Front Page Titles (by Subject) SKETCH I: Appetite for Society—Origin of National Societies - Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2
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SKETCH I: Appetite for Society—Origin of National Societies - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, vol. 2 
Sketches of the History of Man Considerably enlarged by the last additions and corrections of the author, edited and with an Introduction by James A. Harris (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). 3 Vols. Vol. 2.
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Appetite for Society—Origin of National Societies
That there is in man an appetite for society, never was called in question.* But to what end the appetite serves, whether it embrace the whole species or be in any manner limited, whether men be naturally qualified for being useful members of civil society, and whether they are fitted for being happy in it, are questions that open extensive views into human nature, and yet have been little attended to by writers. I grieve at the ne-glect, because in the present inquiry, these questions, however abstruse, must be discussed.
As many animals, beside man, are social, it appeared to me probable, that the social laws by which such animals are governed, might open views into the social nature of man. But here I met with a second disappointment: for after perusing books without end, I found very little satisfaction; though the laws of animal society make the most instructive and most entertaining part of natural history. A few dry facts, collected occasionally, enabled me to form the embryo of a plan, which I here present to the reader: if his curiosity be excited, ’tis well; for I am far from expecting that it will be gratified.
Animals of prey have no appetite for society, if the momentary act of copulation be not excepted. Wolves make not an exception, even where hunger makes them join to attack a village: as fear prevents them singly from an attempt so hazardous, their casual union is prompted by appetite for food, not by appetite for society. So little of the social is there in wolves, that if one happen to be wounded, he is put to death and devoured by those of his own kind. Vultures have the same disposition. Their ordinary food is a dead carcase; and they never venture, but in a body, to attack any living creature that appears formidable. Upon society happiness so much depends, that we do not willingly admit a lion, a tiger, a bear, or a wolf, to have any appetite for society. And in with-holding it from such animals, the goodness of Providence to its favourite man, is conspicuous: their strength, agility, and voracity, make them singly not a little formidable: I should tremble for the human race, were they disposed to make war in company.*
Such harmless animals as are unable to defend themselves singly, are provided with an appetite for society, that they may defend themselves in a body. Sheep are remarkable in that respect, when left to nature: a ram seldom attacks; but the rams of a flock exert great vigour in defending their females and their young.* Two of Bakewell’s rams, brought to Langholm in the Duke of Buccleugh’s estate, kept close together. The one was taken ill, and died, the other gave close attendance, stood beside the dead body, and abstained from food for some days: nor did it recover its spirits for a long time.1 The whole society of rooks join in attacking a kite, when it hovers about them. A family of wild swine never separate, till the young be sufficiently strong to defend themselves against the wolf; and when the wolf threatens, they all join in a body. The pecary is a sort of wild hog in the isthmus of Darien: if one of them be attacked, the rest run to assist it. There being a natural antipathy between that animal and the American tiger, it is not uncommon to find a tiger slain with a number of pecaries round him.
The social appetite is to some animals useful, not only for defence, but for procuring the necessaries of life. Society among beavers is a notable instance of both. As water is the only refuge of that innocent species against an enemy, they instinctively make their settlement on the brink of a lake or of a running stream. In the latter case, they keep up the water to a proper height by a dam-dike, constructed with so much art as to withstand the greatest floods: in the former, they save themselves the labour of a damdike, because a lake generally keeps at the same height. Having thus provided for defence, their next care is to provide food and habitation. The whole society join in erecting the dam-dike; and they also join in erecting houses. Each house has two apartments: in the upper there is space for lodging from six to ten beavers: the under holds their provisions, which are trees cut down by united labour, and divided into small portable parts (a) . Bees are a similar instance. Aristotle (b) says, “that bees are the only animals which labour in common, have a house in common, eat in common, and have their offspring in common.” A single bee would be still less able than a single beaver, to build a house for itself and for its winter food. The Alpine rat or marmot has no occasion to store up food for winter, because it lies benumbed without motion all the cold months. But these animals live in tribes; and each tribe digs a habitation under ground with great art, sufficiently capacious for lodging the whole tribe; covering the bottom with withered grass, which some cut, and others carry. The wild dogs of Congo and Angola hunt in packs, waging perpetual war against other wild beasts. They bring to the place of rendezvous whatever is caught in hunting; and each receives its share.* The baboons are social animals, and avail themselves of that quality in procuring food; witness their address in robbing an orchard, described by Kolben in his account of the Cape of Good Hope. Some go into the orchard, some place themselves on the wall, the rest form a line on the outside, and the fruit is thrown from hand to hand till it reach the place of rendezvous. Extending the inquiry to all known animals, we find that the appetite for society is with-held from no species to which it is necessary, whether for defence or for food. It appears to be distributed by weight and measure, in order to accommodate the internal frame of animals to their external circumstances.
Society among the more robust animals that live on grass would be useless. So-ciety among beasts of prey would be hurtful; because fifty lions or tigers hunting in company, would have a less chance for prey, than hunting separately. Crows and cranes unite in society while they are hatching their young, in order to defend them from birds of prey.2
But on some animals an appetite for society is bestowed, though in appearance not necessary either for defence or for food. With regard to such, the only final cause we can discover is the pleasure of living in society. That kind of society is found among horses. Outhier, one of the French academicians employed to measure a degree of the meridian toward the north pole, reports, that at Torneo all bulky goods are carried in boats during summer; but in winter, when the rivers are frozen and the ground covered with snow, that they use sledges drawn by horses; that when the snow melts and the rivers are open, the horses, set loose, rendezvous at a certain part of the forest, where they separate into troops, and occupy different pasturefields; that when these fields become bare, they occupy new ground in the same order as at first; that they return home in troops when the bad weather begins; and that every horse knows its own stall. No creature stands less in need of society than a hare, whether for food or for defence. Of food, it has plenty under its feet; and for defence, it is provided both with cunning and swiftness. Nothing however is more common in a moonlight night, than to see hares sporting together in the most social manner. But society for pleasure only, is an imperfect kind of society; and far from being so intimate, as where it is provided by nature for defence, or for procuring food.*
With respect to the extent of the appetite, no social animal, as far as can be discovered, has an appetite for associating with the whole species. Every species is divided into many small tribes; and these tribes have no appetite for associating with each other: on the contrary, a stray sheep is thrust out of the flock, and a stray bee must instantly retire, or be stung to death. The dogs of a family never fail to attack a stranger dog, bent to destroy him. If the stranger submit, they do him no harm.† Every work of Providence contributes to some good end: a small tribe is sufficient for mutual defence; and a very large tribe would find difficulty in procuring subsistence.
How far brute animals are by nature qualified for being useful members of civil society, or for being happy in it, are questions that have been totally overlook-ed by writers. And yet, as that branch of natural history is also necessary to my plan, I must proceed; though I have nothing to lay before the reader but a few scattered observations, which occurred when I had no view of turning them to account. I begin with the instinctive conduct of animals, in providing against danger. When a flock of sheep in the state of nature goes to rest, sentinels are appointed; who, on appearance of an enemy, stamp with the foot, and make a hissing sound; upon which all take the alarm: if no enemy appear, they watch their time, return to the flock, and send out others in their stead. In flocks that have an extensive range in hilly countries, the same discipline obtains even after domestication. Though monkeys sleep upon trees, yet a sentinel is always appointed; who must not sleep under pain of being torn to pieces. They preserve the same discipline when they rob an orchard: a sentinel on a high tree is watchful to announce the very first appearance of an enemy. M. Buffon, talking of a sort of monkey, which he terms Malbrouck, says, that they are fond of fruit, and of sugar-canes; and that while they are loading themselves, one is placed sentinel on a tree, who, upon the approach of a man, cries, Houp! Houp! Houp! loudly and distinctly. That moment they throw away the sugar-canes that they hold in their left-hand, and run off upon that hand with their two feet. When marmots are at work in the field, one is appointed to watch on a high rock; which advertises them by a loud whistle, when it sees a man, an eagle, or a dog. Among beavers, notice is given of the approach of an enemy, by lashing the water with the tail, which is heard in every habitation. Seals always sleep on the beach; and, to prevent surprise, sentinels are placed round at a considerable distance from the main body. Wild elephants, who always travel in company, are less on their guard in places unfrequented: but, when they invade cultivated fields, they march in order, the eldest in the front, and the next in age closing the rear. The weak are placed in the centre, and the females carry their young on their trunks. They attack in a body; and, upon a repulse, retire in a body. Tame elephants retain so much of their original nature, that if one, upon being wounded, turn its back, the rest instantly follow. Bell of Antimony, in his journey through Siberia to Pekin, mentions wild horses that live in society, and are peculiarly watchful against danger. One is always stationed on an eminence, to give notice of an approaching enemy; and, upon notice given, they all fly.3 Martin, in his description of the island St. Kilda, reports that the Solan geese have always some of their number keeping centry in the night. If a centry hear a noise, it cries softly, grog, grog, at which the flock move not. But, if the centry see or hear the fowler approaching, it cries quickly, bir, bir, upon which the whole flock take wing.4 Next in order is the government of a tribe, and the conduct of its members to each other. It is not unlikely, that society among some animals, and their mutual affection, may be so entire as to prevent all discord among them; which seems to be the case of beavers. Such a society, if there be such, requires no government, nor any laws. A flock of sheep occupies the same spot every night, and each hath its own resting-place. The same is observable in horned cattle when folded. And, as we find not that any one ever attempts to dislodge another, it is probable that such restraint makes a branch of their nature. But society among brute-animals is not always so perfect. Perverse inclinations, tending to disturb society, are visible among some brute animals, as well as among rational men. It is not uncommon for a rook to pilfer sticks from another’s nest; and the pilferer’s nest is demolished by the lex talionis. Herons have the same sort of government with rooks in preserving their nests. They are singular in one particular, that there is no society among them but in hatching their young. They live together during that time, and do not separate till their young can provide for themselves.5 Perverse inclinations require government, and government requires laws. As in the cases now mentioned, the whole society join in inflicting the punishment, government among rooks and herons appears to be republican. Apes, on the contrary, are under monarchical government. Apes in Siam go in troops, each under a leader, who preserves strict discipline. A female, carnally inclined, retired from the troop, and was followed by a male. The male escaped from the leader, who pursued them; but the female was brought back, and, in presence of the whole troop, received fifty blows on the cheek, as a chastisement for its incontinence (a) . But probably there are not many instances among brutes, of government approaching so near to that of men. Government among horned cattle, appears to have no other end but to preserve order. Their government is monarchical; and the election is founded upon personal valour, the most solid of all qualifications in such a society. The bull who aspires to be lord of the herd must fight his way to preferment; and, after all his rivals are beat off the field, the herd tamely submit. At the same time, he is not secured in the throne for life, but must again enter the lists with any bull that ventures to challenge him. The same spirit is observable among oxen, in a lower degree. The masterox leads the rest into the stable, or into the fold, and becomes unruly if he be not let first out: nay, he must be first yoked in the plough or wagon. Sheep are not employed in work; but, in every other respect, the same oeconomy obtains among them. Where the rams happen to be few in proportion to the other sheep, they sometimes divide the flock among them, instead of fighting for precedence. Five or six score of sheep, two of them rams, were purchased a few years ago by the author of this work. The two rams divided the flock between them. The two flocks pastured in common; being shut up in one inclosure: but they had different spots for rest during night; nor was it known that a sheep ever deserted its party, or even changed its resting-place. In the two species last mentioned, I find not that there is any notion of punishment; nor does it appear to be necessary: the leader pretends to nothing but precedence, which is never disputed. Every species of animals have a few notes by which the individuals communicate their desires and wants to each other. If a cow or a calf give the voice of distress, every beast of the kind runs to give help. If a stranger utter the voice of defiance, many advance for battle. If he yield, he obtains a certain rank in the herd. If a colony of rooks be suffered to make a settlement in a grove of trees, it is difficult to dislodge them. But, if once dislodged, they never return, at least for many years; and yet numbers must have been procreated after banishment. How is this otherwise to be accounted for, but that rooks have some faculty of conveying instruction to their young?
In some animals, love of liberty is the ruling passion: some are easily trained, and submit readily without opposition. Examples of the latter are common: of the former take the following instance. A brood of stonechatters taken from the nest were inclosed in a cage. The door was left open to give admission to the mother, and then was shut upon her. After many attempts, finding it impossible to get free, she first put her young to death, and then dashed out her own brains on the side of the cage.6 I blush to present these imperfect hints, the fruit of casual observation, not of intentional inquiry: but I am fond to blow the trumpet, in order to raise curiosity in others: if the subject be prosecuted by men of taste and inquiry, many final causes, I am persuaded, will be discovered, tending more and more to dis-play the wisdom and goodness of Providence. But what at present I have chiefly in view, is to observe, that government among brute animals, however simple, appears to be perfect in its kind; and adapted with great propriety to their nature. Factions in the state are unknown: no enmity between individuals, no treachery, no deceit, nor any other of those horrid vices that torment the human race. In a word, they appear to be perfectly well qualified for that kind of society to which they are prompted by their nature, and well fitted for being happy in it.
Storing up the foregoing observations till there be occasion for them, we proceed to the social nature of man. That men are endued with an appetite for society, will be vouched by the concurring testimony of all men, each vouching for himself. There is accordingly no instance of people living in a solitary state, where the appetite is not obstructed by some potent obstacle. The inhabitants of that part of New Holland which Dampier saw, live in society, though less advanced above brutes than any other known savages; and so intimate is their society, that they gather their food and eat in common. The inhabitants of the Canary Islands lived in the same manner, when first seen by Europeans, which was in the fourteenth century; and the savages mentioned by Condamine, drawn by a Jesuit from the woods to settle on the banks of the Oroonoko, must originally have been united in some kind of society, as they had a common language. In a word, that man hath an appetite for food, is not more certain, than that he hath an appetite for society. And here I have occasion to apply one of the observations made above. Abstracting altogether from the pleasure we have in society, similar to what we have in eating, evident it is, that to no animal is society more necessary than to man, whether for food or for defence. In society, he is chief of the terrestrial creation; in a solitary state, the most helpless and forlorn. Thus, the first question suggested above, viz. To what end was a social appetite bestowed on man, has received an answer, which I flatter myself will be satisfactory.
The next question is, Whether the appetite embrace the whole species, or be limited, as among other animals, to a soci-ety of moderate extent. That the appetite is limited, will be evident from history. Men, as far back as they can be traced, have been divided into small tribes or societies. Most of these, it is true, have in later times been united into large states: such revolutions, however, have been brought about, not by an appetite for a more extensive society, but by conquest, or by the junction of small tribes for defence against the more powerful. A society may indeed be too small for complete gratification of the appetite; and the appetite thus cramped welcomes every person into the society till it have sufficient scope: the Romans, a diminutive tribe originally, were fond to associate even with their enemies after a victory. But, on the other hand, a society may be too large for perfect gratification. An extensive empire is an object too bulky; national affection is too much diffused; and the mind is not at ease till it find a more contracted society, corresponding to the moderation of its appetite. Hence the numerous orders, associations, fraternities, and divisions, that spring up in every great state. The ever-during Blues and Greens in the Roman empire, and Guelphs and Gibelines in Italy, could not have long subsisted after the cause of their enmity was at an end, but for a tendency in the members of a great state to contract their social connections.* Initiations among the ancients were probably owing to the same cause; as also associations of artisans among the moderns, pretending mystery and secrecy, and excluding all strangers. Of such associations or brotherhoods, the free masons excepted, there is scarce now a vestige remaining.
We find now, after an accurate scrutiny, that the social appetite in man comprehends not the whole species, but a part only; and commonly a small part, precisely as among other animals. Here another final cause starts up, no less remarkable than that explained above. An appetite to associate with the whole species, would form states so unwieldy by numbers, as to be incapable of any government. Our appetite is wisely confined within such limits, as to form states of moderate extent, which of all are the best fitted for good government: and, as we shall see afterward, are also the best fitted for improving the human powers, and for invigorating every manly virtue. Hence an instructive lesson, That a great empire is ill suited to human nature; and that a great conqueror is, in more respects than one, an enemy to mankind.
The limiting our social appetite within moderate bounds, suggests another final cause. An appetite to associate with the whole species, would collect into one society all who are not separated from each other by wide seas and inaccessible mountains: and consequently would distribute mankind into a very few societies, consisting of such multitudes as to reduce national affection to a mere shadow. Nature hath wisely limited the appetite in proportion to our mental capacity. Our relations, our friends, and our other connections, open an extensive field for the exercise of affection: nay, our country in general, if not too extensive, would alone be sufficient to engross our affection. But that beautiful speculation falls more properly under the principles of morality: and there it shall not be overlooked.
What comes next in order, is to exa-mine how we stand affected to those who are not of our tribe or society. I pave the way to this examination, by taking up man naked at his entrance into life. An infant at first has no feeling but bodily pain; and it is familiarised with its nurse, its parents, and perhaps with others, before it is susceptible of any passion. All weak animals are endowed with a principle of fear, which prompts them to shun danger; and fear, the first passion discovered in an infant, is raised by every new face; the infant shrinks and hides itself in the bosom of its nurse (a) .* Thus every stranger is an object of fear to an infant, and consequently of aversion, which is generated by fear. Fear lessens gradually as our circle of acquaintance enlarges, especially in those who rely on bodily strength. Nothing tends more effectually to dissipate fear, than consciousness of security in the social state: in solitude, no animal is more timid than man; in society, none more bold. But remark, that aversion may subsist after fear is gone: it is propagated from people to their chil-dren through an endless succession; and is infectious like a disease. Thus enmity is kept up between tribes, without any particular cause. A neighbouring tribe, constantly in our sight, and able to hurt us, is the object of our strongest aversion: aversion lessens in proportion to distance; and terminates in absolute indifference with respect to very distant tribes.7
One would naturally imagine, that, after fear has vanished, aversion to strangers cannot long subsist. But it is supported by a principle that we are not at liberty to deny, because it frequently breaks forth even in childhood, without any provocation; and that is a principle of malevolence, distributed indeed in very unequal portions. Observe the harsh usage that tame birds receive from children, without any apparent cause; the neck twisted about, feathers plucked off, the eye thrust out with a bodkin; a baby thrown out at a window, or torn in pieces. There is nothing more common, than flat stones that cover the parapets of a bridge thrown down, the head of a young tree cut off, or an old tree barked. This odious principle is carefully disguised after the first dawn of reason; and is indulged only against enemies, because there it appears innocent. I am utterly at a loss to account for the following fact, but from the principle now mentioned. The Count de Lauzun was shut up by Louis XIV. in the castle of Pignerol, and was confined there from the year 1672 to the year 1681, deprived of every comfort of life, and even of paper, pen, and ink. At a distance from every friend and relation; without light, except a glimmering through a slit in the roof; without books, occupation, or exercise; a prey to hope deferred, and constant horror; he, to avoid insanity, had recourse to tame a spider. The spider received flies from his hand with seeming gratitude, carried on his web with alacrity, and engaged the whole attention of the prisoner. This most innocent of all amusements was discovered by the jailor, who, in the wantonness of power, destroyed the spider and its work. The Count described his agony to be little inferior to that of a fond mother at the loss of a darling child. Custom may render a person insensible to scenes of misery; but cannot provoke cruelty without a motive. A jailor differs only from other men, in freedom to indulge malignity against his prisoners without fear of retaliation.8
As I neither hope nor wish, that the nature of man, as above delineated, be taken upon my authority, I propose to verify it by clear and substantial facts. But, to avoid the multiplying instances unnecessarily, I shall confine myself to such as concern the aversion that neighbouring tribes have to each other; taking it for granted, that private affection, and love to our country, are what no person doubts of. I begin with examples of rude nations, where nature is left to itself, without culture. The inhabitants of Greenland, good-natured and inoffensive, have not even words for expressing anger or envy: stealing from one another is abhorred; and a young woman, guilty of that crime, has no chance for a husband. At the same time, they are faithless and cruel to those who come among them: they consider the rest of mankind as a different race, with whom they reject all society. The morality of the inhabitants of New Zealand is not more refined. Writers differ about the inhabitants of the Marian or Ladrone islands: Magellan, and other voyagers, say, that they are addicted to thieving; and their testimony occasioned these islands to be called Ladrones. Pere le Gobien, on the contrary, says, that, far from being addicted to thieving, they leave every thing open, having no distrust one of another. These accounts differ in appearance, not in reality. Magellan was a stranger; and he talks only of their stealing from him and from his companions. Father Gobien lived long among them, and talks of their fidelity to each other. Plan Carpin, who visited Tartary in the year 1246, observes of the Tartars, that, though full of veracity to their neighbours, they thought themselves not bound to speak truth to strangers. The Greeks anciently were held to be pirates: but not properly; for they committed depredations upon strangers only. Caesar, speaking of the Germans (a) , says, “Latrocinia nullam habent infamiam quae extra fines cujusque civitatis fiunt.”* This was precisely the case of our highlanders, till they were brought under due subjection after the rebellion of 1745. Bougainville observes, that the inhabitants of Otaheite, named by the English King George’s Island, made no difficulty of stealing from his people; and yet never steal from one another, having neither locks nor bars in their houses. The people of Benin in Negroland are good-natured, gentle, and civilized; and so generous, that if they receive a present, they are not at ease till they return it double. They have unbounded confidence in their own people; but are jealous of strangers, tho’ they politely hide their jealousy. The different tribes of Negroes, speaking each a different language, have a rooted aversion at each other. This aversion is carried along with them to Jamaica; and they will rather suffer death from the English, than join with those of a different tribe in a plot for liberty.9 Russian peasants think it a greater sin to eat meat in Lent, than to murder one of another country. Among the Koriacs, bordering on Kamskatka, murder within the tribe is severely punished: but to murder a stranger is not minded. While Rome continued a small state, neighbour and enemy were expressed by the same word (a) . In England of old, a foreigner was not admitted to be a witness. Hence it is, that in ancient history, we read of wars without intermission among small states in close neighbourhood. It was so in Greece; it was so in Italy during the infancy of the Roman republic; it was so in Gaul, when Caesar commenced hostilities against that country (b) ; and it was so all the world over. Many islands in the South Sea, and in other remote parts, have been discovered by Europeans; who commonly found the natives with arms in their hands, resolute to prevent the strangers from landing. Orellana, lieutenant to Gonzales Pisarro, was the first European who sailed down the river Amazon to the sea. In his passage, he was continually assaulted by the natives with arrows from the banks of the river: and some even ventured to attack him in their canoes.
Nor does such aversion wear away even among polished people. An ingenious writer (c) remarks, that almost every nation hate their neighbours, without knowing why. I once heard a Frenchman swear, says that writer, that he hated the English, parce qu’ils versent du beurre fondu sur leur veau roti.* The populace of Portugal have to this day an uncommon aversion to strangers: even those of Lisbon, though a trading town frequented by many different nations, must not be excepted. Travellers report, that the people of the duchy of Milan, remarkable for good-nature, are the only Italians who are not hated by their neighbours. The Piedmontese and Genoese have an aversion to each other, and agree only in their antipathy to the Tuscans. The Tuscans dislike the Venetians; and the Romans abound not with good-will to the Tuscans, Venetians, or Neapolitans. Very different is the case with respect to distant nations: instead of being objects of aversion, their manners, customs, and singularities, amuse us greatly.†
Infants differ from each other in aversion to strangers; some being extremely shy, others less so; and the like difference is observable in whole tribes. The people of Milan cannot have any aversion to their neighbours, when they are such favourites of all around them. The inhabitants of some South-sea islands, mentioned above (a) , appear to have little or no aversion to strangers. But that is a rare instance, and has scarce a parallel in any other part of the globe. It holds also true, that nations the most remarkable for patriotism, are equally remarkable for aversion to strangers. The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, were equally remarkable for both. Patriotism, a vigorous principle among the English, makes them extremely averse to naturalize foreigners. The inhabitants of New Zealand, both men and women, appear to be of a mild and gentle disposition: they treat one another with affection; but are implacable to their enemies, and never give quarter. It is even customary among them to eat the flesh of their enemies.
To a person of humanity, the scene here exhibited is far from being agreeable. Man, it may be thought, is of all animals the most barbarous; for even animals of prey are innoxious with respect to their own kind.* Aversion to strangers makes a branch of our nature: it exists among individuals in private life: it flames high between neighbouring tribes; and is visible even in infancy. Can such perversity of disposition promote any good end? This question, which pierces deep into human nature, is reserved to close the present sketch.
From the foregoing deduction, universal benevolence, inculcated by several writers as a moral duty, is discovered to have no foundation in the nature of man. Our appetite for society is limited, and our duty must be limited in proportion. But of this more directly when the principles of morality are taken under consideration.
We are taught by the great Newton, that attraction and repulsion in matter, are, by alteration of circumstances, converted one into the other. This holds also in affection and aversion, which may be termed, not improperly, mental attraction and repulsion. Two nations, originally strangers to each other, may, by commerce or other favourable circumstance, become so well acquainted, as to change from aversion to affection. The opposite manners of a capital and of a country-town, afford a good illustration. In the latter, people, occupied with their domestic concerns, are in a manner strangers to each other: a degree of aversion prevails, which gives birth to envy and detraction. In the former, a court and public amusements, promote general acquaintance: repulsion yields to attraction, and people become fond to associate with their equals. The union of two tribes into one, is another circumstance that converts repulsion into attraction. Such conversion, however, is far from being instantaneous; witness the different small states of Spain, which were not united in affection for many years after they were united under one monarch; and this was also the case of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland. In some circumstances the conversion is instantaneous; as where a stranger becomes an object of pity or of gratitude. Many low persons in Britain contributed cheerfully for maintaining some French seamen, made prisoners at the commencement of the late war. It is no less instantaneous, when strangers, relying on our humanity, trust themselves in our hands. Among the ancients, it was hospitality to strangers only, that produced mutual affection and gratitude: Glaucus and Diomede were of different countries. Hospitality to strangers is a pregnant symptom of improving manners. Caesar, speaking of the Germans (a) , says, “Hospites violare, fas non putant: qui, quaqua de causa, ad eos venerunt, ab injuria prohibent, sanctosque habent; iis omnium domus patent, victusque communicatur.”* The ancient Spaniards were fond of war, and cruel to their enemies; but in peace, they passed their time in singing and dancing, and were remarkably hospitable to the strangers who came among them. It shews great refinement in the Celtae, that the killing a stranger was capital, when the killing a citizen was banishment only (b) . The Circassians, described by Bell of Antimony as barbarians, are hospitable. If even an enemy put himself under the protection of any of them, he is secure.10 The Swedes and Goths were eminently hospitable to strangers; as indeed were all the northern nations of Europe (c) . The negroes of Fouli are celebrated by travellers for the same quality. The native Brazilians are singularly hospitable: a stranger no sooner arrives among them, than he is surrounded by women, who wash his feet, and set before him to eat the best things they have: if he have occasion to go more than once to the same village, the person whose guest he was, takes it much amiss if he think of changing his lodging.
There are causes that for a time suspend enmity between neighbouring states. The small states of Greece, among whom war never ceased, frequently smothered their enmity to join against the formidable monarch of Persia. There are also causes that suspend for a time all animosity between factions in the same state. The fac-tions in Britain about power and pre-eminence, not a little disagreeable during peace, are laid asleep during a foreign war.
On the other hand, attraction is converted into repulsion by various causes. One is, the splitting a great monarchy into many small states; of which the Assyrian, the Persian, the Roman, and the Saracen empires, are instances. The amor patriae, faint in an extensive monarchy, readily yields to aversion, operating between two neighbouring states, less extensive. This is observable between neighbouring colonies, even of the same nation: the English colonies in North America, though they retain some affection for their mother-country, have contracted an aversion to each other. And happy for them is such aversion, if it prevent their uniting in order to acquire independence: wars without end would be the inevitable consequence, as among small states in close neighbourhood.
Hitherto the road has been smooth, without obstruction. But we have not yet finished our journey; and the remaining questions, whether men be qua-lified by their nature for being useful members of civil society, and whether they be fitted for being happy in it, will, I suspect, lead into a road neither smooth nor free from obstruction. The social branch of human nature would be wofully imperfect, if man had an appetite for society without being qualified for that state: the appetite, instead of tending to a good end, would be his bane. And yet, whether he be or be not qualified for society, seems doubtful. On the one hand, there are facts, many and various, from which it is natural to conclude, that man is qualified by nature for being an useful member of a social state, and for being happy in it.11 I instance, first, several corresponding principles or propensities, that cannot be exerted nor gratified but in society, viz. the propensities of veracity, and of relying on human testimony; appetite for knowledge, and desire to communicate knowledge; anxiety to be pitied in distress, and sympathy with the distressed; appetite for praise, and inclination to praise the deserving.* Such cor-responding propensities not only qualify men for the social state as far as their influence reaches, but attract them sweetly into society for the sake of gratification, and make them happy in it. But this is not all, nor indeed the greater part. Do not benevolence, compassion, magnanimity, heroism, and the whole train of social affections, demonstrate our fitness for society, and our happiness in it? And justice, above all other virtues, promotes peace and concord in that state. Nor ought the faculty of speech to be overlooked, which in an eminent degree qualifies man for society, and is a plentiful source of enjoyment in it.
I have reserved one other particular to be the concluding scene; being a striking instance of providential care to fit men for society. In reading a play, or in seeing it acted, a young man of taste is at no loss to judge of scenes he never was engaged in, or of passions he never felt. What is it that directs his judgement? Men are apt to judge of others by what they have experienced in themselves: but here, by the supposition, there has been no antecedent experience. The fact is so familiar, that no one thinks of accounting for it. As young persons, without instruction or experience, can judge with tolerable accuracy of the conduct of men, of their various passions, of the difference of character, and of the efficacy of motives; the principle by which they judge must be internal: nature must be their guide, or, in other words, an internal sense. Nor is this sense confined to so low a purpose as criticism: it is a sense indispensable in the conduct of life. Every person is connected with many others, by various ties: if instruction and experience were necessary to regulate their conduct, what would become of them in the interim? Their ignorance would betray them into endless inconveniencies. This sense has man for its object, not this or that man: by it we perceive what is common to all, not what distinguishes one individual from another. We have an intuitive conviction, not only that all men have passions and appetites which direct their actions, but that each passion and appetite produceth uniformly effects proper to itself. This natural knowledge is only our guide, till we learn by experience to enter more minutely into particular characters. Of these we acquire knowledge from looks, gestures, speech, and behaviour, which discover to us what passes internally. Then it is, and no sooner, that we are fully qualified to act a proper part in society. Wonderful is the frame of man, both external and internal!12
On the other hand, there are facts, not fewer in number, nor less various, from which it is equally natural to conclude, that man is ill qualified for society, and that there is little happiness in it. What can be more averse to concord in society than dissocial passions? and yet these prevail among men; among whom there is no end to envy, malice, revenge, treachery, deceit, avarice, ambition, &c. &c. We meet every where persons bent on the destruction of others, evincing that man has no enemies more formidable than of his own kind, and of his own tribe. Are not discord and feuds the chief articles in the history of every state, factions violent-ly bent against each other, and frequently breaking out into civil wars? Appian’s history of the civil wars of Rome exhibits a horrid scene of massacres, proscriptions, and forfeitures; the leaders sacrificing their firmest friends, for liberty to suck the blood of their enemies; as if to shed human blood were the ruling passion of man. But the Romans were far from being singular: the polite Greeks, commonly so characterized, were still more brutal and bloody. The following passage is copied from a celebrated author (a) . “Not to mention Dionysius the elder, who is computed to have butchered in cold blood above 10,000 of his fellow-citizens; nor Agathocles, Nabis, and others, still more bloody than he; the transactions even in free governments were extremely violent and destructive. At Athens, the thirty tyrants, and the nobles, in a twelvemonth, murdered without trial, about 1200 of the people, and banished above the half of the citizens that remained. In Argos, near the same time, the people killed 1200 of the nobles, and afterward their own demagogues, because they had refused to carry their prosecutions farther. The people also in Corcyra killed 1500 of the nobles, and banished 1000. These numbers will appear the more surprising, if we consider the extreme smallness of those states. But all ancient history is full of such instances.” Upon a revolution in the Saracen empire, anno 750, where the Ommiyan family was expelled by that of the Abassians, Abdolah, chief of the latter, published an act of oblivion to the former, on condition of their taking an oath of allegiance to him. The Ommiyans, embracing the condition, were in appearance cordially received. But, in preparing to take the oath, they were knocked down, every one of them, by the Emperor’s guards. And fully to glut the monster’s cruelty, these princes, still alive, were laid close together, and covered with boards and carpets; upon which Abdolah feasted his officers, “in order,” said he, “that we may be exhilarated with the dying groans of the Ommiyans.” During the vigour of the feudal system, when every gentleman was a soldier, justice was no defence against power, nor humanity against bloody resentment. Stormy passions raged every where with unrelenting fury; every place a chaos of confusion and distress. No man was secure but in his castle; and to venture abroad, unless well armed and well attended, would have been an act of high temerity. So little intercourse was there among the French in the tenth century, that an abbot of Clugni, invited by the Count of Paris to bring some monks to the abbey of St. Maur, near that city, excused himself for declining a journey through a strange and unknown country. In the history of Scotland, during the minority of James II. we find nothing but barbarous and cruel manners, depredations, burning of houses, bloodshed and massacre, without end. Pitscottie says, that oppression, theft, sacrilege, ravishing of women, were but a dalliance. How similar to beasts of prey let loose against each other in the Roman circus!
Men are prone to split into parties upon the slightest occasions; and sometimes parties subsist upon words merely. Whig and Tory subsisted long in England, upon no better foundation: the Tories professed passive obedience; but declared, that they would not be slaves: the Whigs professed resistance; but declared it unlawful to resist, unless to prevent the being made slaves. Had these parties been disposed to unite, they soon would have discovered, that they differed in words only. The same observation is applicable to many religious disputes. One sect maintains, that we are saved by faith alone; another, that good works are necessary. The difference lies merely in words: the first acknowledges, that, if a man commit sin, he cannot have faith; and, consequently, under faith are comprehended good works: the other acknowledges, that good works imply good intention, or, in other words, faith; and, consequently, under good works, faith is comprehended (a) . The following instance, solemnly ludicrous, is of parties formed merely from an inclination to differ, without any cause, real or verbal. No people were less interested in the late war between the Queen of Hungary and the King of Prussia, than the ci-tizens of Ravenna. They, however, split into two parties, which abjured all society with each other. After the battle of Rosbach, a leading partyman withdrew for a month, without once showing his face in public.13 But our catalogue is not yet complete. Differences concerning civil matters make no figure, compared with what concern religion. It is lamentable to observe, that religious sects resemble neighbouring states; the nearer they are to one another, the greater is their mutual rancour and animosity. But, as all histories are full of the cruelty and desolation occasioned by differences in religious tenets, I cannot bear to dwell longer upon such horrid scenes.
What conclusion are we to draw from the foregoing facts, so inconsistent in appearance with each other? I am utterly at a loss to reconcile them, otherwise than by holding man to be a compound of principles and passions, some social, some dissocial. Opposite principles or passions cannot, at the same instant, be exerted upon the same object (b) ; but they may be exerted at the same instant upon different objects, and at different times upon the same object. This observation serves, indeed, to explain a seeming inconsistency in our nature, as being at one time highly social, and at another time no less dissocial: but it affords not a solution to the question, Whether, upon the whole, men be qualified for society, and be fitted for being happy in it? In order to a solution, we find it necessary to take a second view of the natural history of man.
In a nascent society, where men hunt and fish in common, where there is plenty of game, and where the sense of property is faint, mutual affection prevails, because there is no cause of discord; and dissocial passions find sufficient vent against neighbouring tribes. Such is the condition of the North American savages, who continue hunters and fishers to this day; and such is the condition of all brute-animals that live in society, as mentioned above. The island Otaheite is divided into many small cantons, having each a chief of its own. These cantons never make war on each other, though they are frequently at war with the inhabitants of neighbouring islands. The inhabitants of the new Phi-lippine islands, if Father Gobien be credited, are better fitted for society than any other known nation. Sweetness of temper, and love to do good, form their character. They never commit acts of violence: war they have no notion of; and it is a proverb among them, That a man never puts a man to death. Plato places the seat of justice and of happiness among the first men; and among them existed the golden age, if it ever did exist. But, when a nation, becoming populous, begins with rearing flocks and herds, proceeds to appropriate land, and is not satisfied without matters of luxury over and above, selfishness and pride gain ground, and become ruling and unruly passions. Causes of discord multiply, vent is given to avarice and resentment; and, among a people not yet perfectly submissive to government, dissocial passions rage, and threaten a total dissolution of society: nothing, indeed, suspends the impending blow, but the unwearied, though silent, operation, of the social appetite. Such was the condition of the Greeks at a certain period of their progress, as mentioned above; and such was the condition of Europe, and of France in particular, during the anarchy of the feudal system, when all was discord, blood, and rapine. In general, wherever avarice and disorderly passions bear rule, I boldly pronounce that men are ill qualified for society.
Providence extracts order out of confusion. Men, in a society so uncomfortable, are taught, by dire experience, that they must either renounce society, or qualify themselves for it—the choice is easy, but how difficult the performance: After infinite struggles, appetite for society prevailed; and time, that universal conqueror, perfected men in the art of subduing their passions, or of dissembling them. Finding no enjoyment but in society, they are solicitous about the good-will of others; and adhere to justice and good manners: disorderly passions are suppressed, kindly affections encouraged; and men now are better qualified for society than formerly, though far from being perfectly qualified.
But, is our progress toward the perfection of society to stop here? are lust of power and of property to continue for ever leading principles? are envy, revenge, treachery, deceit, never to have an end? “How devoutly to be wished, (it will be said), that all men were upright and honest; and that all of the same nation were united like brethren in concord and mutual affection! Here, indeed, would be perpetual sunshine, a golden age, a state approaching to that of good men made perfect in heavenly mansions.” Beware of indulging such pleasing dreams. The system of Providence differs widely from our wishes; and shall ignorant man venture to arraign Providence? Are we qualified to judge of the whole, when but a small part is visible? From what is known of that system, we have reason to believe, that, were the whole visible, it would appear beautiful. We are not, however, reduced to an act of pure faith: a glimmering light, breaking in, makes it at least doubtful, whether, upon the whole, it be not really better for us to be as we are. Let us follow that glimmering light: it may perhaps lead us to some discovery.14
Strict adherence to the rules of justice would, indeed, secure our persons and our property: robbery and murder would vanish, and locks and guns be heard of no more. So far excellent, were no new evils to come in their stead: but the void must be filled; and mental distresses would break in of various kinds, such particularly as proceed from refined delicacy, and nice sensibility of honour, little regarded while we are exposed to dangers more alarming. And, whether the change would be much for our advantage, appears doubtful: pain, as well as pleasure, is measured by comparison; and the slightest pain, such, for example, as arises from a transgression of civility or good-breeding, will overwhelm a person who has never felt any pain more severe. At any rate, natural evils would remain; and extreme delicacy, and softness of temper, produced by eternal peace and concord, would render such evils insupportable: the slight inconveniencies of a rough road, bad weather, or homely fair, would become serious evils, and afflict the traveller past enduring.15
But now, let it not escape our thoughts, that, in order to preserve justice untainted, and to maintain concord and affection, dissocial and selfish passions must necessarily be extirpated, or brought under absolute subjection. Attend to the consequences: they deserve our most sober attention. Agitation is requisite to the mind, as well as to the body: a man engaged in a brisk pursuit, whether of business or of pleasure, is in his element, and in high spirits: but, when no object is in view to be attained or to be avoided, his spirits flag, and he sinks into languor and despondence. To prevent a condition so baneful, he is provided with many passions, that impel him to action without intermission, and invigorate both mind and body. But, upon the present supposition, scarce any motive to action would remain; and man, reduced to a lethargic state, would rival no being above an oister or a sensitive plant.
It is true that, in our present condition, we suffer much distress from selfish and dissocial passions. But nature provides a remedy: custom renders misfortunes familiar, and hardens us, not only to bear but to brave them. Bentivoglio having govern-ed Bologna forty years, was expelled by Pope Julius II. which was the first distress he had ever met with. My author Guicciardin reports, that he died of a broken heart, attributed to his constant prosperity. It is well said, that, whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. The French, among whom society has obtained a more refined polish than in any other nation, have become so soft and delicate, as to lose all fortitude in distress. They cannot bear even a representation of severe affliction in a tragedy: an English audience would fall asleep at the slight distresses that make a deep impression in the French theatre.17
Nor ought it to be overlooked, that an uniform life of peace, tranquility, and security, would not be long relished. Constant repetition of the same pleasures would render even a golden age tasteless, like an Italian sky during a long summer. Nature has, for wise purposes, impressed upon us a taste for variety (a) : without it, life would be altogether insipid. Paraguai, when governed by the Jesuits, affords a striking illustration. It was divided into parishes, in each of which a Jesuit presided as king, priest, and prophet. The natives were not suffered to have any property, but laboured incessantly for their daily bread, which was delivered to them out of a public magazine. The men were employed in agriculture, the women in spinning; and certain precise hours were allotted for labour, for food, for prayer, and for sleep.* They soon sunk into such a listless state of mind, as to have no regret at dying, when attacked by disease or by old age. Such was their indifference about what might befal them, that, though they adored the Jesuits, yet they made no opposition, when the Fathers were, anno 1767, attacked by the Spaniards, and their famous republic demolished. Yet this Jesuit republic is extolled by M. de Voltaire, as the most perfect government in the world, and as the triumph of humanity.18 The monkish life is contradictory to the nature of man: the languor of that state is what, in all probability, tempts many a monk and nun, to find occupation even at the expence of virtue. The life of the Maltese Knights is far from being agreeable, now that their knight-errantry against the Turks has subsided. While they reside in the island, a strict uniformity in their manner of living is painfully irksome. Absence is their only relief, when they can obtain permission. There will not remain long a knight in the island, except such as, by office, are tied to attendance.
I proceed to another consideration. Familiarity with danger is necessary to eradicate our natural timidity; and so deeply rooted is that principle, that familiarity with danger of one sort does not harden us with respect to any other sort. A soldier, bold as a lion in the field, is faint-hearted at sea, like a child; and a seaman, who braves the winds and waves, trembles when mounted on a horse of spirit. Courage does not superabound at present, even in the midst of dangers and unforeseen accidents: sedentary manufacturers, who seldom are in the way of harm, are remarkably pusillanimous. What would men be in the supposed condition of universal peace, concord, and security? they would rival a hare or a mouse in timidity. Farewell, upon that supposition, to courage, magnanimity, heroism, and to every passion that ennobles human nature! There may perhaps be men, who, hugging themselves in security against harm, would not be altogether averse to such degeneracy. But, if such men there be, I pray them only to reflect, that, in the progress from infancy to maturity, all nations do not ripen equally. One nation may have arrived at the supposed perfection of society, before another has advanced much beyond the savage state. What security hath the former against the latter? Precisely the same that timid sheep have against hungry wolves.
I shall finish with one other effect of the supposed perfection of society, more degrading, if possible, than any mentioned. Exercise, as observed above, is no less essential to the mind than to the body. The reasoning faculty, for example, without constant and varied exercise, will remain weak and undistinguishing to the end of life. By what means doth a man acquire prudence and foresight, but by experience? It is precisely here as in the body: deprive a child of motion, and it will never acquire any strength of limbs. The many difficulties that men encounter, and their various objects of pursuit, rouse the understanding, and set the reasoning faculty at work for means to accomplish desire. The mind, by continual exercise, ripens to its perfection; and, by the same means, is preserved in vigour. It would have no such exercise in the supposed perfection of society; where there would be little to be desired, and less to be dreaded: our mental faculties would for ever lie dormant; and we should for ever remain ignorant that we have such faculties. The people of Paraguai are described as mere children in understanding. What wonder, considering their condition under Jesuit government, without ambition, without property, without fear of want, and without desires? The wants of those who inhabit the torrid zone are easily supplied: they need no clothing, scarce any habitation; and fruits, which ripen there to perfection, give them food without labour. Need we any other cause for their inferiority of understanding, compared with the inhabitants of other climates, where the mind, as well as body, are constantly at work for procuring necessaries?*
This suggests a thought. Considering that instinct is a guide much less fallible than reason, why should it be more sparingly bestowed on man, the chief of the terrestrial creation, than on other animals? Whatever appearance this may have at first sight against the human race, it will be found, on consideration, greatly in their favour. Instinct in man is confined within the narrowest bounds, and given only where reason would be ineffectual. Instinct, it is true, is infallible, and so are the laws of matter and motion: but, how low is blind instinct compared with the faculty of reasoning, deliberating, and choosing? Man governs himself, and chooses invariably what appears the best: Brute animals have no self-government, but are led blindly by natural impulse, without having any end in view. Instinct differs only from the laws of matter, by comprehending a greater variety of circumstances; and is far inferior in dignity to the faculty of reason.19
That curious writer Mandevil, who is always entertaining, if he does not always instruct, exults in maintaining a proposition seemingly paradoxical, That private vices are public benefits.20 He proves indeed, most triumphantly, that theft produced locks and bars, and that war produced swords and guns. But what would have been his triumph, had he discovered, that selfish and dissocial vices promote the most elevated virtues; and that, if such vices were eradicated, man would be a grovelling and contemptible being?
Upon the whole, the present state of things, in which evils both natural and moral make a part, contributes more to the enjoyment of life, as well as to the improvement of our faculties and passions, than an uniform state, without variety, and without hopes and fears.21
How rashly do men judge of the conduct of Providence! So flattering to the imagination is a golden age, a life of perpetual sunshine, as to have enchanted poets, ancient and modern. Impressed with the felicity of such a state, can we be satisfied with our condition in this life? Such a jumble of good and ill, malice mixed with benevolence, friendship alloyed with fraud, peace with alarms of war, and sometimes bloody wars,—is it not natural to think, that, in this unhappy world, chance prevails more than wisdom? Can freethinkers wish a better theme for declaiming against Providence, while good men sigh inwardly, and must be silent?* But behold the blindness of man with respect to the dispensations of Providence! A golden age would to man be more poisonous than Pandora’s box; a gift, sweet in the mouth, but bitter, bitter, in the stomach. Let us then forbear repining; for the subject before us must afford conviction, if any thing can, that our best course is to submit humbly to whatever befals, and to rest satisfied, that the world is governed by wisdom, not by chance. What can be expected of barbarians, but utter ignorance of Providence, and of divine government? But, as men ripen in the knowledge of causes and effects, the benevolence as well as wisdom of a superintending Being become more and more apparent. How pleasing is that observation! Beautiful final causes without num-ber have been discovered in the material as well as moral world, with respect to many particulars that once appeared dark and gloomy. Many continue to have that appearance; but, with respect to such, is it too bold to maintain, that an argument from ignorance, a slender argument at any rate, is altogether insufficient in judging of divine government? How salutary is it for man, and how comfortable, to rest on the faith, that whatever is, is the best!
[* ]This appetite is not denied by Vitruvius; but it seems to have been overlooked in the account he gives (book 2. ch. 1.) of the commencement of society, which is as follows. “In ancient times, men, like wild beasts, lived in caves and woods, feeding on wild food. In a certain place it happened, that the trees, put in motion by tempestuous winds, and rubbing their branches one against another took fire. Those in the neighbourhood fled for fear: but as the flame abated, they approached; and finding the heat comfortable, they threw wood into the fire, and preserved it from being extinguished. They then invited others to take benefit of the fire. Men, thus assembled, endeavoured to express their thoughts by articulate sounds; and by daily practice, certain sounds signifying things in frequent use, came to be established. From that casual event, language arose. And thus, fire having attracted many to one place, they soon discovered that they were by nature superior to other animals, differing from them not only in an erect posture, which gave them opportunity to behold the beauties of the heavens as well as of the earth; but also in their hands and fingers, fitted for executing whatever they could invent. They therefore began to cover their habitations with the boughs of trees: some dug caves in the mountains; and, in imitation of a swallow’s nest, some sheltered themselves with sprigs and loam. Thus, by observing each other’s work, and turning their thoughts to invention, they by degrees improved their habitations, and became daily more and more skilful.” Diodorus Siculus (lib. 1.) says, that men originally led a savage life, without any society; that fear made them join for mutual defence against beasts of prey; that custom by degrees made them social; and that each society formed a language to itself. [[“Diodorus Siculus . . . language to itself”: added in 2nd edition. Has not the celebrated Rousseau been guilty of the same oversight in his essay on the inequality of men? These authors suggest to me the butcher, who made diligent search for his knife, which he held in his teeth.]]
[* ]The care of Providence in protecting the human race from animals of prey, is equally visible in other particulars. I can discover no facts to make me believe, that a lion or a tiger is afraid of a man; but whatever secret means are employed by Providence to keep such fierce and voracious animals at a distance, certain it is, that they shun the habitations of men. At present there is not a wild lion in Europe. Even in Homer’s time there were none in Peloponnesus, though they were frequent in Thrace, Macedon, and Thessaly, down to the time of Aristotle: whence it is probable, that these countries were not at that time well peopled. And the same probability holds with respect to several mountainous parts in China, which even at present are infested with tigers. When men and cattle are together, a lion always attacks a beast, and never a man. If we can rely on Bosman, a tiger in Guinea will not touch a man if there be a four-footed beast in sight. M. Buffon observes, that the bear, though far from being cowardly, never is at ease but in wild and desart places. The great condor of Peru, a bird of prey of an immense size, bold and rapacious, is never seen but in desarts and high mountains. Every river in the coast of Guinea abounds with crocodiles, which lie basking in the sun during the heat of the day. If they perceive a man approaching, they plunge into the river, though they seldom fly from any other animal. A fox, on the contrary, a pole-cat, a kite, though afraid of man, draw near to inhabited places where they find prey in plenty. Such animals do little mischief; and the little they do, promotes care and vigilance. But if men, like sheep, were the natural prey of a lion or a tiger, their utmost vigour and sagacity would scarce be sufficient for self-defence. Perpetual war would be their fate, without having a single moment for any other occupation; and they must for ever have continued in a brutish state. It is possible that a few cattle might be protected by armed men, continually on the watch; but to defend flocks and herds covering a hundred hills, would be impracticable. Agriculture could never have existed in any shape.
[* ]M. Buffon has bestowed less pains than becomes an author of his character, upon the nature and instincts of animals. He scarce once stumbles upon truth in his natural history of the sheep. He holds it to be stupid, and incapable to defend itself against any beast of prey; maintaining, that the race could not have subsisted but under the care and protection of men. Has that author forgot, that sheep had no enemy more formidable than men in their original hunter-state? Far from being neglected by nature, there are few animals better provided for defence. They have a sort of military instinct, forming a line of battle, like soldiers, when threatened with an attack. The rams, who, in a natural state, make half of the stock, join together; and no lion or tiger is able to resist their united impetuosity. A ram, educated by a soldier, accompanied his master to the battle of Culloden. When a cannon was fired, it rejoiced and run up to it. It actually began the battle, advancing before the troops, and attacking some dogs of the highland army. [[“A ram . . . highland army”: added in 2nd edition.]]
[1. ]“Two of . . . long time”: added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]See the works of the beaver described most accurately by M. Buffon, vol. 8.
[(b) ]History of animals, b. 9. c. 40.
[* ]However fierce with respect to other animals, yet so submissive are these dogs to men, as to suffer their prey to be taken from them without resistance. Europeans salt for their slaves what they thus procure.
[2. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[* ]Pigeons must be excepted, if their society be not necessary either for food or habitation, of which I am uncertain. Society among that species is extremely intimate; and it is observable, that the place they inhabit contributes to the intimacy. A crazy dove-cot moved the proprietor to transfer the inhabitants to a new house built for them; and to accustom them to it, they were kept a fortnight within doors, with plenty of food. When they obtained liberty, they flew directly to their old house; and seeing it laid flat, walked round and round, lamenting. They then took wing and disappeared, without once casting an eye on their new habitation. Some brute animals are susceptible of affection even to those of a different species. Of the affection a dog has for his master, no person is ignorant. A canary bird, so tame as to be let out of its cage, perched frequently on another cage in the same room inhabited by a linnet; and the birds became good friends. The linnet died: the canary bird was inconsolable, and forbore singing above a year. It recovered its spirits, and now chants as much as ever. [[“Some brute animals . . . much as ever”: added in 2nd edition.]]
[† ]Columella, treating of goats, observes that it is better to purchase an entire flock, than goats out of different flocks, that they may not divide into different parties, but feed cordially together. [[Note added in 2nd edition.]]
[3. ]“Bell of Antimony . . . they all fly”: added in 2nd edition.
[4. ]“Martin, in his . . . flock take wing”: added in 3rd edition.
[5. ]“Herons have the . . . provide for themselves”: added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Memoirs of Count Forbin.
[6. ]“Every species of animals . . . of the cage”: added in 2nd edition.
[* ]The never ceasing factions in Britain proceed, not from a society too much extended, but from love of power or of wealth, to restrain which there is no sufficient authority in a free government.
[(a) ]Elements of Criticism, Vol. i. p. 441. edit. 5.
[* ]In this respect, the human race differs widely from that of dogs: a puppy, the first time it sees a man, runs to him, licks his hand, and plays about his feet.
[7. ]The 1st edition adds: “Upon the whole, it appears, that the nature of man with respect to those of his own kind is resolvable into the following particulars. First, Affection for our private connections, and for our country in general. Second, Aversion to neighbours who are strangers to us, and to neighbouring tribes in general. Third, Indifference with respect to others” [1:368].
[8. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Lib. 6. c. 23. de bello Gallico.
[* ]“They hold it not infamous to rob without the bounds of their canton.”
[9. ]“The different tribes . . . plot for liberty”: added in 2nd edition.
[(b) ]Lib. 6. c. 15. de bello Gallico.
[* ]“Because they pour melted butter upon their roast veal.”
[† ]Voltaire, (Universal History, ch. 40.) observing, rightly, that jealousy among petty princes is productive of more crimes than among great monarchs, gives a very unsatisfactory reason, “That having little force, they must employ fraud, poison, and other secret crimes”; not adverting, that power may be equally distributed among small princes as well as among great. It is antipathy that instigates such crimes, which is always the most violent among the nearest neighbours.
[(a) ]Preliminary Discourse.
[* ]“Denique caetera animantia in suo genere probe degunt: congregari videmus et stare contra dissimilia: leonum feritas inter se non dimicat: serpentum morsus non petit serpentes; ne maris quidem belluae ac pisces, nisi in diversa genera, saeviunt. At, Hercule, homini plurima ex homine sunt mala”; Pliny, lib. 7. Prooemium. [In English thus: “For other animals live at peace with those of their species. They gather themselves in troops, and unite against the common enemy. The ferocious lion fights not against his species: the poisonous serpent is harmless to his kind: the monsters of the sea prey but on those fishes that differ from them in nature: man alone of animals is foe to man!”]
[(a) ]Lib. 6. c. 23. de bello Gallico.
[* ]“They hold it sacrilege to injure a stranger. They protect from outrage, and venerate those who come among them: their houses are open to them, and they are welcome to their tables.”
[(b) ]Nicolaus Damascenus.
[10. ]“The Circassians, described . . . he is secure”: added in 2nd edition.
[(c) ]Saxo Grammaticus. Crantz.
[11. ]“On the one . . . being happy in it”: added in 2nd edition. In 1st edition: “In examining the conduct of men, he is to us a disgustful object in his aversion to those of a different tribe; and I violently suspect, that in his behaviour even to those of his own tribe, he will scarce be found an agreeable object. That he is fitted by nature for being an useful member of society, and for being happy in it, appears from facts many and various” [1:375].
[* ]Appetite for praise is inherent even in savages: witness those of North America, who upon that account are fond of dress. I mean the men; for the women are such miserable slaves as to have no spirit for ornament.
[12. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[(a) ]Essay of the populousness of ancient nations, by David Hume, Esq.
[(a) ]See Knox’s Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, p. 13.
[13. ]The “late war” in question was the Seven Years’ War between Frederick the Great of Prussia and a coalition of other European powers, including Maria Theresa’s Austria and Hungary. The Battle of Rossbach took place on November 5, 1757; it was one of Frederick’s most decisive victories.
[(b) ]Elements of Criticism, vol. 1. p. 143. edit. 5.
[14. ]In the 1st and 2nd editions the next paragraph begins: “I begin with observing, that tho’ in our present condition we suffer much from selfish and dissocial passions, yet custom renders our distress familiar, and hardens us not only to bear but to brave them” [1:381].
[15. ]In the 1st and 2nd editions the paragraph continues: “The French, among whom society has obtained a more refined polish than in any other nation, have become so soft and delicate as to lose all fortitude in distress. They cannot bear even a representation of severe affliction in a tragedy: an English audience would fall asleep at the slight distresses that make a deep impression in the French theatre” [1:382]. In the 1st and 2nd editions the next paragraph begins: “But now supposing, that a scrupulous adherence to the rules of morality would be a real improvement in society; yet to me it appears evident, that men as individuals would suffer more by that improvement, than they would gain as members of society” [1:382].
[16. ]“The great Father himself has willed that the path of husbandry should not run smooth, who first made art awake the fields, sharpening men’s wits by care, nor letting his kingdom slumber in heavy lethargy”: Georgics, bk. I, ll. 121–24. Quotation added in 2nd edition.
[17. ]“It is true . . . the French theatre”: added in 3rd edition.
[(a) ]Elements of Criticism, vol. 1. p. 320. edit. 5.
[* ]Beside Paraguai tea, for which there is great demand in Peru, cotton, tobacco, and sugar-canes, were cultivated in Paraguai, and the product was stored up in magazines. No Indian durst keep in his house so much as an ounce of any of these commodities, under pain of receiving twelve lashes in honour of the twelve apostles, beside fasting three days in the house of correction. The fathers seldom inflicted a capital punishment, because it deprived them of a profitable slave.
[18. ]“Yet this Jesuit . . . triumph of humanity”: added in 3rd edition.
[* ]The blessings of ease and inaction are most poetically displayed in the following description: “O felix Lapo, qui in ultimo angulo mundi sic bene lates, contentus et innocens. Tu nec times annonae charitatem, nec Martis praelia, quae ad tuas oras pervenire nequeunt, sed florentissimas Europae provincias et urbes, unico momento, saepe dejiciunt et delunt. Tu dormis hic sub tua pelle, ab omnibus curis, contentionibus, rixis, liber, ignorans, quid fit invidia. Tu nulla nosti discrimina, nisi tonantis Jovis fulmina. Tu ducis innocentissimos tuos annos ultra centenarium numerum, cum facili senectute, et summa sanitate. Te latent myriades morborum nobis Europaeis communes. Tu vivis in sylvis, avis instar, nec sementem facis, nec metis; tamen alit te Deus optimus optime.” Linnaeus, Flora Lapponica.—(In English thus: “O happy Laplander, who, on the utmost verge of habitable earth, thus livest obscure, in rest, content, and innocence. Thou fearest not the scanty crop, nor ravages of war; and those calamities which waste whole provinces and towns, can never attain thy peaceful shores. Wrapt in thy covering of fur, thou canst securely sleep; a stranger to each tumultuous care; unenvying and unenvied. Thou fearest no danger, but from the thunder of heaven. Thy harmless days slide on in innocence, beyond the period of a century. Thy health is firm, and thy declining age is tranquil. Millions of diseases, which ravage the rest of the world, have never reached thy happy climate. Thou livest as the birds of the wood; thou carest not to sow nor reap, for bounteous Providence has supplied thee in all thy wants.”)—So eloquent a panegyrist upon the Lapland life would make a capital figure upon an oyster. No creature is freer from want, no creature freer from war, and probably no creature is freer from fear; which, alas! is not the case of the Laplander.
[19. ]Paragraph added in 2nd edition.
[20. ]It was not uncommon for Mandeville’s name to be misspelled in this way, especially by his opponents.
[21. ]Paragraph added in 3rd edition.
[* ]L’homme qui ne peut que par le nombre, qui n’est fort que par sa réunion, qui n’est heureux que par la paix, a la fureur de s’armer pour son malheur et de combattre pour sa ruine. Excité par l’insatiable avidité, aveuglé par l’ambition encore plus insatiable, il renonce aux sentiments d’humanité, cherche à s’entredétruire, se détruit en effet; et après ces jours de sang et de carnage, lorsque la fumée de la gloire s’est dissipée, il voit d’un oeil triste la terre dévastée, les arts ensevelies, les nations dispersées, les peuples affoiblis, son propre bonheur ruiné, et sa puissance réelle anéantie. “Grand Dieu! dont la seule présence soutient la nature et maintient l’harmonie des loix de l’univers; Vous, qui du trône immobile de l’empirée, voyez rouler sous vos pieds toutes les sphéres célestes sans choc et sans confusion; qui du sein du repos, reproduisez à chacque instant leurs mouvemens immenses, et seul régissez dans une paix profonde ce nombre infini de cieux et de mondes; rendez, rendez enfin le calme à la terre agitée! Qu’elle soit dans le silence! Qu’ à votre voix la discorde et la guerre cessent de faire retenter leurs clameurs orgueilleuses! Dieu de bonté auteur de tous les êtres, vos regards paternels embrassent tous les objets de la création: mais l’homme est votre être de choix; vous avez éclairé son ame d’une rayon de votre lumière immortelle; comblez vos bienfaits en pénétrant son coeur d’un trait de votre amour: ce sentiment divin se répandant par-tout, réunira les natures ennemies; l’homme ne craindra plus l’aspect de l’homme; le fer homicide n’armera plus sa main; le feu dévorant de la guerre ne sera plus tarir la source des générations; l’espèce humaine maintenant affoiblie, mutilée, moissonnée dans sa fleur, germera de nouveau et se multipliera sans nombre; la nature accablée sous le poids de fléaux, stérile, abandonnée, reprendra bientôt avec une nouvelle vie son ancienne fécondité; et nous, Dieu Bienfaiteur, nous la seconderons, nous la cultiverons, nous l’observerons sans cesse pour vous offrir à chaque instant un nouveau tribut de reconnoissance et d’admiration”; Buffon Histoire Naturelle, vol. 9. 8vo edit.