The Unity of Civilization
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Essays Arranged and Edited by


Sometime Senior Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford Author of The Living Past

Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press London Edinburgh Glasgow New York Toronto Melbourne Bombay



The following essays are the substance of a course of lectures delivered at a Summer School at the Woodbrooke Settlement, near Birmingham, in August 1915. The general purpose of the course will be apparent from the essays themselves. No forced or mechanical uniformity of view was aimed at. The writers will be found, very naturally and properly, to differ in detail and in the stress they lay on different aspects of the case. But they agree in thinking that while our country's cause and the cause of our Allies is just and necessary and must be prosecuted with the utmost vigour, it is not inopportune to reflect on those common and ineradicable elements in the civilization of the West which tend to form a real commonwealth of nations and will survive even the most shattering of conflicts. That we on the Allied side stand fundamentally for this ideal is one of our most valuable assets.

The fact that the lectures were delivered at a settlement for training persons for social work in a religious spirit, suggested to more than one of those who took part in the course, how similar is the task which now lies before us in international affairs to that which Canon Barnett initiated thirty years ago for the treatment of the social question at home. We need in both cases to associate ourselves mentally with others in order to realize the common elements which underlie the seeming diversity in the civilization of the West.

The method of the course was primarily historical, though certain essays have been added of a more idealist type. It is hoped that the point of view suggested, though prompted by current events, may be found to have some permanent value. It could obviously be applied to many other aspects of European life, e.g. morality and politics, to which conditions of space have only permitted indirect reference to be made in this volume.




II. UNITY IN PREHISTORIC TIMES By J. L. MYRES, Wykeham Professor of Ancient History, Oxford.

III. THE CONTRIBUTION OF GREECE AND ROME By J. A. SMITH, Waynflete Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy, Oxford.


V. UNITY AND DIVERSITY IN LAW By W. M. GELDART, Vinerian Professor of English Law, Oxford.


VII. SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY AS UNIFYING FORCES By L. T. HOBHOUSE, White Professor of Sociology, University of London.

VIII. THE UNITY OF WESTERN EDUCATION By J. W. HEADLAM, late Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.


X. INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIAL LEGISLATION By CONSTANCE SMITH, sometime British Delegate on International Bureau for Industrial Legislation.







The appeal to history. Previous great schisms in Europe which have been surmounted give hope for the present. The Reformation. The Napoleonic Wars.

The two points of view, (1) Man's nature itself tending to unity through conflict. (2) The stages in the process developed in history.

In pre-history conflict and diversity are predominant, though the necessities of life prescribe certain uniformities. Consolidation comes in favoured physical conditions, especially great river-basins like the Nile and the Euphrates.

The possibility of a world-unity first consciously envisaged in the Greco-Roman world. Greece gives unity in thought, Rome in practice. Order with a solid intellectual foundation established with the Roman Empire. In the mediaeval world a unity mainly spiritual is reached in the same framework. The position of Germany in this development. The break-up of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. The enlargement of the known world and the growth of wealth and knowledge. This crisis still continues and has been recently accentuated by the birth-throes of nationalities. The supreme problem for international unity is now the reconciliation of national units with the interests of the whole. Underneath the superficial turmoil the great unifying forces of science and of common sentiments continue to grow and will ultimately prevail.


Retrospect of the search for unity in man's affairs, in its political and scientific bearings.

The Unity of Man as an Animal Species. Ancient beliefs, doubts suggested by the practice of slavery, their solution, and the modern conception of a 'Human Family'.

The unity of man as a rational animal struggling against nature for subsistence. Archaeological evidence as to the reasonableness of primitive culture on its material side; doubts raised by man's irrational 'barbarities' on the social plane. Levy Bruhl's hypothesis of a 'savage logic' and the Greek analysis of wrongdoing as rooted in ignorance.

Man's struggle with Nature in the N.W. Quadrant of the Old World. Unity here not to be found in the Food Quest. Prehistoric Europe shows variety of regimens, hoe-agriculture, pastoral nomadism. The wheel and the plough and the composite bread and cheese culture.

Race, Language, and Culture as Factors of Unity. The spread of the European Bread Culture is earlier than that of Indo-European Speech and probably than that of the 'Alpine' type of man. Race in Europe has led not to unity but to discord, and linguistic affinity does not ensure mutual intelligibility.


Contemporary history is the only genuine and important history, the present is the only object of historical knowledge; what the present is and how, properly conceived, it gives history its unity and justifies the study of what is past (ancient history); all history is our history, and otherwise without meaning or value to us. The history of classical antiquity is the history of the youth of the modern world, of the formation of the now latent but still potent hopes, fears, designs and thoughts which constitute the substratum of the European mind; how this still unites a divided Europe and affords a ground of hope for a restored and deepened union. Our debt to the Greeks: (a) the very notion of civilization, (b) the idea of its realization through knowledge, (c) the ideal of freedom as the inner spirit of true civilization. How the Greeks failed to work all this out in both theory and practice, and how nevertheless they taught their lesson to the world; the services of Greece to the world in the creation of Art, the Sciences, and Philosophy; the Greek ideal of a life beyond 'civilized' life, but rendered possible by it, and thus giving to civilized life a new and higher value; defects and merits of this ideal.

The Romans are inheritors of all this; how, while making it more prosaic, they rendered it more practical and more effectually realized it. All this most visible in the Imperial period. The Roman ideal: (a) world-wide peace, (b) secured and maintained by a centralized system of laws issuing from and enforced by a single power. Influence of this ideal on later and modern thought and practice. Causes of its decline and fall: (a) ignorance of the economic substructure of civilized life, (b) neglect of opportunities to extend and defend it, (c) the rise of the idea of nationality. The Revolution as the last great attempt to reinstate the full Roman ideal in its outworn form.

Lessons still to be learned by us from the study of both the success and the failure of Greco-Roman civilization; how the consideration of these may at once sober our expectations and inspire us with hope in the present. The forces which created it still maintain it and show no signs of exhaustion. But that they may continue in effect we must study these forces and learn the lessons the ancient experience of their working conveys, exerting ourselves first to understand Greco-Roman thought and practice and then to better their instruction.


I. The mediaeval world. Geographical extent. Economic structure: its features of uniformity and isolation: the effect of the rise of a national economy on mediaeval society. Linguistic basis. Mediaeval scheme that of a general European system of estates rather than of a balance of powers.

II. The unity of mediaeval civilization in its great period (1050-1300) ecclesiastical. The attempt of the Church to achieve a general synthesis of human life by the application of Christian principle. (1) The control of war and peace and the feudal world: the Truce of God and the Crusades: the papacy as an international authority: the mediaeval conception of war. (2) The control of trade and commerce and the economic world: just wages and prices: the mediaeval town. (3) The control of learning and education and the world of thought: reconciliation of Greek science and the Christian faith: allegorical interpretation of the world and its effects on natural science.

III. The mediaeval theory of society. The organic conception of society: mediaeval thought naturaliter Platonica. The one society of mankind. Hence (1) little conception of the State or sovereignty or State law; but the universal society has nevertheless to be reconciled in some way with the existence of different kingdoms. Hence, again, (2) no distinction of Church and State as two separate societies: these are two separate authorities, regnum and sacerdotium, but they govern the same society. The one society of mankind an ecclesiastical scheme uniting a great variety of personal groupings.

IV. The influence of law on the development of the kingdom into the state—a process begun early in England and France, but only generally achieved about 1500. The new conditions—geographical, economic, linguistic—which prepare the way for the new world of the sixteenth century. The gulf between that world and the old mediaeval world. The hope of unity to-day.


The Problem in the Ancient World. Law universal and supreme over mankind (Sophocles, Antigone). Law arbitrary and varying from place to place (Herodotus). Nature and convention. The 'rightlessness' of the stranger in antiquity. The law was a 'law of citizens'. Admission of the foreigner to legal protection. Rome develops a law of the men of all nations (ius gentium), which reacts upon the law of citizens (ius civile), and ultimately coalesces with it. The law of nature.

The break-up of the Ancient World; the Middle Ages. The invaders bring their own law with them. In the kingdoms which they founded each man had his 'personal law'. Local Law. Feudal Law. The beginnings of National Law: England, France, Germany. Roman Law in the Middle Ages. The Canon Law.

The Modern World. The reception of Roman Law. State Sovereignty. The Modern Codes. Unity and diversity of law within the political unit. The world divided into territories of the English Common Law and lands where Roman Law conceptions prevail. Forces making for unity: the notion of a 'law of nature'; the pursuit of common ends. International law, private and public.


The question of the place of nationality in art and literature. It has little or no place in the Middle Ages. The mediaeval epic; its character. The mediaeval romance. Modern European art and literature transcends national conditions. The characteristics of the new European literature of the fourteenth century: Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer. The drama of England and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Painting and sculpture from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. The classical mind, and the principle of good taste and common sense. The realism of Defoe and Hogarth, and the Spanish Picaresque novel. Sentimentalism in the eighteenth century. The poetry and painting of nature. The great revolution and the romantic movement. Great literature and art are not national but human.


Western civilization possesses a certain unity (1) in the sense of unity of character, (2) in the fact that it has a common origin, ultimately in the Greco-Roman civilization but more immediately in mediaeval Christendom, and (3) in the sense that its parts have maintained a constant intercommunication of ideas. (4) The different qualities of German, French, and English thinkers have in large measure complemented one another, (5) and the history of science and of speculative philosophy is largely a history of the interaction of distinct national schools. (6) The same thing is true of political thought. (7) Thus the world of thought forms a commonwealth which is superior to all national differences and, in spite of the war, remains a foundation of a very genuine unity.


Distinction between Unity and Uniformity. Historical Unity; the origin of the School and the University. Both instruments of the mediaeval Church for maintaining a common system throughout Western Christendom. Importance of Latin as the universal language of education. Suppression of the vernacular and of national movements. The Reformation; a common European movement. Erasmus. The new teaching based on classical literature. Tendency to disunion; the influence of the Reformation and the national Churches. Growth of national literature. Political influences, the French Revolution, and the National State. The essential Unity still preserved, not merely in the study of the natural sciences, but in the historical unity given by Christianity and the spirit of Greece.


Commerce and finance practical expressions of the instinct of self-preservation which is common not only to all men, but to all living creatures. Early appearance of trading habit in boys. Early examples of trade. Abraham's purchase of a burying-ground from Ephron the Hittite. Solomon's trade with Hiram of Tyre. Herodotus, the first historian, opens his history with an allusion to trade. Trade is based on specialization, and is at once a cause of unity and of disunion. Its extension from individuals to communities. Foreign trade stimulated by variations of value in different communities. Specialization increases efficiency, but makes the worker a machine, and a speculator on the chance that others will want what he makes. International trade also promotes both unity and friction. On the whole, commerce a great promoter of unity. Likewise finance, or money-dealing. Its origin and development. London's catholic taste in foreign securities: sometimes prefers them to the home-made article. Effect of foreign investment on home production and consumption. Foreign finance and productive specialization.


Interdependence true of countries as of classes. A fact brought home to us by the European War. Importance of international action in relation to the raising of social and industrial standards. This truth perceived by Robert Owen a century ago. Work of Owen and his successors in the direction of an international minimum of labour conditions. Action of the Swiss Federal Council. The German Emperor calls the first Conference on workmen's protection 1890. Formal failure and substantial achievement of this Conference. Founding of International Association for Labour Legislation and International Labour Office. Constitution and work of these bodies. Biennial conferences of the association: subjects and methods. International Conventions of 1906, their scope and value. Subsequent labours of the Association. Its present position and future hopes.


Ideals arise from perceived social evils. They have caused in recent years (a) Common action by European Governments and (b) action by separate Governments influenced by foreign experience. There has also been a growth of sentiment, not yet embodied in law or institutions, with regard to (i) the position of women and children, (ii) social caste, and (iii) the increase of common action for reform by civilized states.


The nineteenth century has made three great contributions towards the possibility of International Government, the political realization of nationality, the growth in substance and method of international law, and the progress of federalism. In other fields outside politics, especially in commerce and finance, a network of international co-operation has grown up. Closer political union is needed for three purposes: first, the consolidation, extension, and improved sanctions of existing international law; secondly, the settlement of differences between nations; thirdly, positive co-operation for the common good. This progress involves some further diminution of 'sovereignty' and 'independence'. But these concepts have no absolute validity. In the Hague Conventions and other intergovernmental instruments the rudiments of international government already exist. In order to establish effective security for peace, what is needed is a general treaty providing that all disputes be submitted to arbitration or conciliation, with such guarantees for acceptance of the award as will establish confidence. The test of confidence is the voluntary reduction of armaments. Internationalists differ as to the nature and rigour of the sanctions. Some rely entirely on a 'moratorium' and the pressure of public opinion: others would compel the submission of all issues, but not the acceptance of awards: others, again, would apply force, diplomatic, economic, or military, to both processes.

Internationalism, to be effective, would require a machinery for dealing with new issues before they ripened into disputes. How far will the state of mind following this war assist this progress of internationalism? Is a spiritual conversion, corresponding to the process of biological mutatism, possible or probable?


The history of Europe suggests that, though the Church exerted a considerable influence on the growth of a common type of civilization in the West, in modern times religion has proved a divisive rather than a unifying factor. During the last generation or two, however, there has been a decline of the dogmatic and sectarian tempers. This change is largely due to the growth of the scientific spirit, and, as in other realms of inquiry so in the study of religion, international co-operation has steadily developed. Both literary criticism and psychological analysis have contributed to the widening of sympathy. The better understanding of certain elements in the Christian ideal and the Christian hope must also be taken into consideration as a factor making for a new catholicism which finds expression in movements like the Adult School Movement and the Student Christian Movement, and in the ever-growing demand for closer co-operation in missionary work.

Beyond this, partly through the comparative study of religions, we are conscious that religious thought in the West possesses some common characteristics, notably, faith in the solidarity of mankind and in the reality of progress. Of themselves, these two convictions do not constitute any very close bond of union, and both beliefs need to be defined and enforced by the sense of sin and the consciousness of God which the West has learned from Jesus.


The need of a basis of right sentiments even greater than that of improved political machinery to secure international union. We must start from patriotism and enlighten and enlarge it. Of the three Western nations which lead in the arts and sciences, France and England through the war become closely allied in defence of a policy of the union of free and pacific people throughout the world. The position of Italy, Russia, and the United States. The increase of arbitral methods and the formation of leagues of peace or even of a world-state are matters calling for earnest thought; but the spread of the notion of humanity, the co-operation of all mankind in a common work is more fundamental and may be begun by any one at home. This idea, starting with the Stoics, is fully developed with the advent of modern science. It shows itself in many forms and the spread of exact science is its most powerful aid. This is entirely independent of nationality and will be increasingly concerned with the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of life.

The final test of a high international aim is the joint effort of the stronger peoples to protect and assist the weaker and less advanced. The case of Africa and the Brussels Conference of 1889. Analogy with the treatment of the young at home.



In face of the greatest tragedy in history, it is to history that we make appeal. What does it teach us to expect as the issue of the conflict? How far and in what form may we anticipate that the unity of mankind, centring as it must round Europe, will emerge from the trial?

Only two occasions occur to the mind on which, since the break up of the Roman Empire, a schism so serious as the present has threatened the unity of the Western world. The first was the Reformation and the war which it entailed down to the Peace of Westphalia. The second was the struggle against Napoleon, terminated a hundred years ago. The latter was in many respects a closer parallel. It was a struggle of the independent nations of Europe against the overweening ambition and aggression of one Power. It united them in an alliance which achieved its purpose and survived the successful issue of the war for some years. Some such course, with a comity of nations far wider and more enduring than the Holy Alliance as its sequel, we hope and predict for the present war.

The struggle at the Reformation was less like the present, either in its causes or its course, but it has some features which make it a useful point for a survey of the permanent unifying elements which hold and will hold the West together in spite of occasional cataclysms and the clash of rival interests and passion. A man like Erasmus, trembling before the catastrophe, willing to make immense sacrifices to avoid an open breach, uncertain of any final readjustment which might restore the harmony of the world, was not unlike some among us who hoped against hope that the enemy might be appeased, who thought that almost any peace was better than any war, who still fear that the breach in unity is vital or irreparable for generations.

And the issue three hundred years ago may also inspire us with a cautious optimism, a strong though not unmeasured trust. The right cause triumphed, fully in the end. Freedom was secured, both for churches and for individuals, throughout the world. The evil features in the papal system, against which the attack was really levelled, quietly but completely disappeared, and the institution survived, itself reformed. Before a hundred years were out the world had moved on to the conquest of new vantage points and the establishment of a wider unity on a firmer base.

Both previous occasions are therefore full of hope. The European system is, as we shall see throughout these essays, the necessary nucleus of any civilized order embracing the whole world; and the great convulsions which have hitherto continued to occur in it from time to time are moments of especial value for the study of the conditions under which it exists. They are the pathological experiences which reveal the strength and the weaknesses of the normal functions. We strive and hope for a more lasting state of general health, and do not despair of the patient even in this grave attack. He has survived even more serious illness. For though the present war is the most gigantic that the world has ever seen, its very greatness is the result of some of those modern developments—scientific skill, improved communications, national cohesion—on which ultimately the better organization of the whole commonwealth of nations will be built. Passi graviora; we have weathered the storms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the old Roman order and its sequel in the Catholic Church were at their weakest and the recuperative power of science and social reform and nationalism had hardly begun its work. We shall not fail with our greater forces of the present to regain and create a Europe freer, stronger, and more united than that which now seems to be shaken to the depths.

The process of gaining a greater unity among the leading nations of the world, like all the aspects of human evolution, must be regarded from two points of view, distinct in theory, inextricable in life. What does the nature of man itself demand? How has this nature expressed itself, and been affected in history by the external conditions, the geography, climate, conflict and commingling of races, which the theatre of its appearance has imposed?

Looked at in itself, so far as we can isolate it from its surroundings, man's nature is distinguished from that of lower animals by two features, both of them essentially social and tending to unity. He is more deeply and permanently attached to members of his own species, by affection, sympathy, veneration, tradition, than any other creature. And he is a reasoning being, reason itself requiring the contact and agreement of various minds. The incomparably greater force which he has acquired in the world, over all other species and over nature itself, is due to the working of these two factors. At starting he was physically less strong than many other creatures, and if he fought with others of his own kind, other animal species did the same. He was ahead of them by his reason, and reason acted, and must act, through the concert of thinking beings. This concert is not merely, or even mainly, an attachment among those living at the same time to co-operate for some common end; it is with man a conscious sequence of one generation on another. Sometimes the movement of adaptation is slower, sometimes quicker, but in every case the living are carrying on the work of the dead, and their co-operation in time as well as space is due to the working of the same qualities of attachment and reason, the social factors, by which at any moment a community of men is bound together.

Still looking at the matter a priori, it is clear that the vast community of mankind, though it has come more closely in contact in recent years over all the planet, yet acts, and must act, habitually and momentarily, through many smaller aggregates. Of these the leading types are the family and the country or nation. The former is not directly relevant to our inquiry, the latter plays a leading part in it. The former is less dependent on external conditions of land-formation and the like, and is in consequence more universal, more purely human. The latter has been shaped by geographical conditions, by racial qualities, by the apparent accidents of history. Its relation to the larger units of human society raises the most difficult, fundamental and unavoidable questions. To curb aggressive nationalism is the root-problem of the present war. To reconcile permanently nationalism with humanity would be to establish the everlasting peace.

Western society, indeed the whole community of mankind, is built up of these smaller units, the family and the nation, with their various intermediate groupings, but the historical process has by no means conformed at all exactly to this logical order. Society has not been made in orderly fashion by forming families and then combining families to make hundreds, and hundreds to make counties, and counties nations, and so on to the whole. A German god might have done this, but the way of nature and history was less perfect. The minor forms of human association have been taking shape, being altered and on the whole improved, throughout the process. At one point, of high importance for our argument, a larger form of association was achieved before the necessary constituent elements were articulated. This was the Greco-Roman world encircling the Mediterranean and completed in the Roman Empire of the second century A.D. It was the nucleus from which the Western world of modern civilization has been developed; yet it was there, settled in its main outlines, before the national units which it required for internal harmony and cohesion had taken any definite shape. It is to the difficulties of their growth and mutual adjustment that we owe most of the conflicts of modern history.

We shall in this book go back first to a still earlier stage, a stage of pre-history, to a time when no one, not gifted with superhuman insight and prescience, could have foreseen the course which human civilization would pursue. All over the world, for tens of thousands of years, a culture persisted, associated with stone implements, and marked by a similarity which is often extremely striking, in races and tribes widely severed by distance and climatic conditions. The raw material of the human product in science, art, and invention was alike in texture although often exuberant in detail and imagination. But it had not yet the unity of an organic whole, knit by a common purpose and conscious of itself.

To gain the cohesion of large numbers of men by whom wealth could be created and sufficient leisure and independence secured for an intellectual life, not dictated by the necessities of existence, a special concurrence of favourable physical conditions was required. The rich and secluded river-basins of many parts of the world provided this, and in consequence we find similar large communities arising at the end of the Stone Age in such places as China, Peru, Mexico, and above all in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The last named derived their special importance for the sequel from their proximity to the Mediterranean, which was to act as the great meeting-place and training-school for adventurous spirits and inquiring minds. From the busy intercourse of these land-locked waters arose the civilization called Minoan, or Aegean, centring in Crete, itself to be surpassed by the trading activity of the Phoenicians and the art and science of the Greeks.

It is with the advent of the Greek that the seal is placed upon the claim of the Mediterranean to be the birthplace of the highest type of human civilization, the centre from which a unity of the spirit was to spread, until, by material force as well as by the conquering mind, the European or Western man was recognized as in the forefront of the race. The supremacy of the Greek lay in his achievement in three directions, as a thinker, as an artist, and as the builder of the city-state. For our present purpose the first and the last are the most important and the first the most important of all.

The city-state was important as the first example of a free, self-governing community in which the individual realized his powers by living—and dying—with and for his fellows. This new type of human community was of the highest moment in the sequel. In many points it was a model to the Romans, and thus became a fulcrum for the upward movement of the Western world. In the works, too, of the Greek philosophers, especially of Plato and Aristotle, it inspired the earliest and some of the deepest reflections on the nature of social life and government. But it never acquired the permanence of the political units needed to build up the European Commonwealth. For this nations were required, and the Greeks were a race and not a nation. The [Greek: polis] lacked the size, the variety of elements, and the territorial basis on which a modern nation rests.

It is rather in their achievements as thinkers and as artists, above all in their science and philosophy, that we find the most fundamental and lasting contribution of the Greeks to the unity and progress of mankind. When these became allied to the tenacity, the organizing and legal genius of the Romans, a firm centre of civilized life was established, which has survived the shocks of two thousand years of growth and conflict and will survive the upheaval of the present. The Greek unification was in the world of thought and art; the Roman attempted a corresponding work of organization in the human world which lay nearest to him in the countries round the Mediterranean Sea. Both efforts were of priceless value and continuing effect, but both were, from the conditions of the problem, imperfect solutions, the brilliant but precocious sketches of adolescent genius. The Greek, working at first on the material accumulated by generations of Chaldean and Egyptian priests, discovered from their crude, unorganized, and inexact observations of geometry and astronomy the elements of unity in diversity which constitute science. Inquiring for causes, comparing and correcting individual facts, he arrived at the first equations in mathematics, the first laws of nature. His work in this sphere and in that of medicine went on continuously until after the Roman occupation of the Mediterranean world was complete. It died out gradually in the theological atmosphere of Alexandria, and on the purely human side ended in Stoicism with an amalgam of universal philosophy and Roman law. The Stoic Empire of the second century A.D. was the high-water mark of the joint efforts of Greeks and Romans to attain unity and humanism in thought and practice. Its brilliance while it lasted the nobility of its leading men, the persistence of the main lines of its structure, are the measure of our debt to the builders of the Greco-Roman world.

The Roman contribution to the result which in the end so perfectly combined both movements was, in its origin and nature, singularly unlike the Greek. The Roman did not analyse his conceptions. He accepted what came to him, either from his ancestors or from other peoples, without scrutiny, except so far as to see that new matter could be worked into old forms without a dislocation in practice. He was the pragmatist, the Greek the idealist. This instinct of adaptation and sequence made the Roman the pioneer in law as the Greek was the pioneer in science. It rendered possible the holding together in one political system of the multifarious territories and peoples from the Tigris to the Solway Firth for long enough to enable the greater part of that area to be permanently civilized on Roman lines. But, like the artist's sketch of his picture, the whole was outlined before the parts were worked out in their final form; and the sketch itself was seriously imperfect in more than one point. The set-back which Augustus received on the eastern side of the Rhine was never made good, and the Germanic tribes therefore remained un-Romanized until the Church in the seventh and eighth centuries resumed the work on other lines. This defeat of Varus and the legend of Hermann became to the German a symbol of national greatness in a sense which none of the other national conflicts with Rome ever assumed. To us Boadicea is a barbarian, and we trace with gratitude and pleasure the signs of civilization left by the Roman occupation. To us the Roman was for centuries a defence against barbarism, and we regret that we had to do over again many of the things which he had once taught us. But the Roman Empire, when the German accepted it, was no longer the Empire which had founded the unity of Europe. It was a German Empire, and though the ancient world fired his imagination, he always saw it through German eyes.

The next stage in unity was the mediaeval Church, which inherited the framework of the Roman Empire and extended the area of moral and civilized life which Rome had initiated.

In this Germany was included, and she played a distinguished part. Roman missionaries, some by way of England and Ireland, went further than the Roman legions had attempted, and the sword of Charlemagne did the rest. Germany in the later Middle Ages was perhaps the most valued of all the Pope's domains, and her prince-bishops his greatest lieutenants. The moral and religious effect of the Catholic discipline, appealing to sides of human nature which Greece and Rome had left untouched, was nowhere more deeply felt than by the Germans. Spiritually they were thus lifted at least to the level of the rest of Western Europe, but politically they remained unincorporated, the most feudal and military nation of the West.

The growth of nations was, on the political side, the main achievement of the Middle Ages. Rome had given the framework of a great system, and into this had poured barbarians from North and East, Goths, Franks, Huns, Moors, Lombards, tribes at the level of the Homeric Greeks when they swept down to the Aegean. They came as migrant hordes, and in the area civilized by Rome and the Catholic Church they settled down as nations, mingling with the earlier population and divided up by the geographical configurations of the Continent. Among them France and England had the advantage. They gained their unity as nations earlier than any other countries of the West—England in a form which has lasted substantially unaltered for six hundred years. Spain, which had been torn asunder by the Moors, was not consolidated fully till the end of the fifteenth century, in time to send the last of the crusaders under Columbus in quest of fresh worlds to conquer across the Atlantic. But Italy and Germany—and especially the latter—remained disintegrated until our own time. Both gained their union about the same time, fifty years ago, but by different methods and in a different spirit. Italy, naturally a compact geographical unit, was welded by a democratic enthusiasm, of which Cavour and Mazzini were the soul and Garibaldi the right arm. Germany, vast in power and numbers, lay strongly entrenched in the central area of the Continent, but failed to kindle into national life at the same democratic moment. She was fashioned into political existence by a Thor's hammer, which, as it rose and fell, dealt shattering blows on friends as well as foes, in Austria as well as France, on Danes and Poles, on Liberals and Socialists, on little kings and great ecclesiastics. And now this Frankenstein creation among states offers the most serious problem in adjusting national claims with European unity. We have to check and to assimilate—if the world is to live as one—the one Power which has hitherto developed most persistently and successfully its own resources, but least in subordination to the interests of the whole.

There are those who would regard all national barriers and organization as somewhat of an obstruction, who would prefer a simple internationalism to the world as we know it, with its pent-up passions and attachments, its constant liability to explosion, its slow progress by tortuous channels towards the larger view and the surer hold. Many reformers, from Plato downwards, have taken up a similar attitude in regard to the smaller institution, the family, which is often found to be an obstruction in the way of short cuts to social utopias at home. Kant's ideal of a cosmopolitan constitution as the goal of all human effort rather leans to this side of the balance. But a due balance must be kept and the full value both of family and nation maintained against theories or tendencies which would roll us all out into cosmopolitan items. A glance at other elements which go to make up the unity of European society will tend to correct the perspective.

The unity of the Roman Empire was mainly political and military. It lasted for between four and five hundred years. The unity which supervened in the Catholic Church was religious and moral and endured for a thousand. Less binding on one side, it was more searching and pervasive on others, and though now broken, it still remains in full force over many millions of minds, while the Roman political and legal structure has to be sought for in formal institutions which have absorbed its spirit and transformed its letter. But beyond the actual fabric of the Church itself we have the multitude of cognate and derivative institutions which have served the cause of unity in the moral and intellectual sphere. We shall speak later of the more perfect and lasting unity of science. The universities in the Middle Ages and the Renascence tended to the same end, using a material in philosophy and theology which was bound to wear out with the spread of knowledge and the flux of time. But in their prime they succeeded in producing a more complete community of scholars than has perhaps been ever witnessed in Europe before or since. Then as always the realm of the genuine love of truth, or even of honest disputation, was independent of differences of race or political boundaries, and the scholar went from Oxford to Paris, or from Rotterdam to Bologna, solely to widen his mind or to sit at the feet of some world-famous teacher.

And the wandering scholar was by no means the only social link. Many of the trade-routes surprise us by the length and adventurousness of their course. Amber from the Baltic found its way to the south of Italy and Spain, while small boats from Ireland were brought into the mouths of the Loire and the Garonne when the coasts of the Channel were impassable through barbarians from the North.

Mediaeval Europe was, in fact, much more of a unity than the modern traveller would expect, and this was mainly due to the influence of the Church. The spiritual unity went deep on one side of man's nature, and when a man like Erasmus surveyed the prospect at the beginning of the sixteenth century we can well understand his horror, and his determined abstention from any step which would precipitate the break-up of the one organized body which represents the old united culture of Christendom and might check the new forces which were threatening selfishness and disorder in ever-widening circles on the globe. For it must be noted that new forces of expansion were making themselves felt, as the unity of the Church was being threatened from within. Explorers were extending, East and West, the sphere in which the European was to impose his influence for good and evil on other peoples, and the sixteenth century thus becomes one, perhaps the most critical, of all the turning-points in the history of the West. Danger was mixed with hope, disorder with new knowledge and fresh power, and the crisis has not yet been surmounted. But we have gained by now some insight into the nature of the new forces and see that they should, and one day will, work more fully in the direction of unity in the civilized world, of healthy independence in the parts and a growing harmony in the whole. Little of this could have been seen by the observer at the outbreak of the Reformation.

Nationalism, democracy, colonial expansion, religious change, the growth of knowledge and its application to industry and social reform, these are the salient features which distinguish our modern from the mediaeval world, and we have to consider how far they make for the unity of mankind.

The sixteenth century saw both the strengthening of national governments and the beginning of European colonization. England, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, all settled down under a central government stronger and more independent than they had previously enjoyed, and pegged out estates for themselves beyond the seas. In each case wars have been entailed in the process, and, as we know, the backwardness of Germany at this period has been visited upon the rest of Europe tenfold in recent times. National expansion thus appears to be an eminent provocation of international strife. It is with no intention either of ignoring facts or minimizing dangers that one turns here to the other side of the account. Where was the spark actually fired which led to the present conflagration? In that part of Europe where the national units were least stable and developed, where the conditions of government and social order are most remote from our own. Who can doubt that if in the Balkans the Turks had been able to establish even the sort of government we maintain in India, or if, still better, the Balkan States, apart from the Turks, had gained their own independence in a federation like the Swiss, the aggression of the Central Powers would have been checked? The compact, well-established national unit is not in itself a danger, but there is a danger in weak, oppressed, or disjointed nationalities, who have not found safety and offer a bait to their expansive neighbours.

Thus strong and independent nations, as Kant postulates in his Perpetual Peace, are guarantees of peace, stones in the Temple of Humanity. Another consideration not generally recognized, strengthens this conclusion. In recent years all leading and progressive nations have been devoting their first thought to social reform. This has been conspicuously the case with ourselves, with the French, with the United States, with the smaller, more advanced countries in Europe. Germany, too, though her first energies have been given to organizing war, has had in this matter two distinct souls. Her social democrats and part of her governing class have been consistent and successful in working for the amelioration of the condition of the people, and have often anticipated other nations in her process. It is self-evident, first, that a strong national government is needed to carry out wide social reform, second, that in proportion as governments devote themselves whole-heartedly to this, their energies are less likely to be devoted to molesting their neighbours. Germany, unfortunately for herself and the world, had no government which could speak for the whole people and be responsible to it. A truly national government in Germany, or anywhere else, would not have willed this war.

The colonial expansion which was connected with the outburst of national sentiment in the sixteenth century, and has led to frequent conflicts between European nations ever since, also appears in a different light if we study it in view of facts not dreamt of in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Americas, which appeared to the early navigators as rich estates to be cultivated for the benefit of proprietors at home, have developed into powerful and independent countries, eminently pacific (except for internal brawls), looking forward to producing new types of life and government, hoping perhaps to hold the balance in a long-drawn contest of the Old World Powers. The circle, therefore, of the Mediterranean world which was enlarged by the discoveries of the sixteenth century, finds its completion to-day in new states across the Atlantic, which are on the whole enormously preponderant on the side of peace, and wish to hold their own in Western civilization by force of wealth and industry, and not by arms. To us, too, it is clear, and will be one day to the Germanic Powers, that the British Empire, the largest political aggregate on the globe, is essentially a league of free peoples, under no compulsion from the centre, but responsive to attack upon their power or liberty by any third party, strong from their general contentment with the conditions and institutions of their life, and not through any systematic regulations imposed from above. Even India and other protected states and dominions, though not yet self-governing, are moving steadily in the direction of responsibility and of willing association with the British Empire or Commonwealth as a whole.

Such is the much vaster community of nations which has succeeded to the Western Europe of the sixteenth century; and no mention has been made of the place of Russia or the countries still further east. The picture does not suggest a welter of conflicting passions and ambition throughout the world. On the whole a mass of men and women labouring with fair contentment at their daily task, not concerned that their state or nation should extend its boundaries, least of all that it should provoke attack; little conscious of the historic debt of nations to one another, but wishing well to others except when they cross the path of a personal desire; gaining rapidly more sense of actual community among living men, but hardly realizing yet how man's power has been built up in the past and how infinitely it might be advanced and the world improved by harmony and steadily directed efforts in the future. That the sense of brotherhood has gained ground in the world, especially since the middle of the eighteenth century, is certain. Voices of protest reach us even from Germany through the storm of hatred. But the vague sympathy, the desire for peace and shrinking from the horrors of war need to be enlightened, to have a reasoned basis in the belief that all nations, and especially those of the vanguard, are partners in a common work and essential one to another, above all, perhaps, to have institutions which tend to co-operation and make a sudden and disastrous breach as difficult as possible. Many of these instruments of peace were being forged when the war broke out. Many of the most profound ties between nations are not understood or are kept in the background by nationalist teachers or a nationalist press.

Of all the modern steps towards international unity, the most indisputable, the most firmly based and furthest-reaching, is science, and the various applications of science, both in promoting intercourse between different parts of the world and in alleviating suffering and strengthening and illuminating human life. The more prominence, therefore, that we can secure for the growth of science in the teaching of history, the larger place humanity, or the united mind of mankind, will take in the moving picture which every one of us has, more or less full and distinct, of the progress of the world. For some hundreds of years, culminating in the three or four centuries A.D., the dominant feature in the picture was of a triumphant city-state, Rome, gradually subduing and embracing the world. Then for some thousand years the picture was of a religious organization leading the civilized world, and nationalities were only emerging as somewhat dim and ill-defined figures. Then, with the rupture in the Church and the upspringing of other religious bodies and forms of thought, national figures become predominant in the scene, and attract nearly all the attention, which is given, except by a few curious persons, to the study of history. Nationalism, once in defect in Western Europe, has been for some time in excess. The remedy is not directly to attack it, except in the case in which it gave us no choice, but to supply the limiting and controlling ideas. Of all these, science fits the case most exactly, because, as science, it can know no distinction between French or German, English or Russian. There is no French physics or German chemistry, and if we are told that the Prussians have their own theory of anthropology, based on the predominance of a particular type of skull which other anthropologists dispute, we are quite sure that in that case science has not yet said her last word.

We put physical science first because it contains the largest number of certain and accepted laws. The further we get from mathematical exactness the more liable we are to differences of opinion, which may, as in the case of anthropology, cluster round some question of national pique. But it would be easy to trace through all the sciences, and into philosophy and religion, a growing unity of method and result before which national differences often resolve themselves into a difference of style. The style is the nation's, but the truth is mankind's.

We could not, indeed, be sure that if every one in Western Europe were a trained scientist, wars would cease from the earth: certain professors have taught us too well for that. But in so far as men come to recognize that the great body of organized knowledge is a common possession, due to the united efforts of different nations, and that it can only be increased by joint action and may be increased to such a point that the whole of life is a happier and nobler thing, so far they will be averse to war. And in its various applications, to increasing production and quickening communication, to lengthening life and healing sickness, to protecting workers and cheapening food, men see the natural fruits of an activity whose basis is common thought and its ultimate purpose the common good.

It has been said with truth that it is easier to trace the growth of science as a joint product of co-operating minds, than to find a growth of common sentiments among the men and the nations who have created it. True among individuals, it must be at least as true among groups and nations. We may work successfully with some one at a problem or learn from a teacher or a companion when we dislike him personally and do not seek his society apart from the needs of our common work. It has often happened, and will happen again in private and public. But though particular antipathies may increase, the tendency to dislike others is a diminishing quality among civilized men. In the long run common sense and necessity will prevail. We are born to live a while before we die; and we must live on the same planet, sometimes next door to those who have sworn a never-dying hate.



The new perspective, with all its shift of values, which is forced on us by the war, touches the past no less than the present and the future. However objectively we try to present to ourselves the data of history, we cannot emancipate ourselves from the need to present them from a point of view which must in the last resort be our own. We may bring ourselves by training and criticism nearer to the centre of things, more intimate with essential factors and remote from the trivial periphery; but it is a matter of degree, and historical study an affair after all of mental triangulation. Like a surveyor in the field, we are safest in our determination of any third position if we have already knowledge of two, and of how the third looks from both of them. And even if we were indeed at the centre of things, I suppose we might take our round of angles quite uselessly, unless we had also some divine gift of judging distances.

So the historian accepts his limitations as the rules of the game, and sets out to see unity askance. It is his rare chance, if events shift him, and set him gazing at a world in which, as now, half his own career is inside the picture; not perhaps very easy to find in a moment—as one might fail to recognize oneself in a group-photograph—but none the less there, and intelligible only in relation to its actual surroundings.

Looking back, indeed, over the course of anthropology and prehistoric archaeology, much of which lies in the years since 1870, and nearly all of it since 1815, the first thing which strikes us now is the frequency and delicacy of its response to contemporary thoughts and aspirations. A few of the greatest men have recognized this at the time. I quote from Karl Ernst von Baer, the founder of comparative embryology, and in great matters the master of men as different as Huxley, Spencer, and Francis Balfour. He died in 1876, when political anthropology was still young; but in his great book on Man he 'appeals to the experience of all countries and ages, that if a people has power, and attempts wrongdoing against another, it also does not omit to conceive the other as very worthless and incompetent, and to repeat this conviction often and emphatically' (Der Mensch, ii. 235). It is easy for us to dot the i and cross the t here; less easy perhaps to realize that what troubled von Baer was the persistence of British and American ethnologists in the polygenist heresy, which he traced (and rightly) to their reluctance to treat their 'black brother' as if he were their relative at all. Judgement in that ethnological controversy went by default, with the victory of the North in the American Civil War; and in 1871 the lion lay down with the lamb, even in London; inveterate foes in the Ethnological Society and the Anthropological merging their fate in one Anthropological Institute. In 1915 the reluctance of the 'tall fair people who come from the north'—I borrow a phrase from Professor Ridgeway—to fraternize with mere brunettes, beyond Rhine and Danube, comes in its turn before the same tribunal as polygenism in 1862.

Our subject, 'Unity in Prehistoric Times', embraces three main topics: (1) the unity of human effort and reason everywhere in Man's struggle with Nature and with his Fellow-man; (2) the special conditions which favoured or hindered unity of prehistoric culture in what has been called elsewhere the 'north-west quadrant' of the Old-World land-mass west of Ararat and the Median hills and north of Sahara, the cradle and nursery of the modern 'western world'; and (3) the convergent lines of advancement within that region, which can be traced through the centuries before Roman policy let Greek culture penetrate almost as deep into peninsular Europe as Alexander's conquests had opened to it the inlands of the Near East.

When we speak of unity in human affairs, and particularly just now, when the supreme unity seems to some to be nationalism, and to others the negation, or rather the supersession of nationalism, we mean the rather complex outcome of several distinct things. This complexity was confessed, unwittingly perhaps, in the first humanist creed: 'I believe in one Blood, one Speech, one Cult, one congruous Way of Living.'[2] Modern ethnology, indeed, tends to subsume cult under way-of-living, as a peculiarly delicate test of conformity—and to regard language, alongside of both cult and way-of-living, as another manifestation of the same human reason; distinguishing therefore two kinds of unity—one physical or morphological, as of one animal species in an animal kingdom, the other cultural or psychological, as of the sole incarnate occupant of a realm of mind; and classifying the 'Science of Man' accordingly. But, in essentials, that Athenian creed will serve: our latest ethnologists, and statesmen too, are faced with the same league of problems.


Whatever Greek statesmen thought about the gulf between Greek and Persian, or Greek and Barbarian generally, Greek ethnologists raised no fundamental barrier between the different sorts of Man. Good naturalists as they were, and experienced breeders of farm-stock, they accepted white, brown, and black men; and were prepared to accept any other breed that Nearchus or Pytheas might confront them with, as members of one brotherhood, just as they accepted white, brown, or black sheep, with horns of Ammon or with none. Eratosthenes, most philosophical, and therewith most political of them all, was bred in Cyrene, where some Greeks seem to have been black; and he worked in Alexandria, where the University was a human Zoo like that of London or Berlin. Their simple farmer's theory of natural selection attributed 'scorched-faced' Aethiopians to sunburn, and other racial types to large factors of region and regime. The classical treatise is that of Hippocrates 'On Air, Water, and Places'.[3]

In the modern world, too, no serious doubt was cast on the specific unity of mankind, handed down from antiquity, until Linnaeus and Buffon had refined upon the biological notions of genus and species (for both of which there is only one word in Greek), and had defined species by the criterion of fertility. Now not only the great explorers, but every ship's captain, knew by this time that white men, at all events, would form fertile unions with all known kinds of humanity. But in the eighteenth century it became known also, and in the same empirical way, that the fertility of unions between white men and black was imperfect; and as this was the only human cross for which there was any large quantity of evidence, the impression grew that the zoological distance between these races was greater than had been supposed. On the other hand, eighteenth-century formulators of the 'Rights of Man' challenged reconsideration of the current practice of negro slavery; and the upshot was a controversy. Abolitionists contended that the 'black brother' was indeed a blood brother, and entitled to the 'Rights of Man'; their opponents replied that the negro, being (as they held) of another species, might justly be treated in all respects as one of white man's domestic animals, and be his property as well as his drudge. At the turn of the century, the adherence of Cuvier gave prestige to Polygenesis on its scientific side: and it took all the reasonableness of Prichard in the next generation to turn the tide even in England. But the issue of the American Civil War, to which reference has already been made, coincided so closely in time with the work of Darwin and Lyell on the real meaning of species and on the antiquity of man, that the controversy was closed without bitterness. The new phase of Polygenism which seems now to be opening, with successive discoveries of the quaternary stratification of races, and Keith's analysis of the family tree of the Hominidae, starts from wholly different data, unembarrassed by fears or hopes of a 'Neanderthal' origin for the Negro, or for any living or recent Homo.

The 'human family' then seems re-established as something more than a platform phrase; and separatists (who are always with us) have had to fall back upon another criterion of disunity.


Omitting language for a moment (which since first telling of the 'Tower of Babel' story has somewhat fallen from grace as a symptom of unity among mankind), or rather, subsuming it as one of the most essential exhibitions of rationality, and indeed its chief instrument, we come to Man's unity as a creature possessed of reason, and expressing this reasoning habit in specific modes of living, under whatever external surroundings. These being almost infinitely various, it is not always easy to compare examples of Man's reaction to them. For proof of the uniformity of human reasoning, indeed, we have to begin almost from an animal plane. 'Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter, as a Christian is?' And not only is men's hunger, and their sensitiveness to 'the same summer and winter' similar: their ways of satisfying hunger, their conduct of the food-quest, their elementary organizations 'for the sake of maintaining life', as Aristotle expressed it, exhibit one mental type throughout. In the domestication of nature's gifts it is the same: in the fashioning of implements and weapons, the improvisation of clothing and shelter, the almost instinctive impulse to 'play with fire' which repels other animals. Style and finish may vary, and do vary widely from one province of culture to another; but in their last mechanical analysis, a spade is a spade all the world over, and a celt a celt.

It was the service of the late General Pitt-Rivers in this country, and of Klemm more laboriously abroad, to establish this aspect of the 'Evolution of Culture' beyond controversy: as it was the work of Boucher de Perthes, and of Sir John Evans and Sir John Lubbock to proceed in the reverse direction, from a criterion of utility to a hypothesis of design, and the conclusion that certain stones, of reputedly prehuman antiquity, must be the work of human hands, geared to human brains like ours. Tylor's wider range of observation, conspicuously supplemented by other work of Lubbock, embraced all human activities in one formula of comparison, which is indeed as old as Thucydides.[4] We can infer, that is, something about early stages of an advanced culture from the present-day practices of savagery.

Yet, across this 'primitive culture', to use a phrase which has become classical, so reasonable, and therewith so full of uniformities, in its intimate interplay of hand and tongue with brain, patches of shadow fall; a chaos of such incredible absurdities and (in the widest sense) of 'barbarities', that the charitable hypothesis that here and there man has lost his way and just stopped thinking hardly seems adequate to account for things, and writers like Levy-Bruhl are provoked to the pessimist guess that there can be a savage logic which is different from ours and yet is 'logical' in some coherent sense; which stets verneint the conclusions, and even the axioms, which are clear as day to us; and is a 'knowledge of evil' side by side with the knowledge of good.

But examples of this 'primitive thought', when we come to analyse them, all seem to resolve themselves into one or other of the ordinary sorts of fallacy, as our own logic-books expound them. If the study of them proves anything at all, it is the familiar aphorism that, while there is only one right way of doing and thinking, there are countless ways of going wrong. Among the most reasonable people (at their highest) that the world has yet seen, there were some of the worst miscarriages of reason and of morals; and throughout their great centuries there was no word either for the devil or for sin in their language. For the Greek all human wrongdoing came under the one simple category of [Greek: hamartia], 'making a mistake', or better 'making a miss'. It is the slang of target-practice, for the correlative [Greek: otochazein], used of all happy guesses at truth, is likewise only the word for 'aiming straight'.

But why make mistakes? Why these failures of co-ordination between design and execution, between nature's truth and man's theory and practice? Why this declining from the best into sloppy or antiquated work, to name only two main sorts of technological fallacy? Again the answer comes down, past Lucretius, from the Ionian physicist. It is only in superficial appearance that 'though reason is common to all, most men live as if they had a way of thinking of their own',[5] Heraclitus' momentary despair anticipating Levy-Bruhl almost verbally. Once penetrate, with Heraclitus himself, below the surface, and 'all men have it in them to understand themselves and to think straight'.[6] It is failure to think, not some distinct and illogical sort of thinking, that is the cause of the trouble: the lapse of that 'organized common sense' which is the content of all 'science'.

Such disorganization of common sense, 'idiotic' thinking, in the Heraclitan sense of an [Greek: idia phronesis], can be as cumulative, fallacy on fallacy, and as elaborately wrong, as the fabric of knowledge is cumulatively and elaborately right. 'Hath this man sinned, or his parents, that he was born blind?' That is the tragedy of primitive culture: for the brains are there and the eyes; only they have never seen anything straight, because in the world they were bred up in there was nothing left straight to be seen.

Lucretius hit upon half the trouble when he referred the organized absurdities of his contemporaries to hereditary fear: which in the last analysis is a derangement of the higher activities extending to abdication. Its onset is an ataxy; and its culmination a paralysis. In its mental aspect it is failure of the Will-to-know; acceptance of an inferiority to which ignorance consigns us.

The other half of the trouble, less clearly diagnosed by Lucretius, but detected, as we have seen, by Heraclitus, is hereditary pride, based on ignorance no less than is Lucretian fear. It is the 'lie-in-the-soul', the conviction, assailed by Socrates and before his time as well as after, that we know how things stand, when in fact we do not. Like fear, in its mental aspect, it is a failure of the Will-to-know; once again, an acceptance of the inferior status of the ignorant.

Organized fears, then, lead to tabu, the systematic inhibition of experiment which might conflict with hypothesis; and organized pride, to magic, with its systematic disregard of the results of each experiment that is made, when it does so conflict with hypothesis. And it is these two superstructures of ignorance, inhibiting and insisting by turns, which add the glamour of irrationality to so much of the behaviour of mankind, and disguise its native rationalism and its morality too. Beset by fear and pride, craftsman and cultivator and explorer and reformer alike are in the same predicament. 'I could do this or that and do it thus, but may I?' and if such opinion as counts says 'Thou shalt not', the fallacious substitution of 'shalt not' for 'mayst' cannot fail to endanger advancement. It may be over the chipping of a flint axe, or a trade-union rule about a high-speed lathe; but if the craftsman conforms to opinion as such, and not through positive concurrence of his own judgement with it, he has accepted the fallacious conclusion as his own, and lets his work fall to second-hand and to second-best.

Wide uniformities of conduct and of material culture may therefore result from ignorance, no less than from knowledge, and unless we have very full acquaintance with the region and external conditions, it is not easy to decide whether any one of these uniformities is wisely uniform or not. The record of the dealings of quite well-meaning conquerors with the institutions and arts of their subjects is full of tragedies of this kind. I call to mind an example in Paraguay, where abstention from infanticide, after conversion to Christianity, nearly wrought the extinction of a native tribe, for the population at once began to exceed the means of subsistence; and it was only when the committee in London was induced (just in time) to apply mission funds to the purchase of seeds and implements of agriculture that the danger was averted. It is not my purpose here to commend infanticide; only to indicate that while man cannot live by bread alone, he cannot go on living, even a good life, if he really falls short of bread. So with devotion to an ideal unity of culture, we are to combine toleration of wide diversity, seeing how diverse are the surroundings which make up the Home of Man. Were Nature uniform, in a geographical sense, from pole to pole, civilization might be practically as well as ideally one, though it may fairly be doubted whether in such a world civilization, such as we know, would arise; but with the present distribution of land and water, temperature and rainfall, and the complex of plants and animals which results from their interaction, unity among the phenomena of culture ceases to be practicable, and it has become hard for some (as we have seen) even to keep their faith in the unity of human reason.

It was not, in fact, till a rather later stage in the growth of science, either in the old world, or in our own, that anyone troubled himself about the existence of such unity at all. That men of alien blood should behave in alien and incomprehensible ways seemed to the Greek and to the navigators of the Renaissance equally natural. And Herodotus and Bodin, to name only pioneers and masters, are agreed as to the cause. Variety in Man's behaviour is no impish trick of original sin: it is the response of his single reason to variety in Nature. Only when experience added intimacy with alien individuals to observations of their habits of life, did a common humanity in their behaviour begin to be so frequent and obvious as to cause surprise. Acquiescence in the discovery is implicit in Thucydides and Hobbes, and confessed in Aristotle and Locke. Had Europe broken into the Great East in Locke's day, as the Greeks broke into Persia in Aristotle's, we might have had completer analogy between the ethnology of Montesquieu and that of Eratosthenes than we can actually trace. The defect in the writer of the Lettres Persanes is in his knowledge of Persia, not of Paris and London: Eratosthenes, as we remember, was born in Cyrene and worked in Alexandria.


We come now, from this rather general survey of human faculty, to the more pertinent question, what sort of unity do we find in human achievement within that region, or rather within those regions, of the Old World where the stream-heads of our modern culture seem to take their rise? The qualification which has slipped from my pen is half the answer already, for we are to deal not with one homogeneous region but with a cluster of regions in all climates from Arctic tundra to Sahara and the Nile, and in all altitudes from alpine to maritime. Unity of prehistoric culture, in such conditions, can at best be but a question of degree.

Modern ethnology, emancipated from a belief in an immediate consanguinity of mankind, by the spread of less infantile views about Noah's Ark, goes on to question the sufficiency of language as a bond of union, and forthwith stumbles over the Tower of Babel.

Two contemporary lines of discovery have tended to determine the result. Geology gives us a very long margin of time since the north-west quadrant began to be reinhabited by human beings after the Ice Age, and assumed approximately its present distribution of land and water. Archaeology, which in this aspect is the special stratigraphy of man, sanctions an extension of time, since not merely human beings but organized societies of men made their appearance in Europe, which far exceeds the period required, or commonly assumed, for the spread of any known Indo-European language, from any possible 'home' to any region where it was spoken at the beginning of historic time. And not only does archaeological evidence enable us to detect such societies sedentary for a while on this or that site over the face of Europe and its neighbourhood; it traces not merely one 'prehistoric culture', but a number of distinct types of such culture, each with its own geographical distribution, and with distributions which expand and contract at different times, superseding one type of culture here, and another there, and in turn superseded by others.

It is not easy to bring home the extent of this diversity to those who are not familiar with the physical condition of a Europe which was as yet largely in the 'backwood' stage of exploitation. But it will give some idea of the range of contrast, if we revert to the method of Thucydides,[7] and compare the unexploited Europe of the days before agriculture, with unexploited America at the time of its discovery by Europeans. Here, within the same geographical limits of the north temperate zone, and with the far simpler scheme of surface relief which characterizes the New World, we have civilizations as different as those of the Eskimo, the Algonkin peoples of the coniferous forests, the Huron and Iroquois of the deciduous hardwoods, horticultural Muscogeans in the south-east, buffalo-hunting Sioux on the prairie, predatory Apaches and Blackfeet in the foothills, and littoral and riparian fisher-folk on the Pacific slope: just as recognizable now, in their distributions and overlaps, by the fashions of their pipe-bowls and other debris, as are the representatives of the 'row-grave' culture or the makers of 'band-keramik' in Central Europe.

Keeping in mind this analogy of prehistoric Europe with pre-Columbian North America, let us classify the problems of subsistence which these Old World regions offered to prehistoric man; and consider, granting him all the reason in the world, and uniform physique (if you please) as well, how he is to formulate solutions which shall show any trace of uniformity, and yet be solutions for him of the one Protean problem, how to sustain life here and now?

Along the Arctic seaboard, homogeneous from Behring Strait nearly to the North Cape, we have the frozen tundra region, with a characteristic tundra culture; pushed now far north since Europe mellowed into a habitable world, but formerly widespread about the skirts of the shrinking ice-sheet. Here we hunt large animals and sea-shore beasts, and trap small-deer very ingeniously; we fish in the large northward-flowing rivers; and eventually (heaven knows after how long, or how far back from now) we borrowed a notion, probably from pastorals imprudently straying too far along those northward river-lanes through the forests, and domesticated our best of beasts, the reindeer; stealing a march here on our Alaskan cousins, who call them caribou and treat them so: they had no pastorals on the prairie southward to teach them otherwise, and when the Russians came and brought reindeer over from Asia, the silly fellows turned them loose and hunted them till they had eaten them all.

South of the tundra, the Great Northern Woodland encircles the planet, interrupted only by the treeless sea. Here too we hunt, and trap, and eat berries of the undergrowth, like Algonkins or Tacitean Germans, many of whom had no more skill in cattle than Algonkins. But we have not the place to ourselves, like the tundra folk and the Algonkins. Our forest world is in ever-present danger of disintegration, and our wood-craft with it. Fond folk with tame animals (poor sport, both of them, for sportsmen like us) come blundering in off the parkland away south, up the grassy glades, trampling undergrowth and scaring the game. People are saved from all that 'over there', because no one can tame the prairie buffalo and drive him over the hunting grounds; some sport, too, the prairie buffalo! And worse still, there are the people who come hacking and burning our great trees, and tearing up the turf and underwood, and all to plant their fancy grasses with the fat seeds, that the deer like to browse over; and that is the only thing to make those people show fight, if we or the deer go among their fat-grass plots. Those people come up, too, from the south and the south-east, and have to go back thither for seed if their sowings fail. Of course they like their animals tame, like the other fellows; but the grasses are their first string, as we bow-men say.

Southward, enveloping the Alpine ridges, except where the snow peaks perforate its carpet covering, the Woodland changes its character, rather than gives place to anything fresh along the shores of the Lake Region of the Old World. Here and there, in detached plateaux enfolded among the ranges (like the Salt Lake basin and the Shoshonean plateaux in America), there are isolated grassy plains, repeating on a smaller scale the great grassland which skirts the Black Sea and the Caspian. Examples are the heart of Spain and of Asia Minor, and the miniature grasslands of the Balkan Peninsula, such as Thessaly and Eastern Thrace.

It is in the southern third, or thereabouts, of the continuous Woodland, where the deciduous forest trees begin to give place to evergreens, as they themselves replaced the conifers further north, that the minutely subdivided horticulture and arboriculture begins, which characterize the Mediterranean region. To call it agriculture would be to exaggerate its scale. It is more like a northerly extension of tropical Hackbau, as the Germans call those forms of plant-raising which dispense with plough and spade, and employ only mattocks or hoes, which are little more than earth-chopping celts. You have only to watch the unhandy way in which the Greek peasant and what Homer called his 'foot-trailing' oxen work their Virgilian plough through the recesses of a field no bigger than a cabbage-patch, and well stocked with olive-trees besides, to realize how truly in this kind of farming the ox is in place of a house-slave to a poor man. For the house-slave could handle a zappa, the spadelike Levantine hoe, where an ox would fail to turn round, yet where food-plants could be coaxed to grow, and an olive-tree would luxuriate.

This kind of garden-cultivation indeed repeats very closely the foodquest of the Muskogean cultivators in the South-eastern States, who make up the so-called 'civilized tribes' and, almost alone among the Redskins, 'are all self-supporting and prosperous'.[8] In the Old World, as in the New, its distribution is closely defined by certain limits of rainfall and temperature, and most of all by the extent to which the rainfall is concentrated into a few winter months, so that a dry warm summer is assured, which Man can mitigate and even exploit if he has access to perennial water. It extended, therefore, in quite early times, and still predominates, all round the mountainous shores of the Mediterranean, from Syria by Southern Europe to Algeria and Tunis, and penetrates inland and upland into the forests till summer clouds and rainfall check it. In this region of its distribution Greek and Roman legends betray the belief that grain-cultivation came late, and superseded a staple diet of tree produce, chestnut, walnut, filbert, and acorn.[9] And when the 'nobler grasses' came, it was barley and red wheat that predominated, as indeed they predominate still.

But this is only one part of the distribution of the garden-culture. Far north along the Atlantic seaboard, and as far inland as the mild Atlantic climate is perceptible, the same type prevails. Its ancient limit is traced meteorologically in Tacitus' complaints (for example) of the austerity of the lands beyond the Rhine. In this northern region grain crops pass from red to white wheat, from barley to oats, and from both to rye. The ease with which the Muskogean potato and tomato have been acclimatized, and their respective prevalence now in the Atlantic and Mediterranean sections, illustrate exactly the place which primitive hoe-culture held in the economy of the Old-World region. Early monuments of this culture, in which hoe and ox-plough are equally conspicuous, are the 'meraviglie' rock-carvings above Ventimiglia.[10] The fine flower of it is the Minoan civilization of the Crete and the South Aegean. Egyptian agriculture is also in great part hoe-work.

South-eastward, outside the Carpathians, and within them also, in the great plain of Hungary, we meet a totally different regime; vast featureless and treeless grasslands, extending past the Black Sea and Caspian to the foot of the mountains of North Persia and the spurs of the Central Asian highlands. Here, if Man is to maintain himself at all, he must be master of tame animals which can eat the grass, and in turn sustain him. South of the eastward continuation of the woodland Mountain Zone, through Asia Minor into Persia, and also south of the Mediterranean lake-region and the ridges of Syria and the 'Africa Minor' of Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco, which partly enclose it, lies another group of grasslands, Arabia and Sahara, desert-hearted, but capable of sustaining a considerable population of nomad pastoral folk round their margins and in oases, and of emitting them in volcanic emigrations now and then.

From the human point of view, the profound difference between the northern and the southern group of these grasslands, which collectively lie athwart the great east-and-west mountain zone of the Old World, is this. The southern grassland sustains sheep and goats almost exclusively; it acquired its domesticated horses recently (at earliest about 2000 B.C.) and from the north-east; and it relies, for transport, on camels and asses, not on wheeled vehicles. The northern, on the other hand, has sufficient perennial pasture to permit of oxen; it uses horses habitually; and it has utilized the timber of its parkland margin, where it passes over into the northern forest, to construct wheeled carts and ox-ploughs. Equipped with these fundamental implements of civilization, wheel-borne nomads have penetrated the Mountain Zone from the north again and again, introducing the cart into Egypt rather late, and perhaps even into Babylonia; though with these exceptions no secondary centre of cart-folk was ever established in the south. Obvious reasons for this failure lie in the scarcity of parkland and of perennial pasture for large cattle. At best, Assyria and Syria adopted the horsed chariot for war; but these regions, like the Hittite chariot-users of Asia Minor, the Achaean conquerors of the Greek peninsula, and the Gauls in West-Central Europe, are rather within the parkland fringes of the Mountain Zone, and among those intermont plateaux which we have noted already, than borderers of the Grassland itself. In particular, they are all sedentary, and stand in this respect contrasted with the migratory Scythian cart-folk in the northern Grassland. The only nomad cart-folk within the Mountain Zone are the Gipsies,[11] and they seem mainly to have formed their habit of life in the largest intermont plateau of all, the vast table-land of Persia.

The plough is less easy to trace. All that can be safely said at present is that it is a device for applying the strength of large cattle to break up the soil for a grain crop, deeply and uniformly, and above all more rapidly than a man can dig it with a hoe. By his own effort a man can barely break up enough ground to supply his home with grain, except in irrigated land. With the simplest of ploughs he can do this and more, and yet have leisure for other pursuits within the ploughing season. But it is not yet clear in what region ploughing first began. Probably it was in the comparatively well-watered and well-wooded margin of one of the large grasslands; but whether north or south of the Mountain Zone, or round the discontinuous plateaux within it, is not clear. The presumption of large cattle favours the north, yet Babylonia, and even Egypt, had large cattle from very early times. North Syria seems to dispute with Babylonia priority in the production of wheat. Somewhere in this region we may provisionally place the cradle of what I may perhaps describe as the Bread-and-Cheese culture, in which the staple foods are provided by grain-plants and cattle, the latter being valued for their strength and their milk products, but not primarily for their flesh.

Disseminated westward, the Bread-and-Cheese culture is found to suffer regional modification. Southward, among the Mediterranean evergreen flora and old hoe-cultivation, the dearth of summer grass makes the large cattle useless for milking, as well as for beef; they are bred exclusively for draught, as their gait and structure show, and while cheese is supplied by the sheep and goats, butter and animal-fats are replaced by the vegetable oils, of which the olive is the chief, a characteristic Mediterranean product, evergreen, deep-rooted against summer drought, and fleshy-fruited. A Bread-and-Olive culture results, familiar to all visitors to Mediterranean lands. In the deciduous forests of South-Central Europe there is grass in the clearings, and milk enough; but goats and sheep are restricted, as the undergrowth becomes deeper and denser, and the prime giver of fats is the forest-bred pig: in a land rolling with ham and sausages we reach the Bread-and-Bacon culture. Further afield still, and later, in proportion as the forest is opened out by semi-pastoral folk, the moister summer permits open meadow-land, with perennial grass, and the possibility of hay. Here too the grain crops may be so large that there is something over to fatten stock; and to Bread and Cheese the farmer of the north-western plains adds Beef. When there is coarse grain in plenty, of course, the large-boned horse of the north gradually replaces the ox at the plough, and permits him to be bred, as with ourselves, not for draught at all, but for milking and killing exclusively. It is in this final phase that the Bread-and-Beef culture passes over eventually into the New World, and into the South Temperate Zone. It has been rather a long story to tell, and full of platitudes, but the gist of it is by this time clear. Whatever be the superstructure of social institutions, of arts and sciences, of religion and philosophy, that European men have built upon it, the regime which has made the Western World what it is, from before the dawn of metallurgy until now, has been generically a Bread culture; based on that combination of pastoral and agricultural life in which large cattle co-operate with man in the laborious preparation of the soil which cereal crops require. But the Bread culture itself is always supplemented by some form of milk product, of which cheese is typical. It is almost always supplemented further by some special provision of fats; in Mediterranean conditions by olives and oil, involving extensive tree culture; in the forest region by pig's meat; and on the Atlantic seaboard by butter and beef.

The exhilarants show the same geographic control; with the olive culture go the wines and brandies of the south; with the forest culture, the ciders and the cherry brandies of Central Europe; with the copious cereals and meadow-grass, the beers and whiskies of the North. In details, of course, the distribution of types is intricately confused; but the main outline is clear; and we reach a first glimpse of a coherent European culture, on the almost animal plane of regional foodquests.


Precedence has been given in our inquiry to the mere animal struggle of man with nature for bare subsistence, for two distinct reasons. The first is economic, namely, that just because this struggle is without qualification that of a highly intelligent animal species to maintain itself under these or those conditions, it is one which befalls equally every breed or race of that species which is ever exposed to those conditions; and further, is no more mitigated by considerations of language than by considerations of race. The second reason is historical or archaeological. The spread of the Bread culture is dated so far back in the history of man in this region, as to make it certain that it preceded not merely the spread of the prevalent Indo-European group of languages, but even the present distribution of racial types. It certainly reached Italy, and the Atlantic seaboard as the British Isles, before the brachycephalic 'Alpine' men arrived there; and still more before the Boreal invasions of Britain and the opposite coasts. Indeed, it would be truer to say that in general each breed of man which has changed its distribution has had to adopt sooner or later the types of culture appropriate to the regions into which it has penetrated, than to associate the spread of any element of culture so fundamental as the food-quest with the migrations of any racial type.

Race, indeed, in Europe, as well as further afield, has been anything but a factor of unity. When we speak (on platforms) of Europeans as 'white men', we are in danger of forgetting, what every practical man in our audience knows, that we are dealing with at least three distinct breeds of mankind, which agree, indeed, rather imperfectly in the whiteness of their skin, but differ greatly in other points of structure and physique, including resistance to certain types of climate and regional diseases, and not least in temperament and the quality of their response to Nature's challenges of hardship or indulgence. Of these three breeds of man, only one, the blond Boreal giants (the only 'white men' in the strict sense of defect of pigment in skin, hair, and eyes) is exclusively European now, and has his habitat within the area of the 'Boreal' groups of animals and plants. His champions in ethnological propaganda seem to be of two minds about his earlier distribution; either his 'home' was round the Baltic, in which case it is difficult to see why he should be represented as a civilizing agency, in view of the cultural backwardness of that region; or else it was out on the Eurasian grassland, in which case he is as much an intruder into peninsular Europe as his brachycephalic 'Alpine' rival, and his claim to represent indigenous European man must go. The large part which he has played in European history seems to result partly from his great physical strength, surpassed (I believe) only by that of the Negro, partly from his reluctance, not so much to interbreed with more pigmented strains, but to admit the crossbred offspring to full partnership with himself. Even among his like, he has his own criteria by which one 'white man' knows another, and coheres with him politically.

Most strongly contrasted externally with the 'Boreal' type is the slight-built Mediterranean brunet. That his home is in the south, that he is closely related with the men of the African and Arabian grasslands, and that he was among the first post-glacial explorers of the Atlantic seaboard, is admitted. More doubt arises as to the extent to which he penetrated from these southern and western bases into the heart of peninsular Europe. Certainly as we trace him to the south-east he seems more and more restricted to the Mediterranean coastline, and at last has no early monopoly even of the islands. The contrast between Crete and Cyprus is instructive as to this. The 'Mediterranean' type, in fact, reaffirms to the anthropologist the close zoological affinity between South-west Europe and North-west Africa.

But if Europe 'ends at the Pyrenees', it ends also anthropologically at the Balkans, or even at the Carpathians; for the whole Balkan Peninsula, and most of the highland core of peninsular Europe, is essentially continuous with Asia Minor and the next eastward sections of the Mountain Zone, so far as its human population is concerned, no less than in its animals and plants. Biological continuity is as complete at the Bosphorus as it is at Gibraltar. Here, what remains in dispute is not so much whether 'Alpine' types are ultimately of Anatolian origin, as whether their spread in Europe has been early or late, and whether their predecessors here were predominantly 'Boreal' or 'Mediterranean'. It is difficult, and perhaps needless, to decide whether lack of evidence or political enthusiasm is more to blame for this; for the Roundheads of prehistoric and of modern Europe are as contentious matter as their English namesakes in the seventeenth century.

To this broadly threefold analysis of European man, add only this, that ever since the old 'Sarmatian' sea shrank to its present dimensions and left the grasslands open between Tienshan and the Carpathians, there has been a steady westward movement of Mongoloid folk until a strong enough Muscovy was interposed; and that along the Northern Woodland also there has been westward movement, slower but no less persistent; and it will be clear that it is not to race that we have to look for any uniform basis of our European culture.

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