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and equipage of this wandering people.

But in whatever way rude nations subsist, there are certain points in
which, under the first impressions of property, they nearly agree. Homer
either lived with a people in this stage of their progress, or found
himself engaged to exhibit their character. Tacitus had made them the
subject of a particular treatise; and if this be an aspect under which
mankind deserve to be viewed, it must be confessed, that we have singular
advantages in collecting their features. The portrait has already been
drawn by the ablest hands, and gives, at one view, in the writings of these
celebrated authors, whatever has been scattered in the relations of
historians, or whatever we have opportunities to observe in the actual
manners of men, who still remain in a similar state.

In passing from the condition we have described, to this we have at present
in view, mankind still retain many marks of their earliest character. They
are still averse to labour, addicted to war, admirers of fortitude, and in
the language of Tacitus, more lavish of their blood than of their sweat.
[Footnote: Pigrum quin immo et iners videtur, sudore acquirere quod possis
sanguine parare.] They are fond of fantastic ornaments in their dress, and
endeavour to fill up the listless intervals of a life addicted to violence,
with hazardous sports, and with games of chance. Every servile occupation
they commit to women or slaves. But we may apprehend, that the individual
having now found a separate interest, the bands of society must become less
firm, and domestic disorders more frequent. The members of every community,
being distinguished among themselves by unequal possessions, the ground of
a permanent and palpable subordination is laid.

These particulars accordingly take place among mankind, in passing from the
savage to what may be called the barbarous state. Members of the same
community enter into quarrels of competition or revenge. They unite in
following leaders, who are distinguished by their fortunes, and by the
lustre of their birth. They join the desire of spoil with the love of
glory; and from an opinion, that what is acquired by force justly pertains
to the victor, they become hunters of men, and bring every contest to the
decision of the sword.

Every nation is a band of robbers, who prey without restraint, or remorse,
on their neighbours. Cattle, says Achilles, may be seized in every field;
and the coasts of the Aegean were accordingly pillaged by the heroes of
Homer, for no other reason than because those heroes chose to possess
themselves of the brass and iron, the cattle, the slaves, and the women,
which were found among the nations around them.

A Tartar mounted on his horse, is an animal of prey, who only enquires
where cattle are to be found, and how far he must go to possess them. The
monk, who had fallen under the displeasure of Mangu Chan, made his peace,
by promising, that the pope, and the Christian princes, should make a
surrender of all their herds. [Footnote: Rubruquis.]

A similar spirit reigned, without exception, in all the barbarous nations
of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The antiquities of Greece and Italy, and the
fables of every ancient poet, contain examples of its force. It was this
spirit that brought our ancestors first into the provinces of the Roman
empire; and that afterward, more perhaps than their reverence for the
cross, led them to the east, to share with the Tartars in the spoils of the
Saracen empire.

From the descriptions contained in the last section, we may incline to
believe, that mankind, in their simplest state; are on the eve of erecting
republics. Their love of equality, their habit of assembling in public
councils, and their zeal for the tribe to which they belong, are
qualifications that fit them to act under that species of government; and
they seem to have but a few steps to make in order to reach its
establishment. They have only to define the numbers of which their councils
shall consist, and to settle the forms of their meeting: they have only to
bestow a permanent authority for repressing disorders, and to enact a few
rules in favour of that justice they have already acknowledged, and from
inclination so strictly observe.

But these steps are far from being so easily made, as they appear on a
slight or a transient view. The resolution of choosing, from among their
equals, the magistrate to whom they give from thenceforward a right to
control their own actions, is far from the thoughts of simple men; and no
persuasion, perhaps, could make them adopt this measure, or give them any
sense of its use.

Even after nations have chosen a military leader, they do not entrust him
with any species of civil authority. The captain among the, Caribbees did
not pretend to decide in domestic disputes; the terms _jurisdiction_
and _government_ were unknown in their tongue. [Footnote: History of
the Caribbees.]

Before this important change was admitted, men must be accustomed to the
distinction of ranks; and before they are sensible that subordination is
requisite, they must have arrived at unequal conditions by chance. In
desiring property, they only mean to secure their subsistence; but the
brave who lead in war, have likewise the largest share in its spoils. The
eminent are fond of devising hereditary honours; and the multitude, who
admire the parent, are ready to extend their esteem to his offspring.

Possessions descend, and the lustre of family grows brighter with age.
Hercules, who perhaps was an eminent warrior, became a god with posterity,
and his race was set apart for royalty and sovereign power. When the
distinctions of fortune and those of birth are conjoined, the chieftain
enjoys a pre-eminence, as well at the feast as in the field. His followers
take their place in subordinate stations; and instead of considering
themselves as parts of a community, they rank as the followers of a chief,
and take their designation from the name of their leader. They find a new
object of public affection in defending his person, and in supporting his
station; they lend of their substance to form his estate; they are guided
by his smiles and his frowns; and court as the highest distinction, a share
in the feast which their own contributions have furnished.

As the former state of mankind seemed to point at democracy, this seems to
exhibit the rudiments of monarchical government. But it is yet far short of
that establishment which is known in after ages by the name of
_monarchy_. The distinction between the leader and the follower, the
prince and the subject, is still but imperfectly marked: their pursuits and
occupations are not different; their minds are not unequally cultivated;
they feed from the same dish; they sleep together on the ground; the
children of the king, as well as those of the subject, are employed in
tending the flock; and the keeper of the swine was a prime counsellor at
the court of Ulysses.

The chieftain, sufficiently distinguished from his tribe, to excite their
admiration, and to flatter their vanity by a supposed affinity to his noble
descent, is the object of their veneration, not of their envy: he is
considered as the common bond of connection, not as their common master; is
foremost in danger, and has a principal share in their troubles: his glory
is placed in the number of his attendants, in his superior magnanimity and
valour; that of his followers, in being ready to shed their blood in his
service. [Footnote: Tacitus de moribus Germanorum.]

The frequent practice of war tends to strengthen the bands of society, and
the practice of depredation itself engages men in trials of mutual
attachment and courage. What threatened to ruin and overset every good
disposition in the human breast, what seemed to banish justice from the
societies of men, tends to unite the species in clans and fraternities;
formidable indeed, and hostile to one another, but, in the domestic society
of each, faithful, disinterested, and generous. Frequent dangers, and the
experience of fidelity and valour, awaken the love of those virtues, render
them a subject of admiration, and endear their possessors.

Actuated by great passions, the love of glory, and the desire of victory;
roused by the menaces of an enemy, or stung with revenge; in suspense
between the prospects of ruin or conquest, the barbarian spends every
moment of relaxation in sloth. He cannot descend to the pursuits of
industry or mechanical labour: the beast of prey is a sluggard; the hunter
and the warrior sleeps, while women or slaves are made to toil for his
bread. But shew him a quarry at a distance, he is bold, impetuous, artful,
and rapacious; no bar can withstand his violence, and no fatigue can allay
his activity.

Even under this description, mankind are generous and hospitable to
strangers, as well as kind, affectionate, and gentle, in their domestic
society. [Footnote: Jean du Plan Carpen. Rubruquis, Caesar, Tacit.]
Friendship and enmity are to them terms of the greatest importance: they
mingle not their functions together; they have singled out their enemy, and
they have chosen their friend. Even in depredation, the principal object is
glory; and spoil is considered as the badge of victory. Nations and tribes
are their prey: the solitary traveller, by whom they can acquire only the
reputation of generosity, is suffered to pass unhurt, or is treated with
splendid munificence.

Though distinguished into small cantons under their several chieftains, and
for the most part separated by jealousy and animosity; yet when pressed by
wars and formidable enemies, they sometimes unite in greater bodies. Like
the Greeks in their expedition to Troy, they follow some remarkable leader,
and compose a kingdom of many separate tribes. But such coalitions are
merely occasional; and even during their continuance, more resemble a
republic than monarchy. The inferior chieftains reserve their importance,
and intrude, with an air of equality, into the councils of their leader, as
the people of their several clans commonly intrude upon them. [Footnote:
Kolbe: Description of the Cape of Good Hope.] Upon what motive indeed could
we suppose, that men who live together in the greatest familiarity, and
amongst whom the distinctions of rank are so obscurely marked, would resign
their personal sentiments and inclinations, or pay an implicit submission
to a leader who can neither overawe nor corrupt?

Military force must be employed to extort, or the hire of the venal to buy,
that engagement which the Tartar comes under to his prince, when he
promises, "That he will go where he shall be commanded; that he will come
when he shall be called; that he will kill whoever is pointed out to him;
and, for the future, that he will consider the voice of the King as a
sword." [Footnote: Simon de St. Quintin.]

These are the terms to which even the stubborn heart of the barbarian has
been reduced, in consequence of a despotism he himself had established; and
men have in that low state of the commercial arts, in Europe, as well as in
Asia, tasted of political slavery. When interest prevails in every breast,
the sovereign and his party cannot escape the infection: he employs the
force with which he is intrusted to turn his people into a property, and to
command their possessions for his profit or his pleasure. If riches are by
any people made the standard of good or of evil, let them beware of the
powers they intrust to their prince. "With the Suiones," says Tacitus,
"riches are in high esteem; and this people are accordingly disarmed, and
reduced to slavery." [Footnote: De moribus Germanorum.]

It is in this woful condition that mankind, being slavish, interested,
insidious, deceitful, and bloody, bear marks, if not of the least curable,
surely of the most lamentable sort of corruption. [Footnote: Chardin's
Travels.] Among them, war is the mere practice of rapine, to enrich the
individual; commerce is turned into a system of snares and impositions; and
government by turns oppressive or weak. It were happy for the human race,
when guided by interest, and not governed by laws, that being split into
nations of a moderate extent, they found in every canton some natural bar
to its farther enlargement, and met with occupation enough in maintaining
their independence, without being able to extend their dominion.

There is not disparity of rank, among men in rude ages, sufficient to give
their communities the form of legal monarchy; and in a territory of
considerable extent, when united under one head, the warlike and turbulent
spirit of its inhabitants seems to require the bridle of despotism and
military force. Where any degree of freedom remains, the powers of the
prince are, as they were in most of the rude monarchies of Europe,
extremely precarious, and depend chiefly on his personal character: where,
on the contrary, the powers of the prince are above the control of his
people, they are likewise above the restrictions of justice. Rapacity and
terror become the predominant motives of conduct, and form the character of
the only parties into which mankind are divided; that of the oppressor, and
that of the oppressed.

This calamity threatened Europe for ages, under the conquest and settlement
of its new inhabitants. [Footnote: See Hume's History of the Tudors. There
seemed to be nothing wanting to establish a perfect despotism in that
house, but a few regiments of troops under the command of the crown.] It
has actually taken place in Asia, where similar conquests have been made;
and even without the ordinary opiates of effeminacy, or a servile weakness,
founded on luxury, it has surprised the Tartar on his wain, in the rear of
his herds. Among this people, in the heart of a great continent, bold and
enterprising warriors arose; they subdued by surprise, or superior
abilities, the contiguous hordes; they gained, in their progress,
accessions of numbers and of strength; and, like a torrent increasing as it
descends, became too strong for any bar that could be opposed to their
passage. The conquering tribe, during a succession of ages, furnished the
prince with his guards; and while they themselves were allowed to share in
its spoils, were the voluntary tools of oppression. In this manner has
despotism and corruption found their way into regions so much renowned for
the wild freedom of nature: a power which was the terror of every
effeminate province is disarmed, and the nursery of nations is itself gone
to decay. [Footnote: See the History of the Huns.]

Where rude nations escape this calamity, they require the exercise of
foreign wars to maintain domestic peace; when no enemy appears from abroad,
they have leisure for private feud, and employ that courage in their
dissentions at home, which in time of war is employed in defence of their

"Among the Gauls," says Caesar, "there are subdivisions, not only in every
nation, and in every district and village, but almost in every house, every
one must fly to some patron for protection." [Footnote: De Bello Gallico,
lib. 6.] In this distribution of parties, not only the feuds of clans, but
the quarrels of families, even the differences and competitions of
individuals, are decided by force. The sovereign, when unassisted by
superstition, endeavours in vain to employ his jurisdiction, or to procure
a submission to the decisions of law. By a people who are accustomed to owe
their possessions to violence, and who despise fortune itself without the
reputation of courage, no umpire is admitted but the sword. Scipio offered
his arbitration to terminate the competition of two Spaniards in a disputed
succession: "That," said they, "we have already refused to our relations:
we do not submit our difference to the judgment of men; and even among the
gods, we appeal to Mars alone." [Footnote: Livy.]

It is well known that the nations of Europe carried this mode of proceeding
to a degree of formality unheard of in other parts of the world: the civil
and criminal judge could, in most cases, do no more than appoint the lists,
and leave the parties to decide their cause by the combat: they apprehended
that the victor had a verdict of the gods in his favour: and when they
dropped in any instance this extraordinary form of process, they
substituted in its place some other more capricious appeal to chance; in
which they likewise thought that the judgment of the gods was declared.

The fierce nations of Europe were even fond of the combat, as an exercise
and a sport. In the absence of real quarrels, companions challenged each
other to a trial of skill, in which one of them frequently perished. When
Scipio celebrated the funeral of his father and his uncle, the Spaniards
came in pairs to fight, and by a public exhibition of their duels, to
increase the solemnity. [Footnote: Livy, lib. 3.]

In this wild and lawless state, where the effects of true religion would
have been so desirable, and so salutary, superstition frequently disputes
the ascendant even with the admiration of valour; and an order of men, like
the Druids among the ancient Gauls and Britons, [Footnote: Caesar.] or some
pretender to divination, as at the Cape of Good Hope, finds, in the credit
which is paid to his sorcery, a way to the possession of power: his magic
wand comes in competition with the sword itself; and, in the manner of the
Druids, gives the first rudiments of civil government to some, or, like the
supposed descendant of the sun among the Natchez, and the Lama among the
Tartars, to others, an early taste of despotism and absolute slavery.

We are generally at a loss to conceive how mankind can subsist under
customs and manners extremely different from our own; and we are apt to
exaggerate the misery of barbarous times, by an imagination of what we
ourselves should suffer in a situation to which we are not accustomed. But
every age hath its consolations, as well as its sufferings. [Footnote:
Priscus, when employed on an embassy to Attila, was accosted in Greek, by a
person who wore the dress of a Scythian. Having expressed surprise, and
being desirous to know the cause of his stay in so wild a company, was
told, that this Greek had been a captive, and for some time a slave, till
he obtained his liberty in reward of some remarkable action. "I live more
happily here," says he, "than ever I did under the Roman government: for
they who live with the Scythians, if they can endure the fatigues of war,
have nothing else to molest them; they enjoy their possessions undisturbed;
whereas you are continually a prey to foreign enemies, or to bad
government; you are forbid to carry arms in your own defence; you suffer
from the remissness and ill conduct of those who are appointed to protect
you; the evils of peace are even worse than those of war; no punishment is
ever inflicted on the powerful or the rich; no mercy is shown to the poor;
although your institutions Footnote: were wisely devised, yet, in the
management of corrupted men, their effects are pernicious and cruel."
_Excerpta de legationibus._] In the interval of occasional outrages,
the friendly intercourse of men, even in their rudest condition, is
affectionate and happy. [Footnote: D'Arvieux's History of the wild Arabs.]
In rude ages the persons and properties of individuals are secure; because
each has a friend, as well as an enemy; and if the one is disposed to
molest, the other is ready to protect; and the very admiration of valour,
which in some instances tends to sanctify violence, inspires likewise
certain maxims of generosity and honour, that tend to prevent the
commission of wrongs.

Men bear with the defects of their policy, as they do with hardships and
inconveniencies in their manner of living. The alarms and the fatigues of
war become a necessary recreation to those who are accustomed to them, and
who have the tone of their passions raised above less animating or trying
occasions. Old men, among the courtiers of Attila, wept when they heard of
heroic deeds, which they themselves could no longer perform. [Footnote:
Ibid.] And among the Celtic nations, when age rendered the warrior unfit
for his former toils, it was the custom, in order to abridge the languors
of a listless and inactive life, to sue for death at the hands of his
friends. [Footnote:
Ubi transcendit florentes viribus annos,
Impatiens aevi spernit novisse senectam.
Silius, lib. i. 225.]

With all this ferocity of spirit, the rude nations of the west were subdued
by the policy and more regular warfare of the Romans. The point of honour
which the barbarians of Europe adopted as individuals, exposed them to a
peculiar disadvantage, by rendering them, even in their national wars,
averse to assailing their enemy by surprise, or taking the benefit of
stratagem; and though separately bold and intrepid, yet, like other rude
nations, they were, when assembled in great bodies, addicted to
superstition, and subject to panics.

They were, from a consciousness of their personal courage and force,
sanguine on the eve of battle; they were, beyond the bounds of moderation,
elated on success, and dejected in adversity; and being disposed to
consider every event as a judgment of the gods, they were never qualified
by an uniform application or prudence to make the most of their forces, to
repair their misfortunes, or to improve their advantages.

Resigned to the government of affection and passion, they were generous and
faithful where they had fixed an attachment; implacable, froward, and
cruel, where they had conceived a dislike: addicted to debauchery, and the
immoderate use of intoxicating liquors, they deliberated on the affairs of
state in the heat of their riot; and in the same dangerous moments,
conceived the designs of military enterprise, or terminated their domestic
dissentions by the dagger or the sword.

In their wars they preferred death to captivity. The victorious armies of
the Romans, in entering a town by assault, or in forcing an encampment,
have found the mother in the act of destroying her children, that they
might not be taken; and the dagger of the parent, red with the blood of his
family, ready to be plunged at last into his own breast. [Footnote: Liv.
lib. xli. 11. Dio Cass.]

In all these particulars, we perceive that vigour of spirit, which renders
disorder itself respectable, and which qualifies men, if fortunate in their
situation, to lay the basis of domestic liberty, as well as to maintain
against foreign enemies their national independence and freedom.


* * * * *



* * * * *



What we have hitherto observed on the condition and manners of nations,
though chiefly derived from what has passed in the temperate climates, may,
in some measure, be applied to the rude state of mankind In every part of
the earth: but if we intend to pursue the history of our species in its
further attainments, we may soon enter on subjects which will confine our
observation to narrower limits. The genius of political wisdom, and of
civil arts, appears to have chosen his seats in particular tracts of the
earth, and to have selected his favourites in particular races of men. Man,
in his animal capacity, is qualified to subsist in every climate. He reigns
with the lion and the tyger under the equatorial heats of the sun, or he
associates with the bear and the reindeer beyond the polar system. His
versatile disposition fits him to assume the habits of either condition, or
his talent for arts enables him to supply its defects. The intermediate
climates, however, appear most to favour his nature; and in whatever manner
we account for the fact, it cannot be doubted, that this animal has always
attained to the principal honours of his species within the temperate zone.
The arts, which he has on this scene repeatedly invented, the extent of his
reason, the fertility of his fancy, and the force of his genius in
literature, commerce, policy, and war, sufficiently declare either a
distinguished advantage of situation, or a natural superiority of mind.

The most remarkable races of men, it is true, have been rude before they
were polished. They have in some cases returned to rudeness again; and it
is not from the actual possession of arts, science, or policy, that we are
to pronounce of their genius.

There is a vigour, a reach of capacity, and a sensibility of mind, which

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