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It remains now to enumerate sundry causes, which so modify the action of those already considered, as to impart to the Civilization of different Communities diversities of form, aspect, and spirit. Among these causes, is the Geography of a country, including its soil, climate, and physical outlines. These must, as matter of course, communicate some direction, as well as fix some limitation, to man's activity, since it belongs to him not to create, but to apply means and materials furnished to his hand. That the inhabitants of the Tropics should differ from those of the Polar regions, and the dwellers in the Temperate zones from both, in manners, ways of life, and general character, and again, that the inhabitants of inland and those of maritime regions should exhibit similar diversities, we should naturally anticipate, and our anticipation is fully justified by experience.
For example, the Oriental and the European worlds, peopled by the same original stock, exhibit forms of society, features of character, and habits of life, very distinctly and widely at variance. Of the East, fixedness, immobility, is a characteristic so strongly marked, as to strike the most superficial observer. Thousands of years have wrought scarce the slightest change either in its political and religious systems and social institutions, or even in the minor usages of daily life.
The European World, on the contrary, is characterized quite as strongly by change, revolution, progress. The East has, indeed, had its convulsions and its changes of dynasty. But its changes were but the substitution of one race for another to mount the same throne and wield the self-same sceptre, and its convulsions were like ocean's storms, which, after all their fury and uproar, subside, leaving each, bound and barrier as before. But the convulsions of Europe have often changed the character of entire communities, and re-cast the whole structure of their social life; and its History, through alternate advance and retrogression, has been, on the whole, the History of Progress. The political governments of the East are Despotisms, subordinating the citizen's substance, liberty, and even life, to the arbitrary will of an individual inheriting the sceptre by right divine. The governments of Europe, even the least liberal, are very far removed from pure absolutism. In public sentiment there exists an incalculable force for the subject's protection against despotic caprice, a protection scarce known in name beyond the Mediterranean and Euxine. At the same time, European society is stirring with a universal and irrepressible movement toward a higher than the existing degree of liberty.
The Religion of the East is a tremendous Polytheism, which counts Man as nothing, and the Divinity as every thing; demanding for worship, the entirest prostration of soul before the throne of the Supreme, and demanding little beside. The abjectness of spirit lineally begotten of a Theism so terrible, may perhaps aid in solving a problem, which every where meets one in the East, that is, the trivial value put upon human life. To this peculiar religion may be traced also the characteristic features of Oriental Art; its Architectural piles so vast and colossal, as to move wonder even in this, the very age of Mechanism; its gigantic and monstrous Sculpture, so enigmatic to the cursory beholder. Man, it would seem, was counted too insignificant for representation by canvass or marble, and the
But the task of
Divinity alone worthy of visible presentment. shaping a semblance of a Being so mysterious and awful; a Being regarded by them less as a Person than as an omnipotent Force, a mere Existence, impersonal and absolute; was one under which the mind quailed and sank helpless. And therefore in the grotesque and colossal Sculptures, and the mountainous Architectural Piles of the East, we seem to behold the products of an Imagination struggling with conceptions too vast for its compass, and hence endeavoring to make some approximation to the reality, by heaping up the irregular and huge invisible forms.
The Religion of Europe, on the contrary, is milder and less mystical in its character. Its Divinity is an actual Person, invested with definite personal attributes; in a word, the Infinite and the Perfect of Humanity. His worship is not an abject prostration of soul, but rather a lofty humility, a spirit which is at once modest and upwardlooking; and an inseparable part of such worship is love and active kindness to all living creatures. Man, in its estimate, instead of being insignificant even to nothingness, is a creature of unutterable dignity and worth, and regarded by the Divinity with perpetual and tenderest solicitude. Accordingly, European institutions, even where most imperfect, all bear witness to the importance of the individual Man, and Government, where least liberal, points to the citizen's welfare as its principal object. The Arts, too, recognize the same idea of the worth of Humanity. Sculpture and Painting find their chief occupation in representing the human form, and depicting the 'human face divine;' and Architecture, instead of issuing from an imagination overborne and crushed by conceptions of the vast and indefinable, is the fruit rather of an imagination buoyant and free to realize a simple and clearly defined Beauty.
Now, though we say not that these striking differences between the Oriental and European worlds are attributable to a single cause, yet we do hold that, among the several causes of such differences, the Physical Geography occupies a prominent place. Cast your eye on the map of Asia. You see a vast continent encircled by an immense ocean, which, itself seeming the bounding wall of the habitable world, offers no inducement to attempt passing beyond it. From the centre this continent stretches away thousands of miles toward every point of the compass; possessing no inland sea and but few lakes and rivers; here intersected by vast burning deserts, and there by lengthened chains of lofty mountains; and the whole bathed in the fierce rays of a torrid sun. Shows not this spectacle like the very home of fixedness and immutability? What is there in Nature's aspect here to instigate change, or so much as suggest the thought of it? What to give birth to movement in any kind? What, least of all, to fuel an unquenchable ardor of enterprise in all departments of human activity ? Vast spaces must be slowly traversed by land journeys; or sandy deserts must be faintingly crossed beneath scorching suns, amid lethal winds, and in jeopardy to perish of thirst; or enormous and difficult mountain-ridges must be wearily clambered over; before the several communities of this continent can meet for interchange. Hence Commerce, by necessity tardy in its reciprocations, as well as liable to frequent casualty and interrup
tion, must needs too be scanty in amount. Manufactures must, of course, share the fate of Commerce, the one being stimulant and feeder to the other. And with the drooping of both these, must lie dormant the industry and inventive activity, which else find scope in many a useful and ornamental art. A fervid sun and a soil responding with plenty to the slightest labor, at once diminish the sum of the physical wants, and produce for them an abundant supply, and so unite in multiplying inducements to quietude and inaction.
Now these several causes combined, go far, we think, toward accounting for the fixed, unvarying character of the East, and its transmission, from age to age, of the same institutions and usages of life. And in this immutability of the popular character and life, lies a plausible explanation of their submission to systems of Government always completely arbitrary, and often tyrannous and cruel to the extremest degree. And do not these absolute and oppressive Sovereignties, in connexion with the aforenamed Geographical peculiarities, cast much expository light on the tremendous Religions of the East? In any case, these Religions, once established, must needs react, by their formidable character and crushing weight, to perpetuate that condition of things, and that form of human nature, out of which they originally sprang.
Turn now to the map of Europe. You behold a continent at once limited in extent, and exceedingly diversified in physical features. Numerous inland seas and navigable streams furnish highways readymade for easy, rapid, and secure Commercial interchanges, while, in its varieties of soil and mineral products, this territory yields abundance of Commercial material. Commerce stimulates, if not creates, Manufactures, and the twain call into being a thousand sciences and arts, and furnish scope for industry in innumerable forms. No farspreading deserts separate one community from another; few mountain-ranges lift their dividing walls between neighboring nations; no natural obstacle, in a word, bars the free communication of each with all other parts of the continent, or forbids the propagation of whatever light may spring up in one quarter, to all quarters beside. A region not too vast for neighborhood and unity, and yet extended enough to allow free expansion; not in its parts so like as to beget a wearisome monotony, nor yet so dissimilar as to distract and forbid wholeness of impression; traversed in every direction by noble streams, and holding in its bosom many a sea, where the fleets of Commerce or the navies of War may ride without impinging; a region, in one word, where a various and liberal Nature is alive with a perpetual and efficient activity, does it not seem, at the first glance, to be the indigenous abode of human energy, movement, change, progress?
We have already spoken briefly of Religion under one aspect, as aiding to illustrate the influence of Physical Geography on Civilization. We are now, rather more at large, to contemplate it under a different view, as being itself an agent in the work of Civilization. For the sake of definiteness, we shall continue our parallel between the Oriental and European worlds. As before intimated, Religion borrows not only its exterior semblance, but much of its informing spirit from the character of the community in which it exists. But,
once established, it becomes in turn a Creator, and exerts a most potent agency in moulding a nation's character and ways of life. The differing characters of the East and the West may be traced, in a very considerable degree, to their religious diversities.
The Oriental Religion is the Religion of Nature; that is, the result of Reason acting on the materials furnished by the ordinary phenomena of the great system, whereof ourselves are a part.
The Religion of Europe is the Religion of Revelation; a system coming from immediate, extra-natural inspiration, and therefore reflecting in its character the perfection of its original. The European differs, we apprehend, from the Oriental system mainly in the three particulars following:
1 teaching, in contradistinction to the Pagan multiplicity of Divinities, that God is one-in sovereignty alone unmatched in power and perfections.
II. In proclaiming with distinctness and emphasis the soul's im-. mortality, and the intimate dependence of the character and condition of the coming life on the character and condition of the present. III. In ordaining benevolence to Man, as an indispensable part of duty to the Supreme Power.
Now it needs but a glance to perceive that these three doctrines must be exceedingly prolific in momentous results, and that wherever they are practically recognized, they cannot but stamp a deep and peculiar impression on the general mind. The concentration of the religious sensibilities on a single Object absolutely perfect, must contribute largely to their healthfulness and vigor, while it raises the general tone of moral sentiment and purpose.
The distinct disclosure of an interminable life beyond the present, introduces into the mind an element of incalculable force, and suited to agitate our nature through the entire compass of its activities. The doctrine is a dim one to the Eastern contemplation, as it has been ever to the Pagan perception. Disfigured with chimeras like the Metempsychosis, it is shorn immeasurably of the clearness and operative force with which it stands in the Christian faith.
And, finally, the doctrine of Benevolence, or Social Love, has wrought with prime efficiency in moulding the European Civilization. With most emphatic truth was it called by its Author a new commandment.' For of Pagan antiquity, and of the East even now, the practical doctrine is, that men should love their friends and hate their enemies.' The lines which enclose kindred, clan, tribe, or country, are bounds which unevangelized Benevolence rarely overpasses with its good offices. Whatsoever lies beyond, is mostly enemy's territory, a legitimate field for pillage and waste, and where the ordinary maxims of justice and mercy have no binding force of appliance. The illuminated Greek fixed the single scornful epithet of Barbarian' on all beyond the borders of his tiny peninsula, and the high-hearted Roman beheld, with equal moral sensibility, and similar gratification, the lions of the Lybian desert and the Dacians of the Danube mangle each other in mutual slaughter.
It is totally the opposite with the Social Love of the Christian Code. It suffers no restriction on the reach of its kind offices. It tolerates no limitation on its sympathy or its charitable functions. It breaks
down every barrier that lifts itself to separate man from man. It expunges from its vocabulary the very name of enemy. wherever man is, of whatever color, country, name, or character, there it recognizes a fitting object not only of justice and mercy, but of love and active kindness.
Of such a doctrine as this, the practical working is not confined to its excellent moral influences, and its auspicious bearing on human happiness. It operates to band men more closely and generally together in every way, in their wishes and hopes, their schemes, enterprises, and endeavors. There is no more striking feature of the present age, than the wide prevalence of the principle of Association. The improving changes which for the last few years have been rapidly passing over the face of the world, owe more to this than to all causes beside. The individual strength and means which could effect little or nothing, are enabled, when combined, to work results that seem rather like magic than sober reality. The denizens of the 'land of the cypress and myrtle,' and the dingy tribes of the far Isles of the Sea, are brought, by Association, beneath the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness.' And by Association the extremes of a wide continent are drawn into close neighborhood, and immense oceans are flitted over on vaporous wings, in the face of opposing tempest and tide.
Now, while all perceive how largely these wondrous results are traceable to the principle of Association, few perhaps recognize, what is nevertheless true, that this potent cause is the legitimate result of the second great Law of the Christian code. And here we may see verified, what is doubtless the fact universally, that the practical adoption of Christian principles works auspiciously for the life that now is, as well as for that which is to come.
But we are admonished to bring our remarks to a close. Of the thousand practical reflections suggested by our theme, we will give utterance to but one, and that is, Despise nothing; despise no man.' Civilization is a single grand process, developing under the auspices of the Supreme Perfection, and from the grandeur of the work, a dignity and importance are thrown on every person and every thing entering into the boundless complication. Therefore, despise