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precise, and if attention be confined strictly to the primary fact, its extreme, opposite. Happily, history comes here to our aid, showing that this truth is primitive as well as primary, first in the order of time as of importance. Modern analysis begins to cure its own evils, and to reconstitute the history which it was long engaged only in decomposing. Without pretending to original research in these matters, I will briefly state the result obtained by the researches of others, giving the place of honor to the admirable investigations of Mr. Maine. But as the phenomenon we are to find at the root of civilization is a very curious one, and such as the modern mind will not conceive of without difficulty, we may find it advisable to approach it after a preliminary glance at the order of development in the individual life.
In the individual life the definite sense of self is not primi tive. The first dawnings of duty are beforehand with it,the moral and the social consciousness in inseparable fusion with each other. The infant child obeys implicitly before coming to a definite recognition of its personality. The first person is the last person with which it becomes acquainted. It has said papa, mamma long before learning to say I,giving precedence to the words which engage love and obedience. Coming at length to name itself, it finds the third person nearer than the first. "Jennie hungry," or "Georgie cold," the little creature may say, borrowing its self-recognition from others, and therefore using their language. Even when the distinctive self-consciousness is fairly on its feet, the moral and intellectual consciousness remains long enfolded in the primitive matrix, respiring only through thoughts and sentiments not their own. An isolated consciousness is moral death to the child. The childish fear of darkness is but the horror of complete dissociation. Union with the minds of others, and under some sanction of authority, is the first necessity of the young spirit. A boy of ten years asked his father what should be believed on some theological matter. "I can tell you what I think," said the father; "but you must consider that I may be mistaken: perhaps you had better wait, and make up your own mind about it one of these days."
"Oh, but just tell what you believe," exclaimed the other: "just tell!" So the father explained his opinion. “Then I believe so too!" cried the boy. There spoke the nature of a child; nor is it a nature that disappears at twenty-one years of age. "Then I believe so too," of how many litanies and confessions is that the undertone! It does not suit the humor of this age. We fervidly preach independence, independence: no man to think the thoughts of another; every man to write his own creed and live in his own world! Well, I, too, am one of the moderns, and have my own predilection for intellectual and moral self-subsistence. And yet that day, on which implicit belief and implicit obedience should vanish finally away would give us such a kind of world as not one of us would plead hard to inhabit a second day! Solidarity is the substrate of all virtue, whether of intelligence or of sentiment; and the mind of Plato himself resembles a noble bass-relief upon a Grecian pediment, a feature clearly cut, but in association with others, and merging with them in a common ground.
Now, it has become almost a commonplace that a correspondence may be observed between the mental growth of the individual and that of the race, or as I should prefer to say that of civilization; for, whatever the future may have in store, facts do not warrant us in asserting, as yet, a general advance of the human race. Undoubtedly, such a correspondence appears in the present case. At the root of history, we find a moral communism; that is, a group of persons among whom there is not only a community of possessions, but of right, duty, responsibility, conscience. This group has the general character of a family; but it is a family in a sense much more extended than that we are accustomed to, the prototype of the gens or clan, which in the natural course of development it becomes. In the bosom of this group is generated a moral sentiment and responsibility
* Cyprian Robert says of the Montenegrins, who, like most isolated offshoots of the Slavic race, retain many traits of the primitive commune : "Families are so numerous, that one alone is often sufficient to form a village of several hundred houses."
without distinction of persons. Is one wronged? All are wronged. Does one offend? All are culpable. Does one win honors? The honor is for the group. Family distinction or disgrace, in modern times, preserves a faint trace of primitive morals, which the prevalent individualism strives in vain to obliterate. The moral and the social consciousness were originally one and the same. We separate widely between politics and morals; but the first moral system was a polity, though a polity narrowly limited in scope, and spontaneous in origin.
In our time, a nation is held responsible by other nations. for the action of its citizens. John Stuart Mill and Thomas Hughes must be taxed for the depredations of the Alabama. Should the Fenians ever be able, as they have long been trying, to force the United States into a foreign war, those of us who have most resisted their excesses must suffer with the rest; and, with the rest, sustain the national arms or bear the stigma of treason. These facts are little in harmony with the individualist ethics that so many would make exclusive. Of course, the several notions of individual and of national responsibility are in some subtile way reconcilable; but it suffices that they can be reconciled only in a subtile way; the tournure of the two is by no means the same. Now, the notion of national responsibility, instead of being an artificial product, and violating ethical law for a purpose, gives us the type of primitive morals. This is the ground from which individual morals have grown. Such is the result of the latest researches into the origins of civilization; and I doubt not that, fifty years hence, it will have been illustrated by many instances which hitherto have either escaped observation, or been observed without a key to their signifi
Distinct vestiges of the primitive commune are still to be seen among Celtic and Slavic populations. In Ireland, the habits of thought and feeling generated by such institutions. oppose the most obstinate of all hindrances to the reconstruction of that distracted country; and, in the utter wreck of the morale that once supported them, do so without them
selves affording a basis for public order.* But the difficulty is in part that the nature of this obstruction has not been understood. From the time when Edmund Spenser brought his indictment of the Brehon Law until the present day, England has been warring in Ireland against mental conditions which it could not comprehend. The change from representative to private property, which she forced upon the latter country, was made in a manner to aggrandize some and depress others in an extreme degree; and it had these vicious accompaniments simply because the old system was not understood.
Among the Anglo Saxons, the principle of the unitive responsibility of the family was pressed with great vigor; and it should be borne in mind that our knowledge of these does by no means go back to the strictly primitive forms of society. The head of the house was held accountable for the conduct of all who belonged to his domestic establishment, down to the meanest dependant. On the other hand, if the father committed a crime, every one of the family, even to the infant in the cradle, was sold with him into penal servitude. Such examples remind one of incidents in Hebrew history. David has received an affront from Nabal: straightway he sets off, sword in hand, to slay, not Nabal alone, but all the males of the household with him. Modern feeling is shocked; but the inclusion of the household is easily explained. The entire family was understood to do whatever was done by its representative head; as nations now are supposed to do whatever is done by the government. Saxon law, not sparing the females of the family, was more severe than the anger of the Hebrew captain.
Still farther, the Saxons, when they had advanced from spontaneous forms of association to deliberate political construction, continued, in the Hundred and similar institutions, to follow the same clew. Concerning the Hundred, our information is scanty: but we know that it consisted of an
* That instant, facile surrender of private conscience, which has given the Irish such incomparable instruments as Mr. Trench describes, does not denote the want of moral sentiment, but rather archaic morals in ruins. In " Waverley," Scott ascribes similar morals to the Highlanders.
undefined number of families, strictly bound together; that if one member of it committed a crime all the others were held responsible, though, as an indulgence, they might absolve themselves by finding and delivering up the offender; and that to one of these bodies every citizen must belong, the individual, merely as such, being an outlaw! In fine, it tes tifies clearly to this significant fact: the pretence to a purely individual responsibility was then esteemed immoral. The Hundred has, indeed, been explained as a conscious violation of justice for the sake of security. Hallam, for example, sees little else in it. As if security, sought by means that should breed in every man's breast the sense of false and violent relations with others, were not ten times lost in the seeking! History is not to be explained in that way. Nations will far sooner incur obvious peril than violate their habitual sentiments. And well it is that they will do so. Danger is never very dangerous while it is merely external; but a war within the soul itself is a peril of another sort.
In the record of his voyage around the world, Darwin has described a curious zoöphyte found on the eastern shore of Patagonia. In general appearance, it resembled the stem of a plant growing from eight to twenty-four inches high. But around the central stem were arranged rows of minute polypi, several thousands in number, each with its distinct mouth, body, and tentacula, — each, so far, an individual being. On the other hand, there was an obscure general circulation; the ova were produced in an organ distinct from the separate individuals; and, on being touched, the whole organism acted as a single creature, drawing quickly down to hide itself in the sand. What was this to be called? one animal, or some thousands of animals? "Well," cries the thoughtful naturalist, "well might it be asked, What is an individual?" Now, according to primitive notions, each social group is such a compound organism, whose moral being is its sustaining stem and unitive life. Must we not allow that thought might go farther without faring better? Very nice resemblances might be traced between that zoöphyte and social phenomena, even as these now appear. There was "an obscure general
VOL. LXXXVII. — NEW SERIES, VOL. VIII. NO. III.