History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, Volume I (of 2) - Revised Edition
by John William Draper
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Professor of Chemistry in the University of New York, Author of a "Treatise on Human Physiology," "Civil Policy of America," "History of the American Civil War," &c.



New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by Harper & Brothers, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


At the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Oxford in 1860, I read an abstract of the physiological argument contained in this work respecting the mental progress of Europe, reserving the historical evidence for subsequent publication.

This work contains that evidence. It is intended as the completion of my treatise on Human Physiology, in which man was considered as an individual. In this he is considered in his social relation.

But the reader will also find, I think, that it is a history of the progress of ideas and opinions from a point of view heretofore almost entirely neglected. There are two methods of dealing with philosophical questions—the literary and the scientific. Many things which in a purely literary treatment of the subject remain in the background, spontaneously assume a more striking position when their scientific relations are considered. It is the latter method that I have used.

Social advancement is as completely under the control of natural law as is bodily growth. The life of an individual is a miniature of the life of a nation. These propositions it is the special object of this book to demonstrate.

No one, I believe, has hitherto undertaken the labour of arranging the evidence offered by the intellectual history of Europe in accordance with physiological principles, so as to illustrate the orderly progress of civilization, or collected the facts furnished by other branches of science with a view of enabling us to recognize clearly the conditions under which that progress takes place. This philosophical deficiency I have endeavoured in the following pages to supply.

Seen thus through the medium of physiology, history presents a new aspect to us. We gain a more just and thorough appreciation of the thoughts and motives of men in successive ages of the world.

In the Preface to the second edition of my Physiology, published in 1858, it was mentioned that this work was at that time written. The changes that have been since made in it have been chiefly with a view of condensing it. The discussion of several scientific questions, such as that of the origin of species, which have recently attracted public attention so strongly, has, however remained untouched, the principles offered being the same as presented in the former work in 1856.

New York, 1861.


Many reprints of this work having been issued, and translations published in various foreign languages, French, German, Russian, Polish, Servian, &c., I have been induced to revise it carefully, and to make additions wherever they seemed to be desirable. I therefore hope that it will commend itself to the continued approval of the public.

November, 1875.




The subject of this Work proposed.—Its difficulty.

Gradual Acquisition of the Idea of Natural Government by Law.—Eventually sustained by Astronomical, Meteorological, and Physiological Discoveries.—Illustrations from Kepler's Laws, the Trade-winds, Migrations of Birds, Balancing of Vegetable and Animal Life, Variation of Species and their Permanence.

Individual Man is an Emblem of Communities, Nations, and Universal Humanity.—They exhibit Epochs of Life like his, and, like him, are under the Control of Physical Conditions, and therefore of Law.

Plan of this Work.—The Intellectual History of Greece.—Its Five characteristic Ages.—European Intellectual History.

Grandeur of the Doctrine that the World is governed by Law. Page 1




Description of Europe: its Topography, Meteorology, and secular Geological Movements.—Their Effect on its Inhabitants.

Its Ethnology determined through its Vocabularies.

Comparative Theology of Greece; the Stage of Sorcery, the Anthropocentric Stage.—Becomes connected with false Geography and Astronomy.—Heaven, the Earth, the Under World.—Origin, continuous Variation and Progress of Greek Theology.—It introduces Ionic Philosophy.

Decline of Greek Theology, occasioned by the Advance of Geography and Philosophical Criticism.—Secession of Poets, Philosophers, Historians.—Abortive public Attempts to sustain it.—Duration of its Decline.—Its Fall. 23



Comparative Theology of India; its Phase of Sorcery; its Anthropocentric Phase.

VEDAISM the Contemplation of Matter, or Adoration of Nature, set forth in the Vedas and Institutes of Menu.—The Universe is God.—Transmutation of the World.—Doctrine of Emanation.—Transmigration.—Absorption.—Penitential Services.—Happiness in Absolute Quietude.

BUDDHISM the Contemplation of Force.—The supreme impersonal Power.—Nature of the World—of Man.—The Passage of every thing to Nonentity.—Development of Buddhism into a vast monastic System marked by intense Selfishness.—Its practical Godlessness.

EGYPT a mysterious Country to the old Europeans.—Its History, great public Works, and foreign Relations.—Antiquity of its Civilization and Art.—Its Philosophy, hieroglyphic Literature, and peculiar Agriculture.

Rise of Civilization in rainless Countries.—Geography, Geology, and Topography of Egypt.—The Inundations of the Nile lead to Astronomy.

Comparative Theology of Egypt.—Animal Worship, Star Worship.—Impersonation of Divine Attributes.—Pantheism.—The Trinities of Egypt.—Incarnation.—Redemption.—Future Judgment.—Trial of the Dead.—Rituals and Ceremonies. 56




IONIAN PHILOSOPHY, commencing from Egyptian Ideas, identifies in Water, or Air, or Fire, the First Principle.—Emerging from the Stage of Sorcery, it founds Psychology, Biology, Cosmogony, Astronomy, and ends in doubting whether there is any Criterion of Truth.

ITALIAN PHILOSOPHY depends on Numbers and Harmonies.—It reproduces the Egyptian and Hindu Doctrine of Transmigration.

ELEATIC PHILOSOPHY presents a great Advance, indicating a rapid Approach to Oriental Ideas.—It assumes a Pantheistic Aspect.

RISE OF PHILOSOPHY IN EUROPEAN GREECE.—Relations and Influence of the Mediterranean Commercial and Colonial System.—Athens attains to commercial Supremacy.—Her vast Progress in Intelligence and Art.—Her Demoralization.—She becomes the Intellectual Centre of the Mediterranean.

Commencement of the Athenian higher Analysis.—It is conducted by THE SOPHISTS, who reject Philosophy, Religion, and even Morality, and end in Atheism.

Political Dangers of the higher Analysis.—Illustration from the Middle Ages. 94




SOCRATES rejects Physical and Mathematical Speculations, and asserts the Importance of Virtue and Morality, thereby inaugurating an Age of Faith.—His Life and Death.—The schools originating from his Movement teach the Pursuit of Pleasure and Gratification of Self.

PLATO founds the Academy.—His three primal Principles.—The Existence of a personal God.—Nature of the World and the Soul.—The ideal Theory, Generals or Types.—Reminiscence.—Transmigration.—Plato's political Institutions.—His Republic.—His Proofs of the Immortality of the Soul.—Criticism on his Doctrines.

RISE OF THE SCEPTICS, who conduct the higher Analysis of Ethical Philosophy.—Pyrrho demonstrates the Uncertainty of Knowledge.—Inevitable Passage into tranquil Indifference, Quietude, and Irreligion, as recommended by Epicurus.—Decomposition of the Socratic and Platonic Systems in the later Academies.—Their Errors and Duplicities.—End of the Greek Age of Faith. 143




THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN.—Disastrous in its political Effects to Greece, but ushering in the Age of Reason.

ARISTOTLE founds the Inductive Philosophy.—His Method the Inverse of that of Plato.—Its great power.—In his own hands it fails for want of Knowledge, but is carried out by the Alexandrians.

ZENO.—His Philosophical Aim is the Cultivation of Virtue and Knowledge.—He is in the Ethical Branch the Counterpart of Aristotle in the Physical.

FOUNDATION OF THE MUSEUM OF ALEXANDRIA.—The great Libraries, Observatories, Botanical Gardens, Menageries, Dissecting Houses.—Its Effect on the rapid Development of exact Knowledge.—Influence of Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Apollonius, Ptolemy, Hipparchus, on Geometry, Natural Philosophy, Astronomy, Chronology, Geography.

Decline of the Greek Age of Reason. 171




Decline of Greek Philosophy: it becomes Retrospective, and in Philo the Jew and Apollonius of Tyana leans on Inspiration, Mysticism, Miracles.

NEO-PLATONISM founded by Ammonius Saccas, followed by Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblicus, Proclus.—The Alexandrian Trinity.—Ecstasy.—Alliance with Magic, Necromancy.

The Emperor Justinian closes the philosophical Schools.

Summary of Greek Philosophy.—Its four Problems: 1. Origin of the World; 2. Nature of the Soul; 3. Existence of God; 4. Criterion of Truth.—Solution of these Problems in the Age of Inquiry—in that of Faith—in that of Reason—in that of Decrepitude.

Determination of the Law of Variation of Greek Opinion.—The Development of National Intellect is the same as that of Individual.

Determination of the final Conclusions of Greek Philosophy as to God, the World, the Soul, the Criterion of Truth.—Illustrations and Criticisms on each of these Points. 207




Religious Ideas of the primitive Europeans.—The Form of their Variations is determined by the Influence of Rome.—Necessity of Roman History in these Investigations.

Rise and Development of Roman Power, its successive Phases, territorial Acquisitions.—Becomes Supreme in the Mediterranean.—Consequent Demoralization of Italy.—Irresistible Concentration of Power.—Development of Imperialism.—Eventual Extinction of the true Roman Race.

Effect on the intellectual, religious, and social Condition of the Mediterranean Countries.—Produces homogeneous Thought.—Imperialism prepares the Way for Monotheism.—Momentous Transition of the Roman World in its religious Ideas.

Opinions of the Roman Philosophers.—Coalescence of the new and old Ideas.—Seizure of Power by the Illiterate, and consequent Debasement of Christianity in Rome. 239




Rise of Christianity.—Distinguished from ecclesiastical Organization.—It is demanded by the deplorable Condition of the Empire.—Its brief Conflict with Paganism.—Character of its first Organization.—Variations of Thought and Rise of Sects: their essential Difference in the East and West.—The three primitive Forms of Christianity: the Judaic Form, its End—the Gnostic Form, its End—the African Form, continues.

Spread of Christianity from Syria.—Its Antagonism to Imperialism; their Conflicts.—Position of Affairs under Diocletian.—The Policy of Constantine.—He avails himself of the Christian Party, and through it attains supreme Power.—His personal Relations to it.

The Trinitarian Controversy.—Story of Arius.—The Council of Nicea.

The Progress of the Bishop of Rome to Supremacy.—The Roman Church; its primitive subordinate Position.—Causes of its increasing Wealth, Influence, and Corruptions.—Stages of its Advancement through the Pelagian, Nestorian, and Eutychian Disputes.—Rivalry of the Bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Rome.

Necessity of a Pontiff in the West and ecclesiastical Councils in the East.—Nature of those Councils and of pontifical Power.

The Period closes at the Capture and Sack of Rome by Alaric.—Defence of that Event by St. Augustine.—Criticism on his Writings.

Character of the Progress of Thought through this Period.—Destiny of the three great Bishops. 266




Consolidation of the Byzantine System, or the Union of Church and State.—The consequent Paganization of Religion and Persecution of Philosophy.

Political Necessity for the enforcement of Patristicism, or Science of the Fathers.—Its peculiar Doctrines.

Obliteration of the Vestiges of Greek Knowledge by Patristicism.—The Libraries and Serapion of Alexandria.—Destruction of the latter by Theodosius.—Death of Hypatia.—Extinction of Learning in the East by Cyril, his Associates and Successors. 308




THE VANDAL ATTACK leads to the Loss of Africa.—Recovery of that Province by Justinian after great Calamities.

THE PERSIAN ATTACK leads to the Loss of Syria and Fall of Jerusalem.—The true Cross carried away as a Trophy.—Moral Impression of these Attacks.

THE ARAB ATTACK.—Birth, Mission, and Doctrines of Mohammed.—Rapid Spread of his Faith in Asia and Africa.—Fall of Jerusalem.—Dreadful Losses of Christianity to Mohammedanism.—The Arabs become a learned Nation.

Review of the Koran.—Reflexions on the Loss of Asia and Africa by Christendom. 326



The Age of Faith in the West is marked by Paganism.—The Arabian military Attacks produce the Isolation and permit the Independence of the Bishop of Rome.

GREGORY THE GREAT organizes the Ideas of his Age, materializes Faith, allies it to Art, rejects Science, and creates the Italian Form of Religion.

An Alliance of the Papacy with France diffuses that Form.—Political History of the Agreement and Conspiracy of the Frankish Kings and the Pope.—The resulting Consolidation of the new Dynasty in France, and Diffusion of Roman Ideas.—Conversion of Europe.

The Value of the Italian Form of Religion determined from the papal Biography. 349




The intellectual Development of the Arabians is guided by the Nestorians and the Jews, and is in the Medical Direction.—The Basis of this Alliance is theological.

Antagonism of the Byzantine System to Scientific Medicine.—Suppression of the Asclepions.—Their Replacement by Miracle-cure.—The resulting Superstition and Ignorance.

Affiliation of the Arabians with the Nestorians and Jews.

1st. The Nestorians, their Persecutions, and the Diffusion of their Sectarian Ideas.—They inherit the old Greek Medicine.

Sub-digression on Greek Medicine.—The Asclepions.—Philosophical Importance of Hippocrates, who separates Medicine from Religion.—The School of Cnidos.—Its Suppression by Constantine.

Sub-digression on Egyptian Medicine.—It is founded on Anatomy and Physiology.—Dissections and Vivisections.—The Great Alexandrian Physicians.

2nd. The Jewish Physicians.—Their Emancipation from Superstition.—They found Colleges and promote Science and Letters.

The contemporary Tendency to Magic, Necromancy, the Black Art.—The Philosopher's Stone, Elixir of Life, etc.

The Arabs originate scientific Chemistry.—Discover the strong Acids, Phosphorus, etc.—Their geological Ideas.—Apply Chemistry to the Practice of Medicine.—Approach of the Conflict between the Saracenic material and the European supernatural System. 383




Origin of IMAGE-WORSHIP.—Inutility of Images discovered in Asia and Africa during the Saracen Wars.—Rise of Iconoclasm.

The Emperors prohibit Image-worship.—The Monks, aided by court Females, sustain it.—Victory of the latter.

Image-worship in the West sustained by the Popes.—Quarrel between the Emperor and the Pope.—The Pope, aided by the Monks, revolts and allies himself with the Franks.

THE MONKS.—History of the Rise and Development of Monasticism.—Hermits and Coenobites.—Spread of Monasticism from Egypt over Europe.—Monk Miracles and Legends.—Humanization of the monastic Establishments.—They materialize Religion, and impress their Ideas on Europe. 413




The subject of this Work proposed.—Its difficulty.

Gradual Acquisition of the Idea of Natural Government by Law.—Eventually sustained by Astronomical, Meteorological, and Physiological Discoveries.—Illustrations from Kepler's Laws, the Trade-winds, Migrations of Birds, Balancing of Vegetable and Animal Life, Variation of Species and their Permanence.

Individual Man is an Emblem of Communities, Nations, and Universal Humanity.—They exhibit Epochs of Life like his, and, like him are under the Control of Physical Conditions, and therefore of Law.

Plan of this Work.—The Intellectual History of Greece.—Its Five characteristic Ages.—European Intellectual History.

Grandeur of the Doctrine that the World is governed by Law.

[Sidenote: The subject proposed.]

I intend, in this work, to consider in what manner the advancement of Europe in civilization has taken place, to ascertain how far its progress has been fortuitous, and how far determined by primordial law.

Does the procession of nations in time, like the erratic phantasm of a dream, go forward without reason or order? or, is there a predetermined, a solemn march, in which all must join, ever moving, ever resistlessly advancing, encountering and enduring an inevitable succession of events?

[Sidenote: Its difficulty and grandeur.]

In a philosophical examination of the intellectual and political history of nations, an answer to these questions is to be found. But how difficult it is to master the mass of facts necessary to be collected, to handle so great an accumulation, to place it in the clearest point of view; how difficult it is to select correctly the representative men, to produce them in the proper scenes, and to conduct successfully so grand and complicated a drama as that of European life! Though in one sense the subject offers itself as a scientific problem, and in that manner alone I have to deal with it; in another it swells into a noble epic—the life of humanity, its warfare and repose, its object and its end.

Man is the archetype of society. Individual development is the model of social progress.

Some have asserted that human affairs are altogether determined by the voluntary action of men, some that the Providence of God directs us in every step, some that all events are fixed by Destiny. It is for us to ascertain how far each of these affirmations is true.

[Sidenote: Individual life of a mixed kind.]

The life of individual man is of a mixed nature. In part he submits to the free-will impulses of himself and others, in part he is under the inexorable dominion of law. He insensibly changes his estimate of the relative power of each of these influences as he passes through successive stages. In the confidence of youth he imagines that very much is under his control, in the disappointment of old age very little. As time wears on, and the delusions of early imagination vanish away, he learns to correct his sanguine views, and prescribes a narrower boundary for the things he expects to obtain. The realities of life undeceive him at last, and there steals over the evening of his days an unwelcome conviction of the vanity of human hopes. The things he has secured are not the things he expected. He sees that a Supreme Power has been using him for unknown ends, that he was brought into the world without his own knowledge, and is departing from it against his own will.

[Sidenote: It foreshadows social life.]

Whoever has made the physical and intellectual history of individual man his study, will be prepared to admit in what a surprising manner it foreshadows social history. The equilibrium and movement of humanity are altogether physiological phenomena. Yet not without hesitation may such an opinion be frankly avowed, since it is offensive to the pride, and to many of the prejudices and interests of our age. An author who has been disposed to devote many years to the labour of illustrating this topic, has need of the earnest support of all who prize the truth; and, considering the extent and profundity of his subject, his work, at the best, must be very imperfect, requiring all the forbearance, and even the generosity of criticism.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: First opinions of savage life.]

In the intellectual infancy of a savage state, Man transfers to Nature his conceptions of himself, and, considering that every thing he does is determined by his own pleasure, regards all passing events as depending on the arbitrary volition of a superior but invisible power. He gives to the world a constitution like his own. His tendency is necessarily to superstition. Whatever is strange, or powerful, or vast, impresses his imagination with dread. Such objects are only the outward manifestations of an indwelling spirit, and therefore worthy of his veneration.

After Reason, aided by Experience, has led him forth from these delusions as respects surrounding things, he still clings to his original ideas as respects objects far removed. In the distance and irresistible motions of the stars he finds arguments for the supernatural, and gives to each of those shining bodies an abiding and controlling genius. The mental phase through which he is passing permits him to believe in the exercise of planetary influences on himself.

[Sidenote: Fetichism displaced by star-worship.]

But as reason led him forth from fetichism, so in due time it again leads him forth from star-worship. Perhaps not without regret does he abandon the mythological forms he has created; for, long after he has ascertained that the planets are nothing more than shining points, without any perceptible influence on him, he still venerates the genii once supposed to vivify them, perhaps even he exalts them into immortal gods.

[Sidenote: The idea of government by law.]

Philosophically speaking, he is exchanging by ascending degrees his primitive doctrine of arbitrary volition for the doctrine of law. As the fall of a stone, the flowing of a river, the movement of a shadow, the rustling of a leaf, have been traced to physical causes, to like causes at last are traced the revolutions of the stars. In events and scenes continually increasing in greatness and grandeur, he is detecting the dominion of law. The goblins, and genii, and gods who successively extorted his fear and veneration, who determined events by their fitful passions or whims, are at last displaced by the noble conception of one Almighty Being, who rules the universe according to reason, and therefore according to law.

[Sidenote: Its application to the solar system.]

In this manner the doctrine of government by law is extended, until at last it embraces all natural events. It was thus that, hardly two centuries ago, that doctrine gathered immense force from the discovery of Newton that Kepler's laws, under which the movements of the planetary bodies are executed, issue as a mathematical necessity from a very simple material condition, and that the complicated motions of the solar system cannot be other than they are. Few of those who read in the beautiful geometry of the 'Principia' the demonstration of this fact, saw the imposing philosophical consequences which must inevitably follow this scientific discovery. And now the investigation of the aspect of the skies in past ages, and all predictions of its future, rest essentially upon the principle that no arbitrary volition ever intervenes, the gigantic mechanism moving impassively in accordance with a mathematical law.

[Sidenote: And to terrestrial events.]

And so upon the earth, the more perfectly we understand the causes of present events, the more plainly are they seen to be the consequences of physical conditions, and therefore the results of law. To allude to one example out of many that might be considered, the winds, how proverbially inconstant, who can tell whence they come or whither they go! If any thing bears the fitful character of arbitrary volition, surely it is these. But we deceive ourselves in imagining that atmospheric events are fortuitous. Where shall a line be drawn between that eternal trade-wind, which, originating in well-understood physical causes, sweeps, like the breath of Destiny, slowly, and solemnly, and everlastingly over the Pacific Ocean, and the variable gusts into which it degenerates in more northerly and southerly regions—gusts which seem to come without any cause, and to pass away without leaving any trace? In what latitude is it that the domain of the physical ends, and that of the supernatural begins?

All mundane events are the results of the operation of law. Every movement in the skies or upon the earth proclaims to us that the universe is under government.

But if we admit that this is the case, from the mote that floats in the sunbeam to multiple stars revolving round each other, are we willing to carry our principles to their consequences, and recognise a like operation of law among living as among lifeless things, in the organic as well as the inorganic world? What testimony does physiology offer on this point?

[Sidenote: And to the organic world.]

Physiology, in its progress, has passed through the same phases as physics. Living beings have been considered as beyond the power of external influences, and, conspicuously among them, Man has been affirmed to be independent of the forces that rule the world in which he lives. Besides that immaterial principle, the soul, which distinguishes him from all his animated companions, and makes him a moral and responsible being, he has been feigned, like them, to possess another immaterial principle, the vital agent, which, in a way of its own, carries forward all the various operations in his economy.

[Sidenote: Especially to man.]

But when it was discovered that the heart of man is constructed upon the recognised rules of hydraulics, and with its great tubes is furnished with common mechanical contrivances, valves; when it was discovered that the eye has been arranged on the most refined principles of optics, its cornea, and humours, and lens properly converging the rays to form an image—its iris, like the diaphragm of a telescope or microscope, shutting out stray light, and also regulating the quantity admitted; when it was discovered that the ear is furnished with the means of dealing with the three characteristics of sound—its tympanum for intensity, its cochlea for pitch, its semicircular canals for quality; when it was seen that the air brought into the great air-passages by the descent of the diaphragm, calling into play atmospheric pressure, is conveyed upon physical principles into the ultimate cells of the lungs, and thence into the blood, producing chemical changes throughout the system, disengaging heat, and permitting all the functions of organic life to go on; when these facts and very many others of a like kind were brought into prominence by modern physiology, it obviously became necessary to admit that animated beings do not constitute the exception once supposed, and that organic operations are the result of physical agencies.

If thus, in the recesses of the individual economy, these natural agents bear sway, must they not operate in the social economy too?

[Sidenote: In social as well as individual life.]

Has the great shadeless desert nothing to do with the habits of the nomade tribes who pitch their tents upon it—the fertile plain no connection with flocks and pastoral life—the mountain fastnesses with the courage that has so often defended them—the sea with habits of adventure? Indeed, do not all our expectations of the stability of social institutions rest upon our belief in the stability of surrounding physical conditions? From the time of Bodin, who nearly three hundred years ago published his work 'De Republica,' these principles have been well recognized: that the laws of Nature cannot be subordinated to the will of Man, and that government must be adapted to climate. It was these things which led him to the conclusion that force is best resorted to for northern nations, reason for the middle, and superstition for the southern.

[Sidenote: Effects of the seasons on animals and plants.]

In the month of March the sun crosses the equator, dispensing his rays more abundantly over our northern hemisphere. Following in his train, a wave of verdure expands towards the pole. The luxuriance is in proportion to the local brilliancy. The animal world is also affected. Pressed forward, or solicited onward by the warmth, the birds of passage commence their annual migration, keeping pace with the developing vegetation beneath. As summer declines, this orderly advance of light and life is followed by an orderly retreat, and in its turn the southern hemisphere presents the same glorious phenomenon. Once every year the life of the earth pulsates; now there is an abounding vitality, now a desolation. But what is the cause of all this? It is only mechanical. The earth's axis of rotation is inclined to the plane of her orbit of revolution round the sun.

Let that wonderful phenomenon and its explanation be a lesson to us; let it profoundly impress us with the importance of physical agents and physical laws. They intervene in the life and death of man personally and socially. External events become interwoven in our constitution; their periodicities create periodicities in us. Day and night are incorporated in our waking and sleeping; summer and winter compel us to exhibit cycles in our life.

[Sidenote: Individual existence depends on physical conditions.]

They who have paid attention to the subject have long ago ascertained that the possibility of human existence on the earth depends on conditions altogether of a material kind. Since it is only within a narrow range of temperature that life can be maintained, it is needful that our planet should be at a definite mean distance from the source of light and heat, the sun; and that the form of her orbit should be so little eccentric as to approach closely to a circle. If her mass were larger or less than it is, the weight of all living and lifeless things on her surface would no longer be the same; but absolute weight is one of the primary elements of organic construction. A change in the time of her diurnal rotation, as affecting the length of the day and night, must at once be followed by a corresponding modification of the periodicities of the nervous system of animals; a change in her orbitual translation round the sun, as determining the duration of the year, would, in like manner, give rise to a marked effect. If the year were shorter, we should live faster and die sooner.

[Sidenote: Animal and vegetable life interbalanced by material conditions.]

In the present economy of our globe, natural agents are relied upon as the means of regulation and of government. Through heat, the distribution and arrangement of the vegetable tribes are accomplished; through their mutual relations with the atmospheric air, plants and animals are interbalanced, and neither permitted to obtain a superiority. Considering the magnitude of this condition, and its necessity to general life, it might seem worthy of incessant Divine intervention, yet it is in fact accomplished automatically.

[Sidenote: And also appearances and extinctions determined.]

Of past organic history the same remark may be made. The condensation of carbon from the air, and its inclusion in the strata, constitute the chief epoch in the organic life of the earth, giving a possibility for the appearance of the hot-blooded and more intellectual animal tribes. That great event was occasioned by the influence of the rays of the sun. And as such influences have thus been connected with the appearance of organisms, so likewise have they been concerned in the removal. Of the myriads of species which have become extinct, doubtless every one has passed away through the advent of material conditions incompatible with its continuance. Even now, a fall of half-a-dozen degrees in the mean temperature of any latitude would occasion the vanishing of the forms of warmer climates, and the advent of those of the colder. An obscuration of the rays of the sun for a few years would compel a redistribution of plants and animals all over the earth; many would totally disappear, and everywhere new comers would be seen.

[Sidenote: Permanence of organisms due to immobility of external conditions.]

The permanence of organic forms is altogether dependent on the invariability of the material conditions under which they live. Any variation therein, no matter how insignificant it might be, would be forthwith followed by a corresponding variation in the form. The present invariability of the world of organization is the direct consequence of the physical equilibrium, and so it will continue as long as the mean temperature, the annual supply of light, the composition of the air, the distribution of water, oceanic and atmospheric currents, and other such agencies remain unaltered; but if any one of these, or of a hundred other incidents that might be mentioned, should suffer modification, in an instant the fanciful doctrine of the immutability of species would be brought to its true value. The organic world appears to be in repose, because natural influences have reached an equilibrium. A marble may remain for ever motionless upon a level table; but let the surface be a little inclined, and the marble will quickly run off. What should we say of him, who, contemplating it in its state of rest, asserted that it was impossible for it ever to move?

[Sidenote: Orderly sequence of conditions is followed by orderly organic changes.]

They who can see no difference between the race-horse and the Shetland pony, the bantam and the Shanghai fowl, the greyhound and the poodle dog, who altogether deny that impressions can be made on species, and see in the long succession of extinct forms, the ancient existence of which they must acknowledge, the evidences of a continuous and creative intervention, forget that mundane effects observe definite sequences, event following event in the necessity of the case, and thus constituting a chain, each link of which hangs on a preceding, and holds a succeeding one. Physical influences thus following one another, and bearing to each other the inter-relation of cause and effect, stand in their totality to the whole organic world as causes, it representing the effect, and the order of succession existing among them is perpetuated or embodied in it. Thus, in those ancient times to which we have referred, the sunlight acting on the leaves of plants disturbed the chemical constitution of the atmosphere, gave rise to the accumulation of a more energetic element therein, diminished the mechanical pressure, and changed the rate of evaporation from the sea, a series of events following one another so necessarily that we foresee their order, and, in their turn, making an impression on the vegetable and animal economy. The natural influences, thus varying in an orderly way, controlled botanical events, and made them change correspondingly. The orderly procedure of the one must be imitated in the orderly procedure of the other. And the same holds good in the animal kingdom; the recognized variation in the material conditions is copied in the organic effects, in vigour of motion, energy of life, intellectual power.

When, therefore, we notice such orderly successions, we must not at once assign them to a direct intervention, the issue of wise predeterminations of a voluntary agent; we must first satisfy ourselves how far they are dependent on mundane or material conditions, occurring in a definite and necessary series, ever bearing in mind the important principle that an orderly sequence of inorganic events necessarily involves an orderly and corresponding progression of organic life.

[Sidenote: Universal control of physical agents over organisms.]

To this doctrine of the control of physical agencies over organic forms I acknowledge no exception, not even in the case of man. The varied aspects he presents in different countries are the necessary consequences of those influences.

[Sidenote: The case of man.]

He who advocates the doctrine of the unity of the human race is plainly forced to the admission of the absolute control of such agents over the organization of man, since the originally-created type has been brought to exhibit very different aspects in different parts of the world, apparently in accordance with the climate and other purely material circumstances. To those circumstances it is scarcely necessary to add manner of life, for that itself arises from them. The doctrine of unity demands as its essential postulate an admission of the paramount control of physical agents over the human aspect and organization, else how could it be that, proceeding from the same stock, all shades of complexion in the skin, and variety in the form of the skull, should have arisen? Experience assures us that these are changes assumed only by slow degrees, and not with abruptness; they come as a cumulative effect. They plainly enforce the doctrine that national type is not to be regarded as a definite or final thing, a seeming immobility in this particular being due to the attainment of a correspondence with the conditions to which the type is exposed. Let those conditions be changed, and it begins forthwith to change too. I repeat it, therefore, that he who receives the doctrine of the unity of the human race, must also accept, in view of the present state of humanity on various parts of the surface of our planet, its necessary postulate, the complete control of physical agents, whether natural, or arising artificially from the arts of civilization and the secular progress of nations toward a correspondence with the conditions to which they are exposed.

To the same conclusion also must he be brought who advocates the origin of different races from different centres. It comes to the same thing, whichever of those doctrines we adopt. Each brings us to the admission of the transitory nature of typical forms, to their transmutations and extinctions.

[Sidenote: Human variations.]

Variations in the aspect of men are best seen when an examination is made of nations arranged in a northerly and southerly direction; the result is such as would ensue to an emigrant passing slowly along a meridional track; but the case would be quite different if the movement were along a parallel of latitude. In this latter direction the variations of climate are far less marked, and depend much more on geographical than on astronomical causes. In emigrations of this kind there is never that rapid change of aspect, complexion, and intellectual power which must occur in the other. Thus, though the mean temperature of Europe increases from Poland to France, chiefly through the influence of the great Atlantic current transferring heat from the Gulf of Mexico and tropical ocean, that rise is far less than would be encountered on passing through the same distance to the south. By the arts of civilization man can much more easily avoid the difficulties arising from variations along a parallel of latitude than those upon a meridian, for the simple reason that in that case those variations are less.

[Sidenote: Their political result.]

But it is not only complexion, development of the brain, and, therefore, intellectual power, which are thus affected. With difference of climate there must be differences of manners and customs, that is, differences in the modes of civilization. These are facts which deserve our most serious attention, since such differences are inevitably connected with political results. If homogeneousness be an element of strength, an empire that lies east and west must be more powerful than one that lies north and south. I cannot but think that this was no inconsiderable cause of the greatness and permanence of Rome and that it lightened the task of the emperors, often hard enough, in government. There is a natural tendency to homogeneousness in the east and west direction, a tendency to diversity and antagonism in the north and south, and hence it is that government under the latter circumstances will always demand the highest grade of statesmanship.

[Sidenote: Nature of transitional forms.]

The transitional forms which an animal type is capable of producing on a passage north and south are much more numerous than those it can produce on a passage east and west. These, though they are truly transitional as respects the type from which they have proceeded, are permanent as regards the locality in which they occur, being, in fact, the incarnation of its physical influences. As long, therefore, as those influences remain without change the form that has been produced will last without any alteration. For such a permanent form in the case of man we may adopt the designation of an ethnical element.

[Sidenote: Conditions of change in an ethnical element.]

An ethnical element is therefore necessarily of a dependent nature; its durability arises from its perfect correspondence with its environment. Whatever can affect that correspondence will touch its life.

[Sidenote: Progress of nations like that of individuals.]

Such considerations carry us from individual man to groups of men or nations. There is a progress for races of men as well marked as the progress of one man. There are thoughts and actions appertaining to specific periods in the one case as in the other. Without difficulty we affirm of a given act that it appertains to a given period. We recognize the noisy sports of boyhood, the business application of maturity, the feeble garrulity of old age. We express our surprise when we witness actions unsuitable to the epoch of life. As it is in this respect in the individual, so it is in the nation. The march of individual existence shadows forth the march of race-existence, being, indeed, its representative on a little scale.

[Sidenote: Communities, like families, exhibit members in different stages of advance.]

Groups of men, or nations, are disturbed by the same accidents, or complete the same cycle as the individual. Some scarcely pass beyond infancy, some are destroyed on a sudden, some die of mere old age. In this confusion of events, it might seem altogether hopeless to disentangle the law which is guiding them all, and demonstrate it clearly. Of such groups, each may exhibit, at the same moment, an advance to a different stage, just as we see in the same family the young, the middle-aged, the old. It is thus that Europe shows in its different parts societies in very different states—here the restless civilization of France and England, there the contentment and inferiority of Lapland. This commingling might seem to render it difficult to ascertain the true movement of the whole continent, and still more so for distant and successive periods of time. In each nation, moreover, the contemporaneously different classes, the educated and illiterate, the idle and industrious, the rich and poor, the intelligent and superstitious, represent different contemporaneous stages of advancement. One may have made a great progress, another scarcely have advanced at all. How shall we ascertain the real state of the case? Which of these classes shall we regard as the truest and most perfect type?

Though difficult, this ascertainment is not impossible. The problem is to be dealt with in the same manner that we should estimate a family in which there are persons of every condition from infancy to old age. Each member of it tends to pursue a definite course, though some, cut off in an untimely manner, may not complete it. One may be enfeebled by accident, another by disease; but each, if his past and present circumstances be fully considered, will illustrate the nature of the general movement that all are making. To demonstrate that movement most satisfactorily, certain members of such a family suit our purpose better than others, because they more closely represent its type, or have advanced farthest in their career.

[Sidenote: The intellectual class the true representative of a community.]

So in a family of many nations, some are more mature, some less advanced, some die in early life, some are worn out by extreme old age; all show special peculiarities. There are distinctions among kinsmen, whether we consider them intellectually or corporeally. Every one, nevertheless, illustrates in his own degree the march that all are making, but some do it more, some less completely. The leading, the intellectual class, is hence always the true representative of a state. It has passed step by step through the lower stages, and has made the greatest advance.

[Sidenote: Interstitial change and death the condition of individual life.]

In an individual, life is maintained only by the production and destruction of organic particles, no portion of the system being in a state of immobility, but each displaying incessant change. Death is, therefore, necessarily the condition of life, and the more energetic the function of a part—or, if we compare different animals with one another—the more active the mode of existence, correspondingly, the greater the waste and the more numerous the deaths of the interstitial constituents.

[Sidenote: Particles in the individual answer to persons in the state.]

To the death of particles in the individual answers the death of persons in the nation, of which they are the integral constituents. In both cases, in a period of time quite inconsiderable, a total change is accomplished without the entire system, which is the sum of these separate parts, losing its identity. Each particle or each person comes into existence, discharges an appropriate duty, and then passes away, perhaps unnoticed. The production, continuance, and death of an organic molecule in the person answers to the production, continuance, and death of a person in the nation. Nutrition and decay in one case are equivalent to well-being and transformation in the other.

[Sidenote: Epochs in national the same as in individual life.]

In the same manner that the individual is liable to changes through the action of external agencies, and offers no resistance thereto, nor any indication of the possession of a physiological inertia, but submits at once to any impression, so likewise it is with aggregates of men constituting nations. A national type pursues its way physically and intellectually through changes and developments answering to those of the individual, and being represented by Infancy, Childhood, Youth, Manhood, Old Age, and Death respectively.

[Sidenote: Disturbance through emigration.]

But this orderly process may be disturbed exteriorly or interiorly. If from its original seats a whole nation were transposed to some new abode, in which the climate, the seasons, the aspect of nature were altogether different, it would appear spontaneously in all its parts to commence a movement to come into harmony with the new conditions—a movement of a secular nature, and implying the consumption of many generations for its accomplishment. During such a period of transmutation there would, of course, be an increased waste of life, a risk, indeed, of total disappearance or national death; but the change once completed, the requisite correspondence once attained, things would go forward again in an orderly manner on the basis of the new modification that had been assumed. When the change to be accomplished is very profound, involving extensive anatomical alterations not merely in the appearance of the skin, but even in the structure of the skull, long periods of time are undoubtedly required, and many generations of individuals are consumed.

[Sidenote: And through blood admixture.]

Or, by interior disturbance, particularly by blood admixture, with more rapidity may a national type be affected, the result plainly depending on the extent to which admixture has taken place. This is a disturbance capable of mathematical computation. If the blood admixture be only of limited amount, and transient in its application, its effect will sensibly disappear in no very great period of time, though never, perhaps, in absolute reality. This accords with the observation of philosophical historians, who agree in the conclusion that a small tribe intermingling with a larger one will only disturb it in a temporary manner, and, after the course of a few years, the effect will cease to be perceptible. Nevertheless, the influence must really continue much longer than is outwardly apparent; and the result is the same as when, in a liquid, a drop of some other kind is placed, and additional quantities of the first liquid then successively added. Though it might have been possible at first to detect the adulteration without trouble, it becomes every moment less and less possible to do so, and before long it cannot be done at all. But the drop is as much present at last as it was at first: it is merely masked; its properties overpowered.

Considering in this manner the contamination of a numerous nation, a trifling amount of foreign blood admixture would appear to be indelible, and the disturbance, at any moment, capable of computation by the ascertained degree of dilution that has taken place. But it must not be forgotten that there is another agency at work, energetically tending to bring about homogeneity: it is the influence of external physical conditions. The intrusive adulterating element possesses in itself no physiological inertia, but as quickly as may be is brought into correspondence with the new circumstances to which it is exposed, herein running in the same course as the element with which it had mingled had itself antecedently gone over.

National homogeneity is thus obviously secured by the operation of two distinct agencies: the first, gradual but inevitable dilution; the second, motion to come into harmony with the external natural state. The two conspire in their effects.

[Sidenote: Secular variations of nations.]

[Sidenote: Their institutions must correspondingly change.]

We must therefore no longer regard nations or groups of men as offering a permanent picture. Human affairs must be looked upon as in continuous movement, not wandering in an arbitrary manner here and there, but proceeding in a perfectly definite course. Whatever may be the present state, it is altogether transient. All systems of civil life are therefore necessarily ephemeral. Time brings new external conditions; the manner of thought is modified; with thought, action. Institutions of all kinds must hence participate in this fleeting nature, and, though they may have allied themselves to political power, and gathered therefrom the means of coercion, their permanency is but little improved thereby; for, sooner or later, the population on whom they have been imposed, following the external variations, spontaneously outgrows them, and their ruin, though it may have been delayed, is none the less certain. For the permanency of any such system it is essentially necessary that it should include within its own organization a law of change, and not of change only, but change in the right direction—the direction in which the society interested is about to pass. It is in an oversight of this last essential condition that we find an explanation of the failure of so many such institutions. Too commonly do we believe that the affairs of men are determined by a spontaneous action or free will; we keep that overpowering influence which really controls them in the background. In individual life we also accept a like deception, living in the belief that every thing we do is determined by the volition of ourselves or of those around us; nor is it until the close of our days that we discern how great is the illusion, and that we have been swimming—playing and struggling—in a stream which, in spite of all our voluntary motions, has silently and resistlessly borne us to a predetermined shore.

In the foregoing pages I have been tracing analogies between the life of individuals and that of nations. There is yet one point more.

[Sidenote: The death of nations.]

Nations, like individuals, die. Their birth presents an ethnical element; their death, which is the most solemn event that we can contemplate, may arise from interior or from external causes. Empires are only sand-hills in the hour-glass of Time; they crumble spontaneously away by the process of their own growth.

A nation, like a man, hides from itself the contemplation of its final day. It occupies itself with expedients for prolonging its present state. It frames laws and constitutions under the delusion that they will last, forgetting that the condition of life is change. Very able modern statesmen consider it to be the grand object of their art to keep things as they are, or rather as they were. But the human race is not at rest; and bands with which, for a moment, it may be restrained, break all the more violently the longer they hold. No man can stop the march of destiny.

[Sidenote: There is nothing absolute in time.]

Time, to the nation as to the individual, is nothing absolute; its duration depends on the rate of thought and feeling. For the same reason that to the child the year is actually longer than to the adult, the life of a nation may be said to be no longer than the life of a person, considering the manner in which its affairs are moving. There is a variable velocity of existence, though the lapses of time may be equable.

[Sidenote: Nations are only transitional forms.]

The origin, existence, and death of nations depend thus on physical influences, which are themselves the result of immutable laws. Nations are only transitional forms of humanity. They must undergo obliteration as do the transitional forms offered by the animal series. There is no more an immortality for them than there is an immobility for an embryo in any one of the manifold forms passed through in its progress of development.

[Sidenote: Their course is ever advancing, never retrograde.]

[Sidenote: Variable rapidity of national life.]

The life of a nation thus flows in a regular sequence, determined by invariable law, and hence, in estimating different nations, we must not be deceived by the casual aspect they present. The philosophical comparison is made by considering their entire manner of career or cycle of progress, and not their momentary or transitory state. Though they may encounter disaster, their absolute course can never be retrograde; it is always onward, even if tending to dissolution. It is as with the individual, who is equally advancing in infancy, in maturity, in old age. Pascal was more than justified in his assertion that "the entire succession of men, through the whole course of ages, must be regarded as one man, always living and incessantly learning." In both cases, the manner of advance, though it may sometimes be unexpected, can never be abrupt. At each stage events and ideas emerge which not only necessarily owe their origin to preceding events and ideas, but extend far into the future and influence it. As these are crowded together, or occur more widely apart, national life, like individual, shows a variable rapidity, depending upon the intensity of thought and action. But, no matter how great that energy may be, or with what rapidity modifications may take place—since events are emerging as consequences of preceding events, and ideas from preceding ideas—in the midst of the most violent intellectual oscillations, a discerning observer will never fail to detect that there exists a law of continuous variation of human opinions.

[Sidenote: Plan of this work.]

[Sidenote: Selection among European communities.]

In the examination of the progress of Europe on which we now enter, it is, of course, to intellectual phenomena that we must, for the most part, refer; material aggrandisement and political power offering us less important though still valuable indications, and serving our purpose rather in a corroborative way. There are five intellectual manifestations to which we may resort—philosophy, science, literature, religion, government. Our obvious course is, first, to study the progress of that member of the European family, the eldest in point of advancement, and to endeavour to ascertain the characteristics of its mental unfolding. We may reasonably expect that the younger members of the family, more or less distinctly, will offer us illustrations of the same mode of advancement that we shall thus find for Greece; and that the whole continent, which is the sum of these different parts, will, in its secular progress, comport itself in like manner.

[Sidenote: Our investigation limited to the intellectual, and commencing with Greece.]

[Sidenote: From thence we pass to the examination of all Europe.]

Of the early condition of Europe, since we have to consider it in its prehistoric times, our information must necessarily be imperfect. Perhaps, however, we may be disposed to accept that imperfection as a sufficient token of its true nature. Since history can offer us no aid, our guiding lights must be comparative theology and comparative philology. Proceeding from those times, we shall, in detail, examine the intellectual or philosophical movement first exhibited in Greece, endeavouring to ascertain its character at successive epochs, and thereby to judge of its complete nature. Fortunately for our purpose, the information is here sufficient, both in amount and distinctness. It then remains to show that the mental movement of the whole continent is essentially of the same kind, though, as must necessarily be the case, it is spread over far longer periods of time. Our conclusions will constantly be found to gather incidental support and distinctness from illustrations presented by the aged populations of Asia, and the aborigines of Africa and America.

[Sidenote: The five ages of European life.]

The intellectual progress of Europe being of a nature answering to that observed in the case of Greece, and this, in its turn, being like that of an individual, we may conveniently separate it into arbitrary periods, sufficiently distinct from one another, though imperceptibly merging into each other. To these successive periods I shall give the titles of—1, the Age of Credulity; 2, the Age of Inquiry; 3, the Age of Faith; 4, the Age of Reason; 5, the Age of Decrepitude; and shall use these designations in the division of my subject in its several chapters.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: The world is ruled by law.]

From the possibility of thus regarding the progress of a continent in definite and successive stages, answering respectively to the periods of individual life—infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, old age—we may gather an instructive lesson. It is the same that we have learned from inquiries respecting the origin, maintenance, distribution, and extinction of animals and plants, their balancing against each other; from the variations of aspect and form of an individual man as determined by climate; from his social state, whether in repose or motion; from the secular variations of his opinions, and the gradual dominion of reason over society: this lesson is, that the government of the world is accomplished by immutable law.

Such a conception commends itself to the intellect of man by its majestic grandeur. It makes him discern the eternal in the vanishing of present events and through the shadows of time. From the life, the pleasures, the sufferings of humanity, it points to the impassive; from our wishes, wants, and woes, to the inexorable. Leaving the individual beneath the eye of Providence, it shows society under the finger of law. And the laws of Nature never vary; in their application they never hesitate nor are wanting.

[Sidenote: And yet there is free-will for man.]

But in thus ascending to primordial laws, and asserting their immutability, universality, and paramount control in the government of this world, there is nothing inconsistent with the free action of man. The appearance of things depends altogether on the point of view we occupy. He who is immersed in the turmoil of a crowded city sees nothing but the acts of men, and, if he formed his opinion from his experience alone, must conclude that the course of events altogether depends on the uncertainties of human volition. But he who ascends to a sufficient elevation loses sight of the passing conflicts, and no longer hears the contentions. He discovers that the importance of individual action is diminishing, as the panorama beneath him is extending. And if he could attain to the truly philosophical, the general point of view, disengaging himself front all terrestrial influences and entanglements, rising high enough to see the whole globe at a glance, his acutest vision would fail to discover the slightest indication of man, his free-will, or his works. In her resistless, onward sweep, in the clock-like precision of her daily and nightly revolution, in the well-known pictured forms of her continents and seas, now no longer dark and doubtful, but shedding forth a planetary light, well might he ask what had become of all the aspirations and anxieties, the pleasures and agony of life. As the voluntary vanished from his sight, and the irresistible remained, and each moment became more and more distinct, well might he incline to disbelieve his own experience, and to question whether the seat of so much undying glory could be the place of so much human uncertainty, whether beneath the vastness, energy, and immutable course of a moving world, there lay concealed the feebleness and imbecility of man. Yet it is none the less true that these contradictory conditions co-exist—Free-will and Fate, Uncertainty and Destiny, It is only the point of view that has changed, but on that how much has depended! A little nearer we gather the successive ascertainments of human inquiry, a little further off we realize the panoramic vision of the Deity. A Hindu philosopher has truly remarked, that he who stands by the banks of a flowing stream sees, in their order, the various parts as they successively glide by, but he who is placed on an exalted station views, at a glance, the whole as a motionless silvery thread among the fields. To the one there is the accumulating experience and knowledge of man in time, to the other there is the instantaneous the unsuccessive knowledge of God.

[Sidenote: Changeability of forms and unchangeability of law.]

Is there an object presented to us which does not bear the mark of ephemeral duration? As respects the tribes of life, they are scarcely worth a moment's thought, for the term of the great majority of them is so brief that we may say they are born and die before our eyes. If we examine them, not as individuals, but as races, the same conclusion holds good, only the scale is enlarged from a few days to a few centuries. If from living we turn to lifeless nature, we encounter again the evidence of brief continuance. The sea is unceasingly remoulding its shores; hard as they are, the mountains are constantly yielding to frost and to rain; here an extensive tract of country is elevated, there depressed. We fail to find any thing that is not undergoing change.

Then forms are in their nature transitory, law is everlasting. If from visible forms we turn to directing law how vast is the difference. We pass from the finite, the momentary, the incidental, the conditioned—to the illimitable, the eternal, the necessary, the unshackled.

[Sidenote: The object of this book is to assert the control of law in human affairs.]

It is of law that I am to speak in this book. In a world composed of vanishing forms I am to vindicate the imperishability, the majesty of law, and to show how man proceeds, in his social march, in obedience to it. I am to lead my reader, perhaps in a reluctant path, from the outward phantasmagorial illusions which surround us, and so ostentatiously obtrude themselves on our attention, to something that lies in silence and strength behind. I am to draw his thoughts from the tangible to the invisible, from the limited to the universal, from the changeable to the invariable, from the transitory to the eternal; from the expedients and volitions so largely amusing the life of man, to the predestined and resistless issuing from the fiat of God.

Chapter II.



Description of Europe: its Topography, Meteorology, and secular Geological Movements.—Their Effect on its Inhabitants.

Its Ethnology determined through its Vocabularies.

Comparative Theology of Greece; the Stage of Sorcery, the Anthropocentric Stage.—Becomes connected with false Geography and Astronomy.—Heaven, the Earth, the Under World.—Origin, continuous Variation and Progress of Greek Theology.—It introduces Ionic Philosophy.

Decline of Greek Theology, occasioned by the Advance of Geography and Philosophical Criticism.—Secession of Poets, Philosophers, Historians.—Abortive public Attempts to sustain it.—Duration of its Decline.—Its Fall.

Europe is geographically a peninsula, and historically a dependency of Asia.

[Sidenote: Description of Europe.]

[Sidenote: The great path-zone.]

It is constructed on the western third of a vast mountain axis, which reaches in a broken and irregular course from the Sea of Japan to the Bay of Biscay. On the flanks of this range, peninsular slopes are directed toward the south, and extensive plateaus to the north. The culminating point in Europe is Mont Blanc, 16,000 feet above the level of the sea. The axis of elevation is not the axis of figure; the incline to the south is much shorter and steeper than that to the north. The boundless plains of Asia are prolonged through Germany and Holland. An army may pass from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of more than six thousand miles, without encountering any elevation of more than a few hundred feet. The descent from Asia into Europe is indicated in a general manner by the mean elevation of the two continents above the level of the sea; that for Asia being 1132 feet, that for Europe 671. Through the avenue thus open to them, the Oriental hordes have again and again precipitated themselves on the West. With an abundance of springs and head-waters, but without any stream capable of offering a serious obstacle, this tract has a temperature well suited to military movements. It coincides generally with the annual isothermal line of 50 deg., skirting the northern boundary beyond which the vine ceases to grow, and the limiting region beyond which the wild boar does not pass.

[Sidenote: Exterior and interior accessibility.]

Constructed thus, Europe is not only easily accessible from Asia, a fact of no little moment in its ancient history, but it is also singularly accessible interiorly, or from one of its parts to another. Still more, its sea-line is so broken, it has so many intrusive gulfs and bays, that, its surface considered, its maritime coast is greater than that of any other continent. In this respect it contrasts strikingly with Africa. Europe has one mile of coast-line for every 156 square miles of surface, Africa has only one for every 623. This extensive maritime contact adds, of course, greatly to its interior as well as exterior accessibility.

[Sidenote: Distribution of heat in Europe.]

The mean annual temperature of the European countries on the southern slope of the mountain axis is from 60 deg. to 70 deg. F., but of those to the north the heat gradually declines, until, at the extreme limit on the shores of Zembla, the ground is perpetually frozen. As on other parts of the globe, the climate does not correspond to the latitude, but is disturbed by several causes, among which may be distinguished the great Atlantic current—the Gulf Stream coming from America—and the Sahara Desert. The latter gives to the south of Europe an unduly high heat, and the former to Ireland, England, and the entire west a genial temperature. Together they press into higher latitudes the annual isothermal lines. If in Europe there are no deserts, there are none of those impenetrable forests seen in tropical countries. From the westerly shores of Portugal, France, and Ireland, the humidity diminishes as we pass to the east, and, indeed, if we advance into Asia, it disappears in the desert of Gobi. There are no vast homogeneous areas as in Asia, and therefore there is no widespread uniformity in the races of men.

[Sidenote: And the quantity of rain.]

But not only is the temperature of the European continent elevated by the Gulf Stream and the south-west wind, its luxuriance of vegetation depends on them; for luxuriance of vegetation is determined, among other things, by the supply of rain. A profusion of water gives to South America its amazing forests; a want inflicts on Australia its shadeless trees, with their shrunken and pointed leaves. With the diminished moisture the green gardens of France are replaced in Gobi by ligneous plants covered with a gray down. Physical circumstances control the vegetable as well as the animal world.

The westerly regions of Europe, through the influence of the south-west wind, the Gulf Stream, and their mountain ranges, are supplied with abundant rains, and have a favourable mean annual temperature; but as we pass to the eastern confines the number of rainy days diminishes, the absolute annual quantity of rain and snow is less, and the mean annual temperature is lower. On the Atlantic face of the mountains of Norway it is perpetually raining: the annual depth of water is there 82 inches; but on the opposite side of those mountains is only 21 inches. For similar reasons, Ireland is moist and green, and in Cornwall the laurel and camellia will bear a winter exposure.

There are six maximum points of rain—Norway, Scotland, South-western Ireland and England, Portugal, North-eastern Spain, Lombardy. They respectively correspond to mountains. In general, the amount of rain diminishes from the equator toward the poles; but it is greatly controlled by the disturbing influence of elevated ridges, which in many instances far more than compensate for the effects of latitude. The Alps exercise an influence over the meteorology of all Europe.

[Sidenote: The number of rainy days;]

Not only do mountains thus determine the absolute quantity of rain, they also affect the number of rainy days in a year. The occurrence of a rainy season depends on the amount of moisture existing in the air; and hence its frequency is greater at the Atlantic sea-board than in the interior, where the wind arrives in a drier state, much of its moisture having been precipitated by the mountains forcing it to a great elevation. Thus, on the eastern coast of Ireland it rains 208 days in a year; in England, about 150; at Kazan, 90; and in Siberia only 60 days.

[Sidenote: and of snowy days.]

When the atmospheric temperature is sufficiently low, the condensed water descends under the form of snow. In general, the annual depth of snow and the number of snowy days increase toward the north. In Rome the snowy days are 1-1/2; in Venice, 5-1/2; in Paris, 12; in St. Petersburgh, 171. Whatever causes interfere with the distribution of heat must influence the precipitation of snow; among such are the Gulf Stream and local altitude. Hence, on the coast of Portugal, snow is of infrequent occurrence; in Lisbon it never snowed from 1806 to 1811.

Such facts teach us how many meteorological contrasts Europe presents, how many climates it contains. Necessarily it is full of modified men.

[Sidenote: Vibrations of the isothermal lines.]

If we examine the maps of monthly isothermals, we observe how strikingly those lines change, becoming convex to the north as summer approaches, and concave as winter. They by no means observe a parallelism to the mean, but change their flexures, assuming new sinuosities. In their absolute transfer they move with a variable velocity, and through spaces far from insignificant. The line of 50 deg. F., which in January passes through Lisbon and the south of the Morea, in July has travelled to the north shore of Lapland, and incloses the White Sea. As in some grand musical instrument, the strings of which vibrate, the isothermal lines of Europe and Asia beat to and fro, but it takes a year for them to accomplish one pulsation.

[Sidenote: Europe is full of meteorological contrasts, and therefore of modified men.]

All over the world physical circumstances control the human race. They make the Australian a savage; incapacitate the negro, who can never invent an alphabet or an arithmetic, and whose theology never passes beyond the stage of sorcery. They cause the Tartars to delight in a diet of milk, and the American Indian to abominate it. They make the dwarfish races of Europe instinctive miners and metallurgists. An artificial control over temperature by dwellings, warm for the winter and cool for the summer; variations of clothing to suit the season of the year, and especially the management of fire, have enabled man to maintain himself in all climates. The invention of artificial light has extended the available term of his life; by giving the night to his use, it has, by the social intercourse it encourages, polished his manners and refined his tastes, perhaps as much as any thing else has aided in his intellectual progress. Indeed, these are among the primary conditions that have occasioned his civilization. Variety of natural conditions gives rise to different national types, artificial inventions occasion renewed modifications. Where there are many climates there will be many forms of men. Herein, as we shall in due season discover, lies the explanation of the energy of European life, and the development of its civilization.

Would any one deny the influence of rainy days on our industrial habits and on our mental condition even in a civilized state? With how much more force, then, must such meteorological incidents have acted on the ill-protected, ill-clad, and ill-housed barbarian! Would any one deny the increasing difficulty with which life is maintained as we pass from the southern peninsulas to the more rigorous climates of the north? There is a relationship between the mean annual heat of a locality and the instincts of its inhabitants for food. The Sicilian is satisfied with a light farinaceous repast and a few fruits; the Norwegian requires a strong diet of flesh; to the Laplander it is none the less acceptable if grease of the bear, or train oil, or the blubber of whales be added. Meteorology to no little extent influences the morals; the instinctive propensity to drunkenness is a function of the latitude. Food, houses, clothing, bear a certain relation to the isothermal lines.

[Sidenote: But, through artificial inventions, it tends to homogeneousness in modern times.]

For similar reasons, the inhabitants of Europe each year tend to more complete homogeneity. Climate and meteorological differences are more and more perfectly equalized by artificial inventions; nor is it alone a similarity of habits, a similarity of physiological constitution also ensues. The effect of such inventions is to equalize the influences to which men are exposed; they are brought more closely to the mean typical standard, and—especially is it to be remembered—with this closer approach to each other in conformation, comes a closer approach in feelings and habits, and even in the manner of thinking.

[Sidenote: The Mediterranean peninsulas.]

On the southern slope of the mountain axis project the historic peninsulas, Greece, Italy, Spain. To the former we trace unmistakably the commencement of European civilization. The first Greeks patriotically affirmed that their own climate was the best suited for man; beyond the mountains to the north there reigned a Cimmerian darkness, an everlasting winter. It was the realm of Boreas, the shivering tyrant. In the early ages man recognized cold as his mortal enemy. Physical inventions have enabled him to overcome it, and now he maintains a more difficult and doubtful struggle with heat.

[Sidenote: The Mediterranean Sea.]

Beyond these peninsulas, and bounding the continent on the south, is the Mediterranean, nearly two thousand miles in length, isolating Europe from Africa socially, but uniting them commercially. The Black Sea and that of Azof are dependencies of it. It has, conjointly with them, a shore-line of 13,000 miles, and exposes a surface of nearly a million and a quarter of square miles. It is subdivided into two basins, the eastern and western, the former being of high interest historically, since it is the scene of the dawn of European intelligence; the western is bounded by the Italian peninsula, Sicily, and the African promontory of Cape Bon on one side, and at the other has as its portal the Straits of Gibraltar. The temperature is ten or twelve degrees higher than the Atlantic, and, since much of the water is removed by evaporation, it is necessarily more saline than that ocean. Its colour is green where shallow, blue where deep.

[Sidenote: Secular geological movement of Europe and Asia, and its social consequences.]

For countless centuries Asia has experienced a slow upward movement, not only affecting her own topography, but likewise that of her European dependency. There was a time when the great sandy desert of Gobi was the bed of a sea which communicated through the Caspian with the Baltic, as may be proved not only by existing geographical facts, but also from geological considerations. It is only necessary, for this purpose, to inspect the imperfect maps that have been published of the Silurian and even tertiary periods. The vertical displacement of Europe, during and since the latter period, has indisputably been more than 2000 feet in many places. The effects of such movements on the flora and fauna of a region must, in the course of time, be very important, for an elevation of 350 feet is equal to one degree of cold in the mean annual temperature, or to sixty miles on the surface northward. Nor has this slow disturbance ended. Again and again, in historic times, have its results operated fearfully on Europe, by forcibly precipitating the Asiatic nomades along the great path-zone; again and again, through such changes of level, have they been rendered waterless, and thus driven into a forced emigration. Some of their rivers, as the Oxus and Jaxartes, have, within the records of history, been dry for several years. To these topographical changes, rather than to political influences, we must impute many of the most celebrated tribal invasions. It has been the custom to refer these events to an excessive overpopulation periodically occurring in Central Asia, or to the ambition of warlike chieftains. Doubtless those regions are well adapted to human life, and hence liable to overpopulation, considering the pursuits man there follows, and doubtless there have been occasions on which those nations have been put in motion by their princes; but the modern historian cannot too carefully bear in mind the laws which regulate the production of men, and also the body of evidence which proves that the crust of the earth is not motionless, but rising in one place and sinking in another. The grand invasions of Europe by Asiatic hordes have been much more violent and abrupt than would answer to a steady pressure resulting from overpopulation, and too extensive for mere warlike incitement; they answer more completely to the experience of some irresistible necessity arising from an insuperable physical cause, which could drive in hopeless despair from their homes the young and the old, the vigorous and feeble, with their cattle, and waggons, and flocks. Such a cause is the shifting of the soil and disturbance of the courses of water. The tribes compelled to migrate were forced along the path-zone, their track being, therefore, on a parallel of latitude, and not on a meridian; and hence, for the reasons set forth in the preceding chapter, their movements and journey of easier accomplishment.

[Sidenote: Rate and extent of these movements.]

These geological changes then enter as an element in human history, not only for Asia, of which the great inland sea has dwindled away to the Caspian, and lost its connection with the Baltic, but for Europe also. The traditions of ancient deluges, which are the primitive facts of Greek history, refer to such movements, perhaps the opening of the Thracian Bosphorus was one of them. In much later times we are perpetually meeting with incidents depending on geological disturbances; the caravan trade of Asia Minor was destroyed by changes of level and the accumulation of sands blown from the encroaching deserts; the Cimbri were impelled into Italy by the invasion of the sea on their possessions. There is not a shore in Europe which does not give similar evidence; the mouths of the Rhine, as they were in the Roman times, are obliterated; the eastern coast of England has been cut away for miles. In the Mediterranean the shore-line is altogether changed; towns, once on the coast, are far away inland; others have sunk beneath the sea. Islands, like Rhodes, have risen from the bottom. The North Adriatic, once a deep gulf, has now become shallow; there are leaning towers and inclining temples that have sunk with the settling of the earth. On the opposite extremity of Europe, the Scandinavian peninsula furnishes an instance of slow secular motion, the northern part rising gradually above the sea at the rate of about four feet in a century. This elevation is observed through a space of many hundred miles, increasing toward the north. The southern extremity, on the contrary, experiences a slow depression.

These slow movements are nothing more than a continuation of what has been going on for numberless ages. Since the tertiary period two-thirds of Europe have been lifted above the sea. The Norway coast has been elevated 600 feet, the Alps have been upheaved 2000 or 3000, the Apennines 1000 to 2000 feet. The country between Mont Blanc and Vienna has been thus elevated since the adjacent seas were peopled with existing animals. Since the Neolithic age, the British Islands have undergone a great change of level, and, indeed, have been separated from the continent through the sinking of England and the rising of Scotland.

[Sidenote: Early inhabitants of Europe.]

At the earliest period Europe presents us with a double population. An Indo-Germanic column had entered it from the east, and had separated into two portions the occupants it had encountered, driving one to the north, the other to the south-west. These primitive tribes betray, physiologically, a Mongolian origin; and there are indications of considerable weight that they themselves had been, in ancient times, intruders, who, issuing from their seats in Asia, had invaded and dislocated the proper autochthons of Europe. In the Pleistocene age there existed in Central Europe a rude race of hunters and fishers, closely allied to the Esquimaux. Man was contemporary with the cave bear, the cave lion, the amphibious hippopotamus, the mammoth. Caves that have been examined in France or elsewhere have furnished for the stone age, axes, knives, lance and arrow points, scrapers, hammers. The change from what has been termed the chipped, to the polished stone period, was very gradual. It coincides with the domestication of the dog, an epoch in hunting life. The appearance of arrow heads indicates the invention of the bow, and the rise of man from a defensive to an offensive mode of life. The introduction of barbed arrows shows how inventive talent was displaying itself; bone and horn tips, that the huntsman was including smaller animals, and perhaps birds, in his chase; bone whistles, his companionship with other huntsmen, or with his dog. The scraping knives of flint, indicate the use of skin for clothing, and rude bodkins and needles, its manufacture. Shells perforated for bracelets and necklaces, prove how soon a taste for personal adornment was acquired, the implements necessary for the preparation of pigments suggest the painting of the body, and perhaps, tattooing; and batons of rank bear witness to the beginning of a social organization.

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