gewissen Carate unter den Gewächsen Peru's mit dem Namen
        papas aufgeführt.'

  [201] And has been used ever since for food. On the Peruvian potato
        compare _Tschudi's Travels in Peru_, pp. 178, 368, 386; _Ulloa's
        Voyage to South America_, vol. i. pp. 287, 288. In Southern Peru,
        at the height of 13,000 or 14,000 feet, a curious process takes
        place, the starch of the potato being frozen into saccharine. See
        a valuable paper by Mr. Bollaert in _Journal of Geograph.
        Society_, vol. xxi. p. 119.

  [202] Humboldt (_Nouv. Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 359) says, 'partout où la
        chaleur moyenne de l'année excède vingt-quatre degrés
        centigrades, le fruit du bananier est un objet de culture du plus
        grand intérêt pour la subsistance de l'homme.' Compare _Bullock's
        Mexico_, p. 281.

  [203] _M'Culloch's Geograph. Dict._, 1849, vol. ii. p. 315.

  [204] 'Je doute qu'il existe une autre plante sur le globe, qui, sur un
        petit espace de terrain, puisse produire une masse de substance
        nourrissante aussi considérable.' ... 'Le produit des bananes
        est par conséquent à celui du froment comme 133: 1--à celui des
        pommes de terre comme 44: l'_Humboldt_, _Nouvelle Espagne_, vol.
        ii. pp. 362, 363. See also _Prout's Bridgewater Treatise_, p.
        333, edit. 1845; _Prescott's Peru_, vol. i. pp. 131, 132;
        _Prescott's Mexico_, vol. i. p. 114. Earlier notices, but very
        imperfect ones, of this remarkable vegetable may be found in
        _Ulloa's South America_, vol. i. p. 74; and in _Boyle's Works_,
        vol. iii. p. 590.

It will now be easily understood why it was that, in all important
respects, the civilizations of Mexico and Peru were strictly analogous
to those of India and Egypt. In these four countries, as well as in a
few others in Southern Asia and Central America, there existed an
amount of knowledge, despicable indeed if tried by an European standard,
but most remarkable if contrasted with the gross ignorance which
prevailed among the adjoining and cotemporary nations. But in all of
them there was the same inability to diffuse even that scanty
civilization which they really possessed; there was the same utter
absence of any thing approaching to the democratic spirit; there was the
same despotic power on the part of the upper classes, and the same
contemptible subservience on the part of the lower. For, as we have
clearly seen, all these civilizations were affected by certain physical
causes, which, though favourable to the accumulation of wealth, were
unfavourable to a just subdivision of it. And as the knowledge of men
was still in its infancy,[205] it was found impossible to struggle
against these physical agents, or prevent them from producing those
effects on the social organization which I have attempted to trace. Both
in Mexico and in Peru, the arts, and particularly those branches of them
which minister to the luxury of the wealthy classes, were cultivated
with great success. The houses of the higher ranks were filled with
ornaments and utensils of admirable workmanship; their chambers were
hung with splendid tapestries; their dresses and their personal
decorations betrayed an almost incredible expense; their jewels of
exquisite and varied form; their rich and flowing robes embroidered with
the rarest feathers, collected from the most distant parts of the
empire: all supplying evidence of the possession of unlimited wealth,
and of the ostentatious prodigality with which that wealth was
wasted.[206] Immediately below this class came the people; and what
their condition was, may be easily imagined. In Peru the whole of the
taxes were paid by them; the nobles and the clergy being altogether
exempt.[207] But as, in such a state of society, it was impossible for
the people to accumulate property, they were obliged to defray the
expenses of government by their personal labour, which was placed under
the entire command of the state.[208] At the same time, the rulers of
the country were well aware that, with a system like this, feelings of
personal independence were incompatible; they therefore contrived laws
by which, even in the most minute matters, freedom of action was
controlled. The people were so shackled, that they could neither change
their residence, nor alter their clothes, without permission from the
governing powers To each man the law prescribed the trade he was to
follow, the dress he was to wear, the wife he was to marry, and the
amusements he was to enjoy.[209] Among the Mexicans the course of
affairs was similar; the same physical conditions being followed by the
same social results. In the most essential particular for which history
can be studied, namely, the state of the people, Mexico and Peru are the
counterpart of each other. For though there were many minor points of
difference,[210] both were agreed in this, that there were only two
classes--the upper class being tyrants, and the lower class being
slaves. This was the state in which Mexico was found when it was
discovered by the Europeans,[211] and towards which it must have been
tending from the earliest period. And so insupportable had all this
become, that we know, from the most decisive evidence, that the general
disaffection it produced among the people was one of the causes which,
by facilitating the progress of the Spanish invaders, hastened the
downfall of the Mexican empire.[212]

  [205] The only science with which they had much acquaintance was
        astronomy, which the Mexicans appear to have cultivated with
        considerable success. Compare the remark of La Place, in
        _Humboldt_, _Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. i. p. 92, with _Prichard's
        Physical History_, vol. v. pp. 323, 329; _M'Culloch's
        Researches_, pp. 201-225; _Larenaudière's Mexique_, pp. 51, 52;
        _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. iv. p. 456; _Journal of Geog. Society_,
        vol. vii. p. 3. However, their astronomy, as might be expected,
        was accompanied by astrology: see _Ixtlilxochitl_, _Histoire des
        Chichimèques_, vol. i. p. 168, vol. ii. pp. 94, 111.

  [206] The works of art produced by the Mexicans and Peruvians are
        under-rated by Robertson: who, however, admits that he had never
        seen them. _History of America_, book vii., in _Robertson's
        Works_, pp. 909, 920. But during the present century considerable
        attention has been paid to this subject: and in addition to the
        evidence of skill and costly extravagance collected by Mr.
        Prescott, _History of Peru_, vol. i. pp. 28, 142; _History of
        Mexico_, vol. i. pp. 27, 28, 122, 256, 270, 307, vol. ii. pp.
        115, 116, I may refer to the testimony of M. Humboldt, the only
        traveller in the New World who has possessed a competent amount
        of physical as well as historical knowledge. _Humboldt, Nouvelle
        Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 483, and elsewhere. Compare Mr. Pentland's
        observations on the tombs in the neighbourhood of Titicaca
        (_Jour. of Geog. Soc._ vol. x. p. 554) with _M'Culloh's
        Researches_, pp. 364-366; _Mexique par Larenaudière_, pp. 41, 42,
        66; _Ulloa's South America_, vol. i. pp. 465, 466.

  [207] 'The members of the royal house, the great nobles, even the public
        functionaries, and the numerous body of the priesthood, were all
        exempt from taxation. The whole duty of defraying the expenses of
        the government belonged to the people.' _Prescott's History of
        Peru_, vol. i. p. 56.

  [208] Ondegardo emphatically says, 'Solo el trabajo de las personas era
        el tributo que se dava, porque ellos no poseian otra cosa.'
        _Prescott's Peru_, vol. i. p. 57. Compare _M'Culloh's
        Researches_, p. 359. In Mexico the state of things was just the
        same: 'Le petit peuple, qui ne possédait point de biens-fonds, et
        qui ne faisait point de commerce, payait sa part des taxes en
        travaux de différents genres; c'était par lui que les terres de
        la couronne étaient cultivées, les ouvrages publics exécutés, et
        les diverses maisons appartenantes à l'empereur construites ou
        entretenues.' _Larenaudière's Mexique_, p. 39.

  [209] Mr. Prescott notices this with surprise, though, under the
        circumstances, it was in truth perfectly natural. He says (_Hist.
        of Peru_, vol. i. p. 159), 'Under this extraordinary polity, a
        people, advanced in many of the social refinements, well skilled
        in manufactures and agriculture, were unacquainted, as we have
        seen, with money. They had nothing that deserved to be called
        property. They could follow no craft, could engage in no labour,
        no amusement, but such as was specially provided by law. They
        could not change their residence or their dress without a licence
        from the government. They could not even exercise the freedom
        which is conceded to the most abject in other countries--that of
        selecting their own wives.'

  [210] The Mexicans being, as Prichard says (_Physical History_, vol. v.
        p. 467), of a more cruel disposition than the Peruvians; but our
        information is too limited to enable us to determine whether this
        was mainly owing to physical causes or to social ones. Herder
        preferred the Peruvian civilization: 'der gebildetste Staat
        dieses Welttheils, Peru.' _Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit_,
        vol. i. p. 33.

  [211] See in _Humboldt's Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. i. p. 101, a striking
        summary of the state of the Mexican people at the time of the
        Spanish Conquest: see also _History of America_, book vii., in
        _Robertson's Works_, p. 907.

  [212] _Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 34.
        Compare a similar remark on the invasion of Egypt in _Bunsen's
        Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 414.

The further this examination is carried, the more striking becomes the
similarity between those civilizations which flourished anterior to what
may be called the European epoch of the human mind. The division of a
nation into castes would be impossible in the great European countries;
but it existed from a remote antiquity in Egypt, in India, and
apparently in Persia.[213] The very same institution was rigidly
enforced in Peru;[214] and what proves how consonant it was to that
stage of society, is, that in Mexico, where castes were not established
by law, it was nevertheless a recognised custom that the son should
follow the occupation of his father.[215] This was the political symptom
of that stationary and conservative spirit, which, as we shall hereafter
see, has marked every country in which the upper classes have
monopolized power. The religious symptom of the same spirit was
displayed in that inordinate reverence for antiquity, and in that hatred
of change, which the greatest of all the writers on America has well
pointed out as an analogy between the natives of Mexico and those of
Hindostan.[216] To this may be added, that those who have studied the
history of the ancient Egyptians, have observed among that people a
similar tendency. Wilkinson, who is well known to have paid great
attention to their monuments, says that they were more unwilling than
any other nation to alter their religious worship;[217] and Herodotus,
who travelled in their country two thousand three hundred years ago,
assures us that, while they preserved old customs, they never acquired
new ones.[218] In another point of view, the similarity between these
distant countries is equally interesting, since it evidently arises from
the causes already noticed as common to both. In Mexico and Peru, the
lower classes being at the disposal of the upper, there followed that
frivolous waste of labour which we have observed in Egypt, and evidence
of which may also be seen in the remains of those temples and palaces
which are still found in several parts of Asia. Both Mexicans and
Peruvians erected immense buildings, which were as useless as those of
Egypt, and which no country could produce, unless the labour of the
people were ill-paid and ill directed.[219] The cost of these monuments
of vanity is unknown; but it must have been enormous; since the
Americans, being ignorant of the use of iron,[220] were unable to employ
a resource by which, in the construction of large works, labour is
greatly abridged. Some particulars, however, have been preserved, from
which an idea may be formed on this subject. To take, for instance, the
palaces of their kings: we find that in Peru, the erection of the royal
residence occupied, during fifty years, 20,000 men;[221] while that of
Mexico cost the labour of no less than 200,000: striking facts, which,
if all other testimonies had perished, would enable us to appreciate the
condition of countries in which, for such insignificant purposes, such
vast power was expended.[222]

  [213] That there were castes in Persia is stated by Firdousi; and his
        assertion, putting aside its general probability, ought to
        outweigh the silence of the Greek historians, who, for the most
        part, knew little of any country except their own. According to
        Malcolm, the existence of caste in the time of Jemsheed, is
        confirmed by some 'Mahomedan authors;' but he does not say who
        they were. _Malcolm's History of Persia_, vol. i. pp. 505, 506.
        Several attempts have been made, but very unsuccessfully, to
        ascertain the period in which castes were first instituted.
        Compare _Asiatic Researches_, vol. vi. p. 251; Heeren's _African
        Nations_, vol. ii. p. 121; _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 410;
        _Rammohun Roy on the Veds_, p. 269.

  [214] _Prescott's History of Peru_, vol. i. pp. 143, 156.

  [215] _Prescott's History of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 124.

  [216] 'Les Américains, comme les habitans de l'Indoustan, et comme tous
        les peuples qui ont gémi long-temps sous le despotisme civil et
        religieux, tiennent avec une opiniâtreté extraordinaire à leurs
        habitudes, à leurs m[oe]urs, à leurs opinions.... Au Mexique,
        comme dans l'Indoustan, il n'étoit pas permis aux fidèles de
        changer la moindre chose aux figures des idoles. Tout ce qui
        appartenoit au rite des Aztèques et des Hindous étoit assujéti à
        des lois immuables.' _Humboldt_, _Nouv. Espagne_, vol. i. pp. 95,
        97. Turgot (_[OE]uvres_, vol. ii. pp. 226, 313, 314) has some
        admirable remarks on this fixity of opinion natural to certain
        states of society. See also _Herder's Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol.
        iii. pp. 34, 35; and for other illustrations of this unpliancy of
        thought, and adherence to old customs, which many writers suppose
        to be an eastern peculiarity but which is far more widely spread,
        and is, as Humboldt clearly saw, the result of an unequal
        distribution of power, compare _Turner's Embassy to Tibet_, p.
        41; _Forbes's Oriental Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. 15, 164, vol. ii. p.
        236; _Mill's History of India_, vol. ii. p. 214; _Elphinstone's
        History of India_, p. 48; _Otter's Life of Clarke_, vol. ii. p.
        109; _Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. ii. p. 64; _Journal of
        Asiat. Society_, vol. viii. p. 116.

  [217] 'How scrupulous the Egyptians were, above all people, in
        permitting the introduction of new customs in matters relating to
        the gods.' _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. iii. p. 262.
        Compare p. 275. Thus, too, M. Bunsen notices the 'tenacity with
        which the Egyptians adhered to old manners and customs.'
        _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 64. See also some remarks on the
        difference between this spirit and the love of novelty among the
        Greeks, in _Ritter's History of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. iv. pp.
        625, 626.

  [218] _Herodot._ book ii. chap. 79: [Greek: patriosi de chreômenoi
        nomoisi allon oudena epikteôntai]: and see the note in _Baehr_,
        vol. i. p. 660: '[Greek: nomous] priores interpretes explicarunt
        _cantilenas_, _hymnos_; Schweighæuserus rectius intellexit
        _instituta ac mores_.' In the same way, in Timæus, Plato
        represents an Egyptian priest saying to Solon, [Greek: Hellênes
        aei paides este, gerôn de Hellên ouk estin]. And when Solon asked
        what he meant, [Greek: Neoi este], was the reply, [Greek: tas
        psychas pantes; oudemian gar en autais echete di archaian akoên
        palaian doxan oude mathêma chronps polion ouden]. Chap. v. in
        _Platonis Opera_, vol. vii. p. 242, edit. Bekker, Lond. 1826.

  [219] The Mexicans appear to have been even more wantonly prodigal than
        the Peruvians. See, respecting their immense pyramids, one of
        which, Cholula had a base 'twice as broad as the largest Egyptian
        pyramid,' _M'Culloh's Researches_, pp. 252-256; _Bullock's
        Mexico_, pp. 111-115, 414; _Humboldt's Nouvelle Espagne_, vol. i.
        pp. 240, 241.

        [220] _Prescott's History of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 117, vol. iii.
        p. 341; and _Prescott's History of Peru_, vol. i. p. 145. See
        also _Haüy_, _Traité de Minéralogie_, Paris, 1801, vol. iv. p.

  [221] _Prescott's History of Peru_, vol. i. p. 18.

  [222] Mr. Prescott (_History of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 153) says, 'We are
        not informed of the time occupied in building this palace; but
        200,000 workmen, it is said, were employed on it. However this
        may be, it is certain that the Tezcucan monarchs, like those of
        Asia and ancient Egypt, had the control of immense masses of men,
        and would sometimes turn the whole population of a conquered
        city, including the women, into the public works. The most
        gigantic monuments of architecture which the world has witnessed
        would never have been reared by the hands of freemen.' The
        Mexican historian, Ixtlilxochitl, gives a curious account of one
        of the royal palaces. See his _Histoire de Chichiméques_,
        translated by Ternaux-Compans, Paris, 1840, vol. i. pp. 257-262,
        chap. xxxvii.

The preceding evidence, collected from sources of unquestioned
credibility, proves the force of those great physical laws, which, in
the most flourishing countries out of Europe, encouraged the
accumulation of wealth, but prevented its dispersion; and thus secured
to the upper classes a monopoly of one of the most important elements of
social and political power. The result was, that in all those
civilizations the great body of the people derived no benefit from the
national improvements; hence, the basis of the progress being very
narrow, the progress itself was very insecure.[223] When, therefore,
unfavourable circumstances arose from without, it was but natural that
the whole system should fall to the ground. In such countries, society,
being divided against itself, was unable to stand. And there can be no
doubt that long before the crisis of their actual destruction, these
one-sided and irregular civilizations had begun to decay; so that their
own degeneracy aided the progress of foreign invaders, and secured the
overthrow of those ancient kingdoms, which, under a sounder system,
might have been easily saved.

  [223] This may be illustrated by a good remark of M. Matter, to the
        effect that when the Egyptians had once lost their race of kings,
        it was found impossible for the nation to reconstruct itself.
        _Matter_, _Histoire de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. i. p. 68; a
        striking passage. In Persia, again, when the feeling of loyalty
        decayed, so also did the feeling of national power. _Malcolm's
        History of Persia_, vol. ii. p. 130. The history of the most
        civilized parts of Europe presents a picture exactly the reverse
        of this.

Thus far as to the way in which the great civilizations exterior to
Europe have been affected by the peculiarities of their food, climate,
and soil. It now remains for me to examine the effect of those other
physical agents to which I have given the collective name of Aspects of
Nature, and which will be found suggestive of some very wide and
comprehensive inquiries into the influence exercised by the external
world in predisposing men to certain habits of thought, and thus giving
a particular tone to religion, arts, literature, and, in a word, to all
the principal manifestations of the human mind. To ascertain how this is
brought about, forms a necessary supplement to the investigations just
concluded. For, as we have seen that climate, food, and soil mainly
concern the accumulation and distribution of wealth, so also shall we
see that the Aspects of Nature concern the accumulation and distribution
of thought. In the first case, we have to do with the material interests
of Man; in the other case with his intellectual interests. The former I
have analyzed as far as I am able, and perhaps as far as the existing
state of knowledge will allow.[224] But the other, namely, the relation
between the Aspects of Nature and the mind of Man, involves speculations
of such magnitude, and requires such a mass of materials drawn from
every quarter, that I feel very apprehensive as to the result; and I
need hardly say, that I make no pretensions to anything approaching an
exhaustive analysis, nor can I hope to do more than generalize a few of
the laws of that complicated, but as yet unexplored, process by which
the external world has affected the human mind, has warped its natural
movements, and too often checked its natural progress.

  [224] I mean in regard to the physical and economical generalizations.
        As to the literature of the subject, I am conscious of many
        deficiencies, particularly in respect to the Mexican and Peruvian

The Aspects of Nature, when considered from this point of view, are
divisible into two classes: the first class being those which are most
likely to excite the imagination; and the other class being those which
address themselves to the understanding commonly so called, that is, to
the mere logical operations of the intellect. For although it is true
that, in a complete and well-balanced mind, the imagination and the
understanding each play their respective parts, and are auxiliary to
each other, it is also true that, in a majority of instances, the
understanding is too weak to curb the imagination and restrain its
dangerous licence. The tendency of advancing civilization is to remedy
this disproportion, and invest the reasoning powers with that authority,
which, in an early stage of Society, the imagination exclusively
possesses. Whether or not there is ground for fearing that the reaction
will eventually proceed too far, and that the reasoning faculties will
in their turn tyrannize over the imaginative ones, is a question of the
deepest interest; but, in the present condition of our knowledge, it is
probably an insoluble one. At all events, it is certain that nothing
like such a state has yet been seen; since, even in this age, when the
imagination is more under control than in any preceding one, it has far
too much power; as might be easily proved, not only from the
superstitions which in every country still prevail among the vulgar, but
also from that poetic reverence for antiquity, which, though it has been
long diminishing, still hampers the independence, blinds the judgment,
and circumscribes the originality of the educated classes.

Now, so far as natural phenomena are concerned, it is evident, that
whatever inspires feelings of terror, or of great wonder, and whatever
excites in the mind an idea of the vague and uncontrollable, has a
special tendency to inflame the imagination, and bring under its
dominion the slower and more deliberate operations of the understanding.
In such cases, Man, contrasting himself with the force and majesty of
Nature, becomes painfully conscious of his own insignificance. A sense
of inferiority steals over him. From every quarter innumerable obstacles
hem him in, and limit his individual will. His mind, appalled by the
indefined and indefinable, hardly cares to scrutinize the details of
which such imposing grandeur consists.[225] On the other hand, where
the works of Nature are small and feeble, Man regains confidence; he
seems more able to rely on his own power; he can, as it were, pass
through and exercise authority in every direction. And as the phenomena
are more accessible, it becomes easier for him to experiment on them, or
to observe them with minuteness; an inquisitive and analytic spirit is
encouraged, and he is tempted to generalize the appearances of Nature,
and refer them to the laws by which they are governed.

  [225] The sensation of fear, even when there is no danger, becomes
        strong enough to destroy the pleasure that would otherwise be
        felt. See, for instance, a description of the great mountain
        boundary of Hindostan, in _Asiatic Researches_, vol. xi. p. 469:
        'It is necessary for a person to place himself in our situation
        before he can form a just conception of the scene. The depth of
        the valley below, the progressive elevation of the intermediate
        hills, and the majestic splendour of the cloud-capped Himalaya,
        formed so grand a picture, that the mind was impressed with a
        sensation of dread rather than of pleasure.' Compare vol. xiv. p.
        116, Calcutta, 1822. In the Tyrol, it has been observed, that the
        grandeur of the mountain scenery imbues the minds of the natives
        with fear, and has caused the invention of many superstitious
        legends. _Alison's Europe_, vol. ix. pp. 79, 80.

Looking in this way at the human mind as affected by the Aspects of
Nature, it is surely a remarkable fact, that all the great early
civilizations were situated within and immediately adjoining the
tropics, where those aspects are most sublime, most terrible, and where
Nature is, in every respect, most dangerous to Man. Indeed, generally,
in Asia, Africa, and America, the external world is more formidable than
in Europe. This holds good not only of the fixed and permanent
phenomena, such as mountains, and other great natural barriers, but also
of occasional phenomena, such as earthquakes, tempests, hurricanes,
pestilences; all of which are in those regions very frequent and very
disastrous. These constant and serious dangers produce effects analogous
to those caused by the sublimity of Nature, in so far, that in both
cases there is a tendency to increase the activity of the imagination.
For the peculiar province of the imagination being to deal with the
unknown, every event which is unexplained, as well as important, is a
direct stimulus to our imaginative faculties. In the tropics, events of
this kind are more numerous than elsewhere; it therefore follows that in
the tropics the imagination is most likely to triumph. A few
illustrations of the working of this principle will place it in a
clearer light, and will prepare the reader for the arguments based upon

Of those physical events which increase the insecurity of Man,
earthquakes are certainly among the most striking, in regard to the loss
of life which they cause, as also in regard to their sudden and
unexpected occurrence. There is reason to believe that they are always
preceded by atmospheric changes which strike immediately at the nervous
system, and thus have a direct physical tendency to impair the
intellectual powers.[226] However this may be, there can be no doubt as
to the effect they produce in encouraging particular associations and
habits of thought. The terror which they inspire excites the imagination
even to a painful extent, and, overbalancing the judgment, predisposes
men to superstitious fancies. And what is highly curious, is, that
repetition, so far from blunting such feelings, strengthens them. In
Peru, where earthquakes appear to be more common than in any other
country,[227] every succeeding visitation increases the general dismay;
so that, in some cases, the fear becomes almost insupportable.[228] The
mind is thus constantly thrown into a timid and anxious state: and men
witnessing the most serious dangers, which they can neither avoid nor
understand, become impressed with a conviction of their own inability,
and of the poverty of their own resources.[229] In exactly the same
proportion, the imagination is aroused, and a belief in supernatural
interference actively encouraged. Human power failing, superhuman power
is called in; the mysterious and the invisible are believed to be
present; and there grow up among the people those feelings of awe and of
helplessness, on which all superstition is based, and without which no
superstition can exist.[230]

  [226] 'Une augmentation d'électricité s'y manifeste aussi presque
        toujours, et ils sont généralement annoncés par le mugissement
        des bestiaux, par l'inquiétude des animaux domestiques, et dans
        les hommes par cette sorte de malaise qui, en Europe, précède les
        orages dans les personnes nerveuses.' _Cuvier_, _Prog. des
        Sciences_, vol. i. p. 265. See also, on this 'Vorgefühl,' the
        observation of Von Hoff, in Mr. Mallet's valuable essay on
        earthquakes (_Brit. Assoc. for_ 1850, p. 68); and the
        'foreboding' in _Tschudi's Peru_, p. 165; and a letter in
        _Nichols's Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. iv. p.
        504. The probable connexion between earthquakes and electricity
        is noticed in _Bakewell's Geology_, p. 434.

  [227] 'Peru is more subject perhaps than any other country to the
        tremendous visitation of earthquakes.' _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._
        1849. vol. ii. p. 499. Dr. Tschudi (_Travels in Peru_, p. 162)
        says of Lima, 'at an average forty-five shocks may be counted on
        in the year.' See also on the Peruvian earthquakes, pp. 43, 75,
        87, 90.

  [228] A curious instance of association of ideas conquering the
        deadening effect of habit. Dr. Tschudi (_Peru_, p. 170),
        describing the panic, says, 'no familiarity with the phenomenon
        can blunt this feeling.' Beale (_South-Sea Whaling Voyage_, Lond.
        1839, p. 205) writes, 'it is said at Peru, that the oftener the
        natives of the place feel those vibrations of the earth, instead
        of becoming habituated to them, as persons do who are constantly
        exposed to other dangers, they become more filled with dismay
        every time the shock is repeated, so that aged people often find
        the terror a slight shock will produce almost insupportable.'
        Compare _Darwin's Journal_, pp. 422, 423. So, too, in regard to
        Mexican earthquakes, Mr. Ward observes, that 'the natives are
        both more sensible than strangers of the smaller shocks, and more
        alarmed by them.' _Ward's Mexico_, vol. ii. p. 55. On the
        physiological effects of the fear caused by earthquakes, see the
        remarkable statement by Osiander in _Burdach's Physiologie comme
        Science d'Observation_, vol. ii. pp. 223, 224. That the fear
        should be not deadened by familiarity, but increased by it, would
        hardly be expected by speculative reasoners unacquainted with the
        evidence; and we find, in fact, that the Pyrrhonists asserted
        that [Greek: hoi goun seisma par' hois synechôs apotelountai, ou
        thaumazontai; oud' ho hêlios, hoti kath' hêmeran horatai.] _Diog.
        Laert. de Vitis Philos._ lib. ix. segm. 87, vol. i. p. 591.

  [229] Mr. Stephens, who gives a striking description of ancearthquake
        in Central America, emphatically says, 'I never felt myself so
        feeble a thing before.' _Stephens's Central America_, vol. i. p.
        383. See also the account of the effects produced on the mind by
        an earthquake, in _Transac. of Soc. of Bombay_, vol. iii. p. 98,
        and the note at p. 105.

  [230] The effect of earthquakes in encouraging superstition, is noticed
        in Lyell's admirable work, _Principles of Geology_, p. 492.
        Compare a myth on the origin of earthquakes in _Beausobre_,
        _Histoire Critique de Manichée_, vol. i. p. 243.

Further illustration of this may be found even in Europe, where such
phenomena are, comparatively speaking, extremely rare. Earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions are more frequent and more destructive in Italy, and
in the Spanish and Portuguese peninsula, than in any other of the great
countries; and it is precisely there that superstition is most rife,
and the superstitious classes most powerful. Those were the countries
where the clergy first established their authority, where the worst
corruptions of Christianity took place, and where superstition has
during the longest period retained the firmest hold. To this may be
added another circumstance, indicative of the connexion between these
physical phenomena and the predominance of the imagination. Speaking
generally, the fine arts are addressed more to the imagination; the
sciences to the intellect.[231] Now it is remarkable, that all the
greatest painters, and nearly all the greatest sculptors, modern Europe
has possessed, have been produced by the Italian and Spanish peninsulas.
In regard to science, Italy has no doubt had several men of conspicuous
ability; but their numbers are out of all proportion small when compared
with her artists and poets. As to Spain and Portugal, the literature of
those two countries is eminently poetic, and from their schools have
proceeded some of the greatest painters the world has ever seen. On the
other hand, the purely reasoning faculties have been neglected, and the
whole Peninsula, from the earliest period to the present time, does not
supply to the history of the natural sciences a single name of the
highest merit; not one man whose works form an epoch in the progress of
European knowledge.[232]

  [231] The greatest men in science, and in fact all very great men, have
        no doubt been remarkable for the powers of their imagination. But
        in art the imagination plays a far more conspicuous part than in
        science; and this is what I mean to express by the proposition in
        the text. Sir David Brewster, indeed, thinks that Newton was
        deficient in imagination: 'the weakness of his imaginative
        powers.' _Brewster's Life of Newton_, 1855, vol. ii. p. 133. It
        is impossible to discuss so large a question in a note; but to my
        apprehension, no poet, except Dante and Shakespeare, ever had an
        imagination more soaring and more audacious than that possessed
        by Sir Isaac Newton.

  [232] The remarks made by Mr. Ticknor on the absence of science in
        Spain, might be extended even further than he has done. See
        _Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature_, vol. iii. pp. 222,
        223. He says, p. 237, that in 1771, the University of Salamanca
        being urged to teach the physical sciences, replied, 'Newton
        teaches nothing that would make a good logician or metaphysician,
        and Gassendi and Descartes do not agree so well with revealed
        truth as Aristotle does.'

The manner in which the Aspects of Nature, when they are very
threatening, stimulate the imagination,[233] and by encouraging
superstition discourage knowledge, may be made still more apparent by
one or two additional facts. Among an ignorant people, there is a direct
tendency to ascribe all serious dangers to supernatural intervention;
and a strong religious sentiment being thus aroused,[234] it constantly
happens, not only that the danger is submitted to, but that it is
actually worshipped. This is the case with some of the Hindus in the
forest of Malabar;[235] and many similar instances will occur to whoever
has studied the condition of barbarous tribes.[236] Indeed, so far is
this carried, that in some countries the inhabitants, from feelings of
reverential fear, refuse to destroy wild-beasts and noxious reptiles;
the mischief these animals inflict being the cause of the impunity they

  [233] In _Asiatic Researches_, vol. vi. pp. 35, 36, there is a good
        instance of an earthquake giving rise to a theological fiction.
        See also vol. i. pp. 154-157; and compare _Coleman's Mythology of
        the Hindus_, p. 17.

  [234] See for example, _Asiatic Researches_, vol. iv. pp. 56, 57, vol.
        vii. p. 94; and the effect produced by a volcano, in _Journal of
        Geograph. Society_, vol. v. p. 388. See also vol. xx. p. 8, and a
        practical recognition of the principle by Sextus Empiricus, in
        _Tennemann's Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. i. p. 292. Compare
        the use the clergy made of a volcanic eruption in Iceland
        (_Wheaton's History of the Northmen_, p. 42); and see further
        _Raffles' History of Java_, vol. i. pp. 29, 274, and _Tschudi's
        Peru_, pp. 64, 167, 171.

  [235] The Hindus in the Iruari forests, says Mr. Edye, 'worship and
        respect everything from which they apprehend danger.' _Edye on the
        Coast of Malabar_, in _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. ii.
        p. 337.

  [236] Dr. Prichard (_Physical History_, vol. iv. p. 501) says 'The tiger
        is worshipped by the Hajin tribe in the vicinity of the Garrows
        or Garrudus.' Compare _Transactions of Asiatic Society_, vol. iii.
        p. 66. Among the Garrows themselves, this feeling is so strong,
        that 'the tiger's nose strung round a woman's neck is considered
        as a great preservative in childbirth.' _Coleman's Mythology of
        the Hindus_, p. 321. The Seiks have a curious superstition
        respecting wounds inflicted by tigers (_Burne's Bokhara_, 1834,
        vol. iii. p. 140); and the Malasir believe that these animals are
        sent as a punishment for irreligion. _Buchanan's Journey through
        the Mysore_, vol. ii. p. 385.

  [237] The inhabitants of Sumatra are, for superstitious reasons, most
        unwilling to destroy tigers, though they commit frightful
        ravages. _Marsden's History of Sumatra_, pp. 149, 254. The
        Russian account of the Kamtschatkans says, 'besides the
        above-mentioned gods, they pay a religious regard to several
        animals from which they apprehend danger.' _Grieve's History of
        Kamtschatka_, p. 205. Bruce mentions that in Abyssinia, hyænas
        are considered 'enchanters' and the inhabitants 'will not touch
        the skin of a hyæna till it has been prayed over and exorcised by
        a priest.' _Murray's Life of Bruce_, p. 472. Allied to this, is
        the respect paid to bears (_Erman's Siberia_, vol. i. p. 492,
        vol. ii. pp. 42, 43); also the extensively-diffused worship of
        the serpent, whose wily movements are well calculated to inspire
        fear, and therefore rouse the religious feelings. The danger
        apprehended from noxious reptiles is connected with the Dews of
        the Zendavesta. See _Matter's Histoire du Gnosticisme_, vol. i.
        p. 380, Paris, 1828.

It is in this way, that the old tropical civilizations had to struggle
with innumerable difficulties unknown to the temperate zone, where
European civilization has long flourished. The devastations of animals
hostile to man, the ravages of hurricanes, tempests, earthquakes,[238]
and similar perils, constantly pressed upon them, and affected the tone
of their national character. For the mere loss of life was the smallest
part of the inconvenience. The real mischief was, that there were
engendered in the mind, associations which made the imagination
predominate over the understanding; which infused into the people a
spirit of reverence instead of a spirit of inquiry; and which encouraged
a disposition to neglect the investigation of natural causes, and
ascribe events to the operation of supernatural ones.

  [238] To give one instance of the extent to which these operate, it may
        be mentioned, that in 1815 an earthquake and volcanic eruption
        broke forth in Sumbawa, which shook the ground 'through an area
        of 1,000 miles in circumference,' and the detonations of which
        were heard at a distance of 970 geographical miles. _Somerville's
        Connexion of the Physical Sciences_, p. 283; _Hitchcock's
        Religion of Geology_, p. 190; _Low's Sarawak_, p. 10; _Bakewell's
        Geology_, p. 438.

Everything we know of those countries proves how active this tendency
must have been. With extremely few exceptions, health is more
precarious, and disease more common, in tropical climates than in
temperate ones. Now, it has been often observed, and indeed is very
obvious, that the fear of death makes men more prone to seek
supernatural aid than they would otherwise be. So complete is our
ignorance respecting another life, that it is no wonder if even the
stoutest heart should quail at the sudden approach of that dark and
untried future. On this subject the reason is perfectly silent; the
imagination, therefore, is uncontrolled. The operation of natural causes
being brought to an end, supernatural causes are supposed to begin.
Hence it is, that whatever increases in any country the amount of
dangerous disease, has an immediate tendency to strengthen superstition,
and aggrandize the imagination at the expense of the understanding. This
principle is so universal, that, in every part of the world, the vulgar
ascribe to the intervention of the Deity those diseases which are
peculiarly fatal, and especially those which have a sudden and
mysterious appearance. In Europe it used to be believed that every
pestilence was a manifestation of the divine anger;[239] and this
opinion, though it has long been dying away, is by no means extinct,
even in the most civilized countries.[240] Superstition of this kind
will of course be strongest, either where medical knowledge is most
backward, or where disease is most abundant. In countries where both
these conditions are fulfilled, the superstition is supreme; and even
where only one of the conditions exists, the tendency is so
irresistible, that, I believe, there are no barbarous people who do not
ascribe to their good or evil deities, not only extraordinary diseases,
but even many of the ordinary ones to which they are liable.[241]

  [239] In the sixteenth century, 'Les différentes sectes s'accordèrent
        néanmoins à regarder les maladies graves et dangereuses comme un
        effet immédiat de la puissance divine; idée que Fernel contribua
        encore à répandre davantage. On trouve dans Paré plusieurs
        passages de la Bible, cités pour prouver que la colère de Dieu
        est la seule cause de la peste, qu'elle suffit pour provoquer ce
        fléau, et que sans elle les causes éloignées ne sauraient agir.'
        _Sprengel_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. iii. p. 112. The same
        learned writer says of the Middle Ages (vol. ii. p. 372),
        'D'après l'esprit généralement répandu dans ces siècles de
        barbarie, on croyait la lèpre envoyée d'une manière immédiate par
        Dieu.' See also pp. 145, 346, 431. Bishop Heber says that the
        Hindus deprive lepers of caste and of the right of possessing
        property, because they are objects of 'Heaven's wrath.' _Heber's
        Journey through India_, vol. ii. p. 330. On the Jewish opinion,
        see _Le Clerc_, _Bibliothèque Universelle_, vol. iv. p. 402,
        Amsterdam, 1702. And as to the early Christians, see _Maury_,
        _Légendes Pieuses_, p. 68, Paris, 1843: though M. Maury ascribes
        to 'les idées orientales reçues par le christianisme,' what is
        due to the operation of a much wider principle.

  [240] Under the influence of the inductive philosophy, the theological
        theory of disease was seriously weakened before the middle of the
        seventeenth century; and by the middle, or at all events the
        latter half, of the eighteenth century, it had lost all its
        partisans among scientific men. At present it still lingers on
        among the vulgar; and traces of it may be found in the writings
        of the clergy, and in the works of other persons little
        acquainted with physical knowledge. When the cholera broke out in
        England, attempts were made to revive the old notion; but the
        spirit of the age was too strong for such efforts to succeed; and
        it may be safely predicted that men will never return to their
        former opinions, unless they first return to their former
        ignorance. As a specimen of the ideas which the cholera tended to
        excite, and of their antagonism to all scientific investigation,
        I may refer to a letter written in 1832 by Mrs. Grant, a woman of
        some accomplishments, and not devoid of influence
        (_Correspondence of Mrs. Grant_, London, 1844, vol. iii. pp. 216,
        217), where she states that 'it appears to me great presumption
        to indulge so much as people do in speculation and conjecture
        about a disease so evidently a peculiar infliction, and different
        from all other modes of suffering hitherto known.' This desire to
        limit human speculation is precisely the feeling which long
        retained Europe in darkness; since it effectually prevented those
        free inquiries to which we are indebted for all the real
        knowledge we possess. The doubts of Boyle upon this subject
        supply a curious instance of the transitory state through which
        the mind was passing in the seventeenth century, and by which the
        way was prepared for the great liberating movement of the next
        age. Boyle, after stating both sides of the question, namely, the
        theological and the scientific, adds, 'and it is the less likely
        that these sweeping and contagious maladies should be always sent
        for the punishment of impious men, because I remember to have
        read in good authors, that as some plagues destroyed both men and
        beasts, so some other did peculiarly destroy brute animals of
        very little consideration or use to men, as cats,' &c.

        'Upon these and the like reasons, I have sometimes suspected that
        in the controversy about the origin of the plague, namely,
        whether it be natural or supernatural, neither of the contending
        parties is altogether in the right; since it is very possible
        that some pestilences may not break forth without an
        extraordinary, though perhaps not immediate, interposition of
        Almighty God, provoked by the sins of men; and yet other plagues
        may be produced by a tragical concourse of merely natural
        causes.' _Discourse on the Air_, in _Boyle's Works_, vol. iv. pp.
        288, 289. '_Neither of the contending parties is altogether in
        the right!_'--an instructive passage towards understanding the
        compromising spirit of the seventeenth century; standing midway,
        as it did, between the credulity of the sixteenth, and the
        scepticism of the eighteenth.

  [241] To the historian of the human mind, the whole question is so full
        of interest, that I shall refer in this note to all the evidence
        I have been able to collect: and whoever will compare the
        following passages may satisfy himself that there is in every
        part of the world an intimate relation between ignorance
        respecting the nature and proper treatment of a disease, and the
        belief that such disease is caused by supernatural power, and is
        to be cured by it. _Burton's Sindh_, p. 146, London, 1851;
        _Ellis's Polynesian Researches_, vol. i. p. 395, vol. iii. pp.
        36, 41, vol. iv. pp. 293, 334, 375; _Cullen's Works_, Edinb.
        1827, vol. ii. pp. 414, 434; _Esquirol_, _Maladies Mentales_,
        vol. i. pp. 274, 482; _Cabanis_, _Rapports du Physique et du
        Moral_, p. 277; _Volney_, _Voyage en Syrie_, vol. i. p. 426;
        _Turner's Embassy to Tibet_, p. 104; _Syme's Embassy to Ava_,
        vol. ii. p. 211; _Ellis's Tour through Hawaii_, pp. 282, 283,
        332, 333; _Renouard_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. i. p. 398;
        _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. i. pp. 261,
        262; _Grote's History of Greece_, vol. i. p. 485 (compare p. 251,
        and vol. vi. p. 213); _Grieve's History of Kamtschatka_, p. 217;
        _Journal of Statist. Soc._ vol. x. p. 10; _Buchanan's North
        American Indians_, pp. 256, 257; _Halkett's North American
        Indians_, pp. 36, 37, 388, 393, 394; _Catlin's North American
        Indians_, vol. i. pp. 35-41; _Briggs on the Aboriginal Tribes of
        India_, in _Report of Brit. Assoc. for 1850_, p. 172;
        _Transactions of Soc. of Bombay_, vol. ii. p. 30; _Percival's
        Ceylon_, p. 201; _Buchanan's Journey through the Mysore_, vol.
        ii. pp. 27, 152, 286, 528, vol. iii. pp. 23, 188, 253 (so, too,
        M. Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, _Anomalies de l'Organization_, vol.
        iii. p. 380, says that when we were quite ignorant of the cause
        of monstrous births, the phenomenon was ascribed to the
        Deity,--'de là aussi l'intervention supposée de la divinité;' and
        for an exact verification of this, compare _Burdach_, _Traité de
        Physiologie_, vol. ii. p. 247, with _Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol.
        xvi. p. 113); _Ellis's History of Madagascar_, vol. i. pp. 224,
        225; _Prichard's Physical History_, vol. i. p. 207, vol. v. p.
        492; _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. iii. p. 230, vol. iv. p.
        158; _Asiatic Researches_, vol. iii. pp. 29, 156, vol. iv. pp.
        56, 58, 74, vol. xvi. pp. 215, 280; _Neander's History of the
        Church_, vol. iii. p. 119; _Crawfurd's History of the Indian
        Archipelago_, vol. i. p. 328; _Low's Sarawak_, pp. 174, 261;
        _Cook's Voyages_, vol. i. p. 229; _Mariner's Tonga Islands_, vol.
        i. pp. 194, 350-360, 374, 438, vol. ii. pp. 172, 230; _Huc's
        Travels in Tartary and Thibet_, vol. i. pp. 74-77; _Richardson's
        Travels in the Sahara_, vol. i. p. 27; _M'Culloh's Researches_,
        p. 105; _Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol. i. p. 41, vol. iv. p. 260,
        vol. xiv. p. 37. And in regard to Europe, compare _Spence_,
        _Origin of the Laws of Europe_, p. 322; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. iii. p. 443; _Phillips on Scrofula_, p. 255;
        _Otter's Life of Clarke_, vol. i. pp. 265, 266, which may be
        illustrated by the 'sacred' disease of Cambyses, no doubt
        epilepsy; see _Herodot._ lib. iii. chap. xxxiv. vol. ii. p. 63.

Here, then, we have another specimen of the unfavourable influence,
which, in the old civilizations, external phenomena exercised over the
human mind. For those parts of Asia where the highest refinement was
reached, are, from various physical causes, much more unhealthy than
the most civilized parts of Europe.[242] This fact alone must have
produced a considerable effect on the national character,[243] and the
more so, as it was aided by those other circumstances which I have
pointed out, all tending in the same direction. To this may be added,
that the great plagues by which Europe has at different periods been
scourged, have, for the most part, proceeded from the East, which is
their natural birthplace, and where they are most fatal. Indeed, of
those cruel diseases now existing in Europe, scarcely one is indigenous;
and the worst of them were imported from tropical countries in and after
the first century of the Christian era.[244]

  [242] Heat, moisture, and consequent rapid decomposition of vegetable
        matter, are certainly among the causes of this; and to them may
        perhaps be added the electrical state of the atmosphere in the
        tropics. Compare _Holland's Medical Notes_, p. 477; _M'William's
        Medical Expedition to the Niger_, pp. 157, 185; _Simon's
        Pathology_, p. 269; _Forry's Climate and its Endemic Influences_,
        p. 158. M. Lepelletier says, rather vaguely (_Physiologie
        Médicale_, vol. iv. p. 527), that the temperate zones are
        'favorables à l'exercice complet et régulier des phénomènes

  [243] And must have strengthened the power of the clergy; for, as
        Charlevoix says with great frankness, 'pestilences are the
        harvests of the ministers of God.' _Southey's History of Brazil_,
        vol. ii. p. 254.

  [244] For evidence of the extra-European origin of European diseases,
        some of which, such as the small-pox, have passed from epidemics
        into endemics, compare _Encyclop. of the Medical Sciences_, 4to,
        1847, p. 728; _Transactions of Asiatic Society_, vol. ii. pp. 54,
        55; _Michaelis on the Laws of Moses_, vol. iii. p. 313;
        _Sprengel_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. ii. pp. 33, 195;
        _Wallace's Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind_, pp. 81, 82;
        _Huetiana_, Amst. 1723, pp. 132-135; _Sanders on the Small Pox_,
        Edinb. 1813, pp. 3-4; _Wilks's Hist. of the South of India_, vol.
        iii. pp. 16-21; _Clot-Bey de la Peste_, Paris, 1840, p. 227.

Summing up these facts, it may be stated, that in the civilizations
exterior to Europe, all nature conspired to increase the authority of
the imaginative faculties, and weaken the authority of the reasoning
ones. With the materials now existing, it would be possible to follow
this vast law to its remotest consequences, and show how in Europe it is
opposed by another law diametrically opposite, and by virtue of which
the tendency of natural phenomena is, on the whole, to limit the
imagination, and embolden the understanding: thus inspiring Man with
confidence in his own resources, and facilitating the increase of his
knowledge, by encouraging that bold, inquisitive, and scientific spirit,
which is constantly advancing, and on which all future progress must

It is not to be supposed that I can trace in detail the way in which,
owing to these peculiarities, the civilization of Europe has diverged
from all others that preceded it. To do this, would require a learning
and a reach of thought to which hardly any single man ought to pretend;
since it is one thing to have a perception of a large and general truth,
and it is another thing to follow out that truth in all its
ramifications, and prove it by such evidence as will satisfy ordinary
readers. Those, indeed, who are accustomed to speculations of this
character, and are able to discern in the history of man something more
than a mere relation of events, will at once understand that in these
complicated subjects, the wider any generalization is, the greater will
be the chance of apparent exceptions; and that when the theory covers a
very large space, the exceptions may be innumerable, and yet the theory
remain perfectly accurate. The two fundamental propositions which I
hope to have demonstrated, are, 1st, That there are certain natural
phenomena which act on the human mind by exciting the imagination; and
2dly, That those phenomena are much more numerous out of Europe than in
it. If these two propositions are admitted, it inevitably follows, that
in those countries where the imagination has received the stimulus, some
specific effects must have been produced; unless, indeed, the effects
have been neutralized by other causes. Whether or not there have been
antagonistic causes, is immaterial to the truth of the theory, which is
based on the two propositions just stated. In a scientific point of
view, therefore, the generalization is complete; and it would perhaps be
prudent to leave it as it now stands, rather than attempt to confirm it
by further illustrations, since all particular facts are liable to be
erroneously stated, and are sure to be contradicted by those who dislike
the conclusions they corroborate. But in order to familiarize the reader
with the principles I have put forward, it does seem advisable that a
few instances should be given of their actual working: and I will,
therefore, briefly notice the effects they have produced in the three
great divisions of Literature, Religion, and Art. In each of these
departments, I will endeavour to indicate how the leading features have
been affected by the Aspects of Nature; and with a view of simplifying
the inquiry, I will take the two most conspicuous instances on each
side, and compare the manifestations of the intellect of Greece with
those of the intellect of India: these being the two countries
respecting which the materials are most ample, and in which the physical
contrasts are most striking.

If, then, we look at the ancient literature of India, even during its
best period, we shall find the most remarkable evidence of the
uncontrolled ascendency of the imagination. In the first place, we have
the striking fact that scarcely any attention has been paid to prose
composition; all the best writers having devoted themselves to poetry,
as being most congenial to the national habits of thought. Their works
on grammar, on law, on history, on medicine, on mathematics, on
geography, and on metaphysics, are nearly all poems, and are put
together according to a regular system of versification.[245] The
consequence is, that while prose writing is utterly despised, the art of
poetry has been cultivated so assiduously, that the Sanscrit can boast
of metres more numerous and more complicated than have ever been
possessed by any of the European languages.[246]

  [245] 'So verwandelt das geistige Leben des Hindu sich in wahre Poesie,
        und das bezeichnende Merkmal seiner ganzen Bildung ist:
        Herrschaft der Einbildungskraft über den Verstand; im geraden
        Gegensatz mit der Bildung des Europäers, deren allgemeiner
        Charakter in der Herrschaft des Verstandes über die
        Einbildungskraft besteht. Es wird dadurch begreiflich, dass die
        Literatur der Hindus nur eine poetische ist; dass sie überreich
        an Dichterwerken, aber arm am wissenschaftlichen Schriften sind;
        dass ihre heiligen Schriften, ihre Gesetze und Sagen poetisch,
        und grösstentheils in Versen geschrieben sind; ja dass Lehrbücher
        der Grammatik, der Heilkunde, der Mathematik und Erdbeschreibung
        in Versen verfasst sind.' _Rhode_, _Religiöse Bildung der
        Hindus_, vol. ii. p. 626. Thus, too, we are told respecting one of
        their most celebrated metaphysical systems, that 'the best text
        of the Sanchya is a short treatise in verse.' _Colebrooke on the
        Philosophy of the Hindus_, in _Transactions of Asiatic Society_,
        vol. i. p. 23. And in another place the same high authority says
        (_Asiatic Researches_, vol. x. p. 439), 'the metrical treatises
        on law and other sciences are almost entirely composed in this
        easy verse.' M. Klaproth, in an analysis of a Sanscrit history of
        Cashmere, says, 'comme presque toutes les compositions hindoues,
        il est écrit en vers.' _Journal Asiatique_, I. série, vol. vii.
        p. 8, Paris, 1825. See also, in vol. vi. pp. 175, 176, the
        remarks of M. Burnouf: 'Les philosophes indiens, comme s'ils ne
        pouvaient échapper aux influences poétiques de leur climat,
        traitent les questions de la métaphysique le plus abstraite par
        similitudes et métaphores.' Compare vol. vi. p. 4, 'le génie
        indien si poétique et si religieux;' and see _Cousin_, _Hist. de
        la Philosophie_, II. série, vol. i. p. 27.

  [246] Mr. Yates says of the Hindus, that no other people have ever
        'presented an equal variety of poetic compositions. The various
        metres of Greece and Rome have filled Europe with astonishment;
        but what are these, compared with the extensive range of Sanscrit
        metres under its three classes of poetical writing?' _Yates on
        Sanscrit Alliteration_, in _Asiatic Researches_, vol. xx. p. 159,
        Calcutta, 1836. See also on the Sanscrit metres, p. 321, and an
        Essay by Colebrooke, vol. x. pp. 389-474. On the metrical system
        of the Vedas, see Mr. Wilson's note in the _Rig Veda Sanhita_,
        vol. ii. p. 135.

This peculiarity in the form of Indian literature is accompanied by a
corresponding peculiarity in its spirit. For it is no exaggeration to
say, that in that literature every thing is calculated to set the reason
of man at open defiance. An imagination, luxuriant even to disease, runs
riot on every occasion. This is particularly seen in those productions
which are most eminently national, such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharat,
and the Puranas in general. But we also find it even in their
geographical and chronological systems, which of all others might be
supposed least liable to imaginative flights. A few examples of the
statements put forward in the most authoritative books, will supply the
means of instituting a comparison with the totally opposite condition of
the European intellect, and will give the reader some idea of the extent
to which credulity can proceed, even among a civilized people.[247]

  [247] In Europe, as we shall see in the sixth chapter of this volume;
        the credulity was at one time extraordinary; but the age was then
        barbarous, and barbarism is always credulous. On the other hand,
        the examples gathered from Indian literature will be taken from
        the works of a lettered people, written in a language extremely
        rich, and so highly polished, that some competent judges have
        declared it equal, if not superior, to the Greek.

Of all the various ways in which the imagination has distorted truth,
there is none that has worked so much harm as an exaggerated respect for
past ages. This reverence for antiquity is repugnant to every maxim of
reason, and is merely the indulgence of a poetic sentiment in favour of
the remote and unknown. It is, therefore, natural that, in periods when
the intellect was comparatively speaking inert, this sentiment should
have been far stronger than it now is; and there can be little doubt
that it will continue to grow weaker, and that in the same proportion
the feeling of progress will gain ground; so that veneration for the
past will be succeeded by hope for the future. But formerly the
veneration was supreme, and innumerable traces of it may be found in the
literature and popular creed of every country. It is this, for instance,
which inspired the poets with their notion of a golden age, in which
the world was filled with peace, in which evil passions were stilled,
and crimes were unknown. It is this, again, which gave to theologians
their idea of the primitive virtue and simplicity of man, and of his
subsequent fall from that high estate. And it is this same principle
which diffused a belief that in the olden times, men were not only more
virtuous and happy, but also physically superior in the structure of
their bodies; and that by this means they attained to a larger stature,
and lived to a greater age, than is possible for us, their feeble and
degenerate descendants.

Opinions of this kind, being adopted by the imagination in spite of the
understanding, it follows that the strength of such opinions becomes, in
any country, one of the standards by which we may estimate the
predominance of the imaginative faculties. Applying this test to the
literature of India, we shall find a striking confirmation of the
conclusions already drawn. The marvellous feats of antiquity with which
the Sanscrit books abound, are so long and so complicated, that it would
occupy too much space to give even an outline of them; but there is one
class of these singular fictions which is well worth attention, and
admits of being briefly stated. I allude to the extraordinary age which
man was supposed to have attained in former times. A belief in the
longevity of the human race, at an early period of the world, was the
natural product of those feelings which ascribed to the ancients an
universal superiority over the moderns; and this we see exemplified in
some of the Christian, and in many of the Hebrew writings. But the
statements in these works are tame and insignificant when compared with
what is preserved in the literature of India. On this, as on every
subject, the imagination of the Hindus distanced all competition. Thus,
among an immense number of similar facts, we find it recorded that in
ancient times the duration of the life of common men was 80,000
years,[248] and that holy men lived to be upwards of 100,000.[249] Some
died a little sooner, others a little later; but in the most flourishing
period of antiquity, if we take all classes together, 100,000 years was
the average.[250] Of one king, whose name was Yudhishthir, it is
casually mentioned that he reigned 27,000 years;[251] while another,
called Alarka, reigned 66,000.[252] They were cut off in their prime,
since there are several instances of the early poets living to be about
half-a-million.[253] But the most remarkable case is that of a very
shining character in Indian history, who united in his single person the
functions of a king and a saint. This eminent man lived in a pure and
virtuous age, and his days were, indeed, long in the land; since, when
he was made king, he was two million years old: he then reigned
6,300,000 years; having done which, he resigned his empire, and lingered
on for 100,000 years more.[254]

  [248] 'The limit of life was vol. xvi. p. 456, Calcutta, 1828. 80,000
        years.' _Asiatic Researches_. This was likewise the estimate of
        the Tibetan divines, according to whom men formerly 'parvenaient
        à l'âge de 80,000 ans.' _Journal Asiatique_, I. série, vol. iii.
        p. 199, Paris, 1823.

  [249] 'Den Hindu macht dieser Widerspruch nicht verlegen, da er seine
        Heiligen 100,000 Jahre und länger leben lässt.' _Rhode_, _Relig.
        Bildung der Hindus_, vol. i. p. 175.

  [250] In the _Dabistan_, vol. ii. p. 47, it is stated of the earliest
        inhabitants of the world, that 'the duration of human life in
        this age extended to one hundred thousand common years.'

  [251] Wilford (_Asiatic Researches_, vol. v. p. 242) says, 'When the
        Puranics speak of the kings of ancient times, they are equally
        extravagant. According to them, King Yudhishthir reigned
        seven-and-twenty thousand years.'

  [252] 'For sixty thousand and sixty hundred years no other youthful
        monarch except Alarka reigned over the earth.' _Vishnu Purana_,
        p. 408.

  [253] And sometimes more. In the Essay on Indian Chronology in _Works of
        Sir W. Jones_, vol. i. p. 325, we hear of 'a conversation between
        Valmic and Vyasa, ... two bards whose ages were separated by a
        period of 864,000 years.' This passage is also in _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. ii. p. 399.

  [254] 'He was the first king, first anchoret, and first saint; and is
        therefore entitled Prathama-Raja, Prathama Bhicshacara, Prathama
        Jina, and Prathama Tirthancara. At the time of his inauguration
        as king, his age was 2,000,000 years. He reigned 6,300,000 years,
        and then resigned his empire to his sons: and having employed
        100,000 years in passing through the several stages of austerity
        and sanctity, departed from this world on the summit of a
        mountain named Ashtapada.' _Asiatic Researches_, vol. ix. p. 305.

The same boundless reverence for antiquity made the Hindus refer every
thing important to the most distant periods; and they frequently assign
a date which is absolutely bewildering.[255] Their great collection of
laws, called the _Institutes of Menu_, is certainly less than 3,000
years old; but the Indian chronologists, so far from being satisfied
with this, ascribe to them an age that the sober European mind finds a
difficulty even in conceiving. According to the best native authorities,
these Institutes were revealed to man about two thousand million years
before the present era.[256]

  [255] 'Speculationen über Zahlen sind dem Inder so geläufig, dass selbst
        die Sprache einen Ausdruck hat für eine Unität mit 63 Nullen,
        nämlich Asanke, eben weil die Berechnung der Weltperioden diese
        enorme Grössen nothwendig machte, denn jene einfachen 12,000
        Jahre schienen einem Volke, welches so gerne die höchstmögliche
        Potenz auf seine Gottheit übertragen mögte, viel zu geringe zu
        seyn.' _Bohlen_, _das alte Indien_, vol. ii. p. 298.

  [256] _Elphinstone's History of India_, p. 136, 'a period exceeding
        4,320,000 multiplied by six times seventy-one.'

All this is but a part of that love of the remote, that straining after
the infinite, and that indifference to the present, which characterizes
every branch of the Indian intellect. Not only in literature, but also
in religion and in art, this tendency is supreme. To subjugate the
understanding, and exalt the imagination, is the universal principle. In
the dogmas of their theology, in the character of their gods, and even
in the forms of their temples, we see how the sublime and threatening
aspects of the external world have filled the mind of the people with
those images of the grand and the terrible, which they strive to
reproduce in a visible form, and to which they owe the leading
peculiarities of their national culture.

Our view of this vast process may be made clearer by comparing it with
the opposite condition of Greece. In Greece, we see a country altogether
the reverse of India. The works of nature, which in India are of
startling magnitude, are in Greece far smaller, feebler, and in every
way less threatening to man. In the great centre of Asiatic
civilization, the energies of the human race are confined, and as it
were intimidated, by the surrounding phenomena. Besides the dangers
incidental to tropical climates, there are those noble mountains, which
seem to touch the sky, and from whose sides are discharged mighty
rivers, which no art can divert from their course, and which no bridge
has ever been able to span. There, too, are impassable forests, whole
countries lined with interminable jungle, and beyond them, again, dreary
and boundless deserts; all teaching Man his own feebleness, and his
inability to cope with natural forces. Without, and on either side,
there are great seas, ravaged by tempests far more destructive than any
known in Europe, and of such sudden violence, that it is impossible to
guard against their effects. And, as if in those regions every thing
combined to cramp the activity of Man, the whole line of coast, from the
mouth of the Ganges to the extreme south of the peninsula, does not
contain a single safe and capacious harbour, not one port that affords a
refuge, which is perhaps more necessary there than in any other part of
the world.[257]

  [257] Symes (_Embassy to Ava_, vol. iii. p. 278) says: 'From the mouth
        of the Ganges to Cape Comorin, the whole range of our continental
        territory, there is not a single harbour capable of affording
        shelter to a vessel of 500 tons burden.' Indeed, according to
        Percival, there is with the exception of Bombay, no harbour,
        'either on the Coromandel or Malabar coasts, in which ships can
        moor in safety at all seasons of the year.' _Percival's Account
        of Ceylon_, pp. 2, 15, 66.

But in Greece, the aspects of nature are so entirely different, that the
very conditions of existence are changed. Greece, like India, forms a
peninsula; but while in the Asiatic country every thing is great and
terrible, in the European country every thing is small and feeble. The
whole of Greece occupies a space somewhat less than the kingdom of
Portugal,[258] that is about a fortieth part of what is now called
Hindustan.[259] Situated in the most accessible part of a narrow sea, it
had easy contact on the east with Asia Minor, on the west with Italy, on
the south with Egypt. Dangers of all kinds were far less numerous than
in the tropical civilizations. The climate was more healthy;[260]
earthquakes were less frequent; hurricanes were less disastrous;
wild-beasts and noxious animals less abundant. In regard to the other
great features, the same law prevails. The highest mountains in Greece
are less than one-third of the Himalaya, so that nowhere do they reach
the limit of perpetual snow.[261] As to rivers, not only is there
nothing approaching those imposing volumes which are poured down from
the mountains of Asia, but nature is so singularly sluggish, that
neither in Northern nor in Southern Greece do we find any thing beyond a
few streams, which are easily forded, and which, indeed, in the summer
season, are frequently dried up.[262]

  [258] 'Altogether its area is somewhat less than that of Portugal.'
        _Grote's History of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 302; and the same remark
        in _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. i. p. 2, and in
        _Heeren's Ancient Greece_, 1845, p. 16. M. Heeren says, 'But even
        if we add all the islands, its square contents are a third less
        than those of Portugal.'

  [259] The area of Hindostan being, according to Mr. M'Culloch (_Geog.
        Dict._ 1849, vol. i. p. 993), 'between 1,200,000 and 1,300,000
        square miles.'

  [260] In the best days of Greece, those alarming epidemics, by which the
        country was subsequently ravaged, were comparatively little
        known: see _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. iii. p. 134,
        vol. viii. p. 471. This may be owing to large cosmical causes, or
        to the simple fact, that the different forms of pestilence had
        not yet been imported from the East by actual contact. On the
        vague accounts we possess of the earlier plagues, see _Clot-Bey
        de la Peste_, Paris, 1840. pp. 21, 46, 184. The relation even of
        Thucydides is more satisfactory to scholars than to pathologists.

  [261] 'Mount Guino, the highest point in Greece, and near its northern
        boundary, is 8,239 feet high.... No mountain in Greece reaches
        the limit of perpetual snow.' _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._ 1849,
        vol. i. p. 924. Compare the table of mountains in Baker's Memoir
        on North Greece, in _Journal of Geographical Society_, vol. vii.
        p. 94, with _Bakewell's Geology_, pp. 621, 622.

  [262] 'Greece has no navigable river.' _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._ vol. i.
        p. 924. 'Most of the rivers of Greece are torrents in early
        spring, and dry before the end of the summer.' _Grote's History
        of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 286.

These striking differences in the material phenomena of the two
countries gave rise to corresponding differences in their mental
associations. For as all ideas must arise partly from what are called
spontaneous operations in the mind, and partly from what is suggested to
the mind by the external world, it was natural that so great an
alteration in one of the causes should produce an alteration in the
effects. The tendency of the surrounding phenomena was in India to
inspire fear; in Greece to give confidence. In India Man was
intimidated; in Greece he was encouraged. In India obstacles of every
sort were so numerous, so alarming, and apparently so inexplicable, that
the difficulties of life could only be solved by constantly appealing to
the direct agency of supernatural causes. Those causes being beyond the
province of the understanding, the resources of the imagination were
incessantly occupied in studying them; the imagination itself was
overworked, its activity became dangerous, it encroached on the
understanding, and the equilibrium of the whole was destroyed. In Greece
opposite circumstances were followed by opposite results. In Greece
Nature was less dangerous, less intrusive, and less mysterious than in
India. In Greece, therefore, the human mind was less appalled, and less
superstitious; natural causes began to be studied; physical science
first became possible; and Man, gradually waking to a sense of his own
power, sought to investigate events with a boldness not to be expected
in those other countries, where the pressure of Nature troubled his
independence, and suggested ideas with which knowledge is incompatible.

The effect of these habits of thought on the national religion must be
very obvious to whoever has compared the popular creed of India with
that of Greece. The mythology of India, like that of every tropical
country, is based upon terror, and upon terror, too, of the most
extravagant kind. Evidence of the universality of this feeling abounds
in the sacred books of the Hindus, in their traditions, and even in the
very form and appearance of their gods. And so deeply is all this
impressed on the mind, that the most popular deities are invariably
those with whom images of fear are most intimately associated. Thus, for
example, the worship of Siva is more general than any other; and as to
its antiquity, there is reason to believe that it was borrowed by the
Brahmins from the original Indians.[263] At all events, it is very
ancient, and very popular; and Siva himself forms, with Brahma and
Vishnu, the celebrated Hindu Triad. We need not, therefore, be surprised
that with this god are connected images of terror, such as nothing but a
tropical imagination could conceive. Siva is represented to the Indian
mind as a hideous being, encircled by a girdle of snakes, with a human
skull in his hand, and wearing a necklace composed of human bones. He
has three eyes; the ferocity of his temper is marked by his being
clothed in a tiger's skin; he is represented as wandering about like a
madman, and over his left shoulder the deadly cobra di capella rears its
head. This monstrous creation of an awe-struck fancy has a wife Doorga,
called sometimes Kali, and sometimes by other names.[264] She has a body
of dark blue; while the palms of her hands are red, to indicate her
insatiate appetite for blood. She has four arms, with one of which she
carries the skull of a giant; her tongue protrudes, and hangs lollingly
from her mouth; round her waist are the hands of her victims; and her
neck is adorned with human heads strung together in a ghastly row.[265]

  [263] See Stevenson on _The Anti-Brahmanical Religion of the Hindus_, in
        _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. viii. pp. 331, 332, 336, 338.
        Mr. Wilson (_Journal_, vol. iii. p. 204) says, 'The prevailing
        form of the Hindu religion in the south of the peninsula was, at
        the commencement of the Christian era, and some time before it
        most probably, that of Siva.' See also vol. v. p. 85, where it is
        stated that Siva 'is the only Hindu god to whom honour is done at
        Ellora.' Compare _Transac. of Soc. of Bombay_, vol. iii. p. 521;
        _Heeren's Asiatic Nations_, 1846, vol. ii. pp. 62, 66. On the
        philosophical relations between the followers of Siva and those
        of Vishnu, see _Ritter's Hist. of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. iv.
        pp. 334, 335; and the noticeable fact (_Buchanan's Mysore_, vol.
        ii. p. 410), that even the Naimar caste, whose 'proper deity' is
        Vishnu, 'wear on their foreheads the mark of Siva.' As to the
        worship of Siva in the time of Alexander the Great, see
        _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. vii. p. 36; and for further
        evidence of its extent, _Bohlen_, _das alte Indien_, vol. i. pp.
        29, 147, 206, and _Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. ii. pp. 50,

  [264] So it is generally stated by the Hindu theologians; but, according
        to Rammohun Roy, Siva had two wives. See _Rammohun Roy on the
        Veds_, p. 90.

  [265] On these attributes and representations of Siva and Doorga, see
        _Rhode_, _Religiöse Bildung der Hindus_, vol. ii. p. 241;
        _Coleman's Mythology of the Hindus_, pp. 63, 92; _Bohlen_, _das
        alte Indien_, vol. i. p. 207; _Ward's Religion of the Hindoos_,
        vol. i. pp. xxxvii. 27, 145; _Transac. of Society of Bombay_,
        vol. i. pp. 215, 221. Compare the curious account of an image
        supposed to represent Mahadeo, in _Journal Asiatique_, I. série,
        vol. i. p. 354, Paris, 1822.

If we now turn to Greece, we find, even in the infancy of its religion,
not the faintest trace of any thing approaching to this. For, in Greece,
the causes of fear being less abundant, the expression of terror was
less common. The Greeks, therefore, were by no means disposed to
incorporate into their religion those feelings of dread natural to the
Hindus. The tendency of Asiatic civilization was to widen the distance
between men and their deities; the tendency of Greek civilization was to
diminish it. Thus it is, that in Hindostan all the gods had something
monstrous about them; as Vishnu with four hands, Brahma with five heads,
and the like.[266] But the gods of Greece were always represented in
forms entirely human.[267] In that country, no artist would have gained
attention, if he had presumed to portray them in any other shape. He
might make them stronger than men, he might make them more beautiful;
but still they must be men. The analogy between God and Man, which
excited the religious feelings of the Greeks, would have been fatal to
those of the Hindus.

  [266] _Ward on the Religion of the Hindoos_, vol. i. p. 35; _Transac. of
        Society of Bombay_, vol. i. p. 223. Compare the gloss in the
        _Dabistan_, vol. ii. p. 202.

  [267] 'The Greek gods were formed like men, with greatly increased
        powers and faculties, and acted as men would do if so
        circumstanced, but with a dignity and energy suited to their
        nearer approach to perfection. The Hindu gods, on the other hand,
        though endued with human passions, have always something
        monstrous in their appearance, and wild and capricious in their
        conduct. They are of various colours, red, yellow, and blue; some
        have twelve heads, and most have four hands. They are often
        enraged without a cause, and reconciled without a motive.'
        _Elphinstone's History of India_, pp. 96, 97. See also _Erskine
        on the Temple of Elephanta_, in _Transac. of Society of Bombay_,
        vol. i. p. 246; and the _Dabistan_, vol. i. p. cxi.

This difference between the artistic expressions of the two religions
was accompanied by an exactly similar difference between their
theological traditions. In the Indian books, the imagination is
exhausted in relating the feats of the gods; and the more obviously
impossible any achievement is, the greater the pleasure with which it
was ascribed to them. But the Greek gods had not only human forms, but
also human attributes, human pursuits, and human tastes.[268] The men of
Asia, to whom every object of nature was a source of awe, acquired such
habits of reverence, that they never dared to assimilate their own
actions with the actions of their deities. The men of Europe, encouraged
by the safety and inertness of the material world, did not fear to
strike a parallel, from which they would have shrunk had they lived amid
the dangers of a tropical country. It is thus that the Greek divinities
are so different from those of the Hindus, that in comparing them we
seem to pass from one creation into another. The Greeks generalized
their observations upon the human mind, and then applied them to the
gods.[269] The coldness of women was figured in Diana; their beauty and
sensuality in Venus; their pride in Juno; their accomplishments in
Minerva. To the ordinary avocations of the gods the same principle was
applied. Neptune was a sailor; Vulcan was a smith; Apollo was sometimes
a fiddler, sometimes a poet, sometimes a keeper of oxen. As to Cupid, he
was a wanton boy, who played with his bow and arrows; Jupiter was an
amorous and good-natured king; while Mercury was indifferently
represented either as a trustworthy messenger, or else as a common and
notorious thief.

  [268] 'In the material polytheism of other leading ancient nations, the
        Egyptians, for example, the incarnation of the Deity was chiefly,
        or exclusively, confined to animals, monsters, or other fanciful
        emblems.... In Greece, on the other hand, it was an almost
        necessary result of the spirit and grace with which the deities
        were embodied in human forms, that they should also be burdened
        with human interests and passions. Heaven, like earth, had its
        courts and palaces, its trades and professions, its marriages,
        intrigues, divorces.' _Mure's History of the Literature of
        Ancient Greece_, vol. i. pp. 471, 472. So, too, Tennemann
        (_Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. iii. p. 419): 'Diese Götter
        haben Menschengestalt.... Haben die Götter aber nicht nur
        menschliche Gestalt, sondern auch einen menschlichen Körper, so
        sind sie als Menschen auch denselben Unvollkommenheiten,
        Krankheiten und dem Tode unterworfen; dieses streitet mit dem
        Begriffe,' _i.e._ of Epicurus. Compare _Grote's History of
        Greece_, vol. i. p. 596: 'The mythical age was peopled with a
        mingled aggregate of gods, heroes, and men, so confounded
        together, that it was often impossible to distinguish to which
        class any individual name belonged.' See also the complaint of
        Xenophanes, in _Müller's Hist. of Lit. of Greece_, London, 1856,
        p. 251.

  [269] The same remark applies to beauty of form, which they first aimed
        at in the statues of men, and then brought to bear upon the
        statues of the gods. This is well put in Mr. Grote's important
        work, _History of Greece_, vol. iv. pp. 133, 134, edit. 1847.

Precisely the same tendency to approximate human forces towards
superhuman ones, is displayed in another peculiarity of the Greek
religion. I mean, that in Greece we for the first time meet with
hero-worship, that is, the deification of mortals. According to the
principles already laid down, this could not be expected in a tropical
civilization, where the Aspects of Nature filled Man with a constant
sense of his own incapacity. It is, therefore, natural that it should
form no part of the ancient Indian religion;[270] neither was it known
to the Egyptians,[271] nor to the Persians,[272] nor, so far as I am
aware, to the Arabians.[273] But in Greece, Man being less humbled,
and, as it were, less eclipsed, by the external world, thought more of
his own powers, and human nature did not fall into that discredit in
which it elsewhere sank. The consequence was, that the deification of
mortals was a recognized part of the national religion at a very early
period in the history of Greece;[274] and this has been found so natural
to Europeans, that the same custom was afterwards renewed with eminent
success by the Romish Church. Other circumstances, of a very different
character, are gradually eradicating this form of idolatry; but its
existence is worth observing, as one of the innumerable illustrations of
the way in which European civilization has diverged from all those that
preceded it.[275]

  [270] 'But the worship of deified heroes is no part of that system.'
        _Colebrooke on the Vedas_, in _Asiatic Researches_, vol. viii.
        p. 495.

  [271] _Mackay's Religious Development_, vol. ii. p. 53, Lond. 1850.
        Compare _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. iv. pp. 148, 318;
        and _Matter_, _Histoire de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. i. p. 2;
        the 'culte des grands hommes,' which afterwards arose in
        Alexandria (_Matter_, vol. i. p. 54), must have been owing to
        Greek influence.

  [272] There are no indications of it in the Zendavesta; and Herodotus
        says, that the Persians were unlike the Greeks, in so far as they
        disbelieved in a god having a human form; book i. chap. cxxxi.
        vol. i. p. 308: [Greek: ouk anthrôpophyeas enomisan tous theous,
        kataper hoi Hellênes einai].

  [273] I am not acquainted with any evidence connecting this worship with
        the old Arabian religion; and it was certainly most alien to the
        spirit of Mohammedanism.

  [274] _Mure's History of the Literature of Greece_, vol. i. pp. 28, 500,
        vol. ii. p. 402: very good remarks on a subject handled
        unsatisfactorily by Coleridge; _Literary Remains_, vol. i. p.
        185. Thirlwall (_History of Greece_, vol. i. p. 207) admits that
        'the views and feelings out of which it (the worship of heroes)
        arose, seem to be clearly discernible in the Homeric poems.'
        Compare _Cudworth's Intellectual System_, vol. ii. pp. 226, 372.
        In the Cratylus, chap. xxxiii., Socrates is represented as
        asking, [Greek: Ouk oistha hoti hêmitheoi oi hêrôes]; _Platonis
        Opera_, vol. iv. p. 227, edit. Bekker, Lond. 1826. And in the
        next century, Alexander obtained for his friend, Hephæstion, the
        right of being 'worshipped as a hero' _Grote's History of
        Greece_, vol. xii. p. 339.

  [275] The adoration of the dead, and particularly the adoration of
        martyrs, was one great point of opposition between the orthodox
        church and the Manichæans (_Beausobre_, _Histoire Critique de
        Manichée_, vol. i. p. 316, vol. ii. pp. 651, 669); and it is easy
        to understand how abhorrent such a practice must have been to the
        Persian heretics.

It is thus, that in Greece every thing tended to exalt the dignity of
man, while in India every thing tended to depress it.[276] To sum up the
whole, it may be said that the Greeks had more respect for human
powers; the Hindus for superhuman. The first dealt more with the known
and available; the other with the unknown and mysterious.[277] And by a
parity of reasoning, the imagination, which the Hindus, being oppressed
by the pomp and majesty of nature, never sought to control, lost its
supremacy in the little peninsula of ancient Greece. In Greece, for the
first time in the history of the world, the imagination was, in some
degree, tempered and confined by the understanding. Not that its
strength was impaired, or its vitality diminished. It was broken-in and
tamed; its exuberance was checked, its follies were chastised. But that
its energy remained, we have ample proof in those productions of the
Greek mind which have survived to our own time. The gain, therefore, was
complete; since the inquiring and sceptical faculties of the human
understanding were cultivated, without destroying the reverential and
poetic instincts of the imagination. Whether or not the balance was
accurately adjusted, is another question; but it is certain that the
adjustment was more nearly arrived at in Greece than in any previous
civilization.[278] There can, I think, be little doubt that,
notwithstanding what was effected, too much authority was left to the
imaginative faculties, and that the purely reasoning ones did not
receive, and never have received, sufficient attention. Still, this does
not affect the great fact, that the Greek literature is the first in
which this deficiency was somewhat remedied, and in which there was a
deliberate and systematic attempt to test all opinions by their
consonance with human reason, and thus vindicate the right of Man to
judge for himself on matters which are of supreme and incalculable

  [276] M. Cousin, in his eloquent and ingenious work (_Histoire de la
        Philosophie_, 3e série, vol. i. pp. 183, 187), has some judicious
        observations on what he calls 'l'époque de l'infini' of the East,
        contrasted with that 'du fini,' which began in Europe. But as to
        the physical causes of this, he only admits the grandeur of
        nature, overlooking those natural elements of mystery and of
        danger by which religious sentiments were constantly excited.

  [277] A learned orientalist says, that no people have made such efforts
        as the Hindus 'to solve, exhaust, comprehend, what is insolvable,
        inexhaustible, incomprehensible.' _Troyer's Preliminary Discourse
        on the Dabistan_, vol. i. p. cviii.

  [278] This is noticed by Tennemann, who, however, has not attempted to
        ascertain the cause: 'Die Einbildungskraft des Griechen war
        schöpferisch, sie schuf in seinem Innern neue Ideenwelten; aber
        er wurde doch nie verleitet, die idealische Welt mit der
        wirklichen zu verwechseln, weil sie immer mit einem richtigen
        Verstande und gesunder Beurtheilungskraft verbunden war.'
        _Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. i. p. 8; and vol. vi. p. 490,
        he says, 'Bei allen diesen Mängeln und Fehlern sind doch die
        Griechen die einzige Nation der alten Welt, welche Sinn für
        Wissenschaft hatte, und zu diesem Behufe forschte. Sie haben doch
        die Bahn gebrochen, und den Weg zur Wissenschaft geebnet.' To the
        same effect, _Sprengel_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. i. p.
        215. And on this difference between the Eastern and the European
        mind, see _Matter_, _Histoire du Gnosticisme_, vol. i. pp. 18,
        233, 234. So, too, Kant (_Logik_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. i. p.
        350), 'Unter allen Völkern haben also die Griechen erst
        angefangen zu philosophiren. Denn sie haben zuerst versucht,
        nicht an dem Leitfaden der Bilder die Vernunfterkenntnisse zu
        cultiviren, sondern _in abstracto_; statt dass die anderen Völker
        sich die Begriffe immer nur durch Bilder _in concreto_
        verständlich zu machen suchten.'

I have selected India and Greece as the two terms of the preceding
comparison, because our information respecting those countries is most
extensive, and has been most carefully arranged. But every thing we know
of the other tropical civilizations confirms the views I have advocated
respecting the effects produced by the Aspects of Nature. In Central
America extensive excavations have been made; and what has been brought
to light proves that the national religion was, like that of India, a
system of complete and unmitigated terror.[279] Neither there nor in
Mexico, nor in Peru, nor in Egypt, did the people desire to represent
their deities in human forms, or ascribe to them human attributes. Even
their temples are huge buildings, often constructed with great skill,
but showing an evident wish to impress the mind with fear, and offering
a striking contrast to the lighter and smaller structures which the
Greeks employed for religious purposes. Thus, even in the style of
architecture do we see the same principle at work; the dangers of the
tropical civilization being more suggestive of the infinite, while the
safety of the European civilization was more suggestive of the finite.
To follow out the consequences of this great antagonism, it would be
necessary to indicate how the infinite, the imaginative, the synthetic,
and the deductive, are all connected; and are opposed, on the other
hand, by the finite, the sceptical, the analytic, and the inductive. A
complete illustration of this would carry me beyond the plan of this
Introduction and would perhaps exceed the resources of my own knowledge;
and I must now leave to the candour of the reader what I am conscious is
but an imperfect sketch, but what may, nevertheless, suggest to him
materials for future thought, and, if I might indulge the hope, may open
to historians a new field, by reminding them that every where the hand
of Nature is upon us, and that the history of the human mind can only be
understood by connecting with it the history and the aspects of the
material universe.

  [279] Thus, of one of the idols at Copan, 'The intention of the sculptor
        seems to have been to excite terror.' _Stephens's Central
        America_, vol. i. p. 152; at p. 159, 'The form of sculpture most
        generally used was a death's head.' At Mayapan (vol. iii. p.
        133), 'representations of human figures or animals with hideous
        features and expressions, in producing which the skill of the
        artist seems to have been expended;' and again, p. 412,
        'unnatural and grotesque faces.'

                    *       *       *       *       *

                            NOTE 36 to p. 61.

As these views have a social and economical importance quite independent
of their physiological value, I will endeavour, in this note, to fortify
them still further, by showing that the connexion between carbonized
food and the respiratory functions may be illustrated by a wider survey
of the animal kingdom.

The gland most universal among the different classes of animals is the
liver;(a) and its principal business is to relieve the system of its
superfluous carbon, which it accomplishes by secreting bile, a highly
carbonized fluid.(b) Now, the connexion between this process and the
respiratory functions is highly curious. For, if we take a general view
of animal life, we shall find that the liver and lungs are nearly always
compensatory; that is to say, when one organ is small and inert, the
other is large and active. Thus, reptiles have feeble lungs, but a
considerable liver;(c) and thus, too, in fishes, which have no lungs, in
the ordinary sense of the word, the size of the liver is often
enormous.(d) On the other hand, insects have a very large and
complicated system of air tubes; but their liver is minute, and its
functions are habitually sluggish.(e) If, instead of comparing the
different classes of animals, we compare the different stages through
which the same animal passes, we shall find further confirmation of this
wide and striking principle. For the law holds good even before birth;
since in the unborn infant the lungs have scarcely any activity, but
there is an immense liver, which is full of energy and pours out bile in
profusion.(f) And so invariable is this relation, that in man the liver
is the first organ which is formed: it is preponderant during the whole
period of f[oe]tal life; but it rapidly diminishes when, after birth,
the lungs come into play, and a new scheme of compensation is
established in the system.(g)

  [a] 'The most constant gland in the animal kingdom is the liver.'
      _Grant's Comp. Anat._ p. 576. See also _Béclard_, _Anat. Gén._ p.
      18, and _Burdach_, _Traité de Physiol._ vol. ix. p. 580. Burdach
      says, 'Il existe dans presque tout le règne animal;' and the latest
      researches have detected the rudiments of a liver even in the
      Entozoa and Rotifera. _Rymer Jones's Animal Kingdom_, 1855, p. 183,
      and _Owen's Invertebrata_, 1855, p. 104.

  [b] Until the analysis made by Demarçay in 1837, hardly any thing was
      known of the composition of bile; but this accomplished chemist
      ascertained that its essential constituent is choleate of soda, and
      that the choleic acid contains nearly sixty-three per cent. of
      carbon. Compare _Thomson's Animal Chemistry_, pp. 59, 60, 412, 602,
      with _Simon's Chemistry_, vol. ii. pp. 17-21.

  [c] 'The size of the liver and the quantity of the bile are not
      proportionate to the quantity of the food and frequency of eating;
      but inversely to the size and perfection of the lungs.... The
      liver is proportionately larger in reptiles, which have lungs with
      large cells incapable of rapidly decarbonizing the blood.' _Good's
      Study of Medicine_, 1829, vol. i. pp. 32, 33. See _Cuvier_, _Règne
      Animal_, vol. ii. p. 2, on 'la petitesse des vaisseaux pulmonaires'
      of reptiles.

  [d] _Carus's Comparative Anatomy_, vol. ii. p. 230; _Grant's Comp.
      Anat._ pp. 385, 596; _Rymer Jones's Animal Kingdom_, p. 646.

  [e] Indeed it has been supposed by M. Gaëde that the 'vaisseaux
      biliares' of some insects were not 'sécréteurs;' but this opinion
      appears to be erroneous. See Latreille, in _Cuvier_, _Règne
      Animal_, vol. iv. pp. 297, 298.

  [f] 'La prédominance du foie avant la naissance' is noticed by Bichat
      (_Anatomie Générale_, vol. ii. p. 272), and by many other
      physiologists; but Dr. Elliotson appears to have been one of the
      first to understand a fact, the explanation of which we might
      vainly seek for in the earlier writers. 'The hypothesis, that one
      great use of the liver was, like that of the lungs, to remove
      carbon from the system, with this difference, that the alteration
      of the capacity of the air caused a reception of caloric into the
      blood, in the case of the lungs, while the hepatic excretion takes
      place without introduction of caloric, was, I recollect, a great
      favourite with me when a student.... The Heidelberg professors
      have adduced many arguments to the same effect. In the f[oe]tus,
      for whose temperature the mother's heat must be sufficient, the
      lungs perform no function; but the liver is of great size, and bile
      is secreted abundantly, so that the meconium accumulates
      considerably during the latter months of pregnancy.' _Elliotson's
      Human Physiology_, 1840, p. 102. In _Lepelletier's Physiologie
      Médicale_, vol. i. p. 466, vol. ii. pp. 14, 546, 550, all this is
      sadly confused.

  [g] 'The liver is the first-formed organ in the embryo. It is
      developed from the alimentary canal, and at about the third week
      fills the whole abdomen, and is one-half the weight of the entire
      embryo.... At birth it is of very large size, and occupies the
      whole upper part of the abdomen.... The liver diminishes rapidly
      after birth, probably from obliteration of the umbilical vein.'
      _Wilson's Human Anatomy_, 1851, p. 638. Compare _Burdach's
      Physiologie_, vol. iv. p. 447, where it is said of the liver in
      childhood, 'Cet organe croît avec lenteur, surtout comparativement
      aux poumons; le rapport de ceux-ci au foie étant à peu près de 1:3
      avant la respiration, il était de 1:1.86 après l'établissement de
      cette dernière fonction.' See also p. 91, and vol. iii. p. 483; and
      on the predominance of the liver in f[oe]tal life, see the remarks
      of Serres (_Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire_, _Anomalies de l'Organisation_,
      vol. ii. p. 11), whose generalization is perhaps a little

These facts, interesting to the philosophic physiologist, are of great
moment in reference to the doctrines advocated in this chapter. Inasmuch
as the liver and lungs are compensatory in the history of their
organization, it is highly probable that they are also compensatory in
the functions they perform; and that what is left undone by one will
have to be accomplished by the other. The liver, therefore, fulfilling
the duty, as chemistry teaches us, of decarbonizing the system by
secreting a carbonized fluid, we should expect, even in the absence of
any further evidence, that the lungs would be likewise decarbonizing; in
other words, we should expect that if, from any cause, we are surcharged
with carbon, our lungs must assist in remedying the evil. This brings
us, by another road, to the conclusion that highly carbonized food has a
tendency to tax the lungs; so that the connexion between a carbonized
diet and the respiratory functions, instead of being, as some assert, a
crude hypothesis, is an eminently scientific theory, and is corroborated
not only by chemistry, but by the general scheme of the animal kingdom,
and even by the observation of embryological phenomena. The views of
Liebig, and of his followers, are indeed supported by so many analogies,
and harmonize so well with other parts of our knowledge, that nothing
but a perverse hatred of generalization, or an incapacity for dealing
with large speculative truths, can explain the hostility directed
against conclusions which have been gradually forcing themselves upon us
since Lavoisier, seventy years ago, attempted to explain the respiratory
functions by subjecting them to the laws of chemical combination.

In this, and previous notes (see in particular notes 30, 31, 35), I have
considered the connexion between food respiration, and animal heat, at a
length which will appear tedious to readers uninterested in
physiological pursuits; but the investigation has become necessary, on
account of the difficulties raised by experimenters, who, not having
studied the subject comprehensively, object to certain parts of it. To
mention what, from the ability and reputation of the author, is a
conspicuous instance of this, Sir Benjamin Brodie has recently published
a volume (_Physiological Researches_, 1851) containing some ingeniously
contrived experiments on dogs and rabbits, to prove that heat is
generated rather by the nervous system than by the respiratory organs.
Without following this eminent surgeon into all its details, I may be
permitted to observe, 1st, That, as a mere matter of history, no great
physiological truth has ever yet been discovered, nor has any great
physiological fallacy been destroyed, by such limited experiments on a
single class of animals; and this is partly because in physiology a
crucial instance is impracticable, owing to the fact that we deal with
resisting and living bodies, and partly because every experiment
produces an abnormal condition, and thus lets in fresh causes, the
operation of which is incalculable; unless, as often happens in the
inorganic world, we can control the whole phenomenon. 2nd, That the
other department of the organic world, namely, the vegetable kingdom,
has, so far as we are aware, no nervous system, but nevertheless
possesses heat; and we moreover know that the heat is a product of
oxygen and carbon (see note 32 to chapter ii.). 3d, That the evidence of
travellers respecting the different sorts of food, and the different
quantities of food, used in hot countries and in cold ones, is
explicable by the respiratory and chemical theories of the origin of
animal heat, but is inexplicable by the theory of the nervous origin of

                              CHAPTER III.

                              MENTAL LAWS.

The evidence that I have collected seems to establish two leading facts,
which, unless they can be impugned, are the necessary basis of universal
history. The first fact is, that in the civilizations out of Europe, the
powers of nature have been far greater than in those in Europe. The
second fact is, that those powers have worked immense mischief; and that
while one division of them has caused an unequal distribution of wealth,
another division of them has caused an unequal distribution of thought,
by concentrating attention upon subjects which inflame the imagination.
So far as the experience of the past can guide us, we may say, that in
all the extra European civilizations, these obstacles are insuperable:
certainly no nation has ever yet overcome them. But Europe, being
constructed upon a smaller plan than the other quarters of the
world--being also in a colder region, having a less exuberant soil, a
less imposing aspect, and displaying in all her physical phenomena much
greater feebleness--it was easier for Man to discard the superstitions
which Nature suggested to his imagination; and it was also easier for
him to effect, not, indeed, a just division of wealth, but something
nearer to it, than was practicable in the older countries.

Hence it is that, looking at the history of the world as a whole, the
tendency has been, in Europe, to subordinate nature to man; out of
Europe, to subordinate man to nature. To this there are, in barbarous
countries, several exceptions; but in civilized countries the rule has
been universal. The great division, therefore, between European
civilization and non-European civilization, is the basis of the
philosophy of history, since it suggests the important consideration,
that if we would understand, for instance, the history of India, we must
make the external world our first study, because it has influenced man
more than man has influenced it. If, on the other hand, we would
understand the history of a country like France or England, we must make
man our principal study, because nature being comparatively weak, every
step in the great progress has increased the dominion of the human mind
over the agencies of the external world. Even in those countries where
the power of man has reached the highest point, the pressure of nature
is still immense; but it diminishes in each succeeding generation,
because our increasing knowledge enables us not so much to control
nature as to foretell her movements, and thus obviate many of the evils
she would otherwise occasion. How successful our efforts have been, is
evident from the fact, that the average duration of life constantly
becomes longer, and the number of inevitable dangers fewer; and what
makes this the more remarkable is, that the curiosity of men is keener,
and their contact with each other closer, than in any former period; so
that while apparent hazards are multiplied, we find from experience that
real hazards are, on the whole, diminished.[280]

  [280] This diminution of casualties is undoubtedly one cause, though a
        slight one, of the increased duration of life; but the most
        active cause is a general improvement in the physical condition
        of man: see _Sir B. Brodie's Lectures on Pathology and Surgery_,
        p. 212; and for proof that civilized men are stronger than
        uncivilized ones, see _Quetelet_, _sur l'Homme_, vol. ii. pp. 67,
        272; _Lawrence's Lectures on Man_, pp. 275, 276; _Ellis's
        Polynesian Researches_, vol. i. p. 98; _Whately's Lectures on
        Political Economy_, 8vo. 1831, p. 59; _Journal of the Statistical
        Society_, vol. xvii. pp. 32, 33; _Dufau_, _Traité de
        Statistique_, p. 107; _Hawkins's Medical Statistics_, p. 232.

If, therefore, we take the largest possible view of the history of
Europe, and confine ourselves entirely to the primary cause of its
superiority over other parts of the world, we must resolve it into the
encroachment of the mind of man upon the organic and inorganic forces
of nature. To this all other causes are subordinate.[281] For we have
seen that wherever the powers of nature reached a certain height, the
national civilization was irregularly developed, and the advance of the
civilization stopped. The first essential was, to limit the interference
of these physical phenomena; and that was most likely to be accomplished
where the phenomena were feeblest and least imposing. This was the case
with Europe; it is accordingly in Europe alone, that man has really
succeeded in taming the energies of nature, bending them to his own
will, turning them aside from their ordinary course, and compelling them
to minister to his happiness, and subserve the general purposes of human

  [281] The general social consequences of this I shall hereafter
        consider; but the mere economical consequences are well expressed
        by Mr. Mill: 'Of the features which characterize this progressive
        economical movement of civilized nations, that which first
        excites attention, through its intimate connexion with the
        phenomena of Production, is the perpetual, and, so far as human
        foresight can extend, the unlimited, growth of man's power over
        nature. Our knowledge of the properties and laws of physical
        objects shows no sign of approaching its ultimate boundaries; it
        is advancing more rapidly, and in a greater number of directions
        at once, than in any previous age or generation, and affording
        such frequent glimpses of unexplored fields beyond, as to justify
        the belief that our acquaintance with nature is still almost in
        its infancy.' _Mill's Principles of Polit. Economy_, vol. ii. pp.

All around us are the traces of this glorious and successful struggle.
Indeed, it seems as if in Europe there was nothing man feared to
attempt. The invasions of the sea repelled, and whole provinces, as in
the case of Holland, rescued from its grasp, mountains cut through and
turned into level roads; soils of the most obstinate sterility becoming
exuberant, from the mere advance of chemical knowledge; while, in regard
to electric phenomena, we see the subtlest, the most rapid, and the most
mysterious of all forces, made the medium of thought, and obeying even
the most capricious behests of the human mind.

In other instances, where the products of the external world have been
refractory, man has succeeded in destroying what he could hardly hope to
subjugate. The most cruel diseases, such as the plague, properly so
called, and the leprosy of the Middle Ages,[282] have entirely
disappeared from the civilized parts of Europe; and it is scarcely
possible that they should ever again be seen there. Wild beasts and
birds of prey have been extirpated, and are no longer allowed to infest
the haunts of civilised men. Those frightful famines, by which Europe
used to be ravaged several times in every century,[283] have ceased; and
so successfully have we grappled with them, that there is not the
slightest fear of their ever returning with any thing like their former
severity. Indeed, our resources are now so great, that we could at
worst, only suffer from a slight and temporary scarcity: since, in the
present state of knowledge, the evil would be met at the outset by
remedies which chemical science could easily suggest.[284]

  [282] What this horrible disease once was, may be estimated from the
        fact, 'qu'au treizième siècle on comptait en France seulement,
        deux mille léproseries, et que l'Europe entière renfermait
        environ dix-neuf mille établissemens semblables.' _Sprengel_,
        _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 374. As to the mortality
        caused by the plague, see _Clot-Bey_, _de la Peste_, Paris, 1840,
        pp. 62, 63, 185, 292.

  [283] For a curious list of famines, see an essay by Mr. Farr, in
        _Journal of the Statistical Society_, vol. ix. pp. 159-163. He
        says, that in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries,
        the average was, in England, one famine every fourteen years.

  [284] In the opinion of one of the highest living authorities, famine
        is, even in the present state of chemistry, 'next to impossible.'
        _Herschel's Discourse on Natural Philosophy_, p. 65. Cuvier
        (_Recueil des Eloges_, vol. i. p. 10) says that we have succeeded
        'a rendre toute famine impossible.' See also _Godwin on
        Population_, p. 500; and for a purely economical argument to
        prove the impossibility of famine, see _Mill's Principles of
        Political Economy_, vol. ii. p. 258; and compare a note in
        _Ricardo's Works_, p. 191. The Irish famine may seem an
        exception: but it could have been easily baffled except for the
        poverty of the people, which frustrated our efforts to reduce it
        to a dearth.

It is hardly necessary to notice how, in numerous other instances, the
progress of European civilization has been marked by the diminished
influence of the external world: I mean, of course, those peculiarities
of the external world which have an existence independent of the wishes
of man, and were not created by him. The most advanced nations do, in
their present state, owe comparatively little to those original features
of nature which, in every civilization out of Europe, exercised
unlimited power. Thus, in Asia and elsewhere, the course of trade, the
extent of commerce, and many similar circumstances, were determined by
the existence of rivers, by the facility with which they could be
navigated, and by the number and goodness of the adjoining harbours.
But, in Europe, the determining cause is, not so much these physical
peculiarities, as the skill and energy of man. Formerly the richest
countries were those in which nature was most bountiful; now the richest
countries are those in which man is most active. For, in our age of the
world, if nature is parsimonious, we know how to compensate her
deficiencies. If a river is difficult to navigate, or a country
difficult to traverse, our engineers can correct the error, and remedy
the evil. If we have no rivers, we make canals; if we have no natural
harbours, we make artificial ones. And so marked is this tendency to
impair the authority of natural phenomena, that it is seen even in the
distribution of the people, since, in the most civilized parts of
Europe, the population of the towns is everywhere outstripping that of
the country; and it is evident that the more men congregate in great
cities, the more they will become accustomed to draw their materials of
thought from the business of human life, and the less attention they
will pay to those peculiarities of nature, which are the fertile source
of superstition, and by which, in every civilization out of Europe, the
progress of man was arrested.

From these facts it may be fairly inferred, that the advance of European
civilization is characterized by a diminishing influence of physical
laws, and an increasing influence of mental laws. The complete proof of
this generalization can be collected only from history; and therefore I
must reserve a large share of the evidence on which it is founded for
the future volumes of this work. But that the proposition is
fundamentally true must be admitted by whoever, in addition to the
arguments just adduced, will concede two premiss is, neither of which
seem susceptible of much dispute. The first premiss is, that we are in
possession of no evidence that the powers of nature have ever been
permanently increased; and that we have no reason to expect that any
such increase can take place. The other premiss is, that we have
abundant evidence that the resources of the human mind have become more
powerful, more numerous, and more able to grapple with the difficulties
of the external world; because every fresh accession to our knowledge
supplies fresh means with which we can either control the operations of
nature, or, failing in that, can foresee the consequences, and thus
avoid what it is impossible to prevent; in both instances, diminishing
the pressure exercised on us by external agents.

If these premisses are admitted, we are led to a conclusion which is of
great value for the purpose of this Introduction. For, if the measure of
civilization is the triumph of the mind over external agents, it becomes
clear, that of the two classes of laws which regulate the progress of
mankind, the mental class is more important than the physical. This,
indeed, is assumed by one school of thinkers as a matter of course,
though I am not aware that its demonstration has been hitherto attempted
by any thing even approaching an exhaustive analysis. The question,
however, as to the originality of my arguments, is one of very trifling
moment; but what we have to notice is, that in the present stage of our
inquiry, the problem with which we started has become simplified, and a
discovery of the laws of European history is resolved, in the first
instance, into a discovery of the laws of the human mind. These mental
laws, when ascertained, will be the ultimate basis of the history of
Europe; the physical laws will be treated as of minor importance, and as
merely giving rise to disturbances, the force and the frequency of which
have, during several centuries, perceptibly diminished.

If we now inquire into the means of discovering the laws of the human
mind, the metaphysicians are ready with an answer; and they refer us to
their own labours as supplying a satisfactory solution. It therefore
becomes necessary to ascertain the value of their researches, to measure
the extent of their resources, and, above all, to test the validity of
that method which they always follow, and by which alone, as they
assert, great truths can be elicited.

The metaphysical method, though necessarily branching into two
divisions, is, in its origin, always the same, and consists in each
observer studying the operations of his own mind.[285] This is the
direct opposite of the historical method; the metaphysician studying one
mind, the historian studying many minds. Now, the first remark to make
on this is, that the metaphysical method is one by which no discovery
has ever yet been made in any branch of knowledge. Every thing we at
present know has been ascertained by studying phenomena, from which all
casual disturbances having been removed, the law remains as a
conspicuous residue.[286] And this can only be done by observations so
numerous as to eliminate the disturbances, or else by experiments so
delicate as to isolate the phenomena. One of these conditions is
essential to all inductive science; but neither of them does the
metaphysician obey. To isolate the phenomenon is for him an
impossibility; since no man, into whatever state of reverie he may be
thrown, can entirely cut himself off from the influence of external
events, which must produce an effect on his mind, even when he is
unconscious of their presence. As to the other condition, it is by the
metaphysician set at open defiance; for his whole system is based on the
supposition that, by studying a single mind, he can get the laws of all
minds; so that while he, on the one hand, is unable to isolate his
observations from disturbances, he, on the other hand, refuses to adopt
the only remaining precaution--he refuses so to enlarge his survey as to
eliminate the disturbances by which his observations are troubled.[287]

  [285] 'As the metaphysician carries within himself the materials of his
        reasoning, he is not under a necessity of looking abroad for
        subjects of speculation or amusement.' _Stewart's Philosophy of
        the Mind_, vol. i. p. 462; and the same remark, almost literally
        repeated, at vol. iii. p. 260. Locke makes what passes in each
        man's mind the sole source of metaphysics, and the sole test of
        their truth. _Essay concerning Human Understanding_, in _Locke's
        Works_, vol. i. pp. 18, 76, 79, 121, 146, 152, 287, vol. ii. pp.
        141, 243.

  [286] The deductive sciences form, of course, an exception to this; but
        the whole theory of metaphysics is founded on its inductive
        character, and on the supposition that it consists of generalized
        observations, and that from them alone the science of mind can be

  [287] These remarks are only applicable to those who follow the purely
        metaphysical method of investigation. There is, however, a very
        small number of metaphysicians, among whom M. Cousin is the most
        eminent in France, in whose works we find larger views, and an
        attempt to connect historical inquiries with metaphysical ones;
        thus recognizing the necessity of verifying their original
        speculations. To this method there can be no objection, provided
        the metaphysical conclusions are merely regarded as hypothesis,
        which require verification to raise them to theories. But,
        instead of this cautious proceeding, the almost invariable plan
        is, to treat the hypothesis as if it were a theory already
        proved, and as if there remained nothing to do but to give
        historical illustrations of truths established by the
        psychologist. This confusion between illustration and
        verification appears to be the universal failing of those who,
        like Vico and Fichte, speculate upon historical phenomena _à

This is the first and fundamental objection to which metaphysicians are
exposed, even on the threshold of their science. But if we penetrate a
little deeper, we shall meet with another circumstance, which, though
less obvious, is equally decisive. After the metaphysician has taken for
granted that, by studying one mind, he can discover the laws of all
minds, he finds himself involved in a singular difficulty as soon as he
begins to apply even this imperfect method. The difficulty to which I
allude is one which, not being met with in any other pursuit, seems to
have escaped the attention of those who are unacquainted with
metaphysical controversies. To understand, therefore, its nature, it is
requisite to give a short account of those two great schools, to one of
which all metaphysicians must necessarily belong.

In investigating the nature of the human mind, according to the
metaphysical scheme, there are two methods of proceeding, both of which
are equally obvious, and yet both of which lead to entirely different
results. According to the first method, the inquirer begins by examining
his sensations. According to the other method, he begins by examining
his ideas. These two methods always have led, and always must lead, to
conclusions diametrically opposed to each other. Nor are the reasons of
this difficult to understand. In metaphysics, the mind is the instrument
as well as the material on which the instrument is employed. The means
by which the science must be worked out, being thus the same as the
object upon which it works, there arises a difficulty of a very peculiar
kind. This difficulty is, the impossibility of taking a comprehensive
view of the whole of the mental phenomena; because, however extensive
such a view may be, it must exclude the state of the mind by which, or
in which, the view itself is taken. Hence we may perceive what, I think,
is a fundamental difference between physical and metaphysical inquiries.
In physics, there are several methods of proceeding, all of which lead
to the same results. But in metaphysics, it will invariably be found,
that if two men of equal ability, and equal honesty, employ different
methods in the study of the mind, the conclusions which they obtain will
also be different. To those who are unversed in these matters, a few
illustrations will set this in a clearer light. Metaphysicians who begin
by the study of ideas observe in their own minds an idea of space.
Whence, they ask, can this arise? It cannot, they say, owe its origin to
the senses, because the senses only supply what is finite and
contingent; whereas the idea of space is infinite and necessary.[288] It
is infinite, since we cannot conceive that space has an end; and it is
necessary, since we cannot conceive the possibility of its
non-existence. Thus far the idealist. But the sensualist, as he is
called,[289]--he who begins, not with ideas, but with sensations,
arrives at a very different conclusion. He remarks that we can have no
idea of space until we have first had an idea of objects; and that the
ideas of objects can only be the results of the sensations which those
objects excite. As to the idea of space being necessary, this, he says,
only results from the circumstance that we never can perceive an object
which does not bear a certain position to some other object. This forms
an indissoluble association between the idea of position and the idea of
an object; and as this association is constantly repeated before us, we
at length find ourselves unable to conceive an object without position,
or, in other words, without space.[290] As to space being infinite,
this, he says, is a notion we get by conceiving a continual addition to
lines, or to surfaces, or to bulk, which are the three modifications of
extension.[291] On innumerable other points we find the same discrepancy
between the two schools. The idealist,[292] for example, asserts that
our notions of cause, of time, of personal identity, and of substance,
are universal and necessary; that they are simple; and that not being
susceptible of analysis, they must be referred to the original
constitution of the mind.[293] On the other hand, the sensationalist, so
far from recognizing the simplicity of these ideas, considers them to be
extremely complex, and looks upon their universality and necessity as
merely the result of a frequent and intimate association.[294]

  [288] Compare _Stewart's Philosophy of the Mind_, vol. ii. p. 194, with
        _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philosophie_, II. série, vol. ii. p. 92.
        Among the Indian metaphysicians, there was a sect which declared
        space to be the cause of all things. _Journal of Asiatic Soc._
        vol. vi. pp. 268, 290. See also the _Dabistan_, vol. ii. p. 40,
        which, however, was contrary to the Vedas. _Rammohun Roy on the
        Veds_, 1832, pp. 8, 111. In Spain, the doctrine of the infinity
        of space is heretical. _Doblado's Letters_, p. 96; which should
        be compared with the objection of Irenæus against the
        Valentinians, in _Beausobre_, _Histoire de Manichée_, vol. ii. p.
        275. For the different theories of space, I may, moreover, refer
        to _Ritter's Hist. of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. i. pp. 451, 473,
        477, vol. ii. p. 314, vol. iii. pp. 195-204; _Cudworth's
        Intellectual System_, vol. i. p. 191, vol. iii. pp. 230, 472;
        _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 23,
        62, 81, 120, 139, 147, 256, 334, 347; _Tennemann_, _Geschichte
        der Philosophie_, vol. i. p. 109, vol. ii. p. 303, vol. iii. pp.
        130-137, vol. iv. p. 284, vol. v. pp. 384-387, vol. vi. p. 99,
        vol. viii. pp. 87, 88, 683, vol. ix. pp. 257, 355, 410, vol. x.
        p. 79, vol. xi. pp. 195, 385-389.

  [289] This is the title conferred by M. Cousin upon nearly all the
        greatest English metaphysicians, and upon Condillac and all his
        disciples in France, their system having 'le nom mérité de
        sensualisme.' _Cousin_, _Histoire de la Philosophie_, II. série,
        vol. ii. p. 88. The same name is given to the same school, in
        _Feuchtersleben's Medical Psychology_, p. 52, and in _Renouard's
        Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. i. p. 346, vol. ii. p. 368. In
        _Jobert's New System of Philosophy_, vol. ii. p. 334, 8vo. 1849,
        it is called 'sensationalism,' which seems a preferable

  [290] This is very ably argued by Mr. James Mill in his _Analysis of the
        Phenomena of the Human Mind_, vol. ii. pp. 32, 93-95, and
        elsewhere. Compare _Essay concerning Human Understanding_, in
        _Locke's Works_, vol. i. pp. 147, 148, 154, 157, and the
        ingenious distinction, p. 198, 'between the idea of the infinity
        of space, and the idea of a space infinite.' At p. 208, Locke
        sarcastically says, 'But yet, after all this, there being men who
        persuade themselves that they have clear, positive, comprehensive
        ideas of infinity, it is fit they enjoy their privilege; and I
        should be very glad (with some others that I know, who
        acknowledge they have none such) to be better informed by their

  [291] _Mill's Analysis of the Mind_, vol. ii. pp. 96, 97. See also the
        _Examination of Malebranche_, in _Locke's Works_, vol. viii. pp.
        248, 249; and _Müller's Elements of Physiology_, vol. ii. p.
        1081, which should be compared with _Comte_, _Philosophie
        Positive_, vol. i. p. 354.

  [292] I speak of idealists in opposition to sensationalists; though the
        word idealist is often used by metaphysicians in a very different
        sense. On the different kinds of idealism, see _Kritik der reinen
        Vernunft_, and _Prolegomena zu jeder künftigen Metaphysik_, in
        _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 223, 389, vol. iii. pp. 204, 210,
        306, 307. According to him, the Cartesian idealism is empirical.

  [293] Thus, Dugald Stewart (_Philosophical Essays_, Edin. 1810, p. 33)
        tells us of 'the simple idea of personal identity.' And Reid
        (_Essays on the Powers of the Mind_, vol. i. p. 354) says, 'I
        know of no ideas or notions that have a better claim to be
        accounted simple and original than those of space and time.' In
        the Sanscrit metaphysics, time is 'an independent cause.' See the
        _Vishnu Purana_, pp. 10, 216.

  [294] 'As Space is a comprehensive word, including all positions, or the
        whole of synchronous order, so Time is a comprehensive word,
        including all successions, or the whole of successive order.'
        _Mill's Analysis of the Mind_, vol. ii. p. 100; and on the
        relation of time to memory, vol. i. p. 252. In _Jobert's New
        System of Philosophy_, vol. i. p. 33, it is said that 'time is
        nothing but the succession of events, and we know events by
        experience only.' See also p. 133, and compare respecting time
        _Condillac_, _Traité des Sensations_, pp. 104-114, 222, 223,
        331-333. To the same effect is _Essay concerning Human
        Understanding_, book ii. chap. xiv., in _Locke's Works_, vol. i.
        p. 163; and see his second reply to the Bishop of Worcester, in
        _Works_, vol. iii. pp. 414-416; and as to the idea of substance,
        see vol. i. pp. 285-290, 292, 308, vol. iii. pp. 5, 10, 17.

This is the first important difference which is inevitably consequent on
the adoption of different methods. The idealist is compelled to assert,
that necessary truths and contingent truths have a different
origin.[295] The sensationalist is bound to affirm that they have the
same origin.[296] The further these two great schools advance, the more
marked does their divergence become. They are at open war in every
department of morals, of philosophy, and of art. The idealists say that
all men have essentially the same notion of the good, the true, and the
beautiful. The sensationalists affirm that there is no such standard,
because ideas depend upon sensations, and because the sensations of men
depend upon the changes in their bodies, and upon the external events by
which their bodies are affected.

  [295] Reid (_Essays on the Powers of the Mind_, vol. i. p. 281) says,
        that necessary truths 'cannot be the conclusions of the senses;
        for our senses testify only what is, and not what must
        necessarily be.' See also vol. ii. pp. 53, 204, 239, 240, 281.
        The same distinction is peremptorily asserted in _Whewell's
        Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences_, 8vo, 1847, vol. i. pp.
        60-73, 140; and see _Dugald Stewart's Philosophical Essays_, pp.
        123, 124. Sir W. Hamilton (_Additions to Reid's Works_, p. 754)
        says, that non-contingent truths 'have their converse absolutely
        incogitable.' But this learned writer does not mention how we are
        to know when anything is 'absolutely incogitable.' That we cannot
        cogitate an idea, is certainly no proof of its being incogitable;
        for it may be cogitated at some later period, when knowledge is
        more advanced.

  [296] This is asserted by all the followers of Locke; and one of the
        latest productions of that school declares, that 'to say that
        necessary truths cannot be acquired by experience, is to deny the
        most clear evidence of our senses and reason.' _Jobert's New
        System of Philosophy_, vol. i. p. 58.

Such is a short specimen of the opposite conclusions to which the ablest
metaphysicians have been driven, by the simple circumstance that they
have pursued opposite methods of investigation. And this is the more
important to observe, because, after these two methods have been
employed, the resources of metaphysics are evidently exhausted.[297]
Both parties agree that mental laws can only be discovered by studying
individual minds, and that there is nothing in the mind which is not the
result either of reflection or of sensation. The only choice, therefore,
they have to make, is between subordinating the results of sensation to
the laws of reflection, or else subordinating the results of reflection
to the laws of sensation. Every system of metaphysics has been
constructed according to one of these schemes; and this must always
continue to be the case, because, when the two schemes are added
together, they include the totality of metaphysical phenomena. Each
process is equally plausible;[298] the supporters of each are equally
confident; and, by the very nature of the dispute, it is impossible that
any middle term should be found; nor can there ever be an umpire,
because no one can mediate between metaphysical controversies without
being a metaphysician, and no one can be a metaphysician without being
either a sensationalist or an idealist; in other words, without
belonging to one of those very parties whose claims he professes to

  [297] To avoid misapprehension, I may repeat, that, here and elsewhere,
        I mean by metaphysics, that vast body of literature which is
        constructed on the supposition that the laws of the human mind
        can be generalized _solely_ from the facts of individual
        consciousness. For this scheme, the word 'metaphysics' is rather
        inconvenient, but it will cause no confusion if this definition
        of it is kept in view by the reader.

  [298] What a celebrated historian of philosophy says of Platonism, is
        equally true of all the great metaphysical systems: 'Dass sie ein
        zusammenhängendes harmonisches Ganzes ausmachen (_i.e._ the
        leading propositions of it) fällt in die Augen.' _Tennemann_,
        _Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. ii. p. 527. And yet he
        confesses (vol. iii. p. 52) of it and the opposite system: 'und
        wenn man auf die Beweise siehet, so ist der Empirismus des
        Aristoteles nicht besser begründet als der Rationalismus des
        Plato.' Kant admits that there can be only one true system, but
        is confident that he has discovered what all his predecessors
        have missed. _Die Metaphysik der Sitten_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol.
        v. p. 5, where he raises the question, 'ob es wohl mehr, als eine
        Philosophie geben könne.' In the _Kritik_, and in the
        _Prolegomena zujeder künftigen Metaphysik_, he says that
        metaphysics have made no progress, and that the study can hardly
        be said to exist. _Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 49, 50, vol. iii. pp.
        166, 246.

  [299] We find a curious instance of this, in the attempt made by M.
        Cousin to found an eclectic school; for this very able and
        learned man has been quite unable to avoid the one-sided view
        which is to every metaphysician an essential preliminary; and he
        adopts that fundamental distinction between necessary ideas and
        contingent ideas, by which the idealist is separated from the
        sensationalist: 'la grande division des idées aujourd'hui établie
        est la division des idées contingentes et des idées nécessaires.'
        _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philosophie_, II. série, vol. i. p. 82:
        see also vol. ii. p. 92, and the same work, I. série, vol. i. pp.
        249, 267, 268, 311, vol. iii. pp. 51-54. M. Cousin constantly
        contradicts Locke, and then says he has refuted that profound and
        vigorous thinker; while he does not even state the arguments of
        James Mill, who, as a metaphysician, is the greatest of our
        modern sensationalists, and whose views, whether right or wrong,
        certainly deserve notice from an eclectic historian of

        Another eclectic, Sir W. Hamilton, announces (_Discussions on
        Philosophy_, p. 597) 'an undeveloped philosophy, which, I am
        confident, is founded upon truth. To this confidence I have come,
        not merely through the convictions of my own consciousness, but
        by finding in this system a centre and conciliation for the most
        opposite of philosophical opinions.' But, at p. 589, he summarily
        disposes of one of the most important of these philosophical
        opinions as 'the superficial edifice of Locke.'

On these grounds, we must, I think, arrive at the conclusion, that as
metaphysicians are unavoidably, and by the very nature of their inquiry,
broken up into two completely antagonistic schools, the relative truth
of which there are no means of ascertaining; as they, moreover, have but
few resources, and as they use those resources according to a method by
which no other science has ever been developed,--we, looking at these
things, ought not to expect that they can supply us with sufficient data
for solving those great problems which the history of the human mind
presents to our view. And whoever will take the pains fairly to estimate
the present condition of mental philosophy, must admit that,
notwithstanding the influence it has always exercised over some of the
most powerful minds, and through them over society at large, there is,
nevertheless, no other study which has been so zealously prosecuted, so
long continued, and yet remains so barren of results. In no other
department has there been so much movement, and so little progress. Men
of eminent abilities, and of the greatest integrity of purpose, have in
every civilized country, for many centuries, been engaged in
metaphysical inquiries; and yet at the present moment their systems, so
far from approximating towards truth, are diverging from each other with
a velocity which seems to be accelerated by the progress of knowledge.
The incessant rivalry of the hostile schools, the violence with which
they have been supported, and the exclusive and unphilosophic confidence
with which each has advocated its own method,--all these things have
thrown the study of the mind into a confusion only to be compared to
that in which the study of religion has been thrown by the controversies
of the theologians.[300] The consequence is, that if we except a very
few of the laws of association, and perhaps I may add the modern
theories of vision and of touch,[301] there is not to be found in the
whole compass of metaphysics a single principle of importance, and at
the same time of incontestable truth. Under these circumstances, it is
impossible to avoid a suspicion that there is some fundamental error in
the manner in which these inquiries have been prosecuted. For my own
part, I believe that, by mere observation of our own minds, and even by
such rude experiments as we are able to make upon them, it will be
impossible to raise psychology to a science; and I entertain very little
doubt that metaphysics can only be successfully studied by an
investigation of history so comprehensive as to enable us to understand
the conditions which govern the movements of the human race.[302]

  [300] Berkeley, in a moment of candour, inadvertently confesses what is
        very damaging to the reputation of his own pursuits: 'Upon the
        whole, I am inclined to think that the far greater part, if not
        all, of those difficulties which have hitherto amused
        philosophers, and blocked up the way to knowledge, are entirely
        owing to ourselves. That we have first raised a dust, and then
        complain we cannot see.' _Principles of Human Knowledge_, in
        _Berkeley's Works_, vol. i. p. 74. Every metaphysician and
        theologian should get this sentence by heart: 'That we have first
        raised a dust, and then complain we cannot see.'

  [301] Some of the laws of association, as stated by Hume and Hartley,
        are capable of historical verification, which would change the
        metaphysical hypothesis into a scientific theory. Berkeley's
        theory of vision, and Brown's theory of touch, have, in the same
        way, been verified physiologically; so that we now know what
        otherwise we could only have suspected.

  [302] In regard to one of the difficulties stated in this chapter as
        impeding metaphysicians, it is only just to quote the remarks of
        Kant: 'Wie aber das Ich, der ich denke, von dem Ich, das sich
        selbst anschaut, unterschieden (indem ich mir noch andere
        Anschauungsart wenigstens als möglich vorstellen kann), und doch
        mit diesem letzteren als dasselbe Subject einerlei sei, wie ich
        also sagen könne: Ich als Intelligenz und denkend Subject,
        erkenne mich selbst als gedachtes Object, so fern ich mir noch
        über das in der Anschauung gegeben bin, nur, gleich anderen
        Phänomenen, nicht wie ich vor dem Verstande bin, sondern wie ich
        mir erscheine, hat nicht mehr auch nicht weniger Schwierigkeit
        bei sich, als wie ich mir selbst überhaupt ein Object und zwar
        der Anschauung und innerer Wahrnehmungen sein könne.' _Kritik der
        reinen Vernunft_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. p. 144. I am very
        willing to let the question rest on this: for to me it appears
        that both cases are not only equally difficult, but, in the
        present state of our knowledge, are equally impossible.

                               CHAPTER IV.

                          PROGRESS OF SOCIETY.

In the preceding chapter, it has, I trust, been made apparent, that,
whatever may hereafter be the case, we, looking merely at the present
state of our knowledge, must pronounce the metaphysical method to be
unequal to the task, often imposed upon it, of discovering the laws
which regulate the movements of the human mind. We are, therefore,
driven to the only remaining method, according to which mental phenomena
are to be studied, not simply as they appear in the mind of the
individual observer, but as they appear in the actions of mankind at
large. The essential opposition between these two plans is very obvious:
but it may perhaps be well to bring forward further illustration of the
resources possessed by each for the investigation of truth; and for this
purpose, I will select a subject which, though still imperfectly
understood, supplies a beautiful instance of the regularity with which,
under the most conflicting circumstances, the great Laws of Nature are
able to hold their course.

The case to which I refer, is that of the proportion kept up in the
births of the sexes; a proportion which if it were to be greatly
disturbed in any country, even for a single generation, would throw
society into the most serious confusion, and would infallibly cause a
great increase in the vices of the people.[303] Now, it has always been
suspected that, on an average, the male and female births are tolerably
equal; but, until very recently, no one could tell whether or not they
are precisely equal, or, if unequal, on which side there is an
excess.[304] The births being the physical result of physical
antecedents, it was clearly seen that the laws of the births must be in
those antecedents; that is to say, that the causes of the proportion of
the sexes must reside in the parents themselves.[305] Under these
circumstances, the question arose, if it was not possible to elucidate
this difficulty by our knowledge of animal physiology; for it was
plausibly said, 'Since physiology is a study of the laws of the
body,[306] and since all births are products resulting from the body,
it follows that if we know the laws of the body, we shall know the laws
of the birth.' This was the view taken by physiologists of our
origin;[307] and this is precisely the view taken by metaphysicians of
our history. Both parties believed that it was possible at once to rise
to the cause of the phenomenon, and by studying its laws predict the
phenomenon itself. The physiologist said, 'By studying individual
bodies, and thus ascertaining the laws which regulate the union of the
parents, I will discover the proportion of the sexes, because the
proportion is merely the result to which the union gives rise.' Just in
the same way, the metaphysician says, 'By studying individual minds, I
will ascertain the laws which govern their movements; and in that way I
will predict the movements of mankind, which are obviously compounded of
the individual movements.'[308] These are the expectations which have
been confidently held out, by physiologists respecting the laws of the
sexes, and by metaphysicians respecting the laws of history. Towards the
fulfilment, however, of these promises the metaphysicians have done
absolutely nothing; nor have the physiologists been more successful,
although their views have the support of anatomy, which admits of the
employment of direct experiment, a resource unknown to metaphysics. But
towards settling the present question, all this availed them nothing;
and physiologists are not yet possessed of a single fact which throws
any light on this problem: Is the number of male births equal to female
births--is it greater, or is it less?

  [303] Thus we find that the Crusades, by diminishing the proportion of
        men to women in Europe, increased licentiousness. See a curious
        passage in _Sprengel_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p.
        376. In Yucatan, there is generally a considerable excess of
        women, and the result is prejudicial to morals. _Stephens's
        Central America_, vol. iii. pp. 380, 429. On the other hand,
        respecting the state of society produced by an excess of males,
        see _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, p. 259; _Journal of
        Geographical Society_, vol. xv. p. 45, vol. xvi. p. 307;
        _Southey's Commonplace Book_, third series, p. 579.

  [304] On this question a variety of conflicting statements may be seen
        in the old writers. Goodman, early in the seventeenth century,
        supposed that more females were born than males. _Southey's
        Commonplace Book_, third series, p. 696. Turgot (_[OE]uvres_,
        vol. ii. p. 247) rightly says, 'il naît un peu plus d'hommes que
        de femmes;' but the evidence was too incomplete to make this more
        than a lucky guess; and I find that even Herder, writing in 1785,
        takes for granted that the proportion was about equal: 'ein
        ziemliches Gleichmass in den Geburten beider Geschlechter'
        (_Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol. ii. p. 149), and was sometimes in
        favour of girls, 'ja, die Nachrichten mehrerer Reisenden machen
        es wahrscheinlich, dass in manchen dieser Gegenden wirklich mehr
        Töchter als Söhne geboren werden.'

  [305] A question, indeed, has been raised as to the influence exercised
        by the state of the mind during the period of orgasm. But
        whatever this influence may be, it can only affect the subsequent
        birth through and by physical antecedents, which in every case
        must be regarded as the proximate cause. If, therefore, the
        influence were proved to exist, we should still have to search
        for physical laws: though such laws would of course be considered
        merely as secondary ones, resolvable into some higher

  [306] Some writers treat physiology as a study of the laws of life. But
        this, looking at the subject as it now stands, is far too bold a
        step, and several branches of knowledge will have to be raised
        from their present empirical state, before the phenomena of life
        can be scientifically investigated. The more rational mode seems
        to be, to consider physiology and anatomy as correlative; the
        first forming the dynamical, and the second forming the statical
        part of the study of organic structure.

  [307] 'Voulez-vous savoir de quoi dépend le sexe des enfants? Fernel
        vous répond, sur la foi des anciens, qu'il dépend des qualités de
        la semence du père et de la mère.' _Renouard_, _Histoire de la
        Médecine_, Paris, 1846, vol. ii. p. 106; see also, at p. 185, the
        opinion of Hippocrates, adopted by Galen; and similar views in
        _Lepelletier_, _Physiologie Médicale_, vol. iv. p. 332, and
        _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. i. pp. 252, 10, vol. ii.
        p. 115, vol. iv. p. 62. For further information as to the
        opinions which have been held respecting the origin of sexes, see
        _Beausobre_, _Histoire de Manichée_, vol. ii. p. 417; _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. iii. pp. 358, 361; _Vishnu Purana_, p. 349;
        _Works of Sir William Jones_, vol. iii. p. 126; _Ritter's History
        of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. iii. p. 191; _Denham and
        Clapperton's Africa_, pp. 323, 324; _Maintenon_, _Lettres
        Inédites_, vol. ii. p. 62; and the view of Hohl (_Burdach's
        Physiologie_, vol. ii. p. 472), 'que les femmes chez lesquelles
        prédomine le système artériel procréent des garçons, au lieu que
        celles dont le système veineux a la prédominance mettent au monde
        des filles.' According to Anaxagoras the question was extremely
        simple: [Greek: kai arrena men apo tôn dexiôn, thêlea de apo tôn
        aristerôn.] _Diog. Laert._ ii. 9, vol. i. p. 85.

  [308] 'Le metaphysicien se voit comme la source de l'évidence et le
        confident de la nature: Moi seul, dit-il, je puis généraliser les
        idées, et découvrir le germe des événements qui se développent
        journellement dans le monde physique et moral; et c'est par moi
        seul que l'homme peut être éclairé.' _Helvetius_, _de l'Esprit_,
        vol. i. p. 86. Compare _Herder_, _Ideen zur Geschichte der
        Menschheit_, vol. ii. p. 105. Thus, too, M. Cousin (_Hist. de la
        Philosophie_, II. série, vol. i. p. 131) says, 'Le fait de la
        conscience transporté de l'individu dans l'espèce et dans
        l'histoire, est la clef de tous les développements de

These are questions to which all the resources of physiologists, from
Aristotle down to our own time, afford no means of reply.[309] And yet
at the present day we, by the employment of what now seems a very
natural method, are possessed of a truth which the united abilities of a
long series of eminent men failed to discover. By the simple experiment
of registering the number of births and their sexes; by extending this
registration over several years, in different countries,--we have been
able to eliminate all casual disturbances, and ascertain the existence
of a law which, expressed in round numbers, is, that for every twenty
girls there are born twenty-one boys: and we may confidently say, that
although the operations of this law are of course liable to constant
aberrations, the law itself is so powerful, that we know of no country
in which during a single year the male births have not been greater than
the female ones.[310]

  [309] Considering the very long period during which physiology has been
        studied, it is remarkable how little the physiologists have
        contributed towards the great and final object of all science,
        namely, the power of predicting events. To me it appears that the
        two principal causes of this are, the backwardness of chemistry,
        and the still extremely imperfect state of the microscope, which
        even now is so inaccurate an instrument, that when a high power
        is employed, little confidence can be placed in it; and the
        examination, for instance, of the spermatozoa has led to the most
        contradictory results. In regard to chemistry, MM. Robin and
        Verdeil, in their recent great work, have ably proved what
        manifold relations there are between it and the further progress
        of our knowledge of the animal frame; though I venture to think
        that these eminent writers have shown occasionally an undue
        disposition to limit the application of chemical laws to
        physiological phenomena. See _Robin et Verdeil_, _Chimie
        Anatomique et Physiologique_, Paris, 1853, vol. i. pp. 20, 34,
        167, 337, 338, 437, 661, vol. ii. pp. 136, 137, 508, vol. iii.
        pp. 135, 144, 183, 281, 283, 351, 547. The increasing tendency of
        chemistry to bring under its control what are often supposed to
        be purely organic phenomena, is noticed cautiously in _Turner's
        Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 1308, London, 1847; and boldly in
        _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_, 1851, pp. 250, 251. The
        connexion between chemistry and physiology is touched on rather
        too hastily in _Bouilland_, _Philosophie Médicale_, pp. 160, 257;
        _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. iii. p. 166;
        _Brodie's Lectures on Pathology_, p. 48; _Henle_, _Traité
        d'Anatomie_, vol. i. pp. 25, 26; _Feuchtersleben's Medical
        Psychology_, p. 88; but better in _Holland's Medical Notes_,
        1839, p. 270, a thoughtful and suggestive work. On the necessity
        of chemistry for increasing our knowledge of embryology, compare
        _Wagner's Physiology_, pp. 131, 132 note, with _Burdach_, _Traité
        de Physiologie_, vol. iv. pp. 59, 168.

  [310] It used to be supposed that some of the eastern countries formed
        an exception to this; but more precise observations have
        contradicted the loose statements of the earlier travellers, and
        in no part of the world, so far as our knowledge extends, are
        more girls born than boys; while in every part of the world for
        which we have statistical returns, there is a slight excess on
        the side of male births. Compare _Marsden's History of Sumatra_,
        p. 234; _Raffles' History of Java_, vol. i. pp. 81, 82; _Sykes on
        the Statistics of the Deccan_, in _Reports of British
        Association_, vol. vi. pp. 246, 261, 262; _Niebuhr_, _Description
        de l'Arabie_, p. 63; _Humboldt_, _Nouv. Espagne_, vol. i. p. 139;
        _McWilliam_, _Medical History of Expedition to the Niger_, p.
        113; _Elliotson's Human Physiology_, p. 795; _Thomson's Hist. of
        Royal Society_, p. 531; _Sadler's Law of Population_, vol. i. pp.
        507, 511, vol. ii. pp. 324, 335; _Paris and Fonblanque's Medical
        Jurisprudence_, vol. i. p. 259; _Journal of Statist. Soc._ vol.
        iii. pp. 263, 264, vol. xvii. pp. 46, 123; _Journal of
        Geographical Soc._ vol. xx. p. 17; _Fourth Report of British
        Association_, pp. 687, 689, _Report for_ 1842, pp. 144, 145;
        _Transac. of Sections for_ 1840, p. 174, _for_ 1847, p. 96, _for_
        1849, p. 87; _Dufau_, _Traité de Statistique_, pp. 24, 209, 210;
        _Burdach_, _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ii. pp. 56, 57, 273,
        274, 281, vol. v. p. 373; _Hawkins's Medical Statistics_, pp.
        221, 222.

The importance and the beautiful regularity of this law make us regret
that it still remains an empirical truth, not having yet been connected
with the physical phenomena by which its operations are caused.[311]
But this is immaterial to my present purpose, which is only to notice
the method by which the discovery has been made. For this method is
obviously analogous to that by which I propose to investigate the
operations of the human mind; while the old and unsuccessful method is
analogous to that employed by the metaphysicians. As long as
physiologists attempted to ascertain the laws of the proportion of sexes
by individual experiments, they effected absolutely nothing towards the
end they hoped to achieve. But when men became dissatisfied with these
individual experiments, and instead of them, began to collect
observations less minute, but more comprehensive, then it was that the
great law of nature, for which during many centuries they had vainly
searched, first became unfolded to their view. Precisely in the same
way, as long as the human mind is only studied according to the narrow
and contracted method of metaphysicians, we have every reason for
thinking that the laws which regulate its movements will remain unknown.
If, therefore, we wish to effect anything of real moment, it becomes
necessary that we should discard those old schemes, the insufficiency of
which is demonstrated by experience as well as by reason; and that we
should substitute in their place such a comprehensive survey of facts as
will enable us to eliminate those disturbances which, owing to the
impossibility of experiment, we shall never be able to isolate.

  [311] In _Müller's Physiology_, vol. ii. p. 1657, a work of great
        authority, it is said, that 'the causes which determine the sex
        of the embryo are unknown, although it appears that the relative
        age of the parents has some influence over the sex of the
        offspring.' That the relative age of the parents does affect the
        sex of their children, may, from the immense amount of evidence
        now collected, be considered almost certain; but M. Müller,
        instead of referring to physiological writers, ought to have
        mentioned that the statisticians, and not the physiologists, were
        the first to make this discovery. On this curious question, see
        _Carpenter's Human Physiology_, p. 746; _Sadler's Law of
        Population_, vol. ii. pp. 333, 336, 342; _Journal of Statistical
        Society_, vol. iii. pp. 263, 264. In regard to animals below man,
        we find from numerous experiments, that among sheep and horses
        the age of the parents 'has a very great general influence upon
        the sex' of the offspring. _Elliotson's Physiology_, pp. 708,
        709; and see _Cuvier_, _Progrès des Sciences Naturelles_, vol.
        ii. p. 406. As to the relation between the origin of sex and the
        laws of arrested development, compare _Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire_,
        _Hist. des Anomalies de l'Organisation_, vol. ii. pp. 33, 34, 73,
        vol. iii. p. 278, with _Lindley's Botany_, vol. ii. p. 81. In
        _Esquirol_, _Maladies Mentales_, vol. i. p. 302, there is a
        singular case recorded by Lamotte, which would seem to connect
        this question with pathological phenomena, though it is uncertain
        whether the epilepsy was an effect or a cognate symptom.

The desire that I feel to make the preliminary views of this
Introduction perfectly clear, is my sole apology for having introduced a
digression which, though adding nothing to the strength of the argument,
may be found useful as illustrating it, and will at all events enable
ordinary readers to appreciate the value of the proposed method. It now
remains for us to ascertain the manner in which, by the application of
this method, the laws of mental progress may be most easily discovered.

If, in the first place, we ask what this progress is, the answer seems
very simple: that it is a two-fold progress, Moral and Intellectual; the
first having more immediate relation to our duties, the second to our
knowledge. This is a classification which has been frequently laid down,
and with which most persons are familiar. And so far as history is a
narration of results, there can be no doubt that the division is
perfectly accurate. There can be no doubt that a people are not really
advancing, if, on the one hand, their increasing ability is accompanied
by increasing vice, or if, on the other hand, while they are becoming
more virtuous, they likewise become more ignorant. This double
movement, moral and intellectual, is essential to the very idea of
civilization, and includes the entire theory of mental progress. To be
willing to perform our duty is the moral part; to know how to perform it
is the intellectual part: while the closer these two parts are knit
together, the greater the harmony with which they work; and the more
accurately the means are adapted to the end, the more completely will
the scheme of our life be accomplished, and the more securely shall we
lay a foundation for the further advancement of mankind.

A question, therefore, now arises of great moment: namely, which of
these two parts or elements of mental progress is the most important.
For the progress itself being the result of their united action, it
becomes necessary to ascertain which of them works more powerfully, in
order that we may subordinate the inferior element to the laws of the
superior one. If the advance of civilization, and the general happiness
of mankind, depend more on their moral feelings than on their
intellectual knowledge, we must of course measure the progress of
society by those feelings; while if, on the other hand, it depends
principally on their knowledge, we must take as our standard the amount
and success of their intellectual activity. As soon as we know the
relative energy of these two components, we shall treat them according
to the usual plan for investigating truth; that is to say, we shall look
at the product of their joint action as obeying the laws of the more
powerful agent, whose operations are casually disturbed by the inferior
laws of the minor agent.

In entering into this inquiry, we are met by a preliminary difficulty,
arising from the loose and careless manner in which ordinary language is
employed on subjects that require the greatest nicety and precision. For
the expression, Moral and Intellectual Progress, is suggestive of a
serious fallacy. In the manner in which it is generally used, it conveys
an idea that the moral and intellectual faculties of men are, in the
advance of civilization, naturally more acute and more trustworthy than
they were formerly. But this, though it may possibly be true, has never
been proved. It may be that, owing to some physical causes still
unknown, the average capacity of the brain is, if we compare long
periods of time, becoming gradually greater; and that therefore the
mind, which acts through the brain, is, even independently of education,
increasing in aptitude and in the general competence of its views.[312]
Such, however, is still our ignorance of physical laws, and so
completely are we in the dark as to the circumstances which regulate the
hereditary transmission of character, temperament,[313] and other
personal peculiarities, that we must consider this alleged progress as
a very doubtful point; and, in the present state of our knowledge, we
cannot safely assume that there has been any permanent improvement in
the moral or intellectual faculties of man, nor have we any decisive
ground for saying that those faculties are likely to be greater in an
infant born in the most civilized part of Europe, than in one born in
the wildest region of a barbarous country.[314]

  [312] That the natural powers of the human brain are improving because
        they are capable of transmission, is a favourite doctrine with
        the followers of Gall, and is adopted by M. A. Comte
        (_Philosophie Positive_, vol. iv. pp. 384, 385); who, whoever,
        admits that it has never been sufficiently verified: 'sans que
        toutefois l'expérience ait encore suffisamment prononcé.' Dr.
        Prichard, whose habits of thought were very different, seems,
        nevertheless, inclined to lean in this direction; for his
        comparison of skulls led him to the conclusion, that the present
        inhabitants of Britain, 'either as the _result of many ages of
        greater intellectual cultivation_, or from some other cause,
        have, as I am persuaded, much more capacious braincases than
        their forefathers.' _Prichard's Physical History of Mankind_,
        vol. i. p. 305. Even if this were certain, it would not prove
        that the contents of the crania were altered, though it might
        create a presumption; and the general question must, I think,
        remain unsettled until the researches begun by Blumenbach, and
        recently continued by Morton, are carried out upon a scale far
        more comprehensive than has hitherto been attempted. Compare
        _Burdach_, _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ii. p. 253; where,
        however, the question is not stated with sufficient caution.

  [313] None of the laws of hereditary descent connected with the
        formation of character, have yet been generalized; nor is our
        knowledge much more advanced respecting the theory of
        temperaments, which still remains the principal obstacle in the
        way of the phrenologists. The difficulties attending the study of
        temperaments, and the obscurity in which this important subject
        is shrouded, may be estimated by whoever will compare what has
        been said upon it by the following writers: _Müller's
        Physiology_, vol. ii. pp. 1406-1410; _Elliotson's Human
        Physiology_, pp. 1059-1062; _Blainville_, _Physiologie Générale
        et Comparée_, vol. i. pp. 168, 264, 265, vol. ii. pp. 43, 130,
        214, 328, 329, vol. iii. pp. 54, 74, 118, 148, 149, 284, 285;
        _Williams's Principles of Medicine_, pp. 16, 17, 112, 113;
        _Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire_, _Anomalies de l'Organisation_, vol. i.
        pp. 186, 190; _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol.
        i. pp. 204, 205, vol. iii. p. 276; _Renouard_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. i. p. 326; _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_,
        vol. i. p. 380, vol. ii. p. 408, vol. iii. p. 21, vol. v. p. 325,
        vol. vi. p. 492; _Esquirol_, _Maladies Mentales_, vol. i. pp. 39,
        226, 429, 594, vol. ii. p. 29; _Lepelletier_, _Physiol.
        Médicale_, vol. i. pp. 139, 281, vol. iii. pp. 372-429, vol. iv.
        pp. 93, 123, 133, 143, 148, 177; _Henle_, _Anatomie Générale_,
        vol. i. p. 474, vol. ii. pp. 288, 289, 316; _Bichat_, _Anatomie
        Générale_, vol. i. p. 207, vol. ii. p. 444, vol. iii. pp. 310,
        507, vol. iv. pp. 281, 399, 400, 504; _Bichat sur la Vie_, pp.
        80, 81, 234, 235; _Phillips on Scrofula_, p. 9; _Feuchtersleben's
        Medical Psychology_, pp. 143-145; _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_,
        Paris, 1766, vol. v. p. 110; _Cullen's Works_, Edinb. 1827, vol.
        i. pp. 214-221; _Cabanis_, _Rapports du Physique et du Moral_,
        pp. 76-83, 229-261, 520-533; _Noble on the Brain_, pp. 370-376;
        _Combe's North America_, vol. i. pp. 126-128. Latterly, attention
        has been paid to the chemistry of the blood as it varies in the
        various temperaments; and this seems a more satisfactory method
        than the old plan of merely describing the obvious symptoms of
        the temperament. _Clark on Animal Physiology_, in _Fourth Report
        of the British Association_, p. 126; _Simon's Animal Chemistry_,
        vol. i. p. 236; _Wagner's Physiology_, p. 262.

  [314] We often hear of hereditary talents, hereditary vices, and
        hereditary virtues; but whoever will critically examine the
        evidence will find that we have no proof of their existence. The
        way in which they are commonly proved is in the highest degree
        illogical; the usual course being for writers to collect
        instances of some mental peculiarity found in a parent and in his
        child, and then to infer that the peculiarity was bequeathed. By
        this mode of reasoning we might demonstrate any proposition;
        since in all large fields of inquiry there are a sufficient
        number of empirical coincidences to make a plausible case in
        favour of whatever view a man chooses to advocate. But this is
        not the way in which truth is discovered; and we ought to inquire
        not only how many instances there are of hereditary talents, &c.
        but how many instances there are of such qualities not being
        hereditary. Until something of this sort is attempted, we can
        know nothing about the matter inductively: while, until
        physiology and chemistry are much more advanced, we can know
        nothing about it deductively.

        These considerations ought to prevent us from receiving
        statements (_Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence_, pp. 644, 678, and
        many other books) which positively affirm the existence of
        hereditary madness and hereditary suicide; and the same remark
        applies to hereditary disease (on which see some admirable
        observations in _Phillips on Scrofula_, pp. 101-120, London,
        1846); and with still greater force does it apply to hereditary
        vices and hereditary virtues; inasmuch as ethical phenomena have
        not been registered as carefully as physiological ones, and
        therefore our conclusions respecting them are even more

Whatever, therefore, the moral and intellectual progress of men may be,
it resolves itself not into a progress of natural capacity,[315] but
into a progress, if I may so say, of opportunity; that is, an
improvement in the circumstances under which that capacity after birth
comes into play. Here, then, lies the gist of the whole matter. The
progress is one, not of internal power, but of external advantage. The
child born in a civilized land is not likely, as such, to be superior to
one born among barbarians; and the difference which ensues between the
acts of the two children will be caused, so far as we know, solely by
the pressure of external circumstances; by which I mean the surrounding
opinions, knowledge, associations; in a word, the entire mental
atmosphere in which the two children are respectively nurtured.

  [315] To what has been already stated, I will add the opinions of two of
        the most profound among modern thinkers. 'Men, I think, have been
        much the same for natural endowments in all times.' _Conduct of
        the Understanding_, in _Locke's Works_, vol. ii. p. 361. 'Les
        dispositions primitives agissent également chez les peuples
        barbares et chez les peuples policés; ils sont vraisemblablement
        les mêmes dans tous les lieux et dans tous les tems.... Plus il
        y aura d'hommes, et plus vous aurez de grands hommes ou d'hommes
        propres à devenir grands.' _Progrès de l'Esprit Humain_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. ii. p. 264. The remarks of Dr. Brown
        (_Lectures on the Mind_, p. 57), if I rightly understand his
        rhetorical language, apply not to natural capacity, but to that
        which is acquired: see the end of his ninth Lecture.

On this account it is evident, that if we look at mankind in the
aggregate, their moral and intellectual conduct is regulated by the
moral and intellectual notions prevalent in their own time. There are,
of course, many persons who will rise above those notions, and many
others who will sink below them. But such cases are exceptional, and
form a very small proportion of the total amount of those who are nowise
remarkable either for good or for evil. An immense majority of men must
always remain in a middle state, neither very foolish nor very able,
neither very virtuous nor very vicious, but slumbering on in a peaceful
and decent mediocrity, adopting without much difficulty the current
opinions of the day, making no inquiry, exciting no scandal, causing no
wonder, just holding themselves on a level with their generation, and
noiselessly conforming to the standard of morals and of knowledge common
to the age and country in which they live.

Now, it requires but a superficial acquaintance with history to be aware
that this standard is constantly changing, and that it is never
precisely the same even in the most similar countries, or in two
successive generations in the same country. The opinions which are
popular in any nation vary in many respects almost from year to year;
and what in one period is attacked as a paradox or a heresy, is in
another period welcomed as a sober truth; which, however, in its turn is
replaced by some subsequent novelty. This extreme mutability in the
ordinary standard of human actions shows that the conditions on which
the standard depends must themselves be very mutable; and those
conditions, whatever they may be, are evidently the originators of the
moral and intellectual conduct of the great average of mankind.

Here, then, we have a basis on which we can safely proceed. We know that
the main cause of human actions is extremely variable; we have only,
therefore, to apply this test to any set of circumstances which are
supposed to be the cause, and if we find that such circumstances are not
very variable, we must infer that they are not the cause we are
attempting to discover.

Applying this test to moral motives, or to the dictates of what is
called moral instinct, we shall at once see how extremely small is the
influence those motives have exercised over the progress of
civilization. For there is, unquestionably, nothing to be found in the
world which has undergone so little change as those great dogmas of
which moral systems are composed. To do good to others; to sacrifice for
their benefit your own wishes; to love your neighbour as yourself; to
forgive your enemies; to restrain your passions; to honour your parents;
to respect those who are set over you: these, and a few others, are the
sole essentials of morals; but they have been known for thousands of
years, and not one jot or tittle has been added to them by all the
sermons, homilies, and text-books which moralists and theologians have
been able to produce.[316]

  [316] That the system of morals propounded in the New Testament
        contained no maxim which had not been previously enunciated, and
        that some of the most beautiful passages in the Apostolic
        writings are quotations from pagan authors, is well known to
        every scholar; and so far from supplying, as some suppose, an
        objection against Christianity, it is a strong recommendation of
        it, as indicating the intimate relation between the doctrines of
        Christ and the moral sympathies of mankind in different ages. But
        to assert that Christianity communicated to man moral truths
        previously unknown, argues, on the part of the assertor, either
        gross ignorance or else wilful fraud. For evidence of the
        knowledge of moral truths possessed by barbarous nations,
        independently of Christianity, and for the most part previous to
        its promulgation, compare _Mackay's Religious Development_, vol.
        ii. pp. 376-380; _Mure's Hist. of Greek Literature_, vol. ii. p.
        398, vol. iii. p. 380; _Prescott's History of Mexico_, vol. i. p.
        31; _Elphinstone's History of India_, p. 47; _Works of Sir W.
        Jones_, vol. i. pp. 87, 168, vol. iii. pp. 105, 114; _Mill's
        History of India_, vol. i. p. 419; _Bohlen_, _das alte Indien_,
        vol. i. pp. 364-366; _Beausobre_, _Histoire de Manichée_, vol. i.
        pp. 318, 319; _Coleman's Mythology of the Hindus_, p. 193;
        _Transac. of Soc. of Bombay_, vol. iii. p. 198; _Transac. of
        Asiatic Society_, vol. i. p. 5, vol. iii. pp. 283, 284; _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. vi. p. 271, vol. vii. p. 40, vol. xvi. pp. 130,
        277, vol. xx. pp. 460, 461; _The Dabistan_, vol. i. pp. 328, 338;
        _Catlin's North-American Indians_, vol. ii. p. 243; _Syme's
        Embassy to Ava_, vol. ii. p. 389; _Davis's Chinese_, vol. i. p.
        196, vol. ii. pp. 136, 233; _Journal Asiatique_, I. série, vol.
        iv. p. 77, Paris, 1824.

But, if we contrast this stationary aspect of moral truths with the
progressive aspect of intellectual truths, the difference is indeed
startling.[317] All the great moral systems which have exercised much
influence have been fundamentally the same; all the great intellectual
systems have been fundamentally different. In reference to our moral
conduct, there is not a single principle now known to the most
cultivated Europeans, which was not likewise known to the ancients. In
reference to the conduct of our intellect, the moderns have not only
made the most important additions to every department of knowledge that
the ancients ever attempted to study, but besides this, they have upset
and revolutionized the old methods of inquiry; they have consolidated
into one great scheme all those resources of induction which Aristotle
alone dimly perceived; and they have created sciences, the faintest idea
of which never entered the mind of the boldest thinker antiquity

  [317] Sir James Mackintosh was so struck by the stationary character of
        moral principles, that he denies the possibility of their
        advance, and boldly affirms that no further discoveries can be
        made in morals: 'Morality admits no discoveries.... More than
        three thousand years have elapsed since the composition of the
        Pentateuch; and let any man, if he is able, tell me in what
        important respect the rule of life has varied since that distant
        period. Let the Institutes of Menu be explored with the same
        view; we shall arrive at the same conclusion. Let the books of
        false religion be opened; it will be found that their moral
        system is, in all its grand features, the same.... The fact is
        evident that no improvements have been made in practical
        morality.... The facts which lead to the formation of moral
        rules are as accessible, and must be as obvious, to the simplest
        barbarian as to the most enlightened philosopher.... The case of
        the physical and speculative sciences is directly opposite. There
        the facts are remote and scarcely accessible.... From the
        countless variety of the facts with which they are conversant, it
        is impossible to prescribe any bounds to their future
        improvement. It is otherwise with morals. They have hitherto been
        stationary; and, in my opinion, they are likely for ever to
        continue so.' _Life of Mackintosh, edited by his Son_, London,
        1835, vol. i. pp. 119-122. Condorcet (_Vie de Turgot_, p. 180)
        says, 'La morale de toutes les nations a été la même;' and Kant
        (_Logik_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. i. p. 356), 'In der
        Moral-philosophie sind wir nicht weiter gekommen, als die Alten.'

These are, to every educated man, recognized and notorious facts; and
the inference to be drawn from them is immediately obvious. Since
civilization is the product of moral and intellectual agencies, and
since that product is constantly changing, it evidently cannot be
regulated by the stationary agent; because, when surrounding
circumstances are unchanged, a stationary agent can only produce a
stationary effect. The only other agent is the intellectual one; and
that this is the real mover may be proved in two distinct ways: first,
because being, as we have already seen, either moral or intellectual,
and being, as we have also seen, not moral, it must be intellectual;
and, secondly, because the intellectual principle has an activity and a
capacity for adaptation, which, as I undertake to show, is quite
sufficient to account for the extraordinary progress that, during
several centuries, Europe has continued to make.

Such are the main arguments by which my view is supported; but there are
also other and collateral circumstances which are well worthy of
consideration. The first is, that the intellectual principle is not only
far more progressive than the moral principle, but is also far more
permanent in its results. The acquisitions made by the intellect are, in
every civilized country, carefully preserved, registered in certain
well-understood formulas, and protected by the use of technical and
scientific language; they are easily handed down from one generation to
another, and thus assuming an accessible, or, as it were, a tangible
form, they often influence the most distant posterity, they become the
heirlooms of mankind, the immortal bequest of the genius to which they
owe their birth. But the good deeds effected by our moral faculties are
less capable of transmission; they are of a more private and retiring
character; while, as the motives to which they owe their origin are
generally the result of self-discipline and of self-sacrifice, they have
to be worked out by every man for himself; and thus, begun by each anew,
they derive little benefit from the maxims of preceding experience, nor
can they well be stored up for the use of future moralists. The
consequence is, that although moral excellence is more amiable, and to
most persons more attractive, than intellectual excellence, still, it
must be confessed that, looking at ulterior results, it is far less
active, less permanent, and, as I shall presently prove, less productive
of real good. Indeed, if we examine the effects of the most active
philanthropy, and of the largest and most disinterested kindness, we
shall find that those effects are, comparatively speaking, short-lived;
that there is only a small number of individuals they come in contact
with and benefit; that they rarely survive the generation which
witnessed their commencement; and that, when they take the more durable
form of founding great public charities, such institutions invariably
fall, first into abuse, then into decay, and after a time are either
destroyed, or perverted from their original intention, mocking the
effort by which it is vainly attempted to perpetuate the memory even of
the purest and most energetic benevolence.

These conclusions are no doubt very unpalatable; and what makes them
peculiarly offensive is, that it is impossible to refute them. For the
deeper we penetrate into this question, the more clearly shall we see
the superiority of intellectual acquisitions over moral feeling.[318]
There is no instance on record of an ignorant man who, having good
intentions, and supreme power to enforce them, has not done far more
evil than good. And whenever the intentions have been very eager, and
the power very extensive, the evil has been enormous. But if you can
diminish the sincerity of that man, if you can mix some alloy with his
motives, you will likewise diminish the evil which he works. If he is
selfish as well as ignorant, it will often happen that you may play off
his vice against his ignorance, and by exciting his fears restrain his
mischief. If, however, he has no fear, if he is entirely unselfish, if
his sole object is the good of others, if he pursues that object with
enthusiasm, upon a large scale, and with disinterested zeal, then it is
that you have no check upon him, you have no means of preventing the
calamities which, in an ignorant age, an ignorant man will be sure to
inflict. How entirely this is verified by experience, we may see in
studying the history of religious persecution. To punish even a single
man for his religious tenets, is assuredly a crime of the deepest dye;
but to punish a large body of men, to persecute an entire sect, to
attempt to extirpate opinions, which, growing out of the state of
society in which they arise, are themselves a manifestation of the
marvellous and luxuriant fertility of the human mind,--to do this is not
only one of the most pernicious, but one of the most foolish acts that
can possibly be conceived. Nevertheless, it is an undoubted fact that an
overwhelming majority of religious persecutors have been men of the
purest intentions, of the most admirable and unsullied morals. It is
impossible that this should be otherwise. For they are not
bad-intentioned men, who seek to enforce opinions which they believe to
be good. Still less are they bad men, who are so regardless of temporal
considerations as to employ all the resources of their power, not for
their own benefit, but for the purpose of propagating a religion which
they think necessary to the future happiness of mankind. Such men as
these are not bad, they are only ignorant; ignorant of the nature of
truth, ignorant of the consequences of their own acts. But, in a moral
point of view, their motives are unimpeachable. Indeed, it is the very
ardour of their sincerity which warms them into persecution. It is the
holy zeal by which they are fired that quickens their fanaticism into a
deadly activity. If you can impress any man with an absorbing conviction
of the supreme importance of some moral or religious doctrine; if you
can make him believe that those who reject that doctrine are doomed to
eternal perdition; if you then give that man power, and by means of his
ignorance blind him to the ulterior consequences of his own act,--he
will infallibly persecute those who deny his doctrine; and the extent
of his persecution will be regulated by the extent of his sincerity.
Diminish the sincerity, and you will diminish the persecution: in other
words, by weakening the virtue you may check the evil. This is a truth
of which history furnishes such innumerable examples, that to deny it
would be not only to reject the plainest and most conclusive arguments,
but to refuse the concurrent testimony of every age. I will merely
select two cases, which, from the entire difference in their
circumstances, are very apposite as illustrations: the first being from
the history of Paganism, the other from the history of Christianity; and
both proving the inability of moral feelings to control religious

  [318] One part of the argument is well stated by Cuvier, who says, 'Le
        bien que l'on fait aux hommes, quelque grand qu'il soit, est
        toujours passager; les vérités qu'on leur laisse sont
        éternelles.' _Cuvier_, _Eloges Historiques_, vol. ii. p. 304.

I. The Roman emperors, as is well known, subjected the early Christians
to persecutions, which, though they have been exaggerated, were frequent
and very grievous. But what to some persons must appear extremely
strange, is, that among the active authors of these cruelties, we find
the names of the best men who ever sat on the throne; while the worst
and most infamous princes were precisely those who spared the
Christians, and took no heed of their increase. The two most thoroughly
depraved of all the emperors were certainly Commodus and Elagabalus;
neither of whom persecuted the new religion, or indeed adopted any
measures against it. They were too reckless of the future, too selfish,
too absorbed in their own infamous pleasures, to mind whether truth or
error prevailed; and being thus indifferent to the welfare of their
subjects, they cared nothing about the progress of a creed, which they,
as Pagan emperors, were bound to regard as a fatal and impious delusion.
They, therefore, allowed Christianity to run its course, unchecked by
those penal laws which more honest, but more mistaken, rulers would
assuredly have enacted.[319] We find, accordingly, that the great enemy
of Christianity was Marcus Aurelius: a man of kindly temper, and of
fearless, unflinching honesty, but whose reign was characterized by a
persecution from which he would have refrained had he been less in
earnest about the religion of his fathers.[320] And to complete the
argument, it may be added, that the last and one of the most strenuous
of the opponents of Christianity, who occupied the throne of the Cæsars,
was Julian: a prince of eminent probity, whose opinions are often
attacked, but against whose moral conduct even calumny itself has hardly
breathed a suspicion.[321]

  [319] 'The first year of Commodus must be the epocha of the toleration.
        From all these authorities, it appears beyond exception, that
        Commodus put a stop to the persecution in the first year of his
        reign.... Not one writer, either heathen or Christian, makes
        Commodus a persecutor.' _Letters concerning the Thundering
        Legion_, in _Moyle's Works_, vol. ii. p. 266, London, 1726.
        'Heliogabalus also, though in other respects the most infamous of
        all princes, and perhaps the most odious of all mortals, showed
        no marks of bitterness or aversion to the disciples of Jesus.'
        _Mosheim's Eccl. History_, vol. i. p. 66: see also _Milman's
        Hist. of Christianity_, London, 1840, vol. ii. p. 225.

  [320] Dr. Milman (_History of Christianity_, 1840, vol. ii. p. 159)
        says, 'A blameless disciple in the severest school of philosophic
        morality, the austerity of Marcus rivalled that of the Christians
        in its contempt of the follies and diversions of life; yet his
        native kindliness of disposition was not hardened or embittered
        by the severity or the pride of his philosophy. With Aurelius,
        nevertheless, Christianity found not only a fair and high-minded
        competitor for the command of the human mind; not only a rival in
        the exaltation of the soul of man to higher views and more
        dignified motives; but a violent and intolerant persecutor.' M.
        Guizot compares him with Louis IX. of France; and certainly there
        was in both an evident connexion between sincerity and
        persecution: 'Marc Auréle et saint Louis sont peut-être les deux
        seuls princes qui, en toute occasion, aient fait de leurs
        croyances morales la première règle de leur conduite: Marc
        Auréle, stoicien; saint Louis, chrétien.' _Guizot_, _Civilisation
        en France_, vol. iv. p. 142. Even Duplessis Mornay (_Mém._ vol.
        iv. p. 374) calls him 'le meilleur des empereurs payens;' and
        Ritter (_Hist. of Philos._ vol. iv. p. 222), 'the virtuous and
        noble emperor.'

  [321] Neander (_History of the Church_, vol. i. p. 122) observes, that
        the best emperors opposed Christianity, and that the worst ones
        were indifferent to its encroachments. The same remark, in regard
        to Marcus and Commodus, is made by Gibbon (_Decline and Fall_,
        chap. xvi. p. 220, Lond. 1836). Another writer, of a very
        different character, ascribes this peculiarity to the wiles of
        the devil: 'In the primitive times, it is observed that the best
        emperors were some of them stirred up by Satan to be the
        bitterest persecutors of the Church.' _Memoirs of Colonel
        Hutchinson_, p. 85.

II. The second illustration is supplied by Spain; a country of which it
must be confessed, that in no other have religious feelings exercised
such sway over the affairs of men. No other European nation has produced
so many ardent and disinterested missionaries, zealous self-denying
martyrs, who have cheerfully sacrificed their lives in order to
propagate truths which they thought necessary to be known. Nowhere else
have the spiritual classes been so long in the ascendant; nowhere else
are the people so devout, the churches so crowded, the clergy so
numerous. But the sincerity and the honesty of purpose by which the
Spanish people, taken as a whole, have always been marked, have not only
been unable to prevent religious persecution, but have proved the means
of encouraging it. If the nation had been more lukewarm, it would have
been more tolerant. As it was, the preservation of the faith became the
first consideration; and everything being sacrificed to this one object,
it naturally happened that zeal begat cruelty, and the soil was prepared
in which the Inquisition took root and flourished. The supporters of
that barbarous institution were not hypocrites, but enthusiasts.
Hypocrites are for the most part too supple to be cruel. For cruelty is
a stern and unbending passion; while hypocrisy is a fawning and flexible
art, which accommodates itself to human feelings, and flatters the
weakness of men in order that it may gain its own ends. In Spain, the
earnestness of the nation, being concentrated on a single topic, carried
everything before it; and hatred of heresy becoming a habit, persecution
of heresy was thought a duty. The conscientious energy with which that
duty was fulfilled is seen in the history of the Spanish Church. Indeed,
that the inquisitors were remarkable for an undeviating and
incorruptible integrity, may be proved in a variety of ways, and from
different and independent sources of evidence. This is a question to
which I shall hereafter return; but there are two testimonies which I
cannot omit, because, from the circumstances attending them, they are
peculiarly unimpeachable. Llorente, the great historian of the
Inquisition, and its bitter enemy, had access to its private papers; and
yet, with the fullest means of information, he does not even insinuate a
charge against the moral character of the inquisitors; but while
execrating the cruelty of their conduct, he cannot deny the purity of
their intentions.[322] Thirty years earlier, Townsend, a clergyman of
the Church of England, published his valuable work on Spain;[323] and
though, as a Protestant and an Englishman, he had every reason to be
prejudiced against the infamous system which he describes, he also can
bring no charge against those who upheld it; but having occasion to
mention its establishment at Barcelona, one of its most important
branches, he makes the remarkable admission, that all its members are
men of worth, and that most of them are of distinguished humanity.[324]

  [322] By which, indeed, he is sorely puzzled. 'On reconnaîtra mon
        impartialité dans quelques circonstances où je fais remarquer
        chez les inquisiteurs des dispositions généreuses; ce qui me
        porte à croire que les atroces sentences rendues par le
        Saint-Office, sont plutôt une conséquence de ses lois organiques,
        qu'un effet du caractère particulier de ses membres.' _Llorente_,
        _Histoire Critique de l'Inquisition d'Espagne_, vol. i. p.
        xxiii.: compare vol. ii. pp. 267, 268, vol. iv. p. 153.

  [323] Highly spoken of by the late Blanco White, a most competent judge.
        See _Doblado's Letters from Spain_, p. 5.

  [324] 'It is, however, universally acknowledged, for the credit of the
        corps at Barcelona, that all its members are men of worth, and
        most of them distinguished for humanity.' _Townsend's Journey
        through Spain, in 1786 and 1787_, vol. i. p. 122, Lond. 1792.

These facts, startling as they are, form a very small part of that vast
mass of evidence which history contains, and which decisively proves the
utter inability of moral feelings to diminish religious persecution. The
way in which the diminution has been really effected by the mere
progress of intellectual acquirements, will be pointed out in another
part of this volume; when we shall see that the great antagonist of
intolerance is not humanity, but knowledge. It is to the diffusion of
knowledge, and to that alone, that we owe the comparative cessation of
what is unquestionably the greatest evil men have ever inflicted on
their own species. For that religious persecution is a greater evil than
any other, is apparent, not so much from the enormous and almost
incredible number of its known victims,[325] as from the fact that the
unknown must be far more numerous, and that history gives no account of
those who have been spared in the body, in order that they might suffer
in the mind. We hear much of martyrs and confessors--of those who were
slain by the sword, or consumed in the fire; but we know little of that
still larger number who, by the mere threat of persecution, have been
driven into an outward abandonment of their real opinions; and who, thus
forced into an apostasy the heart abhors, have passed the remainder of
their life in the practice of a constant and humiliating hypocrisy. It
is this which is the real curse of religious persecution. For in this
way, men being constrained to mask their thoughts, there arises a habit
of securing safety by falsehood, and of purchasing impunity with deceit.
In this way fraud becomes a necessary of life; insincerity is made a
daily custom; the whole tone of public feeling is vitiated, and the
gross amount of vice and of error fearfully increased. Surely, then, we
have reason to say, that, compared to this, all other crimes are of
small account; and we may well be grateful for that increase of
intellectual pursuits which has destroyed an evil that some among us
would even now willingly restore.

  [325] In 1546, the Venetian ambassador at the court of the Emperor
        Charles V. stated, in an official report to his own government on
        his return home, 'that in Holland and in Friesland, more than
        30,000 persons have suffered death at the hands of justice for
        Anabaptist errors.' _Correspondence of Charles V. and his
        Ambassadors_, edited by William Bradford, Lond. 8vo, 1850, p.
        471. In Spain, the Inquisition, during the eighteen years of
        Torquemada's ministry, punished, according to the lowest
        estimate, upwards of 105,000 persons, of whom 8,800 were burned.
        _Prescott's History of Ferdinand and Isabella_, vol. i. p. 265.
        In Andalusia alone, during a single year, the Inquisition put to
        death 2,000 Jews, 'besides 17,000 who underwent some form of
        punishment less severe than that of the stake.' _Ticknor's
        History of Spanish Literature_, vol. i. p. 410. For other
        statistical evidence on this horrible subject, see _Llorente_,
        _Histoire de l'Inquisition_, vol. i. pp. 160, 229, 238, 239, 279,
        280, 406, 407, 455, vol. ii. pp. 77, 116, 376, vol. iv. p. 31;
        and, above all, the summary at pp. 242-273.

The principle I am advocating is of such immense importance in practice
as well as in theory, that I will give yet another instance of the
energy with which it works. The second greatest evil known to
mankind--the one by which, with the exception of religious persecution,
most suffering has been caused--is, unquestionably, the practice of war.
That this barbarous pursuit is, in the progress of society, steadily
declining, must be evident, even to the most hasty reader of European
history.[326] If we compare one country with another, we shall find that
for a very long period wars have been becoming less frequent; and now so
clearly is the movement marked, that, until the late commencement of
hostilities, we had remained at peace for nearly forty years: a
circumstance unparalleled, not only in our own country, but also in the
annals of every other country which has been important enough to play a
leading part in the affairs of the world.[327] The question arises, as
to what share our moral feelings have had in bringing about this great
improvement. And if this question is answered, not according to
preconceived opinions, but according to the evidence we possess, the
answer will certainly be, that those feelings have had no share at all.
For it surely will not be pretended that the moderns have made any
discoveries respecting the moral evils of war. On this head nothing is
now known that has not been known for many centuries. That defensive
wars are just, and that offensive wars are unjust, are the only two
principles which, on this subject, moralists are able to teach. These
two principles were as clearly laid down, as well understood, and as
universally admitted, in the Middle Ages, when there was never a week
without war, as they are at the present moment, when war is deemed a
rare and singular occurrence. Since, then, the actions of men respecting
war have been gradually changing, while their moral knowledge respecting
it has not been changing, it is palpably evident that the changeable
effect has not been produced by the unchangeable cause. It is impossible
to conceive an argument more decisive than this. If it can be proved
that, during the last thousand years, moralists or theologians have
pointed out a single evil caused by war, the existence of which was
unknown to their predecessors,--if this can be proved, I will abandon
the view for which I am contending. But if, as I most confidently
assert, this cannot be proved, then it must be conceded that, no
additions having been made on this subject to the stock of morals, no
additions can have been made to the result which the morals

  [326] On the diminished love of war, which is even more marked than the
        actual diminution of war, see some interesting remarks in
        _Comte_, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. iv. pp. 488, 713, vol. vi.
        pp. 68, 424-436, where the antagonism between the military spirit
        and the industrial spirit is, on the whole, well worked out;
        though some of the leading phenomena have escaped the attention
        of this eminent philosopher, from his want of acquaintance with
        the history and present state of political economy.

  [327] In _Pellew's Life of Sidmouth_, 1847, vol. iii. p. 137, this
        prolonged peace is gravely ascribed to 'the wisdom of the
        adjustment of 1815;' in other words, to the proceedings of the
        Congress of Vienna!

  [328] Unless more zeal has been displayed in the diffusion of moral and
        religious principles; in which case it would be possible for the
        principles to be stationary, and yet their effects be
        progressive. But so far from this, it is certain that in the
        Middle Ages there were, relatively to the population, more
        churches than there are now; the spiritual classes were far more
        numerous, the proselyting spirit far more eager, and there was a
        much stronger determination to prevent purely scientific
        inferences from encroaching on ethical ones. Indeed, during the
        Middle Ages, the moral and religious literature outweighed all
        the profane literature put together; and surpassed it, not only
        in bulk, but also in the ability of its cultivators. Now,
        however, the generalizations of moralists have ceased to control
        the affairs of men, and have made way for the larger doctrine of
        expediency, which includes all interests and all classes.
        Systematic writers on morals reached their zenith in the
        thirteenth century, fell off rapidly after that period, were, as
        Coleridge well says, opposed by 'the genius of Protestantism:'
        and, by the end of the seventeenth century, became extinct in the
        most civilized countries; the _Ductor Dubitantium_ of Jeremy
        Taylor being the last comprehensive attempt of a man of genius to
        mould society solely according to the maxims of moralists.
        Compare two interesting passages in _Mosheim's Ecclesiast.
        Hist._, vol. i. p. 338, and _Coleridge's Friend_, vol. iii. p.

Thus far as to the influence exercised by moral feelings in increasing
our distaste for war. But if, on the other hand, we turn to the human
intellect, in the narrowest sense of the term, we shall find that every
great increase in its activity has been a heavy blow to the warlike
spirit. The full evidence for this I shall hereafter detail at
considerable length; and in this Introduction I can only pretend to
bring forward a few of those prominent points, which, being on the
surface of history, will be at once understood.

Of these points, one of the most obvious is, that every important
addition made to knowledge increases the authority of the intellectual
classes, by increasing the resources which they have to wield. Now, the
antagonism between these classes and the military class is evident: it
is the antagonism between thought and action, between the internal and
the external, between argument and violence, between persuasion and
force; or, to sum up the whole, between men who live by the pursuits of
peace and those who live by the practice of war. Whatever, therefore, is
favourable to one class, is manifestly unfavourable to the other.
Supposing the remaining circumstances to be the same, it must happen,
that as the intellectual acquisitions of a people increase, their love
of war will diminish; and if their intellectual acquisitions are very
small, their love of war will be very great.[329] In perfectly barbarous
countries, there are no intellectual acquisitions; and the mind being a
blank and dreary waste, the only resource is external activity,[330] the
only merit personal courage. No account is made of any man, unless he
has killed an enemy; and the more he has killed, the greater the
reputation he enjoys.[331] This is the purely savage state; and it is
the state in which military glory is most esteemed, and military men
most respected.[332] From this frightful debasement, even up to the
summit of civilization, there is a long series of consecutive steps;
gradations, at each of which something is taken from the dominion of
force, and something given to the authority of thought. Slowly, and one
by one, the intellectual and pacific classes begin to arise; at first
held in great contempt by warriors, but nevertheless gradually gaining
ground, increasing in number and in power, and at each increase
weakening that old military spirit, in which all other tendencies had
formerly been absorbed. Trade, commerce, manufactures, law, diplomacy,
literature, science, philosophy,--all these things, originally unknown,
became organized into separate studies, each study having a separate
class, and each class insisting on the importance of its own pursuit. Of
these classes, some are, no doubt, less pacific than others; but even
those which are the least pacific, are, of course, more so than men
whose associations are entirely military, and who see in every fresh war
that chance of personal distinction, from which, during peace, they are
altogether debarred.[333]

  [329] Herder boldly asserts that man originally, and by virtue of his
        organization, is peaceably disposed; but this opinion is
        decisively refuted by the immense additions which, since the time
        of Herder, have been made to our knowledge of the feelings and
        habits of savages. 'Indessen ist's wahr, dass der Bau des
        Menschen vorzüglich auf die Vertheidigung, nicht auf den Angriff
        gerichtet ist: in diesem muss ihm die Kunst zu Hülfe kommen, in
        jener aber ist er von Natur das kräftigste Geschöpf der Erde.
        Seine Gestalt selbst lehret ihn also Friedlichkeit, nicht
        räuberische Mordverwüstung,--der Humanität erstes Merkmal.'
        _Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol. i. p. 185.

  [330] Hence, no doubt, that acuteness of the senses, natural, and indeed
        necessary, to an early state of society, and which, being at the
        expense of the reflecting faculties, assimilates man to the lower
        animals. See _Carpenter's Human Physiology_, p. 404; and a fine
        passage in _Herder's Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol. ii. p. 12: 'Das
        abstehende thierische Ohr, das gleichsam immer lauscht und
        horchet, das kleine scharfe Auge, das in der weitesten Ferne den
        kleinsten Rauch oder Staub gewahr wird, der weisse
        hervorbleckende, knochenbenagende Zahn, der dicke Hals und die
        zurückgebogene Stellung ihres Kopfes auf demselben.' Compare
        _Prichard's Physical Hist. of Mankind_, vol. i. pp. 292, 293;
        _Azara_, _Amérique Méridionale_, vol. ii. p. 18; _Wrangel's Polar
        Expedition_, p. 384; _Pallme's Travels in Kordofan_, pp. 132,

  [331] 'Among some Macedonian tribes, the man who had never slain an
        enemy was marked by a degrading badge.' _Grote's History of
        Greece_, vol. xi. p. 397. Among the Dyaks of Borneo, 'a man
        cannot marry until he has procured a human head; and he that has
        several may be distinguished by his proud and lofty bearing, for
        it constitutes his patent of nobility.' _Earl's Account of
        Borneo_, in _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. iv. p. 181. See
        also _Crawfurd on Borneo_, in _Journal of Geog. Soc._, vol.
        xxiii. pp. 77, 80. And for similar instances of this absorption
        of all other ideas into warlike ones, compare _Journal of Geog.
        Soc._, vol. x. p. 357; _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, pp. 158,
        159, 195; _Thirlwall's Hist. of Greece_, vol. i. pp. 226, 284,
        vol. viii. p. 209; _Henderson's History of Brazil_, p. 475;
        _Southey's History of Brazil_, vol. i. pp. 126, 248; _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. ii. p. 188, vol. vii. p. 193; _Transactions of
        Bombay Society_, vol. ii. pp. 51, 52; _Hoskins's Travels in
        Ethiopia_, p. 163; _Origines du Droit_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Michelet_, vol. ii. pp. 333, 334 note. So also the Thracians:
        [Greek: gês de ergatên atimotaton. to sên apo polemoi kai
        lêistuos, kalliston.] _Herodotus_, book v. chap. 6, vol. iii. p.
        10, edit. Baehr.

  [332] Malcolm (_History of Persia_, vol. i. p. 204) says of the Tartars,
        'There is only one path to eminence, that of military renown.'
        Thus, too, in the _Institutes of Timour_, p. 269: 'He only is
        equal to stations of power and dignity, who is well acquainted
        with the military art, and with the various modes of breaking and
        defeating hostile armies.' The same turn of mind is shown in the
        frequency and evident delight with which Homer relates battles--a
        peculiarity noticed in _Mure's Greek Literature_, vol. ii. pp.
        63, 64, where an attempt is made to turn it into an argument to
        prove that the Homeric poems are all by the same author; though
        the more legitimate inference would be that the poems were all
        composed in a barbarous age.

  [333] To the prospect of personal distinction there was formerly added
        that of wealth; and in Europe, during the Middle Ages, war was a
        very lucrative profession, owing to the custom of exacting heavy
        ransom for the liberty of prisoners. See Barrington's learned
        work, _Observations on the Statutes_, pp. 390-393. In the reign
        of Richard II. 'a war with France was esteemed as almost the only
        method by which an English gentleman could become rich.' Compare
        _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. vi. p. 21. Sainte Palaye
        (_Mémoires sur l'ancienne Chevalerie_, vol. i. p. 311) says, 'La
        guerre enrichissoit alors par le butin, et par les rançons, celui
        qui la faisoit avec le plus de valeur, de vigilance et
        d'activité. La rançon étoit, ce semble, pour l'ordinaire, une
        année des revenus du prisonnier.' For an analogy with this, see
        _Rig Veda Sanhita_, vol. i. p. 208, sec. 3, and vol. ii. p. 265,
        sec. 13. In Europe, the custom of paying a ransom for
        prisoners-of-war survived the Middle Ages, and was only put an
        end to by the peace of Munster, in 1648. _Manning's Commentaries
        on the Law of Nations_, 1839, p. 162; and on the profits formerly
        made, pp. 157, 158.

Thus it is that, as civilization advances, an equipoise is established,
and military ardour is balanced by motives which none but a cultivated
people can feel. But among a people whose intellect is not cultivated,
such a balance can never exist. Of this we see a good illustration in
the history of the present war.[334] For the peculiarity of the great
contest in which we are engaged is, that it was produced, not by the
conflicting interests of civilized countries, but by a rupture between
Russia and Turkey, the two most barbarous monarchies now remaining in
Europe. This is a very significant fact. It is highly characteristic of
the actual condition of society, that a peace of unexampled length
should have been broken, not, as former peaces were broken, by a quarrel
between two civilized nations, but by the encroachments of the
uncivilized Russians on the still more uncivilized Turks. At an earlier
period, the influence of intellectual, and therefore pacific, habits was
indeed constantly increasing, but was still too weak, even in the most
advanced countries, to control the old warlike habits: hence there arose
a desire for conquest, which often outweighed all other feelings, and
induced great nations like France and England to attack each other on
the slightest pretence, and seek every opportunity of gratifying the
vindictive hatred with which both contemplated the prosperity of their
neighbour. Such, however, is now the progress of affairs, that these two
nations, laying aside the peevish and irritable jealousy they once
entertained, are united in a common cause, and have drawn the sword, not
for selfish purposes, but to protect the civilized world against the
incursions of a barbarous foe.

  [334] I wrote this in 1855.

This is the leading feature which distinguishes the present war from its
predecessors. That a peace should last for nearly forty years, and
should then be interrupted, not, as heretofore, by hostilities between
civilized states, but by the ambition of the only empire which is at
once powerful and uncivilized--is one of many proofs that a dislike to
war is a cultivated taste peculiar to an intellectual people. For no one
will pretend that the military predilections of Russia are caused by a
low state of morals, or by a disregard of religious duties. So far from
this, all the evidence we have shows that vicious habits are not more
common in Russia than in France or England;[335] and it is certain that
the Russians submit to the teachings of the church with a docility
greater than that displayed by their civilized opponents.[336] It is,
therefore, clear that Russia is a warlike country, not because the
inhabitants are immoral, but because they are unintellectual. The fault
is in the head, not in the heart. In Russia, the national intellect
being little cultivated, the intellectual classes lack influence; the
military class, therefore, is supreme. In this early stage of society,
there is as yet no middle rank,[337] and consequently the thoughtful and
pacific habits which spring from the middle ranks have no existence. The
minds of men, deprived of mental pursuits,[338] naturally turn to
warlike ones, as the only resource remaining to them. Hence it is that,
in Russia, all ability is estimated by a military standard. The army is
considered to be the greatest glory of the country: to win a battle, or
outwit an enemy, is valued as one of the noblest achievements of life;
and civilians, whatever their merits may be, are despised by this
barbarous people, as beings of an altogether inferior and subordinate

  [335] Indeed some have supposed that there is less immorality in Russia
        than in Western Europe; but this idea is probably erroneous. See
        _Stirling's Russia_, Lond. 1841, pp. 59, 60. The benevolence and
        charitable disposition of the Russians are attested by Pinkerton,
        who had good means of information, and was by no means prejudiced
        in their favour. See _Pinkerton's Russia_, Lond. 1833, pp. 335,
        336. Sir John Sinclair also says they are 'prone to acts of
        kindness and charity.' _Sinclair's Correspondence_, vol. ii. p.

  [336] The reverence of the Russian people for their clergy has attracted
        the attention of many observers, and is, indeed, too notorious to
        require proof.

  [337] A very observing and intelligent writer says, 'Russia has only two
        ranks--the highest and the lowest.' _Letters from the Baltic_,
        Lond. 1841, vol. ii. p. 185. 'Les marchands, qui formeraient une
        classe moyenne, sont en si petit nombre qu'ils ne peuvent marquer
        dans l'état: d'ailleurs presque tous sont étrangers; ... où donc
        trouver cette classe moyenne qui fait la force des états?'
        _Custine's Russie_, vol. ii. pp. 125, 126: see also vol. iv.
        p. 74.

  [338] A recent authoress, who had admirable opportunities of studying
        the society of St. Petersburg, which she estimated with that fine
        tact peculiar to an accomplished woman, was amazed at this state
        of things among classes surrounded with every form of luxury and
        wealth: 'a total absence of all rational tastes or literary
        topics.... Here it is absolutely _mauvais genre_ to discuss a
        rational subject--mere _pédanterie_ to be caught upon any topics
        beyond dressing, dancing, and a _jolie tournure_.' _Letters from
        the Baltic_, 1841, vol. ii. p. 233. M. Custine (_La Russie en
        1839_, vol. i. p. 321) says 'Règle générale, personne ne profère
        jamais un mot qui pourrait intéresser vivement quelqu'un.' At
        vol. ii. p. 195, 'De toutes les facultés de l'intelligence, la
        seule qu'on estime ici c'est le tact.' Another writer of repute,
        M. Kohl, contemptuously observes, that in Russia, 'the depths of
        science are not even guessed at.' _Kohl's Russia_, 1842, Lond. p.

  [339] According to Schnitzler, 'Precedence is determined, in Russia, by
        military rank; and an ensign would take the _pas_ of a nobleman
        not enrolled in the army, or occupying some situation giving
        military rank.' _M'Culloch's Geog. Dict._ 1849, vol. ii. p. 614.
        The same thing is stated in _Pinkerton's Russia_, 1833, p. 321.
        M. Erman, who travelled through great part of the Russian empire,
        says, 'In the modern language of St. Petersburg, one constantly
        hears a distinction of the greatest importance, conveyed in the
        inquiry which is habitually made respecting individuals of the
        educated class: Is he a plain-coat or a uniform?' _Erman's
        Siberia_, vol. i. p. 45. See also on this preponderance of the
        military classes, which is the inevitable fruit of the national
        ignorance, _Kohl's Russia_, pp. 28, 194; _Stirling's Russia under
        Nicholas the First_, p. 7; _Custine's Russie_, vol. i. pp. 147,
        152, 252, 266, vol. ii. pp. 71, 128, 309, vol. iii. p. 328, vol.
        iv. p. 284. Sir A. Alison (_History of Europe_, vol. ii. pp. 391,
        392) says, 'The whole energies of the nation are turned towards
        the army. Commerce, the law, and all civil employments, are held
        in no esteem; the whole youth of any consideration betake
        themselves to the profession of arms.' The same writer (vol. x.
        p. 566) quotes the remark of Bremner, that 'nothing astonishes
        the Russian or Polish noblemen so much as seeing the estimation
        in which the civil professions, and especially the bar, are held
        in Great Britain.'

In England, on the other hand, opposite causes have produced opposite
results. With us intellectual progress is so rapid, and the authority of
the middle class so great, that not only have military men no influence
in the government of the state, but there seemed at one time even a
danger lest we should push this feeling to an extreme; and lest, from
our detestation of war, we should neglect those defensive precautions
which the enmity of other nations makes it advisable to adopt. But this
at least we may safely say, that, in our country, a love of war is, as a
national taste, utterly extinct. And this vast result has been effected,
not by moral teachings, nor by the dictates of moral instinct; but by
the simple fact, that in the progress of civilization there have been
formed certain classes of society which have an interest in the
preservation of peace, and whose united authority is sufficient to
control those other classes whose interest lies in the prosecution of

It would be easy to conduct this argument further, and to prove how, by
an increasing love of intellectual pursuits, the military service
necessarily declines, not only in reputation, but likewise in ability.
In a backward state of society men of distinguished talents crowd to the
army, and are proud to enrol themselves in its ranks. But, as society
advances, new sources of activity are opened, and new professions arise,
which, being essentially mental, offer to genius opportunities for
success more rapid than any formerly known. The consequence is, that in
England, where these opportunities are more numerous than elsewhere, it
nearly always happens that if a father has a son whose faculties are
remarkable, he brings him up to one of the lay professions, where
intellect, when accompanied by industry, is sure to be rewarded. If,
however, the inferiority of the boy is obvious, a suitable remedy is at
hand: he is made either a soldier or a clergyman; he is sent into the
army, or hidden in the church. And this, as we shall hereafter see, is
one of the reasons why, as society advances, the ecclesiastical spirit
and the military spirit never fail to decline. As soon as eminent men
grow unwilling to enter any profession, the lustre of that profession
will be tarnished: first its reputation will be lessened, and then its
power will be abridged. This is the process through which Europe is
actually passing, in regard both to the church and to the army. The
evidence, so far as the ecclesiastical profession is concerned, will be
found in another part of this work. The evidence respecting the military
profession is equally decisive. For although that profession has in
modern Europe produced a few men of undoubted genius, their number is so
extremely small, as to amaze us at the dearth of original ability. That
the military class, taken as a whole, has a tendency to degenerate, will
become still more obvious if we compare long periods of time. In the
ancient world, the leading warriors were not only possessed of
considerable accomplishments, but were comprehensive thinkers in
politics as well as in war, and were in every respect the first
characters of their age. Thus--to give only a few specimens from a
single people--we find that the three most successful statesmen Greece
ever produced were Solon, Themistocles, and Epaminondas,--all of whom
were distinguished military commanders. Socrates, supposed by some to be
the wisest of the ancients, was a soldier; and so was Plato; and so was
Antisthenes, the celebrated founder of the Cynics. Archytas, who gave a
new direction to the Pythagorean philosophy; and Melissus, who developed
the Eleatic philosophy--were both of them well-known generals, famous
alike in literature and in war. Among the most eminent orators,
Pericles, Alcibiades, Andocides, Demosthenes, and Æschines were all
members of the military profession; as also were the two greatest tragic
writers, Æschylus and Sophocles. Archilochus, who is said to have
invented iambic verses, and whom Horace took as a model, was a soldier;
and the same profession could likewise boast of Tyrtæus, one of the
founders of elegiac poetry, and of Alcæus, one of the best composers of
lyric poetry. The most philosophic of all the Greek historians was
certainly Thucydides; but he, as well as Xenophon and Polybius, held
high military appointments, and on more than one occasion succeeded in
changing the fortunes of war. In the midst of the hurry and turmoil of
camps, these eminent men cultivated their minds to the highest point
that the knowledge of that age would allow: and so wide is the range of
their thoughts, and such the beauty and dignity of their style, that
their works are read by thousands who care nothing about the sieges and
battles in which they were engaged.

These were among the ornaments of the military profession in the ancient
world; and all of them wrote in the same language, and were read by the
same people. But in the modern world this identical profession,
including many millions of men, and covering the whole of Europe, has
never been able, since the sixteenth century, to produce ten authors who
have reached the first class either as writers or as thinkers. Descartes
is an instance of an European soldier combining the two qualities; he
being as remarkable for the exquisite beauty of his style as for the
depth and originality of his inquiries. This, however, is a solitary
case; and there is, I believe, no second one of a modern military writer
thus excelling in both departments. Certainly, the English army, during
the last two hundred and fifty years, affords no example of it, and has,
in fact, only possessed two authors, Raleigh and Napier, whose works are
recognized as models, and are studied merely for their intrinsic merit.
Still, this is simply in reference to style; and these two historians,
notwithstanding their skill in composition, have never been reputed
profound thinkers on difficult subjects, nor have they added anything of
moment to the stock of our knowledge. In the same way, among the
ancients, the most eminent soldiers were likewise the most eminent
politicians, and the best leaders of the army were generally the best
governors of the state. But here, again, the progress of society has
wrought so great a change, that for a long period instances of this have
been excessively rare. Even Gustavus Adolphus and Frederick the Great
failed ignominiously in their domestic policy, and showed themselves as
short-sighted in the arts of peace as they were sagacious in the arts of
war. Cromwell, Washington, and Napoleon are, perhaps, the only
first-rate modern warriors of whom it can be fairly said, that they were
equally competent to govern a kingdom and command an army. And, if we
look at England as furnishing a familiar illustration, we see this
remark exemplified in our two greatest generals, Marlborough and
Wellington. Marlborough was a man not only of the most idle and
frivolous pursuits, but was so miserably ignorant, that his deficiencies
made him the ridicule of his contemporaries; and of politics he had no
other idea but to gain the favour of the sovereign by flattering his
mistress, to desert the brother of that sovereign at his utmost need,
and afterwards, by a double treachery, turn against his next benefactor,
and engage in a criminal, as well as a foolish, correspondence with the
very man whom a few years before he had infamously abandoned. These were
the characteristics of the greatest conqueror of his age, the hero of a
hundred fights, the victor of Blenheim and of Ramilies. As to our other
great warrior, it is indeed true that the name of Wellington should
never be pronounced by an Englishman without gratitude and respect:
these feelings are, however, due solely to his vast military services,
the importance of which it would ill become us to forget. But whoever
has studied the civil history of England during the present century
knows full well that this military chief, who in the field shone without
a rival, and who, to his still greater glory be it said, possessed an
integrity of purpose, an unflinching honesty, and a high moral feeling,
which could not be surpassed, was nevertheless utterly unequal to the
complicated exigencies of political life. It is notorious, that in his
views of the most important legislative measures he was always in the
wrong. It is notorious, and the evidence of it stands recorded in our
Parliamentary Debates, that every great measure which was carried, every
great improvement, every great step in reform, every concession to the
popular wishes, was strenuously opposed by the Duke of Wellington,
became law in spite of his opposition, and after his mournful
declarations that by such means the security of England would be
seriously imperilled. Yet there is now hardly a forward schoolboy who
does not know that to these very measures the present stability of our
country is mainly owing. Experience, the great test of wisdom, has
amply proved, that those vast schemes of reform, which the Duke of
Wellington spent his political life in opposing, were, I will not say
expedient or advisable, but were indispensably necessary. That policy of
resisting the popular will which he constantly advised is precisely the
policy which has been pursued, since the Congress of Vienna, in every
monarchy except our own. The result of that policy is written for our
instruction: it is written in that great explosion of popular passion,
which in the moment of its wrath upset the proudest thrones, destroyed
princely families, ruined noble houses, desolated beautiful cities. And
if the counsel of our great general had been followed, if the just
demands of the people had been refused--this same lesson would have been
written in the annals of our own land; and we should most assuredly have
been unable to escape the consequence of that terrible catastrophe, in
which the ignorance and selfishness of rulers did, only a few years ago,
involve a large part of the civilized world.

Thus striking is the contrast between the military genius of ancient
times, and the military genius of modern Europe. The causes of this
decay are clearly traceable to the circumstance that, owing to the
immense increase of intellectual employments, few men of ability will
now enter a profession into which, in antiquity, men of ability eagerly
crowded, as supplying the best means of exercising those faculties
which, in more civilized countries, are turned to a better account.
This, indeed, is a very important change; and thus to transfer the most
powerful intellects from the arts of war to the arts of peace, has been
the slow work of many centuries, the gradual, but constant,
encroachments of advancing knowledge. To write the history of those
encroachments would be to write the history of the human intellect--a
task impossible for any single man adequately to perform. But the
subject is one of such interest, and has been so little studied, that
though I have already carried this analysis farther than I had intended,
I cannot refrain from noticing what appear to me to be the three leading
ways in which the warlike spirit of the ancient world has been weakened
by the progress of European knowledge.

The first of these arose out of the invention of Gunpowder; which,
though a warlike contrivance, has in its results been eminently
serviceable to the interests of peace.[340] This important invention is
said to have been made in the thirteenth century;[341] but was not in
common use until the fourteenth, or even the beginning of the fifteenth,
century. Scarcely had it come into operation, when it worked a great
change in the whole scheme and practice of war. Before this time, it was
considered the duty of nearly every citizen to be prepared to enter the
military service, for the purpose either of defending his own country,
or of attacking others.[342] Standing armies were entirely unknown; and
in their place there existed a rude and barbarous militia, always ready
for battle, and always unwilling to engage in those peaceful pursuits
which were then universally despised. Nearly every man being a soldier,
the military profession, as such, had no separate existence; or, to
speak more properly, the whole of Europe composed one great army, in
which all other professions were merged. To this the only exception was
the ecclesiastical profession; but even that was affected by the general
tendency, and it was not at all uncommon to see large bodies of troops
led to the field by bishops and abbots, to most of whom the arts of war
were in those days perfectly familiar.[343] At all events, between these
two professions men were necessarily divided: the only avocations were
war and theology; and if you refused to enter the church, you were bound
to serve in the army. As a natural consequence, everything of real
importance was altogether neglected. There were, indeed, many priests
and many warriors, many sermons and many battles.[344] But, on the other
hand, there was neither trade, nor commerce, nor manufactures; there was
no science, no literature: the useful arts were entirely unknown; and
even the highest ranks of society were unacquainted, not only with the
most ordinary comforts, but with the commonest decencies of civilized

  [340] The consequences of the invention of gunpowder are considered very
        superficially by Frederick Schlegel (_Lectures on the History of
        Literature_, vol. ii. pp. 37, 38), and by Dugald Stewart
        (_Philosophy of the Mind_, vol. i. p. 262). They are examined
        with much greater ability, though by no means exhaustively, in
        _Smith's Wealth of Nations_, book v. chap. i. pp. 292, 296, 297;
        _Herder's Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit_, vol. iv. p. 301;
        _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. ii. p. 470.

  [341] From the following authorities, it appears impossible to trace it
        further back than the thirteenth century; and it is doubtful
        whether the Arabs were, as is commonly supposed, the inventors:
        _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii. p. 590; _Koch_, _Tableaux des
        Révolutions_, vol. i. p. 242; _Beckmann's History of Inventions_,
        1846, vol. ii. p. 505; _Histoire Lit. de la France_, vol. xx. p.
        236; _Thomson's History of Chemistry_, vol. i. p. 36; _Hallam's
        Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 341. The statements in _Erman's
        Siberia_, vol. i. pp. 370, 371, are more positive than the
        evidence we are possessed of will justify; but there can be no
        doubt that a sort of gunpowder was at an early period used in
        China, and in other parts of Asia.

  [342] _Vattel, le Droit des Gens_, vol. ii. p. 129; _Lingard's History
        of England_, vol. ii. pp. 356, 357. Among the Anglo-Saxons, 'all
        free men and proprietors of land, except the ministers of
        religion, were trained to the use of arms, and always held ready
        to take the field at a moment's warning.' _Eccleston's English
        Antiquities_, p. 62. 'There was no distinction between the
        soldier and the citizen.' _Palgrave's Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth_,
        vol. i. p. 200.

  [343] On these warlike ecclesiastics, compare _Grose's Military Antiq._
        vol. i. pp. 67-8; _Lingard's Hist. of England_, vol. ii. pp. 26,
        183, vol. iii. p. 14; _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. iv. p.
        458, vol. v. pp. 92, 402, 406; _Mosheim's Eccl. History_, vol. i.
        pp. 173, 193, 241; _Crichton's Scandinavia_, Edinb. 1838, vol. i.
        p. 220. Such opponents were the more formidable, because in those
        happy days it was sacrilege for a layman to lay hands on a
        bishop. In 1095 his Holiness the Pope caused a council to
        declare, 'Quòd qui apprehenderit episcopum omnino exlex fiat.'
        _Matthæi Paris Historia Major_, p. 18. As the context contains no
        limitation of this, it would follow that a man became spiritually
        outlawed if he, even in self-defence, took a bishop prisoner.

  [344] As Sharon Turner observes of England under the Anglo-Saxon
        government, 'war and religion were the absorbing subjects of this
        period.' _Turner's History of England_, vol. iii. p. 263. And a
        recent scientific historian says of Europe generally: 'alle
        Künste und Kenntnisse, die sich nicht auf das edle Kriegs-, Rauf-
        und Raubhandwerk bezogen, waren überflüssig und schädlich. Nur
        etwas Theologie war vonnöthen, um die Erde mit dem Himmel zu
        verbinden.' _Winckler, Geschichte der Botanik_, 1854, p. 56.

But so soon as gunpowder came into use, there was laid the foundation of
a great change. According to the old system, a man had only to possess,
what he generally inherited from his father, either a sword or a bow,
and he was ready equipped for the field.[345] According to the new
system, new means were required, and the equipment became more costly
and more difficult. First, there was the supply of gunpowder;[346] then
there was the possession of muskets, which were expensive weapons, and
considered difficult to manage.[347] Then, too, there were other
contrivances to which gunpowder naturally gave rise, such as pistols,
bombs, mortars, shells, mines, and the like.[348] All these things, by
increasing the complication of the military art, increased the necessity
of discipline and practice; while, at the same time, the change that was
being effected in the ordinary weapons deprived the great majority of
men of the possibility of procuring them. To suit these altered
circumstances, a new system was organized: and it was found advisable to
train up bodies of men for the sole purpose of war, and to separate
them as much as possible from those other employments in which formerly
all soldiers were occasionally engaged. Thus it was that there arose
standing armies; the first of which were formed in the middle of the
fifteenth century,[349] almost immediately after gunpowder was generally
known. Thus, too, there arose the custom of employing mercenary troops;
of which we find a few earlier instances, though the practice was not
fully established until the latter part of the fourteenth century.[350]

  [345] In 1181, Henry II. of England ordered that every man should have
        either a sword or bow; which he was not to sell, but leave to his
        heir: 'cæteri autem omnes haberent wanbasiam, capellum ferreum,
        lanceam et gladium, vel arcum et sagittas: et prohibuit ne
        aliquis arma sua venderet vel invadiaret; sed cùm moreretur,
        daret illa propinquiori hæredi suo.' _Rog. de Hov. Annal. in
        Scriptores post Bedam_, p. 348 rev. In the reign of Edward I., it
        was ordered that every man possessing land to the value of forty
        shillings should keep 'a sword, bow and arrows, and a dagger....
        Those who were to keep bows and arrows might have them out of the
        forest.' _Grose's Military Antiquities_, vol. ii. pp. 301, 302.
        Compare _Geijer's History of the Swedes_, part i. p. 94. Even
        late in the fifteenth century, there were at the Universities of
        Oxford and Cambridge, 'in each from four to five thousand
        scholars, all grown up, carrying swords and bows, and in great
        part gentry.' _Sir William Hamilton on the History of
        Universities_, in _Hamilton's Philosoph. Discussions_, p. 414.
        One of the latest attempts made to revive archery was a warrant
        issued by Elizabeth in 1596, and printed by Mr. Collier in the
        _Egerton Papers_, pp. 217-220, edit. Camden Soc. 1840. In the
        south-west of England, bows and arrows did not finally disappear
        from the muster-rolls till 1599; and in the meantime the musket
        gained ground. See _Yonge's Diary_, edit. Camden Soc. 1848,
        p. xvii.

  [346] It is stated by many writers that no gunpowder was manufactured in
        England until the reign of Elizabeth. _Camden's Elizabeth_, in
        _Kennett's History_, vol. ii. p. 388, London, 1719; _Strickland's
        Queens of England_, vol. vi. p. 223, Lond. 1843; _Grose's
        Military Antiquities_, vol. i. p. 378. But Sharon Turner
        (_History of England_, vol. vi. pp. 490, 491, Lond. 1839) has
        shown, from an order of Richard III. in the Harleian manuscripts,
        that it was made in England in 1483; and Mr. Eccleston (_English
        Antiquities_, p. 182, Lond. 1847) states, that the English both
        made and exported it as early as 1411: compare p. 202. At all
        events, it long remained a costly article; and even in the reign
        of Charles I., I find a complaint of its dearness, 'whereby the
        train-bands are much discouraged in their exercising.'
        _Parliament. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 655. In 1686, it appears from the
        _Clarendon Correspondence_, vol. i. p. 413, that the wholesale
        price ranged from about 2_l._ 10_s._ to 3_l._ per barrel. On the
        expense of making it in the present century, see _Liebig and
        Kopp's Reports on Chemistry_, vol. iii. p. 325, Lond. 1852.

  [347] The muskets were such miserable machines, that, in the middle of
        the fifteenth century, it took a quarter of an hour to charge and
        fire one. _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 342. Grose
        (_Military Antiquities_, vol. i. p. 146, vol. ii. pp. 292, 337)
        says, that the first mention of muskets in England is in 1471;
        and that rests for them did not become obsolete until the reign
        of Charles I. In the recent edition of _Beckmann's History of
        Inventions_, Lond. 1846, vol. ii. p. 535, it is strangely
        supposed that muskets were 'first used at the battle of Pavia.'
        Compare _Daniel_, _Histoire de la Milice_, vol. i. p. 464, with
        _Smythe's Military Discourses_, in _Ellis's Original Letters_, p.
        53, edit. Camden Society.

  [348] Pistols are said to have been invented early in the sixteenth
        century. _Grose's Military Antiq._ vol. i. pp. 102, 146.
        Gunpowder was first employed in mining towns in 1487. _Prescott's
        Hist. of Ferdinand and Isabella_, vol. ii. p. 32; _Koch_,
        _Tableaux des Révolutions_, vol. i. p. 243; _Daniel_, _Histoire
        de la Milice Française_, vol. i. p. 574. Daniel (_Milice
        Française_, vol. i. pp. 580, 581) says that bombs were not
        invented till 1588; and the same thing is asserted in _Biographie
        Universelle_, vol. xv. p. 248: but, according to Grose (_Military
        Antiq._ vol. i. p. 387), they are mentioned by Valturinus in
        1472. On the general condition of the French artillery in the
        sixteenth century, see _Relations des Ambassadeurs Vénitiens_,
        vol. i. pp. 94, 476, 478, Paris, 1838, 4to: a curious and
        valuable publication. There is some doubt as to the exact period
        in which cannons were first known; but they were certainly used
        in war before the middle of the fourteenth century. See _Bohlen_,
        _das alte Indien_, vol. ii. p. 63; _Daniel_, _Histoire de la
        Milice_, vol. i. pp. 441, 442.

  [349] _Blackstone's Commentaries_, vol. i. p. 413; _Daniel, Hist. de la
        Milice_, vol. i. p. 210, vol. ii. pp. 491, 493; _[OE]uvres de
        Turgot_, vol. viii. p. 228.

  [350] The leading facts respecting the employment of mercenary troops
        are indicated with great judgment by Mr. Hallam, in his _Middle
        Ages_, vol. i. p. 328-337.

The importance of this movement was soon seen, by the change it effected
in the classification of European society. The regular troops being,
from their discipline, more serviceable against the enemy, and also more
immediately under the control of the government, it naturally followed
that, as their merits became understood, the old militia should fall,
first into disrepute, then be neglected, and then sensibly diminish. At
the same time, this diminution in the number of undisciplined soldiers
deprived the country of a part of its warlike resources, and therefore
made it necessary to pay more attention to the disciplined ones, and to
confine them more exclusively to their military duties. Thus it was that
a division was first broadly established between the soldier and the
civilian; and there arose a separate military profession,[351] which,
consisting of a comparatively small number of the total amount of
citizens, left the remainder to settle in some other pursuit.[352] In
this way immense bodies of men were gradually weaned from their old
warlike habits; and being, as it were, forced into civil life, their
energies became available for the general purposes of society, and for
the cultivation of those arts of peace which had formerly been
neglected. The result was, that the European mind, instead of being, as
heretofore, solely occupied either with war or with theology, now struck
out into a middle path, and created those great branches of knowledge to
which modern civilization owes its origin. In each successive generation
this tendency towards a separate organization was more marked; the
utility of a division of labour became clearly recognized; and by this
means knowledge itself advanced, the authority of this middle or
intellectual class correspondingly increased. Each addition to its power
lessened the weight of the other two classes, and checked those
superstitious feelings and that love of war, on which, in an early state
of society, all enthusiasm is concentrated. The evidence of the growth
and diffusion of this intellectual principle is so full and decisive,
that it would be possible, by combining all the branches of knowledge,
to trace nearly the whole of its consecutive steps. At present, it is
enough to say, that, taking a general view, this third, or intellectual,
class, first displayed an independent, though still a vague, activity in
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; that in the sixteenth century,
this activity, assuming a distinct form, showed itself in religious
outbreaks; that in the seventeenth century, its energy, becoming more
practical, was turned against the abuses of government, and caused a
series of rebellions, from which hardly any part of Europe escaped; and
finally, that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it has
extended its aim to every department of public and private life,
diffusing education, teaching legislators, controlling kings, and, above
all, settling on a sure foundation that supremacy of Public Opinion, to
which not only constitutional princes, but even the most despotic
sovereigns, are now rendered strictly amenable.

  [351] Grose (_Military Antiquities_, vol. i. pp. 310, 311) says, that
        until the sixteenth century, English soldiers had no professional
        dress, but 'were distinguished by badges of their leaders' arms,
        similar to those now worn by watermen.' It was also early in the
        sixteenth century that there first arose a separate military
        literature. _Daniel_, _Hist. de la Milice_, vol. i. p. 380: 'Les
        auteurs, qui ont écrit en détail sur la discipline militaire: or
        ce n'est guères que sous François I, et sous l'Empereur Charles
        V, que les Italiens, les François, les Espagnols et les Allemans
        ont commencé à écrire sur ce sujet.'

  [352] The change from the time when every layman was a soldier, is very
        remarkable. Adam Smith (_Wealth of Nations_, book v. chap. i. p.
        291) says, 'Among the civilized nations of modern Europe, it is
        commonly computed, that not more than the one-hundredth part of
        the inhabitants of any country can be employed as soldiers,
        without ruin to the country which pays the expense of their
        service.' The same proportion is given in _Sadler's Law of
        Population_, vol. i. p. 292; and in _Grandeur et Décadence des
        Romains_, chap. iii.--_[OE]uvres de Montesquieu_, p. 130: also in
        _Sharpe's History of Egypt_, vol. i. p. 105; and in _Alison's
        History of Europe_, vol. xii. p. 318.

These, indeed, are vast questions; and, without some knowledge of them,
no one can understand the present condition of European society, or form
the least idea of its future prospects. It is, however, sufficient that
the reader can now perceive the way in which so slight a matter as the
invention of gunpowder diminished the warlike spirit, by diminishing the
number of persons to whom the practice of war was habitual. There were,
no doubt, other and collateral circumstances which tended in the same
direction; but the use of gunpowder was the most effectual, because, by
increasing the difficulty and expense of war, it made a separate
military profession indispensable; and thus, curtailing the action of
the military spirit, left an overplus, an unemployed energy, which soon
found its way to the pursuits of peace, infused into them a new life,
and began to control that lust of conquest, which, though natural to a
barbarous people, is the great enemy of knowledge, and is the most fatal
of those diseased appetites by which even civilized countries are too
often afflicted.

The second intellectual movement, by which the love of war has been
lessened, is much more recent, and has not yet produced the whole of its
natural effects. I allude to the discoveries made by Political Economy:
a branch of knowledge with which even the wisest of the ancients had not
the least acquaintance, but which possesses an importance it would be
difficult to exaggerate, and is, moreover, remarkable, as being the only
subject immediately connected with the art of government that has yet
been raised to a science. The practical value of this noble study,
though perhaps only fully known to the more advanced thinkers, is
gradually becoming recognized by men of ordinary education: but even
those by whom it is understood seem to have paid little attention to the
way in which, by its influence, the interests of peace, and therefore of
civilization, have been directly promoted.[353] The manner in which this
has been brought about, I will endeavour to explain, as it will furnish
another argument in support of that great principle which I wish to

  [353] The pacific tendencies of political economy are touched on very
        briefly in _Blanqui_, _Histoire de l'Economie Politique_, vol.
        ii. p. 207; and in _Twiss's Progress of Political Economy_,
        p. 240.

It is well known, that, among the different causes of war, commercial
jealousy was formerly one of the most conspicuous; and there are
numerous instances of quarrels respecting the promulgation of some
particular tariff, or the protection of some favourite manufacture.
Disputes of this kind were founded upon the very ignorant, but the very
natural notion, that the advantages of commerce depend upon the balance
of trade, and that whatever is gained by one country must be lost by
another. It was believed that wealth is composed entirely of money; and
that it is, therefore, the essential interest of every people to import
few commodities and much gold. Whenever this was done, affairs were said
to be in a sound and healthy state; but, if this was not done, it was
declared that we were being drained of our resources, and that some
other country was getting the better of us, and was enriching itself at
our expense.[354] For this the only remedy was to negotiate a
commercial treaty, which should oblige the offending nation to take more
of our commodities, and give us more of their gold: if, however, they
refused to sign the treaty, it became necessary to bring them to reason;
and for this purpose an armament was fitted out to attack a people who,
by lessening our wealth, had deprived us of that money by which alone
trade could be extended in foreign markets.[355]

  [354] This favourite doctrine is illustrated in a curious 'Discourse,'
        written in 1578, and printed in _Stow's London_, in which it is
        laid down, that if our exports exceed our imports, we gain by the
        trade; but that, if they are less, we lose. _Stow's London_,
        edit. Thoms, 1842, p. 205. Whenever this balance was disturbed,
        politicians were thrown into an agony of fear. In 1620, James I.
        said, in one of his long speeches, 'It's strange that my Mint
        hath not gone this eight or nine years; but I think the fault of
        the want of money is the uneven balancing of trade.' _Parl.
        History_, vol. i. p. 1179; see also the debate 'On the Scarcity
        of Money,' pp. 1194-1196. In 1620, the House of Commons, in a
        state of great alarm, passed a resolution, 'That the importation
        of tobacco out of Spain is one reason of the scarcity of money in
        this kingdom.' _Parl. Hist._ vol. i. p. 1198. In 1627, it was
        actually argued in the House of Commons that the Netherlands were
        being weakened by their trade with the East Indies, because it
        carried money out of the country! _Parl. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 220.
        Half a century later, the same principle was advocated by Sir
        William Temple in his Letters, and also in his Observations upon
        the United Provinces. _Temple's Works_, vol. i. p. 175, vol. ii.
        pp. 117, 118.

  [355] In 1672, the celebrated Earl of Shaftesbury, then Lord Chancellor,
        announced that the time had come when the English must go to war
        with the Dutch; for that it was 'impossible both should stand
        upon a balance; and that, if we do not master their trade, they
        will ours. They or we must truckle. One must and will give the
        law to the other. There is no compounding, where the contest is
        for the trade of the whole world.' _Somers' Tracts_, vol. viii.
        p. 39. A few months later, still insisting on the propriety of
        the war, he gave as one of his reasons that it 'was necessary to
        the trade of England that there should be a fair adjustment of
        commerce in the East Indies.' _Parl. Hist._ vol. iv. p. 587. In
        1701, Stepney, a diplomatist and one of the lords of trade,
        published an essay, strongly insisting on the benefits which
        would accrue to English commerce by a war with France. _Somers'
        Tracts_, vol. xi. pp. 199, 217; and he says, p. 205, that one of
        the consequences of peace with France would be 'the utter ruin
        and destruction of our trade.' See also, in vol. xiii. p. 688,
        the remarks on the policy of William III. In 1743, Lord
        Hardwicke, one of the most eminent men of his time, said, in the
        House of Lords, 'If our wealth is diminished, it is time to ruin
        the commerce of that nation which has driven us from the markets
        of the Continent--by sweeping the seas of their ships, and by
        blockading their ports.' _Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors_,
        vol. v. p. 89.

This misconception of the true nature of barter was formerly
universal;[356] and being adopted even by the ablest politicians, was
not only an immediate cause of war, but increased those feelings of
natural hatred by which war is encouraged; each country thinking that it
had a direct interest in diminishing the wealth of its neighbours.[357]
In the seventeenth, or even late in the sixteenth century, there were,
indeed, one or two eminent thinkers who exposed some of the fallacies
upon which this opinion was based.[358] But their arguments found no
favour with those politicians by whom European affairs were then
administered. It is doubtful if they were known; and it is certain that,
if known, they were despised by statesmen and legislators, who, from the
constancy of their practical occupations, cannot be supposed to have
sufficient leisure to master each new discovery that is successively
made; and who in consequence are, as a body, always in the rear of their
age. The result was, that they went blundering on in the old track,
believing that no commerce could flourish without their interference,
troubling that commerce by repeated and harassing regulations, and
taking for granted that it was the duty of every government to benefit
the trade of their own people by injuring the trade of others.[359]

  [356] In regard to the seventeenth century, see _Mill's History of
        India_, vol. i. pp. 41, 42. To this I may add, that even Locke had
        very confused notions respecting the use of money in trade. See
        _Essay on Money_, in _Locke's Works_, vol. iv.; and in particular
        pp. 9, 10, 12, 20, 21, 49-52. Berkeley, profound thinker as he
        was, fell into the same errors, and assumes the necessity of
        maintaining the balance of trade, and lessening our imports in
        proportion as we lessen our exports. See the _Querist_, Nos.
        xcix. clxi., in _Berkeley's Works_, vol. ii. pp. 246, 250: see
        also his proposal for a sumptuary law, in _Essay towards
        Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain_, in _Works_, vol. ii. p.
        190. The economical views of Montesquieu (_Esprit des Lois_,
        livre xx. chap. xii. in _[OE]uvres_, p. 353) are as hopelessly
        wrong; while Vattel (_Droit des Gens_, vol. i. pp. 111, 117, 118,
        206) goes out of his way to praise the mischievous interference
        of the English government, which he recommends as a pattern to
        other states.

  [357] The Earl of Bristol, a man of some ability, told the House of
        Lords, in 1642, that it was a great advantage to England for
        other countries to go to war with each other; because by that
        means we should get their money, or, as he called it, their
        'wealth.' See his speech, in _Parl. History_, vol. ii. pp.

  [358] Serra, who wrote in 1613, is said to have been the first to prove
        the absurdity of discouraging the exportation of the precious
        metals. See _Twiss on the Progress of Political Economy_, pp. 8,
        12, 13. But I believe that the earliest approach towards modern
        economical discoveries is a striking essay published in 1581, and
        ascribed to William Stafford. It will be found in the _Harleian
        Miscellany_, vol. ix. pp. 139-192, edit. Park, 1812; and the
        title, _Brief Conceipt of English Policy_, gives an inadequate
        idea of what is, on the whole, the most important work on the
        theory of politics which had then appeared: since the author not
        only displays an insight into the nature of price and value, such
        as no previous thinker possessed, but he points out clearly the
        causes of that system of enclosures which is the leading
        economical fact in the reign of Elizabeth, and is intimately
        connected with the rise of the poor-laws. Some account of this
        essay is given by Dr. Twiss; but the original is easily
        accessible, and should be read by every student of English
        history. Among other heretical propositions, it recommends free
        trade in corn.

  [359] In regard to the interference of the English legislature, it is
        stated by Mr. M'Culloch (_Polit. Econ._ p. 269), on the authority
        of a committee of the House of Commons, that before the year
        1820, 'no fewer than two thousand laws with respect to commerce
        had been passed at different periods.' It may be confidently
        asserted, that every one of those laws was an unmitigated evil,
        since no trade, and indeed no interest of any kind, can be
        protected by government without inflicting immeasurably greater
        loss upon the unprotected interests and trades; while, if the
        protection is universal, the loss will be universal. Some
        striking instances of the absurd laws which have been passed
        respecting trade, are collected in _Barrington's Observations on
        the Statutes_, pp. 279-285. Indeed, it was considered necessary
        that every parliament should do something in this way; and
        Charles II., in one of his speeches, says, 'I pray, contrive any
        good short bills which may improve the industry of the nation
        ... and so God bles your councils.' _Parl. History_, vol. iv. p.
        291. Compare the remarks on the fishery-trade, in _Somers'
        Tracts_, vol. xii. p. 33.

But in the eighteenth century, a long course of events, which I shall
hereafter trace, prepared the way for a spirit of improvement, and a
desire for reform, of which the world had then seen no example. This
great movement displayed its energy in every department of knowledge;
and now it was that a successful attempt was first made to raise
Political Economy to a science, by discovering the laws which regulate
the creation and diffusion of wealth. In the year 1776, Adam Smith
published his _Wealth of Nations_; which, looking at its ultimate
results, is probably the most important book that has ever been written,
and is certainly the most valuable contribution ever made by a single
man towards establishing the principles on which government should be
based. In this great work, the old theory of protection as applied to
commerce was destroyed in nearly all its parts;[360] the doctrine of the
balance of trade was not only attacked, but its falsehood was
demonstrated; and innumerable absurdities, which had been accumulating
for ages, were suddenly swept away.[361]

  [360] To this the only exception of any moment is the view taken of the
        usury-laws, which Jeremy Bentham has the honour of demolishing.

  [361] Before Adam Smith, the principal merit is due to Hume; but the
        works of that profound thinker were too fragmentary to produce
        much effect. Indeed, Hume, notwithstanding his vast powers, was
        inferior to Smith in comprehensiveness as well as in industry.

If the _Wealth of Nations_ had appeared in any preceding century, it
would have shared the fate of the great works of Stafford and Serra; and
although the principles which it advocated would, no doubt, have excited
the attention of speculative thinkers, they would, in all probability,
have produced no effect on practical politicians, or, at all events,
would only have exercised an indirect and precarious influence. But the
diffusion of knowledge had now become so general, that even our ordinary
legislators were, in some degree, prepared for these great truths,
which, in a former period, they would have despised as idle novelties.
The result was, that the doctrines of Adam Smith soon found their way
into the House of Commons;[362] and, being adopted by a few of the
leading members, were listened to with astonishment by that great
assembly, whose opinions were mainly regulated by the wisdom of their
ancestors, and who were loth to believe that anything could be
discovered by the moderns which was not already known to the ancients.
But it is in vain that such men as these always set themselves up to
resist the pressure of advancing knowledge. No great truth which has
once been found has ever afterwards been lost; nor has any important
discovery yet been made which has not eventually carried everything
before it. Even so, the principles of Free Trade, as demonstrated by
Adam Smith, and all the consequences which flow from them, were vainly
struggled against by the most overwhelming majorities of both Houses of
Parliament. Year by year the great truth made its way; always advancing,
never receding.[363] The majority was at first deserted by a few men of
ability, then by ordinary men, then it became a minority, then even the
minority began to dwindle; and at the present day, eighty years after
the publication of Smith's _Wealth of Nations_, there is not to be found
any one of tolerable education who is not ashamed of holding opinions
which, before the time of Adam Smith, were universally received.

  [362] The first notice I have observed of the _Wealth of Nations_ in
        Parliament is in 1783; and between then and the end of the
        century it is referred to several times, and latterly with
        increasing frequency. See _Parliamentary History_, vol. xxiii. p.
        1152, vol. xxvi. pp. 481, 1035, vol. xxvii. p. 385, vol. xxix.
        pp. 834, 905, 982, 1065, vol. xxx. pp. 330, 333, vol. xxxii. p.
        2, vol. xxxiii. pp. 353, 386, 522, 548, 549, 563, 774, 777, 778,
        822, 823, 824, 825, 827, 1249, vol. xxxiv. pp. 11, 97, 98, 141,
        142, 304, 473, 850, 901, 902, 903. It is possible that one or two
        passages may have been overlooked; but I believe that these are
        the only instances of Adam Smith being referred to during
        seventeen years. From a passage in _Pellew's Life of Sidmouth_,
        vol. i. p. 51, it appears that even Addington was studying Adam
        Smith in 1787.

  [363] In 1797, Pulteney, in one of his financial speeches, appealed to
        'the authority of Dr. Smith, who, it was well said, would
        persuade the present generation and govern the next.' _Parl.
        Hist._ vol. xxxiii. p. 778. In 1813, Dugald Stewart (_Philosophy
        of the Human Mind_, vol. ii. p. 472) announced that the doctrine
        of free trade 'has now, I believe, become the prevailing creed of
        thinking men all over Europe.' And in 1816, Ricardo said, 'The
        reasoning by which the liberty of trade is supported is so
        powerful, that it is daily obtaining converts. It is with
        pleasure that I see the progress which this great principle is
        making amongst those whom we should have expected to cling the
        longest to old prejudices.' _Proposals for an Economical
        Currency_, in _Ricardo's Works_, p. 407.

Such is the way in which great thinkers control the affairs of men, and
by their discoveries regulate the march of nations. And truly the
history of this one triumph alone should be enough to repress the
presumption of statesmen and legislators, who so exaggerate the
importance of their craft as to ascribe great results to their own
shifting and temporary contrivances. For, whence did they derive that
knowledge, of which they are always ready to assume the merit? How did
they obtain their opinions? How did they get at their principles? These
are the elements of their success; and these they can only learn from
their masters--from those great teachers, who, moved by the inspiration
of genius, fertilize the world with their discoveries. Well may it be
said of Adam Smith, and said, too, without fear of contradiction, that
this solitary Scotchman has, by the publication of one single work,
contributed more towards the happiness of man, than has been effected by
the united abilities of all the statesmen and legislators of whom
history has preserved an authentic account.

The result of these great discoveries I am not here concerned to
examine, except so far as they aided in diminishing the energy of the
warlike spirit. And the way in which they effected this may be easily
stated. As long as it was generally believed that the wealth of a
country consists of its gold, it was of course also believed that the
sole object of trade is to increase the influx of the precious metals;
it, therefore, became natural that Government should be expected to take
measures by which such influx could be secured. This, however, could
only be done by draining other countries of their gold; a result which
they, for precisely the same reasons, strenuously resisted. The
consequence was, that any idea of real reciprocity was impossible: every
commercial treaty was an attempt made by one nation to outwit
another;[364] every new tariff was a declaration of hostility; and that
which ought to be the most peaceable of all pursuits became one of the
causes of those national jealousies and national animosities, by which
war is mainly promoted.[365] But when it was once clearly understood
that gold and silver are not wealth, but are merely the representatives
of wealth; when men began to see that wealth itself solely consists of
the value which skill and labour can add to the raw material, and that
money is of no possible use to a nation except to measure and circulate
their riches; when these great truths were recognized,[366] all the old
notions respecting the balance of trade, and the supreme importance of
the precious metals, at once fell to the ground. These enormous errors
being dispersed, the true theory of barter was easily worked out. It was
perceived, that if commerce is allowed to be free, its advantages will
be shared by every country which engages in it; that, in the absence of
monopoly, the benefits of trade are of necessity reciprocal; and that,
so far from depending on the amount of gold received, they simply arise
from the facility with which a nation gets rid of those commodities
which it can produce most cheaply, and receives in return those
commodities which it could only produce at a great expense, but which
the other nation can, from the skill of its workmen, or from the bounty
of nature, afford to supply at a lower rate. From this it followed,
that, in a mercantile point of view, it would be as absurd to attempt to
impoverish a people with whom we trade, as it would be in a tradesman to
wish for the insolvency of a rich and frequent customer. The result is,
that the commercial spirit, which formerly was often warlike, is now
invariably pacific.[367] And although it is perfectly true that not one
merchant out of a hundred is familiar with the arguments on which these
economical discoveries are founded, that does not prevent the effect
which the discoveries themselves produce on his own mind. The mercantile
class is, like every other, acted upon by causes which only a few
members of that class are able to perceive. Thus, for instance, of all
the innumerable opponents of protection, there are very few indeed who
can give valid reasons to justify their opposition. But this does not
prevent the opposition from taking place. For an immense majority of men
always follow with implicit submission the spirit of their own time; and
the spirit of the time is merely its knowledge, and the direction that
knowledge takes. As, in the ordinary avocations of daily life, everyone
is benefited, in the increase of his comforts, and of his general
security, by the progress of many arts and sciences, of which perhaps he
does not even know the name, just so is the mercantile class benefited
by those great economical discoveries which, in the course of two
generations, have already effected a complete change in the commercial
legislation of this country, and which are now operating slowly, but
steadily, upon those other European states where, public opinion being
less powerful, it is more difficult to establish great truths and
extirpate old abuses. While, therefore, it is perfectly true, that among
merchants, a comparatively small number are acquainted with political
economy, it is not the less true that they owe a large part of their
wealth to the political economists; who, by removing the obstacles with
which the ignorance of successive governments had impeded trade, have
now settled on a solid foundation that commercial prosperity which is by
no means the least of our national glories. Most assuredly is it also
true, that this same intellectual movement has lessened the chance of
war, by ascertaining the principles which ought to regulate our
commercial relations with foreign countries; by proving, not only the
inutility, but the positive mischief, caused by interfering with them;
and finally, by exploding those long-established errors, which, inducing
men to believe that nations are the natural enemies of each other,
encouraged those evil feelings, and fostered those national jealousies,
to the strength of which the military spirit owed no small share of its
former influence.

  [364] Sir Theodore Janson, in his _General Maxims of Trade_, published
        in 1713, lays it down as a principle universally recognized, that
        'All the nations of Europe seem to strive who shall outwit one
        another in point of trade; and they concur in this maxim, that
        the less they consume of foreign commodities, the better it is
        for them.' _Somers' Tracts_, vol. xiii. p. 292. Thus, too, in a
        _Dialogue between an Englishman and a Dutchman_, published in
        1700, the Dutchman is represented as boasting that his government
        had 'forced treaties of commerce exclusive to all other nations.'
        _Somers' Tracts_, vol. xi. p. 376. This is the system of 'narrow
        selfishness' denounced by Dr. Story, in his noble work, _Conflict
        of Laws_, 1841, p. 32.

  [365] 'It cannot, indeed, be denied that mistaken views of commerce,
        like those so frequently entertained of religion, have been the
        cause of many wars and of much bloodshed.' _M'Culloch's
        Principles of Political Economy_, p. 140. See also pp. 37, 38:
        'It has made each nation regard the welfare of its neighbours as
        incompatible with its own: hence the reciprocal desire of
        injuring and impoverishing each other; and hence that spirit of
        commercial rivalry, which has been the immediate or remote cause
        of the greater number of modern wars.'

  [366] On the rapid diffusion during the present century of the
        principles worked out by the economists, compare _Laing's
        Sweden_, pp. 356-358, with a note to the last edition of _Malthus
        on Population_, 1826, vol. ii. pp. 354, 355.

  [367] 'The feelings of rival tradesmen, prevailing among nations,
        overruled for centuries all sense of the general community of
        advantage which commercial countries derive from the prosperity
        of one another; and that commercial spirit, which is now one of
        the strongest obstacles to wars, was during a certain period of
        European history their principal cause.' _Mill's Political
        Economy_, 1849, vol. ii. p. 221. This great change in the
        feelings of the commercial classes did not begin before the
        present century, and has not been visible to ordinary observers
        until the last five-and-twenty or thirty years; but it was
        foretold in a remarkable passage written by Herder in 1787; see
        his _Ideen zur Geschichte_, vol. iii. pp. 292, 293.

The third great cause by which the love of war has been weakened, is the
way in which discoveries respecting the application of Steam to the
purposes of travelling have facilitated the intercourse between
different countries, and thus aided in destroying that ignorant contempt
which one nation is too apt to feel for another. Thus, for instance, the
miserable and impudent falsehoods which a large class of English writers
formerly directed against the morals and private character of the
French, and, to their shame be it said, even against the chastity of
French women, tended not a little to embitter the angry feelings then
existing between the two first countries of Europe; irritating the
English against French vices, irritating the French against English
calumnies. In the same way, there was a time when every honest
Englishman firmly believed that he could beat ten Frenchmen; a class of
beings whom he held in sovereign contempt, as a lean and stunted race,
who drank claret instead of brandy, who lived entirely off frogs;
miserable infidels, who heard mass every Sunday, who bowed down before
idols, and who even worshipped the Pope. On the other hand, the French
were taught to despise us, as rude unlettered barbarians, without either
taste or humanity; surly, ill-conditioned men, living in an unhappy
climate, where a perpetual fog, only varied by rain, prevented the sun
from ever being seen; suffering from so deep and inveterate a
melancholy, that physicians had called it the English spleen; and under
the influence of this cruel malady constantly committing suicide,
particularly in November, when we were well known to hang and shoot
ourselves by thousands.[368]

  [368] That there are more suicides in gloomy weather than in fine
        weather used always to be taken for granted, and was a favourite
        topic with the French wits, who were never weary of expatiating
        on our love of self-murder, and on the relation between it and
        our murky climate. Unfortunately for such speculations, the fact
        is exactly opposite to what is generally supposed, and we have
        decisive evidence that there are more suicides in summer than in
        winter. See _Quetelet sur l'Homme_, vol. ii. pp. 152, 158;
        _Tissot de la Manie du Suicide_, Paris, 1840, pp. 50, 149, 150;
        _Journal of Statistical Society_, vol. i. p. 102; _Winslow's
        Anatomy of Suicide_, 1840, pp. 131, 132; _Hawkins's Medical
        Statistics_, p. 170.

Whoever has looked much into the older literature of France and England,
knows that these were the opinions which the two first nations of
Europe, in the ignorance and simplicity of their hearts, held respecting
each other. But the progress of improvement, by bringing the two
countries into close and intimate contact, has dissipated these foolish
prejudices, and taught each people to admire, and, what is still more
important, to respect each other. And the greater the contact, the
greater the respect. For, whatever theologians may choose to assert, it
is certain that mankind at large has far more virtue than vice, and that
in every country good actions are more frequent than bad ones. Indeed,
if this were otherwise, the preponderance of evil would long since have
destroyed the human race, and not even have left a single man to lament
the degeneracy of his species. An additional proof of this is the fact,
that the more nations associate with each other, and the more they see
and know of their fellow-creatures, the more quickly do ancient enmities
disappear. This is because an enlarged experience proves that mankind is
not so radically bad as we from our infancy are taught to believe. But
if vices were really more frequent than virtues, the result would be,
that the increasing amalgamation of society would increase our bad
opinion of others; because, though we may love our own vices, we do not
generally love the vices of our neighbours. So far, however, is this
from being the actual consequence, that it has always been found that
those whose extensive knowledge makes them best acquainted with the
general course of human actions, are precisely those who take the most
favourable view of them. The greatest observer and the most profound
thinker is invariably the most lenient judge. It is the solitary
misanthrope, brooding over his fancied wrongs, who is most prone to
depreciate the good qualities of our nature, and exaggerate its bad
ones. Or else it is some foolish and ignorant monk, who, dreaming away
his existence in an idle solitude, flatters his own vanity by denouncing
the vices of others; and thus declaiming against the enjoyments of life,
revenges himself on that society from which by his own superstition he
is excluded. These are the sort of men who insist most strongly on the
corruption of our nature, and on the degeneracy into which we have
fallen. The enormous evil which such opinions have brought about, is
well understood by those who have studied the history of countries in
which they are, and have been, most prevalent. Hence it is that, among
the innumerable benefits derived from advancing knowledge, there are few
more important than those improved facilities of communication,[369]
which, by increasing the frequency with which nations and individuals
are brought into contact, have, to an extraordinary extent, corrected
their prejudices, raised the opinion which each forms of the other,
diminished their mutual hostility, and thus diffusing a more favourable
view of our common nature, have stimulated us to develop those boundless
resources of the human understanding, the very existence of which it was
once considered almost a heresy to assert.

  [369] Respecting which I will only mention one fact, in regard to our
        own country. By the returns of the Board of Trade, it appears
        that the passengers annually travelling by railway amounted in
        1842 to nineteen millions; but in 1852 they had increased to more
        than eighty-six millions. _Journal of Statistical Society_, vol.
        xvi. p. 292.

This is precisely what has occurred in modern Europe. The French and
English people have, by the mere force of increased contact, learned to
think more favourably of each other, and to discard that foolish
contempt in which both nations formerly indulged. In this, as in all
cases, the better one civilized country is acquainted with another, the
more it will find to respect and to imitate. For of all the causes of
national hatred, ignorance is the most powerful. When you increase the
contact, you remove the ignorance, and thus you diminish the
hatred.[370] This is the true bond of charity; and it is worth all the
lessons which moralists and divines are able to teach. They have pursued
their vocation for centuries, without producing the least effect in
lessening the frequency of war. But it may be said without the
slightest exaggeration, that every new railroad which is laid down, and
every fresh steamer which crosses the Channel, are additional guarantees
for the preservation of that long and unbroken peace which, during forty
years, has knit together the fortunes and the interests of the two most
civilized nations of the earth.

  [370] Of this, Mr. Stephens (in his valuable work, _Central America_,
        vol. i. pp. 247-8) relates an interesting instance in the case of
        that remarkable man Carrera: 'Indeed, in no particular had he
        changed more than in his opinion of foreigners; a happy
        illustration of the effect of personal intercourse in breaking
        down prejudices against individuals or classes.' Mr. Elphinstone
        (_History of India_, p. 195) says, 'Those who have known the
        Indians longest have always the best opinion of them: but _this
        is rather a compliment to human nature than to them, since it is
        true of every other people_.' Compare an instructive passage in
        _Darwin's Journal of Researches_, p. 421, with _Burdach_, _Traité
        de Physiologie comme Science d'Observation_, vol. ii. p. 61.

I have thus, so far as my knowledge will permit, endeavoured to indicate
the causes which have diminished religious persecution and war: the two
greatest evils with which men have yet contrived to afflict their
fellow-creatures. The question of the decline of religious persecution I
have only briefly noticed, because it will be more fully handled in a
subsequent part of this volume. Enough, however, has been advanced to
prove how essentially it is an intellectual process, and how little good
can be effected on this subject by the operation of moral feelings. The
causes of the decline of the warlike spirit I have examined at
considerable, and, perhaps, to some readers, at tedious length, and the
result of that examination has been, that the decline is owing to the
increase of the intellectual classes, to whom the military classes are
necessarily antagonistic. In pushing the inquiry a little deeper, we
have, by still further analysis, ascertained the existence of three vast
though subsidiary causes, by which the general movement has been
accelerated. These are--the invention of Gunpowder, the discoveries of
Political Economy, and the discovery of improved means of Locomotion.
Such are the three great modes or channels by which the progress of
knowledge has weakened the old warlike spirit; and the way in which they
have effected this has, I trust, been clearly pointed out. The facts and
arguments which I have brought forward, have, I can conscientiously say,
been subjected to careful and repeated scrutiny; and I am quite unable
to see on what possible ground their accuracy is to be impugned. That
they will be disagreeable to certain classes, I am well aware; but the
unpleasantness of a statement is hardly to be considered a proof of its
falsehood. The sources from which the evidence has been derived are
fully indicated; and the arguments, I hope, fairly stated. And from them
there results a most important conclusion. From them we are bound to
infer, that the two oldest, greatest, most inveterate, and most
widely-spread evils which have ever been known, are constantly, though,
on the whole, slowly, diminishing; and that their diminution has been
effected, not at all by moral feelings, nor by moral teachings, but
solely by the activity of the human intellect, and by the inventions and
discoveries which, in a long course of successive ages, man has been
able to make.

Since, then, in the two most important phenomena which the progress of
society presents, the moral laws have been steadily and invariably
subordinate to the intellectual laws, there arises a strong presumption
that in inferior matters the same process has been followed. To prove
this in its full extent, and thus raise the presumption to an absolute
certainty, would be to write, not an Introduction to history, but the
History itself. The reader must, therefore, be satisfied for the present
with what, I am conscious, is merely an approach towards demonstration;
and the complete demonstration must necessarily be reserved for the
future volumes of this work: in which I pledge myself to show that the
progress Europe has made from barbarism to civilization is entirely due
to its intellectual activity; that the leading countries have now, for
some centuries, advanced sufficiently far to shake off the influence of
those physical agencies by which in an earlier state their career might
have been troubled; and that although the moral agencies are still
powerful, and still cause occasional disturbances, these are but
aberrations, which, if we compare long periods of time, balance each
other, and thus in the total amount entirely disappear. So that, in a
great and comprehensive view, the changes in every civilized people are,
in their aggregate, dependent solely on three things: first, on the
amount of knowledge possessed by their ablest men; secondly, on the
direction which that knowledge takes, that is to say, the sort of
subjects to which it refers: thirdly, and above all, on the extent to
which the knowledge is diffused, and the freedom with which it pervades
all classes of society.

These are the three great movers of every civilized country; and
although their operation is frequently disturbed by the vices or the
virtues of powerful individuals, such moral feelings correct each other,
and the average of long periods remains unaffected. Owing to causes of
which we are ignorant, the moral qualities do, no doubt, constantly
vary; so that in one man, or perhaps even in one generation, there will
be an excess of good intentions; in another an excess of bad ones. But
we have no reason to think that any permanent change has been effected
in the proportion which those who naturally possess good intentions bear
to those in whom bad ones seem to be inherent. In what may be called the
innate and original morals of mankind, there is, so far as we are aware,
no progress. Of the different passions with which we are born, some are
more prevalent at one time, some at another; but experience teaches us
that, as they are always antagonistic, they are held in balance by the
force of their own opposition. The activity of one motive is corrected
by the activity of another. For to every vice there is a corresponding
virtue. Cruelty is counteracted by benevolence; sympathy is excited by
suffering; the injustice of some provokes the charity of others; new
evils are met by new remedies, and even the most enormous offences that
have ever been known have left behind them no permanent impression. The
desolation of countries and the slaughter of men are losses which never
fail to be repaired, and at the distance of a few centuries every
vestige of them is effaced. The gigantic crimes of Alexander or Napoleon
become after a time void of effect, and the affairs of the world return
to their former level. This is the ebb and flow of history, the
perpetual flux to which by the laws of our nature we are subject. Above
all this, there is a far higher movement; and as the tide rolls on, now
advancing, now receding, there is, amid its endless fluctuations, one
thing, and one alone, which endures for ever. The actions of bad men
produce only temporary evil, the actions of good men only temporary
good; and eventually the good and the evil altogether subside, are
neutralized by subsequent generations, absorbed by the incessant
movements of future ages. But the discoveries of great men never leave
us; they are immortal, they contain those eternal truths which survive
the shock of empires, outlive the struggles of rival creeds, and witness
the decay of successive religions. All these have their different
measures and their different standards; one set of opinions for one age,
another set for another. They pass away like a dream; they are as the
fabric of a vision, which leaves not a rack behind. The discoveries of
genius alone remain: it is to them we owe all that we now have, they are
for all ages and all times; never young, and never old, they bear the
seeds of their own life; they flow on in a perennial and undying stream;
they are essentially cumulative, and, giving birth to the additions
which they subsequently receive, they thus influence the most distant
posterity, and after the lapse of centuries produce more effect than
they were able to do even at the moment of their promulgation.

                               CHAPTER V.


By applying to the history of Man those methods of investigation which
have been found successful in other branches of knowledge, and by
rejecting all preconceived notions which would not bear the test of
those methods, we have arrived at certain results, the heads of which it
may now be convenient to recapitulate. We have seen that our actions,
being solely the result of internal and external agencies, must be
explicable by the laws of those agencies; that is to say, by mental laws
and by physical laws. We have also seen that mental laws are, in Europe,
more powerful than physical laws; and that, in the progress of
civilization, their superiority is constantly increasing, because
advancing knowledge multiplies the resources of the mind, but leaves the
old resources of nature stationary. On this account, we have treated the
mental laws as being the great regulators of progress; and we have
looked at the physical laws as occupying a subordinate place, and as
merely displaying themselves in occasional disturbances, the force and
frequency of which have been long declining, and are now, on a large
average, almost inoperative. Having, by this means, resolved the study
of what may be called the dynamics of society into the study of the laws
of the mind, we have subjected these last to a similar analysis; and we
have found that they consist of two parts, namely, moral laws and
intellectual laws. By comparing these two parts, we have clearly
ascertained the vast superiority of the intellectual laws; and we have
seen, that as the progress of civilization is marked by the triumph of
the mental laws over the physical, just so is it marked by the triumph
of the intellectual laws over the moral ones. This important inference
rests on two distinct arguments. First, that moral truths being
stationary, and intellectual truths being progressive, it is highly
improbable that the progress of society should be due to moral
knowledge, which for many centuries has remained the same, rather than
to intellectual knowledge, which for many centuries has been incessantly
advancing. The other argument consists in the fact, that the two
greatest evils known to mankind have not been diminished by moral
improvement; but have been, and still are, yielding to the influence of
intellectual discoveries. From all this it evidently follows, that if we
wish to ascertain the conditions which regulate the progress of modern
civilization, we must seek them in the history of the amount and
diffusion of intellectual knowledge; and we must consider physical
phenomena and moral principles as causing, no doubt, great aberrations
in short periods, but in long periods correcting and balancing
themselves, and thus leaving the intellectual laws to act uncontrolled
by these inferior and subordinate agents.

Such is the conclusion to which we have been led by successive analyses,
and on which we now take our stand. The actions of individuals are
greatly affected by their moral feelings and by their passions; but
these being antagonistic to the passions and feelings of other
individuals, are balanced by them; so that their effect is, in the great
average of human affairs, nowhere to be seen; and the total actions of
mankind, considered as a whole, are left to be regulated by the total
knowledge of which mankind is possessed. And of the way in which
individual feeling and individual caprice are thus absorbed and
neutralized, we find a clear illustration in the facts already brought
forward respecting the history of crime. For by those facts it is
decisively proved, that the amount of crime committed in a country is,
year after year, reproduced with the most startling uniformity, not
being in the least affected by those capricious and personal feelings to
which human actions are too often referred. But if, instead of examining
the history of crime year by year, we were to examine it month by
month, we should find less regularity; and if we were to examine it hour
by hour, we should find no regularity at all; neither would its
regularity be seen, if, instead of the criminal records of a whole
country, we only knew those of a single street, or of a single family.
This is because the great social laws by which crime is governed, can
only be perceived after observing great numbers or long periods; but in
a small number, and a short period, the individual moral principle
triumphs, and disturbs the operation of the larger and intellectual law.
While, therefore, the moral feelings by which a man is urged to commit a
crime, or to abstain from it, will produce an immense effect on the
amount of his own crimes, they will produce no effect on the amount of
crimes committed by the society to which he belongs; because, in the
long-run, they are sure to be neutralized by opposite moral feelings,
which cause in other men an opposite conduct. Just in the same way, we
are all sensible that moral principles do affect nearly the whole of our
actions; but we have incontrovertible proof that they produce not the
least effect on mankind in the aggregate, or even on men in very large
masses, provided that we take the precaution of studying social
phenomena for a period sufficiently long, and on a scale sufficiently
great, to enable the superior laws to come into uncontrolled operation.

The totality of human actions being thus, from the highest point of
view, governed by the totality of human knowledge, it might seem a
simple matter to collect the evidence of the knowledge, and, by
subjecting it to successive generalizations, ascertain the whole of the
laws which regulate the progress of civilization. And that this will be
eventually done, I do not entertain the slightest doubt. But,
unfortunately, history has been written by men so inadequate to the
great task they have undertaken, that few of the necessary materials
have yet been brought together. Instead of telling us those things which
alone have any value,--instead of giving us information respecting the
progress of knowledge, and the way in which mankind has been affected by
the diffusion of that knowledge,--instead of these things, the vast
majority of historians fill their works with the most trifling and
miserable details: personal anecdotes of kings and courts; interminable
relations of what was said by one minister, and what was thought by
another; and, what is worse than all, long accounts of campaigns,
battles, and sieges, very interesting to those engaged in them, but to
us utterly useless, because they neither furnish new truths, nor do they
supply the means by which new truths may be discovered. This is the real
impediment which now stops our advance. It is this want of judgment, and
this ignorance of what is most worthy of selection, which deprives us of
materials that ought long since to have been accumulated, arranged, and
stored-up for future use. In other great branches of knowledge,
observation has preceded discovery; first the facts have been
registered, and then their laws have been found. But in the study of the
history of Man, the important facts have been neglected, and the
unimportant ones preserved. The consequence is, that whoever now
attempts to generalize historical phenomena must collect the facts, as
well as conduct the generalization. He finds nothing ready to his hand.
He must be the mason as well as the architect; he must not only scheme
the edifice, but likewise excavate the quarry. The necessity of
performing this double labour entails upon the philosopher such enormous
drudgery, that the limits of an entire life are unequal to the task; and
history, instead of being ripe, as it ought to be, for complete and
exhaustive generalizations, is still in so crude and informal a state,
that not the most determined and protracted industry will enable any one
to comprehend the really important actions of mankind, during even so
short a period as two successive centuries.

On account of these things, I have long since abandoned my original
scheme; and I have reluctantly determined to write the history, not of
general civilization, but of the civilization of a single people. While,
however, by this means, we curtail the field of inquiry, we
unfortunately diminish the resources of which the inquiry is possessed.
For although it is perfectly true, that the totality of human actions,
if considered in long periods, depends on the totality of human
knowledge, it must be allowed that this great principle, when applied
only to one country, loses something of its original value. The more we
diminish our observations, the greater becomes the uncertainty of the
average; in other words, the greater the chance of the operation of the
larger laws being troubled by the operation of the smaller. The
interference of foreign governments; the influence exercised by the
opinions, literature, and customs of a foreign people; their invasions,
perhaps even their conquests; the forcible introduction by them of new
religions, new laws, and new manners,--all these things are
perturbations, which, in a view of universal history, equalize each
other, but which, in any one country, are apt to disturb the natural
march, and thus render the movements of civilization more difficult to
calculate. The manner in which I have endeavoured to meet this
difficulty will be presently stated; but what I first wish to point out,
are the reasons which have induced me to select the history of England
as more important than any other, and therefore as the most worthy of
being subjected to a complete and philosophic investigation.

Now, it is evident that, inasmuch as the great advantage of studying
past events consists in the possibility of ascertaining the laws by
which they were governed, the history of any people will become more
valuable in proportion as their movements have been least disturbed by
agencies not arising from themselves. Every foreign or external
influence which is brought to bear upon a nation is an interference with
its natural development, and therefore complicates the circumstances we
seek to investigate. To simplify complications, is, in all branches of
knowledge, the first essential of success. This is very familiar to the
cultivators of physical science, who are often able, by a single
experiment, to discover a truth which innumerable observations had
vainly searched; the reason being, that by experimenting on phenomena,
we can disentangle them from their complications; and thus isolating
them from the interference of unknown agencies, we leave them, as it
were, to run their own course, and disclose the operation of their own

This, then, is the true standard by which we must measure the value of
the history of any nation. The importance of the history of a country
depends, not upon the splendour of its exploits, but upon the degree to
which its actions are due to causes springing out of itself. If,
therefore, we could find some civilized people who had worked out their
civilization entirely by themselves; who had escaped all foreign
influence, and who had been neither benefited nor retarded by the
personal peculiarities of their rulers,--the history of such a people
would be of paramount importance; because it would present a condition
of normal and inherent development; it would show the laws of progress
acting in a state of isolation; it would be, in fact, an experiment
ready-made, and would possess all the value of that artificial
contrivance to which natural science is so much indebted.

To find such a people as this is obviously impossible; but the duty of
the philosophic historian is, to select for his especial study the
country in which the conditions have been most closely followed. Now, it
will be readily admitted, not only by ourselves, but by intelligent
foreigners, that in England, during, at all events, the last three
centuries, this has been done more constantly and more successfully than
in any other country. I say nothing of the number of our discoveries,
the brilliancy of our literature, or the success of our arms. These are
invidious topics; and other nations may perhaps deny to us those
superior merits which we are apt to exaggerate. But I take up this
single position, that of all European countries, England is the one
where, during the longest period, the government has been most
quiescent, and the people most active; where popular freedom has been
settled on the widest basis; where each man is most able to say what he
thinks, and do what he likes; where every one can follow his own bent,
and propagate his own opinions; where, religious persecution being
little known, the play and flow of the human mind may be clearly seen,
unchecked by those restraints to which it is elsewhere subjected; where
the profession of heresy is least dangerous, and the practice of dissent
most common; where hostile creeds flourish side by side, and rise and
decay without disturbance, according to the wants of the people,
unaffected by the wishes of the church, and uncontrolled by the
authority of the state; where all interests, and all classes, both
spiritual and temporal, are most left to take care of themselves; where
that meddlesome doctrine called Protection was first attacked, and where
alone it has been destroyed; and where, in a word, those dangerous
extremes to which interference gives rise having been avoided, despotism
and rebellion are equally rare, and concession being recognized as the
groundwork of policy, the national progress has been least disturbed by
the power of privileged classes, by the influence of particular sects,
or by the violence of arbitrary rulers.

That these are the characteristics of English history is notorious; to
some men a matter of boast, to others of regret. And when to these
circumstances we add, that England, owing to its insular formation,[371]
was, until the middle of the last century, rarely visited by foreigners,
it becomes evident that, in our progress as a people, we have been less
affected than any other by the two main sources of interference, namely,
the authority of government, and the influence of foreigners. In the
sixteenth century, it became a fashion, among the English nobility, to
travel abroad;[372] but it was by no means the fashion for foreign
nobility to travel in England. In the seventeenth century, the custom of
travelling for amusement spread so much, that, among the rich and idle
classes, there were few Englishmen who did not, at least once in their
life, cross the Channel; while the same classes in other countries,
partly because they were less wealthy, partly from an inveterate dislike
to the sea, hardly ever entered our island, unless compelled to do so on
some particular business. The result was, that in other countries, and
particularly in France and Italy, the inhabitants of the great cities
became gradually accustomed to foreigners, and, like all men, were
imperceptibly influenced by what they often saw. On the other hand,
there were many of our cities in which none but Englishmen ever set
their feet;[373] and inhabitants, even of the metropolis, might grow old
without having once seen a single foreigner, except, perhaps, some dull
and pompous ambassador taking his airing on the banks of the Thames. And
although it is often said that, after the restoration of Charles II.,
our national character began to be greatly influenced by French
example,[374] this, as I shall fully prove, was confined to that small
and insignificant part of society which hung about the court; nor did it
produce any marked effect upon the two most important classes,--the
intellectual class, and the industrious class. The movement may, indeed,
be traced in the most worthless parts of our literature,--in the
shameless productions of Buckingham, Dorset, Etherege, Killigrew,
Mulgrave, Rochester, and Sedley. But neither then, nor at a much later
period, were any of our great thinkers influenced by the intellect of
France;[375] on the contrary, we find in their ideas, and even in their
style, a certain rough and native vigour, which, though offensive to our
more polished neighbours, has at least the merit of being the indigenous
product of our own country.[376] The origin and extent of that connexion
between the French and English intellects which subsequently arose, is a
subject of immense importance; but, like most others of real value, it
has been entirely neglected by historians. In the present work, I shall
attempt to supply this deficiency: in the mean time I may say, that
although we have been, and still are, greatly indebted to the French for
our improvement in taste, in refinement, in manners, and indeed in all
the amenities of life, we have borrowed from them nothing absolutely
essential, nothing by which the destinies of nations are permanently
altered. On the other hand, the French have not only borrowed from us
some very valuable political institutions, but even the most important
event in French history is due, in no small degree, to our influence.
Their revolution of 1789 was, as is well known, brought about, or, to
speak more properly, was mainly instigated, by a few great men, whose
works, and afterwards whose speeches, roused the people to resistance;
but what is less known, and nevertheless is certainly true, is, that
these eminent leaders learnt in England that philosophy and those
principles by which, when transplanted into their own country, such
fearful and yet such salutary results were effected.[377]

  [371] Coleridge well says, 'it is the chief of many blessings derived
        from the insular character and circumstances of our country, that
        our social institutions have formed themselves out of our proper
        needs and interests.' _Coleridge on the Constitution of the
        Church and State_, 8vo. 1830, pp. 20, 21. The political
        consequences of this were much noticed at the time of the French
        Revolution. See _Mémoires de La Fayette_, vol. i. p. 404,
        Bruxelles, 1837.

  [372] In another place, I shall collect the evidence of the rapidly
        increasing love of travelling in the sixteenth century; but it is
        interesting to observe, that during the latter half of the
        century there was first established the custom of appointing
        travelling tutors. Compare _Barrington's Observations on the
        Statutes_, p. 218, with a letter from Beza, written in 1598, in
        _Mémoires et Correspondence de Du Plessis Mornay_, vol. ix. p.

  [373] In regard to the society of women, this was still more observable,
        even at a much later period; and when the Countess de Boufflers
        visited England, at the beginning of the reign of George III.,
        'on lui faisoit un mérite de sa curiosité de voir l'Angleterre;
        car on remarquoit qu'elle étoit la seule dame françoise de
        qualité qui fût venue en voyageuse depuis deux cents ans: on ne
        comprenoit point, dans cette classe, les ambassadrices, ni la
        duchesse de Mazarin, qui y étoient venues par nécessité.'
        _Dutens_, _Mémoires d'un Voyageur_, vol. i. p. 217. Compare
        _Mémoires de Madame de Genlis_, vol. viii. p. 241.

  [374] _Orme's Life of Owen_, p. 288; _Mahon's History of England_,
        vol. ii. p. 211; and many other writers.

  [375] The only Englishman of genius who, during this period, was
        influenced by the French mind, was Dryden; but this is chiefly
        apparent in his plays, the whole of which are now deservedly
        forgotten. His great works, and, above all, those wonderful
        satires, in which he distances every competitor, except Juvenal,
        are thoroughly national, and, as mere specimens of English, are,
        if I may express my own judgment, to be ranked immediately after
        Shakspeare. In Dryden's writings there are unquestionably many
        Gallicisms of expression, but few Gallicisms of thought; and it
        is by these last that we must estimate the real amount of foreign
        influence. Sir Walter Scott goes so far as to say, 'It will admit
        of question, whether any single French word has been naturalized
        upon the sole authority of Dryden.' _Scott's Life of Dryden_, p.
        523, 8vo. 1808. Rather a bold assertion. As to the opinion of
        Fox, see Lord Holland's preface to _Fox's James II._, 4to. 1808,
        p. xxxii.

  [376] Another circumstance which has maintained the independence, and
        therefore increased the value, of our literature, is, that in no
        great country have literary men been so little connected with the
        government, or rewarded by it. That this is the true policy, and
        that to protect literature is to injure it, are propositions for
        the proof of which I must refer to chap. xi. of this volume--on
        the system of Louis XIV. In the mean time, I will quote the
        following words from a learned and, what is much better, a
        thoughtful writer: 'Nor must he who will understand the English
        institutions leave out of view the character of the enduring
        works which had sprung from the salient energy of the English
        mind. Literature had been left to develop itself. William of
        Orange was foreign to it; Anne cared not for it; the first George
        knew no English; the second not much.' _Bancroft's History of the
        American Revolution_, vol. ii. p. 48. Compare _Forster's Life of
        Goldsmith_, 1854, vol. i. pp. 93-96, vol. ii. p. 480.

  [377] See, for evidence of this influence of England, chap. v. of the
        second volume.

It will not, I hope, be supposed, that by these remarks I mean to cast
any reflection on the French: a great and admirable people; a people in
many respects superior to ourselves; a people from whom we have still
much to learn, and whose deficiencies, such as they are, arise from the
perpetual interference of a long line of arbitrary rulers. But, looking
at this matter historically, it is unquestionably true that we have
worked out our civilization with little aid from them, while they have
worked out theirs with great aid from us. At the same time, it must also
be admitted, that our governments have interfered less with us than
their governments have interfered with them. And without in the least
prejudging the question as to which is the greater country, it is solely
on these grounds that I consider our history more important than theirs:
and I select for especial study the progress of English civilization,
simply because, being less affected by agencies not arising from itself,
we can the more clearly discern in it the normal march of society, and
the undisturbed operation of those great laws by which the fortunes of
mankind are ultimately regulated.

After this comparison between the relative value of French and English
history, it seems scarcely necessary to examine the claims which may be
put forward for the history of other countries. Indeed, there are only
two in whose favour any thing can be said: I mean Germany, considered as
a whole, and the United States of North America. As to the Germans, it
is undoubtedly true, that since the middle of the eighteenth century
they have produced a greater number of profound thinkers than any other
country, I might perhaps say, than all other countries put together. But
the objections which apply to the French are still more applicable to
the Germans. For the protective principle has been, and still is,
stronger in Germany than in France. Even the best of the German
governments are constantly interfering with the people; never leaving
them to themselves, always looking after their interests, and meddling
in the commonest affairs of daily life. Besides this, the German
literature, though now the first in Europe, owes it origin, as we shall
hereafter see, to that great sceptical movement, by which, in France,
the Revolution was preceded. Before the middle of the eighteenth
century, the Germans, notwithstanding a few eminent names, such as
Kepler and Leibnitz, had no literature of real value; and the first
impetus which they received, was caused by their contact with the French
intellect, and by the influence of those eminent Frenchmen who, in the
reign of Frederick the Great, flocked to Berlin,[378] a city which has
ever since been the head-quarters of philosophy and science. From this
there have resulted some very important circumstances, which I can here
only briefly indicate. The German intellect, stimulated by the French
into a sudden growth, has been irregularly developed; and thus hurried
into an activity greater than the average civilization of the country
requires. The consequence is, that there is no nation in Europe in which
we find so wide an interval between the highest minds and the lowest
minds. The German philosophers possess a learning, and a reach of
thought, which places them at the head of the civilized world. The
German people are more superstitious, more prejudiced, and,
notwithstanding the care which the government takes of their education,
more really ignorant, and more unfit to guide themselves, than are the
inhabitants either of France or of England.[379] This separation and
divergence of the two classes is the natural result of that artificial
stimulus, which a century ago was administered to one of the classes,
and which thus disturbed the normal proportions of society. Owing to
this, the highest intellects have, in Germany, so outstripped the
general progress of the nation, that there is no sympathy between the
two parties; nor are there at present any means by which they may be
brought into contact. Their great authors address themselves, not to
their country, but to each other. They are sure of a select and learned
audience, and they use what, in reality, is a learned language; they
turn their mother-tongue into a dialect, eloquent indeed, and very
powerful, but so difficult, so subtle, and so full of complicated
inversions, that to their own lower classes it is utterly
incomprehensible.[380] From this, there have arisen some of the most
marked peculiarities of German literature. For, being deprived of
ordinary readers, it is cut off from the influence of ordinary
prejudice; and hence, it has displayed a boldness of inquiry, a
recklessness in the pursuit of truth and a disregard of traditional
opinions, which entitle it to the highest praise. But, on the other
hand, this same circumstance has produced that absence of practical
knowledge, and that indifference to material and physical interests, for
which the German literature is justly censured. As a matter of course,
all this has widened the original breach, and increased the distance
which separates the great German thinkers from that dull and plodding
class, which, though it lies immediately beneath them, still remains
uninfluenced by their knowledge, and uncheered by the glow and fire of
their genius.

  [378] The history of this remarkable, though short-lived, union between
        the French and German intellects will be traced in the next
        volume; but its first great effect, in stimulating, or rather in
        creating, the German literature, is noticed by one of the most
        learned of their own writers: 'Denn einestheils war zu diesen
        Gegenständen immer die lateinische Sprache gebraucht und die
        Muttersprache zu wenig cultivirt worden, anderntheils wurden
        diese Schriften auch meistentheils nur von Gelehrten, und zwar
        Universitätsgelehrten, für welche sie auch hauptsächlich bestimmt
        waren, gelesen. Gegen die Mitte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, als
        mehrere englische und französische Werke gelesen und übersetzt
        wurden, und durch die Vorliebe des Königs von Preussen
        Friedrichs II., der von Franzosen gebildet worden war,
        französische Gelehrte besonders geehrt und angestellt wurden,
        entstand ein Wetteifer der Deutschen, auch in dem schriftlichen
        Vortrage nicht zurück zu bleiben, und die Sprache hob sich bald
        zu einem hohen Grade von Vollkommenheit.' _Tennemann_,
        _Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. xi. pp. 286, 287.

  [379] A popular view of the system of national education established in
        Germany will be found in _Kay's Social Condition and Education of
        the People of Europe_, vol. ii. pp. 1-344. But Mr. Kay, like most
        literary men, overrates the advantages of literary acquirements,
        and underrates that education of the faculties which neither
        books nor schools can impart to a people who are debarred from
        the exercise of civil and political rights. In the history of the
        protective spirit (chaps. ix. and x. of the present volume), I
        shall return to this subject, in connexion with France; and in
        the next volume I shall examine it in regard to German
        civilization. In the mean time, I must be allowed to protest
        against the account Mr. Kay has given of the results of
        compulsory education; an agreeable picture, drawn by an amiable
        and intelligent writer, but of the inaccuracy of which I possess
        decisive evidence. Two points only I will now refer to: 1st. The
        notorious fact, that the German people, notwithstanding their
        so-called education, are unfit to take any share in political
        matters, and have no aptitude for the practical and
        administrative parts of government. 2nd. The fact, equally
        notorious to those who have studied the subject, that there are
        more popular superstitions in Prussia, the most educated part of
        Germany, than there are in England; and that the tenacity with
        which men cling to them is greater in Prussia than in England.
        For illustration of the practical working, in individual cases,
        of compulsory education, and of the hardship it causes, see a
        scandalous occurrence, related in _Laing's Notes of a Traveller_,
        8vo. 1842, p. 165, first series; and on the physical evils
        produced by German education, see _Phillips on Scrofula_, London,
        1846, pp. 253, 254, where there is some useful evidence of the
        consequences of 'that great German sin of over-regulation.'

  [380] This is well stated by Mr. Laing, by far the ablest traveller who
        has published observations on European society: 'German authors,
        both the philosophic and the poetic, address themselves to a
        public far more intellectual, and more highly cultivated, than
        our reading public.... In our literature, the most obscure and
        abstruse of metaphysical or philosophical writers _take the
        public mind in a far lower state_, simply cognisant of the
        meaning of language, and possessed of the ordinary reasoning
        powers.... The social influence of German literature is,
        consequently, confined within a narrower circle. It has no
        influence on the mind of the lower, or even of the middle classes
        in active life, who have not the opportunity or leisure to screw
        their faculties up to the pitch-note of their great writers. The
        reading public must devote much time to acquire the knowledge,
        tone of feeling, and of imagination, necessary to follow the
        writing public. The social economist finds accordingly in Germany
        the most extraordinary dulness, inertness of mind, and ignorance,
        below a certain level, with the most extraordinary intellectual
        development, learning, and genius, at or above it.' _Laing's
        Notes of a Traveller_, first series, pp. 266, 267. The same acute
        observer says, in a later work (_Notes_, third series, 8vo. 1852,
        p. 12): 'The two classes speak and think in different languages.
        The cultivated German language, the language of German
        literature, is not the language of the common man, nor even of
        the man far up in the middle ranks of society,--the farmer,
        tradesman, shopkeeper.' See also pp. 351, 352, 354. It is
        singular that so clear and vigorous a thinker as Mr. Laing
        evidently is, should have failed in detecting the cause of this
        peculiar phenomenon.

In America, on the other hand, we see a civilization precisely the
reverse of this. We see a country, of which it has been truly said, that
in no other are there so few men of great learning, and so few men of
great ignorance.[381] In Germany, the speculative classes and the
practical classes are altogether disunited; in America, they are
altogether fused. In Germany, nearly every year brings forward new
discoveries, new philosophies, new means by which the boundaries of
knowledge are to be enlarged. In America, such inquiries are almost
entirely neglected: since the time of Jonathan Edwards no great
metaphysician has appeared; little attention has been paid to physical
science; and, with the single exception of jurisprudence,[382] scarcely
anything has been done for those vast subjects on which the Germans are
incessantly labouring. The stock of American knowledge is small, but it
is spread through all classes; the stock of German knowledge is immense,
but it is confined to one class. Which of these two forms of
civilization is the more advantageous, is a question we are not now
called upon to decide. It is enough for our present purpose, that in
Germany, there is a serious failure in the diffusion of knowledge; and,
in America, a no less serious one in its accumulation. And as
civilization is regulated by the accumulation and diffusion of
knowledge, it is evident that no country can even approach to a complete
and perfect pattern, if, cultivating one of these conditions to an
excess, it neglects the cultivation of the other. Indeed, from this want
of balance and equilibrium between the two elements of civilization,
there have arisen in America and in Germany those great but opposite
evils, which, it is to be feared, will not be easily remedied; and
which, until remedied, will certainly retard the progress of both
countries, notwithstanding the temporary advantages which such
one-sided energy does for the moment always procure.

  [381] 'Je ne pense pas qu'il y ait de pays dans le monde où, proportion
        gardée avec la population, il se trouve aussi peu d'ignorants et
        moins de savants qu'en Amérique.' _Tocqueville de la Démocratie
        en Amérique_, vol. i. p. 91.

  [382] The causes of this exception I shall endeavour to trace in the
        next volume; but it is interesting to notice, that, as early as
        1775, Burke was struck by the partiality of the Americans for
        works on law. See _Burke's Speech_, in _Parliamentary History_,
        vol. xviii. p. 495; or in _Burke's Works_, vol. i. p. 188. He
        says: 'In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a
        study. The profession itself is numerous and powerful; and in
        most provinces it takes the lead. The greater number of the
        deputies sent to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read--and
        most do read--endeavour to obtain some smattering in that
        science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller, that in no
        branch of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so
        many books as those on the law exported to the plantations. The
        colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their
        own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of
        Blackstone's Commentaries in America as in England.' Of this
        state of society, the great works of Kent and Story were, at a
        later period, the natural result. On the respect at present felt
        for the legal profession, see _Lyell's Second Visit to the United
        States_, 1849, vol. i. p. 45; and as to the judges, _Combe's N.
        America_, vol. ii. p. 329.

I have very briefly, but I hope fairly, and certainly with no conscious
partiality, endeavoured to estimate the relative value of the history of
the four leading countries of the world. As to the real greatness of the
countries themselves, I offer no opinion; because each considers itself
to be first. But, unless the facts I have stated can be controverted, it
certainly follows, that the history of England is, to the philosopher,
more valuable than any other; because he can more clearly see in it the
accumulation and diffusion of knowledge going hand-in-hand; because that
knowledge has been less influenced by foreign and external agencies; and
because it has been less interfered with, either for good or for evil,
by those powerful, but frequently incompetent men, to whom the
administration of public affairs is entrusted.

It is on account of these considerations, and not at all from those
motives which are dignified with the name of patriotism, that I have
determined to write the history of my own country, in preference to that
of any other; and to write it in a manner as complete, and as
exhaustive, as the materials which are now extant will enable me to do.
But, inasmuch as the circumstances already stated, render it impossible
to discover the laws of society solely by studying the history of a
single nation, I have drawn up the present Introduction in order to
obviate some of the difficulties with which this great subject is
surrounded. In the earlier chapters, I have attempted to mark out the
limits of the subject considered as a whole, and fix the largest
possible basis upon which it can rest. With this view, I have looked at
civilization as broken into two vast divisions: the European division,
in which Man is more powerful than Nature; and the non-European
division, in which Nature is more powerful than Man. This has led us to
the conclusion, that national progress, in connexion with popular
liberty, could have originated in no part of the world except in Europe;
where, therefore, the rise of real civilization, and the encroachments
of the human mind upon the forces of nature, are alone to be studied.
The superiority of the mental laws over the physical, being thus
recognized as the groundwork of European history, the next step has
been, to resolve the mental laws into moral and intellectual, and prove
the superior influence of the intellectual ones in accelerating the
progress of Man. These generalizations appear to me the essential
preliminaries of history, considered as a science; and, in order to
connect them with the special history of England, we have now merely to
ascertain the fundamental condition of intellectual progress, as, until
that is done, the annals of any people can only present an empirical
succession of events, connected by such stray and casual links as are
devised by different writers, according to their different principles.
The remaining part of this Introduction will, therefore, be chiefly
occupied in completing the scheme I have sketched, by investigating the
history of various countries in reference to those intellectual
peculiarities on which the history of our own country supplies no
adequate information. Thus, for instance, in Germany, the accumulation
of knowledge has been far more rapid than in England; the laws of the
accumulation of knowledge may, on that account, be most conveniently
studied in German history, and then applied deductively to the history
of England. In the same way, the Americans have diffused their knowledge
much more completely than we have done; I, therefore, purpose to explain
some of the phenomena of English civilization by those laws of
diffusion, of which, in American civilization, the workings may be most
clearly seen, and hence the discovery most easily made. Again, inasmuch
as France is the most civilized country in which the protective spirit
is very powerful, we may trace the occult tendencies of that spirit
among ourselves, by studying its obvious tendencies among our
neighbours. With this view, I shall give an account of French history,
in order to illustrate the protective principle, by showing the injury
it has inflicted on a very able and enlightened people. And, in an
analysis of the French Revolution, I shall point out how that great
event was a reaction against the protective spirit; while, as the
materials for the reaction were drawn from England, we shall also see in
it the way in which the intellect of one country acts upon the intellect
of another; and we shall arrive at some results respecting that
interchange of ideas which is likely to become the most important
regulator of European affairs. This will throw much light on the laws of
international thought; and, in connexion with it, two separate chapters
will be devoted to a History of the Protective Spirit, and an
Examination of its relative intensity in France and England. But the
French, as a people, have, since the beginning or middle of the
seventeenth century, been remarkably free from superstition; and,
notwithstanding the efforts of their government, they are very averse to
ecclesiastical power: so that, although their history displays the
protective principle in its political form, it supplies little evidence
respecting its religious form; while, in our own country, the evidence
is also scanty. Hence, my intention is, to give a view of Spanish
history; because in it we may trace the full results of that protection
against error which the spiritual classes are always eager to afford. In
Spain, the church has, from a very early period, possessed more
authority, and the clergy have been more influential, both with the
people and the government, than in any other country; it will,
therefore, be convenient to study in Spain the laws of ecclesiastical
development, and the manner in which that development affects the
national interests. Another circumstance, which operates on the
intellectual progress of a nation, is the method of investigation that
its ablest men habitually employ. This method can only be one of two
kinds; it must be either inductive, or deductive. Each of these belongs
to a different form of civilization, and is always accompanied by a
different style of thought, particularly in regard to religion and
science. These differences are of such immense importance, that, until
their laws are known, we cannot be said to understand the real history
of past events. Now, the two extremes of the difference are,
undoubtedly, Germany and the United States; the Germans being
pre-eminently deductive, the Americans inductive. But Germany and
America are, in so many other respects, diametrically opposed to each
other, that I have thought it expedient to study the operations of the
deductive and inductive spirit in countries between which a closer
analogy exists; because the greater the similarity between two nations,
the more easily can we trace the consequences of any single divergence,
and the more conspicuous do the laws of that divergence become. Such an
opportunity occurs in the history of Scotland, as compared with that of
England. Here we have two nations, bordering on each other, speaking the
same language, reading the same literature, and knit together by the
same interests. And yet it is a truth, which seems to have escaped
attention, but the proof of which I shall fully detail, that, until the
last thirty or forty years, the Scotch intellect has been even more
entirely deductive than the English intellect has been inductive. The
inductive tendencies of the English mind, and the almost superstitious
reverence with which we cling to them, have been noticed with regret by
a few, and a very few, of our ablest men.[383] On the other hand, in
Scotland, particularly during the eighteenth century, the great
thinkers, with hardly an exception, adopted the deductive method. Now,
the characteristic of deduction, when applied to branches of knowledge
not yet ripe for it, is, that it increases the number of hypotheses from
which we reason downwards, and brings into disrepute the slow and
patient ascent peculiar to inductive inquiry. This desire to grasp at
truth by speculative, and, as it were, foregone conclusions, has often
led the way to great discoveries; and no one, properly instructed, will
deny its immense value. But when it is universally followed, there is
imminent danger lest the observation of mere empirical uniformities
should be neglected; and lest thinking men should grow impatient at
those small and proximate generalizations which, according to the
inductive scheme, must invariably precede the larger and higher ones.
Whenever this impatience actually occurs, there is produced serious
mischief. For these lower generalizations form a neutral ground, which
speculative minds and practical minds possess in common, and on which
they meet. If this ground is cut away, the meeting is impossible. In
such case, there arises among the scientific classes an undue contempt
for inferences which the experience of the vulgar has drawn, but of
which the laws seem inexplicable; while, among the practical classes,
there arises a disregard of speculations so wide, so magnificent, and of
which the intermediate and preliminary steps are hidden from their gaze.
The results of this in Scotland are highly curious, and are, in several
respects, similar to those which we find in Germany; since in both
countries the intellectual classes have long been remarkable for their
boldness of investigation and their freedom from prejudice, and the
people at large equally remarkable for the number of their superstitions
and the strength of their prejudices. In Scotland this is even more
striking than in Germany; because the Scotch, owing to causes which have
been little studied, are, in practical matters, not only industrious and
provident, but singularly shrewd. This, however, in the higher
departments of life, has availed them nothing; and, while there is no
country which possesses a more original, inquisitive, and innovating
literature than Scotland does, so also is there no country, equally
civilized, in which so much of the spirit of the Middle Ages still
lingers, in which so many absurdities are still believed, and in which
it would be so easy to rouse into activity the old feelings of religious

  [383] Particularly Coleridge and Mr. John Mill. But, with the greatest
        possible respect for Mr. Mill's profound work on Logic, I must
        venture to think that he has ascribed too much to the influence
        of Bacon in encouraging the inductive spirit, and too little to
        those other circumstances which gave rise to the Baconian
        philosophy, and to which that philosophy owes its success.

The divergence, and indeed the hostility, thus established between the
practical and speculative classes, is the most important fact in the
history of Scotland, and is partly cause and partly effect of the
predominance of the deductive method. For this descending scheme being
opposed to the ascending or inductive scheme, neglects those lower
generalizations which are the only ones that both classes understand,
and, therefore, the only ones where they sympathize with each other. The
inductive method, as popularized by Bacon, gave great prominence to
these lower or proximate truths; and this, though it has often made the
intellectual classes in England too utilitarian, has at all events saved
them from that state of isolation in which they would otherwise have
remained. But in Scotland the isolation has been almost complete,
because the deductive method has been almost universal. Full evidence of
this will be collected in the third volume; but, that I may not leave
the subject entirely without illustration, I will notice very briefly
the principal instances that occurred during those three generations in
which Scotch literature reached its highest excellence.

During this period, which comprises nearly a century, the tendency was
so unmistakable as to form a striking phenomenon in the annals of the
human mind. The first great symptom was a movement begun by Simson,
professor at the University of Glasgow, and continued by Stewart,
professor at the University of Edinburgh. These able men made strenuous
efforts to revive the pure Greek geometry, and depreciate the algebraic
or symbolical analysis.[384] Hence there arose among them, and among
their disciples, a love of the most refined methods of solution, and a
contempt for those easier, but less elegant ones, which we owe to
algebra.[385] Here we clearly see the isolating and esoteric character
of a scheme which despises what ordinary understandings can quickly
master, and which had rather proceed from the ideal to the tangible,
than mount from the tangible to the ideal. Just at the same time, the
same spirit was displayed, in another branch of inquiry, by Hutcheson,
who, though an Irishman by birth, was educated in the University of
Glasgow, and was professor there. In his celebrated moral and æsthetic
researches, he, in the place of inductive reasoning from palpable facts,
substituted deductive reasoning from impalpable principles; ignoring the
immediate and practical suggestions of the senses, and believing that by
a hypothetical assumption of certain laws, he could descend upon the
facts, instead of rising from the facts in order to learn the laws.[386]
His philosophy exercised immense influence among metaphysicians;[387]
and his method of working downwards, from the abstract to the concrete,
was adopted by another and a still greater Scotchman, the illustrious
Adam Smith. How Smith favoured the deductive form of investigation is
apparent in his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, likewise in his _Essay on
Language_,[388] and even in his fragment on the _History of Astronomy_,
in which he, from general considerations, undertook to prove what the
march of astronomical discovery must have been, instead of first
ascertaining what it had been.[389] The _Wealth of Nations_, again, is
entirely deductive, since in it Smith generalizes the laws of wealth,
not from the phenomena of wealth, nor from statistical statements, but
from the phenomena of selfishness; thus making a deductive application
of one set of mental principles to the whole set of economical
facts.[390] The illustrations with which his great book abounds are no
part of the real argument: they are subsequent to the conception; and if
they were all admitted, the work, though less interesting and perhaps
less influential, would, in a scientific point of view, be equally
valuable. To give another instance: the works of Hume, his metaphysical
essays alone excepted, are all deductive; his profound economical
inquiries are essentially _a priori_, and might have been written
without any acquaintance with those details of trade and finance from
which, according to the inductive scheme, they should have been
generalized.[391] Thus, too, in his _Natural History of Religion_, he
endeavoured simply by reflection, and independently of evidence, to
institute a purely speculative investigation into the origin of
religious opinions.[392] In the same way, in his _History of England_,
instead of first collecting the evidence, and then drawing inferences
from it, he began by assuming that the relations between the people and
the government must have followed a certain order, and he either
neglected or distorted the facts by which this supposition was
contradicted.[393] These different writers, though varying in their
principles, and in the subjects they studied, were all agreed as to
their method; that is to say, they were all agreed to investigate truth
rather by descent than by ascent. The immense social importance of this
peculiarity I shall examine in the third volume, where I shall endeavour
to ascertain how it affected the national civilization, and caused some
curious contrasts with the opposite, and more empirical, character of
English literature. In the meantime, and merely to state what will be
hereafter proved, I may add, that the deductive method was employed, not
only by those eminent Scotchmen I have mentioned, but was carried into
the speculative _History of Civil Society_ by Ferguson; into the study
of legislation by Mill; into the study of jurisprudence by Mackintosh;
into geology by Hutton; into thermotics by Black and Leslie; into
physiology by Hunter, by Alexander Walker, and by Charles Bell; into
pathology by Cullen; into therapeutics by Brown and Currie.

  [384] Simson was appointed in 1711; and even before he began to lecture,
        he drew up 'a translation of the three first books of
        L'Hospital's Conic Sections, in which geometrical demonstrations
        are substituted for the algebraical of the original, according to
        Mr. Simson's early taste on this subject.' _Trail's Life and
        Writings of Robert Simson_, 1812, 4to. p. 4. This was probably
        the rudiment of his work on Conic Sections, published in 1735.
        _Montucla_, _Histoire des Mathématiques_, vol. iii. p. 12. On the
        difference between the ancient and modern schemes, there are some
        ingenious, though perhaps scarcely tenable, remarks in Dugald
        Stewart's _Philosophy of the Mind_, vol. ii. pp. 354 seq. and p.
        380. See also _Comte_, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. i. pp.
        383-395. Matthew Stewart, the mathematical professor at
        Edinburgh, was the father of Dugald. See, respecting him and his
        crusade against the modern analysis, _Bower's History of the
        University of Edinburgh_, vol. ii. pp. 357-360, vol. iii. p. 249;
        and a strange passage in _First Report of the British
        Association_, p. 59.

  [385] One of Simson's great reasons for recommending the old analysis,
        was that it was 'more elegant' than the comparatively modern
        practice of introducing algebraic calculations into geometry. See
        _Trail's Simson_, 1812, 4to. pp. 27, 67; a valuable work, which
        Lord Brougham, in his hasty life of Simson, calls, 'a very
        learned and exceedingly ill-written, indeed hardly readable'
        book. _Brougham's Men of Letters and Science_, vol. i. p. 482,
        8vo. 1845. Dr. Trail's style is clearer, and his sentences are
        less involved, than Lord Brougham's; and he had moreover the
        great advantage of understanding the subject upon which he wrote.

  [386] Sir James Mackintosh (_Dissertation on Ethical Philosophy_, p.
        208) says of Hutcheson, 'To him may also be ascribed that
        proneness to multiply ultimate and original principles in human
        nature, which characterized the Scottish school till the second
        extinction of a passion for metaphysical speculation in
        Scotland.' There is an able view of Hutcheson's philosophy in
        _Cousin_, _Histoire de la Philosophie_, I. série, vol. iv. pp. 31
        seq.; written with clearness and eloquence, but perhaps
        overpraising Hutcheson.

  [387] On its influence, see a letter from Mackintosh to Parr, in
        _Memoirs of Mackintosh_, by his Son, vol. i. p. 334. Compare
        _Letters from Warburton to Hurd_, pp. 37, 82.

  [388] Which is added to his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, edit. 1822,
        2 volumes. Compare a letter which Smith wrote in 1763 on the
        origin of language (in _Nichols's Literary Illustrations of the
        Eighteenth Century_, vol. iii. pp. 515, 516), which exhibits, on
        a small scale, the same treatment, as distinguished from a
        generalization of the facts which are supplied by a comprehensive
        comparison of different languages. Dr. Arnold speaks slightingly
        of such investigations. He says, 'Attempts to explain the
        phenomena of language _a priori_ seem to me unwise.' _Arnold's
        Miscellaneous Works_, p. 385. This would lead into a discussion
        too long for a note, but it appears to me that those _a priori_
        inferences are, to the philologist, what hypotheses are to the
        inductive natural philosopher; and if this be the case, they are
        extremely important, because no really fruitful experiment ever
        can be made unless it is preceded by a judicious hypothesis. In
        the absence of such an hypothesis, men may grope in the dark for
        centuries, accumulating facts without obtaining knowledge.

  [389] See, for instance, his attempt to prove, from general reasonings
        concerning the human mind, that there was a necessary relation in
        regard to the order in which men promulgated the system of
        concentric spheres and that of eccentric spheres and epicycles.
        _History of Astronomy_, in _Smith's Philosophical Essays_, 1795,
        4to. pp. 31, 36, which it may be convenient to compare with
        _Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences_, 1847, vol. ii.
        pp. 53, 60, 61. This striking fragment of Adam Smith's is
        probably little read now; but it is warmly praised by one of the
        greatest living philosophers, M. A. Comte, in his _Philosophie
        Positive_, vol. vi. p. 319.

  [390] The two writers who have inquired most carefully into the method
        which political economists ought to follow, are Mr. John Mill
        (_Essays on Unsettled Questions of Political Economy_, 1844, pp.
        120-164) and Mr. Rae (_New Principles of Political Economy_,
        1834, pp. 328-351). Mr. Rae, in his ingenious work, objects to
        Adam Smith that he transgressed the rules of the Baconian
        philosophy, and thus prevented his inferences from being as
        valuable as they would have been if he had treated his subject
        inductively. But Mr. Mill, with great force of reasoning, has
        proved that the deductive plan is the only one by which political
        economy can be raised to a science. He says, p. 143, political
        economy is 'essentially an _abstract_ science, and its method is
        the method _a priori_;' and at p. 146, that the _a posteriori_
        method is 'altogether inefficacious.' To this I may add, that the
        modern theory of rent, which is now the corner-stone of political
        economy, was got at, not by generalizing economical facts, but by
        reasoning downwards after the manner of geometricians. Indeed,
        those who oppose the theory of rent, always do so on the ground
        that it is contradicted by facts; and then, with complete
        ignorance of the philosophy of method, they infer that therefore
        the theory is wrong. See, for instance, _Jones on the
        Distribution of Wealth_, 8vo. 1831: a book containing some
        interesting facts, but vitiated by this capital defect of method.
        See also _Journal of Statistical Society_, vol. i. p. 317, vol.
        vi. p. 322; where it is said that economical theories should be
        generalized from statistical facts. Compare vol. xvii. p. 116,
        vol. xviii. p. 101.

  [391] A striking instance has lately come to light of the sagacity with
        which Hume employed this method. See _Burton's Life and
        Correspondence of Hume_, vol. ii. p. 486; where we find, that
        immediately Hume had read the _Wealth of Nations_, he detected
        Smith's error concerning rent being an element of price: so that
        it now appears that Hume was the first to make this great
        discovery, as far as the idea is concerned; though Ricardo has
        the merit of proving it.

  [392] The historical facts he introduces are merely illustrations; as
        any one will see who will read _The Natural History of Religion_,
        in _Hume's Philos. Works_, Edinb. 1826, vol. iv. pp. 435-513. I
        may mention, that there is a considerable similarity between the
        views advocated in this remarkable essay and the religious stages
        of _Comte's Philosophie Positive_; for Hume's early form of
        polytheism is evidently the same as M. Comte's fetichism, from
        which both these writers believe that monotheism subsequently
        arose, as a later and more refined abstraction. That this was the
        course adopted by the human mind is highly probable, and is
        confirmed by the learned researches of Mr. Grote. See his
        _History of Greece_, vol. i. pp. 462, 497, vol. v. p. 22. The
        opposite and more popular opinion, of monotheism preceding
        idolatry, was held by most of the great earlier writers, and is
        defended by many moderns, and among others by Dr. Whewell
        (_Bridgewater Treatise_, p. 256), who expresses himself with
        considerable confidence: see also _Letters from Warburton to
        Hurd_, p. 239. Compare _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. i.
        p. 183, Lond. 1835, with the 'einige Funken des Monotheismus' of
        Kant, _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii.
        p. 455.

  [393] That is to say, he treated historical facts as merely illustrative
        of certain general principles, which he believed could be proved
        without the facts; so that, as M. Schlosser (_History of the
        Eighteenth Century_, vol. ii. p. 76) well says, 'History with
        Hume was only a subordinate pursuit, only a means by which he
        might introduce his philosophy,' &c. Considering how little is
        known of the principles which govern social and political
        changes, there can be no doubt that Hume was premature in the
        application of this method; but it is absurd to call the method
        dishonest, since the object of his History was, not to _prove_
        conclusions, but to _illustrate_ them: and he therefore thought
        himself justified in selecting the illustrations. I am simply
        stating his views, without at all defending them; indeed, I
        believe that in this respect he was seriously in the wrong.

This is an outline of the plan I purpose to follow in the present
Introduction, and by means of which I hope to arrive at some results of
permanent value. For by studying different principles in those countries
where they have been most developed, the laws of the principles will be
more easily unfolded than if we had studied them in countries where they
are very obscure. And, inasmuch as, in England, civilization has
followed a course more orderly, and less disturbed, than in any other
country, it becomes the more necessary, in writing its history, to use
some resources like those which I have suggested. What makes the history
of England so eminently valuable is, that nowhere else has the national
progress been so little interfered with, either for good or for evil.
But the mere fact that our civilization has, by this means, been
preserved in a more natural and healthy state, renders it incumbent on
us to study the diseases to which it is liable, by observing those other
countries where social disease is more rife. The security and the
durability of civilization must depend on the regularity with which its
elements are combined, and on the harmony with which they work. If any
one element is too active, the whole composition will be in danger.
Hence it is, that although the laws of the composition of the elements
will be best ascertained wherever we can find the composition most
complete, we must, nevertheless, search for the laws of each separate
element wherever we can find the element itself most active. While,
therefore, I have selected the history of England, as that in which the
harmony of the different principles has been longest maintained, I have,
precisely on that account, thought it advisable to study each principle
separately in the country where it has been most powerful, and where, by
its inordinate development, the equilibrium of the entire structure has
been disturbed.

By adopting these precautions, we shall be able to remove many of the
difficulties which still beset the study of history. Before, however,
entering that wide field which now lies in our way, it will be well to
clear up some preliminary points, which I have not yet noticed, and the
discussion of which may obviate certain objections that might otherwise
be raised. The subjects to which I allude, are Religion, Literature, and
Government: three topics of vast importance, and which, in the opinion
of many persons, are the prime movers of human affairs. That this
opinion is altogether erroneous will be amply proved in the present
work; but as the opinion is widely spread, and is very plausible, it is
necessary that we should at once come to some understanding respecting
it, and inquire into the real nature of that influence, which these
three great powers do actually exercise over the progress of

Now, in the first place, it is evident that if a people were left
entirely to themselves, their religion, their literature, and their
government would be, not the causes of their civilization, but the
effects of it. Out of a certain condition of society certain results
naturally follow. Those results may, no doubt, be tampered with by some
external agency; but if that is not done, it is impossible that a highly
civilized people, accustomed to reason and to doubt, should ever embrace
a religion of which the glaring absurdities set reason and doubt at
defiance. There are many instances of nations changing their religion,
but there is no instance of a progressive country voluntarily adopting a
retrogressive religion; neither is there any example of a declining
country ameliorating its religion. It is of course true, that a good
religion is favourable to civilization, and a bad one unfavourable to
it. Unless, however, there is some interference from without, no people
will ever discover that their religion is bad until their reason tells
them so; but if their reason is inactive, and their knowledge
stationary, the discovery will never be made. A country that continues
in its old ignorance will always remain in its old religion. Surely
nothing can be plainer than this. A very ignorant people will, by virtue
of their ignorance, incline towards a religion full of marvels; a
religion which boasts of innumerable gods, and which ascribes every
occurrence to the immediate authority of those gods. On the other hand,
a people whose knowledge makes them better judges of evidence, and who
are accustomed to that most difficult task, the practice of doubting,
will require a religion less marvellous, less obtrusive; one that taxes
their credulity less heavily. But will you, therefore, say, that the
badness of the first religion causes the ignorance; and that the
goodness of the second religion causes the knowledge? Will you say, that
when one event precedes another, the one which comes first is the
effect, and the one which follows afterwards is the cause? This is not
the way in which men reason on the ordinary affairs of life; and it is
difficult to see why they should reason thus respecting the history of
past events.

The truth is, that the religious opinions which prevail in any period
are among the symptoms by which that period is marked. When the opinions
are deeply rooted, they do, no doubt, influence the conduct of men; but
before they can be deeply rooted, some intellectual change must first
have taken place. We may as well expect that the seed should quicken in
the barren rock, as that a mild and philosophic religion should be
established among ignorant and ferocious savages. Of this innumerable
experiments have been made, and always with the same result. Men of
excellent intentions, and full of a fervent though mistaken zeal, have
been, and still are, attempting to propagate their own religion among
the inhabitants of barbarous countries. By strenuous and unremitting
activity, and frequently by promises, and even by actual gifts, they
have, in many cases, persuaded savage communities to make a profession
of the Christian religion. But whoever will compare the triumphant
reports of the missionaries with the long chain of evidence supplied by
competent travellers, will soon find that such profession is only
nominal, and that these ignorant tribes have adopted, indeed, the
ceremonies of the new religion, but have by no means adopted the
religion itself. They receive the externals, but there they stop. They
may baptize their children; they may take the sacrament; they may flock
to the church. All this they may do, and yet be as far removed from the
spirit of Christianity as when they bowed the knee before their former
idols. The rites and forms of a religion lie on the surface; they are at
once seen, they are quickly learned, easily copied by those who are
unable to penetrate to that which lies beneath. It is this deeper and
inward change which alone is durable; and this the savage can never
experience while he is sunk in an ignorance that levels him with the
brutes by which he is surrounded. Remove the ignorance, and then the
religion may enter. This is the only course by which ultimate benefit
can be effected. After a careful study of the history and condition of
barbarous nations, I do most confidently assert, that there is no well
attested case of any people being permanently converted to Christianity,
except in those very few instances where missionaries, being men of
knowledge, as well as men of piety, have familiarized the savage with
habits of thought, and, by thus stimulating his intellect, have prepared
him for the reception of those religious principles, which, without
such stimulus, he could never have understood.[394]

  [394] A writer of great authority has made some remarks on this, which
        are worth attending to: 'Ce fut alors que les Jésuites
        pénétrèrent dans la Chine pour y prêcher l'évangile. Ils ne
        tardèrent pas à s'apercevoir qu'un des moyens les plus efficaces
        pour s'y maintenir, en attendant le moment que le ciel avoit
        marqué pour éclairer ce vaste empire, étoit d'étaler des
        connoissances astronomiques.' _Montucla_, _Histoire des
        Mathématiques_, vol. i. p. 468; and see vol. ii. pp. 586, 587.
        Cuvier delicately hints at the same conclusion. He says of Emery:
        'Il se souvenait que l'époque où le christianisme a fait le plus
        de conquêtes, et où ses ministres ont obtenu le plus de respect,
        est celle où ils portaient chez les peuples convertis les
        lumières des lettres, en même temps que les vérités de la
        religion, et où ils formaient à la fois dans les nations l'ordre
        le plus éminent et le plus éclairé.' _Cuvier_, _Eloges
        Historiques_, vol. iii. p. 170. Even Southey (_History of
        Brazil_, vol. ii. p. 378) says: 'Missionaries have always
        complained of the fickleness of their converts; and they must
        always complain of it, till they discover that some degree of
        civilization must precede conversion, or at least accompany it.'
        And see to the same effect, _Halkett's Notes on the North
        American Indians_, pp. 352, 353; and _Combe's North America_,
        vol. i. p. 250, vol. ii. p. 353.

It is in this way that, looking at things upon a large scale, the
religion of mankind is the effect of their improvement, not the cause of
it. But, looking at things upon a small scale, or taking what is called
a practical view of some short and special period, circumstances will
occasionally occur which disturb this general order, and apparently
reverse the natural process. And this, as in all such cases, can only
arise from the peculiarities of individual men; who, moved by the minor
laws which regulate individual actions, are able, by their genius or
their energy, to interfere with the operation of those greater laws
which regulate large societies. Owing to circumstances still unknown,
there appear, from time to time, great thinkers, who, devoting their
lives to a single purpose, are able to anticipate the progress of
mankind, and to produce a religion or a philosophy, by which important
effects are eventually brought about. But, if we look into history, we
shall clearly see that, although the origin of a new opinion may be thus
due to a single man, the result which the new opinion produces will
depend on the condition of the people among whom it is propagated. If
either a religion or a philosophy is too much in advance of a nation, it
can do no present service, but must bide its time, until the minds of
men are ripe for its reception. Of this innumerable instances will occur
to most readers. Every science and every creed has had its martyrs; men
exposed to obloquy, or even to death, because they knew more than their
contemporaries, and because society was not sufficiently advanced to
receive the truths which they communicated. According to the ordinary
course of affairs, a few generations pass away, and then there comes a
period when these very truths are looked upon as commonplace facts; and
a little later, there comes another period, in which they are declared
to be necessary, and even the dullest intellects wonder how they could
ever have been denied. This is what happens when the human mind is
allowed to have fair play, and to exercise itself, with tolerable
freedom, in the accumulation and diffusion of knowledge. If, however, by
violent, and therefore by artificial, means, this same society is
prevented from exercising its intellect, then the truths, however
important they may be, can never be received. For why should certain
truths be rejected in one age, and acknowledged in another? The truths
remain the same; their ultimate recognition must, therefore, be due to a
change in the society which now accepts what it had before despised.
Indeed, history is full of evidence of the utter inefficiency even of
the noblest principles, when they are promulgated among a very ignorant
nation. Thus it was that the doctrine of One God, taught to the Hebrews
of old, remained for many centuries altogether inoperative. The people
to whom it was addressed had not yet emerged from barbarism; they were,
therefore, unable to raise their minds to so elevated a conception. Like
all other barbarians, they craved after a religion which would feed
their credulity with incessant wonders; and which, instead of
abstracting the Deity to a single essence, would multiply their gods
until they covered every field, and swarmed in every forest. This is the
idolatry which is the natural fruit of ignorance; and this it is to
which the Hebrews were perpetually recurring. Notwithstanding the most
severe and unremitting punishments, they, at every opportunity,
abandoned that pure theism which their minds were too backward to
receive, and relapsed into superstitions which they could more easily
understand,--into the worship of the golden calf, and the adoration of
the brazen serpent. Now, and in this age of the world, they have long
ceased to do these things. And why? Not because their religious feelings
are more easily aroused, or their religious fears more often excited. So
far from this, they are dissevered from their old associations; they
have lost for ever those scenes by which men might well have been moved.
They are no longer influenced by those causes which inspired emotions,
sometimes of terror, sometimes of gratitude. They no longer witness the
pillar of cloud by day, or the pillar of fire by night; they no longer
see the Law being given from Sinai, nor do they hear the thunder rolling
from Horeb. In the presence of these great appeals, they remained
idolaters in their hearts, and whenever an opportunity occurred, they
became idolaters in their practice, and this they did because they were
in that state of barbarism, of which idolatry is the natural product. To
what possible circumstance can their subsequent change be ascribed,
except to the simple fact, that the Hebrews, like all other people, as
they advanced in civilization, began to abstract and refine their
religion, and, despising the old worship of many gods, thus by slow
degrees elevated their minds to that steady perception of One Great
Cause, which, at an earlier period, it had been vainly attempted to
impress upon them?

Thus intimate is the connexion between the opinions of a people and
their knowledge; and thus necessary is it that, so far as nations are
concerned, intellectual activity should precede religious improvement.
If we require further illustrations of this important truth, we shall
find them in the events which occurred in Europe soon after the
promulgation of Christianity. The Romans were, with rare exceptions, an
ignorant and barbarous race; ferocious, dissolute, and cruel. For such a
people, Polytheism was the natural creed; and we read, accordingly, that
they practised an idolatry which a few great thinkers, and only a few,
ventured to despise. The Christian religion, falling among these men,
found them unable to appreciate its sublime and admirable doctrines. And
when, a little later, Europe was overrun by fresh immigrations, the
invaders, who were even more barbarous than the Romans, brought with
them those superstitions which were suited to their actual condition. It
was upon the materials arising from these two sources that Christianity
was now called to do her work. The result is most remarkable. For after
the new religion seemed to have carried all before it, and had received
the homage of the best part of Europe, it was soon found that nothing
had been really effected. It was soon found that society was in that
early stage in which superstition is inevitable; and in which men, if
they do not have it in one form, will have it in another. It was in vain
that Christianity taught a simple doctrine, and enjoined a simple
worship. The minds of men were too backward for so great a step, and
required more complicated forms, and a more complicated belief. What
followed is well known to the students of ecclesiastical history. The
superstition of Europe, instead of being diminished, was only turned
into a fresh channel. The new religion was corrupted by the old follies.
The adoration of idols was succeeded by the adoration of saints; the
worship of the Virgin was substituted for the worship of Cybele;[395]
Pagan ceremonies were established in Christian churches; not only the
mummeries of idolatry, but likewise its doctrines, were quickly added,
and were incorporated and worked into the spirit of the new religion;
until, after a lapse of a few generations, Christianity exhibited so
grotesque and hideous a form, that its best features were lost, and the
lineaments of its earlier loveliness altogether destroyed.[396]

  [395] This is curiously illustrated by the fact, that the 25th of March,
        which is now called Lady-day, in honour of the Virgin Mary, was,
        in Pagan times, called Hilaria, and was dedicated to Cybele, the
        mother of the gods. Compare _Blunt's Vestiges of Ancient
        Manners_, 8vo. 1823, pp. 51-55, with _Hampson's Medii Ævi
        Kalendarium_, 8vo. 1841, vol. i. pp. 56, 177.

  [396] On this interesting subject, the two best English books are,
        _Middleton's Letter from Rome_, and _Priestley's History of the
        Corruption of Christianity_; the former work being chiefly
        valuable for ritual corruptions, the latter work for doctrinal
        ones. _Blunt's Vestiges of Ancient Manners_ is also worth
        reading; but is very inferior to the two treatises just named,
        and is conceived in a much narrower spirit.

After some centuries were passed, Christianity slowly emerged from these
corruptions; many of which, however, even the most civilized countries
have not yet been able to throw off.[397] Indeed, it was found
impossible to effect even the beginning of a reform, until the European
intellect was, in some degree, roused from its lethargy. The knowledge
of men, gradually advancing, made them indignant at superstitions which
they had formerly admired. The way in which their indignation increased,
until, in the sixteenth century, it broke out into that great event
which is well called the Reformation, forms one of the most interesting
subjects in modern history. But, for our present purpose, it is enough
to keep in mind the memorable and important fact that, for centuries
after Christianity was the established religion of Europe, it failed to
bear its natural fruit, because its lot was cast among a people whose
ignorance compelled them to be superstitious, and who, on account of
their superstition, defaced a system which, in its original purity, they
were unable to receive.[398]

  [397] The large amount of Paganism which still exists in every Christian
        sect, forms an argument against an ingenious distinction which M.
        Bunsen has made between the change of a religion and that of a
        language; alterations in a religion being, as he supposes, always
        more abrupt than those in a language. _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i.
        pp. 358, 359.

  [398] It was necessary, says M. Maury, that the church 'se rapprochât
        davantage de l'esprit grossier, inculte, ignorant du barbare.'
        _Maury_, _Légendes Pieuses du Moyen Age_, p. 101. An exactly
        similar process has taken place in India, where the Puranas are
        to the Vedas what the works of the Fathers are to the New
        Testament. Compare _Elphinstone's History of India_, pp. 87, 88,
        98; _Wilson's Preface to the Vishnu Parana_, p. 7; and
        _Transactions of Bombay Society_, vol. i. p. 205. So that as M.
        Max Müller well expresses it, the Puranas are 'a secondary
        formation of Indian mythology.' _Müller on the Languages of
        India_, in _Reports of British Association for 1847_, p. 324.

Indeed, in every page of history, we meet with fresh evidence of the
little effect religious doctrines can produce upon a people, unless
preceded by intellectual culture. The influence exercised by
Protestantism, as compared with Catholicism, affords an interesting
example of this. The Catholic religion bears to the Protestant religion
exactly the same relation that the Dark Ages bear to the sixteenth
century. In the Dark Ages, men were credulous and ignorant; they
therefore produced a religion which required great belief and little
knowledge. In the sixteenth century, their credulity and ignorance,
though still considerable, were rapidly diminishing, and it was found
necessary to organize a religion suited to their altered circumstances:
a religion more favourable to free inquiry; a religion less full of
miracles, saints, legends, and idols; a religion of which the ceremonies
were less frequent, and less burdensome; a religion which should
discourage penance, fasting, confession, celibacy, and those other
mortifications which had long been universal. All this was done by the
establishment of Protestantism; a mode of worship which, being thus
suited to the age, made, as is well known, speedy progress. If this
great movement had been allowed to proceed without interruption, it
would, in the course of a few generations, have overthrown the old
superstition, and established in its place a simpler and less
troublesome creed; the rapidity with which this was done, being, of
course, proportioned to the intellectual activity of the different
countries. But, unfortunately, the European governments, who are always
meddling in matters with which they have no concern, thought it their
duty to protect the religious interests of the people; and making
common cause with the Catholic clergy, they, in many instances, forcibly
stopped the heresy, and thus arrested the natural development of the
age. This interference was, in nearly all cases, well intended, and is
solely to be ascribed to the ignorance of rulers respecting the proper
limits of their functions: but the evils caused by this ignorance it
would be difficult to exaggerate. During almost a hundred and fifty
years, Europe was afflicted by religious wars, religious massacres, and
religious persecutions; not one of which would have arisen, if the great
truth had been recognised, that the state has no concern with the
opinions of men, and no right to interfere, even in the slightest
degree, with the form of worship which they may choose to adopt. This
principle was, however, formerly unknown, or at all events unheeded; and
it was not until the middle of the seventeenth century that the great
religious contests were brought to a final close, and the different
countries settled down into their public creeds; which, in the essential
points, have never since been permanently altered; no nation having, for
more than two hundred years, made war upon another on account of its
religion; and all the great Catholic countries having, during the same
period, remained Catholic, all the great Protestant ones remained

From this it has arisen, that, in several of the European countries, the
religious development has not followed its natural order, but has been
artificially forced into an unnatural one. According to the natural
order, the most civilized countries should all be Protestants, and the
most uncivilized ones Catholics. In the average of instances this is
actually the case; so that many persons have been led into the singular
error, of ascribing all modern enlightenment to the influence of
Protestantism; overlooking the important fact, that until the
enlightenment had begun, Protestantism was never required. But although,
in the ordinary course of affairs, the advance of the Reformation would
have been the measure, and the symptom, of that advance of knowledge by
which it was preceded, still, in many cases, the authority of the
government and of the church acted as disturbing causes, and frustrated
the natural progress of religious improvement. And, after the treaty of
Westphalia had fixed the political relations of Europe, the love of
theological strife so greatly subsided, that men no longer thought it
worth their while to raise a religious revolution, and to risk their
lives in an attempt to overturn the creed of the state. At the same
time, governments, not being themselves particularly fond of
revolutions, have encouraged this stationary condition; and very
naturally, and, as it appears to me, very wisely, have made no great
alteration, but have left the national establishments as they found
them; that is to say, the Protestant ones Protestant, and the Catholic
ones Catholic. Hence it is, that the national religion professed by any
country at the present moment, is no decisive criterion of the present
civilization of the country; because the circumstances which fixed the
religion occurred long since, and the religion remains endowed and
established by the mere continuance of an impetus which was formerly

Thus far as to the origin of the ecclesiastical establishments of
Europe. But, in their practical consequences, we see some results which
are highly instructive. For many countries owing their national creed,
not to their own proper antecedents, but to the authority of powerful
individuals, it will be invariably found, that in such countries the
creed does not produce the effects which might have been expected from
it, and which, according to its terms, it ought to produce. Thus, for
instance, the Catholic religion is more superstitious, and more
intolerant, than the Protestant; but it by no means follows, that those
countries which profess the former creed, must be more superstitious,
and more intolerant, than those which profess the latter. So far from
this, the French are not only quite as free from those odious qualities
as are the most civilized Protestants, but they are more free from them
than some Protestant nations, as the Scotch and the Swedes. Of the
highly-educated class, I am not here speaking; but of the clergy, and of
the people generally, it must be admitted, that in Scotland there is
more bigotry, more superstition, and a more thorough contempt for the
religion of others, than there is in France. And in Sweden, which is one
of the oldest Protestant countries in Europe,[399] there is, not
occasionally, but habitually, an intolerance and a spirit of
persecution, which would be discreditable to a Catholic country; but
which is doubly disgraceful when proceeding from a people who profess to
base their religion on the right of private judgment.[400]

  [399] The doctrines of Luther were first preached in Sweden in 1519;
        and, in 1527, the principles of the Reformation were formally
        adopted in an assembly of the States at Westeraas, which enabled
        Gustavus Vasa to seize the property of the church. _Geijer's
        History of the Swedes_, part i. pp. 110, 118, 119; _Mosheim's
        Ecclesiastical History_, vol. ii. p. 22; _Crichton and Wheaton's
        History of Scandinavia_, vol. i. pp. 399, 400. The apostasy
        proceeded so favourably, that De Thou (_Histoire Univ._ vol.
        xiii. p. 312) says, in 1598, 'Il y avoit déjà si long-tems que ce
        culte étoit établi en Suède, qu'il étoit comme impossible de
        trouver, soit parmi le peuple, soit parmi les seigneurs,
        quelqu'un qui se souvînt d'avoir vu dans ce roïaume l'exercice
        public de la religion catholique.'

  [400] On the state of things in 1838, see some curious, and indeed
        shameful, details in _Laing's Sweden_, 8vo. London, 1839. Mr.
        Laing, though himself a Protestant, truly says, that in
        Protestant Sweden there 'is inquisition law, working in the hands
        of a Lutheran state-church, as strongly as in Spain or Portugal
        in the hands of a Roman Catholic Church.' _Laing's Sweden_, p.
        324. In the seventeenth century, it was ordered by the Swedish
        Church, and the order was confirmed by government, that 'if any
        Swedish subject change his religion, he shall be banished the
        kingdom, and lose all right of inheritance, both for himself and
        his descendants.... If any bring into the country teachers of
        another religion, he shall be fined and banished.' _Burton's
        Diary_, vol. iii. p. 387, 8vo. 1828. To this may be added, that
        it was not till 1781 that Roman Catholics were allowed to
        exercise their religion in Sweden. See _Crichton's History of
        Scandinavia_, Edinb. 1838, vol. ii. p. 320. See also, on this
        intolerant spirit, _Whitelocke's Journal of the Swedish Embassy_,
        vol. i. pp. 164, 412, vol. ii. p. 312.

These things show, what it would be easy to prove by a wider induction,
that when, from special, or, as they are called, accidental causes, any
people profess a religion more advanced than themselves, it will not
produce its legitimate effect.[401] The superiority of Protestantism
over Catholicism consists in its diminution of superstition and
intolerance, and in the check which it gives to ecclesiastical power.
But the experience of Europe teaches us, that when the superior religion
is fixed among an inferior people, its superiority is no longer seen.
The Scotch and the Swedes,--and to them might be added some of the Swiss
cantons,--are less civilized than the French, and are therefore more
superstitious. This being the case, it avails them little that they have
a religion better than the French. It avails them little that, owing to
circumstances which have long since passed away, they, three centuries
ago, adopted a creed to which the force of habit, and the influence of
tradition, now oblige them to cling. Whoever has travelled in Scotland
with sufficient attention to observe the ideas and opinions of the
people, and whoever will look into Scotch theology, and read the history
of the Scotch Kirk, and the proceedings of the Scotch Assemblies and
Consistories, will see how little the country has benefited by its
religion, and how wide an interval there is between its intolerant
spirit and the natural tendencies of the Protestant Reformation. On the
other hand, whoever will subject France to a similar examination, will
see an illiberal religion accompanied by liberal views, and a creed full
of superstitions professed by a people among whom superstition is
comparatively rare.

  [401] We see a good instance of this in the case of the Abyssinians, who
        have professed Christianity for centuries; but, as no pains were
        taken to cultivate their intellect, they found the religion too
        pure for them: they, therefore, corrupted it, and, down to the
        present moment, they have not made the slightest progress. The
        accounts given by Bruce of them are well known; and a traveller,
        who visited them in 1839, says: 'Nothing can be more corrupt than
        the nominal Christianity of this unhappy nation. It is mixed up
        with Judaism, Mahommedanism, and idolatry, and is a mass of rites
        and superstitions which cannot mend the heart.' _Kraff's Journal
        at Ankobar_, in _Journal of Geographical Society_, vol. x. p.
        488; see also vol. xiv. p. 13: and for a similar state of things
        in America, see the account of the Quiché Indians, in _Stephens's
        Central America_, vol. ii. pp. 191, 192. Compare _Squier's
        Central America_, vol. i. pp. 322, 323, with _Halkett's
        North-American Indians_, pp. 29, 212, 268. For further
        confirmation of this view, in another part of the world, see
        _Tuckey's Expedition to the Zaire_, pp. 79, 80, 165.

The simple fact is, that the French have a religion worse than
themselves; the Scotch have a religion better than themselves. The
liberality of France is as ill suited to Catholicism, as the bigotry of
Scotland is ill suited to Protestantism. In these, as in all similar
cases, the characteristics of the creed are overpowered by the
characteristics of the people; and the national faith is, in the most
important points, altogether inoperative, because it does not harmonize
with the civilization of the country in which it is established. How
idle, then, it is to ascribe the civilization to the creed; and how
worse than foolish are the attempts of government to protect a religion
which, if suited to the people, will need no protection, and, if
unsuited to them, will work no good!

If the reader has seized the spirit of the preceding arguments, he will
hardly require that I should analyze with equal minuteness the second
disturbing cause, namely, Literature. It is evident, that what has
already been said respecting the religion of a people, is, in a great
measure, applicable to their literature. Literature,[402] when it is in
a healthy and unforced state, is simply the form in which the knowledge
of a country is registered; the mould in which it is cast. In this, as
in the other cases we have considered, individual men may of course take
great steps, and rise to a great height above the level of their age.
But if they rise beyond a certain point, their present usefulness is
impaired; if they rise still higher, it is destroyed.[403] When the
interval between the intellectual classes and the practical classes is
too great, the former will possess no influence, the latter will reap no
benefit. This is what occurred in the ancient world, when the distance
between the ignorant idolatry of the people and the refined systems of
philosophers was altogether impassable;[404] and this is the principal
reason why the Greeks and Romans were unable to retain the civilization
which they for a short time possessed. Precisely the same process is at
the present moment going on in Germany, where the most valuable part of
literature forms an esoteric system, which, having nothing in common
with the nation itself, produces no effect on the national civilization.
The truth is, that although Europe has received great benefit from its
literature, this is owing, not to what the literature has originated,
but to what it has preserved. Knowledge must be acquired, before it can
be written; and the only use of books is, to serve as a storehouse in
which the treasures of the intellect are safely kept, and where they
may be conveniently found. Literature, in itself, is but a trifling
matter; and is merely valuable as being the armory in which the weapons
of the human mind are laid up, and from which, when required, they can
be quickly drawn. But he would be a sorry reasoner, who, on that
account, should propose to sacrifice the end, that he might obtain the
means; who should hope to defend the armory by giving up the weapons,
and who should destroy the treasure, in order to improve the magazine in
which the treasure is kept.

  [402] I use the word literature, not as opposed to science, but in its
        larger sense, including everything which is written--'taking the
        term literature in its primary sense, of an application of
        letters to the records of facts or opinions.' _Mure's History of
        the Literature of Greece_, vol. iv. p. 50.

  [403] Compare _Tocqueville_, _Démocratie en Amérique_, vol. ii. p. 130,
        with some admirable remarks on the Sophists in _Grote's History
        of Greece_, vol. viii. p. 481. Sir W. Hamilton, whose learning
        respecting the history of opinions is well known, says,
        'Precisely in proportion as an author is in advance of his age,
        is it likely that his works will be neglected.' _Hamilton's
        Discussions on Philosophy_, p. 186. Thus, too, in regard to the
        line arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds (_Fourth Discourse_, in _Works_,
        vol. i. p. 363) says, 'Present time and future may be considered
        as rivals; and he who solicits the one, must expect to be
        discountenanced by the other.'

  [404] Hence the intellectually exclusive and, as M. Neander well terms
        it, 'aristocratic spirit of antiquity.' _Neander's History of the
        Church_, vol. i. pp. 40, 97, vol. ii. p. 31. This is constantly
        overlooked by writers who use the word 'democracy' loosely;
        forgetting that, in the same age, democracies of politics may be
        very common, while democracies of thought are very rare. For
        proof of the universal prevalence formerly of this esoteric and
        aristocratic spirit, see the following passages: _Ritter's
        History of Ancient Philosophy_, vol. i. p. 338, vol. iii. pp. 9,
        17; _Tennemann_, _Geschichte der Philosophie_, vol. ii. pp. 200,
        205, 220; _Beausobre_, _Histoire Critique de Manichée_, vol. ii.
        p. 41; _Matter_, _Histoire du Gnosticisme_, vol. i. p. 13, vol.
        ii. pp. 83, 370; _Sprengel_, _Histoire de la Médecine_, vol. i.
        p. 250; _Grote's History of Greece_, vol. i. p. 561, vol. iv. p.
        544; _Thirlwall's History of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 150, vol. vi.
        p. 95; _Warburton's Works_, vol. vii. pp. 962, 972, 4to. 1788;
        _Sharpe's History of Egypt_, vol. ii. p. 174; _Cudworth's
        Intellect. System_, vol. ii. pp. 114, 365, 443, vol. iii. p. 20.

Yet this is what many persons are apt to do. From literary men, in
particular, we hear too much of the necessity of protecting and
rewarding literature, and we hear too little of the necessity of that
freedom and boldness, in the absence of which the most splendid
literature is altogether worthless. Indeed, there is a general tendency,
not to exaggerate the advantages of knowledge,--for that is
impossible,--but to misunderstand what that is in which knowledge really
consists. Real knowledge, the knowledge on which all civilization is
based, solely consists in an acquaintance with the relations which
things and ideas bear to each other and to themselves; in other words,
in an acquaintance with physical and mental laws. If the time should
ever come when all these laws are known, the circle of human knowledge
will then be complete; and, in the interim, the value of literature
depends upon the extent to which it communicates either a knowledge of
the laws, or the materials by which the laws may be discovered. The
business of education is to accelerate this great movement, and thus
increase the fitness and aptitude of men, by increasing the resources
which they possess. Towards this purpose, literature, so far as it is
auxiliary, is highly useful. But to look upon an acquaintance with
literature as one of the objects of education, is to mistake the order
of events, and to make the end subservient to the means. It is because
this is done, that we often find what are called highly educated men,
the progress of whose knowledge has been actually retarded by the
activity of their education. We often find them burdened by prejudices,
which their reading, instead of dissipating, has rendered more
inveterate.[405] For literature, being the depository of the thoughts of
mankind, is full, not only of wisdom, but also of absurdities. The
benefit, therefore, which is derived from literature, will depend, not
so much upon the literature itself, as upon the skill with which it is
studied, and the judgment with which it is selected. These are the
preliminary conditions of success; and if they are not obeyed, the
number and the value of the books in a country become a matter quite
unimportant. Even in an advanced stage of civilization, there is always
a tendency to prefer those parts of literature which favour ancient
prejudices, rather than those which oppose them; and in cases where this
tendency is very strong, the only effect of great learning will be, to
supply the materials which may corroborate old errors, and confirm old
superstitions. In our time such instances are not uncommon; and we
frequently meet with men whose erudition ministers to their ignorance,
and who the more they read, the less they know. There have been states
of society in which this disposition was so general, that literature has
done far more harm than good. Thus, for example, in the whole period
from the sixth to the tenth centuries, there were not in all Europe more
than three or four men who dared to think for themselves; and even they
were obliged to veil their meaning in obscure and mystical language. The
remaining part of society was, during these four centuries, sunk in the
most degrading ignorance. Under these circumstances, the few who were
able to read, confined their studies to works which encouraged and
strengthened their superstition, such as the legends of the saints, and
the homilies of the fathers. From these sources they drew those lying
and impudent fables, of which the theology of that time is principally
composed.[406] These miserable stories were widely circulated, and were
valued as solid and important truths. The more the literature was read,
the more the stories were believed; in other words, the greater the
learning, the greater the ignorance.[407] And I entertain no doubt, that
if, in the seventh and eighth centuries, which were the worst part of
that period,[408] all knowledge of the alphabet had for a while been
lost, so that men could no longer read the books in which they
delighted, the subsequent progress of Europe would have been more rapid
than it really was. For when the progress began, its principal
antagonist was that credulity which the literature had fostered. It was
not that better books were wanting, but it was that the relish for such
books was extinct. There was the literature of Greece and Rome, which
the monks not only preserved, but even occasionally looked into and
copied. But what could that avail such readers as they? So far from
recognizing the merit of the ancient writers, they were unable to feel
even the beauties of their style, and they trembled at the boldness of
their inquiries. At the first glimpse of the light, their eyes were
blinded. They never turned the leaves of a pagan author without
standing aghast at the risk they were running; and they were in constant
fear, lest by imbibing any of his opinions, they should involve
themselves in a deadly sin. The result was, that they willingly laid
aside the great master-pieces of antiquity; and in their place they
substituted those wretched compilations, which corrupted their taste,
increased their credulity, strengthened their errors, and prolonged the
ignorance of Europe, by embodying each separate superstition in a
written and accessible form, thus perpetuating its influence, and
enabling it to enfeeble the understanding even of a distant posterity.

  [405] Locke has noticed this 'learned ignorance,' for which many men are
        remarkable. See a fine passage in the _Essay on Human
        Understanding_, book iii. chap. x. in _Locke's Works_, vol. ii.
        p. 27, and similar remarks in his _Conduct of the Understanding_,
        vol. ii. pp. 350, 364, 365, and in his _Thoughts on Education_,
        vol. viii. pp. 84-87. If this profound writer were now alive what
        a war he would wage against our great universities and public
        schools, where innumerable things are still taught which no one
        is concerned to understand, and which few will take the trouble
        to remember. Compare _Condorcet_, _Vie de Turgot_, pp. 255, 256

  [406] The statistics of this sort of literature would prove a curious
        subject for inquiry. No one, I believe, has thought it worth
        while to sum them up; but M. Guizot has made an estimate that the
        Bollandist collection contains more than twenty-five thousand
        lives of saints; 'à en juger par approximation, ils contiennent
        plus de 25,000 vies de saints.' _Guizot_, _Histoire de la
        Civilisation en France_, vol. ii. p. 32. It is said (_Ledwich's
        Antiquities of Ireland_, p. 62) that of St. Patrick alone, there
        were sixty-six biographers before Joceline.

  [407] For, as Laplace observes, in his remarks on the sources of error
        in connexion with the doctrine of probabilities, 'C'est à
        l'influence de l'opinion de ceux que la multitude juge les plus
        instruits, et à qui elle a coutume de donner sa confiance sur les
        plus importants objets de la vie, qu'est due la propagation de
        ces erreurs qui, dans les temps d'ignorance, ont couvert la face
        du monde.' _Bouillaud_, _Philosophie Médicale_, p. 218.

  [408] M. Guizot (_Civilisation en France_, vol. ii. pp. 171, 172) thinks
        that, on the whole, the seventh was even worse than the eighth;
        but it is difficult to choose between them.

It is in this way that the nature of the literature possessed by a
people is of very inferior importance, in comparison with the
disposition of the people by whom the literature is to be read. In what
are rightly termed the Dark Ages, there was a literature in which
valuable materials were to be found; but there was no one who knew how
to use them. During a considerable period, the Latin language was a
vernacular dialect;[409] and, if men had chosen, they might have studied
the great Latin authors. But to do this, they must have been in a state
of society very different from that in which they actually lived. They,
like every other people, measured merit by the standard commonly
received in their own age; and, according to their standard, the dross
was better than the gold. They, therefore, rejected the gold, and
hoarded up the dross. What took place then is, on a smaller scale,
taking place now. Every literature contains something that is true, and
much that is false; and the effect it produces will chiefly depend upon
the skill with which the truth is discriminated from the falsehood. New
ideas, and new discoveries, possess prospectively an importance
difficult to exaggerate; but until the ideas are received, and the
discoveries adopted, they exercise no influence, and, therefore, work no
good. No literature can ever benefit a people, unless it finds them in a
state of preliminary preparation. In this respect, the analogy with
religious opinions is complete. If the religion and the literature of a
country are unsuited to its wants, they will be useless, because the
literature will be neglected, and the religion will be disobeyed. In
such cases, even the ablest books are unread, and the purest doctrines
despised. The works fall into oblivion; the faith is corrupted by

  [409] Some of the results of Latin being colloquially employed by the
        monks are judiciously stated in _Herder's Ideen zur Geschichte
        der Menschheit_, vol. iv. pp. 202, 203. The remarks on this
        custom by Dugald Stewart refer to a later period. _Stewart's
        Philosophy of the Mind_, vol. iii. pp. 110, 111.

The other opinion to which I have referred is, that the civilization of
Europe is chiefly owing to the ability which has been displayed by the
different governments, and to the sagacity with which the evils of
society have been palliated by legislative remedies. To any one who has
studied history in its original sources, this notion must appear so
extravagant, as to make it difficult to refute it with becoming gravity.
Indeed, of all the social theories which have ever been broached, there
is none so utterly untenable, and so unsound in all its parts, as this.
In the first place, we have the obvious consideration, that the rulers
of a country have, under ordinary circumstances, always been the
inhabitants of that country; nurtured by its literature, bred to its
traditions, and imbibing its prejudices. Such men are, at best, only the
creatures of the age, never its creators. Their measures are the result
of social progress, not the cause of it. This may be proved, not only by
speculative arguments, but also by a practical consideration, which any
reader of history can verify for himself. No great political
improvement, no great reform, either legislative or executive, has ever
been originated in any country by its rulers. The first suggesters of
such steps have invariably been bold and able thinkers, who discern the
abuse, denounce it, and point out how it is to be remedied. But long
after this is done, even the most enlightened governments continue to
uphold the abuse, and reject the remedy. At length, if circumstances are
favourable, the pressure from without becomes so strong, that the
government is obliged to give way; and, the reform being accomplished,
the people are expected to admire the wisdom of their rulers, by whom
all this has been done. That this is the course of political
improvement, must be well known to whoever has studied the law-books of
different countries in connexion with the previous progress of their
knowledge. Full and decisive evidence of this will be brought forward in
the present work; but, by way of illustration, I may refer to the
abolition of the corn-laws, undoubtedly one of the most remarkable facts
in the history of England during this century. The propriety, and,
indeed, the necessity, of their abolition, is now admitted by every one
of tolerable information; and the question arises, as to how it was
brought about. Those Englishmen who are little versed in the history of
their country will say, that the real cause was the wisdom of
Parliament; while others, attempting to look a little further, will
ascribe it to the activity of the Anti-Corn-Law League, and the
consequent pressure put upon Government. But whoever will minutely trace
the different stages through which this great question successively
passed, will find, that the Government, the Legislature, and the League,
were the unwitting instruments of a power far greater than all other
powers put together. They were simply the exponents of that march of
public opinion, which on this subject had begun nearly a century before
their time. The steps of this vast movement I shall examine on another
occasion; at present it is enough to say, that soon after the middle of
the eighteenth century, the absurdity of protective restrictions on
trade was so fully demonstrated by the political economists, as to be
admitted by every man who understood their arguments, and had mastered
the evidence connected with them. From this moment, the repeal of the
corn-laws became a matter, not of party, nor of expediency, but merely
of knowledge. Those who knew the facts, opposed the laws; those who were
ignorant of the facts, favoured the laws. It was, therefore, clear, that
whenever the diffusion of knowledge reached a certain point, the laws
must fall. The merit of the League was, to assist this diffusion; the
merit of the Parliament was, to yield to it. It is, however, certain,
that the members both of League and Legislature could at best only
slightly hasten what the progress of knowledge rendered inevitable. If
they had lived a century earlier, they would have been altogether
powerless, because the age would not have been ripe for their labours.
They were the creatures of a movement which began long before any of
them were born; and the utmost they could do was, to put into operation
what others had taught, and repeat, in louder tones, the lessons they
had learned from their masters. For, it was not pretended, they did not
even pretend themselves, that there was anything new in the doctrines
which they preached from the hustings, and disseminated in every part of
the kingdom. The discoveries had long since been made, and were
gradually doing their work; encroaching upon old errors, and making
proselytes in all directions. The reformers of our time swam with the
stream: they aided what it would have been impossible long to resist.
Nor is this to be deemed a slight or grudging praise of the services
they undoubtedly rendered. The opposition they had to encounter was
still immense; and it should always be remembered, as a proof of the
backwardness of political knowledge, and of the incompetence of
political legislators, that although the principles of free trade had
been established for nearly a century by a chain of arguments as solid
as those on which the truths of mathematics are based, they were to the
last moment strenuously resisted; and it was only with the greatest
difficulty that Parliament was induced to grant what the people were
determined to have, and the necessity of which had been proved by the
ablest men during three successive generations.

I have selected this instance as an illustration, because the facts
connected with it are undisputed, and, indeed, are fresh in the memory
of us all. For it was not concealed at the time, and posterity ought to
know, that this great measure, which, with the exception of the Reform
Bill, is by far the most important ever passed by a British parliament,
was, like the Reform Bill, extorted from the legislature by a pressure
from without; that it was conceded, not cheerfully, but with fear; and
that it was carried by statesmen who had spent their lives in opposing
what they now suddenly advocated. Such was the history of these events;
and such likewise has been the history of all those improvements which
are important enough to rank as epochs in the history of modern

Besides this, there is another circumstance worthy the attention of
those writers who ascribe a large part of European civilization to
measures originated by European governments. This is, that every great
reform which has been effected, has consisted, not in doing something
new, but in undoing something old. The most valuable additions made to
legislation have been enactments destructive of preceding legislation;
and the best laws which have been passed, have been those by which some
former laws were repealed. In the case just mentioned, of the corn-laws,
all that was done was to repeal the old laws, and leave trade to its
natural freedom. When this great reform was accomplished, the only
result was, to place things on the same footing as if legislators had
never interfered at all. Precisely the same remark is applicable to
another leading improvement in modern legislation, namely, the decrease
of religious persecution. This is unquestionably an immense boon;
though, unfortunately, it is still imperfect, even in the most civilized
countries. But it is evident that the concession merely consists in
this: that legislators have retraced their own steps, and undone their
own work. If we examine the policy of the most humane and enlightened
governments, we shall find this to be the course they have pursued. The
whole scope and tendency of modern legislation is, to restore things to
that natural channel from which the ignorance of preceding legislation
has driven them. This is one of the great works of the present age; and
if legislators do it well, they will deserve the gratitude of mankind.
But though we may thus be grateful to individual lawgivers, we owe no
thanks to lawgivers, considered as a class. For since the most valuable
improvements in legislation are those which subvert preceding
legislation, it is clear that the balance of good cannot be on their
side. It is clear, that the progress of civilization cannot be due to
those who, on the most important subjects, have done so much harm, that
their successors are considered benefactors, simply because they reverse
their policy, and thus restore affairs to the state in which they would
have remained, if politicians had allowed them to run on in the course
which the wants of society required.

Indeed, the extent to which the governing classes have interfered, and
the mischiefs which that interference has produced, are so remarkable,
as to make thoughtful men wonder how civilization could advance, in the
face of such repeated obstacles. In some of the European countries, the
obstacles have, in fact, proved insuperable, and the national progress
is thereby stopped. Even in England, where, from causes which I shall
presently relate, the higher ranks have for some centuries been less
powerful than elsewhere, there has been inflicted an amount of evil,
which, though much smaller than that incurred in other countries, is
sufficiently serious to form a melancholy chapter in the history of the
human mind. To sum up these evils would be to write a history of English
legislation; for it may be broadly stated, that, with the exception of
certain necessary enactments respecting the preservation of order, and
the punishment of crime, nearly everything which has been done, has been
done amiss. Thus, to take only such conspicuous facts as do not admit of
controversy, it is certain that all the most important interests have
been grievously damaged by the attempts of legislators to aid them.
Among the accessories of modern civilization, there is none of greater
moment than trade, the spread of which has probably done more than any
other single agent to increase the comfort and happiness of man. But
every European government which has legislated respecting trade, has
acted as if its main object were to suppress the trade, and ruin the
traders. Instead of leaving the national industry to take its own
course, it has been troubled by an interminable series of regulations,
all intended for its good, and all inflicting serious harm. To such a
height has this been carried, that the commercial reforms which have
distinguished England during the last twenty years, have solely
consisted in undoing this mischievous and intrusive legislation. The
laws formerly enacted on this subject, and too many of which are still
in force, are marvellous to contemplate. It is no exaggeration to say,
that the history of the commercial legislation of Europe presents every
possible contrivance for hampering the energies of commerce. Indeed, a
very high authority, who has maturely studied this subject, has recently
declared, that if it had not been for smuggling, trade could not have
been conducted, but must have perished, in consequence of this incessant
interference.[410] However paradoxical this assertion may appear, it
will be denied by no one who knows how feeble trade once was, and how
strong the obstacles were which opposed it. In every quarter, and at
every moment, the hand of government was felt. Duties on importation,
and duties on exportation; bounties to raise up a losing trade, and
taxes to pull down a remunerative one; this branch of industry
forbidden, and that branch of industry encouraged; one article of
commerce must not be grown, because it was grown in the colonies;
another article might be grown and bought, but not sold again, while a
third article might be bought and sold, but not leave the country. Then,
too, we find laws to regulate wages; laws to regulate prices; laws to
regulate profits; laws to regulate the interest of money; custom-house
arrangements of the most vexatious kind, aided by a complicated scheme,
which was well called the sliding-scale,--a scheme of such perverse
ingenuity, that the duties constantly varied on the same article, and no
man could calculate beforehand what he would have to pay. To this
uncertainty, itself the bane of all commerce, there was added a severity
of exaction, felt by every class of consumers and producers. The tolls
were so onerous, as to double and often quadruple the cost of
production. A system was organized, and strictly enforced, of
interference with markets, interference with manufactories, interference
with machinery, interference even with shops. The towns were guarded by
excisemen, and the ports swarmed with tide-waiters, whose sole business
was to inspect nearly every process of domestic industry, peer into
every package, and tax every article; while, that absurdity might be
carried to its extreme height, a large part of all this was by way of
protection: that is to say, the money was avowedly raised, and the
inconvenience suffered, not for the use of the government, but for the
benefit of the people; in other words, the industrious classes were
robbed, in order that industry might thrive.

  [410] 'C'est à la contrebande que le commerce doit de n'avoir pas péri
        sous l'influence du régime prohibitif; tandis que ce régime
        condamnait les peuples à s'approvisionner aux sources les plus
        éloignées, la contrebande rapprochait les distances, abaissait
        les prix, et neutralisait l'action funeste des monopoles.'
        _Blanqui_, _Histoire de l'Economie, Politique en Europe_, Paris,
        1845, vol. ii. pp. 25, 26.

Such are some of the benefits which European trade owes to the paternal
care of European legislators. But worse still remains behind. For the
economical evils, great as they were, have been far surpassed by the
moral evils which this system produced. The first inevitable consequence
was, that, in every part of Europe, there arose numerous and powerful
gangs of armed smugglers, who lived by disobeying the laws which their
ignorant rulers had imposed. These men, desperate from the fear of
punishment,[411] and accustomed to the commission of every crime,
contaminated the surrounding population; introduced into peaceful
villages vices formerly unknown; caused the ruin of entire families;
spread, wherever they came, drunkenness, theft, and dissoluteness; and
familiarized their associates with those coarse and swinish debaucheries
which were the natural habits of so vagrant and lawless a life.[412] The
innumerable crimes arising from this,[413] are directly chargeable upon
the European governments by whom they were provoked. The offences were
caused by the laws; and now that the laws are repealed, the offences
have disappeared. But it will hardly be pretended, that the interests of
civilization have been advanced by such a policy as this. It will
hardly be pretended, that we owe much to a system which, having called
into existence a new class of criminals, at length retraces its steps;
and, though it thus puts an end to the crime, only destroys what its own
acts had created.

  [411] The 19 Geo. II. c. 34, made 'all forcible acts of smuggling,
        carried on in defiance of the laws, or _even in disguise to evade
        them_, felony without benefit of clergy.' _Blackstone's
        Commentaries_, vol. iv. p. 155. Townsend, who travelled through
        France in 1786, says, that when any of the numerous smugglers
        were taken, 'some of them are hanged, some are broken upon the
        wheel, and some are burnt alive.' _Townsend's Spain_, vol. i. p.
        85, edit. 1792. On the general operation of the French laws
        against smugglers in the eighteenth century, compare _Tucker's
        Life of Jefferson_, vol. i. pp. 213, 214, with _Parliamentary
        History_, vol. ix. p. 1240.

  [412] In a work of considerable ability, the following account is given
        of the state of things in England and France so late as the year
        1824: 'While this was going forward on the English coast, the
        smugglers on the opposite shore were engaged, with much more
        labour, risk, and expense, in introducing English woollens, by a
        vast system of fraud and lying, into the towns, past a series of
        custom-houses. In both countries, there was an utter
        dissoluteness of morals connected with these transactions.
        Cheating and lying were essential to the whole system;
        drunkenness accompanied it; contempt for all law grew up under
        it; honest industry perished beneath it; and it was crowned with
        murder.' _Martineau's History of England during Thirty Years'
        Peace_, vol. i. p. 341, 8vo. 1849.

  [413] For evidence of the extraordinary extent to which smuggling was
        formerly carried, and that not secretly, but by powerful bodies
        of armed men, see _Parliamentary History_, vol. ix. pp. 243, 247,
        1290, 1345, vol. x. pp. 394, 405, 530, 532, vol. xi. p. 935. And
        on the number of persons engaged in it, compare _Tomline's Life
        of Pitt_, vol. i. p. 359: see also _Sinclair's History of the
        Public Revenue_, vol. iii. p. 232; _Otter's Life of Clarke_, vol.
        i. p. 391. In France, the evil was equally great. M. Lemontey
        says, that early in the eighteenth century, 'la contrebande
        devenait une profession ouverte, et des compagnies de cavalerie
        désertèrent tout entières leurs étendards pour suivre contre le
        fisc cette guerre populaire.' _Lemontey_, _Essai sur
        l'Etablissement monarchique de Louis XIV_, p. 430. According to
        Townsend, there were, in 1786, 'more than 1500 smugglers in the
        Pyrenees.' _Townsend's Journey through Spain_, vol. i. p. 84.

It is unnecessary to say, that these remarks do not affect the real
services rendered to society by every tolerably organized government. In
all countries, a power of punishing crime, and of framing laws, must
reside somewhere; otherwise the nation is in a state of anarchy. But the
accusation which the historian is bound to bring against every
government which has hitherto existed is, that it has overstepped its
proper functions, and, at each step, has done incalculable harm. The
love of exercising power has been found to be so universal, that no
class of men who have possessed authority have been able to avoid
abusing it. To maintain order, to prevent the strong from oppressing the
weak, and to adopt certain precautions respecting the public health, are
the only services which any government can render to the interests of
civilization. That these are services of immense value, no one will
deny; but it cannot be said, that by them civilization is advanced, or
the progress of Man accelerated. All that is done is, to afford the
opportunity of progress; the progress itself must depend upon other
matters. And that this is the sound view of legislation, is, moreover,
evident from the fact, that as knowledge is becoming more diffused, and
as an increasing experience is enabling each successive generation
better to understand the complicated relations of life; just in the same
proportion are men insisting upon the repeal of those protective laws,
the enactment of which was deemed by politicians to be the greatest
triumph of political foresight.

Seeing, therefore, that the efforts of government in favour of
civilization are, when most successful, altogether negative; and seeing
too, that when those efforts are more than negative, they become
injurious,--it clearly follows, that all speculations must be erroneous
which ascribe the progress of Europe to the wisdom of its rulers. This
is an inference which rests not only on the arguments already adduced,
but on facts which might be multiplied from every page of history. For
no government having recognized its proper limits, the result is, that
every government has inflicted on its subjects great injuries; and has
done this nearly always with the best intentions. The effects of its
protective policy in injuring trade, and, what is far worse, in
increasing crime, have just been noticed; and to these instances,
innumerable others might be added. Thus, during many centuries, every
government thought it was its bounden duty to encourage religious truth,
and discourage religious error. The mischief this has produced is
incalculable. Putting aside all other considerations, it is enough to
mention its two leading consequences; which are, the increase of
hypocrisy, and the increase of perjury. The increase of hypocrisy is the
inevitable result of connecting any description of penalty with the
profession of particular opinions. Whatever may be the case with
individuals, it is certain that the majority of men find an extreme
difficulty in long resisting constant temptation. And when the
temptation comes to them in the shape of honour and emolument, they are
too often ready to profess the dominant opinions, and abandon, not
indeed their belief, but the external marks by which that belief is made
public. Every man who takes this step is a hypocrite; and every
government which encourages this step to be taken, is an abettor of
hypocrisy and a creator of hypocrites. Well, therefore, may we say, that
when a government holds out as a bait, that those who profess certain
opinions shall enjoy certain privileges, it plays the part of the
tempter of old, and, like the Evil One, basely offers the good things of
this world to him who will change his worship and deny his faith. At the
same time, and as a part of this system, the increase of perjury has
accompanied the increase of hypocrisy. For legislators, plainly seeing
that proselytes thus obtained could not be relied upon, have met the
danger by the most extraordinary precautions; and compelling men to
confirm their belief by repeated oaths, have thus sought to protect the
old creed against the new converts. It is this suspicion as to the
motives of others, which has given rise to oaths of every kind and in
every direction. In England, even the boy at college is forced to swear
about matters which he cannot understand, and which far riper minds are
unable to master. If he afterwards goes into Parliament, he must again
swear about his religion; and at nearly every stage of political life he
must take fresh oaths; the solemnity of which is often strangely
contrasted with the trivial functions to which they are the prelude. A
solemn adjuration of the Deity being thus made at every turn, it has
happened, as might have been expected, that oaths, enjoined as a matter
of course, have at length degenerated into a matter of form. What is
lightly taken, is easily broken. And the best observers of English
society,--observers too whose characters are very different, and who
hold the most opposite opinions,--are all agreed on this, that the
perjury habitually practised in England, and of which government is the
immediate creator, is so general, that it has become a source of
national corruption, has diminished the value of human testimony, and
shaken the confidence which men naturally place in the word of their

  [414] Archbishop Whately says, what hardly any thinking man will now
        deny, 'If oaths were abolished--leaving the penalties for false
        witness (no unimportant part of our security) unaltered--I am
        convinced that, on the whole, testimony would be more trustworthy
        than it is.' _Whately's Elements of Rhetoric_, 8vo. 1850, p. 47.
        See also on the amount of perjury caused by English legislation,
        _Jeremy Bentham's Works_, edit. Bowring, vol. ii. p. 210, vol. v.
        pp. 191-229, 454-466, vol. vi. pp. 314, 315; _Orme's Life of
        Owen_, p. 195; _Locke's Works_, vol. iv. p. 6; _Berkeley's
        Works_, vol. ii. p. 196; _Whiston's Memoirs_, pp. 33, 411-413;
        _Hamilton's Discussions on Philosophy and Literature_, pp. 454,
        522, 527, 528. Sir W. Hamilton sums up: 'But if the perjury of
        England stands pre-eminent in the world, the perjury of the
        English Universities, and of Oxford in particular, stands
        pre-eminent in England,' p. 528. Compare _Priestley's Memoirs_,
        vol. i. p. 374 and _Baker's Life of Sir Thomas Bernard_, 1819,
        pp. 188, 189.

The open vices, and, what is much more dangerous, the hidden
corruption, thus generated in the midst of society by the ignorant
interference of Christian rulers, is indeed a painful subject; but it is
one which I could not omit in an analysis of the causes of civilization.
It would be easy to push the inquiry still further, and to show how
legislators, in every attempt they have made to protect some particular
interests, and uphold some particular principles, have not only failed,
but have brought about results diametrically opposite to those which
they proposed. We have seen that their laws in favour of industry have
injured industry; that their laws in favour of religion have increased
hypocrisy; and that their laws to secure truth have encouraged perjury.
Exactly in the same way, nearly every country has taken steps to prevent
usury, and keep down the interest of money; and the invariable effect
has been to increase usury, and raise the interest of money. For, since
no prohibition, however stringent, can destroy the natural relation
between demand and supply, it has followed, that when some men want to
borrow, and other men want to lend, both parties are sure to find means
of evading a law which interferes with their mutual rights.[415] If the
two parties were left to adjust their own bargain undisturbed, the usury
would depend on the circumstances of the loan; such as the amount of
security, and the chance of repayment. But this natural arrangement has
been complicated by the interference of government.[416] A certain risk
being always incurred by those who disobey the law, the usurer, very
properly, refuses to lend his money unless he is also compensated for
the danger he is in from the penalty hanging over him. This compensation
can only be made by the borrower, who is thus obliged to pay what in
reality is a double interest: one interest for the natural risk on the
loan, and another interest for the extra risk from the law. Such, then,
is the position in which every European legislature has placed itself.
By enactments against usury, it has increased what it wished to destroy;
it has passed laws, which the imperative necessities of men compel them
to violate: while, to wind up the whole, the penalty for such violation
falls on the borrowers; that is, on the very class in whose favour the
legislators interfered.[417]

  [415] 'L'observation rigoureuse de ces loix seroit destructive de tout
        commerce; aussi ne sont-elles pas observées rigoureusement.'
        _Mémoire sur les Prêts d'Argent_, sec. xiv., in _[OE]uvres de
        Turgot_, vol. v. pp. 278, 279. Compare _Ricardo's Works_, pp.
        178, 179, with _Condorcet_, _Vie de Turgot_, pp. 53, 54, 228.

  [416] Aided by the church. Ecclesiastical councils contain numerous
        regulations against usury; and, in 1179, Pope Alexander ordered
        that usurers were not to be buried: 'Quia in omnibus ferè locis
        crimen usurarum invaluit; ut multi negotiis prætermissis quasi
        licitè usuras exerceant; et qualiter utriusque testamenti pagina
        condemnetur, non attendunt: ideò constituimus, ut usurarii
        manifesti nec ad communionem recipiantur altaris, nec
        Christianam, si in hoc peccato decesserint, accipiant sepulturam,
        sed nec oblationem eorum quisquam accipiat.' _Rog. de Hoved.
        Annal. in Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Bedam_, p. 335, Lond.
        1596, folio. In Spain, the Inquisition took cognizance of usury.
        See _Llorente_, _Histoire de l'Inquisition_, vol. i. p. 339.
        Compare _Ledwich's Antiquities of Ireland_, p. 133.

  [417] The whole subject of the usury laws has been treated by Bentham in
        so complete and exhaustive a manner, that I cannot do better than
        refer the reader to his admirable 'Letters.' A part only of the
        question is discussed, and that very imperfectly, in _Rey's
        Science Sociale_, vol. iii. pp. 64, 65. On the necessity of usury
        to mitigate the effects of a commercial panic, see _Mill's
        Principles of Political Economy_, vol. ii. p. 185.

In the same meddling spirit, and with the same mistaken notions of
protection, the great Christian governments have done other things still
more injurious. They have made strenuous and repeated efforts to destroy
the liberty of the press, and prevent men from expressing their
sentiments on the most important questions in politics and religion. In
nearly every country, they, with the aid of the church, have organized a
vast system of literary police; the sole object of which is, to abrogate
the undoubted right of every citizen to lay his opinions before his
fellow-citizens. In the very few countries where they have stopped short
of these extreme steps, they have had recourse to others less violent,
but equally unwarrantable. For even where they have not openly forbidden
the free dissemination of knowledge, they have done all that they could
to check it. On all the implements of knowledge, and on all the means by
which it is diffused, such as paper, books, political journals, and the
like, they have imposed duties so heavy, that they could hardly have
done worse if they had been the sworn advocates of popular ignorance.
Indeed, looking at what they have actually accomplished, it may be
emphatically said, that they have taxed the human mind. They have made
the very thoughts of men pay toll. Whoever wishes to communicate his
ideas to others, and thus do what he can to increase the stock of our
acquirements, must first pour his contributions into the imperial
exchequer. That is the penalty inflicted on him for instructing his
fellow-creatures. That is the blackmail which government extorts from
literature; and on receipt of which it accords its favour, and agrees to
abstain from further demands. And what causes all this to be the more
insufferable, is the use which is made of these and similar exactions,
wrung from every kind of industry, both bodily and mental. It is truly a
frightful consideration, that knowledge is to be hindered, and that the
proceeds of honest labour, of patient thought, and sometimes of profound
genius, are to be diminished, in order that a large part of their scanty
earnings may go to swell the pomp of an idle and ignorant court,
minister to the caprice of a few powerful individuals, and too often
supply them with the means of turning against the people resources which
the people called into existence.

These, and the foregoing statements, respecting the effects produced on
European society by political legislation, are not doubtful or
hypothetical inferences, but are such as every reader of history may
verify for himself. Indeed, some of them are still acting in England;
and, in one country or another, the whole of them may be seen in full
force. When put together, they compose an aggregate so formidable, that
we may well wonder how, in the face of them, civilization has been able
to advance. That, under such circumstances, it has advanced, is a
decisive proof of the extraordinary energy of Man; and justifies a
confident belief, that as the pressure of legislation is diminished,
and the human mind less hampered, the progress will continue with
accelerated speed. But it is absurd, it would be a mockery of all sound
reasoning, to ascribe to legislation any share in the progress; or to
expect any benefit from future legislators, except that sort of benefit
which consists in undoing the work of their predecessors. This is what
the present generation claims at their hands; and it should be
remembered that what one generation solicits as a boon, the next
generation demands as a right. And, when the right is pertinaciously
refused, one of two things has always happened: either the nation has
retrogaded, or else the people have risen. Should the government remain
firm, this is the cruel dilemma in which men are placed. If they submit,
they injure their country; if they rebel, they may injure it still more.
In the ancient monarchies of the East, their usual plan was to yield; in
the monarchies of Europe, it has been to resist. Hence those
insurrections and rebellions which occupy so large a space in modern
history, and which are but repetitions of the old story, the undying
struggle between oppressors and oppressed. It would, however, be unjust
to deny, that in one country the fatal crisis has now for several
generations been successfully averted. In one European country, and in
one alone, the people have been so strong and the government so weak,
that the history of legislation, taken as a whole, is, notwithstanding a
few aberrations, the history of slow, but constant concession: reforms
which would have been refused to argument, have been yielded from fear;
while from the steady increase of democratic opinions, protection after
protection, and privilege after privilege, have, even in our time, been
torn away; until the old institutions, though they retain their former
name, have lost their former vigour, and there no longer remains a doubt
as to what their fate must ultimately be. Nor need we add, that in this
same country, where, more than in any other of Europe, legislators are
the exponents and the servants of the popular will, the progress has, on
this account, been more undeviating than elsewhere; there has been
neither anarchy nor revolution; and the world has been made familiar
with the great truth, that one main condition of the prosperity of a
people is, that its rulers shall have very little power, that they shall
exercise that power very sparingly, and that they shall by no means
presume to raise themselves into supreme judges of the national
interests, or deem themselves authorized to defeat the wishes of those
for whose benefit alone they occupy the post entrusted to them.

                               CHAPTER VI.


I have now laid before the reader an examination of those conspicuous
circumstances to which the progress of civilization is commonly
ascribed; and I have proved that such circumstances, so far from being
the cause of civilization, are at best only its effects; and that
although religion, literature, and legislation do, undoubtedly, modify
the condition of mankind, they are still more modified by it. Indeed, as
we have clearly seen, they, even in their most favourable position, can
be but secondary agents; because, however beneficial their apparent
influence may be, they are themselves the product of preceding changes,
and their results will vary according to the variations of the society
on which they work.

It is thus that, by each successive analysis, the field of the present
inquiry has been narrowed, until we have found reason to believe that
the growth of European civilization is solely due to the progress of
knowledge, and that the progress of knowledge depends on the number of
truths which the human intellect discovers, and on the extent to which
they are diffused. In support of this proposition, I have, as yet, only
brought forward such general arguments as establish a very strong
probability; which, to raise to a certainty, will require an appeal to
history in the widest sense of the term. Thus to verify speculative
conclusions by an exhaustive enumeration of the most important
particular facts, is the task which I purpose to execute so far as my
powers will allow; and in the preceding chapter I have briefly stated
the method according to which the investigation will be conducted.
Besides this, it has appeared to me that the principles which I have
laid down may also be tested by a mode of proceeding which I have not
yet mentioned, but which is intimately connected with the subject now
before us. This is, to incorporate with an inquiry into the progress of
the history of Man, another inquiry into the progress of History itself.
By this means, great light will be thrown on the movements of society;
since there must always be a connexion between the way in which men
contemplate the past, and the way in which they contemplate the present;
both views being in fact different forms of the same habits of thought,
and therefore presenting, in each age, a certain sympathy and
correspondence with each other. It will, moreover, be found, that such
an inquiry into what I call the history of history, will establish two
leading facts of considerable value. The first fact is, that during the
last three centuries, historians, taken as a class, have shown a
constantly increasing respect for the human intellect, and an aversion
for those innumerable contrivances by which it was formerly shackled.
The second fact is, that during the same period, they have displayed a
growing tendency to neglect matters once deemed of paramount importance,
and have been more willing to attend to subjects connected with the
condition of the people and the diffusion of knowledge. These two facts
will be decisively established in the present Introduction; and it must
be admitted, that their existence corroborates the principles which I
have propounded. If it can be ascertained, that as society has improved,
historical literature has constantly tended in one given direction,
there arises a very strong probability in favour of the truth of those
views towards which it is manifestly approaching. Indeed, it is a
probability of this sort which makes it so important for the student of
any particular science to be acquainted with its history; because there
is always a fair presumption that when general knowledge is advancing,
any single department of it, if studied by competent men, is also
advancing, even when the results may have been so small as to seem
unworthy of attention. Hence it becomes highly important to observe the
way in which, during successive ages, historians have shifted their
ground; since we shall find that such changes have in the long-run
always pointed to the same quarter, and are, in reality, only part of
that vast movement by which the human intellect, with infinite
difficulty, has vindicated its own rights, and slowly emancipated itself
from those inveterate prejudices which long impeded its action.

With a view to these considerations, it seems advisable that, when
examining the different civilizations into which the great countries of
Europe have diverged, I should also give an account of the way in which
history has been commonly written in each country. In the employment of
this resource, I shall be mainly guided by a desire to illustrate the
intimate connexion between the actual condition of a people and their
opinions respecting the past; and, in order to keep this connexion in
sight, I shall treat the state of historical literature, not as a
separate subject, but as forming part of the intellectual history of
each nation. The present volume will contain a view of the principal
characteristics of French civilization until the great Revolution; and
with that there will be incorporated an account of the French
historians, and of the remarkable improvements they introduced into
their own departments of knowledge. The relation which these
improvements bore to the state of society from which they proceeded, is
very striking, and will be examined at some length; while, in the next
volume, the civilization and the historical literature of the other
leading countries will be treated in a similar manner. Before, however,
entering into these different subjects, it has occurred to me, that a
preliminary inquiry into the origin of European history would be
interesting, as supplying information respecting matters which are
little known, and also as enabling the reader to understand the extreme
difficulty with which history has reached its present advanced, but
still very imperfect, state. The materials for studying the earliest
condition of Europe have long since perished; but the extensive
information we now possess concerning barbarous nations will supply us
with a useful resource, because they have all much in common; the
opinions of extreme ignorance being, indeed, every where the same,
except when modified by the differences which nature presents in various
countries. I have, therefore, no hesitation in employing the evidence
which has been collected by competent travellers, and drawing inferences
from it respecting that period of the European mind, of which we have no
direct knowledge. Such conclusions will, of course, be speculative; but,
during the last thousand years, we are quite independent of them,
inasmuch as every great country has had chroniclers of its own since the
ninth century, while the French have an uninterrupted series since the
sixth century. In the present chapter, I intend to give specimens of the
way in which, until the sixteenth century, history was habitually
written by the highest European authorities. Its subsequent improvement
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, will be related under
the separate heads of the countries where the progress was made; and as
history, previous to the improvement, was little else than a tissue of
the grossest errors, I will, in the first place, examine the leading
causes of its universal corruption, and indicate the steps by which it
was so disfigured that, during several centuries, Europe did not possess
a single man who had critically studied the past, or who was even able
to record with tolerable accuracy the events of his own time.

At a very early period in the progress of a people, and long before they
are acquainted with the use of letters, they feel the want of some
resource, which in peace may amuse their leisure, and in war may
stimulate their courage. This is supplied to them by the invention of
ballads; which form the groundwork of all historical knowledge, and
which, in one shape or another, are found among some of the rudest
tribes of the earth. They are, for the most part, sung by a class of men
whose particular business it is thus to preserve the stock of
traditions. Indeed, so natural is this curiosity as to past events,
that there are few nations to whom these bards or minstrels are unknown.
Thus, to select a few instances, it is they who have preserved the
popular traditions, not only of Europe,[418] but also of China, Tibet,
and Tartary;[419] likewise of India,[420] of Scinde,[421] of
Belochistan,[422] of Western Asia,[423] of the islands of the Black
Sea,[424] of Egypt,[425] of Western Africa,[426] of North America,[427]
of South America,[428] and of the islands in the Pacific.[429]

  [418] For an account of the ancient bards of Gaul, see the _Benedictine
        Hist. Lit. de la France_, vol. i. part i. pp. 25-28. Those of
        Scotland are noticed in _Barry's Hist. of the Orkney Islands_, p.
        89; and for a modern instance in the island of Col, near Mull,
        see _Otter's Life of Clarke_, vol. i. p. 307. As to the Irish
        bards in the seventh century, see _Sharon Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. iii. p. 571. Spenser's account of them in the
        sixteenth century (_Somers Tracts_, vol. i. pp. 590, 591) shows
        that the order was then falling into contempt; and in the
        seventeenth century this is confirmed by Sir William Temple;
        _Essay on Poetry_, in _Temple's Works_, vol. iii. pp. 431, 432.
        But it was not till the eighteenth century that they became
        extinct; for Mr. Prior (_Life of Goldsmith_, vol. i. pp. 36, 37)
        says, that Carolan, 'the last of the ancient Irish bards,' died
        in 1738. Without them the memory of many events would have been
        entirely lost; since, even at the end of the seventeenth century,
        there being no registers in Ireland, the ordinary means of
        recording facts were so little known, that parents often took the
        precaution of having the names and ages of children marked on
        their arms with gunpowder. See _Kirkman's Memoirs of Charles
        Macklin_, 8vo. 1799, vol. i. pp. 144, 145, a curious book.
        Compare, respecting Carolan, _Nichols's Illustrations of the
        Eighteenth Century_, vol. vii. pp. 688-694.

  [419] On these Toolholos, as they are called, see _Huc's Travels in
        Tartary, Thibet, and China_, vol. i. pp. 65-67. Huc says, p. 67,
        'These poet-singers, who remind us of the minstrels and
        rhapsodists of Greece, are also very numerous in China; but they
        are, probably, no where so numerous or so popular as in Thibet.'

  [420] On the bards of the Deccan, see _Wilks's History of the South of
        India_, 4to. 1810, vol. i. pp. 20, 21, and _Transac. of the
        Bombay Soc._ vol. i. p. 162. For those of other parts of India,
        see _Heber's Journey_, vol. ii. pp. 452-455; _Burnes on the
        North-west Frontier of India_, in _Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol.
        iv. pp. 110, 111; _Prinsep_, in _Journal of Asiat. Soc._ vol.
        viii. p. 395; _Forbes's Oriental Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. 376, 377,
        543; and _Asiatic Researches_, vol. ix. p. 78. They are mentioned
        in the oldest Veda, which is also the oldest of all the Indian
        books. See _Rig Veda Sanhita_, vol. i. p. 158.

  [421] See _Burton's Sindh_, p. 56, 8vo. 1851.

  [422] _Burton's Sindh_, p. 59.

  [423] _Burnes's Travels into Bokhara_, 8vo. 1834, vol. ii. pp. 107, 115,

  [424] _Clarke's Travels_, 8vo. 1816, vol. ii. p. 101.

  [425] Compare _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. ii. p. 304, with
        _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i. p. 96, vol. ii. p. 92.

  [426] I have mislaid my note on the bards of Western Africa, and can
        only refer to a hasty notice in _Mungo Park's Travels_, vol. i.
        p. 70. 8vo. 1817.

  [427] _Buchanan's Sketches of the North-American Indians_, p. 337.

  [428] _Prescott's History of Peru_, vol. i. pp. 31, 32, 117.

  [429] _Ellis_, _Polynesian Researches_, vol. i. pp. 85, 199, 411;
        _Ellis_, _Tour through Hawaii_, p. 91. Compare _Cook's Voyages_,
        vol. v. p. 237, with _Beechey's Voyage to the Pacific_, vol. ii.
        p. 106. Some of these ballads have been collected, but, I
        believe, not published. See _Cheever's Sandwich Islands_, 8vo.
        1851, p. 181.

In all these countries, letters were long unknown; and, as a people in
that state have no means of perpetuating their history except by oral
tradition, they select the form best calculated to assist their memory;
and it will, I believe, be found that the first rudiments of knowledge
consist always of poetry, and often of rhyme.[430] The jingle pleases
the ear of the barbarian, and affords a security that he will hand it
down to his children in the unimpaired state in which he received
it.[431] This guarantee against error increases still further the value
of these ballads; and instead of being considered as a mere amusement,
they rise to the dignity of judicial authorities.[432] The allusions
contained in them, are satisfactory proofs to decide the merits of rival
families, or even to fix the limits of those rude estates which such a
society can possess. We therefore find, that the professed reciters and
composers of these songs are the recognized judges in all disputed
matters; and as they are often priests, and believed to be inspired, it
is probably in this way that the notion of the divine origin of poetry
first arose.[433] These ballads will, of course, vary, according to the
customs and temperaments of the different nations, and according to the
climate to which they are accustomed. In the south they assume a
passionate and voluptuous form; in the north they are rather remarkable
for their tragic and warlike character.[434] But, notwithstanding these
diversities, all such productions have one feature in common. They are
not only founded on truth, but making allowance for the colourings of
poetry, they are all strictly true. Men who are constantly repeating
songs which they constantly hear, and who appeal to the authorized
singers of them as final umpires in disputed questions, are not likely
to be mistaken on matters, in the accuracy of which they have so lively
an interest.[435]

  [430] It is a singular proof of the carelessness with which the history
        of barbarous nations has been studied, that authors constantly
        assert rhyme to be a comparatively recent contrivance; and even
        Pinkerton, writing to Laing in 1799, says, 'Rhyme was not known
        in Europe till about the ninth century.' _Pinkerton's Literary
        Correspondence_, vol. ii. p. 92. The truth is, that rhyme was not
        only known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but was used, long
        before the date Pinkerton mentions, by the Anglo-Saxons, by the
        Irish, by the Welsh, and, I believe, by the Brétons. See _Mure's
        Hist. of the Literature of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 113; _Hallam's
        Lit. of Europe_, vol. i. p. 31; _Villemarqué_, _Chants Populaires
        de la Bretagne_, vol. i. pp. lviii. lix. compared with
        _Souvestre_, _les Derniers Bretons_, p. 143; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. iii. pp. 383, 643, vol. vii. pp. 324, 328, 330.
        Rhyme is also used by the Fantees (_Bowdich_, _Mission to
        Ashantee_, p. 358); by the Persians (_Transac. of Bombay Soc._
        vol. ii. p. 82); by the Chinese (_Transac. of Asiatic Soc._ vol.
        ii. pp. 407, 409, and _Davis's Chinese_, vol. ii. p. 269); by the
        Malays (_Asiatic Researches_, vol. x. pp. 176, 196); by the
        Javanese (_Crawfurd's Hist. of the Indian Archipelago_, vol. ii.
        pp. 19, 20); and by the Siamese (_Transac. of Asiatic Soc._ vol.
        iii. p. 299).

  [431] The habit thus acquired, long survives the circumstances which
        made it necessary. During many centuries, the love of
        versification was so widely diffused, that works in rhyme were
        composed on nearly all subjects, even in Europe; and this
        practice, which marks the ascendency of the imagination, is, as I
        have shown, a characteristic of the great Indian civilization,
        where the understanding was always in abeyance. On early French
        historians who wrote in rhyme, see _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers
        Etats_, vol. vi. p. 147. Montucla (_Hist. des Mathémat._ vol. i.
        p. 506) mentions a mathematical treatise, written in the
        thirteenth century, 'en vers techniques.' Compare the remarks of
        Matter (_Hist. de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. ii. pp. 179-183) on
        the scientific poetry of Aratus; and on that of Hygin, p. 250.
        Thus, too, we find an Anglo-Norman writing 'the Institutes of
        Justinian in verse;' _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. vii. p.
        307: and a Polish historian composing 'his numerous works on
        genealogy and heraldry mostly in rhyme.' _Talvi's Language and
        Literature of the Slavic Nations_, 8vo. 1850, p. 246. Compare
        _Origines du Droit Français_, in _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol.
        ii. p. 310.

  [432] Mr. Ellis, a missionary in the South-Sea Islands, says of the
        inhabitants, 'Their traditionary ballads were a kind of standard,
        or classical authority, to which they referred for the purpose of
        determining any disputed fact in their history.' And when doubts
        arose, 'as they had no records to which they could at such times
        refer, they could only oppose one oral tradition to another;
        which unavoidably involved the parties in protracted, and often
        obstinate debates.' _Ellis_, _Polynesian Researches_, vol. i. pp.
        202, 203. Compare _Elphinstone's Hist. of India_, p. 66; _Laing's
        Heimskringla_, 8vo. 1844, vol. i. pp. 50, 51; _Twell's Life of
        Pocock_, edit. 1816, p. 143.

  [433] The inspiration of poetry is sometimes explained by its
        spontaneousness (_Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philosophie_, II^e série,
        vol. i. pp. 135, 136); and there can be no doubt that one cause
        of the reverence felt for great poets, is the necessity they seem
        to experience of pouring out their thoughts without reference to
        their own wishes. Still, it will, I believe, be found, that the
        notion of poetry being a divine art is most rife in those states
        of society in which knowledge is monopolised by the bards, and in
        which the bards are both priests and historians. On this
        combination of pursuits, compare a note in _Malcolm's Hist. of
        Persia_, vol. i. p. 90, with _Mure's Hist. of the Lit. of
        Greece_, vol. i. p. 148, vol. ii. p. 228, and _Petrie's_ learned
        work, _Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland_, Dublin, 1845, p.
        354. For evidence of the great respect paid to bards, see
        _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, pp. 234-236; _Wheaton's Hist. of
        the Northmen_, pp. 50, 51; _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. i. p.
        3; _Warton's Hist. of English Poetry_, 1840, vol. i. pp. xxvi.
        xl.; _Grote's Hist. of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 182, 1st edit.; and
        on their important duties, see the laws of M[oe]lmund,
        _Villemarqué_, _Chants Populaires de la Bretagne_, 1846, vol. i.
        pp. v. and vi.; _Thirlwall's Hist. of Greece_, vol. i. p. 229;
        and _Origines du Droit_, in _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol. ii. p.

  [434] _Villemarqué_, _Chants Populaires_, vol. i. p. lv.

  [435] As to the general accuracy of the early ballads, which has been
        rashly attacked by several writers, and among others by Sir
        Walter Scott, see _Villemarqué_, _Chants Populaires_, vol. i. pp.
        xxv.-xxxi., and _Talvi's Slavic Nations_, p. 150. On the tenacity
        of oral tradition, compare _Niebuhr's History of Rome_, 1847,
        vol. i. p. 230, with _Laing's Denmark_, pp. 197, 198, 350;
        _Wheaton's Hist. of the Northmen_, pp. 38, 39, 57-59. Another
        curious illustration of this is, that several barbarous nations
        continue to repeat the old traditions in the old words, for so
        many generations, that at length the very language becomes
        unintelligible to the majority of those who recite them. See
        _Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands_, vol. i. p. 156, vol.
        ii. p. 217, and _Catlin's North-American Indians_, vol. i. p.

This is the earliest, and most simple, of the various stages through
which history is obliged to pass. But, in the course of time, unless
unfavourable circumstances intervene, society advances, and, among other
changes, there is one in particular of the greatest importance: I mean
the introduction of the art of writing, which, before many generations
are passed, must effect a complete alteration in the character of the
national traditions. The manner in which this occurs has, so far as I am
aware, never been pointed out; and it will, therefore, be interesting to
attempt to trace some of its details.

The first, and perhaps the most obvious consideration, is that the
introduction of the art of writing gives permanence to the national
knowledge, and thus lessens the utility of that oral information, in
which all the acquirements of an unlettered people must be contained.
Hence it is, that as a country advances, the influence of tradition
diminishes, and traditions themselves become less trustworthy.[436]
Besides this, the preservers of these traditions lose, in this stage of
society, much of their former reputation. Among a perfectly unlettered
people, the singers of ballads are, as we have already seen, the sole
depositories of those historical facts on which the fame, and often the
property, of their chieftains principally depend. But, when this same
nation becomes acquainted with the art of writing, it grows unwilling to
intrust these matters to the memory of itinerant singers, and avails
itself of its new art to preserve them in a fixed and material form. As
soon as this is effected, the importance of those who repeat the
national traditions is sensibly diminished. They gradually sink into an
inferior class, which, having lost its old reputation, no longer
consists of those superior men to whose abilities it owed its former
fame.[437] Thus we see, that although, without letters, there can be no
knowledge of much importance, it is nevertheless true, that their
introduction is injurious to historical traditions in two distinct
ways: first by weakening the traditions, and secondly by weakening the
class of men whose occupation it is to preserve them.

  [436] That the invention of letters would at first weaken the memory, is
        noticed in Plato's Phædrus, chap. 135 (_Platonis Opera_, vol. i.
        p. 187, edit. Bekker, Lond. 1826); where, however, the argument
        is pushed rather too far.

  [437] This inevitable decline in the ability of the bards is noticed,
        though, as it appears to me, from a wrong point of view, in
        _Mure's Literat. of Greece_, vol. ii. p. 230.

But this is not all. Not only does the art of writing lessen the number
of traditionary truths, but it directly encourages the propagation of
falsehoods. This is effected by what may be termed a principle of
accumulation, to which all systems of belief have been deeply indebted.
In ancient times, for example, the name of Hercules was given to several
of those great public robbers who scourged mankind, and who, if their
crimes were successful, as well as enormous, were sure after their death
to be worshipped as heroes.[438] How this appellation originated is
uncertain; but it was probably bestowed at first on a single man, and
afterwards on those who resembled him in the character of their
achievements.[439] This mode of extending the use of a single name is
natural to a barbarous people;[440] and would cause little or no
confusion, as long as the traditions of the country remained local and
unconnected. But as soon as these traditions became fixed by a written
language, the collectors of them, deceived by the similarity of name,
assembled the scattered facts, and, ascribing to a single man these
accumulated exploits, degraded history to the level of a miraculous
mythology.[441] In the same way, soon after the use of letters was known
in the North of Europe, there was drawn up by Saxo Grammaticus the life
of the celebrated Ragnar Lodbrok. Either from accident or design, this
great warrior of Scandinavia, who had taught England to tremble, had
received the same name as another Ragnar, who was prince of Jutland
about a hundred years earlier. This coincidence would have caused no
confusion, as long as each district preserved a distinct and independent
account of its own Ragnar. But, by possessing the resource of writing,
men became able to consolidate the separate trains of events, and, as it
were, fuse two truths into one error. And this was what actually
happened. The credulous Saxo put together the different exploits of both
Ragnars, and, ascribing the whole of them to his favourite hero, has
involved in obscurity one of the most interesting parts of the early
history of Europe.[442]

  [438] Varro mentions forty-four of these vagabonds, who were all called
        Hercules. See a learned article in _Smith's Biog. and Mythology_,
        vol. ii. p. 401, 8vo. 1846. See also _Mackay's Religious
        Development of the Greeks and Hebrews_, vol. ii. pp. 71-79. On
        the relation between Hercules and Melcarth, compare _Matter_,
        _Hist. du Gnosticisme_, vol. i. p. 257, with _Heeren's Asiatic
        Nations_, vol. i. p. 295, 8vo. 1846. And as to the Hercules of
        Egypt, _Prichard's Analysis of Egyptian Mythology_, 1838, pp.
        109, 115-119. As to the confusion of the different Hercules by
        the Dorians, see _Thirlwall's Hist. of Greece_, vol. i. p. 257;
        and compare p. 130.

  [439] This appears to be the opinion of Frederick Schlegel; _Schlegel's
        Lectures on the History of Literature_, Edinb. 1818, vol. i.
        p. 260.

  [440] The habit of generalizing names precedes that more advanced state
        of society in which men generalize phenomena. If this proposition
        is universally true, which I take it to be, it will throw some
        light on the history of disputes between the nominalists and the

  [441] We may form an idea of the fertility of this source of error from
        the fact, that in Egypt there were fifty-three cities bearing the
        same name: 'L'auteur du Kamous nous apprend qu'il y a en Egypte
        cinquante-trois villes du nom de Schobra: en effet, j'ai retrouvé
        tous ces noms dans les deux dénombremens déjà cités.'
        _Quatremère_, _Recherches sur la Langue et la Littérature de
        l'Egypte_, p. 199.

  [442] On this confusion respecting Ragnar Lodbrok, see _Geijer's History
        of Sweden_, part i. pp. 13, 14; _Lappenberg's Anglo-Saxon Kings_,
        vol. ii. p. 31; _Wheaton's Hist. of the Northmen_, p. 150;
        _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, p. 383; _Crichton's
        Scandinavia_, vol. i. p. 116. A comparison of these passages will
        justify the sarcastic remark of Koch on the history of Swedish
        and Danish heroes; _Koch_, _Tableau des Révolutions_, vol. i. p.
        57 note.

The annals of the North afford another curious instance of this source
of error. A tribe of Finns, called Quæns, occupied a considerable part
of the eastern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. Their country was known as
Quænland; and this name gave rise to a belief that, to the north of the
Baltic, there was a nation of Amazons. This would easily have been
corrected by local knowledge; but, by the use of writing, the flying
rumour was at once fixed; and the existence of such a people is
positively affirmed in some of the earliest European histories.[443]
Thus, too, Abo, the ancient capital of Finland, was called Turku, which,
in the Swedish language, means a market-place. Adam of Bremen, having
occasion to treat of the countries adjoining the Baltic,[444] was so
misled by the word Turku, that this celebrated historian assures his
readers that there were Turks in Finland.[445]

  [443] _Prichard's Physical Hist. of Mankind_, vol. iii. p. 273. The
        Norwegians still give to the Finlanders the name of Quæner. See
        _Dillon's Lapland and Iceland_, 8vo. 1840, vol. ii. p. 221.
        Compare _Laing's Sweden_, pp. 45, 47. The Amazon river in South
        America owes its name to a similar fable. _Henderson's Hist. of
        Brazil_, p. 453; _Southey's Hist. of Brazil_, vol. i. p. 112;
        _M'Culloh's Researches concerning America_, pp. 407, 408; and
        _Journal of Geog. Soc._ vol. xv. p. 65, for an account of the
        wide diffusion of this error.

  [444] Sharon Turner (_Hist. of England_, vol. iv. p. 30) calls him 'the
        Strabo of the Baltic;' and it was from him that most of the
        geographers in the Middle Ages derived their knowledge of the

  [445] 'It was called in Finnish _Turku_, from the Swedish word _torg_,
        which signifies a market-place. The sound of this name misled Adam
        of Bremen into the belief that there were Turks in Finland.'
        _Cooley's Hist. of Maritime and Inland Discovery_, London, 1830,
        vol. i. p. 211.

To these illustrations many others might be added, showing how mere
names deceived the early historians, and gave rise to relations which
were entirely false, and might have been rectified on the spot; but
which, owing to the art of writing, were carried into distant countries,
and thus placed beyond the reach of contradiction. Of such cases, one
more may be mentioned, as it concerns the history of England. Richard
I., the most barbarous of our princes, was known to his contemporaries
as the Lion; an appellation conferred upon him on account of his
fearlessness, and the ferocity of his temper.[446] Hence it was said
that he had the heart of a lion; and the title C[oe]ur de Lion not only
became indissolubly connected with his name, but actually gave rise to a
story, repeated by innumerable writers, according to which he slew a
lion in single combat.[447] The name gave rise to the story; the story
confirmed the name; and another fiction was added to that long series of
falsehoods of which history mainly consisted during the Middle Ages.

  [446] The chronicler of his crusade says, that he was called Lion on
        account of his never pardoning an offence: 'Nihil injuriarum
        reliquit inultum: unde et unus (_i.e._ the King of France) dictus
        est Agnus a Griffonibus, alter Leonis nomen accepit.' _Chronicon
        Ricardi Divisiensis de Rebus gestis Ricardi Primi_, edit.
        Stevenson, Lond. 1838, p. 18. Some of the Egyptian kings received
        the name of Lion 'from their heroic exploits.' _Vyse on the
        Pyramids_, vol. iii. p. 116.

  [447] See Price's learned Preface to _Warton's History of English
        Poetry_, vol. i. p. 21; and on the similar story of Henry the
        Lion, see _Maury_, _Légendes du Moyen Age_, p. 160. Compare the
        account of Duke Godfrey's conflict with a bear, in _Matthæi Paris
        Historia Major_, p. 29, Lond. 1684, folio. I should not be
        surprised if the story of Alexander and the Lion (_Thirlwall's
        History of Greece_, vol. vi. p. 305) were equally fabulous.

The corruptions of history, thus naturally brought about by the mere
introduction of letters, were, in Europe, aided by an additional cause.
With the art of writing, there was, in most cases, also communicated a
knowledge of Christianity; and the new religion not only destroyed many
of the Pagan traditions, but falsified the remainder, by amalgamating
them with monastic legends. The extent to which this was carried would
form a curious subject for inquiry; but one or two instances of it will
perhaps be sufficient to satisfy the generality of readers.

Of the earliest state of the great Northern nations we have little
positive evidence; but several of the lays in which the Scandinavian
poets related the feats of their ancestors, or of their contemporaries,
are still preserved; and, notwithstanding their subsequent corruption,
it is admitted by the most competent judges that they embody real and
historical events. But in the ninth and tenth centuries, Christian
missionaries found their way across the Baltic, and introduced a
knowledge of their religion among the inhabitants of Northern
Europe.[448] Scarcely was this effected, when the sources of history
began to be poisoned. At the end of the eleventh century, Sæmund
Sigfussen, a Christian priest, gathered the popular, and hitherto
unwritten, histories of the North into what is called the Elder Edda;
and he was satisfied with adding to his compilation the corrective of a
Christian hymn.[449] A hundred years later, there was made another
collection of the native histories; but the principle which I have
mentioned, having had a longer time to operate, now displayed its
effects still more clearly. In this second collection, which is known by
the name of the Younger Edda, there is an agreeable mixture of Greek,
Jewish, and Christian fables; and, for the first time in the
Scandinavian annals, we meet with the widely diffused fiction of a
Trojan descent.[450]

  [448] The first missionary was Ebbo, about the year 822. He was followed
        by Anschar, who afterwards pushed his enterprise as far as
        Sweden. The progress was, however, slow; and it was not till the
        latter half of the 11th century that Christianity was established
        firmly in the North. See _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. v.
        pp. 373, 374, 379, 380, 400-402; _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol.
        i. pp. 188, 215, 216; _Barry's Hist. of the Orkney Islands_, p.
        125. It is often supposed that some of the Danes in Ireland were
        Christians as early as the reign of Ivar I.; but this is a
        mistake, into which Ledwich fell by relying on a coin, which in
        reality refers to Ivar II. _Petrie's Ecclesiastical Architecture
        of Ireland_, p. 225; and _Ledwich's Antiquities of Ireland_, p.

  [449] Mr. Wheaton (_History of Northmen_, p. 60) says, that Sæmund
        'merely added one song of his own composition, of a moral and
        Christian religious tendency; so as thereby to consecrate and
        leaven, as it were, the whole mass of Paganism.'

  [450] _Wheaton's Hist. of the Northmen_, pp. 89, 90; _Mallet's Northern
        Antiquities_, pp. 377, 378, 485; _Schlegel's Lectures on the
        History of Literature_, vol. i. p. 265. Indeed, these
        interpolations are so numerous, that the earlier German
        antiquaries believed the Edda to be a forgery by the northern
        monks,--a paradox which Müller refuted more than forty years ago.
        _Note in Wheaton_, p. 61. Compare _Palgrave's English
        Commonwealth, Anglo-Saxon Period_, vol. i. p. 135.

If, by way of further illustration, we turn to other parts of the world,
we shall find a series of facts confirming this view. We shall find
that, in those countries where there has been no change of religion,
history is more trustworthy and connected than in those countries where
such a change has taken place. In India, Brahmanism, which is still
supreme, was established at so early a period, that its origin is lost
in the remotest antiquity.[451] The consequence is, that the native
annals have never been corrupted by any new superstition; and the
Hindus are possessed of historic traditions more ancient than can be
found among any other Asiatic people.[452] In the same way, the Chinese
have for upwards of 2,000 years preserved the religion of Fo, which is a
form of Buddhism.[453] In China, therefore, though the civilization has
never been equal to that of India, there is a history, not, indeed, as
old as the natives would wish us to believe, but still stretching back
to several centuries before the Christian era, from whence it has been
brought down to our own times in an uninterrupted succession.[454] On
the other hand, the Persians, whose intellectual development was
certainly superior to that of the Chinese, are nevertheless without any
authentic information respecting the early transactions of their ancient
monarchy.[455] For this I can see no possible reason, except the fact,
that Persia, soon after the promulgation of the Koran, was conquered by
the Mohammedans, who completely subverted the Parsee religion, and thus
interrupted the stream of the national traditions.[456] Hence it is
that, putting aside the myths of the Zendavesta, we have no native
authorities for Persian history of any value, until the appearance, in
the eleventh century, of the Shah Nameh; in which, however, Ferdousi has
mingled the miraculous relations of those two religions by which his
country had been successively subjected.[457] The result is, that if it
were not for the various discoveries which have been made, of
monuments, inscriptions, and coins, we should be compelled to rely on
the scanty and inaccurate details in the Greek writers for our knowledge
of the history of one of the most important of the Asiatic

  [451] As is evident from the conflicting statements made by the best
        orientalists, each of whom has some favourite hypothesis of his
        own respecting its origin. It is enough to say, that we have no
        account of India existing without Brahmanism; and as to its real
        history, nothing can be understood, until more steps have been
        taken towards generalizing the laws which regulate the growth of
        religious opinions.

  [452] Dr. Prichard (_Physical Hist. of Mankind_, vol. iv. pp. 101-105)
        thinks that the Hindus have a history beginning B.C. 1391.
        Compare _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. i. pp. 311, 312. Mr. Wilson
        says, that even the genealogies in the Puranas are, 'in all
        probability, much more authentic than has been sometimes
        supposed.' Wilson's note in _Mill's Hist. of India_, vol. i. pp.
        161, 162. See also his preface to the _Vishnu Purana_, p. lxv.;
        and _Asiatic Researches_, vol. v. p. 244.

  [453] _Journal of Asiatic Soc._ vol. vi. p. 251; _Herder_, _Ideen zur
        Geschichte_, vol. iv. p. 70; _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. i. p.
        104. I learn from a note in _Erman's Siberia_, vol. ii. p. 306,
        that one of the missionaries gravely suggests that 'Buddhism
        originated in the errors of the Manichæans, and is therefore but
        an imitation of Christianity.'

  [454] M. Bunsen says, that the Chinese have 'a regular chronology,
        extending back 3,000 years B.C.' _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i. p. 240.
        See also _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii. p. 475, vol. iv. p. 455;
        _Renouard_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. i. pp. 47, 48; and the
        statements of Klaproth and Rémusat, in _Prichard's Physical
        Hist._ vol. iv. pp. 476, 477. The superior exactness of the
        Chinese annals is sometimes ascribed to their early knowledge of
        printing, with which they claim to have been acquainted in B.C.
        1100. _Meidinger's Essay_, in _Journal of Statistical Society_,
        vol. iii. p. 163. But the fact is, that printing was unknown in
        China till the ninth or tenth century after Christ, and moveable
        types were not invented before 1041. _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol.
        ii. p. 623; _Transac. of Asiatic Society_, vol. i. p. 7; _Journal
        Asiatique_, vol. i. p. 137, Paris, 1822; _Davis's Chinese_, vol.
        i. pp. 174, 178, vol. iii. p. 1. There are some interesting
        papers on the early history of China in _Journal of Asiat. Soc._
        vol. i. pp. 57-86, 213-222, vol. ii. pp. 166-171, 276-287.

  [455] 'From the death of Alexander (323 B.C.) to the reign of Ardeshir
        Babegan (Artaxerxes), the founder of the Sassanian dynasty (200
        A.D.), a period of more than five centuries, is almost a blank in
        the Persian history.' _Troyer's Preliminary Discourse to the
        Dabistan_, 8vo. 1843, vol. i. pp. lv. lvi. See to the same effect
        _Erskine on the Zend-Avesta_, in _Transac. of Soc. of Bombay_,
        vol. ii. pp. 303-305; and _Malcolm's Hist. of Persia_, vol. i. p.
        68. The ancient Persian traditions are said to have been Pehlvi;
        _Malcolm_, vol. i. pp. 501-505; but if so, they have all
        perished, p. 555: compare Rawlinson's note in _Journal of Geog.
        Soc._ vol. x. p. 82.

  [456] On the antagonism between Mohammedanism and the old Persian
        history, see a note in _Grote's Hist. of Greece_, vol. i. p. 623.
        Even at present, or, at all events, during this century, the best
        education in Persia consisted in learning the elements of Arabic
        grammar, 'logic, jurisprudence, the traditions of their prophet,
        and the commentaries on the Koran.' _Vans Kennedy on Persian
        Literature_, in _Transac. of Bombay Society_, vol. ii. p. 62. In
        the same way the Mohammedans neglected the old history of India,
        and would, no doubt, have destroyed or corrupted it; but they
        never had anything like the hold of India that they had of
        Persia, and, above all, they were unable to displace the native
        religion. However, their influence, so far as it went, was
        unfavourable; and Mr. Elphinstone (_Hist. of India_, p. 468)
        says, that till the sixteenth century there was no instance of a
        Mussulman carefully studying Hindu literature.

  [457] On the Shah Nameh, see _Works of Sir W. Jones_, vol. iv. pp. 544,
        545, vol. v. p. 594; _Mill's Hist. of India_, vol. ii. pp. 64,
        65; _Journal of Asiatic Society_, vol. iv. p. 225. It is supposed
        by a very high authority that the Persian cuneiform inscriptions
        'will enable us, in the end, to introduce something like
        chronological accuracy and order into the myths and traditions
        embodied in the Shah Nameh.' _Rawlinson on the Inscriptions of
        Assyria and Babylonia_, in _Journal of Asiat. Soc._ vol. xii. p.

  [458] On the ignorance of the Greeks respecting Persian history, see
        Vans Kennedy, in _Transac. of Soc. of Bombay_, vol. ii. pp. 119,
        127-129, 136. Indeed, this learned writer says (p. 138) he is
        'inclined to suspect that no Greek author ever derived his
        information from any native of Persia Proper, that is, of the
        country to the east of the Euphrates.' See also on the
        perplexities in Persian chronology, _Grote's Hist. of Greece_,
        vol. vi. p. 496, vol. ix. p. 3, vol. x. p. 405; and _Donaldson's
        New Cratylus_, 1839, p. 87 note. As to the foolish stories which
        the Greeks relate respecting Achæmenes, compare _Malcolm's Hist.
        of Persia_, vol. i. p. 18, with _Heeren's Asiatic Nations_, vol.
        i. p. 243. Even Herodotus, who is invaluable in regard to Egypt,
        is not to be relied upon for Persia; as was noticed long ago by
        Sir W. Jones, in the preface to his _Nader Shah_ (_Jones's
        Works_, vol. v. p. 540), and is partly admitted by Mr. Mure
        (_History of the Literature of Ancient Greece_, vol. iv. p. 338,
        8vo. 1853).

Even among more barbarous nations, we see the same principle at work.
The Malayo-Polynesian race is well known to ethnologists, as covering an
immense series of islands, extending from Madagascar to within 2,000
miles of the western coast of America.[459] The religion of these
widely scattered people was originally Polytheism, of which the purest
forms were long preserved in the Philippine Islands.[460] But in the
fifteenth century, many of the Polynesian nations were converted to
Mohammedanism;[461] and this was followed by a process precisely the
same as that which I have pointed out in other countries. The new
religion, by changing the current of the national thoughts, corrupted
the purity of the national history. Of all the islands in the Indian
Archipelago, Java was the one which reached the highest
civilization.[462] Now, however, the Javanese have not only lost their
historical traditions, but even those lists of their kings which are
extant are interpolated with the names of Mohammedan saints.[463] On the
other hand, we find that in the adjacent island of Bali, where the old
religion is still preserved,[464] the legends of Java are remembered and
cherished by the people.[465]

  [459] That is, to Easter Island, which appears to be its furthest
        boundary (_Prichard's Phys. Hist._ vol. v. p. 6); and of which
        there is a good account in _Beechey's Voyage to the Pacific_,
        vol. i. pp. 43-58, and a notice in _Jour. of Geog. Society_, vol.
        i. p. 195. The language of Easter Island has been long known to
        be Malayo-Polynesian; for it was understood by a native of the
        Society Islands, who accompanied Cook (_Cook's Voyages_, vol.
        iii. pp. 294, 308; and _Prichard_, vol. v. p. 147: compare
        _Marsden's History of Sumatra_, p. 164). Ethnologists have not
        usually paid sufficient honour to this great navigator, who was
        the first to remark the similarity between the different
        languages in Polynesia proper. _Cook's Voyages_, vol. ii. pp. 60,
        61, vol. iii. pp. 230, 280, 290, vol. iv. p. 305, vol. vi. p.
        230, vol. vii. p. 115. As to Madagascar being the western limit
        of this vast race of people, see _Asiatic Researches_, vol. iv.
        p. 222; _Reports on Ethnology by Brit. Assoc. for 1847_, pp. 154,
        216, 250; and _Ellis's Hist. of Madagascar_, vol. i. p. 133.

  [460] Also the seat of the Tagala language; which, according to William
        Humboldt, is the most perfect of all the forms of the
        Malayo-Polynesian. _Prichard's Physical Hist._ vol. v. pp. 36,
        51, 52.

  [461] _Marsden's History of Sumatra_, p. 281. De Thou (_Hist. Univ._
        vol. xiii. p. 59) supposes that the Javanese did not become
        Mohammedans till late in the sixteenth century; but it is now
        known that their conversion took place at least a hundred years
        earlier, the old religion being finally abolished in 1478. See
        _Crawfurd's Hist. of the Indian Archipelago_, vol. ii. p. 312;
        _Low's Sarawak_, p. 96; and _Raffles' Hist. of Java_, vol. i. pp.
        309, 349, vol. ii. pp. 1, 66, 254. The doctrines of Mohammed
        spread quickly; and the Malay pilgrims enjoy the reputation, in
        modern times, of being among the most scrupulously religious of
        those who go to the Hadj. _Burckhardt's Arabia_, vol. ii. pp. 96,

  [462] The Javanese civilization is examined at great length by William
        Humboldt, in his celebrated work, _Ueber die Kawi Sprache_,
        Berlin, 1836. From the evidence supplied by some early Chinese
        writings, which have only recently been published, there are good
        grounds for believing that the Indian Colonies were established
        in Java in the first century after Christ. See _Wilson on the Foe
        Kue Ki_, in _Journal of Asiat. Soc._ vol. v. p. 137; compare vol.
        vi. p. 320.

  [463] _Crawfurd's Hist. of the Indian Archipelago_, vol. ii. p. 297.
        Compare with this the exactness with which, even in the island of
        Celebes, the dates were preserved 'before the introduction of
        Mahomedanism.' _Crawfurd_, vol. i. p. 306. For similar Footnote:
        instances of royal genealogies being obscured by the introduction
        into them of the names of gods, see _Kemble's Saxons in England_,
        vol. i. pp. 27, 335.

  [464] _Asiatic Researches_, vol. x. p. 191, vol. xiii. p. 128. In the
        Appendix to _Raffles' Hist. of Java_, vol. ii. p. cxlii., it is
        said, that 'in Bali not more than one in two hundred, if so many,
        are Mahomedans.' See also p. 65, and vol. i. p. 530.

  [465] Indeed, the Javanese appear to have no other means of acquiring
        the old Kawi traditions than by learning them from natives of
        Bali. See note to an Essay on the Island of Bali, in _Asiatic
        Researches_, vol. xiii. p. 162, Calcutta, 1820, 4to. Sir Stamford
        Raffles (_Hist. of Java_, vol. i. p. 400) says, 'It is chiefly to
        Bali that we must look for illustrations of the ancient state of
        the Javans.' See also p. 414.

It would be useless to adduce further evidence respecting the manner in
which, among an imperfectly civilized people, the establishment of a new
religion will always affect the accuracy of their early history. I need
only observe, that in this way the Christian priests have obscured the
annals of every European people they converted, and have destroyed or
corrupted the traditions of the Gauls,[466] of the Welsh, of the
Irish,[467] of the Anglo-Saxons,[468] of the Sclavonic nations,[469] of
the Finns,[470] and even of the Icelanders.[471]

  [466] Respecting the corruption of Druidical traditions in Gaul by
        Christian priests, see _Villemarqué_, _Chants Populaires de la
        Bretagne_, Paris, 1846, vol. i. pp. xviii. xix.

  [467] The injury done to the traditions handed down by Welsh and Irish
        bards, is noticed in Dr. Prichard's valuable work, _Physical
        Hist. of Mankind_, vol. iii. p. 184, 8vo, 1841. See also
        _Warton's Hist. of English Poetry_, vol. i. p. xxxvii. note.

  [468] See the remarks on Beowulf, in _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. i.
        p. 7, 8vo, 1842. See also pp. 13, 14: and compare _Kemble's
        Saxons in England_, vol. i. p. 331.

  [469] _Talvi's Language and Literature of the Slavic Nations_, 8vo,
        1850, p. 231. The Pagan songs of the Slovaks, in the north-west
        of Hungary, were for a time preserved; but even they are now
        lost. _Talvi_, p. 216.

  [470] The monkish chroniclers neglected the old Finnish traditions; and
        allowing them to perish, preferred the inventions of Saxo and
        Johannes Magnus. _Prichard's Physical Hist._ vol. iii. pp. 284,

  [471] For an instance in which the monks have falsified the old
        Icelandic traditions, see Mr. Keightley's learned book on _Fairy
        Mythology_, 8vo, 1850, p. 159.

Besides all this, there occurred other circumstances tending in the same
direction. Owing to events which I shall hereafter explain, the
literature of Europe, shortly before the final dissolution of the Roman
Empire, fell entirely into the hands of the clergy, who were long
venerated as the sole instructors of mankind. For several centuries, it
was extremely rare to meet with a layman who could read or write; and of
course it was still rarer to meet with one able to compose a work.
Literature, being thus monopolized by a single class, assumed the
peculiarities natural to its new masters.[472] And as the clergy, taken
as a body, have always looked on it as their business to enforce belief,
rather than encourage inquiry, it is no wonder if they displayed in
their writings the spirit incidental to the habits of their profession.
Hence, as I have already observed, literature, during many ages, instead
of benefiting society, injured it, by increasing credulity, and thus
stopping the progress of knowledge. Indeed, the aptitude for falsehood
became so great, that there was nothing men were unwilling to believe.
Nothing came amiss to their greedy and credulous ears. Histories of
omens, prodigies, apparitions, strange portents, monstrous appearances
in the heavens, the wildest and most incoherent absurdities, were
repeated from mouth to mouth, and copied from book to book, with as much
care as if they were the choicest treasures of human wisdom.[473] That
Europe should ever have emerged from such a state, is the most decisive
proof of the extraordinary energy of Man, since we cannot even conceive
a condition of society more unfavourable to his progress. But it is
evident, that until the emancipation was effected, the credulity and
looseness of thought which were universal, unfitted men for habits of
investigation, and made it impossible for them to engage in a successful
study of past affairs, or even record with accuracy what was taking
place around them.[474]

  [472] The Rev. Mr. Dowling, who looks back with great regret to this
        happy period, says, 'Writers were almost universally
        ecclesiastics. Literature was scarcely anything but a religious
        exercise; for everything that was studied, was studied with a
        reference to religion. The men, therefore, who wrote history,
        wrote ecclesiastical history.' _Dowling's Introduction to the
        Critical Study of Ecclesiastical History_, 8vo, 1838, p. 56; a
        work of some talent, but chiefly interesting as a manifesto by an
        active party.

  [473] Thus, for instance, a celebrated historian, who wrote at the end
        of the twelfth century says of the reign of William Rufus:
        'Ejusdem regis tempore, ut ex parte supradictum est, in sole,
        luna, et stellis multa signa visa sunt, mare quoque littus
        persæpe egrediebatur, et homines et animalia submersit, villas et
        domos quamplures subvertit. In pago qui Barukeshire nominatur,
        ante occisionem regis sanguis de fonte tribus septimanis
        emanavit. Multis etiam Normannis diabolus in horribili specie se
        frequenter in silvis ostendens, plura cum eis de rege et Ranulfo,
        et quibusdam aliis locutus est. Nec mirum, nam illorum tempore
        ferè omnis legum siluit justitia, causisque justitiæ subpositis,
        sola in principibus imperabat pecunia.' _Rog. de Hoveden Annal.
        in Scriptores post Bedam_, p. 268. See also the same work, pp.
        356-358; and compare _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_,
        part i. pp. 266, 289, part ii. p. 298.

  [474] Even the descriptions of natural objects which historians
        attempted in the Middle Ages, were marked by the same
        carelessness. See some good observations by Dr. Arnold, on Bede's
        account of the Solent Sea. _Arnold's Lectures on Modern History_,
        pp. 102, 103.

If, therefore, we recur to the facts just cited, we may say that,
omitting several circumstances altogether subordinate, there were three
leading causes of the corruption of the history of Europe in the Middle
Ages. The first cause was, the sudden introduction of the art of
writing, and the consequent fusion of different local traditions, which,
when separate, were accurate, but when united were false. The second
cause was, the change of religion; which acted in two ways, producing
not merely an interruption of the old traditions, but also an
interpolation of them. And the third cause, probably the most powerful
of all, was, that history became monopolized by a class of men whose
professional habits made them quick to believe, and who, moreover, had a
direct interest in increasing the general credulity, since it was the
basis upon which their own authority was built.

By the operation of these causes, the history of Europe became corrupted
to an extent for which we can find no parallel in any other period. That
there was, properly speaking, no history, was the smallest part of the
inconvenience; but, unhappily, men, not satisfied with the absence of
truth, supplied its place by the invention of falsehood. Among
innumerable instances of this, there is one species of inventions worth
noticing, because they evince that love of antiquity, which is a marked
characteristic of those classes by whom history was then written. I
allude to fictions regarding the origin of different nations, in all of
which the spirit of the Middle Ages is very discernible. During many
centuries, it was believed by every people that they were directly
descended from ancestors who had been present at the siege of Troy. That
was a proposition which no one thought of doubting.[475] The only
question was, as to the details of so illustrious a lineage. On this,
however, there was a certain unanimity of opinion; since, not to mention
inferior countries, it was admitted that the French were descended from
Francus, whom everybody knew to be the son of Hector; and it was also
known that the Britons came from Brutus, whose father was no other than
Æneas himself.[476]

  [475] In _Le Long's Bibliothèque Historique de la France_, vol. ii.
        p. 3, it is said, that the descent of the kings of France from
        the Trojans was universally believed before the sixteenth
        century: 'Cette descendance a été crue véritable près de huit
        cents ans, et soutenue par tous les écrivains de notre histoire;
        la fausseté n'en a été reconnue qu'au commencement du seizième
        siècle.' Polydore Vergil, who died in the middle of the sixteenth
        century, attacked this opinion in regard to England, and thereby
        made his history unpopular. See _Ellis's Preface to Polydore
        Vergil_, p. xx. 4to, 1844, published by the Camden Society. 'He
        discarded Brute, as an unreal personage.' In 1128, Henry I., king
        of England, inquired from a learned man respecting the early
        history of France. The answer is preserved by an historian of the
        thirteenth century: 'Regum potentissime, inquiens, sicut pleræque
        gentes Europæ, ita Franci a Trojanis originem duxerunt.' _Matthæi
        Paris Hist. Major_, p. 59. See also _Rog. de Hov. in Scriptores
        post Bedam_, p. 274. On the descent of the Britons from Priam and
        Æneas, see _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, part i. p.
        66. Indeed, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, their
        Trojan origin was stated as a notorious fact, in a letter written
        to Pope Boniface by Edward I., and signed by the English
        nobility. See _Warton's Hist. of English Poetry_, vol. i. pp.
        131, 132; and _Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors_, vol. i.
        p. 185.

  [476] The general opinion was, that Brutus, or Brute, was the son of
        Æneas; but some historians affirmed that he was the
        great-grandson. See _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. i. p. 63,
        vol. vii. p. 220.

Touching the origin of particular places, the great historians of the
Middle Ages are equally communicative. In the accounts they give of
them, as well as in the lives they write of eminent men, the history
usually begins at a very remote period; and the events relating to their
subject are often traced back, in an unbroken series, from the moment
when Noah left the ark, or even when Adam passed the gates of
Paradise.[477] On other occasions, the antiquity they assign is somewhat
less; but the range of their information is always extraordinary. They
say, that the capital of France is called after Paris, the son of Priam,
because he fled there when Troy was overthrown.[478] They also mention
that Tours owed its name to being the burial-place of Turonus, one of
the Trojans;[479] while the city of Troyes was actually built by the
Trojans, as its etymology clearly proves.[480] It was well ascertained
that Nuremberg was called after the Emperor Nero;[481] and Jerusalem
after King Jebus,[482] a man of vast celebrity in the Middle Ages, but
whose existence later historians have not been able to verify. The river
Humber received its name because, in ancient times, a king of the Huns
had been drowned in it.[483] The Gauls derived their origin, according
to some, from Galathia, a female descendant of Japhet; according to
others, from Gomer, the son of Japhet.[484] Prussia was called after
Prussus, a brother of Augustus.[485] This was remarkably modern; but
Silesia had its name from the prophet Elisha--from whom, indeed, the
Silesians descended;[486] while as to the city of Zurich, its exact date
was a matter of dispute, but it was unquestionably built in the time of
Abraham.[487] It was likewise from Abraham and Sarah that the gipsies
immediately sprung.[488] The blood of the Saracens was less pure, since
they were only descended from Sarah--in what way it is not mentioned;
but she probably had them by another marriage, or, may be, as the fruit
of an Egyptian intrigue.[489] At all events, the Scotch certainly came
from Egypt; for they were originally the issue of Scota, who was a
daughter of Pharaoh, and who bequeathed to them her name.[490] On sundry
similar matters, the Middle Ages possessed information equally
valuable. It was well known that the city of Naples was founded on
eggs;[491] and it was also known, that the order of St. Michael was
instituted in person by the archangel, who was himself the first knight,
and to whom, in fact, chivalry owes its origin.[492] In regard to the
Tartars, that people, of course, proceeded from Tartarus; which some
theologians said was an inferior kind of hell, but others declared to be
hell itself.[493] However this might be, the fact of their birth-place
being from below was indisputable, and was proved by many circumstances
which showed the fatal and mysterious influence they were able to
exercise. For the Turks were identical with the Tartars; and it was
notorious, that since the Cross had fallen into Turkish hands, all
Christian children had ten teeth less than formerly; a universal
calamity, which there seemed to be no means of repairing.[494]

  [477] In the _Notes to a Chronicle of London from 1089 to 1483_, pp.
        183-187, edit. 4to, 1827, there is a pedigree, in which the
        history of the bishops of London is traced back, not only to the
        migration of Brutus from Troy, but also to Noah and Adam. Thus,
        too, Goropius, in his history of Antwerp, written in the
        sixteenth century: 'Vond zoowell de Nederlandsche taal als de
        Wysbegeerte van Orpheus in de ark van Noach.' _Van Kampen_,
        _Geschiedenis der Letteren_, 8vo, 1821, vol. i. p. 91; see also
        p. 86. In the thirteenth century, Mathew Paris (_Historia Major_,
        p. 352) says of Alfred, 'Hujus genealogia in Anglorum historiis
        perducitur usque ad Adam primum parentem.' See, to the same
        effect, _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, part i. pp.
        323, 324, 415. In William of Malmesbury's Chronicle (_Scriptores
        post Bedam_, p. 22 rev.) the genealogy of the Saxon kings is
        traced back to Adam. For other, and similar, instances, see a
        note in _Lingard's History of England_, vol. i. p. 403. And Mr.
        Ticknor (_History of Spanish Literature_, vol. i. p. 509)
        mentions that the Spanish chroniclers present 'an uninterrupted
        succession of Spanish kings from Tubal, a grandson of Noah.'

  [478] Monteil, in his curious book, _Histoire des divers Etats_, vol. v.
        p. 70, mentions the old belief 'que les Parisiens sont du sang
        des rois des anciens Troyens, par Paris, fils de Priam.' Even in
        the seventeenth century this idea was not extinct; and Coryat,
        who travelled in France in 1608, gives another version of it. He
        says, 'As for her name of Paris, she hath it (as some write) from
        Paris, the eighteenth king of Gallia Celtica, whom some write to
        have been lineally descended from Japhet, one of the three sons
        of Noah, and to have founded this city.' _Coryat's Crudities_,
        1611, reprinted 1776, vol. i. pp. 27, 28.

  [479] 'Erat ibi quidam Tros nomine Turonus Bruti nepos.... De nomine
        ipsius prædicta civitas Turonis vocabulum nacta est; quia ibidem
        sepultus fuit.' _Galfredi Monumet. Hist. Briton._ lib. i. cap.
        xv. p. 19. And Mathew of Westminster, who wrote in the fourteenth
        century, says (_Flores Historiarum_, part i. p. 17): 'Tros nomine
        Turnus.... De nomine verò ipsius Turonorum civitas vocabulum
        traxit, quia ibidem, ut testatur Homerus, sepultus fuit.'

  [480] 'On convient bien que les Troyens de notre Troyes sont du sang des
        anciens Troyens.' _Monteil_, _Divers Etats_, vol. v. p. 69.

  [481] Monconys, who was in Nuremberg in 1663, found this opinion still
        held there; and he seems himself half inclined to believe it;
        for, in visiting a castle, he observes, 'Mais je ne sçai si c'est
        un ouvrage de Néron, comme l'on le dit, et que même le nom de
        Nuremberg en vient.' _Voyages de Monconys_, vol. iv. p. 141,
        edit. Paris, 1695.

  [482] 'Deinceps regnante in ea Jebusæo, dicta Jebus, et sic ex Jebus et
        Salem dicta est Jebussalem. Unde post dempta _b_ littera et
        addita _r_, dicta est Hierusalem.' _Matthæi Paris Historia
        Major_, p. 43. This reminds me of another great writer, who was
        one of the fathers, and was moreover a saint, and who, says M.
        Matter, 'dérive les Samaritains du roi Samarius, fils de Canaan.'
        _Matter_, _Hist. du Gnosticisme_, vol. i. p. 41.

  [483] 'Humber rex Hunnorum ... ad flumen diffugiens, submersus est intra
        ipsum, et nomen suum flumini reliquit.' _Matthæi Westmonast.
        Flores Historiarum_, part i. p. 19.

  [484] These two opinions, which long divided the learned world, are
        stated in _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque Historique de la France_,
        vol. ii. pp. 5, 49.

  [485] See a curious allusion to this in _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._
        vol. viii. p. 160; where, however, it is erroneously supposed to
        be a Russian invention.

  [486] 'The Silesians are not without voluminous writers upon their
        antiquities; and one of them gravely derives the name and descent
        of his country from the prophet Elisha.' _Adams's Letters on
        Silesia_, p. 267, Lond. 8vo, 1804.

  [487] In 1608, Coryat, when in Zurich, was 'told by the learned
        Hospinian that their city was founded in the time of Abraham.'
        _Coryat's Crudities_, vol. i. Epistle to the Reader, sig. D. I
        always give the most recent instance I have met with, because, in
        the history of the European intellect, it is important to know
        how long the spirit of the Middle Ages survived in different

  [488] They were 'seuls enfants légitimes' of Abraham and Sarah.
        _Monteil_, _Divers Etats_, vol. v. p. 19.

  [489] Mathew Paris, who is apprehensive lest the reputation of Sarah
        should suffer, says, 'Saraceni perversé se putant ex Sara dici;
        sed veriùs Agareni dicuntur ab Agar; et Ismaelitæ, ab Ismaele
        filio Abrahæ.' _Hist. Major_, p. 357. Compare a similar passage
        in _Mezeray_, _Histoire de France_, vol. i. p. 127: 'Sarrasins,
        ou de la ville de Sarai, ou de Sara femme d'Abraham, duquel ils
        se disent faussement légitimes héritiers.' After this, the idea,
        or the fear of the idea, soon died away; and Beausobre (_Histoire
        Critique de Manichée_, vol. i. p. 24) says: 'On dérive
        vulgairement le nom de Sarrasins du mot arabe Sarah, ou Sarak,
        qui signifie effectivement voleur.' A good example of a secular
        turn given to a theological etymology. For a similar case in
        northern history, see _Whitelocke's Journal of the Swedish
        Embassy_, vol. i. pp. 190, 191.

  [490] Early in the fourteenth century, this was stated, in a letter to
        the Pope, as a well-known historical fact. See _Lingard's Hist.
        of England_, vol. ii. p. 187: 'They are sprung from Scota the
        daughter of Pharaoh, who landed in Ireland, and whose descendants
        wrested, by force of arms, the northern half of Britain from the
        progeny of Brute.'

  [491] Mr. Wright (_Narratives of Sorcery_, 8vo, 1851, vol. i. p. 115)
        says, 'The foundation of the city of Naples upon eggs, and the
        egg on which its fate depended, seem to have been legends
        generally current in the Middle Ages;' and he refers to
        _Montfaucon_, _Monumens de la Mon. Fr._ vol. ii. p. 329, for
        proof, that by the statutes of the order of the Saint Esprit, 'a
        chapter of the knights was appointed to be held annually in
        castello ovi incantati in mirabili periculo.'

  [492] 'The order of Saint Michael, in France, pretends to the possession
        of a regular descent from Michael the Archangel, who, according
        to the enlightened judgment of French antiquarians, was the
        premier chevalier in the world; and it was he, they say, who
        established the earliest chivalric order in Paradise itself.'
        _Mills's Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. pp. 363, 364.

  [493] The etymology of Tartars from Tartarus is ascribed to the piety of
        Saint Louis in _Prichard's Physical History_, vol. iv. p. 278;
        but I think that I have met with it before his time, though I
        cannot now recover the passage. The earliest instance I remember
        is in 1241, when the saint was twenty-six years old. See a letter
        from the emperor Frederick, in _Matthæi Paris Historia Major_, p.
        497: 'Pervenissent dicti Tartari (imo Tartarei),' &c; and on the
        expression of Louis, see p. 496: 'Quos vocamus Tartaros ad suas
        Tartareas sedes.' Since the thirteenth century, the subject has
        attracted the attention of English divines; and the celebrated
        theologian Whiston mentions 'my last famous discovery, or rather
        my revival of Dr. Giles Fletcher's famous discovery, that the
        Tartars are no other than the ten tribes of Israel, which have
        been so long sought for in vain.' _Memoirs of the Life and
        Writings of William Whiston_, p. 575. Compare, on the opinions
        held respecting the Tartars, _Journal Asiatique_, I^e série, vol.
        vi. p. 374, Paris, 1825.

  [494] Peignot (_Dict. des Livres_, vol. ii. p. 69, Paris, 1806) says,
        that Rigord, in his history of Philip Augustus, assures his
        readers 'que depuis que la vraie croix a été prise par les Turcs,
        les enfans n'ont plus que 20 ou 23 dents, au lieu qu'ils en
        avaient 30 ou 32 auparavant.' Even in the fifteenth century, it
        was believed that the number of teeth had diminished from 32 to
        22, or at most 24. See _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol.
        ii. pp. 481, 482, Paris, 1815. Compare _Hecker on the Black
        Death_, pp. 31, 32, in his learned work, _Epidemics of the Middle
        Ages_, published by the Sydenham Society.

Other points relating to the history of past events were cleared up with
equal facility. In Europe during many centuries, the only animal food in
general use was pork; beef, veal, and mutton, being comparatively
unknown.[495] It was, therefore, with no small astonishment that the
crusaders, on returning from the East, told their countrymen that they
had been among a people who, like the Jews, thought pork unclean, and
refused to eat it. But the feelings of lively wonder which this
intelligence excited, were destroyed as soon as the cause of the fact
was explained. The subject was taken up by Mathew Paris, the most
eminent historian during the thirteenth century, and one of the most
eminent during the Middle Ages.[496] This celebrated writer informs us,
that the Mohammedans refuse to eat pork on account of a singular
circumstance which happened to their prophet. It appears that Mohammed,
having, on one occasion, gorged himself with food and drink till he was
in a state of insensibility, fell asleep on a dunghill, and, in this
disgraceful condition, was seen by a litter of pigs. The pigs attacked
the fallen prophet, and suffocated him to death; for which reason his
followers abominate pigs, and refuse to partake of their flesh.[497]
This striking fact explains one great peculiarity of the
Mohammedans;[498] and another fact, equally striking, explains how it
was that their sect came into existence. For it was well known, that
Mohammed was originally a cardinal, and only became a heretic because he
failed in his design of being elected pope.[499]

  [495] In the sacred books of the Scandinavians, pork is represented as
        the principal food, even in heaven. See _Mallet's Northern
        Antiquities_, p. 105. It was the chief food of the Irish in the
        twelfth century: _Ledwich_, _Antiquities of Ireland_, Dublin,
        1804, p. 370; and also of the Anglo-Saxons at an earlier period:
        _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. iii. p. 22. In France it was
        equally common, and Charlemagne kept in his forests immense
        droves of pigs. _Note in Esprit des Lois_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Montesquieu_, p. 513. In Spain those who did not like pork were
        tried by the Inquisition as suspected Jews: _Llorente_, _Hist. de
        l'Inquisition_, vol. i. pp. 269, 442, 445. Late in the sixteenth
        century, there was a particular disease, said to be caused by the
        quantity of it eaten in Hungary. _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. iii. p. 93; and even at present, the barbarous
        Lettes are passionately fond of it. _Kohl's Russia_, pp. 386,
        387. In the middle of the sixteenth century, I find that Philip
        II., when in England, generally dined on bacon; of which he ate
        so much, as frequently to make himself very ill. See _Ambassades
        de Messieurs de Noailles en Angleterre_, vol. v. pp. 240, 241,
        edit. 1763. The ambassador writes, that Philip was 'grand mangeur
        oultre mesure,' and used to consume large quantities 'de lard,
        dont il faict le plus souvent son principal repas.' In the Middle
        Ages, 'les Thuringiens payaient leur tribut en porcs, la denrée
        la plus précieuse de leur pays.' _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol.
        ii. p. 389.

  [496] Sismondi (_Hist. des Français_, vol. vii. pp. 325, 326) passes a
        high eulogy upon him; and Mosheim (_Ecclesiast. History_, vol. i.
        p. 313) says: 'Among the historians (of the thirteenth century),
        the first place is due to Mathew Paris; a writer of the highest
        merit, both in point of knowledge and prudence.'

  [497] _Matthæi Paris Historia Major_, p. 362. He concludes his account
        by saying, 'Unde adhuc Saraceni sues præ cæteris animalibus
        exosas habent et abominabiles.' Mathew Paris obtained his
        information from a clergyman, 'quendam magni nominis celebrem
        prædicatorem,' p. 360. According to Mathew of Westminster, the
        pigs not only suffocated Mohammed, but actually ate the greater
        part of him: 'In maxima parte a porcis corrosum invenerunt.'
        _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, part i. p. 215.

  [498] By a singular contradiction, the African Mohammedans now 'believe
        that a great enmity subsists between hogs and Christians.' _Mungo
        Park's Travels_, vol. i. p. 185. Many medical authors have
        supposed that pork is peculiarly unwholesome in hot countries;
        but this requires confirmation: and it is certain, that it is
        recommended by Arabian physicians, and is more generally eaten
        both in Asia and in Africa than is usually believed. Comp.
        _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 323; _Volney_,
        _Voyage en Syrie_, vol. i. p. 449; _Buchanan's Journey through
        the Mysore_, vol. ii. p. 88, vol. iii. p. 57; _Raffles' Hist. of
        Java_, vol. ii. p. 5; _Ellis's Hist. of Madagascar_, vol. i. pp.
        201, 403, 416; _Cook's Voyages_, vol. ii. p. 265; _Burnes's
        Travels into Bokhara_, vol. iii. p. 141. As facts of this sort
        are important physiologically and socially, it is advisable that
        they should be collected; and I therefore add, that the
        North-American Indians are said to have 'a disgust for pork.'
        _Journal of the Geog. Society_, vol. xv. p. 30; and that Dobell
        (_Travels_, vol. ii. p. 260, 8vo, 1830) says, 'I believe there is
        more pork eaten in China than in all the rest of the world put

  [499] This idea, which was a favourite one in the Middle Ages, is said
        to have been a Rabbinical invention. See _Lettres de Gui Patin_,
        vol. iii. p. 127: 'que Mahomet, le faux prophète, avait été
        cardinal; et que, par dépit de n'avoir été pape, il s'étoit fait

In regard to the early history of Christianity, the great writers of the
Middle Ages were particularly inquisitive; and they preserved the memory
of events, of which otherwise we should have been entirely ignorant.
After Froissart, the most celebrated historian of the fourteenth
century, was certainly Mathew of Westminster, with whose name, at least,
most readers are familiar. This eminent man directed his attention,
among other matters, to the history of Judas, in order to discover the
circumstances under which the character of that arch-apostate was
formed. His researches seem to have been very extensive; but their
principal results were, that Judas, when an infant, was deserted by his
parents, and exposed on an island called Scarioth, from whence he
received the name of Judas Iscariot. To this the historian adds, that
after Judas grew up, he, among other enormities, slew his own father,
and then married his own mother.[500] The same writer, in another part
of his history, mentions a fact interesting to those who study the
antiquities of the Holy See. Some questions had been raised as to the
propriety of kissing the pope's toe, and even theologians had their
doubts touching so singular a ceremony. But this difficulty also was set
at rest by Mathew of Westminster, who explains the true origin of the
custom. He says, that formerly it was usual to kiss the hand of his
holiness; but that towards the end of the eighth century, a certain lewd
woman, in making an offering to the pope, not only kissed his hand, but
also pressed it. The pope--his name was Leo--seeing the danger, cut off
his hand, and thus escaped the contamination to which he had been
exposed. Since that time, the precaution has been taken of kissing the
pope's toe instead of his hand; and lest any one should doubt the
accuracy of this account, the historian assures us that the hand, which
had been cut off five or six hundred years before, still existed in
Rome, and was indeed a standing miracle, since it was preserved in the
Lateran in its original state, free from corruption.[501] And as some
readers might wish to be informed respecting the Lateran itself, where
the hand was kept, this also is considered by the historian, in another
part of his great work, where he traces it back to the emperor Nero. For
it is said that this wicked persecutor of the faith, on one occasion,
vomited a frog covered with blood, which he believed to be his own
progeny, and therefore caused to be shut up in a vault, where it
remained hidden for some time. Now, in the Latin language, _latente_
means hidden, and _rana_ means a frog; so that, by putting these two
words together, we have the origin of the Lateran, which, in fact, was
built where the frog was found.[502]

  [500] See the ample details in _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_,
        part i. pp. 86, 87; and at p. 88, 'Judas matrem suam uxorem
        duxerat, et quòd patrem suum occiderat.'

  [501] This took place in the year 798. _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores
        Historiarum_, part i. p. 293. The historian thus concludes his
        relation: 'Et statutum est nunc quòd numquam extunc manus Papæ ab
        offerentibus deoscularetur, sed pes. Cùm ante fuerat consuetudo
        quòd manus, non pes, deoscularetur. In hujus miraculi memoriam
        reservatur adhuc manus abscissa in thesauro lateranensi, quam
        dominus custodit incorruptam ad laudem matris suæ.'

  [502] '... Ita ut Nero se puero gravidum existimaret.... Tandem dolore
        nimio vexatus, medicis ait: Accelerate tempus partus, quia
        languore vix anhelitum habeo respirandi. Tunc ipsum ad vomitum
        impotionaverunt, et ranam visu terribilem, humoribus infectam, et
        sanguine edidit cruentatam.... Unde et pars illa civitatis, ut
        aliqui dicunt, ubi rana latuerat, Lateranum, à latente rana,
        nomen accepit.' _Matthæi Westmonast._ part i. p. 98. Compare the
        account given by Roger of Hoveden, of a woman who vomited two
        toads. _Script. post Bedam_, p. 457 rev. In the Middle Ages there
        were many superstitions respecting these animals, and they appear
        to have been used by heralds as marks of degradation. See
        _Lankester's Memorials of Ray_, p. 197.

It would be easy to fill volumes with similar notions, all of which were
devoutly believed in those ages of darkness, or, as they have been well
called, Ages of Faith. Those, indeed, were golden days for the
ecclesiastical profession, since the credulity of men had reached a
height which seemed to ensure to the clergy a long and universal
dominion. How the prospects of the church were subsequently darkened,
and how the human reason began to rebel, will be related in another part
of this Introduction, where I shall endeavour to trace the rise of that
secular and sceptical spirit to which European civilization owes its
origin. But, before closing the present chapter, it may be well to give
a few more illustrations of the opinions held in the Middle Ages; and,
for this purpose, I will select the two historical accounts, which, of
all others, were the most popular, exercised most influence, and were
most universally believed.

The histories to which I refer, are those of Arthur and Charlemagne;
both of which bear the names of dignitaries of the church, and were
received with the respect due to their illustrious authors. That
concerning Charlemagne is called the Chronicle of Turpin, and purports
to be written by Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, a friend of the emperor
and his companion in war.[503] From some passages it contains, there is
reason to think that it was really composed at the beginning of the
twelfth century;[504] but, in the Middle Ages, men were not nice in
these matters, and no one was likely to dispute its authenticity.
Indeed, the name of an archbishop of Rheims was sufficient
recommendation; and we find accordingly, that in the year 1122 it
received the formal approbation of the pope;[505] and that Vincent de
Beauvais, one of the most celebrated writers in the thirteenth century,
and tutor to the sons of Louis IX., mentions it as a work of value, and
as being the principal authority for the reign of Charlemagne.[506]

  [503] '... Ego Turpinus in valle Caroli loco præfato, astante rege,' &c.
        _De Vita Caroli Magni_, p. 74, edit. Ciampi.

  [504] Turner (_History of England_, vol. vii. pp. 250-268) has attempted
        to prove that it was written by Calixtus II.; but his arguments,
        though ingenious and learned, are not decisive. Warton (_Hist.
        Eng. Poetry_, vol. i. p. 128) says it was composed about 1110.

  [505] The pope 'statuit historiam Sancti Caroli descriptam a beato
        Turpino Remensi Archiepiscopo esse authenticam.' _Note in
        Turner_, vol. vii. p. 250.

  [506] In his famous Speculum, 'il recommande spécialement les études
        historiques, dont il paraît que la plupart de ses contemporains
        méconnaissaient l'utilité; mais lorsqu'il indique les sources où
        il puisera ce genre d'instruction, c'est Turpin qu'il désigne
        comme le principal historien de Charlemagne.' _Histoire
        Littéraire de la France_, vol. xviii. p. 474, Paris, 1835, 4to;
        see also p. 517; and on its influence in Spain, see _Ticknor's
        History of Spanish Literature_, vol. i. pp. 222, 223.

A book thus generally read, and sanctioned by such competent judges,
must be a tolerable standard for testing the knowledge and opinions of
those times. On this account, a short notice of it will be useful for
our present purpose, as it will enable us to understand the extreme
slowness with which history has improved, and the almost imperceptible
steps by which it advanced, until fresh life was breathed into it by the
great thinkers of the eighteenth century.

In the Chronicle of Turpin, we are informed that the invasion of Spain
by Charlemagne took place in consequence of the direct instigation of
St. James, the brother of St. John.[507] The apostle, being the cause of
the attack, adopted measures to secure its success. When Charlemagne
besieged Pamplona, that city made an obstinate resistance; but as soon
as prayers were offered up by the invaders, the walls suddenly fell to
the ground.[508] After this, the emperor rapidly overran the whole
country, almost annihilated the Mohammedans, and built innumerable
churches.[509] But, the resources of Satan are inexhaustible. On the
side of the enemy, a giant now appeared, whose name was Fenacute, and
who was descended from Goliath of old.[510] This Fenacute was the most
formidable opponent the Christians had yet encountered. His strength was
equal to that of forty men;[511] his face measured one cubit; his arms
and legs four cubits; his total height was twenty cubits. Against him
Charlemagne sent the most eminent warriors; but they were easily
discomfited by the giant; of whose prodigious force some idea may be
formed from the fact, that the length even of his fingers was three
palms.[512] The Christians were filled with consternation. In vain did
more than twenty chosen men advance against the giant; not one returned
from the field; Fenacute took them all under his arms, and carried them
off into captivity.[513] At length the celebrated Orlando came forward,
and challenged him to mortal combat. An obstinate fight ensued; and the
Christian, not meeting with the success he expected, engaged his
adversary in a theological discussion.[514] Here the pagan was easily
defeated; and Orlando, warmed by the controversy, pressed on his enemy,
smote the giant with his sword, and dealt him a fatal wound. After
this, the last hope of the Mohammedans was extinct; the Christian arms
had finally triumphed, and Charlemagne divided Spain among those gallant
followers who had aided him in effecting its conquest.[515]

  [507] _Caroli Magni Historia_, edit. Ciampi, pp. 3-5.

  [508] '... Muri collapsi funditus corruerunt.' _De Vita Caroli_, p. 5.
        On this, Ciampi, in his notes on Turpin, gravely says (pp. 94,
        95): 'Questo fatto della presa di Pamplona è reso maraviglioso
        per la subitanea caduta delle mura, a somiglianza delle mura di
        Gerico.' This reminds me of a circumstance mentioned by Monconys,
        who, on visiting Oxford in 1663, was shown a horn which was
        preserved in that ancient city, because it was said to be made in
        the same way as that by which the walls of Jericho were blown
        down: 'Les Juifs tiennent que leurs ancêtres se servirent de
        pareilles pour abbattre les murailles de Jérico.' _Voyages de
        Monconys_, vol. iii. p. 95, edit. Paris, 1695.

  [509] _De Vita Caroli_, cap. v. pp. 11, 12; is headed 'De ecclesiis quas
        Carolus fecit.'

  [510] 'Gigas nomine Fenacutus, qui fuit de genere Goliat.' _De Vita
        Caroli_, p. 39.

  [511] 'Vim xl. fortium possidebat.' p. 39.

  [512] 'Erat enim statura ejus quasi cubitis xx., facies erat longa quasi
        unius cubiti, et nasus illius unius palmi mensurati, et brachia
        et crura ejus quatuor cubitorum erant, et digiti ejus tribus
        palmis,' p. 40.

  [513] _De Vita Caroli_, p. 40.

  [514] Ibid. pp. 43-47.

  [515] _De Vita Caroli_, p. 52. On the twelve peers of Charlemagne, in
        connexion with Turpin, see _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol.
        v. pp. 246, 537, 538, vol. vi. p. 534.

On the history of Arthur, the Middle Ages possessed information equally
authentic. Different accounts had been circulated respecting this
celebrated king;[516] but their comparative value was still unsettled,
when, early in the twelfth century, the subject attracted the attention
of Geoffrey, the well-known Archdeacon of Monmouth. This eminent man, in
A.D. 1147, published the result of his inquiries, in a work which he
called _History of the Britons_.[517] In this book, he takes a
comprehensive view of the whole question; and not only relates the life
of Arthur, but also traces the circumstances which prepared the way for
the appearance of that great conqueror. In regard to the actions of
Arthur, the historian was singularly fortunate, inasmuch as the
materials necessary for that part of his subject were collected by
Walter Archdeacon of Oxford, who was a friend of Geoffrey, and who, like
him, took great interest in the study of history.[518] The work is,
therefore, the joint composition of the two archdeacons; and is entitled
to respect, not only on this account, but also because it was one of the
most popular of all the productions of the Middle Ages.

  [516] The Welsh, however, accused Gildas of having thrown his history
        'into the sea.' _Palgrave's Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth_, vol. i. p.
        453. The industrious Sharon Turner (_Hist. of England_, vol. i.
        pp. 282-295) has collected a great deal of evidence respecting
        Arthur; of whose existence he, of course, entertains no doubt.
        Indeed, at p. 292, he gives us an account of the discovery, in
        the twelfth century, of Arthur's body!

  [517] In _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. vii. pp. 269, 270, it is said
        to have appeared in 1128; but Mr. Wright (_Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol.
        ii. p. 144) seems to have proved that the real date is 1147.

  [518] Geoffrey says, 'A Gualtero Oxinefordensi in multis historiis
        peritissimo viro audivit' (_i.e. ille_ Geoffrey) 'vili licet
        stylo, breviter tamen propalabit, quæ pr[oe]lia inclytus ille rex
        post victoriam istam, in Britanniam reversus, cum nepote suo
        commiserit.' _Galfredi Monumetensis Historia Britonum_, lib. xi.
        sec. i. p. 200. And in the dedication to the Earl of Gloucester,
        p. 1, he says, 'Walterus Oxinefordensis archidiaconus, vir in
        oratoria arte atque in exoticis historiis eruditus.' Compare
        _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, part i. p. 248.

The earlier part of this great history is occupied with the result of
those researches which the Archdeacon of Monmouth had made into the
state of Britain before the accession of Arthur. With this we are not so
much concerned; though it may be mentioned, that the archdeacon
ascertained that, after the capture of Troy, Ascanius fled from the
city, and begat a son, who became father to Brutus.[519] In those days,
England was peopled by giants, all of whom were slain by Brutus; who,
having extirpated the entire race, built London, settled the affairs of
the country, and called it, after himself, by the name of Britain.[520]
The archdeacon proceeds to relate the actions of a long line of kings
who succeeded Brutus, most of whom were remarkable for their abilities,
and some were famous for the prodigies which occurred in their time.
Thus, during the government of Rivallo, it rained blood for three
consecutive days;[521] and when Morvidus was on the throne, the coasts
were infested by a horrid sea-monster, which, having devoured
innumerable persons, at length swallowed the king himself.[522]

  [519] _Galfredi Historia Britonum_, pp. 3, 4.

  [520] 'Erat tunc nomen insulæ Albion, quæ a nemine, exceptis paucis
        gigantibus, inhabitabatur.... Denique Brutus de nomine suo
        insulam Britanniam, sociosque suos Britones appellat.' _Galf.
        Hist. Britonum_, p. 20.

  [521] 'In tempore ejus tribus diebus cecidit pluvia sanguinea, et
        muscarum affluentia; quibus homines moriebantur.' _Hist. Brit._
        p. 36.

  [522] 'Advenerat namque ex partibus Hibernici maris inauditæ feritatis
        bellua, quæ incolas maritimos sine intermissione devorabat.
        Cumque fama aures ejus attigisset, accossit ipse ad illam, et
        solus cum sola congressus est. At cum omnia tela sua in illam in
        vanum consumpsisset, acceleravit monstrum illud, et apertis
        faucibus ipsum velut pisciculum devoravit.' _Hist. Brit._ p. 51.

These and similar matters are related by the Archdeacon of Monmouth as
the fruit of his own inquiries; but in the subsequent account of Arthur,
he was aided by his friend the Archdeacon of Oxford. The two archdeacons
inform their readers, that King Arthur owed his existence to a magical
contrivance of Merlin, the celebrated wizard; the particulars of which
they relate with a minuteness which, considering the sacred character of
the historians, is rather remarkable.[523] The subsequent actions of
Arthur did not belie his supernatural origin. His might nothing was able
to withstand. He slew an immense number of Saxons; he overran Norway,
invaded Gaul, fixed his court at Paris, and made preparations to effect
the conquest of all Europe.[524] He engaged two giants in single combat,
and killed them both. One of these giants, who inhabited the Mount of
St. Michael, was the terror of the whole country, and destroyed all the
soldiers sent against him, except those he took prisoners, in order to
eat them while they were yet alive.[525] But he fell a victim to the
prowess of Arthur; as also did another giant, named Ritho, who was, if
possible, still more formidable. For Ritho, not content with warring on
men of the meaner sort, actually clothed himself in furs which were
entirely made of the beards of the kings he had killed.[526]

  [523] The particulars of the intrigue are in _Galf. Hist. Brit._
        pp. 151, 152. For information respecting Merlin, see also
        _Matthæi Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, part i. pp. 161, 162;
        and _Naudé_, _Apologie pour les Grands Hommes_, pp. 308, 309,
        318, 319, edit. Amsterdam, 1712.

  [524] _Hist. Britonum_, pp. 167-170; a brilliant chapter.

  [525] 'Sed et plures capiebat quos semivivos devorabat.' _Hist. Brit._
        p. 181.

  [526] 'Hic namque ex barbis regum quos peremerat, fecerat sibi pelles,
        et mandaverat Arturo ut barbam suam diligenter excoriaret, atque
        excoriatam sibi dirigeret: ut quemadmodum ipse ceteris præerat
        regibus, ita quoque in honorem ejus ceteris barbis ipsam
        superponeret.' _Galf. Hist. Brit._ p. 184.

Such were the statements which, under the name of history, were laid
before the world in the twelfth century; and that, too, not by obscure
writers, but by high dignitaries of the church. Nor was anything
wanting by which the success of the work might be ensured. Its vouchers
were the Archdeacon of Monmouth, and the Archdeacon of Oxford; it was
dedicated to Robert Earl of Gloucester, the son of Henry I.; and it was
considered so important a contribution to the national literature, that
its principal author was raised to the bishopric of Asaph,--a preferment
which he is said to owe to his success in investigating the annals of
English history.[527] A book thus stamped with every possible mark of
approbation, is surely no bad measure of the age in which it was
admired. Indeed, the feeling was so universal, that, during several
centuries, there are not more than two or three instances of any critic
suspecting its accuracy.[528] A Latin abridgment of it was published by
the well-known historian, Alfred of Beverley;[529] and, in order that it
might be more generally known, it was translated into English by
Layamon,[530] and into Anglo-Norman, first by Gaimar, and afterwards by
Wace;[531] zealous men, who were anxious that the important truths it
contained should be diffused as widely as circumstances would allow.

  [527] 'It was partly, perhaps, the reputation of this book, which
        procured its author the bishopric of St. Asaph.' _Life of
        Geoffrey of Monmouth_, in _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. ii. p.
        144, 8vo, 1846. According to the Welsh writers, he was Bishop of
        Llandaff. See _Stephens's Literature of the Kymry_, 8vo, 1849, p.

  [528] Mr. Wright (_Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. ii. p. 146) says: 'Within a
        century after its first publication, it was generally adopted by
        writers on English history; and during several centuries, only
        one or two rare instances occur of persons who ventured to speak
        against its veracity.' And Sir Henry Ellis says of Polydore
        Vergil, who wrote early in the sixteenth century, 'For the
        repudiation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, Polydore Vergil
        was considered almost as a man deprived of reason. Such were the
        prejudices of the time.' _Polydore Vergil's English Hist._ vol.
        i. p. x. edit. Ellis, 1846, 4to. See also, on its popularity,
        _Lappenberg's Hist. of the Anglo-Saxon Kings_, vol. i. p. 102. In
        the seventeenth century, which was the first sceptical century in
        Europe, men began to open their eyes on these matters; and Boyle,
        for example, classes together 'the fabulous labours of Hercules,
        and exploits of Arthur of Britain.' _Boyle's Works_, vol. iv. p.

  [529] _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. ii. p. 156; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. vii. p. 282.

  [530] According to Mr. Wright (_Biog. Brit._ vol. ii. p. 439), it was
        translated through the medium of Wace. But it would be more
        correct to say, that Layamon made the absurdities of Geoffrey the
        basis of his work, rather than translated them; for he amplifies
        15,000 lines of Wace's _Brut_ into 32,000 of his own jargon. See
        _Sir F. Madden's Preface to Layamon's Brut_, 8vo, 1847, vol. i.
        p. xiii. I cannot refrain from bearing testimony to the great
        philological value of this work of Layamon's, by the publication
        of which its accomplished editor has made an important
        contribution towards the study of the history of the English
        language. So far, however, as Layamon is concerned, we can only
        contemplate with wonder an age of which he was considered an

  [531] _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. ii. pp. 151, 207; _Hallam's
        Literature of Europe_, vol. i. p. 35.

It will hardly be necessary that I should adduce further evidence of the
way in which history was written during the Middle Ages; for the
preceding specimens have not been taken at random, but have been
selected from the ablest and most celebrated authors; and as such
present a very favourable type of the knowledge and judgment of Europe
in those days. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there
appeared, for the first time, faint signs of an approaching change;[532]
but this improvement was not very marked until late in the sixteenth
century, or even early in the seventeenth. The principal steps of this
interesting movement will be traced in another part of the Introduction,
when I shall show, that although in the seventeenth century the progress
was unmistakable, there was no attempt to take a comprehensive view of
history until nearly the middle of the eighteenth century; when the
subject was studied, first by the great French thinkers, then by one or
two of the Scotch, and, some years later, by the Germans. This
reformation of history was connected, as I shall point out, with other
intellectual changes, which corresponded to it, and which affected the
social relations of all the principal countries of Europe. But, without
anticipating what will be found in another part of this volume, it is
sufficient to say, that not only was no history written before the end
of the sixteenth century, but that the state of society was such as to
make it impossible for one to be written. The knowledge of Europe was
not yet ripe enough to enable it to be successfully applied to the study
of past events. For we are not to suppose that the deficiencies of the
early historians were caused by a lack of natural abilities. The average
intellect of men is probably always the same; but the pressure exercised
on them by society is constantly varying. It was, therefore, the general
condition of society, which, in former days, compelled even the ablest
writers to believe the most childish absurdities. Until that condition
was altered, the existence of history was impossible, because it was
impossible to find any one who knew what was most important to relate,
what to reject, and what to believe.

  [532] Of which Froissart is the earliest instance; since he is the
        first who took a secular view of affairs, all the preceding
        historians being essentially theological. In Spain, too, we find,
        late in the fourteenth century, a political spirit beginning to
        appear among historians. See the remarks on Ayala, in _Ticknor's
        Hist. of Spanish Lit._ vol. i. pp. 165, 166; where, however, Mr.
        Ticknor represents Froissart as more unworldly than he really

The consequence was, that even when history was studied by men of such
eminent abilities as Macchiavelli and Bodin, they could turn it to no
better account than to use it as a vehicle for political speculations;
and in none of their works do we find the least attempt to rise to
generalizations large enough to include all the social phenomena. The
same remark applies to Comines, who, though inferior to Macchiavelli and
Bodin, was an observer of no ordinary acuteness, and certainly displays
a rare sagacity in his estimation of particular characters. But this was
due to his own intellect; while the age in which he lived made him
superstitious, and, for the larger purposes of history, miserably
shortsighted. His shortsightedness is strikingly shown in his utter
ignorance of that great intellectual movement, which, in his own time,
was rapidly overthrowing the feudal institutions of the Middle Ages; but
to which he never once alludes, reserving his attention for those
trivial political intrigues in the relation of which he believed
history to consist.[533] As to his superstition, it would be idle to
give many instances of that; since no man could live in the fifteenth
century without having his mind enfeebled by the universal credulity. It
may, however, be observed, that though he was personally acquainted with
statesmen and diplomatists, and had, therefore, the fullest opportunity
of seeing how enterprises of the fairest promise are constantly ruined,
merely by the incapacity of those who undertake them, he, on all
important occasions, ascribes such failure, not to the real cause, but
to the immediate interference of the Deity. So marked, and so
irresistible, was the tendency of the fifteenth century, that this
eminent politician, a man of the world, and well skilled in the arts of
life, deliberately asserts that battles are lost, not because the army
is ill supplied, nor because the campaign is ill conceived, nor because
the general is incompetent; but because the people or their prince are
wicked, and Providence seeks to punish them. For, says Comines, war is a
great mystery; and being used by God as the means of accomplishing his
wishes, He gives victory, sometimes to one side, sometimes to the
other.[534] Hence, too, disturbances occur in the state, solely by
divine disposition; and they never would happen, except that princes or
kingdoms, having become prosperous, forget the source from which their
prosperity proceeded.[535]

  [533] On this, Arnold says, truly enough, 'Comines's Memoirs are
        striking from their perfect unconsciousness: the knell of the
        Middle Ages had been already sounded, yet Comines has no other
        notions than such as they had tended to foster; he describes
        their events, their characters, their relations, as if they were
        to continue for centuries.' _Arnold's Lectures on Modern
        History_, p. 118. To this I may add, that whenever Comines has
        occasion to mention the lower classes, which is very rarely the
        case, he speaks of them with great contempt. See two striking
        instances in _Mémoires de Philippe de Comines_, vol. ii. pp. 277,
        287, edit. Paris, 1826.

  [534] He says, that a field of battle is 'un des accomplissemens des
        [oe]uvres que Dieu a commencées aucunes fois par petites mouvetez
        et occasions, et en donnant la victoire aucunes fois à l'un, et
        aucunes fois à l'autre: et est cecy mystère si grand, que les
        royaumes et grandes seigneuries en prennent aucunes fois fins et
        désolations, et les autres accroissement, et commencement de
        régner.' _Mém. de Comines_, vol. i. pp. 361, 362. Respecting the
        wanton invasion of Italy, he says, that the expedition might have
        been easily ruined if the enemy had thought of poisoning the
        wells or the food: 'mais ils n'y eussent point failly, s'ils y
        eussent voulu essayer; mais il est de croire que nostre sauveur
        et rédempteur Jésus-Christ leur ostoit leur vouloir.' vol. iii.
        p. 154. So, he adds, p. 155, 'pour conclure l'article, semble que
        nostre seigneur Jésus-Christ ait voulu que toute la gloire du
        voyage ait esté attribuée à luy.' Compare the _Institutes of
        Timour_, p. 7; an instructive combination of superstition and

  [535] 'Mais mon advis est que cela ne se fait que par disposition
        divine; car quand les princes ou royaumes out esté en grande
        prospérité ou richesses, et ils ont mesconnoissance dont procède
        telle grâce, Dieu leur dresse un ennemi ou ennemie, dont nul ne
        se douteroit, comme vous pouvez voir par les rois nommez en la
        Bible, et par ce que puis peu d'années en avez veu en cette
        Angleterre, et en cette maison de Bourgogne et autres lieux que
        avez veu et voyez tous les jours.' _Mém. de Comines_, vol. i. pp.
        388, 389. See also his remarks on the Duke of Burgundy, vol. ii.
        p. 179; and in particular, his extraordinary digression, livre v.
        chap. xviii. vol. ii. pp. 290-298.

Such attempts as these, to make politics a mere branch of theology,[536]
are characteristic of the time; and they are the more interesting, as
the work of a man of great ability, and of one, too, who had grown old
in the experience of public life. When views of this sort were
advocated, not by a monk in his cloister, but by a distinguished
statesman, well versed in public affairs, we may easily imagine what was
the average intellectual condition of those who were every way his
inferiors. It is but too evident, that from them nothing could be
expected; and that many steps had yet to be taken, before Europe could
emerge from the superstition in which it was sunk, and break through
those grievous impediments which hindered its future progress.

  [536] Dr. Lingard (_Hist. of England_, vol. i. p. 357) says, 'From the
        doctrine of a superintending providence, the piety of our
        ancestors had drawn a rash but very convenient inference, that
        success is an indication of the Divine will, and that, of course,
        to resist a victorious competitor, is to resist the judgment of
        heaven:' see also p. 114. The last vestige of this once universal
        opinion is the expression, which is gradually falling into
        disuse, of 'appealing to the God of Battles.'

But, though much remained to be done, there can be no doubt that the
movement onward was uninterrupted, and that, even while Comines was
writing, there were unequivocal symptoms of a great and decisive change.
Still, they were only indications of what was approaching; and about a
hundred years elapsed, after his death, before the progress was apparent
in the whole of its results. For, though the Protestant Reformation was
a consequence of this progress, it was for some time unfavourable to it,
by encouraging the ablest men in the discussion of questions
inaccessible to human reason, and thus diverting them from subjects in
which their efforts would have been available for the general purposes
of civilization. Hence we find, that little was really accomplished
until the end of the sixteenth century, when, as we shall see in the
next two chapters, the theological fervour began to subside in England
and France, and the way was prepared for that purely secular philosophy,
of which Bacon and Descartes were the exponents, but by no means the
creators.[537] This epoch belongs to the seventeenth century, and from
it we may date the intellectual regeneration of Europe; just as from the
eighteenth century we may date its social regeneration. But during the
greater part of the sixteenth century, the credulity was still
universal, since it affected not merely the lowest and most ignorant
classes, but even those who were best educated. Of this innumerable
proofs might be given; though, for the sake of brevity, I will confine
myself to two instances, which are particularly striking, from the
circumstances attending them, and from the influence they exercised over
men who might be supposed little liable to similar delusions.

  [537] See _Guizot_, _Civilisation en Europe_, p. 166; the best passage
        in that able, but rather unequal work: 'Parcourez l'histoire du
        v^e au xvi^e siècle; c'est la théologie qui possède et dirige
        l'esprit humain; toutes les opinions sont empreintes de
        théologie; les questions philosophiques, politiques, historiques,
        sont toujours considérées sous un point de vue théologique.
        L'église est tellement souveraine dans l'ordre intellectuel, que
        même les sciences mathématiques et physiques sont tenues de se
        soumettre à ses doctrines. L'esprit théologique est en quelque
        sort le sang qui a coulé dans les veines du monde européen
        jusqu'à Bacon et Descartes. Pour la première fois, Bacon en
        Angleterre, et Descartes en France, ont jeté l'intelligence hors
        des voies de la théologie.' A noble passage, and perfectly true:
        but what would have been the effect produced by Bacon and
        Descartes, if, instead of living in the seventeenth century, they
        had lived in the seventh? Would their philosophy have been
        equally secular; or, being equally secular, would it have been
        equally successful?

At the end of the fifteenth, and early in the sixteenth century,
St[oe]ffler, the celebrated astronomer, was professor of mathematics at
Tübingen. This eminent man rendered great services to astronomy, and was
one of the first who pointed out the way of remedying the errors in the
Julian calendar, according to which time was then computed.[538] But
neither his abilities nor his knowledge could protect him against the
spirit of his age. In 1524, he published the result of some abstruse
calculations, in which he had been long engaged, and by which he had
ascertained the remarkable fact, that in that same year the world would
again be destroyed by a deluge. This announcement, made by a man of such
eminence, and made, too, with the utmost confidence, caused a lively and
universal alarm.[539] News of the approaching event was rapidly
circulated, and Europe was filled with consternation. To avoid the first
shock, those who had houses by the sea, or on rivers, abandoned
them;[540] while others, perceiving that such measures could only be
temporary, adopted more active precautions. It was suggested that, as a
preliminary step, the Emperor Charles V. should appoint inspectors to
survey the country, and mark those places which, being least exposed to
the coming flood, would be most likely to afford a shelter. That this
should be done, was the wish of the imperial general, who was then
stationed at Florence, and by whose desire a work was written
recommending it.[541] But the minds of men were too distracted for so
deliberate a plan; and besides, as the height of the flood was
uncertain, it was impossible to say whether it would not reach the top
of the most elevated mountains. In the midst of these and similar
schemes, the fatal day drew near, and nothing had yet been contrived on
a scale large enough to meet the evil. To enumerate the different
proposals which were made and rejected, would fill a long chapter. One
proposal is, however, worth noticing, because it was carried into effect
with great zeal, and is, moreover, very characteristic of the age. An
ecclesiastic of the name of Auriol, who was then professor of canon law
at the University of Toulouse, revolved in his own mind various
expedients by which this universal disaster might be mitigated. At
length it occurred to him that it was practicable to imitate the course
which, on a similar emergency, Noah had adopted with eminent success.
Scarcely was the idea conceived, when it was put into execution. The
inhabitants of Toulouse lent their aid; and an ark was built, in the
hope that some part, at least, of the human species might be preserved,
to continue their race, and repeople the earth, after the waters should
have subsided, and the land again become dry.[542]

  [538] Compare _Biog. Univ._ vol. xliii. p. 577, with _Montucla_, _Hist.
        des Mathématiques_, vol. i. p. 678.

  [539] Naudé mentions, that in France it drove many persons almost mad:
        'In Gallia parum afuit quin ad insaniam homines non paucos
        periculi metu (diluvium) adegerit.' _Bayle_, in voce
        _Stofflerus_, note B.

  [540] 'Nam Petrus Cirvellus Hispanorum omnium sui temporis doctissimus,
        cum theologiæ, in almo Complutensi gymnasio, lectoris munere
        fungeretur, et vero multos, ut ipsemet inquit, fluviis vel mari
        finitimos populos, jam stupido metu perculsos, domicilia ac sedes
        mutare vidisset, ac prædia, supellectilem, bonaque omnia, contra
        justum valorem sub actione distrahere, ac alia loca vel
        altitudine, vel siccitate magis secura requirere, sui officii
        esse putavit, in publica illa consternatione, quam de nihilo
        excitare persuasum non habebat,' &c. _Bayle_, note B.

  [541] Ibid.

  [542] In addition to the account in Bayle, the reader may refer to
        _Biog. Univ._ vol. iii. p. 88, vol. xxxi. p. 283, vol. xliii. pp.
        577, 578; _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. iii. p. 251;
        _Delambre_, _Hist. de l'Astronomie du Moyen Age_, Paris, 1819,
        4to, p. 376; _Montucla_, _Hist. des Mathématiques_, vol. i. p.
        622; _Dict. Philosoph._, article _Astrologie_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xxxvii. pp. 148, 149.

About seventy years after this alarm had passed away, there happened
another circumstance, which for a time afforded occupation to the most
celebrated men in one of the principal countries of Europe. At the end
of the sixteenth century, terrible excitement was caused by a report
that a golden tooth had appeared in the jaw of a child born in Silesia.
The rumour, on being investigated, turned out to be too true. It became
impossible to conceal it from the public; and the miracle was soon known
all over Germany, where, being looked on as a mysterious omen, universal
anxiety was felt as to what this new thing might mean. Its real import
was first unfolded by Dr. Horst. In 1595, this eminent physician
published the result of his researches, by which it appears that, at the
birth of the child, the sun was in conjunction with Saturn, at the sign
Aries. The event, therefore, though supernatural, was by no means
alarming. The golden tooth was the precursor of a golden age, in which
the emperor would drive the Turks from Christendom, and lay the
foundations of an empire that would last for thousands of years. And
this, says Horst, is clearly alluded to by Daniel, in his well-known
second chapter, where the prophet speaks of a statue with a golden

  [543] This history of the golden tooth is partly related by De Thou: see
        his _Hist. Univ._ vol. xi. pp. 634, 635. And on the controversy
        to which it gave rise, compare _Hist. des Oracles_, chap. iv., in
        _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_, vol. ii. pp. 219, 220, ed. Paris,
        1766; _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. iii. pp. 247-249;
        _Biog. Univ._, vol. xx. p. 579.

                              CHAPTER VII.


It is difficult for an ordinary reader, living in the middle of the
nineteenth century, to understand, that only three hundred years before
he was born, the public mind was in the benighted state disclosed in the
preceding chapter. It is still more difficult for him to understand that
the darkness was shared not merely by men of an average education, but
by men of considerable ability, men in every respect among the foremost
of their age. A reader of this sort may satisfy himself that the
evidence is indisputable; he may verify the statements I have brought
forward, and admit that there is no possible doubt about them; but even
then he will find it hard to conceive that there ever was a state of
society in which such miserable absurdities were welcomed as sober and
important truths, and were supposed to form an essential part of the
general stock of European knowledge.

But a more careful examination will do much to dissipate this natural
astonishment. In point of fact, so far from wondering that such things
were believed, the wonder would have been if they were rejected. For in
those times, as in all others, every thing was of a piece. Not only in
historical literature, but in all kinds of literature, on every
subject--in science, in religion, in legislation--the presiding
principle was a blind and unhesitating credulity. The more the history
of Europe anterior to the seventeenth century is studied, the more
completely will this fact be verified. Now and then a great man arose,
who had his doubts respecting the universal belief; who whispered a
suspicion as to the existence of giants thirty feet high, of dragons
with wings, and of armies flying through the air; who thought that
astrology might be a cheat, and necromancy a bubble; and who even went
so far as to raise a question respecting the propriety of drowning every
witch and burning every heretic. A few such men there undoubtedly were;
but they were despised as mere theorists, idle visionaries, who,
unacquainted with the practice of life, arrogantly opposed their own
reason to the wisdom of their ancestors. In the state of society in
which they were born, it was impossible that they should make any
permanent impression. Indeed, they had enough to do to look to
themselves, and provide for their own security; for, until the latter
part of the sixteenth century, there was no country in which a man was
not in great personal peril if he expressed open doubts respecting the
belief of his contemporaries.

Yet it is evident, that until doubt began, progress was impossible. For,
as we have clearly seen, the advance of civilization solely depends on
the acquisitions made by the human intellect, and on the extent to which
those acquisitions are diffused. But men who are perfectly satisfied
with their own knowledge, will never attempt to increase it. Men who are
perfectly convinced of the accuracy of their opinions, will never take
the pains of examining the basis on which they are built. They look
always with wonder, and often with horror, on views contrary to those
which they inherited from their fathers; and while they are in this
state of mind, it is impossible that they should receive any new truth
which interferes with their foregone conclusions.

On this account it is, that although the acquisition of fresh knowledge
is the necessary precursor of every step in social progress, such
acquisition must itself be preceded by a love of inquiry, and therefore
by a spirit of doubt; because without doubt there will be no inquiry,
and without inquiry there will be no knowledge. For knowledge is not an
inert and passive principle, which comes to us whether we will or no;
but it must be sought before it can be won; it is the product of great
labour and therefore of great sacrifice. And it is absurd to suppose
that men will incur the labour, and make the sacrifice, for subjects
respecting which they are already perfectly content. They who do not
feel the darkness, will never look for the light. If on any point we
have attained to certainty, we make no further inquiry on that point;
because inquiry would be useless, or perhaps dangerous. The doubt must
intervene, before the investigation can begin. Here, then, we have the
act of doubting as the originator, or, at all events, the necessary
antecedent, of all progress. Here we have that scepticism, the very name
of which is an abomination to the ignorant; because it disturbs their
lazy and complacent minds; because it troubles their cherished
superstitions; because it imposes on them the fatigue of inquiry; and
because it rouses even sluggish understandings to ask if things are as
they are commonly supposed, and if all is really true which they from
their childhood have been taught to believe.

The more we examine this great principle of scepticism, the more
distinctly shall we see the immense part it has played in the progress
of European civilization. To state in general terms, what in this
Introduction will be fully proved, it may be said, that to scepticism we
owe that spirit of inquiry, which, during the last two centuries, has
gradually encroached on every possible subject; has reformed every
department of practical and speculative knowledge; has weakened the
authority of the privileged classes, and thus placed liberty on a surer
foundation; has chastized the despotism of princes; has restrained the
arrogance of the nobles; and has even diminished the prejudices of the
clergy. In a word, it is this which has remedied the three fundamental
errors of the olden time: errors which made the people, in politics too
confiding; in science too credulous; in religion too intolerant.

This rapid summary of what has actually been effected, may perhaps
startle those readers to whom such large investigations are not
familiar. The importance, however, of the principle at issue is so
great, that I purpose in this Introduction to verify it by an
examination of all the prominent forms of European civilization. Such an
inquiry will lead to the remarkable conclusion, that no single fact has
so extensively affected the different nations as the duration, the
amount, and above all the diffusion, of their scepticism. In Spain, the
church, aided by the Inquisition, has always been strong enough to
punish sceptical writers, and prevent, not indeed the existence, but the
promulgation of sceptical opinions.[544] By this means the spirit of
doubt being quenched, knowledge has for several centuries remained
almost stationary; and civilization, which is the fruit of knowledge,
has also been stationary. But in England and France, which, as we shall
presently see, are the countries where scepticism first openly appeared,
and where it has been most diffused, the results are altogether
different; and the love of inquiry being encouraged, there has arisen
that constantly-progressive knowledge to which these two great nations
owe their prosperity. In the remaining part of this volume, I shall
trace the history of this principle in France and England, and examine
the different forms under which it has appeared, and the way in which
those forms have affected the national interests. In the order of the
investigation, I shall give the precedence to England; because, for the
reasons already stated, its civilization must be deemed more normal than
that of France; and therefore, notwithstanding its numerous
deficiencies, it approaches the natural type more closely than its
great neighbour has been able to do. But as the fullest details
respecting English civilization will be found in the body of the present
work, I intend in the Introduction to devote merely a single chapter to
it, and to consider our national history simply in reference to the
immediate consequences of the sceptical movement; reserving for a future
occasion those subsidiary matters which, though less comprehensive, are
still of great value. And as the growth of religious toleration is
undoubtedly the most important of all, I will, in the first place, state
the circumstances under which it appeared in England in the sixteenth
century; and I will then point out how other events, which immediately
followed, were part of the same progress, and were indeed merely the
same principles acting in different directions.

  [544] On the influence of the French literature, which, late in the
        eighteenth century, crept into Spain in spite of the church, and
        diffused a considerable amount of scepticism among the most
        educated classes, compare _Llorente_, _Hist. de l'Inquisition_,
        vol. i. p. 322, vol. ii. p. 543, vol. iv. pp. 98, 99, 102, 148;
        _Doblado's Letters from Spain_, pp. 115, 119, 120, 133, 231, 232;
        _Lord Holland's Foreign Reminiscences_, edit. 1850, p. 76;
        _Southey's Hist. of Brazil_, vol. iii. p. 607; and an imperfect
        statement of the same fact in _Alison's Hist. of Europe_, vol. x.
        p. 8. In regard to the Spanish colonies, compare _Humboldt_,
        _Nouv. Espagne_, vol. ii. p. 818, with _Ward's Mexico_, vol. i.
        p. 83.

A careful study of the history of religious toleration will prove, that
in every Christian country where it has been adopted, it has been forced
upon the clergy by the authority of the secular classes.[545] At the
present day, it is still unknown to those nations among whom the
ecclesiastical power is stronger than the temporal power; and as this,
during many centuries, was the general condition, it is not wonderful
that, in the early history of Europe, we should find scarcely a trace of
so wise and benevolent an opinion. But at the moment when Elizabeth
mounted the throne of England, our country was about equally divided
between two hostile creeds; and the queen, with remarkable ability,
contrived during some time so to balance the rival powers, as to allow
to neither a decisive preponderance. This was the first instance which
had been seen in Europe of a government successfully carried on without
the active participation of the spiritual authority; and the consequence
was, that for several years the principle of toleration, though still
most imperfectly understood, was pushed to an extent which is truly
surprising for so barbarous an age.[546] Unhappily, after a time,
various circumstances, which I shall relate in their proper place,
induced Elizabeth to change a policy which she, even with all her
wisdom, perhaps considered to be a dangerous experiment, and for which
the knowledge of the country was as yet hardly ripe. But although she
now allowed the Protestants to gratify their hatred against the
Catholics, there was, in the midst of the sanguinary scenes which
followed, one circumstance very worthy of remark. Although many persons
were most unquestionably executed merely for their religion, no one
ventured to state their religion as the cause of their execution.[547]
The most barbarous punishments were inflicted upon them; but they were
told that they might escape the punishment by renouncing certain
principles which were said to be injurious to the safety of the
state.[548] It is true, that many of these principles were such as no
Catholic could abandon without at the same time abandoning his religion,
of which they formed an essential part. But the mere fact that the
spirit of persecution was driven to such a subterfuge, showed that a
great progress had been made by the age. A most important point, indeed,
was gained when the bigot became a hypocrite; and when the clergy,
though willing to burn men for the good of their souls, were obliged to
justify their cruelty by alleging considerations of a more temporal,
and, as they considered, a less important character.[549]

  [545] Nearly two hundred years ago, Sir William Temple observed that in
        Holland the clergy possessed less power than in other countries;
        and that, therefore, there existed an unusual amount of
        toleration. _Observations upon the United Provinces_, in
        _Temple's Works_, vol. i. pp. 157-162. About seventy years later,
        the same inference was drawn by another acute observer, Le Blanc,
        who, after mentioning the liberality which the different sects
        displayed towards each other in Holland, adds, 'La grande raison
        d'une harmonie si parfaite est que tout s'y régle par les
        séculiers de chacune de ces religions, et qu'on n'y souffriroit
        pas des ministres, dont le zèle imprudent pourroit détruire cette
        heureuse correspondance.' _Le Blanc_, _Lettres d'un Français_,
        vol. i. p. 73. I merely give these as illustrations of an
        important principle, which I shall hereafter prove.

  [546] 'In the first eleven years of her reign, not one Roman Catholic
        was prosecuted capitally for religion.' _Neal's Hist. of the
        Puritans_, vol. i. p. 444; and the same remark in _Collier's
        Eccles. Hist._ vol. vii. p. 252, edit. 1840.

  [547] Without quoting the impudent defence which Chief-Justice Popham
        made, in 1606, for the barbarous treatment of the Catholics
        (_Campbell's Chief Justices_, vol. i. p. 225), I will give the
        words of the two immediate successors of Elizabeth. James I.
        says: 'The trewth is, according to my owne knowledge, the late
        queene of famous memory never punished any Papist for religion.'
        _Works of King James_, London, 1616, folio, p. 252. And Charles
        I. says: 'I am informed, neither Queen Elizabeth nor my father
        did ever avow that any priest in their times was executed merely
        for religion.' _Parl. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 713.

  [548] This was the defence set up in 1583, in a work called _The
        Execution of Justice in England_, and ascribed to Burleigh. See
        _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. pp. 146, 147; and _Somers
        Tracts_, vol. i. pp. 189-208: 'a number of persons whom they term
        as martyrs,' p. 195; and at p. 202, the writer attacks those who
        have 'entitled certain that have suffered for treason to be
        martyrs for religion.' In the same way, the opponents of Catholic
        Emancipation in our time, found themselves compelled to abandon
        the old theological ground, and to defend the persecution of the
        Catholics rather by political arguments than by religious ones.
        Lord Eldon, who was by far the most influential leader of the
        intolerant party, said, in a speech in the House of Lords, in
        1810, that 'the enactments against the Catholics were meant to
        guard, not against the abstract opinions of their religion, but
        against the political dangers of a faith which acknowledged a
        foreign supremacy.' _Twiss's Life of Eldon_, vol. i. p. 435; see
        also pp. 483, 501, 577-580. Compare _Alison's Hist._ vol. vi. pp.
        379 seq., a summary of the debate in 1805.

  [549] Mr. Sewell seems to have this change in view in his _Christian
        Politics_, 8vo, 1844, p. 277. Compare _Coleridge's note_ in
        _Southey's Life of Wesley_, vol. i. p. 270. An able writer says
        of the persecutions which, in the seventeenth century, the Church
        of England directed against her opponents: 'This is the stale
        pretence of the clergy in all countries, after they have
        solicited the government to make penal laws against those they
        call heretics or schismaticks, and prompted the magistrates to a
        vigorous execution, then they lay all the odium on the civil
        power for whom they have no excuse to allege, but that such men
        suffered, not for religion, but for disobedience to the laws.'
        _Somers Tracts_, vol. xii. p. 534. See also _Butler's Mem. of the
        Catholics_, vol. i. p. 389, and vol. ii. pp. 44-46.

A remarkable evidence of the change that was then taking place, is found
in the two most important theological works which appeared in England
during the reign of Elizabeth. _Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity_ was
published at the end of the sixteenth century,[550] and is still
considered one of the greatest bulwarks of our national church. If we
compare this work with _Jewel's Apology for the Church of England_,
which was written thirty years before it,[551] we shall at once be
struck by the different methods these eminent writers employed. Both
Hooker and Jewel were men of learning and genius. Both of them were
familiar with the Bible, the Fathers, and the Councils. Both of them
wrote with the avowed object of defending the Church of England; and
both of them were well acquainted with the ordinary weapons of
theological controversy. But here the resemblance stops. The men were
very similar; their works are entirely different. During the thirty
years which had elapsed, the English intellect had made immense
progress; and the arguments which in the time of Jewel were found
perfectly satisfactory, would not have been listened to in the time of
Hooker. The work of Jewel is full of quotations from the Fathers and the
Councils, whose mere assertions, when they are uncontradicted by
Scripture, he seems to regard as positive proofs. Hooker, though he
shows much respect to the Councils, lays little stress upon the Fathers,
and evidently considered that his readers would not pay much attention
to their unsupported opinions. Jewel inculcates the importance of faith;
Hooker insists upon the exercise of reason.[552] The first employs all
his talents in collecting the decisions of antiquity, and in deciding
upon the meaning which they may be supposed to bear. The other quotes
the ancients, not so much from respect for their authority, as with the
view of illustrating his own arguments. Thus, for instance, both Hooker
and Jewel assert the undoubted right of the sovereign to interfere in
ecclesiastical affairs. Jewel, however, fancied that he had proved the
right, when he had pointed out that it was exercised by Moses, by
Joshua, by David, and by Solomon.[553] On the other hand, Hooker lays
down that this right exists, not because it is ancient, but because it
is advisable; and because it is unjust to suppose that men who are not
ecclesiastics will consent to be bound by laws which ecclesiastics alone
have framed.[554] In the same opposite spirit do these great writers
conduct their defence of their own church. Jewel, like all the authors
of his time, had exercised his memory more than his reason; and he
thinks to settle the whole dispute by crowding together texts from the
Bible, with the opinions of the commentators upon them.[555] But Hooker,
who lived in the age of Shakespeare and Bacon, found himself
constrained to take views of a far more comprehensive character. His
defence rests neither upon tradition nor upon commentators, nor ever
upon revelation; but he is content that the pretensions of the hostile
parties shall be decided by their applicability to the great exigencies
of society, and by the ease with which they adapt themselves to the
general purposes of ordinary life.[556]

  [550] The first four books, which are in every point of view the most
        important, were published in 1594. _Walton's Life of Hooker_, in
        _Wordsworth's Ecclesiast. Biog._ vol. iii. p. 509. The sixth book
        is said not to be authentic; and doubts have been thrown upon the
        seventh and eighth books; but Mr. Hallam thinks that they are
        certainly genuine. _Literature of Europe_, vol. ii. pp. 24, 25.

  [551] _Jewel's Apology_ was written in 1561 or 1562. See _Wordsworth's
        Eccles. Biog._ vol. iii. p. 313. This work, the Bible, and _Fox's
        Martyrs_, were ordered, in the reign of Elizabeth, 'to be fixed
        in all parish churches, to be read by the people.' _Aubrey's
        Letters_, vol. ii. p. 42. The order, in regard to Jewel's
        _Defence_, was repeated by James I. and Charles I. _Butler's Mem.
        of the Catholics_, vol. iv. p. 413.

  [552] 'Wherefore the natural measure whereby to judge our doings is, the
        sentence of Reason determining and setting down what is good to
        be done.' _Eccl. Polity_, book i. sec. viii. in _Hooker's Works_,
        vol. i. p. 99. He requires of his opponents, 'not to exact at our
        hands for every action the knowledge of some place of Scripture
        out of which we stand bound to deduce it, as by divers
        testimonies they seek to enforce; but rather, as the truth is, so
        to acknowledge, that _it sufficeth if such actions be framed
        according to the law of reason_.' Book ii. sec. i. _Works_, vol.
        i. p. 151. 'For men to be tied and led by authority, as it were
        with a kind of captivity of judgment, and, though there be reason
        to the contrary, not to listen unto it, but to follow, like
        beasts, the first in the herd, they know not nor care not
        whither: this were brutish. Again, that authority of men should
        prevail with men, either against or above Reason, is no part of
        our belief. Companies of learned men, be they never so great and
        reverend, are to yield unto Reason.' Book ii. sec. vii. vol. i.
        pp. 182, 183. In book v. sec. viii. vol. ii. p. 23, he says, that
        even 'the voice of the church' is to be held inferior to reason.
        See also a long passage in book vii. sec. xi. vol. iii. p. 152;
        and on the application of reason to the general theory of
        religion, see vol. i. pp. 220-223, book iii. sec. viii. Again, at
        p. 226: 'Theology, what is it, but the science of things divine?
        What science can be attained unto, without the help of natural
        discourse and Reason?' And he indignantly asks those who insist
        on the supremacy of faith, 'May we cause our faith without Reason
        to appear reasonable in the eyes of men?' vol. i. p. 230.

  [553] After referring to Isaiah, he adds: 'Præter, inquam, hæc omnia, ex
        historiis et optimorum temporum exemplis videmus pios principes
        procurationem ecclesiarum ab officio suo nunquam putasse alienam.

        'Moses civilis magistratus, ac ductor populi, omnem religionis,
        et sacrorum rationem, et accepit a Deo, et populo tradidit, et
        Aaronem episcopum de aureo vitulo, et de violata religione,
        vehementer et graviter castigavit. Josue, etsi non aliud erat,
        quàm magistratus civilis, tamen cùm primùm inauguraretur et
        præficeretur populo, accepit mandata nominatim de religione,
        deque colendo Deo.

        'David rex, cùm omnis jam religio, ab impio rege Saule prorsus
        esset dissipata, reduxit arcam Dei, hoc est, religionem
        restituit: nec tantùm adfuit ut admonitor aut hortator operis,
        sed etiam psalmos et hymnos dedit, et classes disposuit, et
        pompam instituit, et quodammodo præfuit sacerdotibus.

        'Salomon rex ædificavit templum Domino, quod ejus pater David
        animo tantùm destinaverat: et postremò orationem egregiam habuit
        ad populum de religione, et cultu Dei; et Abiatharum episcopum
        postea summovit, et in ejus locum Sadocum surrogavit.' _Apolog.
        Eccles. Anglic._ pp. 161, 162.

  [554] He says that, although the clergy may be supposed more competent
        than laymen to regulate ecclesiastical matters, this will
        practically avail them nothing: 'It were unnatural not to think
        the pastors and bishops of our souls a great deal more fit than
        men of secular trades and callings; howbeit, when all which the
        wisdom of all sorts can do is done, for the devising of laws in
        the church, it is the general consent of all that giveth them the
        form and vigour of laws; without which they could be no more unto
        us than the counsels of physicians to the sick.' _Ecclesiastical
        Polity_, book viii. sec. vi. vol. iii. p. 303. He adds, p. 326:
        'Till it be proved that some special law of Christ hath for ever
        annexed unto the clergy alone the power to make ecclesiastical
        laws, we are to hold it a thing most _consonant with equity and
        reason_, that no ecclesiastical laws be made in a Christian
        commonwealth, without consent as well of the laity as of the
        clergy, but least of all without consent of the highest power.'

  [555] 'Quòd si docemus sacrosanctum Dei evangelium, et veteres
        episcopos, atque ecclesiam primitivam nobiscum facere.' If this
        be so, then, indeed, 'speramus, neminem illorum' (his opponents)
        'ita negligentem fore salutis suæ, quin ut velit aliquando
        cogitationem suscipere, ad utros potiùs se adjungat.' _Apolog.
        Eccles. Anglic._ p. 17. At p. 53, he indignantly asks if any one
        will dare to impeach the Fathers: 'Ergo Origenes, Ambrosius,
        Augustinus, Chrysostomus, Gelasius, Theodoretus erant desertores
        fidei catholicæ? Ergo tot veterum episcoporum et doctorum virorum
        tanta consensio nihil aliud erat quàm conspiratio hæreticorum?
        Aut quod tum laudabatur in illis, id nunc damnatur in nobis?
        Quodque in illis erat catholicum, id nunc mutatis tantùm hominum
        voluntatibus, repentè factum est schismaticum? Aut quod olim erat
        verum, nunc statim, quia istis non placet, erit falsum?' His work
        is full of this sort of eloquent, but, as it appears to our age,
        pointless declamation.

  [556] This large view underlies the whole of the _Ecclesiastical
        Polity_. I can only afford room for a few extracts, which will be
        illustrations rather than proofs: the proof will be obvious to
        every competent reader of the work itself. 'True it is, the
        ancienter the better ceremonies of religion are; howbeit not
        absolutely true and without exception; _but true only so far
        forth as those different ages do agree_ in the state of those
        things for which, at the first, those rites, orders, and
        ceremonies were instituted.' vol. i. p. 36. 'We count those
        things perfect which want nothing requisite for the end whereto
        they were instituted.' vol. i. p. 191. 'Because when a thing doth
        cease to be available unto the end which gave it being, the
        continuance of it must then of necessity appear superfluous.' And
        even of the laws of God, he boldly adds: 'Notwithstanding the
        authority of their Maker, the mutability of that end for which
        they are made doth also make them changeable.' vol. i. p. 236.
        'And therefore laws, though both ordained of God himself, and the
        end for which they were ordained continuing, may notwithstanding
        cease, if by alteration of persons or times they be found
        unsufficient to attain unto that end.' vol. i. p. 238. At p. 240:
        'I therefore conclude, that neither God's being Author of laws
        for government of his church, nor his committing them unto
        Scripture, is any reason sufficient wherefore all churches should
        for ever be bound to keep them without change.' See, too, vol.
        iii. p. 169, on 'the exigence of necessity.' Compare pp. 182,
        183, and vol. i. p. 323, vol. ii. pp. 273, 424. Not a vestige of
        such arguments can be found in Jewel; who, on the contrary, says
        (_Apologia_, p. 114), 'Certè in religionem Dei nihil gravius dici
        potest, quàm si ea accusetur novitatis. Ut enim in Deo ipso, ita
        in ejus cultu nihil oportet esse novum.'

It requires but little penetration to see the immense importance of the
change which these two great works represent. As long as an opinion in
theology was defended by the old dogmatic method, it was impossible to
assail it without incurring the imputation of heresy. But when it was
chiefly defended by human reasoning, its support was seriously weakened.
For by this means the element of uncertainty was let in. It might be
alleged, that the arguments of one sect are as good as those of another;
and that we cannot be sure of the truth of our principles, until we have
heard what is to be said on the opposite side. According to the old
theological theory, it was easy to justify the most barbarous
persecution. If a man knew that the only true religion was the one which
he professed, and if he also knew that those who died in a contrary
opinion were doomed to everlasting perdition--if he knew these things
beyond the remotest possibility of a doubt, he might fairly argue, that
it is merciful to punish the body in order to save the soul, and secure
to immortal beings their future salvation, even though he employed so
sharp a remedy as the halter or the stake.[557] But if this same man is
taught to think that questions of religion are to be settled by reason
as well as by faith, he can scarcely avoid the reflection, that the
reason even of the strongest minds is not infallible, since it has led
the ablest men to the most opposite conclusions. When this idea is once
diffused among a people, it cannot fail to influence their conduct. No
one of common sense and common honesty will dare to levy upon another,
on account of his religion, the extreme penalty of the law, when he
knows it possible that his own opinions may be wrong, and that those of
the man he has punished may be right. From the moment when questions of
religion begin to evade the jurisdiction of faith, and submit to the
jurisdiction of reason, persecution becomes a crime of the deepest dye.
Thus it was in England in the seventeenth century. As theology became
more reasonable, it became less confident, and therefore more merciful.
Seventeen years after the publication of the great work of Hooker, two
men were publicly burned by the English bishops, for holding heretical
opinions.[558] But this was the last gasp of expiring bigotry; and since
that memorable day, the soil of England has never been stained by the
blood of a man who has suffered for his religious creed.[559]

  [557] Archbishop Whately has made some very good remarks on this. See
        his _Errors of Romanism traced to their Origin in Human Nature_,
        pp. 237, 238.

  [558] Their names were Legat and Wightman, and they suffered in 1611:
        see the contemporary account in _Somers Tracts_, vol. ii. pp.
        400-408. Compare _Blackstone's Comment._ vol. iv. p. 49;
        _Harris's Lives of the Stuarts_, vol. i. pp. 143, 144; and note
        in _Burton's Diary_, vol. i. p. 118. Of these martyrs to their
        opinions, Mr. Hallam says: 'The first was burned by King, bishop
        of London; the second by Neyle, of Litchfield.' _Const. Hist._
        vol. i. pp. 611, 612.

  [559] It should be mentioned, to the honour of the Court of Chancery,
        that late in the sixteenth, and early in the seventeenth century,
        its powers were exerted against the execution of those cruel
        laws, by which the Church of England was allowed to persecute men
        who differed from its own views. See _Campbell's Chancellors_,
        vol. ii. pp. 135, 176, 231.

We have thus seen the rise of that scepticism which in physics must
always be the beginning of science, and in religion must always be the
beginning of toleration. There is, indeed, no doubt that in both cases
individual thinkers may, by a great effort of original genius,
emancipate themselves from the operation of this law. But in the
progress of nations no such emancipation is possible. As long as men
refer the movements of the comets to the immediate finger of God, and as
long as they believe that an eclipse is one of the modes by which the
Deity expresses his anger, they will never be guilty of the blasphemous
presumption of attempting to predict such supernatural appearances.
Before they could dare to investigate the causes of these mysterious
phenomena, it is necessary that they should believe, or at all events
that they should suspect, that the phenomena themselves were capable of
being explained by the human mind. In the same way, until men are
content in some degree to bring their religion before the bar of their
own reason, they never can understand how it is that there should be a
diversity of creeds, or how any one can differ from themselves without
being guilty of the most enormous and unpardonable crime.[560]

  [560] 'To tax any one, therefore, with want of reverence, because he
        pays no respect to what we venerate, is either irrelevant, or is
        a mere confusion. The fact, so far as it is true, is no reproach,
        but an honour; because to reverence all persons and all things is
        absolutely wrong: reverence shown to that which does not deserve
        it, is no virtue; no, nor even an amiable weakness, but a plain
        folly and sin. But if it be meant that he is wanting in proper
        reverence, not respecting what is really to be respected, that is
        assuming the whole question at issue, because what we call
        divine, he calls an idol; and as, supposing that we are in the
        right, we are bound to fall down and worship, so, supposing him
        to be in the right, he is no less bound to pull it to the ground
        and destroy it.' _Arnold's Lectures on Modern History_, pp. 210,
        211. Considering the ability of Dr. Arnold, considering his great
        influence, and considering his profession, his antecedents, and
        the character of the university in which he was speaking, it must
        be allowed that this is a remarkable passage, and one well worthy
        the notice of those who wish to study the tendencies of the
        English mind during the present generation.

If we now continue to trace the progress of opinions in England, we
shall see the full force of these remarks. A general spirit of inquiry,
of doubt, and even of insubordination, began to occupy the minds of men.
In physics, it enabled them, almost at a blow, to throw off the shackles
of antiquity, and give birth to sciences founded not on notions of old,
but on individual observations and individual experiments.[561] In
politics, it stimulated them to rise against the government, and
eventually bring their king to the scaffold. In religion, it vented
itself in a thousand sects, each of which proclaimed, and often
exaggerated, the efficiency of private judgment.[562] The details of
this vast movement form one of the most interesting parts of the
history of England: but without anticipating what I must hereafter
relate, I will at present mention only one instance, which, from the
circumstances attending it, is very characteristic of the age. The
celebrated work by Chillingworth on the _Religion of Protestants_, is
generally admitted to be the best defence which the Reformers have been
able to make against the Church of Rome.[563] It was published in
1637,[564] and the position of the author would induce us to look for
the fullest display of bigotry that was consistent with the spirit of
his time. Chillingworth had recently abandoned the creed which he now
came forward to attack; and he, therefore, might be expected to have
that natural inclination to dogmatize with which apostasy is usually
accompanied. Besides this, he was the godson and the intimate friend of
Laud,[565] whose memory is still loathed, as the meanest, the most
cruel, and the most narrowminded man who ever sat on the episcopal
bench.[566] He was, moreover, a fellow of Oxford, and was a constant
resident at that ancient university, which has always been esteemed as
the refuge of superstition, and which has preserved to our own day its
unenviable fame.[567] If now we turn to the work that was written under
these auspices, we can scarcely believe that it was produced in the same
generation, and in the same country, where, only twenty-six years
before, two men had been publicly burned because they advocated opinions
different to those of the established church. It is, indeed, a most
remarkable proof of the prodigious energy of that great movement which
was now going on, that its pressure should be felt under circumstances
the most hostile to it which can possibly be conceived; and that a
friend of Laud, and a fellow of Oxford, should, in a grave theological
treatise, lay down principles utterly subversive of that theological
spirit which for many centuries had enslaved the whole of Europe.

  [561] On the connexion between the rise of the Baconian philosophy and
        the change in the spirit of theologians, compare _Comte_,
        _Philosophie Positive_, vol. v. p. 701, with _Whately on Dangers
        to Christian Faith_, pp. 148, 149. It favoured, as Tennemann
        (_Gesch. der Philos._ vol. x. p. 14) says, the 'Belebung der
        selbstthätigen Kraft des menschlichen Geistes;' and hence the
        attack on the inductive philosophy in _Newman's Development of
        Christian Doctrine_, pp. 179-183. But Mr. Newman does not seem to
        be aware how irrevocably we are now pledged to the movement which
        he seeks to reverse.

  [562] The rapid increase of heresy in the middle of the seventeenth
        century is very remarkable, and it greatly aided civilization in
        England by encouraging habits of independent thought. In Feb.
        1646-7, Boyle writes from London, 'There are few days pass here,
        that may not justly be accused of the brewing or broaching of
        some new opinion. Nay, some are so studiously changling in that
        particular, they esteem an opinion as a diurnal, after a day or
        two scarce worth the keeping. If any man have lost his religion,
        let him repair to London, and I'll warrant him he shall find it:
        I had almost said too, and if any man has a religion, let him but
        come hither now, and he shall go near to lose it.' _Birch's Life
        of Boyle_, in _Boyle's Works_, vol. i. pp. 20, 21. See also
        _Bates's Account of the late Troubles_, edit. 1685, part ii. p.
        219, on 'that unbridled licentiousness of hereticks which grew
        greater and greater daily.' Compare to the same effect _Carlyle's
        Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 289; _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p.
        608; and _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of England_, vol. ii.
        p. 203: 'sectaries began to swarm.'

  [563] Not to quote the opinions of inferior men respecting
        Chillingworth, it is enough to mention, that Lord Mansfield said
        he was 'a perfect model of argumentation.' _Butler's
        Reminiscences_, vol. i. p. 126. Compare a letter from Warburton,
        in _Nichols's Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. iv.
        p. 849.

  [564] _Des Maizeaux_, _Life of Chillingworth_, p. 141.

  [565] _Aubrey's Letters and Lives_, vol. ii. p. 285; _Des Maizeaux_,
        _Life of Chillingworth_, pp. 2, 9. The correspondence between
        Laud and Chillingworth is supposed to be lost. _Des Maizeaux_, p.
        12. Carwithen (_Hist. of the Church of England_, vol. ii. p. 214)
        says, 'Laud was the godfather of Chillingworth.'

  [566] The character of Laud is now well understood and generally known.
        His odious cruelties made him so hated by his contemporaries,
        that after his condemnation, many persons shut up their shops,
        and refused to open them till he was executed. This is mentioned
        by Walton, an eye-witness. See _Walton's Life of Sanderson_, in
        _Wordsworth's Eccles. Biog._ vol. iv. p. 429.

  [567] A modern writer suggests, with exquisite simplicity, that
        Chillingworth derived his liberal principles _from_ Oxford: 'the
        very same college which nursed the high intellect and tolerant
        principles of Chillingworth.' _Bowles's Life of Bishop Ken_, vol.
        i. p. xxi.

In this great work, all authority in matters of religion is openly set
at defiance. Hooker, indeed, had appealed from the jurisdiction of the
Fathers to the jurisdiction of reason; he had, however, been careful to
add, that the reason of individuals ought to bow before that of the
church, as we find it expressed in great Councils, and in the general
voice of ecclesiastical tradition.[568] But Chillingworth would hear of
none of these things. He would admit of no reservations which tended to
limit the sacred right of private judgment. He not only went far beyond
Hooker in neglecting the Fathers,[569] but he even ventured to despise
the Councils. Although the sole object of his work was to decide on the
conflicting claims of the two greatest sects into which the Christian
Church has broken, he never quotes as authorities the Councils of that
very church respecting which the disputes were agitated.[570] His strong
and subtle intellect, penetrating the depths of the subject, despised
that sort of controversy which had long busied the minds of men. In
discussing the points upon which the Catholics and Protestants were at
issue, he does not inquire whether the doctrines in question met the
approval of the early church, but he asks if they are in accordance with
human reason; and he does not hesitate to say that, however true they
may be, no man is bound to believe them if he finds that they are
repugnant to the dictates of his own understanding. Nor will he consent
that faith should supply the absence of authority. Even this favourite
principle of theologians is by Chillingworth made to yield to the
supremacy of the human reason.[571] Reason, he says, gives us
knowledge; while faith only gives us belief, which is a part of
knowledge, and is, therefore, inferior to it. It is by reason, and not
by faith, that we must discriminate in religious matters; and it is by
reason alone that we can distinguish truth from falsehood. Finally, he
solemnly reminds his readers, that in religious matters no one ought to
be expected to draw strong conclusions from imperfect premises, or to
credit improbable statements upon scanty evidence; still less, he says,
was it ever intended that men should so prostitute their reason, as to
believe with infallible faith that which they are unable to prove with
infallible arguments.[572]

  [568] Hooker's undue respect for the Councils of the Church is noticed
        by Mr. Hallam, _Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 213. Compare the
        hesitating remarks in _Coleridge's Literary Remains_, vol. iii.
        pp. 35, 36.

  [569] Reading the Fathers he contemptuously calls travelling on a
        'north-west discovery.' _Chillingworth's Religion of
        Protestants_, p. 366. Even to Augustine, who was probably the
        ablest of them, Chillingworth pays no deference. See what he says
        at pp. 196, 333, 376; and as to the authority of the Fathers in
        general, see pp. 252, 346. Chillingworth observed, happily
        enough, that churchmen 'account them fathers when they are for
        them, and children when they are against them.' _Calamy's Life_,
        vol. i. p. 253.

  [570] As to the supposed authority of Councils, see _Religion of
        Protestants_, pp. 132, 463. It affords curious evidence of the
        slow progress of theologians to observe the different spirit in
        which some of our clergy consider these matters. See, for
        instance, _Palmer on the Church_, 1839, vol. ii. pp. 150-171. In
        no other branch of inquiry do we find this obstinate
        determination to adhere to theories which all thinking men have
        rejected for the last two centuries.

  [571] Indeed, he attempts to fasten the same doctrine upon the
        Catholics; which, if he could have done, would of course have
        ended the controversy. He says, rather unfairly, 'Your church you
        admit, because you think you have reason to do so; so that by
        you, as well as Protestants, all is finally resolved into your
        own reason.' _Relig. of Protest._ p. 134.

  [572] 'God desires only that we believe the conclusion, as much as the
        premises deserve; that the strength of our faith be equal or
        proportionable to the credibility of the motives to it.' _Relig.
        of Protest._ p. 66. 'For my part, I am certain that God hath
        given us our reason to discern between truth and falsehood; and
        he that makes not this use of it, but believes things he knows
        not why, I say it is by chance that he believes the truth, and
        not by choice; and I cannot but fear that God will not accept of
        this sacrifice of fools.' p. 133. 'God's spirit, if he please,
        may work more,--a certainty of adherence beyond a certainty of
        evidence; but neither God doth, nor man may, require of us, as
        our duty, to give a greater assent to the conclusion than the
        premises deserve; to build an infallible faith upon motives that
        are only highly credible and not infallible; as it were a great
        and heavy building upon a foundation that hath not strength
        proportionate.' p. 149. 'For faith is not knowledge, no more than
        three is four, but eminently contained in it; so that he that
        knows, believes, and something more; but he that believes many
        times does not know--nay, if he doth barely and merely believe,
        he doth never know.' p. 412. See also p. 417.

No one of ordinary reflection can fail to perceive the manifest tendency
of these opinions. But what is more important to observe is, the process
through which, in the march of civilization, the human mind had been
obliged to pass before it could reach such elevated views. The
Reformation, by destroying the dogma of an infallible church, had of
course weakened the reverence which was paid to ecclesiastical
antiquity. Still, such was the force of old associations, that our
countrymen long continued to respect what they had ceased to venerate.
Thus it was, that Jewel, though recognizing the supreme authority of the
Bible, had, in cases where it was silent or ambiguous, anxiously
appealed to the early church, by whose decision he supposed all
difficulties could be easily cleared. He, therefore, only used his
reason to ascertain the discrepancies which existed between Scripture
and tradition; but when they did not clash, he paid what is now
considered a superstitious deference to antiquity. Thirty years after
him came Hooker;[573] who made a step in advance, and laying down
principles from which Jewel would have shrunk with fear, did much to
weaken that which it was reserved for Chillingworth utterly to destroy.
Thus it is, that these three great men represent the three distinct
epochs of the three successive generations in which they respectively
lived. In Jewel, reason is, if I may so say, the superstructure of the
system; but authority is the basis upon which the superstructure is
built. In Hooker, authority is only the superstructure, and reason is
the basis.[574] But in Chillingworth, whose writings were harbingers of
the coming storm, authority entirely disappears, and the whole fabric of
religion is made to rest upon the way in which the unaided reason of man
shall interpret the decrees of an omnipotent God.

  [573] On the connexion between the Reformation and the views advocated
        in the _Ecclesiastical Polity_, compare _Newman's Development of
        Christian Doctrine_, p. 47, with some able remarks by Locke, in
        _King's Life of Locke_, vol. ii. pp. 99-101. Locke, who was
        anything but a friend to the church, was a great admirer of
        Hooker, and in one place calls him 'the arch-philosopher.' _Essay
        on Government_, in _Locke's Works_, vol. iv. p. 380.

  [574] The opposition between Jewel and Hooker was so marked, that some
        of the opponents of Hooker quoted against him Jewel's Apology.
        See _Wordsworth's Eccl. Biog._ vol. iii. p. 513. Dr. Wordsworth
        calls this 'curious;' but it would be much more curious if it had
        not happened. Compare the remarks made by the Bishop of Limerick
        (_Parr's Works_, vol. ii. p. 470, _Notes on the Spital Sermon_),
        who says, that Hooker 'opened that fountain of reason,' &c.;
        language which will hardly be considered too strong by those who
        have compared the _Ecclesiastical Polity_ with the theological
        works previously produced by the English church.

The immense success of this great work of Chillingworth, must have aided
that movement of which it is itself an evidence.[575] It formed a
decisive vindication of religious dissent;[576] and thus justified the
breaking up of the Anglican church, which the same generation lived to
witness. Its fundamental principle was adopted by the most influential
writers of the seventeenth century,--such as Hales, Owen, Taylor,
Burnet, Tillotson, Locke, and even the cautious and time-serving Temple;
all of whom insisted upon the authority of private judgment, as forming
a tribunal from which no one had the power of appeal. The inference to
be drawn from this seems obvious.[577] If the ultimate test of truth is
individual judgment, and if no one can affirm that the judgments of men,
which are often contradictory, can ever be infallible, it follows of
necessity that there is no decisive criterion of religious truth. This
is a melancholy, and, as I firmly believe, a most inaccurate conclusion;
but it is one which every nation must entertain, before it can achieve
that great work of toleration, which, even in our own country, and in
our own time, is not yet consummated. It is necessary that men should
learn to doubt, before they begin to tolerate; and that they should
recognize the fallibility of their own opinions, before they respect the
opinions of their opponents.[578] This great process is far from being
yet completed in any country; and the European mind, barely emerged from
its early credulity, and from an overweening confidence in its own
belief, is still in a middle, and, so to say, a probationary stage. When
that stage shall be finally passed, when we shall have learned to
estimate men solely by their character and their acts, and not at all by
their theological dogmas, we shall then be able to form our religious
opinions by that purely transcendental process, of which in every age
glimpses have been granted to a few gifted minds. That this is the
direction in which things are now hastening, must be clear to every one
who has studied the progress of modern civilization. Within the short
space of three centuries, the old theological spirit has been compelled,
not only to descend from its long-established supremacy, but to abandon
those strongholds to which, in the face of advancing knowledge, it has
vainly attempted to secure a retreat. All its most cherished pretensions
it has been forced gradually to relinquish.[579] And although in England
a temporary prominence has recently been given to certain religious
controversies, still the circumstances attending them show the
alteration in the character of the age. Disputes which, a century ago,
would have set the whole kingdom in a flame, are now regarded with
indifference by the vast majority of educated men. The complications of
modern society, and the immense variety of interests into which it is
divided, have done much to distract the intellect, and to prevent it
from dwelling upon subjects which a less-occupied people would deem of
paramount importance. Besides this, the accumulations of science are far
superior to those of any former age, and offer suggestions of such
surpassing interest, that nearly all our greatest thinkers devote to
them the whole of their time, and refuse to busy themselves with matters
of mere speculative belief. The consequence is, that what used to be
considered the most important of all questions, is now abandoned to
inferior men, who mimic the zeal, without possessing the influence of
those really great divines whose works are among the glories of our
early literature. These turbulent polemics have, indeed, distracted the
church by their clamour, but they have not made the slightest impression
upon the great body of English intellect; and an overwhelming majority
of the nation is notoriously opposed to that monastic and ascetic
religion which it is now vainly attempted to reconstruct. The truth is,
that the time for these things has gone by. Theological interests have
long ceased to be supreme; and the affairs of nations are no longer
regulated according to ecclesiastical views.[580] In England, where the
march has been more rapid than elsewhere, this change is very
observable. In every other department we have had a series of great and
powerful thinkers, who have done honour to their country, and have won
the admiration of mankind. But for more than a century, we have not
produced a single original work in the whole field of controversial
theology. For more than a century, the apathy on this subject has been
so marked, that there has been made no addition of value to that immense
mass of divinity which, among thinking men, is in every successive
generation losing something of its former interest.[581]

  [575] Des Maizeaux (_Life of Chillingworth_, pp. 220, 221) says: 'His
        book was received with a general applause; and, what perhaps
        never happened to any other controversial work of that bulk, two
        editions of it were published within less than five months....
        The quick sale of a book, and especially of a book of
        controversy, in folio, is a good proof that the author hit the
        taste of his time.' See also _Biographia Britannica_, edit.
        Kippis, vol. iii. pp. 511, 512.

  [576] Or, as Calamy cautiously puts it, Chillingworth's work 'appeared
        to me to go a great way towards the justifying of moderate
        conformity.' _Calamy's Life_, vol. i. p. 234. Compare _Palmer on
        the Church_, vol. i. pp. 267, 268; and what is probably an
        allusion to Chillingworth in _Doddridge's Correspond. and Diary_,
        vol. ii. p. 81. See also the opinion of Hobbes, in _Aubrey's
        Letters and Lives_, vol. ii. pp. 288, 629.

  [577] A short but able view of the aspect which the English mind now
        began to assume, will be found in _Stäudlin_, _Geschichte der
        theologischen Wissenschaften_, vol. ii. pp. 95 seq.

  [578] In _Whately's Dangers to Christian Faith_, pp. 188-198, there is a
        perspicuous statement of the arguments now commonly received
        against coercing men for their religious opinions. But the most
        powerful of these arguments are based entirely upon expediency,
        which would have insured their rejection in an age of strong
        religious convictions. Some, and only some, of the theological
        difficulties respecting toleration, are noticed in _Coleridge's
        Lit. Remains_, vol. i. pp. 312-315; and in another work (_The
        Friend_, vol. i. p. 73), he mentions, what is the real fact 'that
        same indifference which makes toleration so easy a virtue with
        us.' See also _Archdeacon Hare's Guesses at Truth_, 2nd series,
        1848, p. 278; and _Nichols's Illustrations of Lit. Hist._ vol. v.
        p. 817: 'a spirit of mutual toleration and forbearance has
        appeared (at least one good consequence of religious

  [579] It would be idle to offer proofs of so notorious a fact; but the
        reader will be interested by some striking remarks in
        _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. i. pp. 228, 229.

  [580] A writer intimately acquainted with the social condition of the
        great European countries, says: 'Ecclesiastical power is almost
        extinct as an active element in the political or social affairs
        of nations or of individuals, in the cabinet or in the family
        circle; and a new element, literary power, is taking its place in
        the government of the world.' _Laing's Denmark_, 1852, p. 82. On
        this natural tendency in regard to legislation, see _Meyer_,
        _Esprit des Institut. Judiciaires_, vol. i. p. 267 note; and a
        good summary in _Stäudlin_, _Gesch. der theolog. Wissenschaften_,
        vol. ii. pp. 304, 305. It is not surprising to find that many of
        the clergy complain of a movement so subversive of their own
        power. Compare _Ward's Ideal of a Christian Church_, pp. 40,
        108-111, 388; _Sewell's Christian Politics_, pp. 276, 277, 279;
        _Palmer's Treatise on the Church_, vol. ii. p. 361. It is thus
        that everything is tending to confirm the remarkable prediction
        of Sir James Mackintosh, that 'church-power (unless some
        revolution, auspicious to priestcraft, should replunge Europe in
        ignorance) will certainly not survive the nineteenth century.'
        _Mem. of Mackintosh_, vol. i. p. 67.

  [581] 'The "divines" in England at the present day, her bishops,
        professors, and prebendaries, are not theologians. They are
        logicians, chemists, skilled in the mathematics, historians, poor
        commentators upon Greek poets.' _Theodore Parker's Critical and
        Miscellaneous Writings_, 1848, p. 302. At p. 33, the same high
        authority says: 'But, within the present century, what has been
        written in the English tongue, in any department of theological
        scholarship, which is of value and makes a mark on the age? The
        _Bridgewater Treatises_, and the new edition of _Paley_,--we
        blush to confess it,--are the best things.' Sir William Hamilton
        (_Discussions on Philosophy_, 1852, p. 699) notices the decline
        of 'British theology,' though he appears ignorant of the cause of
        it. The Rev. Mr. Ward (_Ideal of a Christian Church_, p. 405)
        remarks, that 'we cannot wonder, however keenly we may mourn, at
        the decline and fall of dogmatic theology.' See also _Lord
        Jeffrey's Essays_, vol. iv. p. 337: 'Warburton, we think, was the
        last of our great divines.... The days of the Cudworths and
        Barrows, the Hookers and Taylors, are long gone by.' Dr. Parr was
        the only English theologian since Warburton who possessed
        sufficient learning to retrieve this position; but he always
        refused to do so, being, unconsciously to himself, held back by
        the spirit of his age. Thus, we find him writing to Archbishop
        Magee, in 1823: 'As to myself, I long ago determined not to take
        any active part in polemical theology.' _Parr's Works_, vol. vii.
        p. 11.

        In the same way, since the early part of the eighteenth century,
        hardly any one has carefully read the Fathers, except for mere
        historical and secular purposes. The first step was taken about
        the middle of the seventeenth century, when the custom of quoting
        them in sermons began to be abandoned. _Burnet's Own Time_, vol.
        i. pp. 329, 330; _Orme's Life of Owen_, p. 184. After this they
        rapidly fell into contempt; and the Rev. Mr. Dowling (_Study of
        Ecclesiast. History_, p. 195) asserts, that 'Waterland, who died
        in 1740, was the last of our great patristical scholars.' To this
        I may add, that nine years subsequent to the death of Waterland,
        the obvious decay of professional learning struck Warburton,
        afterwards Bishop of Gloucester, so much, that he wrote to
        Jortin, somewhat roughly, 'anything makes a divine among our
        parsons.' See his _Letter_, written in 1749, in _Nichols's
        Illustrations of Lit. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 173; and for other
        evidence of the neglect by the clergy of their ancient studies,
        see _Jones's Memoirs of Horne, Bishop of Norwich_, pp. 68, 184;
        and the complaint of Dr. Knowler, in 1766, in _Nichols's Lit.
        Anec._ vol. ii. p. 130. Since then, attempts have been made at
        Oxford to remedy this tendency; but such attempts, being opposed
        by the general march of affairs, have been, and must be, futile.
        Indeed, so manifest is the inferiority of these recent efforts,
        that one of the most active cultivators in that field frankly
        admits, that, in point of knowledge, his own party has effected
        nothing; and he even asserts, with great bitterness, that 'it is
        melancholy to say it, but the chief, perhaps the only, English
        writer who has any claim to be considered an ecclesiastical
        historian, is the infidel Gibbon.' _Newman on the Develop. of
        Christ. Doct._ p. 5.

These are only some of the innumerable signs, which must be discerned by
every man who is not blinded by the prejudices of an imperfect
education. An immense majority of the clergy,--some from ambitious
feelings, but the greater part, I believe, from conscientious
motives,--are striving to check the progress of that scepticism which is
now gathering in upon us from every quarter.[582] It is time that these
well-intentioned, though mistaken, men should see the delusion under
which they labour. That by which they are so much alarmed, is the
intermediate step which leads from superstition to toleration. The
higher order of minds have passed through this stage, and are
approaching what is probably the ultimate form of the religious history
of the human race. But the people at large, and even some of those who
are commonly called educated men, are only now entering that earlier
epoch in which scepticism[583] is the leading feature of the mind. So
far, therefore, from our apprehensions being excited by this
rapidly-increasing spirit, we ought rather to do everything in our power
to encourage that which, though painful to some, is salutary to all;
because by it alone can religious bigotry be effectually destroyed. Nor
ought we to be surprised that, before this can be done, a certain degree
of suffering must first intervene.[584] If one age believes too much, it
is but a natural reaction that another age should believe too little.
Such are the imperfections of our nature, that we are compelled, by the
very laws of its progress, to pass through those crises of scepticism
and of mental distress, which to a vulgar eye are states of national
decline and national shame; but which are only as the fire by which the
gold must be purged before it can leave its dross in the pot of the
refiner. To apply the imagery of the great allegorist, it is necessary
that the poor pilgrim, laden with the weight of accumulated
superstitions, should struggle through the Slough of Despond and the
Valley of Death, before he can reach that glorious city, glittering with
gold and with jewels, of which the first sight is sufficient recompense
for his toils and his fears.

  [582] As some writers, moved by their wishes rather than by their
        knowledge, seek to deny this, it may be well to observe, that the
        increase of scepticism since the latter part of the eighteenth
        century is attested by an immense mass of evidence, as will
        appear to whoever will compare the following authorities:
        _Whately's Dangers to Christian Faith_, p. 87; _Kay's Social
        Condition of the People_, vol. ii. p. 506; _Tocqueville_, _de la
        Démocratie_, vol. iii. p. 72; _J. H. Newman on Development_, pp.
        28, 29; _F. W. Newman's Natural History of the Soul_, p. 197;
        _Parr's Works_, vol. ii. p. 5, vol. iii. pp. 688, 689; _Felkin's
        Moral Statistics_, in _Journal of Statist. Soc._ vol. i. p. 541;
        _Watson's Observations on the Life of Wesley_, pp. 155, 194;
        _Matter_, _Hist. du Gnosticisme_, vol. ii. p. 485; _Ward's Ideal
        of a Christian Church_, pp. 266, 267, 404; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. ii. pp. 129, 142, vol. iii. p. 509; _Priestley's
        Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. 127, 128, 446, vol. ii. p. 751; _Cappe's
        Memoirs_, p. 367; _Nichols's Lit. Anec. of Eighteenth Century_,
        vol. iv. p. 671, vol. viii. p. 473; _Nichols's Illust. of Lit.
        Hist._ vol. v. p. 640; _Combe's Notes on the United States_, vol.
        ii. pp. 171, 172, 183.

  [583] It has been suggested to me by an able friend, that there is a
        class of persons who will misunderstand this expression; and that
        there is another class who, without misunderstanding it, will
        intentionally misrepresent its meaning. Hence, it may be well to
        state distinctly what I wish to convey by the word 'scepticism.'
        By scepticism I merely mean hardness of belief; so that an
        increased scepticism is an increased perception of the difficulty
        of proving assertions; or, in other words, it is an increased
        application, and an increased diffusion, of the rules of
        reasoning, and of the laws of evidence. This feeling of
        hesitation and of suspended judgment has, in every department of
        thought, been the invariable preliminary to all the intellectual
        revolutions through which the human mind has passed; and without
        it, there could be no progress, no change, no civilization. In
        physics, it is the necessary precursor of science; in politics,
        of liberty; in theology, of toleration. These are the three
        leading forms of scepticism; it is, therefore, clear, that in
        religion the sceptic steers a middle course between atheism and
        orthodoxy, rejecting both extremes, because he sees that both are
        incapable of proof.

  [584] What a learned historian has said of the effect which the method
        of Socrates produced on a very few Greek minds, is applicable to
        that state through which a great part of Europe is now passing:
        'The Socratic dialectics, clearing away from the mind its mist of
        fancied knowledge, and laying bare the real ignorance, produced
        an immediate effect, like the touch of the torpedo. The
        newly-created consciousness of ignorance was alike unexpected,
        painful, and humiliating,--a season of doubt and discomfort, yet
        combined with an internal working and yearning after truth, never
        before experienced. Such intellectual quickening, which could
        never commence until the mind had been disabused of its original
        illusion of false knowledge, was considered by Socrates not
        merely as the index and precursor, but as the indispensable
        condition of future progress.' _Grote's Hist. of Greece_, vol.
        viii. pp. 614, 615, 8vo, 1851. Compare _Kritik der reinen
        Vernunft_, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 572, 577. 'So ist der
        Skeptizismus ein Ruheplatz für die menschliche Vernunft, da sie
        sich über ihre dogmatische Wanderung besinnen und den Entwurf von
        der Gegend machen kann, wo sie sich befindet, um ihren Weg
        fernerhin mit mehrerer Sicherheit wählen zu können, aber nicht
        ein Wohnplatz zum beständigen Aufenthalte.... So ist das
        skeptische Verfahren zwar an sich selbst für die Vernunftfragen
        nicht befriedigend, aber doch vorübend, um ihre Vorsichtigkeit zu
        erwecken und auf gründliche Mittel zu weisen, die sie in ihren
        rechtmässigen Besitzen sichern können.'

During the whole of the seventeenth century, this double movement of
scepticism and of toleration continued to advance; though its progress
was constantly checked by the two successors of Elizabeth, who in every
thing reversed the enlightened policy of the great queen. These princes
exhausted their strength in struggling against the tendencies of an age
they were unable to understand; but, happily, the spirit which they
wished to quench had reached a height that mocked their control. At the
same time, the march of the English mind was still farther aided by the
nature of those disputes which, during half a century, divided the
country. In the reign of Elizabeth, the great contest had been between
the church and its opponents; between those who were orthodox, and those
who were heretical. But in the reigns of James and Charles, theology was
for the first time merged in politics. It was no longer a struggle of
creeds and dogmas; but it was a struggle between those who favoured the
crown, and those who supported the parliament. The minds of men, thus
fixed upon matters of real importance, neglected those inferior pursuits
that had engrossed the attention of their fathers.[585] When, at length,
public affairs had reached their crisis, the hard fate of the king,
which eventually advanced the interests of the throne, was most
injurious to those of the church. There can, indeed, be no doubt that
the circumstances connected with the execution of Charles, inflicted a
blow upon the whole system of ecclesiastical authority, from which, in
this country, it has never been able to recover. The violent death of
the king excited the sympathies of the people; and by thus strengthening
the hands of the royalists, hastened the restoration of the
monarchy.[586] But the mere name of that great party which had risen to
power, was suggestive of the change that, in a religious point of view,
was taking place in the national mind. It was, indeed, no light thing,
that England should be ruled by men who called themselves Independents;
and who, under that title, not only beat back the pretensions of the
clergy, but professed an unbounded contempt for all those rites and
dogmas which the clergy had, during many centuries, continued to
amass.[587] True it is, that the Independents did not always push to
their full extent the consequences of their own doctrines.[588] Still,
it was a great matter to have those doctrines recognized by the
constituted authorities of the state. Besides this, it is important to
remark, that the Puritans were more fanatical than superstitious.[589]
They were so ignorant of the real principles of government, as to direct
penal laws against private vices; and to suppose that immorality could
be stemmed by legislation.[590] But, notwithstanding this serious
error, they always resisted the aggressions even of their own clergy;
and the destruction of the old episcopal hierarchy, though perhaps too
hastily effected, must have produced many beneficial results. When the
great party by whom these things were accomplished, was at length
overthrown, the progress of events still continued to tend in the same
direction. After the Restoration, the church, though reinstated in her
ancient pomp, had evidently lost her ancient power.[591] At the same
time, the new king, from levity, rather than from reason, despised the
disputes of theologians, and treated questions of religion with what he
considered a philosophic indifference.[592] The courtiers followed his
example, and thought they could not err in imitating him, whom they
regarded as the Lord's anointed. The results were such as must be
familiar even to the most superficial readers of English literature.
That grave and measured scepticism, by which the Independents had been
characterized, lost all its decorum when it was transplanted into the
ungenial atmosphere of a court. The men by whom the king was surrounded,
were unequal to the difficulties of suspense; and they attempted to
fortify their doubts by the blasphemous expression of a wild and
desperate infidelity. With scarcely an exception, all those writers who
were most favoured by Charles, exhausted the devices of their ribald
spirit, in mocking a religion, of the nature of which they were
profoundly ignorant. These impious buffooneries would, by themselves,
have left no permanent impression on the age; but they deserve
attention, because they were the corrupt and exaggerated representatives
of a more general tendency. They were the unwholesome offspring of that
spirit of disbelief, and of that daring revolt against authority, which
characterized the most eminent Englishmen during the seventeenth
century. It was this which caused Locke to be an innovator in his
philosophy, and an Unitarian in his creed. It was this which made Newton
a Socinian; which forced Milton to be the great enemy of the church, and
which not only turned the poet into a rebel, but tainted with Arianism
the _Paradise Lost_. In a word, it was the same contempt for tradition,
and the same resolution to spurn the yoke, which, being first carried
into philosophy by Bacon, was afterwards carried into politics by
Cromwell; and which, during that very generation, was enforced in
theology by Chillingworth, Owen, and Hales; in metaphysics by Hobbes and
Glanvil; and in the theory of government by Harrington, Sydney, and

  [585] Dr. Arnold, whose keen eye noted this change, says (_Lectures on
        Modern History_, p. 232), 'What strikes us predominantly, is,
        that what, in Elizabeth's time, was a controversy between
        divines, was now a great political contest between the crown and
        the parliament.' The ordinary compilers, such as Sir A. Alison
        (_Hist. of Europe_, vol. i. p. 51), and others, have entirely
        misrepresented this movement; an error the more singular, because
        the eminently political character of the struggle was recognized
        by several contemporaries. Even Cromwell, notwithstanding the
        difficult game he had to play, distinctly stated, in 1655, that
        the origin of the war was not religious. See _Carlyle's
        Cromwell_, vol. iii. p. 103; and corroborative evidence in
        _Walker's History of Independency_, part i. p. 132. James I. also
        saw that the Puritans were more dangerous to the state than to
        the church: 'do not so far differ from us in points of religion,
        as in their confused form of policy and parity; being ever
        discontented with the present government, and impatient to suffer
        any superiority; which maketh their sects insufferable in any
        well-governed commonwealth.' _Speech of James I._, in _Parl.
        Hist._ vol. i. p. 982. See also the observations ascribed to De
        Foe, in _Somers Tracts_, vol. ix. p. 572: 'The king and
        parliament fell out about matters of civil right; ... the first
        difference between the king and the English parliament did not
        respect religion, but civil property.'

  [586] See _Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 716. Sir W. Temple,
        in his _Memoirs_, observes, that the throne of Charles II. was
        strengthened by 'what had passed in the last reign.' _Temple's
        Works_, vol. ii. p. 344. This may be illustrated by the remarks
        of M. Lamartine on the execution of Louis XVI. _Hist. des
        Girondins_, vol. v. pp. 86-7: 'Sa mort, au contraire, aliénait de
        la cause française cette partie immense des populations qui ne
        juge les événements humains que par le c[oe]ur. La nature humaine
        est pathétique; la république l'oublia, elle donna à la royauté
        quelque chose du martyre, à la liberté quelque chose de la
        vengeance. Elle prépara ainsi une réaction contre la cause
        républicaine, et mit du côté de la royauté la sensibilité,
        l'intérêt, les larmes d'une partie des peuples.'

  [587] The energy with which the House of Commons, in 1646, repelled the
        pretensions of 'the Assembly of Divines,' is one of many proofs
        of the determination of the predominant party not to allow
        ecclesiastical encroachments. See the remarkable details in
        _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. pp. 459-463; see also p. 1305. As a
        natural consequence, the Independents were the first sect which,
        when possessed of power, advocated toleration. Compare _Orme's
        Life of Owen_, pp. 63-75, 102-111; _Somers Tracts_, vol. xii. p.
        542; _Walker's Hist. of Independency_, part ii. pp. 50, 157, part
        iii. p. 22; _Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion_, pp. 610, 640.
        Some writers ascribe great merit to Jeremy Taylor for his
        advocacy of toleration (_Heber's Life of Taylor_, p. xxvii.; and
        _Parr's Works_, vol. iv. p. 417); but the truth is that when he
        wrote the famous _Liberty of Prophesying_, his enemies were in
        power; so that he was pleading for his own interests. When,
        however, the Church of England again obtained the upper hand,
        Taylor withdrew the concessions which he had made in the season
        of adversity. See the indignant remarks of Coleridge (_Lit.
        Remains_, vol. iii. p. 250), who, though a great admirer of
        Taylor, expresses himself strongly on this dereliction: see also
        a recently published _Letter to Percy, Bishop of Dromore_, in
        _Nichols's Illustrations of Lit. History_, vol. vii. p. 464.

  [588] However, Bishop Short (_History of the Church of England_, 8vo,
        1847, pp. 452, 458) says, what is undoubtedly true, that the
        hostility of Cromwell to the church was not theological, but
        political. The same remark is made by Bishop Kennet. _Note_ in
        _Burton's Diary_, vol. ii. p. 479. See also _Vaughan's Cromwell_,
        vol. i. p. xcvii.; and on the generally tolerant spirit of this
        great man, see _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 14; and the
        evidence in _Harris's Lives of the Stuarts_, vol. iii. pp. 37-47.
        But the most distinct recognition of the principle, is in a
        _Letter from Cromwell to Major-General Crawford_, recently
        printed in _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol. i. pp. 201, 202, 8vo, 1846.
        In it Cromwell writes, 'Sir, the state, in choosing men to serve
        it, takes no notice of their opinions; if they be willing
        faithfully to serve it--that satisfies.' See additional proof in
        _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of Engl._ vol. ii. pp. 245, 249.

  [589] No one can understand the real history of the Puritans, who does
        not take this into consideration. In the present Introduction, it
        is impossible to discuss so large a subject; and I must reserve
        it for the future part of this work, in which the history of
        England will be specially treated. In the mean time, I may
        mention, that the distinction between fanaticism and superstition
        is clearly indicated, but not analyzed, by Archbishop Whately, in
        his _Errors of Romanism traced to their Origin in Human Nature_,
        p. 49. This should be compared with _Hume's Philosophical Works_,
        vol. iii. pp. 81-89, Edinb. 1826, on the difference between
        enthusiasm and superstition; a difference which is noticed, but,
        as it appears to me, misunderstood, by Maclaine, in his
        _Additions to Mosheim's Ecclesiast. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 38.

  [590] Compare _Barrington's Observations on the Statutes_, p. 143, with
        _Burton's Diary of the Parliaments of Cromwell_, vol. i. pp.
        xcviii. 145, 392, vol. ii. pp. 35, 229. In 1650, a second
        conviction of fornication was made felony, without benefit of
        clergy; but, after the Restoration, Charles II. and his friends
        found this law rather inconvenient; so it was repealed. See
        _Blackstone's Commentaries_, vol. iv. p. 65.

  [591] See _Life of Ken, by a Layman_, edit. 1854, vol. i. p. 51. At
        p. 129, the same writer says, with sorrow, 'The church recovered
        much of her temporal possessions, but not her spiritual rule.'
        The power of the bishops was abridged 'by the destruction of the
        court of high-commission.' _Short's Hist. of the Church of
        England_, p. 595. See also, on the diminished influence of the
        Church-of-England clergy after the Restoration, _Southey's Life
        of Wesley_, vol. i. pp. 278, 279; and _Watson's Observations on
        the Life of Wesley_, pp. 129-131.

  [592] Buckingham and Halifax, the two men who were perhaps best
        acquainted with Charles II., both declared that he was a deist.
        Compare _Lingard's Hist. of Engl._ vol. viii. p. 127, with
        _Harris's Lives of the Stuarts_, vol. v. p. 55. His subsequent
        conversion to Catholicism is exactly analogous to the increased
        devotion of Louis XIV. during the later years of his life. In
        both cases, superstition was the natural refuge of a worn-out and
        discontented libertine, who had exhausted all the resources of
        the lowest and most grovelling pleasures.

The progress which the English intellect was now making towards shaking
off ancient superstitions,[593] was still further aided by the
extraordinary zeal displayed in the cultivation of the physical
sciences. This, like all great social movements, is clearly traceable to
the events by which it was preceded. It was partly cause, and partly
effect, of the increasing incredulity of the age. The scepticism of the
educated classes made them dissatisfied with those long-established
opinions, which only rested on unsupported authority; and this gave rise
to a desire to ascertain how far such notions might be verified or
refuted by the real condition of things. A curious instance of the
rapid progress of this spirit may be found in the works of an author who
was one of the most eminent among the mere literary men of his time.
While the Civil War was barely decided, and three years before the
execution of the king, Sir Thomas Browne published his celebrated work,
called _Inquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors_.[594] This able and
learned production has the merit of anticipating some of those results
which more modern inquirers have obtained;[595] but it is chiefly
remarkable, as being the first systematic and deliberate onslaught ever
made in England upon those superstitious fancies which were then
prevalent respecting the external world. And what is still more
interesting is, that the circumstances under which it appeared make it
evident, that while the learning and genius of the author belonged to
himself, the scepticism which he displayed respecting popular belief was
forced on him by the pressure of the age.

  [593] One of the most curious instances of this may be seen in the
        destruction of the old notions respecting witchcraft. This
        important revolution in our opinions was effected, so far as the
        educated classes are concerned, between the Restoration and the
        Revolution; that is to say, in 1660, the majority of educated men
        still believed in witchcraft; while in 1688, the majority
        disbelieved it. In 1665, the old orthodox view was stated by
        Chief-Baron Hale, who, on a trial of two women for witchcraft,
        said to the jury: 'That there are such creatures as witches, I
        make no doubt at all; for, first, the Scriptures have affirmed so
        much; secondly, the wisdom of all nations hath provided laws
        against such persons, which is an argument of their confidence of
        such a crime.' _Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices_, vol. i.
        pp. 565, 566. This reasoning was irresistible, and the witches
        were hung; but the change in public opinion began to affect even
        the judges, and after this melancholy exhibition of the
        Chief-Baron, such scenes became gradually rarer; though Lord
        Campbell is mistaken in supposing (p. 563) that this was 'the
        last capital conviction in England for the crime of bewitching.'
        So far from this, three persons were executed at Exeter for
        witchcraft in 1682. See _Hutchinson's Historical Essay concerning
        Witchcraft_, 1720, pp. 56, 57. Hutchinson says: 'I suppose these
        are the last three that have been hanged in England.' If,
        however, one may rely upon a statement made by Dr. Parr, two
        witches were hung at Northampton in 1705; and in '1712, five
        other witches suffered the same fate at the same place.' _Parr's
        Works_, vol. iv. p. 182, 8vo, 1828. This is the more shameful,
        because, as I shall hereafter prove, from the literature of that
        time, a disbelief in the existence of witches had become almost
        universal among educated men; though the old superstition was
        still defended on the judgment-seat and in the pulpit. As to the
        opinions of the clergy, compare _Cudworth's Intellect. Syst._
        vol. iii. pp. 345, 348; _Vernon Correspond._ vol. ii. pp. 302,
        303; _Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland_, vol. i. pp.
        220, 221; _Wesley's Journals_, pp. 602, 713. Wesley, who had more
        influence than all the bishops put together, says: 'It is true,
        likewise, that the English in general, and, indeed, most of the
        men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches
        and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for
        it.... The giving up witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the
        Bible.... But I cannot give up, to all the Deists in Great
        Britain, the existence of witchcraft, till I give up the credit
        of all history, sacred and profane.'

        However, all was in vain. Every year diminished the old belief;
        and in 1736, a generation before Wesley had recorded these
        opinions, the laws against witchcraft were repealed, and another
        vestige of superstition effaced from the English statute-book.
        See _Barrington on the Statutes_, p. 407; _Note_ in _Burton's
        Diary_, vol. i. p. 26; _Harris's Life of Hardwicke_, vol. i. p.

        To this it may be interesting to add, that in Spain a witch was
        burned so late as 1781. _Ticknor's Hist. of Spanish Literature_,
        vol. iii. p. 238.

  [594] The first edition was published in 1646. _Works of Sir Thomas
        Browne_, vol. ii. p. 163.

  [595] See the notes in Mr. Wilkin's edition of _Browne's Works_, Lond.
        1836, vol. ii. pp. 284, 360, 361.

In or about 1633, when the throne was still occupied by a superstitious
prince; when the Church of England was at the height of her apparent
power; and when men were incessantly persecuted for their religious
opinions--this same Sir Thomas Browne wrote his _Religio Medici_,[596]
in which we find all the qualities of his later work, except the
scepticism. Indeed, in the _Religio Medici_, there is shown a credulity
that must have secured the sympathy of those classes which were then
dominant. Of all the prejudices which at that time were deemed an
essential part of the popular creed, there was not one which Browne
ventured to deny. He announces his belief in the philosopher's
stone;[597] in spirits, and tutelary angels;[598] and in
palmistry.[599] He not only peremptorily affirms the reality of witches,
but he says that those who deny their existence are not merely infidels,
but atheists.[600] He carefully tells us that he reckons his nativity,
not from his birth, but from his baptism; for before he was baptized, he
could not be said to exist.[601] To these touches of wisdom, he moreover
adds, that the more improbable any proposition is, the greater his
willingness to assent to it; but that when a thing is actually
impossible, he is on that very account prepared to believe it.[602]

  [596] The precise date is unknown; but Mr. Wilkin supposes that it was
        written 'between the years 1633 and 1635.' Preface to _Religio
        Medici_, in _Browne's Works_, vol. ii. p. 4.

  [597] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 58.

  [598] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 47.

  [599] Or, as he calls it, 'chiromancy.' _Religio Medici_, in _Browne's
        Works_, vol. ii. p. 89.

  [600] 'For my part, I have ever believed, and do now know, that there
        are witches. They that doubt of these, do not only deny them, but
        spirits; and are obliquely, and upon consequence, a sort, not of
        infidels, but atheists.' Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 43, 44.

  [601] 'From this I do compute or calculate my nativity.' Ibid. vol. ii.
        p. 64.

  [602] _Religio Medici_, sec. ix. in _Browne's Works_, vol. ii. pp. 13,
        14: unfortunately too long to extract. This is the 'credo quia
        impossibile est,' originally one of Tertullian's absurdities, and
        once quoted in the House of Lords by the Duke of Argyle, as 'the
        ancient religious maxim.' _Parl. Hist._ vol. xi. p. 802. Compare
        the sarcastic remark on this maxim in the _Essay concerning Human
        Understanding_, book iv. chap. xviii. _Locke's Works_, vol. ii.
        p. 271. It was the spirit embodied in this sentence which
        supplied Celsus with some formidable arguments against the
        Fathers. _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. i. pp. 227, 228.

Such were the opinions put forth by Sir Thomas Browne in the first of
the two great works he presented to the world. But in his _Inquiries
into Vulgar Errors_, there is displayed a spirit so entirely different,
that if it were not for the most decisive evidence, we could hardly
believe it to be written by the same man. The truth, however, is, that
during the twelve years which elapsed between the two works, there was
completed that vast social and intellectual revolution, of which the
overthrow of the church and the execution of the king were but minor
incidents. We know from the literature, from the private correspondence,
and from the public acts of that time, how impossible it was, even for
the strongest minds, to escape the effects of the general intoxication.
No wonder, then, that Browne, who certainly was inferior to several of
his contemporaries, should have been affected by a movement which they
were unable to resist. It would have been strange, indeed, if he alone
had remained uninfluenced by that sceptical spirit, which, because it
had been arbitrarily repressed, had now broken all bounds, and in the
reaction soon swept away those institutions which vainly attempted to
stop its course.

It is in this point of view that a comparison of the two works becomes
highly interesting, and, indeed, very important. In this, his later
production, we hear no more about believing things because they are
impossible; but we are told of 'the two great pillars of truth,
experience and solid reason.'[603] We are also reminded that one main
cause of error is 'adherence unto authority;'[604] that another is,
'neglect of inquiry;'[605] and, strange to say, that a third is
'credulity.'[606] All this was not very consistent with the old
theological spirit; and we need not, therefore, be surprised that Browne
not only exposes some of the innumerable blunders of the Fathers,[607]
but, after speaking of errors in general, curtly adds: 'Many others
there are, which we resign unto divinity, and perhaps deserve not

  [603] _Inquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors_, book iii. chap. xxviii.
        in _Browne's Works_, vol. ii. p. 534.

  [604] Ibid. book i. chap. vii. vol. ii. p. 225.

  [605] 'A supinity, or neglect of inquiry.' Ibid. book i. chap. v.
        vol. ii. p. 211.

  [606] 'A third cause of common errors is the credulity of men.' Book i.
        chap. v. vol. ii. p. 208.

  [607] See two amusing instances in vol. ii. pp. 267, 438.

  [608] _Vulgar and Common Errors_, book vii. chap. xi., in _Browne's
        Works_, vol. iii. p. 326.

The difference between these two works is no bad measure of the rapidity
of that vast movement which, in the middle of the seventeenth century,
was seen in every branch of practical and speculative life. After the
death of Bacon, one of the most distinguished Englishmen was certainly
Boyle, who, if compared with his contemporaries, may be said to rank
immediately below Newton, though, of course, very inferior to him as an
original thinker.[609] With the additions he made to our knowledge we
are not immediately concerned; but it may be mentioned, that he was the
first who instituted exact experiments into the relation between colour
and heat;[610] and by this means, not only ascertained some very
important facts, but laid a foundation for that union between optics and
thermotics, which, though not yet completed, now merely waits for some
great philosopher to strike out a generalization large enough to cover
both, and thus fuse the two sciences into a single study. It is also to
Boyle, more than to any other Englishman, that we owe the science of
hydrostatics, in the state in which we now possess it.[611] He is the
original discoverer of that beautiful law, so fertile in valuable
results, according to which the elasticity of air varies as its
density.[612] And, in the opinion of one of the most eminent modern
naturalists, it was Boyle who opened up those chemical inquiries, which
went on accumulating until, a century later, they supplied the means by
which Lavoisier and his contemporaries fixed the real basis of
chemistry, and enabled it for the first time to take its proper stand
among those sciences that deal with the external world.[613]

  [609] Monk (_Life of Bentley_, vol. i. p. 37) says, that Boyle's
        discoveries 'have placed his name in a rank second only to that
        of Newton;' and this, I believe, is true, notwithstanding the
        immense superiority of Newton.

  [610] Compare _Powell on Radiant Heat_ (_Brit. Assoc._ vol. i. p. 287),
        with _Lloyd's Report on Physical Optics_, 1834, p. 338. For the
        remarks on colours, see _Boyle's Works_, vol. ii. pp. 1-40; and
        for the account of his experiments, pp. 41-80; and a slight
        notice in _Brewster's Life of Newton_, vol. i. pp. 155, 156, 236.
        It is, I think, not generally known, that Power is said to be
        indebted to Boyle for originating some of his experiments on
        colours. See a letter from Hooke, in _Boyle's Works_, vol. v. p.

  [611] Dr. Whewell (_Bridgewater Treatise_, p. 266) well observes, that
        Boyle and Pascal are to hydrostatics what Galileo is to
        mechanics, and Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton to astronomy. See
        also on Boyle, as the founder of hydrostatics, _Thomson's Hist.
        of the Royal Society_, pp. 397, 398; and his _Hist. of
        Chemistry_, vol. i. p. 204.

  [612] This was discovered by Boyle about 1650, and confirmed by Mariotte
        in 1676. See _Whewell's Hist. of the Inductive Sciences_, vol.
        ii. pp. 557, 588; _Thomson's Hist. of Chemistry_, vol. i. p. 215;
        _Turner's Chemistry_, vol. i. pp. 41, 200; _Brande's Chemistry_,
        vol. i. p. 363. This law has been empirically verified by the
        French Institute, and found to hold good for a pressure even of
        twenty-seven atmospheres. See _Challis on the Mathematical Theory
        of Fluids_, in _Sixth Report of Brit. Assoc._ p. 226; and
        _Herschel's Nat. Philos._ p. 231. Although Boyle preceded
        Mariotte by a quarter of a century, the discovery is rather
        unfairly called the law of Boyle and Mariotte; while foreign
        writers, refining on this, frequently omit the name of Boyle
        altogether, and term it the law of Mariotte! See, for instance,
        _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_, p. 126; _Monteil Divers Etats_,
        vol. viii. p. 122; _Kaemtz's Meteorology_, p. 236; _Comte_,
        _Philos. Pos._ vol. i. pp. 583, 645, vol. ii. pp. 484, 615;
        _Pouillet_, _Elémens de Physique_, vol. i. p. 339, vol. ii. pp.
        58, 183.

  [613] 'L'un des créateurs de la physique expérimentale, l'illustre
        Robert Boyle, avait aussi reconnu, dès le milieu du dix-septième
        siècle, une grande partie des faits qui servent aujourd'hui de
        base à cette chimie nouvelle.' _Cuvier_, _Progrès des Sciences_,
        vol. i. p. 30. The 'aussi' refers to Rey. See also _Cuvier_,
        _Hist. des Sciences Naturelles_, part ii. pp. 322, 346-349. A
        still more recent writer says, that Boyle 'stood, in fact, on the
        very brink of the pneumatic chemistry of Priestley; he had in his
        hand the key to the great discovery of Lavoisier.' _Johnston on
        Dimorphous Bodies_, in _Reports of Brit. Assoc._ vol. vi. p. 163.
        See further respecting Boyle, _Robin et Verdeil_, _Chimie
        Anatomique_, Paris, 1853, vol. i. pp. 576, 577, 579, vol. ii. p.
        24; and _Sprengel_, _Hist. de l