« ПредишнаНапред »
among civilized nations, for some imaginary honor, or for some disputable territory: but, where the prize of victory consists in the flesh of the vanquished. It is only necessary to take into account the element of population, in order to complete this revolting picture of human wretchedness. If the savage has not foresight enough to provide for his own wants, it is not very likely that he will be more careful to provide for the wants of his family. In such a state of society there can be no moral restraint to keep the population within the bounds of an uncertain and scanty subsistence: these bounds, however, it cannot exceed, and we may look for the positive checks which restrain it, in those extirpating wars to which we have already alluded, as well as in the licentious and impure habits of savages, and in those famines and pestilential diseases which are occasioned by their wretched mode of life.
In this state of things we may suppose that some savage, who had often experienced the miseries of extreme want, bethinks himself of laying up part of the provisions which he has caught to-day, to insure against the uncertainty of to-morrow's expedition. We may suppose that he feels the benefit of this new arrangement, and that, in consequence, he continues it. There may thus originate, in the mind of the savage a sense of property. Savage, though he be, he is yet man; and on man, even in this most degraded of all conditions, may that rule of universal application have some influence, "As ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so to them." From a feeling of attachment to his own property, and a wish to defend it from the attacks of his neighbor, may he learn to have respect for the property of others;
and thus, from a sense of property, may there emerge a sense of justice.
This, however, is an important step in the progress of morality; and we shall find that it is 'immediately followed by a step as important in the march of economic improvement.
An example has been shown of the good effects of foresight, and property is now in some degree regarded; it therefore becomes a general custom among the savages to hoard up the overplus of a successful hunting or fishing expedition, in order to insure against future emergencies. By and by they perceive, that, if they can but keep the cattle which they take, alive, they thus acquire a kind of property, which not only furnishes a safeguard against future want, but which has also this peculiar advantage, that it is continually increasing. In a little time they find that this live stock, which is kept at home, multiplies so rapidly, as not only to enable them to bear out against the failure of a single expedition of fishing or the chase, but to render them independent of fishing and the chase altogether. Though they can now live without engaging in the toils of their old occupations, and are no longer obliged to roam through the woods in search of subsistence, yet they are by no means idle; their increasing flocks and herds demand every day more and more of their attention. Instead of hunters and fishers, they now become shepherds; and, to a state of most degraded barbarism, there now succeeds the pastoral condition greatly more improved indeed than the former, yet still very far removed from a state of perfect civilization.
The pastoral condition is one that has been a favorite theme with the poets of every age and
nation; and in their writings it has been pictured forth as a state of purest simplicity and most perfect innocence. Green fields, and flowing streams, and cattle browsing upon their banks, furnish indeed very beautiful imagery for poetry, and naturally lead us to imagine how simple, and how innocent their manners must be, who are conversant with objects so pure and so peaceful. But there is a fearful contrast between the face of external nature, and the heart of man. The curse that was pronounced upon the ground; hath still left many a lovely trace of Eden behind it; but that withering blight which hath gone forth over the face of our moral scenery, hath left scarce a vestige in our world, of primaeval sanctity and justice.
Notwithstanding all that has been said or sung about the happiness, and the innocence of the pastoral state, it seems to stand in the scale of morality and civilization just where we have placed it, at a very small distance from the grossest barbarism.
When once a number of savages have turned from the ruder occupations of fishing and the chase, to the tending of cattle, they find that the fodder of the place where they dwell is soon consumed. They are thus obliged to proceed in search of new pasture ground, which again is soon exhausted and left in its turn. In this wandering condition they find it necessary to form little bands or tribes, both for the purpose of self-defence, and also to enable them to extirpate or expel from their territories, the inhabitants of such districts, as may seem most fit to be converted into pasture ground for their cattle. The morality of these pastoral tribes seems much akin to that
which is generally to be met with in a band of highwaymen, who must necessarily keep up some semblance of justice among themselves, but whose business it is to plunder every body that does not belong to their gang. This character but ill accords with that which is assigned to them in the high-wrought descriptions of pastoral poetry; but unfortunately it is their real one. Mr. Malthus, in his work on population, describes the Scythian Shepherds, as actuated by a most savage and destructive spirit; and as an exemplification of this, he tells us that "when the Moguls had subdued the northern provinces of China, it was proposed, in calm and deliberate council, to exterminate all the inhabitants of that populous country, that the vacant land might be converted to the pasture of cattle."
The economic state of pastoral nations, seems quite as miserable as their moral condition. There is still but little of prudential restraint to confine the population within the limits of subsistence; and still the checks, as in the case of utter barbarism, are vice, and famine, and pestilence, and
It is long before, by that gradual process of improvement which is going on in every society, the morals of such a people are so far improved, as to give security sufficient for carrying on the operations of agriculture: and it is still longer, perhaps, before by their establishment prejudices are so far removed, as to induce them to change the employment of the shepherd for that of the husbandman. But when once this period arrives, improvement advances apace. The land begins to yield a rent to the landlord. The principle of the division of labor begins to operate. New inventions are
consequently made, and the productive powers of labor are almost infinitely increased. A knowledge of science and the arts is disseminated, and then follow in their train all the blessings of civilization and refinement.
This process, tardy as it is, seems to be the natural one, by which a society advances from a state of barbarism to a civilized condition, and through the whole of it may we behold how the moral and the economic blend together, and mu-. tually influence and affect each other. And it is a fact, not the least deserving of our notice, in this beautiful process, that though the moral and the economic are mutually subservient the one to the other, yet it is the moral, generally speaking, which takes the lead. Where, by the gradual progress of improvement, a change is effected in the moral condition of a community, it is instantaneously followed up by a corresponding change in its economic condition. And not one step can be taken in the path of economic improvement, till the way has first been prepared by the advancement of a purer morality. This fact, we apprehend, if properly appreciated, would lead to the solution of a problem in economic science, which has long engaged the attention of every genuine philanthropist. It is a melancholy fact, that a very large portion of the human family are still sunk in the depths of utter barbarism, or but a few steps removed from it: and the problem is,
To civilize them. We are aware that nature herself would accomplish the task in the lapse of ages, but the question is, cannot we hasten her operations? It is extremely natural to suppose, and, accordingly, it has been the opinion of most of the philosophers of our day, that the way to