« ElőzőTovább »
his stomach with dainties, or his limbs tion as the fastening of a vampyre proves with diseases, will not civilize him. the presence of a living body, CivilizaWhat more degraded objects can human tion alone can furnish it its food, but in society present than the miser and the the act she is drained of her life-blood epicure ? And if there is any folly in the and dies. If a universal history of the proworld greater than the pride and self- gress of civilization were written, what sufficiency of the rich, it is the repining part would Nineveh with its Sardaand enry of the comparatively poor : napalus, Babylon with its Belshazzar, or we beg pardon-there is one greater folly Persia with its Artaxerxes and Darii claim still : it is that of him who, without the therein ? Even those forms of civilization means, endeavors to imitate the vices which contained other and immortal eleand the show of wealth, and often, like ments, elements which have come down the frog in the fable, bursts in the un- shedding their kindly influences, even to lucky attempt.
our own times, were driven from their But if we would ascertain the true ancient seats by luxury. So it was with relation of wealth to civilization, we the Grecian and Roman civilization. So ought to compare whole classes or coun- it was with that of the Italian republics tries, rather than individuals. As a in the middle ages, which for a time class, it must be admitted, the rich are exhibited an almost miraculous display likely to be more highly cultivated than of genius, courage, activity, prosperity the poor. As will appear by a due con But commerce and enterprise introduced sideration of what has been already said, wealth. They knew not how rightly to wealth furnishes facilities, means and ex use or enjoy it-they fell into luxury and citements for social culture, and when a effeminacy, with their accompanying proper use is made of it, civilization is vices, cruelty and selfishness, and so certainly promoted thereby. This effect were ruined. In short, all history con. is still more likely to follow in respect spires to teach that great wealth is not to communities than classes, for though an indispensable means, nor is luxury a great wealth may not benefit its possess. healthy symptom of a high degree of ors, it is almost certain to improve society civilization. in general, by promoting the various arts But it will be confidently anticipated that adorn human life and cultivate the by many, that in the general and equable human mind. Yet, fully admitting all distribution of the means of external wellthis, we shall not find that the civiliza- being, especially if this be joined with a tion of different countries has been, or is general diffusion of the elements of useful proportional to their wealth. In wealth, knowledge, we have the test and measure England is greatly superior to France, of the social progress of any community: but according to the unanimous testimony But if, in the time of Louis XIV., several of continental Europe, France has ever countries of Europe be compared in these been superior to England in civilization. respects with France, the comparison Were the effeminate Lydians, with Cresus would result greatly in their favor, though for their king, more civilized than the France then siood confessedly at the head Spartans with their money of leather and of European culture. Sparta was probairon, their stern integrity and lofty patri- bly superior to Athens in these respects, otism ? It is true there was always though less highly civilized. So probably something lacking in the social culture are Prussia and the United States at this of the Spartans—they were
moment superior to England or France; highly civilized as their more inquisitive yet Prussia will freely acknowledge both and communicative, though often con- England and France to be before her in quered neighbors, the Athenians—there civilization, and it is hardly worth while was always a remnant of rudeness and for us to contest the point in our favor coarseness in their character; yet in with the unanimous voice of the civilized civilization they were undeniably supe- world against us. Finally, to bring the rior to many far more wealthy contempo- question more nearly home to our apprerary nations.
hensions; compare the population of one As for luxury, which is sometimes of our large cities with the scattered represented as the highest proof and fair- inhabitants of the country in respect to est flower of civilization—it is rather its general comfort and intelligence, and we gangrene and plague-spot. It pre-sup- suspect the comparison would turn out poses civilization as death pre-supposes in favor of the latter; yet all will allow life. It proves the existence of civiliza- that on the whole the cities are the great
VOL. III.--NO. VI.
centres of civilization. Thus we conclude may be taught as of higher importance that though the points referred to are im- than good morals. portant elements in the progress of social But whatever civilization may be, and improvement, civilization includes other whatever its merits, it plainly contains elements which may more than counter- other elements than have yet been menbalance them.
tioned. Some will think it strange that Shall we find these elements in public the claims of Freedom should so long virtue, morality and religion ? These have been overlooked. In this country play a most noble part in civilization. It we are naturally disposed to assign them can never long exist without them. A a very high value-and rightly, if our perfect religion is a necessary condition views of freedom are sufficiently elevated to its own perfection. Hence Christianity and pure. If, by personal freedom, we is unquestionably the highest form which understand the manly consciousness of civilization has ever yet assumed. But power chastened by the attendant conthat the proper civilization of different sciousness of responsibility; the due countries and times is not proportioned attempering, the healthy unfolding and to the degree in which religion and virtue harmonious action of all the faculties of prevail, will appear by an appeal to a few man, not only as an individual but as a facts. Is Switzerland more civilized than social being-uncramped by outward France ? Was the Germany of Luther's restraint, and undistorted by inward per. time more civilized than is the Germany versity and if, by civil freedom, we of the present day? Was the Athens of understand the harmony of all the social Aristides more civilized than that of relations, where every man naturally and Demosthenes ? Was the Rome of the without any undue obstruction finds the elder Brutus, of Cincinnatus, or of Regu place which, in relation to others, he is lus more civilized than the Rome of Cata. best fitted to fill, and where whatever line and Augustus ? Common sense things are just, honest and lovely are answers no ! and we need multiply enco
ncouraged, and whatever things are examples no further.
wrong and unseemly are checked and If, then, civilization is proportional suppressed :—if such be our idea of freeneither to the general virtue, nor general dom, then freedom is indeed a most imintelligence, nor general comfort—if, in portant condition of high attainment in some instances, it may go on increasing civilization. while these diminish-is it a thing worth But if of personal freedom we have troubling our heads about? we are ready merely the gross notion of a lawless cato ask. But let us not be too hasty. It price—of a consciousness of the most is plain we have an idea of civilization perfect individual independence-if we which contains the elements already imagine a state of human existence, (for enumerated; but it is equally plain they it cannot be called society,) where everydo not constitute its leading or essential body does what is right in his own eyes, character. And further, it is plain that, or what is wrong in his own eyes, if he according to the ideal we form to our please, and scarcely acknowledges any. minds, civilization is a good thing-most superior ; where there is no system of noble and most desirable—though in its government, or where the ideal of that imperfect and distorted practical mani- boasted sort of “government which gov. festations it contain or be associated with erns least” is realized; where there are many evils. But these manifestations, scarcely any general laws or general inthough evil when considered in their terests; where each individual is his own immediate connection, may in a wider law, his own sovereign, and his own view, in relation to the progress of the god: if such be our idea of personal freehuman race, be necessary links in the dom, so far from such freedom being an advancement of the good towards its con- element of civilization, it is the very in. summation. They may be regulated as dex and characteristic of a savage state. transition states—as merely the awkward Among savages you have liberty and age in passing from the childish simplicity equality in their unrestrained and perfect of rude times to a manly maturity not yet form. And if, by civil and political attained. After all, it is true, civilization freedom, we understand merely the form may be too highly extolled—being dis- of democratic government in distinction placed from its own subordinate sphere, from a monarchy or an aristocracy-not and elevated to the highest which belongs to say that those forms of themselves only to religion—just as good manners by no means exclude despotism and op
pression—the history of the world, and ing and strengthening of the intellectual the present state of Christendom, conspire powers, and the refining of the tastes to demonstrate that such a type of free and sensibilities--this is not indeed the dom is essential neither to the progress whole, but the central idea of civilization. nor to a high (observe, we do not say Herein lies the very substance of the the highest) advancement of civilization. thing itself-while Commerce and the Little children, in their simplicity, are Mechanic and Useful Arts are but exapt to think their fathers the most im- ternal means, aids, influences. The latportant personages in the world: in like ter are but the leaves of the tree of civil. manner, there are many among us who ization, while the former, if not the fruits, have grown up with the fixed idea, that are at least the flowers. These views are we are not only the freest and happiest, fully borne out by a reference to history but the best educated and most civilized and facts. Of the comparative civilination on earth. In their view, all that zation of all the ancient nations we judge now remains to be done is to American- by this test. Hence the Grecian and the ize the world. We will not offend their Roman tower high above all others as prejudices by instituting a comparison we look back over the wide waste of the between some of the old monarchies of past. To a hasty view no other objects Europe and ourselves. We will merely are visible. On a closer examination, ask them if republican Switzerland is, in however, appear evidences of a Jewish, their opinion, more civilized than abso. an Egyptian, an Indian, a Saracenic lute Prussia, or monarchical France, or civilization, but we refer them still to the aristocratical England? We could wish same standard. Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, that Christian civilization furnished more Carthage, were immensly rich, immenserepublics, with which to continue the ly powerful; but they are not known to comparison. Over our South American have made any considerable advances in sisters it is pious to throw a veil. But literature or the fine arts, and men are we will ask further, if France made no silent concerning their civilization. The social progress under the despotic govern same test we apply to modern nations. ment of Louis XIV.? or, if she has been Thus we judge of the civilization of going backward ever since the end of the France, of England, of Germany; and Reign of Terror ? or, if England has re- thus we infer that Italy, Spain, and Pormained stationary since Cromwell dis. tugal have been retrograding in later missed the Rump Parliament? The in- times. But to this point also, we shall quiry here is not whether civilization is have occasion to recur. a desirable thing—it is only about facts, If now we should venture to give a applying to them the term according to its definition of civilization, it would be ordinary and common-sense acceptation : the complete and harmonious development and so applying it, we find that civil- of man in all his appropriate relations to ization—in the highest state it has yet this world—or, more fully expressed, the reached—is not tied to the forms of a expanding and cultivating of all the pow. popular government. We shall have oc ers and capacities of man considered as a casion to recur to this point hereafter, social being ; especially of those higher and must now hasten to conclude the faculties which characterize man's proper answer to our preliminary question. nature; and including the refinement of
We mention then, finally, as factors the manners, tastes and feelings. In reand products of civilization, Science, Lit- ference to each man, considered individuerature and the Fine Arts, on the one ally, this process might be called humanhand; and Commerce, with the Mechani. ization, i.e., the complete drawing out cal and Useful Arts on the other. Both and unfolding of his proper naturehave an important bearing upon it, but making him perfectly a man-realizing its connection with the latter is much less his ideal character; (and hence, with direct than with the former. Its central singularly beautiful appropriateness, the idea is Science, Literature and the Fine proper studies of a liberal education used Arts. If it is considered as a process, a to be called, not only the Arts, but the becoming civilized, its central idea is Humanities). But as the nature of man progress in these departments; and if it can be thus completely expanded only in is considered as a state, a being civilized, society, the process is rightly called that idea is a high degree of attainment civilization. Man makes society, and in them. The cultivation of the mind, society civilizes man. Civilization ter. the unfolding, the discipline, the enlarg. minates therefore in the cultivation and
perfecting of individuals; but it is a ation. It enters with facility into the social cultivation and perfection. The characters and ideas of other nations, and self-improvement of each individual must of more imperfect forms of social culture; go on in living connection with the ob- and by impartially judging them, includes servation and appreciation of the progress and makes them its own. In fine, its made by others. The more extensive idea, its mission is to bring into one, the these two processes are, and the more past, the present and the future-all nathoroughly they interpenetrate and modify tions and all generations. Its spirit, each other, the more perfect the result. therefore, is both conservative and proIt is the internal which is to be unfolded, gressive. It keeps up the continuity of but it can be unfolded only in connection the race. Its monuments are enduring. with the external. The subjection is to Its apostles live and labor for all time, be guided, corrected, stimulated by the though often obscure and neglected in objection : reflection, discipline are to be their own. conjoined with observation, conversation, What share have we in such a civilizaintercourse the wider the better. This tion? What are our claims and prospects is the way in which war, and one of the as compared with the leading nations of ways in which commerce, exert so bene- Europe? We proceed to offer some views ficial an influence on civilization. Hence in answer to these queries with a deep the debt which modern Europe owes to sense of insufficiency, but at the same the Crusades. To nothing is civilization time with a clear consciousness of an more directly opposed than to narrow. earnest and impartial spirit. If what mindedness. A man truly civilized is shall be said be true and sound as far as distinguished for breadth and compre- it goes, we trust that, in view of the hension of view. He has what the Ger- immensity of the subject, our readers mans call a world-consciousness. He will pardon some incoherence and great carries about with him the familiar feel. deficiencies. ing that he is here in a world where We, Americans, are often accused of there are not only New Englanders, with indulging a vain and boastful spirit-and their peculiar prejudices and institutions not without reason; though it seems to -not only Americans and Europeans, be quite forgotten by our accusers that but Hindoos also, and Turks, and Tar we are not altogether singular in this tars, and Chinese and Japanese, who, respect--nor are our boasts altogether like his own neighbors, are all proud of groundless-nor is it a greater sin to boast their several countries, creeds and charm than to traduce. If we boast more than acters; in a world, too, where there have others, it is because we have more people been Jews, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians among us who take it into their beads and Arabians : in short, his mind is to a that they have a right to think for them. certain degree a geographical and his. selves, and not only for themselves but torical omnipresence. He feels, more for the rest of the world—more mouths over, that he is in vital connection with which are opened not only to utter the a race which has been, and is, in a pro- minds of their owners, but to serve as cess of development wherein he shares, the organs of the nation. Every little from which he has received, and to which village newspaper dares to speak in the he must contribute. He is not a mere name of the American people, and every isolated individual. In all the fortunes petty 4th of July orator and Lyceum of the race he takes sensible interest. lecturer, considers himself the pro tempore He is a man--and whatever concerns mouth-piece of the whole country. Now humanity comes home to his bosom. it is certainly assuming more than any Columbus is said to have discovered considerate man will venture to maintain, America; though multitudes were on the to suppose that we can furnish such spot before him. But they knew only of myriads of men with views equally en. the existence of their own tribes, and of larged and minds equally cultivated, with their immediate neighbors, whom they the select few who presume to stand chanced o meet in war or hunting—they forth as the representatives of other nahad no history, no future, i.e., they tions. Among the mass of the people in were savages : they were not properly most other countries, there is probably men ; and hence they are said to have as deep-seated a feeling of their national been discovered as if they were mere superiority as there is among ourselves ; things. True civilization also implies a but this feeling is among them compara. ready sympathy and power of appreci- tively silent, because there is too little
mental activity to attempt its utterance, humored national raillery, but in conand too little consciousness of the mere temptuous sneers and studied insults. existence of any rival to furnish so much And if we have resented or protested as a motive for expressing it. Thus much against such treatment, they coolly shrugin defence of our alleged habit of self- ged their shoulders and assured us we laudation--as against others; yet as were altogether too thin-skinned. It is among ourselves, far be it from us to say true we ought to have had self-respect one word in its defence. It is a fault enough to laugh at such preposterous airs which, so far as it exists, is a symptom to return silence for contempt, and pity of narrow-mindedness, and therefore a for insult. But the fact is, we had cherishdrawback to our claims to the true spirit ed a reverential regard for England as the of civilization.
home and the burial-place of our common But before dismissing this topic, we ancestors; and, forgetting that the present cannot forbear some further comments generation of English were no older or upon the increasingly contemptuous and more venerable than ourselves, we natuinsolent tone which British travelers and rally transferred to them that deference British criticism, and the British press which we felt for England as our mother generally, have chosen to assume towards country. Hence our soreness. They knew this country. What are the private griefs their advantage and they have abused it. and personal motives of the particular Latterly they have seemed determined to writers, we know not-we care not. cure us of our thin-skinned sensitiveness They may be goaded on in the spirit of and childish veneration both together, and denunciation by pecuniary losses or pecu we trust by the time they have exhausted niary rewards; and the explanation may their store of vituperation-if, indeed, be admitted in their personal defence, there is any more ink in the bottle—they though not much to their personal honor; will have succeeded to their hearts' conbut inasmuch as this has become the pre- tent. As to English travelers——they are vailing, almost universal spirit of the the same everywhere. They seem to highest literary organs of the British regard all the rest of the world as made nation, it may fairly be assumed as indi- expressly for Englishmen to travel in, cating the general tone of English feels and to judge well or ill of it according ing—especially of the higher classes of as it suits their traveling, convenience. English society, towards this country. Every class of creatures is affected by England always felt towards us as a step- things according to its own nature. The mother, and that feeling has not been books of English travelers in this country softened by seeing her own children always remind us of the far-traveled deprived in our favor of so fair a portion stork in the fable, who, when the fox of the paternal inheritance. There was asked of him an account of the foreign always something irresistibly ludicrous lands he had visited, began to name over in the lofty bearing which every English all the stagnant pools, the bogs and writer felt himself entitled to assume to. marshes where he had found the most wards America—though he had never savory worms and the fattest frogs. seen beyond the narrow precincts of his The English at home are ridiculously native island—and if he had, it made no ignorant of us—not only of our condigreat difference; he always carried Eng. tion and institutions, but of our very land with him wherever he went—and geography. Men moving in the most though he might be little more than a respectable society in England have not beardless boy; yet born himself in a cer so distinct an idea of the geography of tain little island, we on a magnificent this country as our school-boys ordinarily continent, he felt authorised and com have of that of Caffraria or the Barbary missioned to assume towards us the office States—not to say, of England, for of a schoolmaster. Gravely seating him- obvious reasons.
We have seen a forty self in a pedagogue's chair, he called us shilling atlas, published in London in the before him to take a lesson in manners year of our Lord 1840, in which the and morals, and receive a severe castiga. separate map of the United States extion for our awkwardness and mis- hibited but fourteen States; one of the demeanors. English writers have not old thirteen, New Hampshire, being omitbantered us as gentlemen and equals— ted; and, of the new States, only Vermont they have assumed to chastise us as being and Kentucky added. The palpable and themselves our acknowledged superiors ludicrous blunders of Alison in his history and tutors. They have dealt not in good of the late war between this country and