COLONIES OF THE ANCIENTS,
COMPARED WITH THOSE OF THE MODERNS,
as regards their influence on the happiness of mankind.
When we endeavour to give an account of those causes which have contributed to diffuse among men all the advantages of social life, the first, the most important, which is especially pointed out by the study of antiquity, is the foundation of colonies. The history of the colonization of the countries situated on the shores of the Mediterranean may be called also the history of the civilization of the human race. This history, without being known to us in all its details, is sufficiently taught us by the historical movements which antiquity reveals to us, to enable us to have an idea of it as a whole. Almost from the earliest times we find a powerful nation, the Egyptian, arrived at great wealth and great glory by events which escape our investigation. Its history is enveloped in clouds, but the domestic life of the inhabitants of Egypt, their customs, their arts, their manufactures, their agriculture, have been submitted to our inspection; the image of them has been preserved by indestructible monuments, which quite recently have been carefully explored. The civil life of the Egyptians, their life as members of the great city of society, is represented by Pictures tures, which makes it present to our eyes. We there see that, without the shadow of a doubt, they had already made in those arts by which nature is subjugated, that progress which appears to us most suited to render a numerous population happy; that they were lfighly civilized two thousand years before the Christian era.
The Egyptians have no historians which are come down to us, they have no philosophers known to us who have studied the march of human society; their influence, however, on their neighbours has been revealed to us, for the people who have given us the most admirable models in tile art of writing history, the people who have best understood the art of constructing human society, the people who have studied with most advantage the action of interests, opinions, and passions, the Greeks, begin their history precisely at that period when the immense picture of Egyptian civilization, which has been recently placed before our eyes, was composed. The Greeks tell us, that at this epoch they were themselves completely barbarians, and that they owe all their progress, all their development, to Egyptian colonies.
The Greeks could only know very imperfectly this figured history of Egypt, which the art of engraving has multiplied in all our libraries, and which, till our times, had been concealed from all eyes, in those sacred asylums from whence the profane were excluded. They did not endeavour to make their own history agree with these monuments of ancient Egypt; they were occupied with themselves, and not with the pictures of Thebes with its hundred gates. Although vain, although endeavouring, as all nations do, to shed a halo of glory around their own origin, it is they who have told us that their ancestors had not risen above the savage state at the arrival of the Egyptian Inachus on their coasts, nearly eighteen centuries before Christ. The Greeks, they say, the Pelasgians had no settled habitations; they were hunters and shepherds at the same time, but their country, intersected by arms of the sea and by mountains, did not admit of the extended pastoral life of the Seythians, the Tartars, and the Arabs, nor of the formation of great communities. They were not acquainted with all the domestic animals; the horse was brought by sea, it was a present from Neptune; they were acquainted with no modes of culture, the vegetable kingdom only supplied them with acorns and beech mast, on which they fed without planting the trees which produced them. The introduction of the three great cultures, the wheat by Ceres, the olive by Minerva, the vine by Bacchus, points out, under a mythological veil, the progress for which they were indebted to strangers. None of the three were known in Greece before the time of Inachus; all the domestic arts were equally unknown, and men were clothed only in the skins of the animals which they had eaten.
This social state of the Pelasgians is inferior to that of all the inhabitants of Asia, of all the negroes, inhabitants of Africa, who practised arts and agriculture, to all the pastoral nations in both these parts of the world, to whom agriculture is forbidden by the nature of their country, but who have, however, made some progress in civil society; it is inferior even to the hunting nations of America, who knew at least maize and potatoes, and who fabricated some kinds of stuffs, and it can only be compared to the state of the savages of Australia. Nevertheless the Egyptian colonies brought the inhabitants of this country to a state of the highest civilization; they taught them all the arts of life, all the means of subduing nature. They did not drive them away, they did not exterminate them, but they admitted them into their new communities, they united them with the colonists in their cities; they did not make them into Egyptians but into Greeks; religion, language, manners, dress, all was Greek, all belonged to the new country not to the old; especially the political organization was Greek. There only were seen to arise liberty and patriotism; there was lighted the torch which was to enlighten the universe.
About three hundred years of the history of the Greeks, from the arrival of Inachus, who founded Argos, to that of Danaus, who was called to reign over the same city, are filled with stories half traditional, half mythological, of the arrival of all those chiefs, Egyptian or Phœnician, who each in their turn founded a new city, and brought with them an endowment of new arts, of new knowledge. Greece transmitted to posterity the names of those who taught them the different kinds of agriculture, the working of mines, the art of weaving, of navigation, writing, coining, commerce and music. Three hundred years rolled over, but at the end of that period the Greeks were more advanced than their instructors, the Egyptians; forming so many separate states, and engaged in continual struggles, they were less powerful, no doubt, they were less wealthy; society was less stable, but there was more life, in them; all classes of the nation were drawn nearer together, more mixed together; there was more happiness for all.
Scarcely had the aborigines and the colonists which came from Egypt melted into one nation, Greece, when she began in her turn to spread along all the coasts of the Mediterranean the civilization she had received. Colonies of Ionians, Æolians, Dorians, bent their way to Asia Minor. Others founded new cities in Italy, in Sicily, on the borders of the Pontus Euxinus, on the coast of Africa, and on that of Provence. Everywhere these colonies exercised on the indigenous inhabitants the happy influence which the Egyptians had exercised on the Greeks. Everywhere they civilized them, everywhere they taught them the arts of life, everywhere they admitted the ancient inhabitants to an intimate union with themselves, and everywhere, thanks to this union, they soon outran their mother city in population, in wealth, in all the arts, and even in development of mind. Troy, a Greek colony, was more powerful than any of the Greek cities which leagued together for her ruin. The colonies of Greeks in Asia Minor were richer, more advanced in the arts and in philosophy, at the period of the war with the Persians, than the Peloponnesus, though their situation did not permit them to resist that powerfill monarch so long. The south of Italy took the name of Græcia Major, because it surpassed, in fact, ancient Greece in its extent, in the number, the riches and tile power of its cities. Sicily was covered with cities still more prosperous. Syracuse not only surpassed Corinth, which had founded it, but its population equalled that of the whole of the island at this day; it is said that it contained 1,200,000 inhabitants. So Marseilles surpassed Phocæa, which had founded it, and Cyrene the island of Thera, which had sent out the first colonists.
Rome was not a colony of Greeks, but Rome owed her civilization, her laws, her language, her religion, to the nations of Italy, educated by the colonists from Greece. Rome was not content, as the Greeks had been, with only carrying from country to country her arts, her language, her religion, and her philosophy; she would reign wherever her arms had penetrated. The Greeks sowed their coasts with new and independent nations; the Romans aimed at unity, they also spread their colonies as far as they carried their arms; but these colonies, although an image of the great city, were only garrisons from the great nation, not germs of new nations. They also, however, were intended to mix with the aborigines, to communicate to them all the progress which Rome had made in the arts and in the social sciences, and to initiate them in civilization; and the colonies of the Romans, in all the ancient world, completed the first education of the human race.
It will be thought, perhaps, that a picture of the progressive civilization of the modern world by the colonies of Europe would not yield in grandeur to that of ancient colonization. In fact, during the three last centuries, Europeans have sent colonies into almost every part of the habitable world. They have subjugated countries infinitely surpassing in extent those they have left, and they have founded empires and republics proportionably larger than those of the old world. Nevertheless, we cannot for a moment compare in our minds the colonies of the ancients and those of the moderns, without the first impression, even before reflection, informing us that the colonies of the ancients renewed the human race, tempered it, afresh, and began political existence with all the advantages of youth; ours, on the contrary, are born old, with all the jealousies, all the troubles, all the indigence, all the vices of old Europe; that the colonies of the ancients, in every point of civilization, constantly rose above those who had given birth to them; that ours as constantly descend below their founders; that our colonies, already so large, are destined to become larger, but that in vain will be sought for in them, the virtues, the patriotism, the vigour, which belonged to the first age of the world.
More attentive observation makes us feel still greater differences. The Greeks, and before them the Egyptians, founded a colony that it might be complete in itself; we, that it may be a part of another empire. They had constantly in view the welfare of the colonists; we, the advantage of the mother country. They wished the colony to suffice to itself, with respect to its subsistence, defence, internal government, and all the principles of its development: we wish it to be dependent in every way, to subsist by commerce, and that this commerce should enrich the mother country; that it should be defended by her arms, obedient to her orders, governed by her lieutenants, and that these new citizens should receive even their education only from their elder brothers.
A profound study of the colonies makes us perceive another difference, still more afflicting. The colonies of the Egyptians, of the Phœnicians, of the Greeks, and even of the Romans, brought benefits to the countries where they were established; ours, calamities. The first, by their contact, civilized the barbarians; the modern Europeans have, wherever they have settled, destroyed all civilization foreign to their own manners; they have barbarized (if this expression may be allowed) the nations whom they called barbarous, by forcing them to renounce all the arts of life which they had themselves invented. They have in their turn barbarized themselves; for here Europeans have descended to the manners of pastoral nations, there to that of hunters; everywhere, in all their transactions with the aborigines, they have sullied themselves, by deceit, by abuse of force, and by cruelty; everywhere they have gone back in the arts they brought from Europe; their agriculture is become half savage, all their tools more rude, all their knowledge more incomplete, distinguished men more rare; and the general level of intelligence, as well as of morality, has descended instead of rising.
Perhaps to this will be objected the success of the United States, whose prosperity appears so brilliant as to leave no cause for the moderns to regret the system of ancient colonization. The United States, however, owe perhaps their principal advantages to their first founders having approached much nearer to the Greeks and Romans in their ideas and opinions than we do now. The pilgrims of New England, emigrating in search of liberty of conscience, proposed to themselves, in the first place, to create a new country, as the Greeks had formerly done; all other colonists, sent by Europe, took with them, as their only principle, the love of gain, as their only theory, the extension of commerce; thus they always sacrificed the future to the present, and sowed the seeds of dissolution in the new colony from the moment of its birth. We shall have only too many occasions of remarking that these seeds have also been developed in the United States.
Let us endeavour to observe better the contrast between the principles of the Greeks when they founded a colony and ours. The Greeks, when they transported themselves into a new region, wished their colony to represent the original type of their own community, the city; when we found one, it represents the original type of ours, an empire. They concentrated their political existence on one point, we disseminate ours over a territory. This is not the place to inquire which contribute most to virtue, to happiness, to the progress of intelligence, the small republics of antiquity, or our great monarchies. Each nation is led by circumstances which govern the Thole race, to aim at a certain degree of strength and independence proportioned to the power of other nations, who for want of this balance might be tempted to abuse their power. But at the origin of nations, at the beginning of associations, there was more liberty to profit by the lessons of experience; to colonists only can it be said that, in order that mutual wants may unite them, and that a fraternal tie may be established among adventurers, often brought together by chance alone, they must begin by being small, they must feel weak among strangers, for power would only make them arrogant and threatening; their situation must force them to conciliate the aborigines, they must strive to associate them to themselves instead of treating them as savages, and especially to be careful not to bring among them, as the only mark of civilization, the art of war to exterminate them.
In founding a colony, the first attention of the Egyptians, the Phœnicians, then of the Greeks and Romans, was the choice of the site where they would build their city, for it was in cities that they wished to live, it was by means of cities that they spread the arts of the life of towns, or civilization . The site of the city should be naturally so strong that its inclosure might be easily defended, and that its inhabitants might, without the assistance of the mother country, resist the sudden attacks of those in the midst of whom they had first established themselves. But this resistance supposed also that the colonists could easily be assembled to take arms, that the call of the trumpet, which answered to our alarm bells, would make them run from every part of the territory of which they had taken possession. From this circumstance alone was derived important modifications in their whole economy. First, their territory must be very circumscribed. Most frequently it was a desert which they had legitimately acquired from the aborigines in a pacific manner, and this first contract was not, as in modern colonies, continually interpreted, continually modified by fraud or violence. The colonists felt that they could not, that they ought not, to go far from their city, from their only retreat; they had no temptation to usurp a greater extent of land, and that cupidity which continually involves Europeans in war with the aborigines did not act on them.
The colonists, weak, few in number, and completely abandoned to themselves, for the mother country did not think of defending them took care to build all their houses in the narrow inclosure of the city. At night they reposed under a common guard, in the day only they could go abroad into the fields to their rural labours From this circumstance their agriculture took the character of that of Provence or Spain, where there are no farms, no houses dispersed in the fields, and where all the cultivators with all their cattle are shut up in the towns. This system of agriculture has certainly heavy inconveniences. It increases the work of the labourer and of his beasts; it scarcely permits of his attending to his land, or expecting abundant harvests: it does not encourage him to plant his fields, to ornament them, to feel an attachment to them. But the influence of this system on man is more important than on the creation of wealth. Now the sentiment of social life, of civil life, is what it is most important to keep up among colonists, and the rural inhabitants of towns will continue much more civilized than if they were scattered over the country. In itself the undertaking of founding a colony relaxes the social tie. It is always the most independent spirit, the most proud, the most intractable, who engage in these adventurous projects. Often it is those who cannot support the yoke of the laws in the mother country, notwithstanding their ancient authority and the power of custom. These men are still less disposed to obedience in a perfectly new state, where no prejudice lends support to order, where no habit is deeply rooted. Great care must be taken not to allow them to disperse themselves in the deserts; for if they can fix their habitation at a great distance from their comrades, they will soon acknowledge no law but their own caprice, no judges but their resentments, their offended pride, and their other passions. Each father will be a little tyrant in his family; a stranger to the society of his equals, he will exact implicit obedience from his wife and children; the art of persuasion will be useless to him, the art of conversation will present to him neither charm nor reward; he will know no pleasures but those of the senses, and intoxication will take the place of all mental development. If by chance there arises a quarrel between him and one of his neighbours, he knows that no neighbour will see them, no peace-maker will come to his assistance, no inquest is possible; he will then endeavour to get rid of his adversary, or if he is without arms, to tear out his eyes in the American mode, to have done with him, that he may not be tormented by his complaints, and that he may not be condemned by his testimony, even supposing he would submit to tribunals which cannot reach him. Whatever may have been originally the cultivation of his mind, or the mildness of his character, he will very soon arrive at the condition of backwoodsman, the colonist of the distant forests, such as are seen in America, in that solitary existence, brutal and violent, which destroys all true civilization, all sympathy with other men, but which preserves all those qualities by which a fortune may be made, such as strength of body, address, the spirit of enterprise, and especially the spirit of calculation and cupidity.
But in the Greek colony, man was always in the presence of man; he had to give to his fellow-citizens, his companions in adventure, an account of all his movements. He could not run the risk of going to any distance without his absence being remarked; he could not give way to any excess without his intoxication, his rage, his acts of tyranny being known to all, and subjecting him to public animadversion; the could not commit homicide, and flatter himself he should escape the law, whether his victim were a fellow-countryman or a native. The colony, it is true, had no force to pursue him out of its territory; but he had himself such constant need of the colonial government that he constantly returned to place himself under its wing, and this government which knew its own weakness and its want of neighbours, looked upon a quarrel with the natives as a public offence. If the delinquent adopted the plan of not returning at night to his own house, of withdrawing himself from the tribunals of his own country, he must go away for ever, and eternal exile was looked upon as the greatest of punishments.
In modern colonies, an immense extent of fertile land seems abandoned to the first occupier; and the colonist, reekoning on the powerful protection of the mother country, takes a portion of it for himself, out of all proportion to his physical strength to cultivate, to his capital to improve, to his wants to consume the produce. The colonist of antiquity, who only depended on himself, and on his companions in the adventure, did not wish to possess fields from whence he could not hear the trumpet of war calling him to defend the city; and on this principle, colonial authority founded the division of the land that had been acquired. All must have nearly an equal share, for all must be within reach of the walls; the divisions extended like the sections of a circle, the cultivated fields were nearest the fortified enclosure; beyond, the colony possessed a zone of pasturage, from whence the approach of an enemy might be perceived at a great distance. Thus, whatever might be the inequality of wealth among the associates, a superior interest, the safety of all, brought them to an equality in territorial division. Each head of a family was not required to purchase his new land; the distribution was gratuitous; or at most, it was proportioned to the power of each family to cultivate and defend it, and to its numbers to consume its productions. Thus, from the time of their arrival, the colonists, limited in space, were obliged to introduce into their fields the culture which was suitable to land of the highest value; they brought with them those modes of cultivation which the most advanced state of rural science in the mother country had led to the practice of, and thus they taught their art to the savages. Ours on the contrary learn theirs from them; masters all at once of an immense extent of land, which they hold by right of the sword, or by a purchase of a share from a company, they do not husband any of the benefits of nature. They clear the forests by fire, or by barking the trees, and leave them to decay where they stand; they abandon every system of manuring, of improvement, of the rotation of crops; they apply themselves to benefit by some of the natural advantages of the soil, to which they sacrifice all others; they exhaust the soil by a succession of the same crops, and they soon reduce the richest soil to sterility. All the vast and beautiful countries which border on the Atlantic, whose fertility astonished the Europeans when they landed for the first time, have been ruined in this way by the cupidity of the cultivators, who sacrificed the future to the present. The colonists, instructed by the native Americans in the arts of destruction, did not even think of imitating them in the art of preservation. The same fault is repeated at this time, at the Cape of Good Hope, in New Holland, in Van Diemen's Land; in these new colonies land is distributed by four hundred and eight hundred acres. They wish to begin with farms as extensive as those which the richest English farmers cultivate in a manner which requires great advances, and yet they give them to men almost without capital, who are therefore almost necessarily obliged to cultivate them as those who went before them did, on the borders of the Atlantic; regarding only the present, and with no thought for the future. So in the projects of colonization for Algiers, we hear only great companies and great farms spoken of, whilst what ought especially to be considered, is the customs of the Arabian cultivators, the means of associating them with the European, and of making this association profitable, by improving the industry of the country, and not overthrowing it. If, in fact, the land conquered in Africa is taken from the native cultivators to be given up to speculators, to people eager to enjoy, eager to destroy, and incapable of creating any thing, agriculture, far from advancing, will go back from the point to which the Arabs had brought it.
The Greek colonies were composed of men whose condition was free, but who came from every rank of society, and they were led, in the heroic ages, by the sons of kings, and in later times by eupatrides, or citizens of the most illustrious birth; yet the necessary consequence of their enterprize was to establish the greatest equality among the colonists. Those who engaged in the adventurous expeditions took no fortune with them, nor did they think of making a fortune. It was not that they renounced ambition; they hoped to distinguish themselves in the first rank among their fellow-citizens in council or in war. They hoped to become great, by their eloquence, their prudence, or their valour, never to become rich. On the soil of their new country, they expected to subsist only by the labour of their hands; they received, like all the rest, their share of the colonial fields, they must cultivate them without servants, without day-labourers, without slaves; for the new community, surrounded by enemies, by rivals, could not consent to assemble in its bosom domestic enemies. Among the small nations of antiquity, at the time of their mutual independence, slavery was only an accident of the rights of war, and not an industrial organization; it had not therefore yet made labour dishonourable. The greatest citizens of the colony did not refuse to perform manual labour, but it was necessary that this labour should not fill up all their time, for they must devote part of it to the administration of their new country, to its instruction, and to its defence, In a country where the cultivator has no rent to pay, where the state has no debts, where one share of the product of the labour of rising generations has not been mortgaged or sold in advance by their parents to their creditors, in a country, at the same time, where manners are simple and tyranny is unknown, rural industry always produces much more than is necessary for the support of those who are employed in it. If, even now, the cultivator can live upon half his harvest, and give up the other half to his landlord, formerly the cultivator being the proprietor, could live upon the labour of half a week, or half a day, and consecrate the other half to the service of the public.
Thus, those who were rich in the mother country were no longer rich in the colony, but on the other hand the poor were no longer poor; both lived by the labour of their hands, but a labour liberally rewarded by nature. Both were called upon for an habitual exercise of all their corporeal faculties, but they did not the less habitually exercise all the powers of their minds. The government of a colony had a greater share of democracy than existed in any ancient state; it ought, and it could do so without danger. The different conditions of the citizens in such small nations did not act as with us, or in our colonies, by a universal rivalry of one another; but on the contrary, all felt a common interest, which had relation also to the aborigines. Intercourse with them could alone feed the colony at its commencement; the means of gaining their friendship, of obtaining their confidence, of establishing between them and the colonist common signs, a conventional language, was the business of all, the urgent interest of all: at the same time, it was from these aborigines that all danger arose; watchfulness of them, defence against them, in case of any sudden quarrel, were also interests equally felt by all. When they left their mother country, some sons of illustrious men, some sons of rich men, had probably brought with them some pride of birth or of family, some feeling of superiority, and if this superiority was united to a more careful education, to the habits and experience of the world, to the traditions of their fathers, to talents; it was acknowledged and appreciated, for it was useful to all. It even flattered the popular imagination, for it is in a country where all is new, where all is first springing up, that the recollections of antiquity are most dear. But the lowest colonist, the lowest cultivator, had the same identical interest as the nobleman. Like him he served his country by his vigilance, and defended it by his arm, like him he was admitted into the councils where the new born nation deliberated on the existence of all. The more restricted the circle was, the more close and intimate their confidence, so much the more did the man of the common people receive from the well-born man with whom he was associated, the powerful education of common circumstances and common action. We are accustomed in these days to confound instruction with the influence of books; but the greatest instruction, fruitful instruction, is the action of man on man. All social interests were in turn debated in the Agora, every example was placed before the eyes of all; all characters were in some sort developed in public, and the study of man, the philosophical study of human passions and human interests, was accessible to the poorest as well as to the richest. The delicacy of language and modes of expression did not mark different conditions, for all studied to speak with the same purity of language: if from time to time some books increased the fund of public instruction, their effect was popular; it was to assembled Greece that Herodotus read his history. In our times, also, we have pretended to democracy; but the first element of the Greek cities was wanting, that equality of condition which resulted from their economical organization, an equality which was nowhere greater than in the newly born colonies.
The community of interests, the close approximation of all the citizens, their constant action on one another, made the colonies of antiquity resemble a school of mutual instruction. The information which some superior men had brought, soon spread through the whole mass of the little nation, by continual contact, by a daily exchange of all their observations and of all their ideas. What one knew, all knew, all practised, all taught to the natives: it is thus that the culture of wheat, of the olive, of the vine, working in metals, weaving, the alphabet, and the aid of writing, a knowledge of coins, of calculation, of music, were successively introduced into the new countries, and tradition or mythology preserved the traces of these great benefits: each was attributed to one hero, to one semi-fabulous being, but all his companions became, with him, the instructors of nations; because the talent, the superiority, the beneficence of each chief was reflected by all the members of the growing community associated with him,
What an afflicting contrast do our modern colonies form to those of the ancients—the civilizers of the human race! Our colonists, when they leave the shores of the mother country, do not form a chosen society, associated together to run the same risks, united by the confidence that all will be ready to expose themselves, each for all, all for one. There is among them neither fraternity nor confidence; there cannot be. The colonists are for the most part men who have experienced in the world either reverses, or at least great sorrows. They leave Europe with ruined fortunes, credit shaken by misfortunes, which the world is always disposed to attribute to their imprudence; they go to seek a new world, where they may forget the old, and where they may themselves remain unknown. There are also restless spirits, who reject with bitterness the forms of the old world, and who cannot be content in the place to which they are there restricted. There are also adventurers greedy of gain, who not being willing to trust to the ordinary chances of agriculture or industry, consider fortune as a game, and risk their lives and property on chances, which because they are unknown, appear to them immense. This mixed troop, already so little worthy of confidence, is increased by the scum of the old community, which it casts with aversion upon the new. Bad individuals, whom their family would save from the ignominy of judicial proceedings, obtain as a favour to be allowed to go to the colonies. The garrisons sent there are composed of regiments recruited by soldiers who have been expelled from other regiments for their follies, their vices, and sometimes their crimes. The managers of the finances, the officers of justice, even the governors, are often sent to the colonies as an honourable exile. The more eminent have been sent because they were in less credit at court; others from the legislative chambers, because their opposition was feared. Some have been taken from before the eyes of the public, to whom they were becoming odious; others have been sent away, to prevent inquiries which would have ruined them; all have been chosen not as being most fit for the colony, but as being inconvenient in the old country. Lastly, in this afficting enumeration of so many elements of disorder, of vice and of crime, we have not yet comprised that class, which Europe could not add to them without a cruel offence to humanity, those who are transported,—men branded by a sentence which makes them infamous, and who are sent to inoculate with crime a new nation, constituted and designated by a name which makes one shudder,—a penal colony.
Is it strange that men, known to one another as belonging to certain classes, all suspected, though in different degrees, should avoid instead of seeking one another;-—that as soon as they arrive on the vast continent open to their enterprises they should disperse over its whole extent? Those who feel in their hearts the love of honour and duty know well, that any contact with the companions of their adventures may contamio hate them, may compromise them, but can teach them nothing good. Those who wish their past lives to be forgotten avoid the observation of men; those who feel that their present conduct will not bear examination avoid it still more. All the beneficent influences of human society are lost upon them all, but its corrupting influences remain, for the colonists do not live absolutely alone. The richest, the most civilized, are obliged to associate with their inferiors in the manual operations of their establishment, and they always acquire something of their language, of their coarseness, and of their vices. Even in the penal colonies, whatever may be the repugnance of the proprietors to mix with the convicts, as almost all labour is performed by them, they must communicate with them, they must place some confidence in them; and estimating them according as they are more or less hardened in crime, they almost consider as an honest man one who has only been led into it once or twice. The corrupting effect of the habitual presence of corrupted beings is inevitable; the poison spreads equally to those who hate and those who excuse them. The man who should see in these convicts, by whom he is surrounded, only objects of disgust and aversion, would soon lose all sympathy with the human countenance, all pity for suffering, all faith in the expression of feeling,—would undergo a moral contagion even more grievous than he who had been accustomed to look on vice and crime with indulgence. Thus these degraded beings, who can only be produced in the mire of great cities, who have lost all moral feeling, who cannot distinguish what is just and honest, introduce into the places where they are transported a focus of corruption, which will continue to develop itself as long as they live. Ages will not stifle these fatal germs of vice, barbarously carried to establishments destined to rapid increase. We have grafted the most poisonous of fruits on the young shoot, which grows vigorously, and promises to become a large tree in future generations.
It is not only by penal colonies that the crimes and vices of countries which have passed through civilization have been transplanted into virgin soils. The history of European colonies shows everywhere civilized man abusing the superiority of his powers and of his intelligence to despoil the aborigines, to force them into war, to corrupt them, and to exterminate them. The Greeks, by their colonies along the whole extent of the coasts of the Mediterranean, settled wandering nations; led to agriculture, then to arts and commerce, hunters and shepherds; taught them the science of government and the love of liberty, substituted for a gloomy and bloody worship, for the jealous and oppressive power of bodies of priests, the worship of heroes, benefactors of humanity, who were the gods of Greece; opened their minds to a philosophy which was at a later time to purify and reform an already reforming religion. By all these benefits the Greeks celled into existence an increase of population, and of a happy population, which passes our comprehension. Græcia Major, Sicily, and Asia Minor, reckoned thousands of cities to which no provincial towns of our greatest empires can be compared. At the same time, the population of the natives, enriched by the arts of Greece, increased with a not less surprising rapidity, and civilization extended into regions which the civilizing nation had never trod. Now, on the contrary, wherever Europeans have established themselves they have destroyed the pre-existing civilization. By their contact have disappeared, first, all those of highest rank in the indigenous society, then all the improved arts and the agriculture which was practised by the natives, then their virtues, and at last the race itself. It is a fact, which at this time does not admit of doubt, which is even presented to us as a law of nature, as a necessity, that wherever a white race comes into contact with an indigenous race, that race must disappear in the course of a few generations.
When the Spaniards landed on the coasts of the new world, they found them pretty equally divided between natives still barbarous, and natives which had already made great progress in civilization. The most advanced among them were the inhabitants of the Antilles, and those of the two great empires of Mexico and Peru. These shewed what development the red race which peoples America was capable of acquiring by itself and without foreign assistance. Tribes formerly wandering had long been settled. They had found in the new world very few species of animals capable of being tamed; thus they had not tried the pastoral life; but they had had more success in extending their dominion over the vegetable kingdom: by means of agriculture they had obtained a very abundant subsistence; in fact, a numerous and happy population covered and fertilized the country, whilst a class devoted to the arts had built large cities. Between the tropics, a space of much less extent than is required in temperate regions, suffices, with less labour, to furnish man with food. In the tierras calientes (the hot regions near the sea), as well as in the islands, a plantation of bananas, a platanar, which does not occupy more than one hundred square metres , affords each year more than four thousand pounds' weight of a nourishing substance, whilst the same space would scarcely produce thirty pounds of corn in France. A plantation of manioc, from which the cassava is extracted, requires, it is true, more labour and more time, but it furnishes a substance as abundant and more nourishing than the banana. The culture of all the productions of the tropics was practised in the islands with skill; it supported a population prodigiously numerous, which with few wants and much leisure, passed life in feasts and joy. The population of Mexico and Peru, especially in the tierras templadas and the tierras frias (the temperate and cold regions of the mountains), were obliged to employ more constant labour, either to subdue nature, or to support the political and religious luxury of these two nations. Maize and potatoes formed the basis of the nourishment of the people, but at the same time an infinite variety of fruits and flowers multiplied the enjoyments of man. The boats of the gardeners, who came to Mexico by the lake, displayed, as they do now, all the pomp of that rich vegetation. The plantations of maguay (Agave Americana), from which they extract the pulque, or wine of Mexico, filled the place of our vines. Manufactures adapted to the wants of the people were multiplied in the towns; a court which loved splendour, grandees proud of their wealth, and a religion surrounded by pomp, had directed industry towards the production and the enjoyment of luxury. The red race, as well in Mexico as in Peru, wished to perpetuate the memory of its great deeds and of its discoveries, and for that purpose had invented a kind of writing by hieroglyphics. It had also discovered the art of extracting from the mines, and of working some of the metals, and for its misfortune used ornaments of gold and silver, which excited the cupidity of the first Spanish colonists.
We have no intention to retrace here the frightful conduct of these Spaniards in the new world; public opinion has branded it for ever. It is enough to say, that if we consider the number of their victims, and the duration of the torments inflicted on them, their crimes surpassed all the crimes which sully the history of the human race. In the intoxication of victory, some Tartar conquerors gave the dreadful order to massacre all the inhabitants of a town, of even a province, to raise hideous pyramids of their heads, in remembrance of their victory; but the avaricious ferocity of the Spaniards cost humanity many more lives; they were destroyed by torments much more atrocious, much more prolonged, they were sacrificed without provocation by the calm calculations of avarice. The peaceable inhabitants of these countries were all equally condemned to the labour of the mines, they were forced upon exertions which were beyond their strength, whilst they were not allowed sufficient nourishment; they were driven by the whips of their inspectors, in spite of weakness, wounds, sicknesses, and they were relieved from these horrible torments by death alone, which soon released them. Depopulation went on with such strange rapidity, that in the course of a single generation the red race disappeared from the Antilles: the population of St. Domingo alone was, nevertheless, more than a million inhabitants; Cuba had at least as many; all other islands in proportion. Among the Caribbees, some thousands of this unfortunate race escaped extermination; but it was only those, who initiated by suffering, and losing all hope, did not continue in any fixed abodes: they abandoned agriculture, renounced their civilization, and cast themselves upon savage life. The inhabitants of Mexico and Peru had been subjected to an oppression no less frightful; but whether it was that the race of the inhabitants of the mountains was more vigorous, or more accustomed to hard labour, whether it was that the corvée imposed upon them, the mita which called them by turns to the mines, was exercised with rather more equity under the eyes of the viceroy himself, or whether time was wanting to finish the work of destruction, a part of the ancient inhabitants survived the most atrocious measures, and it is they who are now renewing that part of the population. At the time of the journey of M. de Humboldt, they were not subject to any kind of corvée, their labour in the mines was voluntary and well paid, and they had resumed the pursuit of agriculture with spirit. In Mexico, the red men, who still form a population of 3,679,000 souls, are alone distinguished by their industry in the cultivation of land, and their activity in introducing it into new districts. But this race is now only composed of labourers; all the grandees of the city-empire have disappeared, and with them all the wealthy, all the priests, all the learned men, all the citizens of towns, and all the merchants. None of the old civilization is to be found among them. The labourers form the lowest steps of a Spanish and Christian civilization which is not their own; none of their ideas are prepared to profit by it, no progress is possible to them, no European development penetrates to them. In Peru, the red race has suffered more: it is nearly extirpated, and nothing remains of the ancient civilization of the Incas, but negroes and mulattoes have taken place of it, and are employed in the most fatiguing labours. In Chili, where the native race was more remarkable for its warlike virtues than for its civilization, it has been driven out of European society; but the savage tribes are excited by the Spaniards to continue wars with one another, and intoxication has deprived them of all the qualities which formerly distinguished them.
Never, we hope, will Europeans, will Christians recall the conduct of the Spaniards in the new world, without horror and indignation. With some reason, no doubt, it has been attributed to the spirit of the sixteenth century. The old Spanish bands of Ferdinand the Catholic, of Charles the Fifth, and of Philip the Second, distinguished themselves during this century, in Italy, in France, in Germany, and in the Low Countries, by their ferocity, and we cannot be surprised if the same character was still more manifested in the new world, where these fierce warriors found themselves completely withdrawn from the restraint of public opinion, and had, at the same time, no feeling of brotherhood for another race. But without pretending to excuse the Spaniards, it is particularly the modem system of colonization that we must condemn for such horrors. It is this system which drives to foreign lands adventurers without honour, without probity, without restraint, which encourages their cupidity, which celebrates their robberies as exploits, and which, abandoning to all their most shameful passions, men of another race, whom they began with calling savage in order to excuse themselves from any feeling of pity towards them, and to consider themselves authorized to despoil them; gives to the aggressors all the support of a powerful nation advanced in the art of war, furnishes them with arms, with ammunition, and, when requisite, with soldiers, to enable them to exterminate their inoffensive neighbours. In continuing our review of modern colonies, we shall soon find that the arrival of colonists from every other nation of Europe has been not less fatal to the aborigines than that of the Spaniards. Besides, the Spaniards are the only nation that have admitted the natives into their social union, to occupy at least the inferior ranks of it. Among them alone the red race of America multiplies: everywhere else it is on the point of being exterminated.
It is indeed only in the old Spanish colonies, in Mexico, in Peru, and in the Philippine Islands, that the devouring activity of adventurers has given place to sedentary habits, and that the inhabitants think of enjoying life instead of having no object but to get rich rapidly. There, only, is the universal competition to acquire, to accumulate, by means honest or dishonest, moderated, at least, if not suspended; there, only, have the subjugated races also obtained, if not equality of rights, at least some consideration and some protection. In Cuba, the Spanish colonists continue to make their profits by men , instead of things; they are manufacturers, and they are given up to the mercantile spirit in all its harshness; they cultivate the sugar cane, and they make sugar in the true system of the chresmatistic school, seeking only to save as much expense as possible in the subsistence of the men who produce it. Thus in all slave countries, there is not one in which the treatment of slaves is more barbarous than at the Havanna, none where the slave trade is more openly exercised. In all the rest of the half desert possessions of the Spaniards, in New Mexico, in California, the Andes, in Paraguay, and countries watered by the Maranon, wherever, in short, a career has been opened to adventurers, the creoles act in the old spirit of colonists, and their influence in making the country barbarous, is as constant, as cruel, as it has ever been. All the neighbouring tribes have been abandoned to them like the game of the forests and savannahs, to make a profit by their llfe or by their death. They go to hunt Indios bravos (Indian savages) with as little seruple as they would hunt wild boars. If they can ensnare them, they take them by nets, by traps, or chase them with dogs. If they surround their villages, they massacre all who resist, they drag the remainder into slavery. By their continual pursuit they have forced these Indians to live wandering lives, to subsist by hunting; and wherever the Spaniards take these Indians captive, they oblige them to continual labour, beyond their strength, under which they soon perish. Along with these odious hunters of men, there were formerly, it is true, colonies of missionaries, who followed these same Indios bravos into the woods, and endeavoured to convert them to the Christian religion, and to a life of agriculture. God forbid we should refuse our admiration to such great virtue, such ardent charity, such self sacrifice. Missions however have never had the beneficial effects of the ancient colonies; not that the Indians were inferior to the Pelasgians or less capable of instruction, but because the instruction which the Padres gave them was too little prepared, was too little suited to their nature. They did not begin their education by the material world, but by the invisible world; they wished to bring them to confess, but not m understand, those mysteries of divine and human nature, which the strongest heads in the most reflecting nations can scarcely grasp; and forcing them to renounce their own language, they taught them in two new languages, the Castilian and the Latin, which to the poor Indian were only sounds devoid of sense. In consequence of this sacrifice of understanding to memory, the Indios reducidos (subject Indians) are become in the hands of the missionaries only great children, hearing without understanding, and obeying without knowing why. Besides, almost all pleasures have been represented to them as sins, so that they live without motives; they have lost all interior spring; they present the image of European society divested of its activity, of its intelligence; they are incapable of progress, and the effect which European instruction has had upon them, confirms the prejudice against the red race which the European race originated.
It is also difficult for the Indios redueidos to escape the molestation of the Spaniards, who are jealous of the efforts of the Padres to convert them. Whatever progress the missionaries make takes away a certain number of individuals or families from that fund of human creatures, which the colonists consider as reserved for their rights of chace; it impoverishes the slave market; and the faster the captives die, the more important do the colonists consider it to keep up the stock from whence they are taken. In general the missionaries had established themselves at a great distance from these aggressive colonists, but as these are continually advancing, the missions soon find themselves in contact with these hunters of the Indios bravos, who on their side make a wish for conversions the pretext for their hostility. The Spanish government, full of prejudice as it was, oppressive as it often showed itself towards the interests of the colonies, had at least no sympathy with those hunters of men, and the object of its general orders was most frequently to protect humanity and religion. But in the new republics, the local authorities have been entrusted to men who partook of the passions of the district by which they were elected. In general they have shown themselves very unfavourable to the missions; sometimes they have forced the Padres to emigrate with all the Indios redueidos; numerous bands have gone to English Guiana, whilst M. Pœppig, when he crossed Upper Peru in 1832, found in the middle of the ancient missions of Cuchero, Pampayaco, and Tocache, only silent deserts; the rapid vegetation of the tropics had left no perceptible trace of the yet recent labours of man. The republics, by the expulsion of the missionaries, expected to get credit for their liberality; they wished, they say, to restrain the formidable influence of the clergy, and to oppose the progress of superstition: few persons at some thousands of leagues distance will in fact comprehend, that the true object of this liberality was to extend the hunting of men over new districts.
The white race, in exterminating the red race throughout the greatest portion of America, have, it is true, multiplied in their place. All the continent of South America is now open to Europeans, particularly to the descendants of the Spaniards. But it must not be supposed that with their race, civilization has extended itself into these deserts. The great plateau of South America is covered with troops of cattle and horses which have been introduced there from Europe. In New Grenada, in the republics of Rio de la Plata, Bolivia, Chili, there are many proprietors who possess fifteen or twenty thousand head of homed beasts, but the vaquero who lives amidst these herds becomes wild, and all the population of these central regions, or those which they call the Llaneros, have descended rather to the level of the hunting tribes, than to that of the pastoral tribes of the old world. Far from subjugating or taming these wild animals, as the Tartars and Arabs have done, they abandon domestic animals to a wild state, and obtain nothing from them except by destroying them. The Arab, by his care, his intelligence, his affection, his study of the instincts of animals, had succeeded in attaching to himself, in rendering obedient, the proudest and the wildest: the Lianero considers beasts, sheep, goats, swine, only as game which afford him the pleasures of the chace, and which he takes pleasure in tormenting with unspeakable ferocity.
What we have said of the Spanish colonies, may in many respects be applied to the Portuguese. These, instead of bringing civilization, have spread everywhere robbery and desolation. In Brazil, where the Portuguese found themselves in contact with the red race, in the earliest state of barbarism, that is to say, when wandering hunters are just beginning to settle and cultivate the ground, they forced them to give up this cultivation, and to bury themselves in the woods, where the colonists pursued them in order to exterminate them, or to reduce them to slavery. They have endeavoured to replace them by negroes, of whom they import into Brazil every year a hundred thousand, although the time may come when these, becoming the strongest, will massacre them all. In the two kingdoms of Congo and Mozambique, where the Portuguese have established themselves on the eastern and western coasts of Africa, the colonists of European or mixed blood have so entirely descended to the level of the natives, that they cannot be distinguished from them; all trace of civilization has disappeared from among them, and the sovereignty of Portugal over so vast a portion of Africa, is only remarkable in modern times by the pretensions of the Portuguese nation to continue the slave trade when it was disallowed by the rest of Europe, because, said the Portuguese diplomatists, their merchants had the exclusive right to sell the inhabitants of these regions, inasmuch as they were born subjects of the king of Portugal.
The expeditions of the Portuguese to the East Indies recall those of the Spaniards to Mexico and Peru: there is the same mixture of cupidity and chivalric bravery, the same religious fanaticism joined to perfidy and ferocity. But the Portuguese came among more civilized nations, more wealthy, and especially more advanced in the art of war, than those which the Spaniards conquered. It was necessary to employ with them the greatest discretion; they more frequently went as merchants than as soldiers; besides there were no mines where they settled, so that they could not conceive the dreadful idea of sending whole generations of the conquered nations into the bowels of the earth to get gold and silver. However, in reading only the Portuguese historians, there appears no doubt that in all their quarrels with the Indians it was the Portuguese who were in the wrong, so that on them must always fall the reproach of being the aggressors, of being treacherous and barbarous; that their wars have cost torrents of blood shed with heartless gaiety, and that their dominion in India, now happily reduced to two great cities, has contributed much to make the country fall back into that state of anarchy and military oppression, that domination of adventurers, which, substituted for that of the ancient governments, have since that time desolated the country.
The colonies of the Dutch were founded on the ruins of the Portuguese empire in India: the system was changed; a mercantile spirit took place of the religious and chivalric spirit which had spread a sort of brilliancy over the Portuguese cupidity and ferocity, but humanity gained nothing by the change. The Dutch thought no more than the Spaniards and Portuguese had done, of carrying civilization with them. Though republicans and Protestants, though they had experienced among themselves all the advantages of the spirit of inquiry, and of the co-operation of all for the benefit of all, though they had attained to liberty and independence by a confederation of provinces and of cities, of which each one guarded with care the local interests to which they were attached, they carried with them no sentiment of liberty, no mental progress, no thoughts of local advantages to be afforded to their conquests. They kept at an immense distance from the beneficial colonization of the Greeks, and wherever they extended their dominion, did not even think of disguising the cold and avaricious calculations of selfish speculators, who referring everything to themselves, estimating every thing by money, never asked themselves whether the regulations by which they protected their monopoly would carry misery, desolation, and mortality among the natives, whom, without provocation, without pretext, they had subdued by force of arms.
During a long time the Dutch have been distinguished in the world for that low mercantile cupidity which made them bum all the spices in the Moluccas, preferring to destroy them rather than allow their price to be lowered in the European markets. Equally well known are their yearly expeditions into all the islands of Sunda to seize the cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and nutmegs which might have escaped their monopoly. But it is especially in the llfe of Sir Stamford Raffles, that virtuous governor who succeeded the Dutch, first at Java, then at Ben coolen, and who had afterwards the grief of restoring to the Dutch this island of Java, over which he had diffused so many benefits, that we can learn all which this immoral and avaricious government permits even to this day, in order to drive back into barbarism its industrious subjects in India; what a scourge to the magnificent archipelago of the isles of Sunda is the Dutch dominion, and how guilty that minister was who lightly and foolishly gave back, by the treaty of Vienna, millions of prosperous subjects to the detested masters who oppressed them so cruelly.
The Dutch government, which has driven back towards barbarism all its possessions in the Indian seas, will appear, perhaps, at the first glance, to have been more successful in the great colony of the Cape of Good Hope, which it founded in 1652, with a handful of Europeans, and which is at present a large empire in extent, taken by the English in 1795, and since retained in their possession. It was only in 1672 that the Dutch bought from the Hottentots, amidst whom they were settled, the district of the Cape, and established there some Dutch peasants, doors, to cultivate fresh provisions for sale to the vessels which stopped at the Cape in the passage between India and Europe. It could scarcely have been expected that these boors, the peaceful and industrious cultivators of the polders of Holland, famed for their slowness and methodical habits, would be transformed in one single generation into a pastoral and warlike people, not less quarrelsome, not less formidable to its neighbours, than the Mongols and Tartars. But the boors had before them vast countries particularly suitable for pasturage, and which the natives of the country had already covered with their flocks; they had behind them a sea-port, which offered a rich market for all the products of pastoral industry; they were in contact with tribes for whom they had been inspired with no sympathy, who were abandoned to their use, and over whom their fire-arms secured to them an incontestable superiority. In all their quarrels with them, they were sure of the powerful aid of the government of the Cape, which could neither inspect nor direct them in their deserts, and which did not pretend to judge them, but which always thought itself obliged to defend them. The Dutch boors could not fail to abuse such advantages.
The country where the Dutch had founded their colony was inhabited by a mild and inoffensive race of men, divided into small tribes, and incapable of opposing any effectual resistance; these were the Hottentots, whom Europe has chosen to distinguish only for their ugliness, their dirt, and their superstitions; nevertheless these men had made the first and most important steps in civilization; those which make all others easy. They were surrounded by domestic animals, and they cultivated the ground. Man has already exercised much intelligence when he has studied and learnt to perceive in wild animals those qualities which would make them useful when domesticated, and the affection by which their obedience might be obtained; when he has discovered in the plants of the forest the properties useful to man, and the means of multiplying them. The Pelasgic nations were not so far advanced when the Egyptians and Phoenicians landed among them; the Italians and Gauls had scarcely made these first steps when the Greeks led them to make every other. With kindness, with persuasion, with good faith, the colonists might have brought the Hottentots into civilized habits. Their population was already very considerable; by this time they would have become a powerful nation; but the boors did not think themselves bound by any moral duty towards them. Under pretence of trafficking with them, they deceived them in their bargains, and after having excited their resentment by fraud, they found, even in this resentment, a pretext to make war on them. Associating in hands of from 80 to 100, they threw themselves on a neighbouring tribe, killed those who defended themselves, reduced others into slavery; took away from those who fled, the cattle which was their only wealth, and exposed them to die of hunger. The population of the Hottentots cannot be estimated at less than 200,000 at the time of the first European establishment: now they are not reckoned at more than 20,000, and three-quarters of these are the children of Europeans, whom their fathers have left in the same condition as their black mothers. In the year 1771, the Dutch were alone masters of all the country as far as the Snowy Mountains (Snieen Berghen); they possessed an extent of 100,000 square miles, or ten times the surface of the United Provinces, but the human race had almost disappeared from this vast territory”.
After the extermination of the Hottentots, and the occupation of their country, the Dutch colonists found themselves in contact with a more warlike race, more united and more formidable, which they designated by the name of Caffres, from the Arab Kafir, unbeliever, for this name is unknown to themselves: the Boors attacked them in the same manner, but to do this they were obliged to assemble more forces, and to call out the national militia, called a Commando.
“; Thus, according to our view of the history of the Cape colony,” says a writer in the Edinburgh Review, Jan. 1846, “the Boors alone were the conquerors of South Africa. The government of the Cape, as well as in Holland, did its utmost, by threats and declamations, to keep them in cheek, and to protect from aggression the aboriginal owners of the soil, but in vain; the Boors marched onwards with continually increasing herds; wherever they found pasture they made themselves masters of the country, and the colonial government had no part to choose but to follow them and claim the sovereignty of their conquests.” (Edinburgh Review, vol. 92, p. 457.)
When this colony passed into the power of the English, it was not possible to change this system; in spite of themselves the English were led on by their Dutch subjects to conquests continually more extended, to wars more bloody, to the expulsion or destruction of all the aborigines. The last war against the Caffres, terminated by the treaty of the 17th of September, 1835, was distinguished by such ferocious acts as ought to bring the severest reprobation on European soldiers: it extended the frontier of the colony as far as the banks of the Ky, and of the Keiskamma, giving it, at the least, a surface of 200,000 square miles; but in this immense empire, the Europeans only reckon 130,000 inhabitants of their own race; the numerous nations which inhabited it are destroyed, and the small number of free blacks which the last treaty has again intermixed with the Europeans, will before long disappear.
The history of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, leads us from the Dutch to the English administration, but it does not give us cause to celebrate an amelioration in the lot of the aborigines. The English, however, are the only nation who have felt any true sympathy for the people among whom they have sent their colonies, who have acknowledged their rights, who have seriously proposed to protect them, to civilize them, to make them happy. This sentiment does them honour; it is found in the government, in “parliament, in British writers, but it is not found among the colonists. These, brought up in the midst of that animated competition in all professions, of that eager desire to become rich, which characterizes the present age, and England particularly, embark for the colonies, penetrated with the idea that their first business ought to be to get money, and looking upon the universe and its inhabitants as given up to their speculations. The cupidity of the English does not resemble that of the other nations who have preceded them in this career: the Spaniards, the Portuguese, taking the sign for the thing itself, thought only of heaping up gold and silver; they sought for the precious metals with inordinate passion, they seemed to become intoxicated by their possession. The Dutchman was more calm; he united the character of the usurer with that of the merchant; he calculated more coolly the interest, the profit, the advantages of monopoly, and what the ruin of another might bring to himself. The Englishman wishes to gain that he may spend and enjoy; in his career of fortune he never deprives himself of the comforts of life; more than any other nation he joins luxury and elegance with cupidity. No government is so expensively served; and the salaries of its officers in India, equal to the revenues of princes, are entirely employed in procuring for them, not ease only, but luxury. This elegance keeps the Englishman at a greater distance from the natives than all the other European nations; it exposes him less to private contests, to malevolent passions; but it leaves on the other side less room for sympathy, for friendship, for those intimate communications which forward the progress of nations less advanced. The English, especially the young, in their relations with the gentle and timid inhabitants of Hindostan, think they must keep in obedience and fear the black fellows, the natives, who might forget the difference of their nature. Such as they are, however, the English are still the best masters that India has ever had. Wherever in this vast continent their dominion is direct, it is a real benefit. They have re-establisbed security and justice; they have given the people a feeling of duration, and of something to look forward to; and exactly because they keep themselves apart, because they did not wish to direct every thing, to change every thing, they have permitted Indian civilization under them to resume its natural progress. Agriculture is flourishing; the arts are cultivated with care; population and riches begin to increase; intelligence makes some progress; and European opinions ingraft themselves naturally and gently on the old ideas of India: in short, the conquered people have learnt to defend the foreign ruceh; the native army is formidable, and there is little probability that if the road to India were open to the Russians, they could sustain a struggle against the English. The presence of Europeans has. however, exercised its fatal influence on that part of India not subject to them; it has hastened its demoralization; the adventurers spread through it have shaken off all respect for public opinion; all the princes, feudatory or neighbours of the Company, give themselves up to more shameless exactions, and their subjects are more unhappy, even by reason of the fear which the English inspire, and from the tributes and presents which these require from them.
In their possessions in Canada, the English find themselves in contact only with the least advanced of the nations of the red race; these are tribes of hunters who have receded continually before the English colonists, and who are so much diminished in number, that it may be foreseen that the time is very near when they will be entirely destroyed. The immense continent colonized by the English, and which forms at this time the United States, was, as well as Canada, formerly occupied as far as the shores of the Atlantic, by tribes of hunters and warriors, who practising no industrial arts, and scarcely any cultivation, and possessing no domestic animals, required a great space in order to subsist. The new population, of European origin, which inhabits this continent, without doubt infinitely surpasses in number the aboriginal population which it has destroyed; but is this advantage sufficient to excuse their usurpation? The Americans of our times often present to us in their works of imagination rather a fanciful picture of the virtues, the happiness, the address, the development of the corporeal faculties of the natives of these countries before the arrival of the Europeans: without giving absolute credence to these recitals, we must acknowledge that the natives were much more advanced in civilization than they are now. Their ancient arts are lost; it suits them better to buy their clothes, their arms, their utensils, from Europeans, than to make them themselves; they are eager, therefore, in the destruction of wild animals to procurv furs, their only merchandize, and thus they continually increase their wretchedness. Those which have remained in the midst of the English possessions have scarcely ever been willing to submit to agriculture; those who have been driven back towards the west, forced continually on a more wandering life, have lost the few agricultural habits which they possessed. The French, the English, and the Americans, involving them in their wars, have furnished them with more murderous arms than what they had formerly possessed, so that the flower of their warriors have been everywhere cut off; but above all, the Europeans have poisoned the half savage nations with brandy. It is a great crime to have offered this fatal liquor to men whom it must necessarily brutalize. The red man, who feels himself humiliated by the superiority of the whites; who is driven to indolence whilst all is agitation and animation around him; who feels the melancholy present, and still more the melancholy future, cannot resist the seduction of artificial excitement; he sacrifices all he possesses to procure brandy, he plunges into the most disgusting intoxication; even when he recovers from it he is brutalized, he is incapable of all labour, and he soon dies. It is brandy which has depopulated the new world, it is brandy which has first killed the richest, the saehems, chiefs of the nation, and which impresses on the countenances of the survivors that character of indolence and degradation, so contrary to that of the ancient warriors; it is brandy, which, in fifty years, will not perhaps leave a single survivor of the aborigines. Drunkenness is a vice, no doubt, and a misfortune for all nations; but when wine, beer, cider, pulque, are the only liquors which they can obtain, their effects are temporary. Brandy, to make which requires chemical knowledge, is a product of civilization; but why have not civilized nations felt that it was a strict duty in them, not to carry to barbarous nations drugs which would irretrievably destroy their health and their reason? can they justify themselves for having taken opium to India and China, coco to Peru, brandy everywhere? Every colony which takes brandy with it, is necessarily a destructive scourge to the region where it is established. Brandy destroys the red race with so much rapidity, that the United States might have spared themselves those acts of fraud and cruelty by which they have recently expelled some nations of this race from the territory of the Union. It would have been enough to wait some years the effects of the poison they administered.
The colonies of the English in Australia find themselves in contact with a race much behind tlle red race of America, more thinly scattered, and as it is said, more ferocious in their habits. It cannot be doubted, however, that, especially in penal colonies, provocations are continually given by the whites to the natives, by the powerful to the weak, and that the near and imminent destruction of the first inhabitants, is a crime to be added to those which have been produced by modern civilization.
Some generous men, animated by the spirit of religion, have left England to spread civilization by colonies which have a little more resemblance to those of antiquity; for like those, they seek success only in the progress of the aborigines. These are the missionaries who have spread themselves among the islands of the South Sea. But, perhaps, these men, occupied with the thoughts of heaven, were not very well suited to teach the arts of earth; perhaps, filled with the importance of certain formularies of faith, they have paid too little attention to the progress of ideas; perhaps they have undertaken a too rapid transformation in this desire that the inhabitants of the Friendly Islands should become English Methodism. The reports on the missions are, it is true, contradictory: however, what appears most certain, is the introduction into the South Sea Islands of imposts, police, uniforms, and fire-arms; and, on the other side, such a rapid diminution of the race, that it is not probable that it can last two generations.
The French, also, have had colonies; still more, of all the nations of Europe, they have perhaps shown the most sympathy for the nations called barbarous, and seem, therefore, most suited to civilize them. On account of the inferiority of their marine, the French in other parts of the world have always had to fear the hostilities of rivals more powerful than themselves; therefore, except with ncighbouring nations, they have never been able to assume that arrogance on the superiority of their bayonets, which they have so often put in the place of right, of justice, and of affection; on the contrary, they have sought the friendship of their hosts of another race, and they have almost always obtained it. Less attached to their opinions and their prejudices than any other nation in Europe, less proud of their nationality, they have been the most flexible of any of them in adopting ibreign manners and customs; their activity, their spirit of enterprize, have made them enter heartily into the pleasures as well as the occupations of the wandering tribes. Less avaricious than others, they sought for success and excitement, rather than profit, and when they were not within reach of the society of their countrymen, their sociability made them eagerly seek friendly connections with savages. In Canada, in Louisiana, a strict alliance was formed between the French and the red men; they became companions in life and in death, in war, and in the chase. French names and French sentiments arc found among the most formidable tribes which infest the frontiers of English America. The Frenchman become half a savage, had learned more from the American than he had taught him. He had adopted his opinions and his habits; he had only communicated to him his arms and his pleasures. The gun and the violin had penetrated into the most savage retreats; and even now the French villages, a small number of which may be fotmd disseminated in the midst of the vast colonies of English origin, may be known from afar, not by their opulence, not by the good cultivation of the surrounding country, but by the accents of gaiety which are heard to issue from them, by the Sunday dances, when the red men unite gaily with the whites. The violin, like the lyre of Orpheus, would have done more to civilize the woods of America than commerce or philosophy; it would have taught the men of the two races to unite together, and to love one another.
The colonists of Canada and Louisiana were cultivators; they preserved the character of the most amiable and most estimable part of the nation. The colonists of the French Antilles, of Guiana, of the isles of France and Bourbon, had gone from towns; they belonged to a more calculating class, more greedy of gain, more infected with the vices of commerce; with its vices only, for it was in general those whose ill conduct had brought reverses on themselves, that went to the colonies. There they found a population, founded on what remained of freebooters and buccaneers. These wild adventurers had been actuated by their ferocity, as much as by their cupidity, in for,haling shelters for corsairs in the isles of the Antilles, from whence they went out to pillage the Spaniards. They obtained new recruite during a long time among those who were transported, stained with crime; for the government then considered these rich sugar islands only as penal colonies. The French, however, had no share in the extermination of the inhabitants of the Antilles; they had all already perished under the Spanish yoke, The first conquerors had transported them to the continent to work. in the mines. The French were not so exempt from crime towards the African race. In the islands which they possessed on the east of Africa, they first caused -11 the aborigines to perish in slavery; then they recruited their workshops by importation, and they took miserable wretches carried away by robbery from Madagascar, and the coasts of Mozambique, to continue labour which they refused to perform themselves. The crimes of the slave trade and of slavery have yet more deeply stained the A,tilles and Guians. Not only have Europeans never civilized these regions by their colonies, but still more, after having caused all the inhabitants to perish, they haw, two or three times in the course of two centuries, renewed the whole population, which has as often perished under protracted sufferings. However, among all the Europeans stained by these horrors, the French have been the least barbarous. Less avaricious than other planters, less wealthy, living themselves among their negroes, instead of entrusting them to agents and factors separated from them by a vast ocean, they have been acknowledged as the least creel of task-masters.
France possesses only a very small part of her ancient colonies, and her children are no longer in contact with the aborigines. But the conquest of Algiers at the present time has just opened to her a new career for civilization. The moment is arrived when the European race may redeem its debt to human kind; when it may carry liberty, justice, agriculture, philosophy, all the arts of peace, from port to port, from shore to shore, along the coasts of that same Mediterranean Sea which the Greeks formerly covered with their colonies. The Arab and Moorish race with which the French find themselves in contact, has shown itself capable of the highest civilization. It has already made the most important, the most difficult steps in this career. It has been for a long time oppressed; it has suffered much; it will therefore feel more sensibly the advantages of security, of equity, of beneficence. Under a just government it may in a little time multiply with rapidity, and cover, with the wonderful agriculture which it formerly introduced into Granada and Valentia, a region not less fertile than Spain, and scaroely less extensive. Three times has civilization been carried to this same race, in this same country, by the Phœnicians and the Carthaginians, by the Romans, and by the Arabians, and each time it has produced the most valuable fruits. Nine centuries ago, arts, letters, science, all which makes the glory of Europe, flourished at Cairo, whilst our fathers were plunged in barbarism. Will the French show themselves more incapable of restoring order, peace, happiness, and the cultivation of mind, to the north of Africa, than the successors of Mahomet? Instead of scattering benefits, will they pursue that war of extermination which they have already begun? By provoking the Moors and the Arabs, will they force them to fight, will they burn their towns and villages, and will they drive into the desert two millions and a half of inhabitants who were under the regency of Algiers at the moment of their invasion, and which under a paternal governmerit might become the seed of a great nation? After so many fatal examples which are presented to us by European colonies during the three last centuries, the choice which the French nation is on the point of making between the career of benefits and that of crimes, makes one shudder: and the alarm is redoubled when the denunciations against acts of rapine and cruelty are received at the tribunal of the public by the cry, You dishonour the nation! Ah! he who would dishonour the nation, is he who should show any indulgence towards the crimes of oppressors.
It is not transporting some thousands of French colonists, some thousand adventurers to the coast of Africa, which is here in question; it is not founding some experimental farms in the plain of Mitidja, or giving a value to the shares of some companies of speculators: it is to make two millions and a half of French subjects re-enter the career of happiness and improvement; it is to restore to the cultivators of Algeria the security they have so long lost; that they may again claim from these fertile plains the rich products which their fathers formerly obtained from them, at the same time that they are enlightened and directed by French science, which uniting with them will teach them to do better still. It ought to be the business of France to raise again to prosperity all those towns, all those villages, which were formerly the abode of a great nation; to reanimate those arts, that industry which formerly offered so many objects of exchange to Europeans, and to assist the Moors, whom they have subjected, to profit by the progress of science, so as to improve their manufactures. It should be the business of France to give back to the towns and villages of Mauritania tile local powers required by the ancient customs of the country; to secure to those who have so long inhabited the country the benefits of municipal administration and of prompt justice, enlightening them in government and jurisprudence by the social sciences cultivated in Europe; to revive ancient studies, and the brilliant Arabian literature, by putting them in relation with the progress of mind among the Franks; in short, it ought to be the business of France to maintain among the Mussulmen the beneficent influence of the religion of Mahomet, by disengaging it from the gross fanaticism which has been introduced by deelmtism and ignorance, by making it co-operate with the charity and plfilosophy of Christians, to unite men by their religious sentiments, instead of putting them in opposition to one another. If such could be the fruits of the conquest of Algiers, humanity would be under an eternal obligation to France; and France would reap from it, not glory alone, but the most important and most durable of material advantages.