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JULY, 18 5 9.
Art. I. — ASIATIC CIVILIZATION.
1. NIEBUHR's Lectures on Ancient History. 3 vols. 1852. 2. Marco Polo. [Hugh Murray's Edition.] 1845. 3. DU HALDE's China. 4 vols. 1736. 4. TAVERNIER's Travels in Persia and India. Folio. 1678. 5. Travels of MIRZA ITESA MODEEN [a Mohammedan of Bengal].
1827. 6. Residence of Two and a Half Years in Great Britain. By Now
RAJEE and MERWANJEE, of Bombay. 1841. 7. British India, its Races and History. By J. M. Ludlow. 1858. 8. New York to Delhi. By R. B. MINTURN, JR. 1858.
It is a common notion that all civilizations flourish and culminate, then decay and perish. In a sense this is true; but in a better sense no civilization perishes; it only transmigrates into another civilization, and thus lives in spirit, though dead in form. We are drinking from the old fountains of Memphis, Thebes, Babylon, Persepolis, Jerusalem, Tyre, Athens, Rome, as truly as from the modern springs in England, France, and Germany. Some of our most popular ideas were brought by the Jews from the Euphrates, and, still earlier, from the Nile. China and India, which continue to this time, are not better than Egypt and Assyria, which have passed away; to us, indeed, not so good, since we inherit the wealth of the latter, while the former live on, destined possibly to inherit ours, - thus completing the great circle. must,” says Hegel, “ banish from our minds the prejudice in favor of duration, as if it had any advantage as compared with
VOL. LXVII. — 5TH S. VOL. V. NO. I. 1
transience: the imperishable mountains are not superior to the quickly dismantled rose, exhaling its life in fragrance."
The great civilizers have been language, religion, war, agriculture, manufactures, commerce, government, art, literature, science. As secondary means of civilization, we may enumerate family, poetry, law, theology, migration, nationality, colonization, philosophy, churches, schools, mental and political freedom, journalism, travelling. Some of these are only specific forms of the general or primary instruments of progress. Classifying these primary and secondary means of civilization according to their order of development, so far as this can be done where there is so much variety and seeming irregularity in the order of progression, our chart of human development will stand somewhat thus: in the primitive or wild state of man, anterior to all history and all states of society now existing, (with a few obscure exceptions among the Asiatic islands and hill-tribes,) there are to be found language, family, and probably worship; war may be regarded as the transition from the wild to the savage state, followed by poetry and law in their ruder forms; agriculture and government, accompanied by manufactures, trading, migration, law, theology, churches, show themselves more or less in the barbarous state ; civilization comes with commerce, art, nationality, colonization, literature, philosophy; science introduces and ennobles the enlightened state, which is also characterized by schools, travelling, journalism, intellectual freedom, leading to liberty of all sorts. We have placed war among the promoters of civilization, while sympathizing also with the Peace Society, though not to the extent of general non-resistance, which would make civilization impossible. In the early stages of society, war teaches men to combine for a common purpose ; and in the more advanced stages it is not unfrequently a scourge and corrector of greater evils than itself, like the thunder and the tornado clearing the atmosphere. It has helped to create civilization, it is still needed to maintain it. Mormonism, polygamy, and free-loveism need not frighten us with the notion that family and monogamy are in danger of perishing; a little attention to history will dissipate such fears. Religion is one of the most powerful civilizers in certain phases
of development. In Hinduism, Judaism, Islamism, and the Medieval development, it ranks as the foremost agency. Among the Greeks and Romans, through large portions of their respective histories, it was secondary. In modern Europe, since the rise of the inductive sciences, it has been thrown into the background; greatly improved and still improving (especially in the subjective), essential to the well-being of man, ever prominent as an effect, it has ceased to be powerful as a cause, -it no longer leads, but is led. So manifest is this retirement of religion and metaphysical philosophy from the front rank, that Comte, with apparent, and only apparent reason, infers the ultimate extinction of one of the noblest human intuitions. It is among the possibilities certainly, that, in the far on ages of the future, religion may again take its turn of leading the march of civilization. Humboldt, Herschel, and Agassiz may retire for a time from the leadership, to let Socrates, Paul, and Luther come forward again. Priest, lawgiver, prophet, martyr, conqueror, poet, artist, orator, philosopher, man of science, — all have their times and turns. Science is now the great primary influence; literature, (including journalism), commerce, schools, colonization, liberty, are powerful secondary influences. Government, though a potent civilizer at times, by its antagonisms, internal and external, as well as by direct influences, has perhaps been somewhat overrated. Nationality, which we sometimes include in the idea of government, is a compound development, evolved out of race, language, religion, government, and geographical position, and, when well constituted, is one of the most efficient agencies of human progress; as may be seen in the case of the Romans, the French, the English, the Americans, and perhaps we may add the Russians. Language has much to do with human improvement; it is the record and index of the quality, direction, and power of a civilization, the conservator of its results, the stimulator of its progress. The Chinese civilization, however, presents an instance of a people who have attained a respectable position while held back by one of the poorest of languages.
In what we have been saying thus far, we may be thought to treat man himself as a constant quantity, uniform in his
capacities throughout all his races. But this is far from being our idea ; we believe that race modifies, promotes, limits civilization in various ways, and very powerfully.* .
Some writers, starting with the commonly received idea that there is a tendency in man to civilization, have pushed the idea so far as to suppose that man, in all his races and all his circumstances, will rise, unhelped, into civilization, if only allowed time enough. Facts seem to forbid so broad a conclusion. Those nomadic races that have roamed from time immemorial over the steppes of Asia, from Poland to the Pacific, though often affording excellent raw material of humanity for the civilized races to work up into valuable results, have never risen, unassisted, out of the barbarism of their native plains. What the Scythians were in the most ancient times they still remain, with no change except that of their name into Tartars,
* Mr. Buckle, in his History of Civilization in England (the great merits as well as great defects of which were pointed out in the Christian Examiner for March, 1858, Art. IV.), sometimes overlooks, sometimes denies, the influence of race. In our chart of civilization, which differs considerably from his, we gratefully acknowledge the instruction derived from his book ; but we should have been better pleased, if, instead of saying, as he does, that European progress “is entirely due to intellectual activity” (p. 162), he had been content to affirm that it is mainly due to that cause. He overrates, we think, the importance of the understanding, and the influence of knowledge, as distinguished from the discipline afforded by its acquisition ; while he underrates the imagination and its products, art, poetry, heroism, worship. As a book to stimulate the mind of the student of history, it may be compared with the writings of Carlyle in general literature. The notes and references are alone a mine of wealth to students who do not already know everything, as would seem to be the happy lot of some of his critics. In speaking of India he follows Mill too closely, and gives too little heed to his able commentator, Wilson, whose more favorable opinion of the Hindus is based on far more extensive information, and also on long personal observation. He seems even to have imbibed the notorious prejudices of Mill against the Hindus.
Niebuhr thinks that in the dawn of human development there are "manifest traces of the education of our race by God's direct guidance” through instinct. He says the working in metals could not have occurred to man had he not been guided by instinct. “At a later period, man was guided by analogy and combination, and the inward higher voice of instinct became weaker and weaker, the more the reasoning powers were developed.” (Lectures, Vol. I. p. 50.) We would ask whether there may not be Divine guidance through intellect, as well as through instinct ? In the same paragraph he says, “God made direct provisions for all : real wheat to the Asiatics, and maize to the Americans." Besides the wheat civilizations, Chinese, Hindu, Mohammedan, and European, — and those of maize, - Mexican and Peruvian, – he might have referred to those of rice, – Javanese, Ceylonese, Tamul, Bengali, Burmese, Siamese, Bugis.