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The habit of drinking to intoxication was termed by Dr. Johnson, a northern vice:' but a comprehensive survey of nations and climates will lead to the conclusion that this vice is more dependent on moral than on physical causes. It is rare under a despotic government, because noisy conviviality is hardly compatible with that stillness which is inspired by the watchful jealousy of an absolute ruler: but among independent tribes, such as the South American savages, the heat of climate forms no obstacle to its excesses. It is common to ascribe to the power of the atmosphere those sexual irregularities which are prevalent in tropical climates; yet no natives of a frozen region can be more indifferent to females than the Charibs and Brazilians. That warm climates are in general characterized by such excesses cannot be denied: but their origin is to be traced to the exemption from labour which is afforded by fertility of soil; while in the less favoured countries of the North, the imperious calls for labour diminish the indulgence of these propensities. Yet it will be found that, in those quarters of the North in which a plentiful fishery, or other causes, render the means of subsistence abundant, the laxity of morals is not inferior to that of Southern Asia.
While climate, however, cannot be considered as having any direct influence on moral character, its indirect power must be acknowleged to be great. A warm climate, by increasing fertility, multiplies numbers and augments wealth, while it affords, in a great degree, exemption from labour:circumstances, all of which belong, as we have seen, to the class of progressive principles, and operate powerfully in the acceleration of improvement. Accordingly, the progress of society has been much quicker in warm than in cold climates. The fertile plains of Assyria and Egypt have long been the acknowleged nurseries of the arts; and they would have continued to send forth the instructors of mankind, had not that despotism, to which countries easily traversed are always liable, checked their career in its commencement, and placed them behind their more independent competitors in the North.
We have now finished our notice of that part of Mr. Mur ray's work which is appropriated to the exposition of his general principles, and are arrived at the division of the book which exemplifies his theory by references to the actual condition of mankind. These references are directed to the earlier periods of society, and do not come lower down than the termination of the savage state. They are thus introduced :
It has been supposed, that every conclusion which can be formed respecting the earliest stages in the progress of man, must be beyond
the reach of authentic history, and can rest only upon uncertain conjecture. But to conjectural history, farther than as an object of amusement, I have never been disposed to attach much value. operations of nature are not regulated by the standard of human wisdom. The steps by which she proceeds in accomplishing her ends, when fully developed, discover striking marks of design; but they are almost always different from what might previously have been supposed or expected. In the course of my own enquires, at least, I have rarely found her taking that course which we, a priori, might have imagined that she would take. Hence an attempt to delineate her processes, according to our own previous ideas, can hardly fail of leading into error. Where materials were wanting, I have therefore preferred gleaning the few facts which history affords, to an indulgence in hypothetical supposition. But the truth is, that here, as in many other instances, those who seek will find; and that if the enquirer has recourse to conjecture, it will be less from the absolute want of facts, than from not duly availing himself of those which are within his reach. Of late, particularly, the intercourse of Europeans with these carly tribes has been so much extended; their condition has been described by such intelligent and respectable authorities, as to afford to the enquirer of the present day, advantages greatly superior to those enjoyed by his predecessors. We have now under our eye, as it were, almost every possible form of human society; it seems desirable to seize and delineate them, before, by the influence of communication, it be all melted down into one mase.
Man, before arriving at the habits of pastoral life, and the measure of civilization which it involves, is generally designated by the epithet of Savage. Concerning the character which he then exhibits, opinions have been various and contradictory. Nor can this be wondered at, considering the manner in which they have been formed. Some have drawn the picture merely from fancy; while others, conceiving its appearance at this early period to be universally the same, have formed their ideas of it, merely from observing the manners of some single tribe. But besides that savage life exhibits within itself the most striking varieties, and even contrasts,—we shall also find, on attentive examination, that there is a state prior to the savage state, and exhibiting an aspect totally different. This state is distinguished by the extreme smallness of its numbers, the complete absence of the progressive principles, the want of all political union, and by an estrangement from violence and bloodshed of every kind. I shall therefore call it the Primitive State. The two first forms of it are not very inviting, or possess, at least, only a negative excellence. It is not till we advance a little farther, that the character which it assumes is peculiarly amiable.
The forms into which it may be divided are three. The classification, for reasons stated above, is entirely determined by the cir cumstance of number.
1. Solitary Individuals.
2. Separate Families.
3. A Few Families United.
On the first of these classes, that of individuals grown up in absolute solitude, it can answer little purpose to enlarge. The second class, that of a family living by itself, and rarely holding intercourse with any other family, has as yet been found only on the mountains of Lapland. Indolence, helplessness, and terror at strange sights, are their principal characteristics. -The most interesting form of primitive society is the third class, in which we find a few families living together, but separated in a great measure from the rest of the world. Of this stage, the most conspicuous example is exhibited by the Greenlanders, who are inoffensive in their behaviour to each other, and have not even an abusive word in their language; their property also seems to be held in common. This class is seen to great advantage in the Nicobar islands, a small cluster in the Indian ocean; in St. John's, the smallest of the Azores; and in St. Kilda, the most remote of the Hebrides, where 200 inhabitants live together, secluded from the world, and in a happy ignorance of crime. The feature which distinguishes this from other rude classes is a steady industry in obtaining the means of subsistence.
After having described man in primitive simplicity, Mr. Murray proceeds to delineate the savage state, which he divides into three stages: I. Tribes imperfectly formed. II. Small nations in a state of freedom. III. Small nations subject to despotism. In the first of these stages, the constitution of men into separate nations being yet unknown, no room is given to the combined operations of war; and that love of fighting and revenge, which marks the savage state, can be displayed only in individual quarrels. The brutal treatment of women, ascribed indiscriminately by superficial observers to every class of savages, is most conspicuous in this stage. Not only is labour made to devolve on them, and their value is estimated merely by their ability to endure fatigue, but their scars and bruises bear evidence of the violence to which they are habitually subjected. As voluntary submission to such tyranny is not to be expected, a wife can be obtained only by force; and it is common to attack a female of a hostile family or tribe, when unprotected, and to drag her, stunned with blows, to her new habitation. Superstition, dishonesty, and sometimes murder, enter into the character of this early period
of savage life. The natives of New South Wales, near Botanybay, the American Indians, north of Hudson's-bay, and the inhabitants of Navigator's Island, belong to this disgusting class.
The next description of savages, that of small natio is in a state of freedom, comprizes by far the largest proportion of American Indians. The Iroquois in North America, and the
Charibs and Brazilians in the South, may be reckoned among the most complete examples of it. A division into tribes has now taken place; individual quarrelling has given way to war; and unbounded ferocity towards a hostile tribe is the accompaniment of strong attachment to the members of their own. War is carried on with obstinate rancour; and, as reputation is acquired not by open courage but by the extent of execution which is effected, ambuscade and stratagem are the favourite modes of operation. As they have no interest in preserving their prisoners, it is customary to subject them to an inhuman death; torture being common in North America, and cannibalism in the South. Yet this barbarity towards enemies is blended with great mildness to each other. Profound peace generally reigns among them; and when quarrels occur, they are easily appeased. Their habits of continued reflection, both in council and in the field, also raise them, on the score of intellect, greatly above the preceding stage. Although extremely hospitable, they are insensible to the pleasures of society. On public occasions, they are noted for making long speeches : but the quality of their harangues has been in some measure misunderstood. Their allusions to objects of nature are introduced, not as with us for ornament, but for explanation, and the prominent characteristics of their discourses are deliberation and good sense. Their treatment of women is by no means so degrading as in the previous stage; and their well known sexual indifference is chiefly to be ascribed to the power of habit, originating in their ambition to maintain a character of unvarying sensibility.
A despotic government was not for some time believed to exist among savages: but, as our acquaintance with them extended, the prevalence of this system was discovered to be considerable. It takes place chiefly among those tribes who live in the neighbourhood of the sea, and who possess subsistence in greater abundance than the inhabitants of the inland country. The increase of numbers, and the exemption from labour, which are consequent on an abundance of provisions, produce that step in the progress of society which is marked_by_the exchange of a republican for a monarchical government. The Natches, the Indians of Virginia and Florida, of Nootka Sound, of the Society Islands, of the Friendly and Pelew Islands, and of the greater part of New Zealand, fall under this description. Their characteristics are a veneration for their chief, carried often so far as to induce them to sacrifice themselves at his death; compararive gaiety of manners, produced by their exclusion from deliberation on national affairs; and increased attention on the part of the male sex to private business,
business, a disposition which paves the way for a transition from hunting to pasture and agriculture. On the other hand, the mind being no longer elevated by a participation in public concerns, nor occupied with anxiety for subsistence, becomes devoted to coarse pleasures; and it is here that we discover for the first time an excess in sexual intercourse. The subdued character produced by despotism leads also, by degrees, to superstition, and to the influence of priesthood. Our ancestors, when attacked by the Romans, appear to have been in this stage; and among modern nations, the inhabitants of the Pelew Islands may be cited as affording the most favourable example of it.
From the outline which we have given, our readers will be enabled to form an idea of the plan of Mr. Murray's book. Our impression of its value has rendered us more desirous of conveying a conception of its general contents, than of starting objections to his principles, or of pointing out the mistakes into which he has occasionally fallen. We might have stopped to comment for example, on the sentence, (p. 103.) in which, speaking of the necessity of labour' as an obstacle to improvement, he says, I am disposed to think that in consequence of the extension of machinery and the division of labour, a provision is making for gradually releasing the human race from this severe though necessary bondage; and for allowing them a greater portion of leisure, in proportion as they become qualified to make a proper use of it.' This is but a faint and partial representation of the improvements that would follow a long continued cultivation of science; as Mr. Murray will feel when he has extended farther his researches. into political economy and the history of civilized society. Again, in page 89, he says the mild government of a single person, immediately succeeding a republican form, is, of all political situations, the most favourable to literature. What does history teach us, but that literature is more successfully cultivated after the cessation of political agitations than during their continuance? The mild government of a single person is no doubt good for literature: but, if there be any truth in the influence of freedom on literature, a mild government in which the people have a voice is incomparably better.-Notwithstanding occasional blemishes, however, this work has a strong claim on public attention. It contains much that is new, and more which, without being new, has not before been brought into a connected shape, nor made subservient to a course of enlightened reasoning. It will not bear a comparison, either in elegance of style or profundity of thought, with the labours of Millar on similar subjects: but it may be read with great advantage