Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART II.: THE INDUCTIONS OF ETHICS - The Principles of Ethics, vol. 1
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PART II.: THE INDUCTIONS OF ETHICS - Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Ethics, vol. 1 
The Principles of Ethics, introduction by Tibor R. Machan (Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1978). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Principles of Ethics, 2 vols.
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THE INDUCTIONS OF ETHICS
The Confusion of Ethical Thought
111. If, in common with other things, human feelings and ideas conform to the general law of evolution, the implication is that the set of conceptions constituting ethics, together with the associated sentiments, arise out of a relatively incoherent and indefinite consciousness; and slowly acquire coherence and definiteness at the same time that the aggregate of them differentiates from the larger aggregate with which it is originally mingled. Long remaining undistinguished, and then but vaguely discernible as something independent, ethics must be expected to acquire a distinct embodiment only when mental evolution has reached a high stage.
Hence the present confusion of ethical thought. Total at the outset, it has necessarily continued great during social progress at large, and, though diminished, must be supposed to be still great in our present semicivilized state. Notions of right and wrong, variously derived and changing with every change in social arrangements and activities, form an assemblage which we may conclude is even now in large measure chaotic.
Let us contemplate some of the chief factors of the ethical consciousness, and observe the sets of conflicting beliefs and opinions severally resulting from them.
112. Originally, ethics has no existence apart from religion, which holds it in solution. Religion itself, in its earliest form, is undistinguished from ancestor worship. And the propitiations of ancestral ghosts, made for the purpose of avoiding the evils they may inflict and gaining the benefits they may confer, are prompted by prudential considerations like those which guide the ordinary actions of life.
“Come and partake of this! Give us maintenance as you did when living!” calls out the innocent Wood-Veddah to the spirit of his relative, when leaving an offering for him; and then, at another time, he expects this spirit to give him success in the chase. A Zulu dreams that his brother’s ghost, scolding him and beating him for not sacrificing, says, “I wish for meat”; and then to the reply “No, my brother, I have no bullock; do you see any in the cattle pen?” the rejoinder is, “Though there be but one, I demand it.” The Australian medicine man, eulogizing the dead hunter and listening to replies from the corpse, announces that should he be sufficiently avenged he has promised that “his spirit would not haunt the tribe, nor cause them fear, nor mislead them into wrong tracks, nor bring sickness amongst them, nor make loud noises in the night.” Thus is it generally. Savages ascribe their good or ill fortunes to the doubles of the dead whom they have pleased or angered; and, while offering to them food and drink and clothing, promise conformity to their wishes and beg for their help.1
When from the first stage, in which only the ghosts of fathers and other relatives are propitiated by the members of each family, we pass to the second stage, in which, along with the rise of an established chieftainship, there arises a special fear of the chief’s ghost, there results propitiation of this also–offerings, eulogies, prayers, promises. If, as warrior or ruler, a powerful man has excited admiration and dread, the anxiety to be on good terms with his still more powerful double is great, and prompts observance of his commands and interdicts. Of course, after many conquests have made him a king, the expressions of subordination to his deified spirit, regarded as omnipotent and terrible, are more pronounced, and submission to his will becomes imperative: the concomitant idea being that right and wrong consist simply in obedience and disobedience to him.
All religions exemplify these relations of phenomena. Concerning the Tongans, Mariner says that “Several acts acknowledged by all civilized nations as crimes, are under many circumstances considered by them as matters of indifference,” unless they involve disrespect to “the gods, nobles, and aged persons.” In his description of certain peoples of the Gold Coast, Major Ellis shows that with them the idea of sin is limited to insults offered to the gods, and to the neglect of the gods.
The most atrocious crimes, committed as between man and man, the gods can view with equanimity These are man’s concerns, and must be rectified or punished by man. But, like the gods of people much farther advanced in civilization, there is nothing that offends them so deeply as to ignore them, or question their power, or laugh at them.
When from these cases, in which the required subordination is shown exclusively in observances expressive of reverence, we pass to cases in which there are commands of the kind called ethical, we find that the propriety of not offending God is the primary reason for fulfilling them. Describing the admonitions given by parents to children among the ancient Mexicans, Zurita instances these:
Do not poison any one, since you would sin against God in his creature; your crime would be discovered and punished, and . . . you would suffer the same death. [P 138] Do not injure any one, shun adultery and luxury; that is a mean vice which causes the ruin of him who yields to it, and which offends God. [P 139] Be modest; humility procures us the favor of God and of the powerful.
Much more pronounced, however, among the Hebrews was the belief that right and wrong are made such simply by the will of God. As Schenkel remarks, “Inasmuch as man owes obedience to God’s laws, sin is regarded as rebellion (Isaiah i. 2, lix. 13; Hosea vii. 13; Amos iv 4).” Conformity to divine injunctions is insisted upon solely because they are divine injunctions, as is shown in Leviticus xviii. 4, 5: “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments.” Such was the view which the Hebrews themselves avowedly entertained. This is proved by their later writings. Bruch remarks that according to the author of the Book of Wisdom, “virtue is obedience to the will of God, and where this is expressed in the Law fulfillment of it is required (vi. 5, 19).” And in like manner, Fritzsche says–In Ecclesiasticus “the command of God appears as the proper motive of morality”
How little good and bad conduct were associated in thought with the intrinsic natures of right and wrong, and how completely they were associated in thought with obedience and disobedience to Jahveh, we see in the facts that prosperity and increase of population were promised as rewards of allegiance; while there was punishment for such nonethical disobediences as omitting circumcision or numbering the people.
That conformity to injunctions, as well as making sacrifices and singing praises, had in view benefits to be received in return for subordination, other ancient peoples show us. Here are illustrative passages from the Rig-Veda.
A like expected exchange of obligations was shown among the Egyptians when Rameses, invoking The unsacrificing Sanakas perished. Contending with the sacrificers the non-sacrificers fled, O Indra, with averted faces.
[i. 33, 4–5]
Men fight the fiend, trying to overcome by their deeds him who performs no sacrifices.
[vi. 14, 3]
May all other people around us vanish into nothing, but our own offspring remain blessed in this world.
[x. 81, 7]
We who are wishing for horses, for booty, for women . . . Indra, the strong one who gives us women.
[iv 17, 16]
Ammon for aid, reminded him of the hecatombs of bulls he had sacrificed to him. And, similarly, it was shown among the early Greeks when Chrises, praying for vengeance, emphasized the claim he had established on Apollo by decorating his temple. Evidently the good and evil which come from enjoined and forbidden actions, are considered as directly caused by God, and not as indirectly due to the constitution of things.
That like conceptions prevailed throughout medieval Europe everyone knows. With the appeals to saints for aid in battle, with the vows to build chapels to the Virgin by way of compounding for crimes, and with the crusading expeditions and pilgrimages undertaken as means to salvation, there went the idea that divine injunctions are to be obeyed simply because they are divine injunctions; and the accompanying idea was that good and evil are consequences of God’s will and not consequences naturally caused. The current idea was well shown in the forms of manumission–"For fear of Almighty God, and for the cure of my soul, I liberate thee” &c. or “For lessening my sins” &c. Even now a kindred conception survives in most men. Not only is it still the popular belief that right and wrong become such by divine fiat, but it is the belief of many theologians and moralists. The speeches of bishops concerning the Deceased Wife’s Sisters Bill, sufficiently indicate the attitude of the one; and various books, among others that of the Quaker moralist Jonathan Dymond, show the other. Though there has long been growing a vague recognition of natural sanctions which some actions have and others have not, yet there continues a general belief that moral obligation is supernaturally derived.
113. Various mythologies of ancient peoples, in common with those of some existing savages, describe the battles of the gods: now with one another and now with alien foes. If the deities of the Scandinavians, the Mongolians, the Indians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, are not all of them successful warriors, yet the supremacy of the gods over other beings, or of one over the rest, is habitually represented as established by conquest. Even the Hebrew deity, characterized as a “man of war,” is constantly spoken of as a subduer of enemies, if not personally yet by proxy.
The apotheosized chiefs who become the personages of mythologies (frequently invaders, like the Egyptian gods who came into Egypt from the land of Punt) usually leave behind them wars in progress or unsettled feuds; and fulfillment of their commands, or known wishes, by overcoming enemies, then becomes a duty. Even where there are no bequeathed antagonisms with peoples around, example and precept given by the warrior-king unite in giving divine sanction to the ethics of enmity.
Hence such a fact as that told of the Fijian chief, who was in a state of mental agony because he had displeased his god by not killing enough of the enemy. Hence such representations as are made by Assyrian kings: Shalmaneser II asserting that Asshur “had strongly urged me to conquer and subjugate”; Tiglath Pileser naming Asshur and the great gods as having “ordered an enlarged frontier to” his dominions; Sennacherib describing himself as the instrument of Asshur, and aided by him in battle; Assurbanipal, as fighting in the service of the gods who, he says, are his leaders in war. Of like meaning is the account which the Egyptian king, Rameses II, gives of his transcendent achievements in the field while inspired by the ghost of his deified father. Nor is it otherwise with the carrying on of wars among the Hebrews in pursuance of divine behests; as when it is said–"Whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess” (Judges xi. 24). And among other peoples, in later times, we see the same connection of ideas in the name assumed by Attila–"the scourge of God.”
Sanctions for deeds entailed by the conflicts between societies, when not thus arising, inevitably arise from social necessities. Congruity must be established between the conduct found needful for self-preservation and the conduct held to be right. When, throughout a whole community, daily acts are at variance with feelings, these feelings, continually repressed, diminish, and antagonist feelings, continually encouraged, grow; until the average sentiments are adjusted to the average requirements. Whatever injures foes is then thought not only justifiable but praiseworthy, and a part of duty. Success in killing brings admiration above every other achievement; burning of habitations and laying waste of territory become things to be boasted of; while in trophies, going even to the extent of a pyramid of heads of the slain, the conqueror and his followers show that pride which implies the consciousness of great deeds.
These conceptions and feelings, conspicuous in ancient epics and histories, have continued conspicuous during the course of social evolution, and are conspicuous still. If, instead of asking for men’s nominal code of right and wrong, we seek for their real code, we find that in most minds the virtues of the warrior take the first place. Concerning an officer killed in a nefarious war, you may hear the remark–"He died the death of a gentleman.” And among civilians, as among soldiers, there is tacit approval of the political brigandage going on in various quarters of the globe; while there are no protests against the massacres euphemistically called “punishments.”
114. But though for the defense against, and conquest of, societies, one by another, injurious actions of all kinds have been needful, and have acquired in men’s minds that sanction implied by calling them right, such injurious actions have not been needful within each society; but, contrariwise, actions of an opposite kind have been needful. violent as may frequently be the conduct of tribesmen to one another, combined action of them against other tribes must be impossible in the absence of some mutual trust, consequent on experience of friendliness and fairness. And since a behavior which favors harmonious cooperation within the tribe conduces to its prosperity and growth, and therefore to the conquest of other tribes, survival of the fittest among tribes causes the establishment of such behavior as a general trait.
The authority of ruling men gives the ethics of amity collateral support. Dissension being recognized by chiefs as a source of tribal weakness, acts leading to it are reprobated by them; and where the injunctions of deified chiefs are remembered after their deaths, there results a supernatural sanction for actions conducive to harmony, and a supernatural condemnation for actions at variance with it. Hence the origin of what we distinguish as moral codes. Hence the fact that in numerous societies, formed by various races of men, such moral codes agree in forbidding actions which are antisocial in conspicuous degrees.
We find evidence that moral codes thus arising are transmitted from generation to generation, now informally and now formally Thus “the Karens ascribe all their laws, and instructions, to the elders of preceding generations.” According to Schoolcraft, the Dakotas “repeat traditions to the family with maxims, and tell their children they must live up to them.” And then Morgan tells us that among the Iroquois, when mourning for their sachems, “a prominent part of the ceremonial consisted in the repetition of their ancient laws and usages.” Whence it is manifest that, sachems being the ruling men, this repetition of their injunctions during their obsequies, amounted to a tacit expression of obedience, and the injunctions became an ethical creed having a quasi-supernatural sanction.
The gravest transgressions, first recognized as such, as their flagitiousness taken for granted, are, in the absence of a systematized code of conduct, not conspicuously denounced by early teachers; any more than by our own priests, the wrongfulness of murder and robbery is much insisted on. Interdicts referring to the less marked deviations from ordinary conduct, and injunctions to behave worthily, are most common. The works of the ancient Indians furnish illustrations; at the same time showing how reaction against extreme egoism leads to enunciation of extreme altruism. Thus, in the later part of that heterogeneous compound, the Mahabharata, we read:
And again in Bharavi’s Kiratarjuniya it is said:
So too a passage in the Cural runs:
In the Chinese books we have, besides the injunctions of the Taoists, the moral maxims of Confucius, exemplifying his development of the ethics of amity. Enumerating the five cardinal virtues Confucius says:
First among these stands humanity, that is to say, that universal sympathy which should exist between man and man without distinction of class or race. Justice, which gives to each member of the community his due, without favor or affection.
And then in another place he expresses, in a different form, the Christian maxim:
Do not let a man practice to those beneath him, that which he dislikes in those above him; to those before him, what he dislikes in those behind him; to those on the right hand, that which he dislikes on the left.
Social life in ancient Egypt has produced clear recognition of the essential principles of harmonious cooperation. M. Chabas, as quoted by Renouf and verified by him, says:
None of the Christian virtues is forgotten in it; piety, charity, gentleness, self-command in word and action, chastity, the protection of the weak, benevolence towards the humble, deference to superiors, respect for property in its minutest details, . . . all is expressed there, and in extremely good language.
And then, according to Kuenen, who gives evidence of the correspondence, we have the same principles adopted by the Hebrews, and formulated by Moses into the familiar decalogue; the essentials of which, summed up in the Christian maxim, serve along with that maxim as standards of conduct down to our own day
The broad fact which here chiefly concerns us is that, in one or other way, communities have habitually established for themselves, now tacitly and now avowedly here in rudimentary forms and there in elaborated forms, sets of commands and restraints conducive to internal amity. And the genesis of such codes, and partial conformity to them, have been necessary; since, if not in any degree recognized and observed, there must result social dissolution.
115. As the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity, thus arising in each society in response to external and internal conditions respectively, have to be simultaneously entertained, there is formed an assemblage of utterly inconsistent sentiments and ideas. Its components can by no possibility be harmonized, and yet they have to be all accepted and acted upon. Every day exemplifies the resulting contradictions, and also exemplifies men’s contentment under them.
When, after prayers asking for divine guidance, nearly all the bishops approve an unwarranted invasion, like that of Afghanistan, the incident passes without any expression of surprise; while, conversely, when the Bishop of Durham takes the chair at a peace meeting, his act is commented upon as remarkable. When, at a Diocesan Conference, a peer (Lord Cranbook), opposing international arbitration, says he is “not quite sure that a state of peace might not be a more dangerous thing for a nation than war,” the assembled priests of the religion of love make no protest; nor does any general reprobation, clerical or lay, arise when a ruler in the Church, Dr. Moorhouse, advocating a physical and moral discipline fitting the English for war, expresses the wish “to make them so that they would, in fact, like the fox when fastened by the dogs, die biting,” and says that “these were moral qualities to be encouraged and increased among our people, and he believed that nothing could suffice for this but the grace of God operating in their hearts.” How completely in harmony with the popular feeling in a land covered with Christian churches and chapels, is this exhortation of the Bishop of Manchester, we see in such facts as that people eagerly read accounts of football matches in which there is an average of a death per week; that they rush in crowds to buy newspapers which give detailed reports of a brutal prizefight, but which pass over in a few lines the proceedings of a peace congress; and that they are lavish patrons of illustrated papers, half the woodcuts in which have for their subjects the destruction of life or the agencies for its destruction.
Still more conspicuous do we find the incongruity between the nominally accepted ethics of amity and the actually accepted ethics of enmity when we pass to the Continent. In France, as elsewhere, the multitudinous appointed agents for diffusing the injunction to do good to enemies, are practically dumb in respect of this injunction; and, instead of seeking to make their people put up the sword, are themselves, under the direction of these people they have been teaching, obliged, during their student days, to serve in the army Not to achieve any humane end or to enhance the happiness of mankind, either at home or abroad, do the French submit to the crushing weight of their military budget; but to wrest back territories taken from them in punishment for their aggressiveness. And, as we have lately seen, a wave of enthusiasm very nearly raised to supreme power a soldier who was expected to lead them to a war of revenge.
So is it, too, in Protestant Germany–the land of Luther and the favorite home of Christian theology. Significant of the national feeling was that general order to his soldiers issued by the Emperor on ascending the throne, in which, saying that “God’s decree places me at the head of the army” and otherwise expressing his submission to “God’s will,” he ends by swearing “ever to remember that the eyes of my ancestors look down upon me from the other world, and that I shall one day have to render account to them of the glory and honor of the Army.” To which add that, in harmony with this oath, pagan alike in sentiment and idea, we have his more recent laudation of dueling clubs: a laudation soon afterwards followed by personal performance of divine service on board his yacht.
How absolute throughout Europe is the contradiction between the codes of conduct adjusted respectively to the needs of internal amity and external enmity, we see in the broad fact that along with several hundred thousand priests who are supposed to preach forgiveness of injuries, there exist immensely larger armies than any on record!
116. But side by side with the ethical conceptions above described, originating in one or other way and having one or other sanction, there has been slowly evolving a different conception–a conception derived wholly from recognition of naturally produced consequences. This gradual rise of a utilitarian ethics has, indeed, been inevitable; since the reasons which led to commands and interdicts by a ruler, living or apotheosized, have habitually been reasons of expediency more or less visible to all. Though, when once established, such commands and interdicts have been conformed to mainly because obedience to the authority imposing them was a duty, yet there has been very generally some accompanying perception of their fitness.
Even among the uncivilized, or but slightly civilized, we find a nascent utilitarianism. The Malagasy, for example, have
laws against Adultery, Theft and Murder; . . . there is also a Fine inflicted on a Man, who shall curse another Man’s Parents. They never swear profanely, but these things they do, because, said they, “it is convenient and proper; and we could not live by one another, if there were not such laws.”
In the later Hebrew writings the beginnings of a utilitarian ethics are visible; for though, as Bruch remarks of the author of Ecclesiasticus, “all his ethical rules and precepts in a truly Hebrew way run together in the notion of the fear of God,” yet many of his maxims do not originate from divine injunctions. When he advises not to become too dependent, to value a good name, to be cautious in talk, and to be judicious in eating and drinking, he manifestly derives guidance from the results of experience. A fully differentiated system of expediency morals had been reached by some of the Egyptians. Mr. Poole writes:
Ptah-hotep is wearied with religious services already outwom, and instead of the endless prescriptions of the current religion, he attempts a simple doctrine of morals, founded on the observation of a long life. . . . His proverbs enforce the advantage of virtuous life in the present. The future has no place in the scheme. . . . This moral philosophy of the sages is far above that of the Book of the Dead, inasmuch as it throws aside all that is trivial and teaches alone the necessary duties. But it rests on a basis of . . . expediency The love of God, and the love of man, are unnoticed as the causes of virtue.
Similarly was it with the later Greeks. In the Platonic Dialogues, and in the Ethics of Aristotle, we see morality in large measure separated from theology and placed upon a utilitarian basis.
Coming down to modern days, the divergence of expediency ethics from theological ethics, is well illustrated in Paley, who, in his official character, derived right and wrong from divine commands, and in his unofficial character derived them from observation of consequences. Since his day the last of these views has spread at the expense of the first, and by Bentham and Mill we have utility established as the sole standard of conduct. How completely in this last, conduciveness to human welfare had become the supreme sanction, replacing alleged divine commands, we see in his refusal to call “good” a supreme being whose acts are not sanctioned by “the highest human morality”; and by his statement that “if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”
117. Yet a further origin of moral dictates is to be recognized as having arisen simultaneously. Habits of conformity to rules of conduct have generated sentiments adjusted to such rules. The discipline of social life has produced in men conceptions and emotions which, irrespective of supposed divine commands, and irrespective of observed consequences, issue in certain degrees of liking for conduct favoring social welfare and aversion to conduct at variance with it. Manifestly such a molding of human nature has been furthered by survival of the fittest; since groups of men having feelings least adapted to social requirements must, other things equal, have tended to disappear before groups of men having feelings most adapted to them.
The effects of moral sentiments thus arising are shown among races partially civilized. Cook says: The Otaheitans “have a knowledge of right and wrong from the mere dictates of natural conscience; and involuntarily condemn themselves when they do that to others, which they would condemn others for doing to them.” So, too, that moral sentiments were influential during early stages of some civilized races, proof is yielded by ancient Indian books. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi complains of the hard lot of her righteous husband, and charges the Deity with injustice; but is answered by Yudhishthira:
Thou utterest infidel sentiments. I do not act from a desire to gain the recompense of my works. I give what I ought to give . . . Whether reward accrues to me or not, I do to the best of my power what a man should do. . . . It is on duty alone that my thoughts are fixed, and this, too, naturally. The man who seeks to make of righteousness a gainful merchandise, is low. The man who seeks to milk righteousness does not obtain its reward. . . . Do not doubt about righteousness: he who does so is on the way to be born a brute.
And similarly, in another of these ancient books, the Ramayana, we read:
Virtue is a service man owes himself, and though there were no Heaven, nor any God to rule the world, it were not less the binding law of life. It is man’s privilege to know the Right and follow it.
In like manner, according to Edkins, conscience is regarded among the Chinese as the supreme authority. He says:
When the evidence of a new religion is presented to them they at once refer it to a moral standard, and give their approval with the utmost readiness, if it passes the test. They do not ask whether it is Divine, but whether it is good.
And elsewhere he remarks that sin, according to the Confucian moral standard, “becomes an act which robs a man of his self-respect, and offends his sense of right,” and is not “regarded as a transgression of God’s law.”
Of modern writers who, asserting the existence of a moral sense, consider the intuitions it yields as guides to conduct, we may distinguish two classes. There are those who, taking a view like that of Confucius just indicated, hold that the dicta of conscience are authoritative, irrespective of alleged divine commands; and, indeed, furnish a test by which commands may be known as not divine if they do not withstand it. On the other hand there are those who regard the authority of conscience as second to that of commands which they accept as divine, and as having for its function to prompt obedience to such commands. But the two are at one insofar as they place the dicta of conscience above considerations of expediency; and also insofar as they tacitly regard conscience as having a supernatural origin. To which add that while alike in recognizing the moral sentiment as innate, and in accepting the ordinary dogma that human nature is everywhere the same, they are, by implication, alike in supposing that the moral sentiment is identical in all men.
But, as the beginning of this section shows, it is possible to agree with moralists of the intuitive school respecting the existence of a moral sense, while differing from them respecting its origin. I have contended in the foregoing division of this work, and elsewhere, that though there exist feelings of the kind alleged, they are not of supernatural origin but of natural origin; that, being generated by the discipline of the social activities, internal and external, they are not alike in all men, but differ more or less everywhere in proportion as the social activities differ; and that, in virtue of their mode of genesis, they have a coordinate authority with the inductions of utility.
118. Before going further it will be well to sum up these various detailed statements, changing somewhat the order and point of view.
Survival of the fittest insures that the faculties of every species of creature tend to adapt themselves to its mode of life. It must be so with man. From the earliest times groups of men whose feelings and conceptions were congruous with the conditions they lived under, must, other things equal, have spread and replaced those whose feelings and conceptions were incongruous with their conditions.
Recognizing a few exceptions, which special circumstances have made possible, it holds, both of rude tribes and of civilized societies, that they have had continually to carry on external self-defense and internal cooperation–external antagonism and internal friendship. Hence their members have required two different sets of sentiments and ideas, adjusted to these two kinds of activity.
In societies having indigenous religions, the resulting conflict of codes is not overt. As the commands to destroy external enemies and to desist from acts which produce internal dissensions, come either from the living ruler or from the apotheosized ruler; and as, in both cases, the obligation arises not from the natures of the prescribed acts, but from the necessity of obedience; the two, having the same sanction, are not perceived to stand in opposition. But where, as throughout Christendom, the indigenous religion in which the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity coexisted with like authorities, has been suppressed by an invading religion, which, insisting on the ethics of amity only, reprobates the ethics of enmity, incongruity has resulted. International antagonisms having continued, there has of necessity survived the appropriate ethics of emnity, which, not being included in the nominally accepted creed, has not had the religious sanction. Hence the fact that we have a thin layer of Christianity overlying a thick layer of paganism. The Christianity insists on duties which the paganism does not recognize as such; and the paganism insists on duties which the Christianity forbids. The new and superposed religion, with its system of ethics, has the nominal honor and the professed obedience; while the old and suppressed religion has its system of ethics nominally discredited but practically obeyed. Both are believed in, the last more strongly than the first; and men, now acting on the principles of the one and now on those of the other, according to circumstances, sit down under their contradictory beliefs as well as they may; or, rather, refrain from recognizing the contradictions.
Hence the first of these various confusions of ethical thought. Since, in the general mind, moral injunctions are identified with divine commands, those injunctions only are regarded as moral which harmonize with the nominally accepted religion, Christianity; while those injunctions which belong to the primitive and suppressed religion, authoritative as they may be considered, and eagerly as they are obeyed, are not regarded as moral. There have come to be two classes of duties and virtues, condemned and approved in similar ways, but one of which is associated with ethical conceptions and the other not: the result being that men cannot bring their real and nominal beliefs into harmony.
And then we have the further confusions which arise, not from the conflict of codes, but from the conflict of sanctions. Divine commands are not the authorities whence rules of conduct are derived, say the utilitarians, but their authorities are given by conduciveness to human welfare as ascertained by induction. And then, either with or without recognition of divine commands, we have writers of the moral-sense school making conscience the arbiter; and holding its dicta to be authoritative irrespective of calculated consequences. Obviously the essential difference between these two classes of moralists is that the one regards as of no value for guidance the feelings with which acts are regarded, while the other regards these feelings as of supreme value.
Such being the conflict of codes and conflict of sanctions, what must be our first step? We must look at the actual ideas and feelings concerning conduct which men entertain, apart from established nomenclatures and current professions. How needful is such an analysis we shall be further shown while making it; for it will become manifest that the confusion of ethical thought is even greater than we have already seen it to be.
What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?
119. A silent protest has been made by many readers, and probably by most, while reading that section of the foregoing chapter which describes the ethics of enmity. Governed by feelings and ideas which date from their earliest lessons, and have been constantly impressed on them at home and in church, they have formed an almost indissoluble association between a doctrine of right and wrong in general, and those particular commands and interdicts included in the decalogue, which, contemplating the actions of men to one another in the same society, takes no note of their combined actions against men of alien societies. The conception of ethics has, in this way, come to be limited to that which I have distinguished as the ethics of amity; and to speak of the ethics of enmity seems absurd.
Yet, beyond question, men associate ideas of right and wrong with the carrying on of intertribal and international conflicts; and this or that conduct in battle is applauded or condemned no less strongly than this or that conduct in ordinary social life. Are we then to say that there is one kind of right and wrong recognized by ethics and another kind of right and wrong not recognized by ethics? If so, under what title is this second kind of right and wrong to be dealt with? Evidently men’s ideas about conduct are in so unorganized a state, that while one large class of actions has an overtly recognized sanction, another large class of actions has a sanction, equally strong or stronger, which is not overtly recognized.
The existence of these distinct sanctions, of which one is classed as moral and the other not, is still more clearly seen when we contrast the maxims of Christianity with the dogmas of duellists. During centuries throughout Europe, and even still throughout the greater part of it, there has existed, and exists, an imperative “obligation,” under certain conditions, to challenge another to fight, and an imperative obligation to accept the challenge–an obligation much more imperative than the obligation to discharge a debt. To either combatant the word “must” is used with as much emphasis as it would be used were he enjoined to tell the truth. The “duty” of the insulted man is to defend his honor; and so wrong is his conduct considered if he does not do this, that he is shunned by his friends as a disgraced man, just as he would be had he committed a theft. Beyond question, then, we see here ideas of right and wrong quite as pronounced, with corresponding sentiments of approbation and reprobation quite as strong, as those which refer to fulfillments and breaches of what are classed as moral injunctions. How, then, can we include the last under ethical science and exclude the first from it?
The need for greatly widening the current conception of ethics is, however, still greater than is thus shown. There are other large classes of actions which excite ideas and feelings undistinguishable in their essential natures from those to which the term ethical is conventionally limited.
120. Among uncivilized and semicivilized peoples, the obligations imposed by custom are peremptory. The universal belief that such things ought to be done, is not usually made manifest by the visiting of punishment or reprobation on those who do not conform, because nonconformity is scarcely heard of. How intolerable to the general mind is breach of usages, is shown occasionally when a ruler is deposed and even killed for disregard of them: a sufficient proof that his act is held wrong. And we sometimes find distinct expressions of moral sentiment on behalf of customs having nothing which we should call moral authority, and even on behalf of customs which we should call profoundly immoral.
I may begin with an instance I have named elsewhere in another connection–the instance furnished by some Mahomedan tribes who consider that one of the worst offenses is smoking: “drinking the shameful,” as they term it. Palgrave narrates that while “giving divine honors to a creature,” is regarded by the Wahhabees as “the first of the great sins,” the second great sin is smoking–a sin in comparison with which murder, adultery, and false witness, are trivial sins. Similarly, by certain Russian sects close to Siberia, smoking is an offense distinguished from all others as being never forgiven: “every crime can be expiated by repentance except this one.” In these cases the repugnance felt for an act held by us to be quite harmless, is of the same nature as the repugnance felt for the blackest crimes: the only difference being that it is more intense.
Lichtenstein tells us that when Mulihawang, king of the Matelhapees (a division of the Bechuanas), was told that Europeans are not permitted to have more than one wife, “he said it was perfectly incomprehensible to him how a whole nation could submit voluntarily to such extraordinary laws.” Similar was the opinion of the Arab sheikh who, along with his people, received the account of monogamy in England with indignation, and said “the fact is simply impossible! How can a man be contented with one wife?” Nor is it only men who think thus. Livingstone says of the Makololo women on the shores of the Zambesi, that they were quite shocked to hear that in England a man had only one wife: to have only one was not “respectable.” So, too, in Equatorial Africa, according to Reade, “If a man marries, and his wife thinks that he can afford another spouse, she pesters him to marry again; and calls him a ‘stingy fellow’ if he declines to do so.” Similar is the feeling shown by the Araucanian women. “Far from being dissatisfied, or entertaining any jealousy toward the newcomer, she [one of two wives] said that she wished her husband would marry again; for she considered it a great relief to have some one to assist her in her household duties, and in the maintenance of her husband.” No notion of immorality, much less criminality, such as we associate with bigamy and polygamy, is here entertained; but, contrariwise, when a woman calls her husband a “stingy fellow” if he does not take a second wife, we have proof that monogamy is reprobated.
Ideas relevant to the relations of the sexes, still more profoundly at variance with our own, are displayed in many places. Books of travel have made readers familiar with the fact that among various races, a traveller entertained by a chief is offered a wife or a daughter as a temporary bedfellow; and the duty of hospitality is held to require this offer. In other cases the loan takes a somewhat different shape. Of the Chinooks we read:
Among all the tribes, a man will lend his wife or daughter for a fish-hook or a strand of beads. To decline an offer of this sort is, indeed, to disparage the charms of the lady, and therefore give such offense, that although we had occasionally to treat the Indians with rigor, nothing seemed to irritate both sexes more than our refusal to accept the favors of the females.
Still more pronounced is the feeling shown by the members of an Asiatic tribe which Erman visited: “The Chuckchi offer to travelers who chance to visit them, their wives, and also what we should call their daughters’ honor, and resent as a deadly affront any refusal of such offers.” Here we see that deeds which among ourselves would be classed among the profoundest disgraces, are not only regarded without shame, but declining to participate in them causes indignation: implying a sense of wrong.
As it concerns in another way the relations of the sexes, I may instance next a further contrast between the sentiments entertained by many partially civilized peoples, and those which have arisen along with the advance of civilization. Interdicts on marriages between persons of different ranks, breaches of which have in some cases brought the severest punishment, date back to very early times. Thus, in the Mahabharata we read that Draupadi refused the “ambitious Karna, saying, “I wed not with the baseborn.” And then, coming down to comparatively modern times, we have the penalties entailed on those who broke the laws against mésalliances; as in France during the feudal period, on nobles who married beneath them: they were excluded from tournaments, and their descendants also. But the condemnation thus manifested five centuries ago is not paralleled now. Though a certain amount of reprobation is in some cases shown, in other cases there is approbation; and witness Tennyson’s “Miller’s Daughter” and Mrs. Browning’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship.” Here the different feelings excited, though like in nature to those we call moral, are not concerned with either supposed divine commands or with acts usually classed as moral or immoral.
Returning to the uncivilized races, I may instance the conceptions associated with the division of labor between the sexes. Concerning various tribes of American Indians, North and South, we read that custom, limiting the actions of the men mainly to war and the chase, devolves on the women all the menial and laborious occupations; and these customs have an imperative sanction. Says Falkner concerning the Patagonians: “So rigidly are” the women “obliged to perform their duty, that their husbands cannot help them on any occasion, or in the greatest distress, without incurring the highest ignominy.” And these usages are fully approved of by the women themselves; as witness the following extract concerning the Dakotas:
It is the worst insult one virago can cast upon another in a moment of altercation. “Infamous woman!” will she cry, “I have seen your husband carrying wood into his lodge to make the fire. Where was his squaw, that he should be obliged to make a woman of himself?”
Clearly this indignation is the correlative of a strong moral feeling enlisted on behalf of the prescribed conduct. But if, among ourselves, any women were left, as among the Esquimaux, “to carry stones [for building houses], almost heavy enough to break their backs,” while “the men look on with the greatest insensibility not stirring a finger to assist them,” moral reprobation would be felt. As there are no specific injunctions, divine or human, referring to transactions of these kinds, the strongly contrasted emotions which they excite in ourselves and in these uncivilized peoples, must be ascribed to unlikenesses of customs–unlikenesses, however, which are themselves significant of innate emotional unlikenesses.
As further illustrating in a variety of ways these differences of feelings akin in nature to those we call moral, though not ordinarily classed as such, I may, without commenting upon each, here append a series of them.
The Caffers despise the Hottentots, Bushmen, Malays, and other people of color, on account of their not being circumcised. On this account, they regard them as boys, and will not allow them to sit in their company, or to eat with them.
A Mayorvna, who had been baptized, when at the point of death was very unhappy . . . because, dying as a Christian, instead of furnishing a meal to his relations, he would be eaten up by worms.
The Bambara washerwomen . . . were stark naked, yet they manifested no shame at being seen in this state by the men composing our caravan.
And a kindred statement is made concerning the Wakavirondo by Thomson, who describes their women as nevertheless altogether modest, and, remarking that “morality has nothing to do with clothes,” says of these people that “they are the most moral of all the tribes of this region, and they are simply angels of purity beside the decently dressed Masai.” “I found that the married men,” among the Hassanyeh Arabs, says Petherick,
felt themselves highly flattered by any attentions paid to their better halves during their free-and-easy days. [Their marriages are for three or four days in the week only.] They seem to take such attentions as evidence that their wives are attractive.
Among the Khonds, so far as constancy to a husband from being required in a wife, that her pretensions do not, in the least, suffer diminution in the eyes of either sex when fines are levied on her convicted lovers; while on the other hand, infidelity on the part of a married man is held to be highly dishonorable, and is often punished by deprivation of many social privileges.
I have reserved for the last, two remarkable cases in which feelings like those which we class as moral, are definitely expressed in ways to us very surprising. The first concerns the Tahitians, who were described by Cook as without shame in respect of actions which among ourselves especially excite it, and as feeling shame in respect of actions which among ourselves excite none. These people were extremely averse to our custom of eating in society. “They eat alone, they said, because it was right.” The other instance, equally anomalous, is even more startling. In Vate “it is considered a disgrace to the family of an aged chief if he is not buried alive.” A like usage and accompanying feeling existed in Fiji.
A son said, when about to bury his mother alive, that it was from love to his mother that he had done so; that, in consequence of the same love, they were now going to bury her, and that none but themselves could or ought to do so sacred an office! . . . she was their mother, and they were her children, and they ought to put her to death.
The belief being that people commence life in the next world at the stage they have reached when they leave this world; and that hence postponement of death till old age entails a subsequent miserable existence.
Thus we have abundant proof that with acts which do violence to our moral sentiments, there are associated, in the minds of other races, feelings and ideas not only warranting them but enforcing them. They are fulfilled with a sense of obligation; and nonfulfillment of them, regarded as breach of duty, brings condemnation and resulting self-reproach.
121. Everywhere during social progress custom passes into law. Practically speaking, custom is law in undeveloped societies. “The old Innuits did so, and therefore we must,” say the existing Innuits (Esquimaux); and other uncivilized peoples similarly express the constraint they are under. In subsequent stages, customs become the acknowledged bases of laws. It is true that afterwards the body of laws is made up in part of alleged divine commands–the themistes of the Greeks, for example; but in reality these, supposed to come from one who was originally an apotheosized ruler, usually enforce existing customs. Leviticus shows us a whole body of practices, many of them of kinds which would be now regarded as neither religious nor moral, thus acquiring authority. Whether inherited from the undistinguished forefathers of the tribes, or ascribed to the will of a deceased king, customs embody the rule of the dead over the living; as do also the laws into which they harden.
Of course, therefore, if ideas of duty and feelings of obligation cluster round customs, they cluster round the derived laws. The sentiment of “ought” comes to be associated with a legal injunction, as with an injunction traced to the general authority of ancestors or the special authority of a deified ancestor. And not only does there hence arise a consciousness that obedience to each particular law is right and disobedience to it wrong, but eventually there arises a consciousness that obedience to law in general is right and disobedience to it wrong. Especially is this the case where the living ruler has a divine or semidivine character; as witness the following statement concerning the ancient Peruvians: “The most common punishment was death, for they said that a culprit was not punished for the delinquencies he had committed, but for having broken the commandment of the Ynea, who was respected as God.” And this conception, reminding us of religious conceptions anciently current and still current, is practically paralleled by the conceptions still expressed by jurists and accepted by most citizens. For though a distinction is commonly made between legal obligation and moral obligation, in those cases where the law is of a kind in respect of which ethics gives no direct verdict; yet the obligation to obey has come to be, if not nominally yet practically, a moral obligation. The words habitually used imply this. It is held “right” to obey the law and “wrong” to disobey it. Conformity and nonconformity bring approbation and reprobation, just as though the legal injunction were a moral injunction. A man who has broken the law, even though it be in a matter of no ethical significance–say a householder who has refused to fill up the census paper or a peddler who has not taken out a license–feels, when he is brought before the magistrates, that he is regarded not only by them but by spectators as morally blameworthy. The feeling shown is quite as strong as it would be were he convicted of aggressing on his neighbors by nuisances–perpetual noises or pestilent odors–which are moral offenses properly so called. That is to say, law is upheld by a sentiment indistinguishable from moral sentiment. Moreover, in some cases where the two conflict, the sentiment which upholds the legal dictum overrides the sentiment which upholds the moral dictum; as in the case of the peddler above named. His act in selling without a license is morally justifiable, and forbidding him to sell without a license is morally unjustifiable–is an interference with his due liberty, which is ethically unwarranted. Yet the factitious moral sentiment enlisted on behalf of legal authority, triumphs over the natural moral sentiment enlisted on behalf of rightful freedom.
How strong is the artificial sanction acquired by a constituted authority, is seen very strikingly in the doings of Joint Stock associations. If the directors of a company formed to carry out a specified undertaking, decide to extend their activities so as to include undertakings not originally specified, and even undertakings wholly unallied to those originally specified; and if they bring before the proprietary their proposals for doing this; it is held that if a majority (at one time a simple majority, but now two-thirds) approve the proposal, the proprietary at large is bound by the decision. Should a few protest against being committed to such new undertakings, they are frowned upon and pooh-poohed as unreasonable obstructions: moral reprobation is vented against such resistance to the ruling agent and its supporters. Nevertheless, the moral reprobation should be inverted. As a question of pure equity, the incorporated body cannot enter on any businesses not specified or implied in the deed of incorporation. Those who break the original contract by entering on unspecified businesses, are unjustified; while those who stand by the original contract, however few in number, are justified. Yet so strong is the quasi-moral sanction associated with the acts of a constituted authority, that its ethically wrong course is thought right, and insistence on regard for the ethically right course is thought wrong!
122. How then are ethical ideas and sentiments to be defined? How, indeed, are they to be conceived in any consistent way? Let us recapitulate.
Throughout the past, and down to present days in most minds, conceptions of right and wrong have been directly associated with supposed divine injunctions. Acts have been classed as good or bad, not because of their intrinsic natures but because of their extrinsic derivations; and virtue has consisted in obedience. Under certain circumstances, we find conduct regarded as praiseworthy or blameworthy according as it does or does not inflict suffering or death upon fellow beings; while, under other circumstances, we find the praise or blame given according as it does or does not conduce to the welfare of fellow beings. Then there is the opposition between hedonism and asceticism: by some approbation is felt for deeds which apparently conduce to the happiness of self or others or both; while, contrariwise, others look with reprobation upon a way of living which makes happiness an end. By this class the perceptions of good and evil conduct, along with love of the one and hatred of the other, are traced to a moral sense; and ethics becomes the interrogation of, and obedience to, conscience. Contrariwise, by that class such guidance is ridiculed; and calculations of consequences, irrespective of sentiment of right or theory of right, occupy the ethical sphere. Universally in early stages, and to a considerable degree in late stages, the idea of ought is associated with conformity to established customs, irrespective of their natures; and when established customs grow into laws, the idea of ought comes to be associated with obedience to laws: no matter whether considered intrinsically good or intrinsically bad.
Clearly, therefore, the conceptions of right, obligation, duty, and the sentiments associated with those conceptions, have a far wider range than the conduct ordinarily conceived as the subject matter of moral science. In different places and under different circumstances, substantially the same ideas and feelings are joined with classes of actions of totally opposite kinds, and also with classes of actions of which moral science, as ordinarily conceived, takes no cognizance. Hence, if we are to treat the subject scientifically, we must disregard the limits of conventional ethics, and consider what are the intrinsic natures of ethical ideas and sentiments.
123. A trait common to all forms of sentiments and ideas to be classed as ethical, is the consciousness of authority. The nature of the authority is inconstant. It may be that of an apotheosized ruler or other deity supposed to give commands. It may be that of ancestors who have bequeathed usages, with or without injunctions to follow them. It may be that of a living ruler who makes laws, or a military commander who issues orders. It may be that of an aggregate public opinion, either expressed through a government or otherwise expressed. It may be that of an imagined utility which every one is bound to further. Or it may be that of an internal monitor distinguished as conscience.
Along with the element of authority at once intellectually recognized and emotionally responded to, there goes the element, more or less definite, of coercion. The consciousness of ought which the recognition of authority implies, is joined with the consciousness of must, which the recognition of force implies. Be it the power of a god, of a king, of a chief soldier, of a popular government, of an inherited custom, of an unorganized social feeling, there is always present the conception of a power. Even when the injunction is that of an internal monitor, the conception of a power is not absent; since the expectation of the penalty of self-reproach, which disobedience may entail, is vaguely recognized as coercive.
A further component of the ethical consciousness, and often the largest component, is the represented opinion of other individuals, who also, in one sense, constitute an authority and exercise a coercion. This, either as actually implied in others’ behavior, or as imagined if they are not present, commonly serves more than anything else to restrain or impel. How large a component this is, we see in a child who blushes when wrongly suspected of a transgression, as much as when rightly suspected; and probably most have had proof that, when guiltless, the feeling produced by the conceived reprobation of others is scarcely distinguishable from the feeling which would be produced by such reprobation if guilty That an imagined public opinion is the chief element of consciousness in cases where the acts ascribed or committed are intrinsically wrong, is shown when this imagined or expressed opinion refers to acts which are not intrinsically wrong. The emotion of shame ordinarily accompanying some gross breach of social convention which is morally indifferent, or even morally praiseworthy (say wheeling home the barrow of a costermonger who has lamed himself), may be quite as strong as the emotion of shame which follows the proved utterance of an unwarranted libel–an act intrinsically wrong. In the majority of people the feeling of ought not will be more peremptory in the first case than in the last.
If, now, we look at the matter apart from conventional classifications, we see that where the consciousnesses of authority, of coercion, and of public opinion, combined in different proportions, result in an idea and a feeling of obligation, we must class these as ethical irrespective of the kind of action to which they refer. If the associated conceptions of right are similar, and the prompting emotions similar, we must consider the mental states as of the same nature, though they are enlisted on behalf of acts radically opposed. Or rather, let us say that, with the exception of an idea and a sentiment incidentally referred to, we must class them as forming a body of thought and feeling which may be called proethical; and which, with the mass of mankind, stands in place of the ethical properly so called.
124. For now let us observe that the ethical sentiment and idea properly so called, are independent of the ideas and sentiments above described as derived from external authorities, and coercions, and approbations–religious, political, or social. The true moral consciousness which we name conscience, does not refer to those extrinsic results of conduct which take the shape of praise or blame, reward or punishment, externally awarded; but it refers to the intrinsic results of conduct which, in part and by some intellectually perceived, are mainly and by most, intuitively felt. The moral consciousness proper does not contemplate obligations as artificially imposed by an external power; nor is it chiefly occupied with estimates of the amounts of pleasure and pain which given actions may produce, though these may be clearly or dimly perceived; but it is chiefly occupied with recognition of, and regard for, those conditions by fulfillment of which happiness is achieved or misery avoided. The sentiment enlisted on behalf of these conditions is often in harmony with the proethical sentiment compounded as above described, though from time to time in conflict with it; but whether in harmony or in conflict, it is vaguely or distinctly recognized as the rightful ruler: responding, as it does, to consequences which are not artificial and variable, but to consequences which are natural and permanent.
It should be remarked that along with established supremacy of this ethical sentiment proper, the feeling of obligation, though continuing to exist in the background of consciousness, ceases to occupy its foreground; since the right actions are habitually performed spontaneously or from liking. Though, while the moral nature is imperfectly developed, there may often arise conformity to the ethical sentiment under a sense of compulsion by it; and though, in other cases, nonconformity to it may cause subsequent self-reproach (as instance a remembered lack of gratitude, which may be a source of pain without there being any thought of extrinsic penalty); yet with a moral nature completely balanced, neither of these feelings will arise, because that which is done is done in satisfaction of the appropriate desire.
And now having, mainly for the purpose of making the statement complete, contemplated the ethical sentiment proper, as distinguished from the proethical sentiment, we may for the present practically dismiss it from our thoughts, and consider only the phenomena presented by the proethical sentiment under its various forms. For throughout the remaining chapters of this division, treating inductively of ideas and feelings about conduct displayed by mankind at large we shall be concerned almost exclusively with the proethical sentiment: the ethical sentiment proper being, in the great mass of cases, scarcely discernible.
Before entering on the task indicated, let me add that a good deal which approaches to repetition will be found in the immediately succeeding pages–not repetition in so far as the evidence given is concerned, but in so far as the cardinal ideas are concerned. In the preliminary discussion to which this chapter and the preceding one have been devoted, it has been necessary to state in brief some of the leading conceptions which a general inspection of the phenomena suggests. These conceptions have now to be set forth in full, along with the masses of facts which give birth to them. But while it seems well to apologize beforehand for the recurrence, in elaborated forms, of ideas already expressed in small space, I do not altogether regret having to elaborate the ideas; since there will be afforded occasion for further emphasizing conclusions which can scarcely be too much dwelt upon.
125. Under this title, accepted in its full meaning, may be ranged many kinds of acts–acts so many and various that they cannot be dealt with in one chapter. Here I propose to restrict the application of the title to acts inflicting bodily injury on others to the extent of killing or wounding them–acts of kinds which we class as destructive.
Even of these acts, which we may consider as completely or partially homicidal, there are sundry kinds not comprehended under aggression as ordinarily understood. I refer to those which do not imply antagonism or conflict.
The first of them to be named is infanticide. Far from being regarded as a crime, child-murder has been, throughout the world in early times, and in various parts of the world still is, regarded as not even an offense: occasionally, indeed, as a duty. We have that infanticide which is dictated by desire to preserve the lives of adults; for in a tribe which is ever on the border of starvation, addition of some to its number may prove fatal to others. Female infanticide, too, is often dictated by thought of tribal welfare: the established policy is to kill girls, who, while not useful for purposes of war and the chase, will, if in excess, injuriously tax the food supplies. Then, again, we have the child-murder committed in a fit of passion. Among savages, and even among the semicivilized, this is considered an indifferent matter: the power of life and death over children being, in early stages, taken for granted. Once more we have the sacrifice of children to propitiate cannibal chiefs, living or dead. Regarded as an obligation, this may be classed as prompted by a proethical sentiment.
Turning to the socially sanctioned homicides of which the victims are adults, we may set down first those which in many places occur at funerals; as instance Indian suttees until recent times. On much larger scales are the immolations during the obsequies of chiefs and kings. The killing of wives to accompany their dead husbands to the other world, and the killing of male attendants to serve them in the other world (sometimes also of friends) are forms of wholesale slaughter which have occurred in many countries, and still occur in parts of Africa. And with these may be joined such slaughters as those which are common in Dahomey, where a man is killed that his double may carry a message from the king to a deceased ancestor. Homicides of this class have also a kind of proethical warrant; since they are instigated by reverence for custom and by the obligation of loyalty.
Lastly we have the homicides prompted by beliefs classed as religious. With or without the ascription of divine cannibalism, the sacrifices of victims to deities have prevailed widely among various races in early times–Phoenicians, Scythians, Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, Hebrews &c.–carried, in some places, to great extremes; as in Ancient Mexico, where thousands of human victims annually were slain on altars, and where wars were made on the plea that the gods were hungry. And to these religious homicides which, in early stages, ministered to the supposed appetites of the gods, must be added the religious homicides which, in comparatively modern times, have been committed, alike by Catholics and Protestants, to appease the supposed wrath of their God against misbelievers.
Under that theory which regards the rightness of acts as constituted by fulfillment of divine injunctions, these religious homicides, in common with sundry of those above described, were prompted by one of the motives we class as proethical.
126. From these aggressions, taking the form of homicides, which are not consequent on personal or tribal antagonisms, let us pass to those of which bloodthirstiness is the cause, with or without enmity, personal or tribal.
I will begin with an instance which I have named elsewhere–that of the Fijians, among whom murder was thought honorable. Credence to this statement, which otherwise one would be inclined to withhold, is justified by knowledge of kindred statements respecting other peoples. Livingstone tells us that a Bushman
sat by the fire relating his early adventures: among these was killing five other Bushmen. “Two,” said he, counting on his fingers, “were females, one a male, and the other two calves.” “What a villain you are to boast of killing women and children of your own nation! What will God say when you appear before him?” “He will say,” replied he, “that I was a very clever fellow.” . . . I discovered that, though he was employing the word which is used among the Bakwains when speaking of the Deity, he had only the idea of a chief, and was all the time referring to Sekomi.
Still more astounding is the state of things, and the kind of sentiment, described by Wilson and Felkin in their account of Uganda. Here is an illustrative incident.
A young page of Mtesa’s [king of Uganda], son of a subordinate chief, was frequently employed to bring me messages from the palace, and one morning came down to my house, and informed me with great glee that he had just killed his father. I inquired why he had done this, and he said that he was tired of being merely a servant, and wished to become a chief, and said so to Mtesa, who replied, “Oh, kill your father, and you will become a chief”; and the boy did so.
That, among peoples who lead lives of aggression, it is a virtue to be a destroyer and a vice to be peaceful, sundry cases prove.
The name of “harami"–brigand–is still honorable among the Hejazi Bedouins. . . . He, on the other hand, who is lucky enough, as we should express it, to die in his bed, is called “fatis” (carrion, the corps crévé of the Klephts); his weeping mother will exclaim, “O that my son had perished of a cut-throat!” and her attendant crones will suggest, with deference, that such evil came of the will of Allah.
How profound may become the belief in the virtue of manslaughter, is made clear by the Kukis, whose paradise is “the heritage of the man who has killed the largest number of his enemies in life, the people killed by him attending on him as his slaves.”
With this supposed divine approval of manslaying, we may join the social approval manifested in other cases. Among the Pathans, one of the tribes on the northwest frontier of the Punjab, “there is hardly a man whose hands are unstained,” and “each person counts up his murders.” That, under wild social conditions, a sentiment of this kind readily arises, was shown in California during the gold period. Murderers “continued to notch the number of their victims on neatly kept hilts of pistols or knives.”
127. If from the implied or expressed belief in the honroableness of private homicide, illustrated by some still-extant savages, we turn to the belief in the honorableness of that public and wholesale homicide for which the occasions are given by real or pretended intertribal or international injuries, ancient records of barbarous and semicivilized peoples furnish illustrations in abundance.
Among the gods of the primitive Indians, Indra is lauded in the Rig-Veda as the devastating warrior, and Agni, too, “was born, the slayer of the enemy” and the “destroyer of cities.” Emulating their gods, the warriors of the Rig-Veda and the Mahabharata glory in conquests. Propitiating Indra with deep libations, the hero prays: “Let us share the wealth of him whom thou hast slain; bring us to the household of him who is hard to vanquish.” And then with such prayers, common to militant peoples, may be joined passages from the Mahabharata recommending atrocities.
Let a man inspire his enemy with confidence for some real reason, and then smite him at the proper time, when his foot has slipped a little.
Without cutting into an enemy’s marrow, without doing something dreadful, without smiting like a killer of fish, a man does not attain great prosperity.
A son, a brother, a father, or a friend, who present any obstacle to one’s interests are to be slain.
After these early Aryans, look now at some of the early Semites. Still more extreme in the implied praiseworthiness of sanguinary deeds, are they shown to have been by their records. Assyrian kings glorify themselves in inscriptions describing wholesale slaughters and the most savage cruelties. Sennacherib, driving his chariot through “deep pools of blood,” boasts–"with blood and flesh its wheels were clogged”; Assurbanipal says of the conquered–"their tongues I pulled out,” “the limbs cut off I caused to be eaten by dogs, bears, eagles, vultures, birds of heaven”; Tiglath-Pileser’s account of the slain Muskayans is that “their carcases covered the valleys and the tops of the mountains”; in an inscription of Assur-natsir-pal come the words–"I am a weapon that spares not,” the revolted nobles “I flayed, with their skins I covered the pyramid,” “their young men and maidens I burned as a holocaust”; and of his enemies Shalmaneser II says–"with their blood I dyed the mountains like wool.” Evidently the expectation was that men of after times would admire these merciless destructions, and this implies belief in their righteousness; for we cannot assume that these Assyrian kings intentionally made themselves eternally infamous.
Omitting evidence furnished in plenty by the histories of the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, we find kindred thoughts and feelings betrayed by the peoples of northern Europe. The Gauls of early days, galloping home with the heads of their enemies slung to their saddles, displayed them on stakes or preserved them in chests. According to Cæsar, the Suevi and Germans generally “esteem it their greatest praise . . . that the lands about their territories lie unoccupied to a very great extent.” And the fact that the Norse paradise was conceived as a place for daily combats, sufficiently shows how dominant was the belief in the virtue of successful aggression. That throughout the Middle Ages successful aggression was thought the one thing worth living for, needs no proof. History which is little more than the Newgate Calendar of nations, describing political burglaries and their results, yields illustrations on every page: “arms and the man” supply the universal theme. No better way of showing the dominant sentiment down to comparatively recent times, can be found than that of quoting the mottoes of nobles, of which here are some English ones. Earl of Rosslyn–"Fight”; Baron Hawke–"Strike”; Earl of Sefton–"To conquer is to live”; the Marquis of Downshire–"By God and my sword I will obtain”; the Earl of Carysfort–"This hand is hostile”; Count Magawley–"The red hand to victory”; the Duke of Athole–"Forth, fortune, and fill the fetters.” And the general spirit is well shown by lines illustrating the motto of the Middleton family:
Mottoes being the expressions of feelings held above all others worthy, and tacitly assuming the existence of like feelings in others, those quoted imply the social sanction given to aggressiveness; and we need but recall the religious ceremonies on the initiation of a knight, to see that his militant course of life was supposed to have a divine sanction also. War, even unprovoked war, was supported by a proethical sentiment.
Nor is it essentially otherwise even now. Thinly veiled by conventional respect for the professed religious creed, the old spirit continually discloses itself. Much more feeling than is excited by a hymn, is excited by the song–"The Hardy Norseman”; and pride in the doing of the “seawolves” who “conquered Normandy” shown by the line–"Oh, ne’er should we forget our sires,” is habitually sympathized in. No reading is more popular than narratives of battles; and the epithet “great,” as applied to Alexander, Karl, Peter, Frederick, Napoleon, is applied notwithstanding all the atrocities they committed. Occasionally, indeed, we meet with overt expression of this sentiment. Lord Wolseley says of the soldier: “He must believe that his duties are the noblest that fall to man’s lot. He must be taught to despise all those of civil life": a sentiment which is not limited to the “duties” of the soldier as a defender of his country, which in our day he never performs, but is extended to his “duties” as an invader of other countries, and especially those of weak peoples: the appetite for aggression transforms baseness into nobility. When, in the Hindoo epic, the god Indra is described as conquering a woman, we are astonished to find a victory which we should consider so cowardly lauded by the poet; and when, on the walls of Karnak, we see Rameses represented as a giant holding by the hair half-a-dozen dwarfs, and cutting off all their heads with one sweep of his sword, we think it strange that he should have thought to glorify himself by depicting an easy triumph of strong over weak. But when with arms of precision, with shells, with rockets, with far-reaching cannon, peoples possessed only of feeble weapons are conquered with as great facility as a man conquers a child, there comes applause in our journals, with titles and rewards to the leaders! The “duties” of the soldier so performed are called “noble”; while, held up in contrast with them, those of the peaceful citizen are called despicable!
Beyond question, then, the sentiment which rejoices in personal superiority and, not asking for equitable cause, is ready under an authority it willingly accepts, to slaughter so-called enemies, is still dominant. The social sanction, and the reflected inner sanction due to it, constitute a proethical sentiment which, in international relations, remains supreme.
128. The ethics of enmity thus illustrated, very little qualified in some tribes of savages, especially cannibals, qualified in but a moderate degree in ancient semicivilized societies, and continuing predominant during the development of civilized societies, has been qualified more and more by the ethics of amity as the internal social life has disciplined men in cooperation: the relative prosperities of nations, while in part determined by their powers of conquest, having been all along in part determined by the extents to which, in daily intercourse, the aggressiveness of their members has been restrained.
Such peoples as have produced literatures show us, in relatively early days, the rise of an ethics of amity set in opposition to the ethics of enmity. Proceeding, as the expressions of it do, from the mouths of poets and sages, we may not measure by them the beliefs which then prevailed; any more than we may now measure the prevailing beliefs by the injunctions to forgive enemies, perpetually uttered by our priests. But even the occasional enunciation of altruistic sentiments, occurring in ancient societies after there had been long-established states of relatively peaceful life, is significant. And it is interesting to observe, too, how after the absolute selfishness of the antagonistic activities, a violent reaction led to the preaching of absolute unselfishness. Thus while of that vast compilation which constitutes the Mahabharata, the older parts are saguinary in sentiment, the latter parts contain condemnations of needless warfare. It is said that fighting is the worst means of gaining victory, and that a king should extend his conquests without fighting. And there are much more pronounced reprobations of aggressive action, as this:
And then in the writings of an Indian moralist, said by Sir William Jones to date three centuries B.C., we read the extreme statement: “A good man who thinks only of benefiting his enemy has no feelings of hostility towards him even at the moment of being destroyed by him.” Similarly among the Persians, we find Sadi writing–"Show kindness even to thy foes”; and again–"The men of God’s true faith, I’ve heard, grieve not the hearts e’en of their foes.” In like manner among the Chinese, the teaching of Lao-Tsze was that
Peace is his highest aim. . . . he who rejoices at the destruction of human life is not fit to be entrusted with power in the world. He who has been instrumental in killing many people should move on over them with bitter tears.
Confucius said: “In carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good.” Mencius held that “he who has no pleasure in killing men can” unite the empire; and of the warlike he said that:
When contentions about territory are the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men, till the fields are filled with them. When some struggle for a city is the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till the city is filled with them. . . . Death is not enough for such a crime.
Early as was his time, Mencius evidently entertained higher sentiments than do “the western barbarians” at the present time. The characterization which has been given to slavery–"the sum of all villainies"–would probably have been given by him to aggressive war.
In section 573 of The Principles of Sociology, as also in section 437, instances are given of various tribes which, nonaggressive externally are also nonaggressive internally–tribes in which crimes of violence are so rare that scarcely any control is needed. There may be added a few other examples. There are the aborigines of Sumatra, a simple people who, thrust into the interior by the Malays, are described by Marsden as “mild, peaceable, and forbearing"–that is nonaggressive. There are the Thârus, inhabiting a retired strip of forest at the foot of the Himalayas, which affords them a refuge from invaders, and who are described as “a peaceful and good-natured race.” Further, we have a specially relevant testimony given by different authorities respecting the Iroquois. In his work, The League of the Iroquois, Morgan says: “It was the boast of the Iroquois that the great object of their confederacy was peace–to break up the spirit of perpetual warfare, which had wasted the red race from age to age.” And then clear indication of the results is contained in the following statement made by the same writer: “Crimes and offenses were so unfrequent under their social system, that the Iroquois can scarcely be said to have had a criminal code.”
Here, however, the truth which it specially concerns us to note is that during states of hostility which make aggression habitual, it acquires a social sanction, and in some cases a divine sanction: there is a proethical sentiment enlisted on its behalf. Contrariwise, in the cases just referred to, aggressiveness meets with reprobation. An ethical sentiment, rightly so-called, produces repugnance to it.
Nor was it otherwise with the Hebrews. After the chronic antagonisms of nomadic life had been brought to an end by their captivity, and after their subsequent wars of conquest had ended in a comparatively peaceful state, the expression of altruistic sentiments became marked; until, in Leviticus, we see emerging the principle, often regarded as exclusively Christian–"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"–a principle, however, which appears to have been limited to “the congregation of the children of Israel.” And then in later days by the Essenes, as well as by Christ and his apostles, the ethics of amity, extended so as to include enemies, was carried even to the extreme of turning the cheek to the smiter.
129. Into what general induction may these facts be grouped? Taken in the mass, the evidence shows, as we might expect, that in proportion as intertribal and international antagonisms are great and constant, the ideas and feelings belonging to the ethics of enmity predominate; and, conflicting as they do with the ideas and feelings belonging to the ethics of amity, proper to the internal life of a society they in greater or less degrees suppress these, and fill with aggressions the conduct of man to man.
Miscellaneous kinds of homicide, such as were noted at the outset–infanticide, killing for cannibalism, immolations at funerals, sacrifices to the gods–are characteristic of societies in which warfare is habitual. Those most atrocious of man-eaters, the Fijians, among whom every one carried his life in his hand, implied their ingrained militancy by their conception of the other world, where their gods “make war, and kill and eat each another,” and bear such names as “the murderer,” “fresh from the cutting up or slaughter,” &c.; where a chief arriving after death, boasts that he has “destroyed many towns, and slain many in war”; and where “men who have not slain an enemy” suffer “the most degrading of all punishments.” The Bushmen, exhibiting pride in private murder, pass their lives in ceaseless antagonism with men and beasts around–aggressing and aggressed upon. So, too, the Bedouin tribes instanced as thinking any death save one suffered in combat disgraceful, commit never-ending aggressions. And the Waganda, the king of whom suggested to his page the parricide gladly carried out by him, are soldiers noted for “their warlike character, which tinges the whole of their life and government.”
If, from the relations as illustrated in these extreme cases, we pass to the relations as illustrated in developing societies, we see that with decrease of external aggressiveness there goes decrease of internal aggressiveness. During the Merovingian period, along with chronic militant activities on large and small scales, occurring even to the extent of wars between towns, perpetual violence characterized the relations of individuals: kings murdered their queens, royal fathers were murdered by their sons, princely brothers murdered brothers, while bloodshed and cruelty prevailed everywhere. In the next period the conquests of Charlemagne were accompanied by atrocities large and small. He beheaded 4,000 Saxons in one day and inflicted death on those who refused baptism or ate flesh during Lent. Similarly throughout the feudal ages, recurring international fights were accompanied by perpetual fights among nobles; the chroniclers describe little else than crimes; and the slaughtering of serfs by knights was passed over as a thing not calling for reproach. But as the course of ages and the consolidation of kingdoms brought diminution of a diffused warfare, and as, by consequence, industrial activities, with resulting internal cooperation, filled larger spaces in men’s lives, the more unscrupulous forms of aggressiveness came to be reprobated, while approbation was given to conduct characterized by regard for others. And though modern times have seen great wars, yet, since the militant activities have not been all-pervading as in earlier times, the sentiments appropriate to peaceful activities have not been so universally repressed. Moreover, as we elsewhere saw (Principles of Sociology, sec. 573), the brutality of citizens to one another has from time to time increased along with renewed militancy and decreased along with cessation of it; while there have been concomitant modifications in the ethical standard.
130. Between physically injuring another, partially or to the death, and injuring him either by taking possession of his body and labor, or of his property, the kinship in nature is obvious. Both direct and indirect injuries are comprehended under the title “Aggression”; and the second, like the first, might, without undue straining of words, have been brought within the limits of the last chapter. But, as before implied, it has seemed more convenient to separate the aggression which nearly always has bloodshed for its concomitant, from the aggression which is commonly bloodless. Here we have to deal with this last.
The extreme form of this last aggression is that which ends in capturing a man and enslaving him. Though to class this under the head of robbery is to do some violence to the name, yet we may reasonably say that to take a man from himself, and use his powers for other purposes than his own, is robbery in the highest degree. Instead of depriving him of some product of past labor voluntarily undertaken, it deprives him of the products of future labors which he is compelled to undertake. At any rate, whether rightly to be called robbery or not, it is to be classed as an aggression, if not so grave as that of inflicting death, yet next to it in gravity
It is needless here to furnish proofs that this kind of aggression has been, from very early stages of human progress, a concomitant of militancy. Eating the vanquished or turning them into bondsmen, commonly became alternatives where intertribal conflicts were perpetual. From the incidental making of captives there has frequently grown up the intentional making of captives. An established policy has dictated invasions to procure workers or victims. But whether with or without intention, this robbery in the highest degree has been, throughout, a concomitant of habitual war; could not, indeed, have arisen to any extent without war.
A closely allied form of robbery–somewhat earlier, since we find it in rude tribes which do not make slaves–is the stealing of women. Of course, along with victory over combatants there has gone appropriation of the noncombatants belonging to them; and women have consequently been in all early stages among the prizes of conquerors. In books treating of primitive marriage, like that of Mr. McLennan, there will be found evidence that the stealing of women not unfrequently becomes the normal process by which the numbers of a tribe are maintained. It is found best to avoid the cost of rearing them, and to obtain by fighting or theft the requisite number from other tribes. Becoming a traditional policy this custom often acquires a strong sanction; and is supposed by some to have originated the interdict against marriage with those of the same clan. But, however this may be, we habitually find women regarded as the most valued spoils of victory; and often, where the men are killed, the women are preserved to become mothers. It was so with the Caribs in their cannibal days; and it was so with the Hebrews, as shown in Numbers xxxi. 17–18, where we read that, after a successful war, all the wives and the males among the children were ordered by Moses to be killed, while the virgins were reserved for the use of the captors. (See also Deuteronomy xxi.)
Now the truth here to be observed is that in societies which have not risen to high stages, the ethical sentiment, or rather the proethical sentiment, makes no protest against robberies of these kind; but, contrariwise, gives countenance to them. The cruel treatment of prisoners delineated in Egyptian and Assyrian wall paintings and wall-sculptures, implies, what the records tell, that there was a social sanction for their subsequent bondage. Similarly, we do not see in the literature of the Greeks, any more than in the literature of the Hebrews, that the holding of men in slavery called forth moral reprobation. It was the same with the capture of women and the making wives of them, or more frequently concubines: this was creditable rather than discreditable. With the social sanction for the stealing of women by the early Aryans, as narrated in the Mahabharata, there was also a divine sanction; and it is manifest that among the Hebrews there was social if not divine sanction for the taking of the virgins of Jabesh Gilead for wives, and also for the stealing of the “daughters of Shiloh” Judges xxi).
Under this head it needs only to add that modern progress with its prolonged discipline of internal amity as opposed to that of external enmity, has been accompanied by disappearance of these grossest forms of robbery. The ethical sentiment, rightly so-called, has been developed to the extent needful for suppressing them.
131. Success in war being honorable, all accompaniments and signs of such success become honorable. Hence, along with the enslaving of captives if they are not eaten, and along with the appropriation of their women as concubines or wives, there goes the seizing of their property. A natural sequence is that not only during war but at other times, robbery of enemies, and by implication of strangers, who are ordinarily classed as enemies, is distinguished from robbery of fellow tribesmen: the first being called good even when the last is called bad.
Among the Comanches “a young man is not thought worthy to be counted in the list of warriors, till he has returned from some successful plundering expedition, . . . the greatest thieves are . . . the most respectable members of society.” A Patagonian is considered “as indifferently capable of supporting a wife unless he is an adept in the art of stealing from a stranger.” Livingstone says of the East Africans:
In tribes which have been accustomed to cattle-stealing, the act is not considered immoral, in the way that theft is. Before I knew the language well, I said to a chief, “You stole the cattle of so and so.” “No, I did not steal them,” was the reply “I only lifted them.” The word “gapa“ is identical with the Highland term for the same deed.
Concerning the Kalmucks the account of Pallas is that they are addicted to theft and robbery on a large scale, but not of people of their own tribe. And Atkinson asserts the like of the Kirghiz: “Thieving of this kind [stealing horses or camels from one of the same tribe] is instantly punished among the Kirghiz; but a baranta, like the sacking of a town, is honorable plunder.” Hence doubtless arises that contrast, seeming to us so strange, between the treatment which robber-tribes, such as Bedouins, show to strangers under their roofs and the opposite treatment they show to them after they have departed. Says Atkinson: “My host [a Kirghiz chief] said Koubaldos [another Kirghiz chief to whom I was going] would not molest us at his aoul, but that some of his bands would be set on our track and try to plunder us on our march.” Perhaps it is among the Turkomans that we find the most marked illustrations of the way in which predatory tribes come to regard theft as honorable. By the people of Merv, raids “even among members of the same tribe are not, or were not until lately, looked upon in the light of robberies”; but the raids must be on a respectable scale. “It is curious that, while red-handed murder and robbery were a recognized means of existence among the Tekkés, thievery, in the sense of stealing from the person, or filching an article from a stall of the bazaar, was despised.” And Mr. O’Donovan subsequently relates that when urging on the Merv Council the cessation of marauding expeditions, a member “with angry astonishment” asked “how in the name of Allah they were going to live if raids were not to be made"! To all which evidence we may add the facts that “the Pathan mother often prays that her son may be a successful robber,” that according to Rowney the like is done by the Afridi mother, and the further fact that among the Turkomans a celebrated robber becomes a saint, and pilgrimages are made to his tomb to sacrifice and pray.
While, in most of these cases, a marked distinction is recognized between robbery outside the tribe and robbery within the tribe, in other cases the last as well as the first is deemed not only legitimate but praiseworthy. Dalton says of the Kukis: “The accomplishment most esteemed amongst them was dexterity in thieving.” Similarly, according to Gilmour, “In Mongolia known thieves are treated as respectable members of society. As long as they manage well and are successful, little or no odium seems to attach to them.” Of another Asiatic tribe we read: “They [Angamis] are expert thieves and glory in the art, for among them, as with the Spartans of old, theft is only dishonorable and obnoxious to punishment when discovered in the act of being committed.” From America may be instanced the case of the Chinooks, by whom “cunning theft is regarded as honorable; but they despise and often punish the inexpert thief.” A case in Africa is furnished by the Waganda, warlike and bloodthirsty among whom “the distinctions between meum and tuum are very ill-defined; and indeed all sin is only relative, the crime consisting in being detected.” And then, passing to Polynesia, we find that among the Fijians “success, without discovery is deemed quite enough to make thieving virtuous, and a participation in the ill-gotten gain honorable.” So that in these instances skill or courage sanctifies any invasion of property rights.
132. Evidence yielded by the historic races proves that along with a less active life of external enmity and a more active life of internal amity, there goes a change of ethical ideas and sentiments, allied to that noted in the last chapter.
The Rig-Veda describes the thievish acts of the gods. Vishnu “stole the cooked mess” at the libations of Indra. When Tvashtri began to perform a soma-sacrifice in honor of his son who had been slain by Indra, and refused, on the ground of his homicide, to allow the latter to assist at the ceremony then “Indra interrupted the celebration, and drank off the soma by force.”
The moral principle thus exemplified by the gods is paralleled by the moral principle recommended for men: “Even if he were to covet the property of other people, he is bound as a Kshatriya to take it by force of arms, and never to beg for it.” But the Indian literature of later ages, displaying the results of settled life, inculcates opposite principles.
Passing over illustrative facts furnished by other ancient historic peoples, it will suffice if we glance at the facts which medieval and modern histories furnish. Dasent tells us of the Norsemen that “Robbery and piracy in a good straightforward wholesale way were honored and respected.” Similarly with the primitive Germans. Describing them, Caesar says:
Robberies which are committed beyond the boundaries of each state bear no infamy. . . . And when any of their chiefs has said in an assembly “that he will be their leader, let those who are willing to follow, give in their names”; they who approve of both the enterprise and the man arise and promise their assistance, and are applauded by the people; such of them as have not followed him are considered deserters and traitors, and confidence in all matters is afterward refused them.
Not to attempt the impossible task of tracing through some ten centuries the relation between the perpetual wars, large and small, public and private, and the plundering of men by one another, wholesale and retail, it will suffice to single out special periods. Of France in the early feudal period, Ste. Palaye says: Our old writers denounce the avarice, greed, deceit, perjury, pillage, theft, and brigandage, and other excesses of an unbridled soldiery equally devoid of principles, morals, and sentiments.” During the Hundred Years War a regime of robbery became universal. Among the nobles the desire for plunder was the motive for fighting. Everywhere there was brigandage on a large scale, as well as on a small scale. In addition to multitudinous scattered highwaymen there were organized companies of robbers who had their fortresses, lived luxuriously on the spoils of the surrounding country, kidnapped children for pages and women for concubines, and sold at high prices safe-conducts to travelers. And then, along with all these plunderings on land, there was habitual piracy at sea. Not only states, but towns and individuals equipped vessels for buccaneering; and there were established refuges for marine freebooters. Take, again, the evidence furnished by the Thirty Years War in Germany. Universal marauding became the established system. Soldiers were brigands. Not only did they plunder the people everywhere, but they used “thousandfold torments” to make them disclose the places where they had hidden their goods; and the peasants had to “till their fields armed to the teeth” against their fellow countrymen. Meanwhile the soldiers were themselves cheated by their officers, small and great, who some of them made large fortunes by their accumulated embezzlements, at the same time that the princes robbed the nation by debasing the coinage.
Involved and obscure as the evidence is, no one can fail to recognize the broad fact that with progress towards a state in which war is less frequent, and does not, as of old, implicate almost everyone, there has been a decrease of dishonesty and a higher appreciation of honesty; to the extent that now robbery of a stranger has come to be as much a crime as robbery of a fellow citizen. It is true that there are still thefts. It is true that there are still multitudinous frauds. But the thefts are not so numerous, and the frauds are not of such gross kinds as they were. From the days when kings frequently tricked their creditors and shopkeepers boasted of their ability to pass bad money as Defoe tells us, we have somewhat advanced in the respect for meum and tuum. Nay, as shown by Pike’s History of Crime, the contrast is marked even between the amount of transgression against property during the war period ending in 1815 and the recent amount of such transgression.
133. But of the relationship alleged, the clearest proofs are furnished by contrasts between the warlike uncivilized tribes instanced above, and the peaceful uncivilized tribes. Here are traits presented by some of these last.
Not only, according to Hartshorne, is the harmless Wood-Veddah perfectly honest, but he cannot conceive it possible that a man should “take that which does not belong to him.” Of the Esquimaux, among whom war is unknown, we read that “they are uniformly described as most scrupulously honest”; and any such qualification of this statement as is made by Bancroft, refers to Esquimaux demoralized by contact with white traders. Of the Fuegians we learn from Darwin that “if any present was designed for one canoe, and it fell near another, it was invariably given to the right owner.” And Snow says they were very honorable in their commercial dealings with him. Concerning certain of the Papuans on the southern coast of New Guinea, who are described as too independent for combined action in war, we read that “in their bargaining the natives have generally been very honest, far more so than our own people.” And concerning others of this race, Kops tells us that the natives of Dory give evidence “of an inclination to right and justice, and strong moral principles. Theft is considered by them as a very grave offense, and is of very rare occurrence.” A like character is ascribed by Kolff to the aborigines of Lette. In The Principles of Sociology, sections 437 and 574, I have given testimonies respecting the honesty of the peaceful Todas, Santáls, Lepchas, Bodo and Dhimáls, Hos, Chakmás, Jakuns. Here I add some further testimonies. Consul Baker tells us of the aborigines of Vera Cruz, now a subject race averse to military service, that “the Indian is honest, and seldom yields to even the greatest temptation to steal.” In his description of a race inhabiting a “long strip of swamp and forest” at “the foot of the Himalayas,” Mr. Nesfield says that “their honesty is vouched for by a hundred stories; such at least is the character of the Tharu, so long as he remains in the safe seclusion of his solitary wilds,” where he is free from hostilities. And then, with the fact stated by Morgan concerning the Iroquois, that “theft, the most despicable of human crimes, was scarcely known among them,” we have to join the fact that their league had been formed for the preservation of peace among its component peoples and had succeeded in its purpose for many generations.
134. Among intelligent creatures the struggle for existence entails aggressions. Where these are not the destructive aggressions of carnivorous creatures on their prey, they are the aggressions, not necessarily destructive but commonly violent, of creatures competing with one another for food. Animals severally impelled by hunger are inevitably led into antagonisms by endeavors severally to seize what ever food they can; and injuries, more or less decided, are usual concomitants.
Aggression leads to counteraggression. Where both creatures have powers of offense, they are likely both to use them; especially where their powers of offense are approximately equal, that is, where they are creatures of the same species: such creatures being also those commonly brought into competition. That results of this kind are inevitable, will be manifest on remembering that among members of the same species, those individuals which have not, in any considerable degree, resented aggressions, must have ever tended to disappear, and to have left behind those which have with some effect made counteraggressions. Fights, therefore, not only of predatory animals with prey but of animals of the same kind with one another, have been unavoidable from the first and have continued to the last.
Every fight is a succession of retaliations–bite being given for bite, and blow for blow. Usually these follow one another in quick succession, but not always. There is a postponed retaliation; and a postponed retaliation is what we call revenge. It may be postponed for so short a time as to be merely a recommencement of the fight, or it may be postponed for days, or it may be postponed for years. And hence the retaliation which constitutes what we call revenge, diverges insensibly from the retaliations which characterize a conflict.
But the practice, alike of immediate revenge and of postponed revenge, establishes itself as in some measure a check upon aggression; since the motive to aggress is checked by the consciousness that a counteraggression will come: if not at once then after a time.
135. Among human beings in early stages, there hence arises not only the practice of revenge but a belief that revenge is imperative–that revenge is a duty. Here, from Sir George Grey’s account of the Australians, we have a graphic picture of the sentiment and its results:
The holiest duty a native is called on to perform is that of avenging the death of his nearest relation, for it is his peculiar duty to do so: until he has fulfilled this task, he is constantly taunted by the old women; his wives, if he be married, would soon quit him; if he is unmarried, not a single young woman would speak to him; his mother would constantly cry, and lament she should ever have given birth to so degenerate a son; his father would treat him with contempt, and reproaches would constantly be sounded in his ear.
Of illustrations from North America that furnished by the Sioux may be named. Burton says: “The obstinate revengefulness of their vendetta is proverbial; they hate with the ‘hate of Hell’; and, like the Highlanders of old, if the author of an injury escape them, they vent their rage upon the innocent, because he is of the same clan or color.” From South America a case given by Schomburgk may be quoted: “My revenge is not yet satisfied, there still lives a member of the hated family,” said a Guiana native, whose relative he suspected to have been poisoned. Here, again, is an instance from Williams’ account of the Fijians.
At that hour of death, he never forgets an enemy, and at that time he never forgives one. The dying man mentions his foe, that his children may perpetuate his hatred–it may be against his own son–and kill him at the first opportunity.
And then Thomson tells us of the New Zealanders that “not to avenge the dead, according to native law indicates the most craven spirit.” Passing to Asia I may quote Macrae’s account of the Kukis.
Like all savage people, the Kukis are of a most vindictive disposition; blood must always be shed for blood. . . . If a man should happen to be killed by an accidental fall from a tree, all his relations assemble . . . and reduce it to chips.
In Petherick, we read that the shedding of blood is “an offense with Arabs that neither time nor contrition can obliterate, thirst for revenge descending from father to son, and even through successive generations.” So too of the East Africans Burton writes:
Revenge is a ruling passion, as the many rancorous fratricidal wars that have prevailed between kindred clans, even for a generation, prove. Retaliation and vengeance are, in fact, their great agents of moral control.
In all these cases we see that either avowedly or tacitly revenge is considered a moral obligation.
The early stages of various existing people yield equally clear evidence. In his Japan in Days of Yore, Mr. Dening translates the life of Musashi, published by the Momtusho (Education Department), narrating a prolonged vendetta full of combats and murders; and, in partial sympathy with the Japanese educationists, remarks that his hero’s acts of undying revenge, displayed “so many of the nobler aspects of human nature” and are “calculated to inspire confidence in humanity.” A kindred spirit is shown in the early Indian literature. The gods are revengeful. As described in the Rig-Veda, “Agni swallows his enemies, tears their skin, minces their members, and throws them before the wolves to be eaten by them, or by the shrieking vultures.” And the ascribed character of the gods is participated in by their devotees, as instance the invocation:
Indra and Soma, burn the Rakshas, destroy them, throw them down, ye two Bulls, the people that grow in darkness. Hew down the madmen, suffocate them, kill them, hurl them away and slay the voracious. Indra and Soma, up together against the cursing demon! May he bum and hiss like an oblation in the fire! Put your everlasting hatred on the villain.
The narrative of the “ferocious and deadly struggle” carried on “with all the frenzied wrath of demons,” as Wheeler says, is full of vows of revenge–a revenge extending to horrible treatment of enemies’ remains. Nor do we find a different sentiment displayed among the Hebrews, whether in the ascribed actions of Jahveh or the actions of his worshippers. The command to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Deuteronomy xxv 19), and the fulfillment of this command by Saul and Samuel, to the extent of destroying not only the Amalekites but all their cattle, is a typical example of the implied divine revenge–a sample variously paralleled in other cases. And with this sanctification of revenge we see that the acts and feelings of the Hebrews themselves harmonized. The wreaking of vengeance was bequeathed as a duty; as when David, after enjoining Solomon to walk in the ways of the Lord, told him not to spare the son of a man who had cursed him (and who had been forgiven on oath), saying “but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood” (1 Kings ii. 9).
It is superfluous to illustrate in detail the kindred sentiments and ideas of European peoples throughout medaeval times. Most of the political and private incidents narrated exhibit them. To inflict vengeance was among them, as now among savages, considered an obligation; and when, occasionally the spirit flagged in men it was kept alive by women, as in the Merovingian period by Fredegonde and Brunehaut. Then in later centuries there were chronic family feuds between nobles everywhere, transmitted from generation to generation. And the spirit was still active down to the time of the Abbé Brantôme, who, in his will, enjoins a nephew to execute vengeance on his behalf should he be injured when too old to avenge himself. Nay the vendetta, once so general, is even now not extinct in the East of Europe.
Though, throughout the modern civilized world, not perturbed everywhere and always by conflicts, life does not furnish such multitudinous examples of like meaning, yet survival of the ethics of enmity in so far as it enjoins revenge, is sufficiently manifest. Duels almost daily occurring somewhere or other on the Continent, exhibit the conceived obligation under its private form; and under its public form we have before us a striking example in the persistent desire which the French cherish to punish the Germans for defeating them–a desire of which the strength has lately (August 1891) been shown by the remarkable fact that while professedly enthusiastic advocates of liberty and upholders of free institutions, they have been lauding “the noble Russian people” and the despotic Czar who holds them in bondage; and all because they hope thus to be aided in their wished-for fight with Germany. Clearly the appropriate expression of their feeling is–Not that we love freedom less but that we love revenge more.
136. But, while societies have been in course of growth and consolidation, there have been occasional expressions of ideas and sentiments opposite to these–occasional expressions which, as they are associated with the arrival at more settled social states, may be fairly regarded as consequent upon a diminution of warlike activities.
Various illustrations are furnished by the literature of Hindostan. In the code of Manu we read:
And again, in another place, there is the exhortation–
Of like spirit is the following from the Cural: “The do no evil even to enemies will be called the chief of virtues.” So, too, among some of the Persians. In their literature of the seventh century we find the passage–"Think not that the valor of a man consists only in courage and force; if you can rise above wrath and forgive, you are of a value inestimable.” At a later date, namely in a story of Sadi, there occurs the injunction:
And still more extreme is the doctrine we find in Hafiz, as translated by Sir William Jones:
Nor are the writings of the Chinese sages without kindred utterances of sentiment. Lao-Tsze says, “Recompense injury with kindness.” So also according to Mencius, “A benevolent man does not lay up anger, nor cherish resentment against his brother, but only regards him with affection and love.” While Confucius, in conformity with his doctrine of the mean, expresses a less extreme view:
“What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?” The Master said, “With what then will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.”
In the later stages of Hebrew civilization, we similarly find the social and divine sanctions for revenge occasionally qualified–a mingling of opposed ideas and sentiments. While, in Ecclesiasticus xxx. 6, a father is regarded as happy who leaves “an avenger against his enemies,” yet in chapter x. 6 there is an injunction to “bear not hatred” for wrong received–an injunction containing in germ the ethical principle which, centuries later, took shape in Christianity.
137. Proofs that decline of vindictiveness and growth of forgiveness are associated with decrease of militancy and increase of peaceful cooperation, cannot be clearly disentangled from the facts; since the two kinds of life have nearly everywhere, and at all times, been associated in one or other proportion. But to such general evidence as the foregoing quotations furnish, may be added some evidence furnished by existing societies.
There is the fact that throughout the chief nations of Europe, the family vendetta has disappeared during a period in which the conflicts of nations have become less constant, and the peaceful exchange of services within each nation more active: a contrast between ancient and modern which asserted itself soonest where the industrial type was earliest developed, namely among ourselves.
Again, there is the fact that in our own society with its comparatively small number of soldiers and a militancy less predominant than that of continental societies with their vast armies and warlike attitudes, there has been a suppression of the revenge for private insults, while this with them continues; and so far has the vindictive spirit declined that an injured man who shows persistent animosity towards one who has injured him, is reprobated rather than applauded: forgiveness is, at any rate by many tacitly approved.
But if we seek a case in which the virtue supposed to be especially Christian is practiced, we must seek it among the non-Christians. Certain peaceful tribes of the Indian hills are characterized by it, as witness this account of the Lepchas:
They are wonderfully honest, theft being scarcely known among them; they rarely quarrel among themselves. . . . They are singularly forgiving of injuries, when time is given them, after hasty loss of temper. Although they were ready enough to lodge complaints before the magistrate against one another in cases of assault and other offenses, they rarely prosecuted to a decision, generally preferring to submit to arbitration, or making mutual amends and concessions. They are averse to soldiering, and cannot be induced to enlist in our army even for local service in the Hills.
Thus we get both positive and negative evidence that the revengefulness within each society is proportionate to the habitual conflict with other societies; and that while, at the one extreme, there is a moral sanction for revenge, at the other extreme there is a moral sanction for forgiveness.
138. Perhaps the soul of goodness in things evil is by nothing better exemplified than by the good thing, justice, which, in a rudimentary form, exists within the evil thing revenge. Meeting aggression by counteraggression is, in the first place, an endeavor to avoid being suppressed by the aggressor, and to maintain that ability to carry on life which justice implies; and it is, in the second place, an endeavor to enforce justice by establishing an equality with the aggressor: inflicting injuries as great as have been received.
This rude process of balancing claims usually fails to establish equilibrium. Revenge, habitually carried not as far only as suffices to compensate for injuries received but, if possible, farther, evokes re-revenge, which also, if possible, is carried to excess; and so there results chronic wars between tribes and chronic antagonisms between families and between individuals. These commonly continue from generation to generation.
But occasionally there is shown a tendency towards establishment of an equilibrium, by bringing aggression and counteraggression to a definite balance, achieved by measure. Let us look at the evidence.
139. Men of various rude types, as the Australians, constantly show the idea, tacitly asserted and acted upon, that the loss of a life in one tribe must be compensated by the infliction of a death in another tribe; some member of which is known, or supposed, to have caused the said loss of life. And since deaths from disease and old age are, among others, ascribed to the machinations of foes–since equivalent deaths must be inflicted for these also, there have to be frequent balancing of losses. (It seems clear, however, that these revenges and re-revenges cannot be always carried out as alleged. For if not only deaths by violence but deaths by disease entail them the two tribes must soon disappear by mutual extirpation.) Races much more advanced in some cases carry out, not this secret balancing of mortality accounts between tribes, but an overt balancing. This is the case with the Sumatrans, among whom the differences are squared by money payments.
This maintenance of intertribal justice, prompted in part by consciousness of that corporate injury which loss of a member of the tribe entails, and requiring the infliction of an equivalent corporate injury on the offending tribe, has the trait that it is indifferent what member of the offending tribe is killed in compensation: whether it be the guilty man or some innocent man matters not. This conception of intertribal justice is repeated in the conception of inter-family justice. Those early types of social organization in which the family is the unit of composition, show us that in each family there arises an idea allied to the idea of nationality; and there results an allied system of reprisals for the balancing of injuries. The Philippine Islands supply evidence. “In the province of La Isabela, the Negrito and Igorrote tribes keep a regular Dr. and Cr. account of heads.” A further interesting illustration is yielded by the Quianganes of Luzon. From an account of them given by Prof. F. Blumentritt, here is a translated passage:
Blood vengeance is a saaed law with the Quianganes. If one plebeian is killed by another, the matter is settled in a sintple manner by killing the murderer or some one of his family who is likewise a plebeian. But if a prominent man or noble is killed by a plebeian, vengeance on the murderer, a mere plebeian, is not enough; the victim of the sin-offering must be an equivalent in rank. Another nobleman must fall for the murdered noble, for their doctrine is–What kind of an equivalent is it to kill some one who is no better than a dog? Hence the family of the slain noble looks around to see if it cannot find a relative of the murderer to wreak vengeance upon, who is also a noble; while the murderer himself is ignored. If no noble can be found among his relatives, the family of the murdered man wait patiently till some one of them is received into the noble’s caste; then the vendetta is prosecuted, although many years may have elapsed. when the blood-feud is satisfied a reconciliation of the contending factions takes place. In all the feuds the heads of the murdered champions are cut off and taken home, and the head-hunters celebrate the affair festally. The skulls are fixed to the front of the house.
Here the need for inflicting an injury of like amount, and so equalizing the losses, is evidently the dominant need. The Semitic peoples in general furnish kindred facts. Burckhardt writes:
It is a received law among all the Arabs, that whoever sheds the blood of a man, owes blood on that account to the family of the slain person. . . . The lineal descendants of all those who were entitled to revenge at the moment of the man-slaughter, inherit this right from their parents.
And respecting this system of administering rude justice by the balancing of deaths between families, Burckhardt remarks: “I am inclined to believe that this salutary institution has contributed, in a greater degree than any other circumstance, to prevent the warlike tribes of Arabia from exterminating one another . . . the terrible ‘blood-revenge’ renders the most inveterate war nearly bloodless.” The evident implication being that dread of this persistent revenge, makes members of different families and tribes fearful of killing one another. That with the feelings and practices of existing Semites, those of ancient Semites agreed, there is good reason to believe. The authorization of blood-revenge between families, is implied in 1 Kings ii. 31, 33, as well as elsewhere. How among European peoples in early times, kindred conceptions led to kindred usages, need not be shown in detail. The fact that when the system of taking life for life was replaced by the system of compensations, these were adjusted to ranks, so that the murder of a person more valuable to the group he belonged to was compounded for by a larger fine payable to it, shows how dominant was the idea of group injury and how dominant was the idea of equivalence.
140. But these ideas of family injury and family guilt have all along been accompanied by ideas of individual injury and individual guilt: here very distinct and there less distinct.
They are very distinct among some peoples in early social stages, as is shown by the account which Im Thurn gives of the Guiana tribes.
In the absence of anything corresponding to police regulations, their mutual relations in everyday life are very well-ordered by the traditional respect which each individual feels for the rights of the others, and by their dread of adverse public opinion should they act contrary to such traditions. . . . The smallest injury done by one Indian to another, even if unintentional, must be atoned by suffering a similar injury.
And that among the Hebrews there was a balancing of individual injuries is a fact more frequently referred to than is the fact that there was a balancing of family injuries; as witness the familiar “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” prescribed in Deuteronomy xix.
The decline of family responsibility and growth of individual responsibility seem to be concomitants of the change in social organization from the type in which the family is the unit of composition to the type in which the individual is the unit of composition. For, evidently as fast as the family organization dissolves, there cease to be any groups which can be held responsible to one another for injuries inflicted by their members; and as fast as this happens the responsibility must fall on the members themselves. Thus it naturally happens that along with social evolution, there emerges from that unjust form of retaliation, in which the groups more than their component men are answerable, that just form in which the men themselves are answerable: the guilty person takes the consequences of his acts, and does not leave them to be borne by other persons.
An instructive contrast in the literature of the Hebrews supports this conclusion. In the earlier writings, God is represented as punishing not only those who have sinned against him, but their posterity for generations. In the later writings, however, there occurs the prophecy of a time when this shall no longer be. Here is a passage from Jeremiah xxxi. 29, 30: “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
That in European peoples growth of this factor in the conception of justice has gone along with the lapsing of group organization and the rise of individual citizenship, is clear. And it is interesting to observe how strange now seem to us the old idea and sentiment, when we come in contact with them, as in China, where the group organization lingers, and it is thought sufficient if, in compensation for one of our people who has been murdered, a victim is delivered up: no matter whether the victim be the guilty man or not.
141. But while, in the more advanced social stages, maintenance of the relation between conduct and consequence comes to be recognized as required by justice; in early social stages the idea of equality is that which chiefly obtains recognition, under the form of an infliction of equivalent injuries. It could scarcely be otherwise. During times of unceasing strife, with entailed wounds and deaths, this is the only equality admitting of distinct maintenance. Evidently, however, from this practice of balancing deaths and mutilations, there tends to arise one component in the conception of equity.
We may see, too, that the activities of militant life themselves afford scope for some further development of the idea; and occasionally there grow up usages requiring some maintenance of equality, even in the midst of conflict. Speaking of certain early wars recorded in the Indian books, Wheeler remarks that
The sentiment of honor which undoubtedly prevailed amongst the ancient Kshatriyas made them regard an attack upon a sleeping enemy as a heinous crime. . . . Aswatthama even whilst bent upon being revenged on the murderer of his father, awoke his sleeping enemy before slaying him.
And various histories yield occasional signs of the belief that under certain circumstances–especially in personal combats–foes should be placed under something like equal conditions before they are attacked; though, very generally the aim has been the reverse–to attack them under every disadvantage.
That all along the idea of likeness of treatment has entered into human relations at large, but chiefly among members of the same society is manifest. But any considerable development of it has been inconsistent with militant life and militant organization. While war, even when retaliatory has necessarily been a discipline in injustice, by inflicting wounds and death upon individuals who have mostly been guiltless of aggression, it has, at the same time, necessitated within each society a type of organization which has disregarded the requirements of justice; alike by the coercive arrangements within its fighting part, by the tyranny over slaves and serfs forming its industrial part, and by the subjection of women. Hence the broad fact that throughout civilization the relations of citizens have become relatively equitable only as fast as militancy has become less predominant; and that only along with this change has the sentiment of justice become more pronounced.
As yielding converse evidence I must again refer to the habits and sentiments which accompany entire peacefulness. Already in the last chapter but one I have named some peoples whose unaggressiveness towards other peoples is accompanied by unaggressiveness among themselves; and of course this trait is in part ascribable to that regard for others’ claims which justice implies. Already, too, in the last chapter, I have quoted various travelers in proof of the great honesty characterizing tribes of this same class: and of course their honesty may be taken as, in a considerable degree, proof of the prevailing sentiment of justice. Here, to this indirect evidence, I may add evidence of a more direct kind, furnished by the treatment of women and children among them. In The Principles of Sociology, sections 324, 327, I have drawn a contrast between the low status of women among militant savages, as well as the militant semicivilized, and the high status of women among these uncultured but unmilitant peoples; showing that by the Todas, low as they are in sundry respects, the women are relieved from all hard work, and “do not even step out of doors to fetch water or wood”; that the wives of the Bodo and Dhimáls “are free from all outdoor work whatever”; that among the Hos a wife “receives the fullest consideration due to her sex”; and that among the “industrious, honest, and peace-loving Pueblos,” no girl is forced to marry against her will, and “the usual order of courtship is reversed"–facts all of them showing a recognition of that equality of claims which is an essential element in the idea of justice. And here I may add an instance not before mentioned, furnished by the Manansas, who occupy a hill country in which they have taken refuge from the invading Bamangwatos and Makololo. Said one of them to Holub, “We want not the blood of the beasts, much less do we thirst for the blood of men”; and hence they are regarded with great contempt by the more powerful tribes. Holub, however, testifying to their honesty and fidelity, says that “nothing worse seems to be alleged against them than their habitual courtesy and good-nature”; and he adds, “They treat their women in a way that offers a very favorable contrast to either the Bechuanas or the Matabele": that is, they are relatively just to them. Similarly, in The Principles of Sociology, sections 330–32, I have shown how much the way in which children are treated by warlike peoples who exercise over them the powers of life and death, and behave to boys far better than to girls, differs from the way in which they are treated by these unwarlike peoples, whose conduct to them is both kind and equal; girls are dealt with as fairly as boys.
To these indications that the sentiment of justice is marked where the habits are peaceful, something should be added respecting the overt expression of it. Little that is definite can be expected from the uncultured, since both the sentiment and the idea are complex. We may, however, infer that in a Wood-Veddah who cannot conceive that a man should take that which is not his own, there exists a sufficiently clear, if not a formulated, idea of justice; and we may fairly say that this idea is implied in the peaceful Thârus who, when they fly to the hills for refuge, “always leave any arrears of rent that may be due tied up in a rag to the lintel of their deserted house.” Nor can we doubt that both the sentiment and idea, from which result regard for other men’s claims, must be dominant in the Hos, of whom we read that one suspected of theft is not unlikely to commit suicide, as also in the Let-htas, an aboriginal hill tribe in Burma, described as ideally good, among whom one accused by several of an evil act “retires to some secluded spot, there digs his grave and strangles himself.” But it is only when we pass to peoples who have risen to a state of culture high enough to evolve literatures, that we get definite evidence concerning the conception of justice which has arisen, and among these we meet with a very significant fact.
For throughout ancient societies at large, militant in their activities, in their types of structure, and in the universally established system of status of compulsory cooperation, justice is not differentiated in thought from altruism in general. In the literatures of the Chinese, the Persians, the Ancient Indians, the Egyptians, the Hebrews, justice is in the main confounded with generosity and humanity. The maxim commonly supposed to be especially Christian, but which, as we have seen, was in kindred forms enunciated among various peoples in pre-Christian days, shows us this. “Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you,” is an injunction
142. To bring into intelligible order the kinds of conduct ordinarily grouped under the name generosity is difficult; partly because much which passes under the name is not really prompted by generous feeling, and partly because generosity rightly so-called is complex in nature and its composition variable.
Generosity is a double-rooted sentiment: one of its roots being very ancient and the other very modern. Its ancient root is the philoprogenitive instinct, which, as manifested throughout a large part of the animal kingdom, leads to the sacrifice of self for the benefit of offspring. This form of generosity coexists in many creatures with absolute disregard of the welfare of all save offspring: conspicuously so in the Carnivora and less conspicuously so in the Herbivora. The relatively modern root of generosity is sympathy which is shown by some of the higher gregarious creatures, as the dog, in considerable degrees. This trait is more variously and largely displayed by human beings, and especially by certain higher types of them. The earlier factor in the sentiment is personal and narrow, while the later is impersonal and broad.
In mankind, generosity ordinarily combines the two. The love of the helpless, which constitutes the essential part of the philoprogenitive instinct, is, nearly always, associated with fellow feeling: the parent sympathizes with the pleasures and pains of the child. Conversely the feeling which prompts a generous act of one adult to another, commonly includes an element derived from the early instinct. The individual aided is conceived in a distinct or vague way as an object of pity; and pity is a sentiment closely allied to the parental, since it is drawn out towards some being relatively helpless or unfortunate or suffering.
To this mixed nature of the sentiment as commonly displayed, is due the confusion in its manifestations among races in different stages; and to it must consequently be ascribed the perplexities which stand in the way of satisfactory inductions.
143. As a preliminary it should be further remarked that the sentiment of generosity, even in its developed form, is simpler than the sentiment of justice; and hence is earlier manifested. The one results from mental representations of the pleasures or pains of another or others–is shown in acts instigated by the feelings which these mental representations arouse. But the other implies representations, not simply of pains or pleasures, but also, and chiefly representations of the conditions which are required for, or are conducive to, the avoidance of pains or procuring of pleasures. Hence it includes a set of mental actions superposed on the mental actions constituting generosity.
Recognition of this truth makes comprehensible the order of their succession in the course of civilization. And this order will be rendered still more comprehensible if we remember that generosity among people of low intelligence, often results from inability to represent to themselves distinctly the consequences of the sacrifices they make–they are improvident.
144. First to be dealt with is that pseudo-generosity mainly composed of other feelings than benevolent ones. The wish for the welfare of another is, indeed, rarely without alloy: there are mostly present other motives–chiefly the desire for applause. But to the lowest of the actions apparently caused by generosity these other motives form the predominant or sole prompters instead of the subordinate prompters.
The display of hospitality among uncivilized and barbarous peoples furnishes striking examples. Of the Bedouin “at once rapacious and profuse,” and who is scrupulously hospitable, Palgrave says: “He has in general but little to offer, and for that very little he not unfrequently promises himself an ample retribution, by plundering his last night’s guest when a few hours distant on his morning journey.” Similarly of the Kirghiz, we are told by Atkinson that a chief who does not molest travelers while with him, sends his followers to rob them on their march. In East Africa, too, a chief of Urori “will entertain his guests hospitably as long as they remain in his village, but he will plunder them the moment they leave it.” Still more startling are the apparent incongruities of conduct among the Fijians. “The same native who within a few yards of his house would murder a coming or departing guest for sake of a knife or a hatchet, will defend him at the risk of his own life as soon as he has passed his threshold.” And then how little relation there is between generosity rightly so-called and hospitality in such cases, is further shown by the statement of Jackson that the Europeans who have lived long among Fijians have become hospitable: “a practice which they have adopted through the example of these savages.”
Among the uncivilized at large, of whatever type, hospitality of a less treacherous kind, prompted apparently by usage the origin of which is difficult to understand, is constantly displayed. “‘Custom’ enjoins the exercise of hospitality on every Aino. They receive all strangers as they received me, giving them of their best, placing them in the most honorable place, bestowing gifts upon them, and, when they depart, furnishing them with cakes of boiled millet.” We read that among the Australians, the laws of hospitality require that strangers should be perfectly unmolested during their sojourn. Jackson says that according to the rules of Samoan hospitality, strangers are well treated, receiving the best of everything. According to Lichtenstein “the Caffres are hospitable”; and that “the hospitality of the Africans has been noticed by almost every traveler who has been much among them” is remarked by Winterbottom. Of the tribes inhabiting North America Morgan says: “One of the most attractive features of Indian society was the spirit of hospitality by which it was pervaded. Perhaps no people ever carried this principle to the same degree of universality as did the Iroquois.” So, too, Angas tells us of the New Zealanders that they are very hospitable to strangers.
By this last people we are shown in how large a measure the love of applause is a factor in apparent generosity. The New Zealanders, writes Thomson, have a great admiration of profuseness, and desire to be considered liberal at their feasts; and elsewhere he says that by them “heaping up riches, unless to squander, was disgraceful.” To an allied feeling may be ascribed the trait presented by the people of St. Augustine Island, among whom the dead were judged and sent to happiness or misery according to their “goodness” or “badness”; and “goodness meant one whose friends had given a grand funeral feast, and badness a person whose stingy friends provided nothing at all.” To this peremptory desire for approval is in some cases due an expenditure, on the occasion of a death or a marriage, so great that the family is impoverished by it for years; and in one case, if not in more cases, female infanticide is committed with the view of avoiding the ruinous expense which a daughter’s marriage entails.
To the prompters of pseudo-generosity thus disclosed, may be added another disclosed by the habits of civilized settlers in remote regions. Leading solitary lives as such men do, the arrival of a stranger brings an immense relief from monotony and gratifies the craving for social intercourse. Hence it happens that travelers and sportsmen are not only welcomed but even pressed to stay.
Manifestly, then, the sentiment which in many cases instigates hospitality to visitors and feasts to friends, is a proethical sentiment. There goes with it little, or none, of the ethical sentiment proper.
145. We find, however, among some of the most uncivilized peoples, displays of a generosity which is manifestly genuine–sometimes, indeed, find displays of it greater than among the civilized.
Burchell tells us even of the Bushmen that towards one another they “exercise the virtues of hospitality and generosity; often in an extraordinary degree.” So, too, he says that the Hottentots are very hospitable among themselves, and often to people of other tribes; and Kolben expresses the belief that “In Munificence and Hospitality the Hottentots, perhaps, go beyond all the other Nations upon Earth.” Of the East Africans, again, Livingstone says: “The real politeness with which food is given by nearly all the interior tribes, who have not had much intercourse with Europeans, makes it a pleasure to accept.” Though, in the following extract concerning the people of Loango, there is proof that love of approbation is a strong prompter to generous actions, yet there seems evidence that there is mingled with it a true sentiment of generosity.
They are always ready to share the little they have with those whom they know to be in need. lf they have been fortunate in hunting and fishing, or have procured something rare, they immediately run and tell their friends and neighbors, taking to each his share. They would choose to stint themselves rather than not give them this proof of their friendship. . . . They call the Europeans close fists, because they give nothing for nothing.
Other races, some lower and some higher, yield like facts. We read that the Australian natives who have been successful in hunting always, and without any remark, supply those of their number who have been unsuccessful with a share of their meal. The account given by Vancouver of the Sandwich Islanders, shows that, in their generosity towards strangers, they were like most uncivilized peoples before bad treatment by Europeans had demoralized them. He says: “Our reception and entertainment here [at Hawaii] by these unlettered people, who in general have been distinguished by the appellation of savages, was such as, I believe, is seldom equalled by the most civilized nations of Europe.” Brett describes the Guiana tribes as “passionately fond of their children; hospitable to every one; and, among themselves, generous to a fault.” These instances I may reinforce by one from a remote region. Bogle stayed while in Tibet with the Lama’s family–that is, with his relations, at whose hands he received much kindness. When he offered them presents they refused to accept them, saying, “You. . . are come from a far country; it is our business to render your stay agreeable; why should you make us presents?”
146. Various of the uncivilized display generosity in other ways than by hospitality and in ways which exhibit the sentiment more clearly detached from other sentiments. Illustrations are furnished by that very inferior race, the Australians. They were always willing to show Mr. Eyre where water was to be had, and, even unsolicited, would help his men to dig for it. Their kindness in this respect seems the more remarkable on remembering how difficult it was for them to find a proper supply for themselves. Sturt tells us that a friendly native has been known to interpose, at great personal risk, on behalf of travelers whom a hostile tribe was about to attack. With an adjacent race it was the same. During troubled times in Tasmania, the lives of white people were in several instances “saved by the native women, who would often steal away from the tribe, and give notice of an intended attack.” Under another form, much generosity of feeling is shown by the Tongans. Mariner writes of them that
They never exult in any feats of bravery they may have performed, but, on the contrary, take every opportunity of praising their adversaries; and this a man will do, although his adversary may be plainly a coward, and will make an excuse for him, such as the unfavorableness of the opportunity or great fatigue, or ill state of health, or badness of his ground, &c.
These, and many kindred facts, make it clear that the name savages,” as applied to the uncivilized, misleads us; and they suggest that the name might with greater propriety be applied to many among ourselves and our European neighbors.
147. If, as we see, under the form of hospitality enforced by custom, in which it is largely simulated, or under forms in which it is more manifestly genuine, generosity is widely prevalent among peoples who have not emerged from low stages of culture; we need not be surprised to find expressions of generous sentiments, and injunctions to perform generous actions, in the early literatures of races which have risen to higher stages. The ancient Indian books furnish examples. Here, from the Rig-Veda, is an extract exhibiting the interested or nonsympathetic prompting of generosity: “The givers of largesses abide high in the sky; the givers of horses live with the sun; the givers of gold enjoy immortality; the givers of raiment prolong their lives.” Similarly Rig-Veda X. 107, eulogizes liberality to priests.
I regard as the king of men him who first presented a gift. . . . The wise man makes largesse, giving his breastplate. Bountiful men neither die nor fall into calamity; they suffer neither wrong nor pain. Their Iiberality confers on them this whole world as well as heaven.
In the Code of Manu, too, we read that strangers are to be allowed to sojourn and be well entertained. He must eat before the householder (iii. 105). “The honoring of a guest confers wealth, reputation, life, and heaven” (iii. 106; iv 29) and delivers from guilt (iii. 98). And kindred reasons for hospitality are given by Apastamba: The reception of guests is rewarded by ``immunity from misfortunes, and heavenly bliss” (ii. 3, 6, 6). “He who entertains guests for one night obtains earthly happiness, a second night gains the middle air, a third heavenly bliss, a fourth the world of unsurpassable bliss; many nights procure endless worlds” (ii. 3, 7, 16). The literature of the Persians contains kindred thoughts. In the Shâyast, the clothing of the soul in the next world is said to be formed “out of almsgivings.” Passages in the Gulistan enjoin liberality while reprobating asceticism: “The liberal man who eats and bestows, is better than the religious man who fasts and hoards. Whosoever hath forsaken luxury to gain the approbation of mankind, hath fallen from lawful into unlawful voluptuousness.” And in the same work we have a more positive injunction to be generous, but still associated with self-interest as a motive: “Do good, and do not speak of it, and assuredly thy kindness will be recompensed to thee.”
Passing to China we find in Confucius various kindred injunctions; dissociated, too, from promptings of lower motives. Here are examples:
Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others.
The Master said, “Though a man have abilities as admirable as those of the duke of Chow, yet if he be proud and, niggardly those other things are really not worth being looked at.
When any of his [Confucius’s] friends died, if he had no relations who could be depended on for the necessary offices, he would say “I will bury him.
That in the sacred books of the Hebrews are to be found kindred admonitions, here joined with promises of supernatural rewards and there without such promises, needs no saying. It should be added, however, that we are not enabled by these quoted passages to compare the characters displayed by Indians, Persians, Chinese, or Hebrews, with the characters described in the foregoing accounts travelers give us of the uncivilized; for these passages come from the writings of exceptional men–poets and sages. But though violent reaction against an all-pervading selfishness may mostly be the cause of exaggerated expressions of generosity, we must admit that the possibility of such exaggerated expressions goes for something.
148. Concerning generosity among European peoples, as exhibited in history at successive stages of their progress, no very definite statements can be made. We have evidence that in early days there existed much the same feelings and practices as those now existing among savages–practices simulating generosity. Tacitus says of the primitive Germans: “No nation indulges more profusely in entertainments and hospitality. To exclude any human being from their roof is thought impious.” And these usages and ideas went, as we know along with utter lack of sympathy: they implied the generosity of display sanctified by tradition.
Throughout the Middle Ages and down to comparatively recent times, we see, along with a decreasing generosity of display little more than the generosity prompted by hope of buying divine favor. The motive has been all along expressed in the saying, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord” (Proverbs xix. 17); and the Lord is expected to pay good interest. Christianity even in its initial form, represents the giving of alms as a means of salvation; and throughout many centuries of Christian history the giving of alms had little other motive. Just as they built chapels to compound for crimes and manumitted slaves to make peace with God; so, beyond a desire for the applause which followed largesse, the only motive of the rich for performing kind actions was an other-worldly motive–a dread of hell and wish for heaven. As Mr. Lecky remarks, “Men gave money to the poor, simply and exclusively for their own spiritual benefit, and the welfare of the sufferer was altogether foreign to their thoughts.” How utterly alien to generosity rightly so-called, was the feeling at work, is shown by the unblushing, and indeed self-satisfied, avowal made by Sir Thomas Browne in the passage which Mr. Lecky quotes from him–"I give no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfill and accomplish the will and command of my God.”
In modern days, however, we may recognize a growing proportion of true generosity–the ethical sentiment as distinguished from the proethical sentiment. Though there is still in predominant amount that transcendental self-seeking which does good here merely to get happiness hereafter–though there are even multitudes who, in the spirit of Sir Thomas Browne, feel no shame in the avowal that their kindnesses to others are prompted by the wish to please God more than by the wish to further human welfare; yet there are many who, in conferring benefits, are prompted mainly and others who are prompted wholly by fellow feeling with those whom they aid. And beyond the manifestations of this sentiment of true generosity in private actions, there are occasionally manifestations of it in public actions; as when the nation made a sacrifice of twenty millions of money that the West Indian slaves might be emancipated.
That this development of true generosity has been consequent on increase of sympathy and that sympathy has gained scope for exercise and growth with the advance to an orderly and amicable social life, scarcely needs saying.
149. For reasons given at the outset, it is difficult to bring the various manifestations of pseudo-generosity and generosity proper, into generalizations of a definite kind. And the impediment due to the complexity and variable composition of the emotion prompting generous acts, is made greater by the inconsistency of the traits which men, and especially the lower types of men, present. Unbalanced as their natures are, they act in quite opposite ways according to the impulse which is for the moment in possession of consciousness. Angas tells us that “infanticide is frequent among the New Zealanders.” Yet “both parents are almost idolatrously fond of their children”; and while Cook described them as “implacable towards their enemies,” Thomson observed that they were kind to their slaves. Other instances are furnished by the Negro races. Reade says that in parts of equatorial Africa where there is the greatest treachery there are also strong marks of affectionate friendship. Concerning the East Africans Burton writes: “When childhood is passed, the father and son become natural enemies, after the manner of wild beasts. Yet they are a sociable race, and the sudden loss of relatives sometimes leads from grief to hypochondria and insanity.” Lacking those higher emotions which serve to coordinate the lower, these last severally determine the actions now this way and now that, according to the incidents of the moment. Hence only by comparison of extremes are we likely to discover any significant relations of facts.
In the accounts of those most ferocious savages, the cannibal Fijians, who worship cannibal gods–savages whose titles of honor are “the waster of” such a coast, “the depopulator of” such an island, and who committed atrocities which Williams said “I dare not record here,” no mention is made of any generosity save that which results from display. Among the predatory red men of North America, the Dakotas may be singled out as those who, in the greatest degree, show the aggressiveness and revengefulness fostered by a life of chronic war–men by whom prisoners, especially aged ones, are handed over to the squaws to torture for their amusement. Here generosity is referred to only to note its absence: the Dakota is ungenerous, says Burton–never gives except to get more in return. Similarly of the Nagas, ever fighting, village with village as well as with neighboring races, carrying blood feuds to extremes, dreaded as robbers and murderers, and always mutilating their dead enemies, we read that “they are totally devoid of a spark of generosity and will not give the most triffing articles without receiving remuneration.”
Of the converse connection of traits the evidence is usually not clear, for the reason that the generosity ascribed to tribes which do not carry on perpetual hostilities is mostly of the kind shown in hospitality which is always open to the interpretation of being due in part, if not wholly to usage or love of display Thus Colquhoun, who talks of the “hospitable aborigines” and says “it is quite refreshing to turn from the Christian Anamites to the less repulsive, if heathen, hill-tribes” (the Steins who inhabit “fever-stricken haunts,” where they can lead peaceful lives), says that “amongst them a stranger is certain of a welcome; the fatted pig or fowl is at once killed, the loving cup produced.” Similarly in his earlier work, Across Chrysê, Mr. Colquhoun, speaking of indigenous peoples here and there islanded among the conquering Tartars, speaks of them as “very pleasant in their ways, kind and hospitable”; and afterward he quotes the impressions of a resident French missionary who spoke of the peaceful native inhabitants as “simple, hospitable, honest,” having “le bon coeur,” while of the governing Chinese, and especially the military mandarins, his verdict was–"être mandarin, c’est être voleur, brigand!” Of like meaning is the contrast drawn by the Abbé Favre in his Account of the Wild Tribes of the Malayan Peninsula. On the one hand he describes the conquering race, the Malays, as being full of predatory vices, lying, cheating, plundering–"no man can entrust them with anything”; and, so far from being hospitable, using every means to fleece the traveler. On the other hand of the aboriginal peoples, who “fled to the fastnesses of the interior, where they have since continued in a savage state,” he tells us that their disputes are settled “without fighting or malice,” that they are “entirely inoffensive,” and “generally kind, affable, inclined to gratitude and to beneficence,” “liberal and generous.” Briefly contrasting the two, he says–"The actions of Malays generally show low sentiments and a sordid feeling; but the Jakuns are naturally proud and generous”; and then he asks, “Whence then comes so remarkable a difference?” As a cause he comments on the “plundering and bloody actions” of the piratical Malays; while the Jakuns have been led into quiet lives in their fastnesses. Let me add, lastly the case of the peaceful and “simple Arafuras,” of whom the French resident, M. Bik, says: “They have a very excusable ambition to gain the name of rich men, by paying the debts of their poorer fellow villagers. . . . Thus the only use they make of their riches is to employ it in settling differences.”
150. The division between the subject matter of this chapter and that of the last chapter, is in large measure artificial, and defensible only for convenience’ sake. Kindness, pity, mercy which we here group under the general head of humanity, are closely allied to generosity; though less liable than it to be simulated by lower feelings. They are all altruistic sentiments, and have for their common root, sympathy. Hence we may expect to find, as we shall find, that in respect of their relations to other traits of nature, and to type of social life, much the same may be said of them as may be said of generosity.
It may also be said of them, as of generosity, that while in their developed forms they are mainly prompted by mental representations of the pains or pleasures of other beings, they usually contain to the last, as they contain in chief measure at first, the parental feeling–the feeling which is excited by the consciousness of relative incapacity or helplessness–the pleasure felt in taking care of something which tacitly appeals for aid. And the mixed nature of these sentiments hence resulting, adds, as in the case of generosity to the difficulty of generalizing.
A further difficulty which is indeed a sequence of the last, results from the incongruous emotions which many types of men, and especially inferior types, display. Thus, while Moffat says “the Bushmen will kill their children without remorse,” and while Lichtenstein tells us that no other savages betray “so high a degree of brutal ferocity”; Moffat, speaking of their attentions to him when he was ill, says: “I was deeply affected by the sympathy of these poor Bushmen, to whom we were utter strangers.” Agreeing with Burchell, Kolben describes the Hottentots as friendly liberal, benevolent; and yet, from Kolben, as from Sparrman, we learn that they frequently bury infants alive, and leave their aged to die in solitary places. It is so, too, with the Australians. While they abandon their aged to perish, and often destroy their infants, they are represented as fond and indulgent parents, and as often showing kind feelings to travelers. More strange still is the contrast exhibited in Borneo, where, according to Boyle, a Dyak has often been seen rushing “through a captured village, clasping in his arms a young child as tenderly as possible, without relaxing his grasp of its father’s gory head.”
In face of such facts it seems unlikely that our inductions concerning the relations of humane feeling to type of man, and to social type, can be more than rudely approximate.
151. We may fitly begin with illustrations of entire lack of sympathy, now taking the negative shape of simple indifference to others’ suffering, and now taking the positive shape of delight in their suffering. Of the Karens Mason says: “I have stood over an old woman dying alone in a miserable shed, and tried in vain to induce her children and grandchildren, close by, to come to help her.” The lack of feeling shown by the Honduras people in Herrera’s day he illustrates by the refusal of a wife to kill a hen for her sick husband, because, as she said, “her husband would die, and then she should lose him and the hen too.” Various Negro races furnish kindred examples. While, concerning the natives of Loando, Monteiro says that “the Negro is not cruelly inclined” [not actively cruel], yet “he has not the slightest idea of mercy, pity, or compassion": “A fellow creature, or animal, writhing in pain or torture, is to him a sight highiy provocative of merriment and enjoyment.” Duncan and Burton agree in saying that the Dahomans, who “are void either of sympathy or gratitude, even in their own families,” are “in point of parental affection, inferior to brutes.” And then the Ashantis show us this indifference formulated as a principle of conduct. Two of their proverbs, as rendered by Burton, run thus: “If another suffers pain, (to you) a piece of wood suffers.” “The distress of others is no concern of yours; do not trouble yourself about it.”
Passing from negative to positive cruelty, we find in the Damaras illustrations of both. Baines says of them: “Everybody knows that in other tribes the aged and helpless are left to perish, but that a mother should refuse to pull a few bundles of grass to close up a sleeping hut for her sick daughter. . . . is almost beyond belief.” And, according to Galton, a sick man “is pushed out of his hut by his relations away from the fire into the cold; they do all they can to expedite his death.” So with the negative inhumanity of the Dahomans above named may be joined their positive inhumanity; shown, for instance, in the “annual customs” at which numbers of victims are slaughtered to supply a dead king “with fresh attendants in the shadowy world,” and again shown by decorating their buildings with great numbers of human skulls, which they make war to obtain. Of kindred testimonies Holub yields one concerning the Marutse, asserting that “a brutal cruelty is one of the predominant failings of these people”; and another is yielded by Lord Wolseley, who says that “the love of bloodshed and of watching human bodily suffering in any shape is a real natural pleasure to the Negroes of West Africa.”
To these cases of positive inhumanity may be added those displayed by the predatory tribes of North America who, while they discipline their young men by subjecting them to tortures, also torture their enemies. “Wolves of women borne,” as the Prairie Indians are called, hand over “an old man or woman” for torture, “to the squaws and papooses, pour les amuser.” Burton who tells us this, says of the Yutahs that they are “as cruel as their limited intellects allow them to be.” From another authority we learn that the squaws among the Comanches are crueler than the men, and delight in torturing the male prisoners.
152. How often misused words generate misleading thoughts! Savage, originally meaning rude, wild, uncultured, was consequently applied to aboriginal peoples. Behaving treacherously and cruelly to voyagers, as some of them did in retaliation, this trait was regarded as a universal trait; and “savage” came to mean ferocious. Hence the baseless belief that savageness in this sense, characterizes the uncivilized in contrast with the civilized. But the inhumanity which has been shown by the races classed as civilized, is certainly not less, and has often been greater, than that shown by the races classed as uncivilized.
Passing over the multitudinous cruelties which stain the annals of ancient Eastern nations, of whom the Assyrians may be named as a sample; merely naming the doings of the admired Homeric Greeks–liars, thieves, and murderers, as Grote shows–whose heroes revelled in atrocities; and not dwelling on the brutalities of the Spartans or the callousness, if nothing more, of other later Greeks; we may turn to the Romans, whose ruthless civilization, lauded by admirers of conquests, entailed on Europe centuries of misery. Twenty generations of predatory wars, developed a nature of which the savagery has rarely been equalled by that of the worst barbarian races known to us. Though the torture of captives has been practiced by the North American Indians, they have not been in the habit of torturing their slaves. Though there were subject tribes among the Fijians who were liable to be used for cannibal feasts, yet the Fijians did not go to the length of killing hundreds of his fellow slaves along with one who had murdered his master. And if very often the uncivilized reduce to bondage such of the conquered as are not slain, they do not form them into herds, make them work like beasts, and deny them all human privileges; nor do they use any of them to gratify their appetites for bloodshed by combats in arenas–appetites so rampant in Rome that the need for satisfying them was bracketed with the need for satisfying bodily hunger. Using the word “savage” in its modern acceptation, we may fairly say that, leaving the Fijians out of the comparison, the white savages of Rome outdid all which the dark savages elsewhere have done.
Were it not that men are blinded by the theological bias and the bias of patriotism, it would be clear to them that throughout Christian Europe also, during the greater part of its history the inhumanity fostered by the wars between societies, as well as by the feuds within each society, has been carried to extremes beyond those reached by inferior peoples whom we think of as ferocious. Though the atrocities committed by such semicivilized races as the Mexicans and Central Americans, such as skinning victims alive and tearing out their palpitating hearts, may not have been paralleled in Europe; yet Europeans, loudly professing a religion of love, have far exceeded them in the ingenuity of their multitudinous appliances for the infliction of prolonged agonies on heretics, on witches, and on political offenders. And even now though at home the discipline of a peaceful social life has nearly extinguished such inhumanities, yet by our people abroad there are still perpetrated inhuman deeds, if not of these kinds, yet of other kinds. The doings of Australian settlers to the natives, of “beachcombers” and kidnappers in the Pacific, do but exemplify in vivid ways the barbarous conduct of European invaders to native races–races which, when they retaliate, are condemned as “savage.”
153. While men of some varieties appear to be devoid of sympathy and the moral traits which it originates, there are men of other varieties who, inferior to ourselves as they may be in respect of culture, are our equals, and some of them our superiors, in respect of humanity. Here, in the briefest way I string together the testimonies of travelers, whose names will be found in the references.
The Veddahs are “in general gentle and affectionate”; widows are always supported by the community.” Tannese–"The sick are kindly attended to the last.” In New Guinea some tribes of Papuans have shown great humanity to Europeans placed at their mercy. Dyaks–"Humane to a degree which well might shame ourselves.” Malagasy–"Treat one another with more humanity than we do.” Esquimaux–"As between themselves, there can be no people exceeding them in this virtue–kindness of heart.” Iroquois–"Kindness to the orphan, hospitality to all, and a common brotherhood” were enjoined. Chippewas–before the white man came, there was more “charity practiced towards one another; and the widow and orphan were never allowed to live in poverty and want.” Araucanians–No indigent person is to be found . . . the “most incapable of subsisting themselves are decently clothed:” “generous and humane towards the vanquished.” Mandingos–"It is impossible for me to forget the disinterested charity and tender solicitude, with which many of these poor heathens . . . sympathized with me in my sufferings.” And Kolff, speaking of the “continued kindness” of the inhabitants of Luan, says–"I never met with more harmony contentment and toleration, more readiness to afford mutual assistance, more domestic peace and happiness, nor more humanity and hospitality.”
Though, as in the case of the Bushmen, characterized by Moffat in the first section of this chapter, humane actions on some occasions are associated with brutal actions on other occasions, yet in some of the peoples here instanced–the Veddahs, the Esquimaux, and the inhabitants of Luan–there is no such alloy.
154. In the literatures of ancient Eastern peoples, there are numerous expressions of humane sentiments and exhortations to humane actions–utterances of poets and sages, which, though they probably indicate in but small measure the prevailing sentiments, may be taken as in some measure significant of advance consequent on settled social life. Among the early Indian books, the Mahabharata contains the following:
And in the same book, the princess Savitri, urging Yama, the god of death, to give back the soul of her husband which he was carrying away tells the god how noble is the quality of mercy. She argues that to give is more divine than to take; to preserve is mightier than to destroy. The sacred book of the Persians, the Zend-Avesta, appears to have its humane precepts in some measure prompted by the doctrine of metempsychosis–kind treatment of animals being insisted upon partly for that reason; but Sadi, in the Gulistan, has definite injunctions of a relevant kind:
Show mercy to the weak peasant . . . it is criminal to crush the poor and defenceless subjects with the arm of power. . . . Thou who art indifferent to the sufferings of others deservest not to be called a man.
Charitable conduct was insisted upon among the Egyptians too. According to Birch and Duncker, it was enjoined “to give bread to the hungry water to the thirsty clothes to the naked, and shelter to the wanderer”; and the memoirs in the tombs “portray just and charitable lives, protection of the widow and the needy care for the people in times of famine.” Similarly the books of the Chinese sages agree in emphasizing the virtues which flow from fellow-feeling. According to Legge, Lâo-tsze “seems to condemn the infliction of capital punishment; and he deplores the practice of war.” In a like spirit Confucius says that “benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity.” And Mencius too, while alleging that the “feeling of commiseration is essential to man,” remarks that “so is the superior man affected towards animals, that, having seen them alive, he cannot bear to see them die.” To all which has of course to be added the evidence furnished by the sacred books of the Hebrews, in the later of which there are injunctions to show kindness and mercy, not to men only but to animals–injunctions which the European peoples who avowedly accepted them, along with the still more humane doctrine of Jesus, did so little throughout many centuries to practice, even in small measure.
155. Amid perturbing causes and conflicting testimonies, no general conclusions seem trustworthy save those reached by putting side by side the extreme cases. Comparisons so made justify anticipation.
Of the Karens, instanced above as absolutely heartless, it is said that “every tribe is antagonistic to each other,” and there is almost continual war. So too is it with another Indian race, the Afridis. The intensity of the fighting propensity among them is such that “an Afridi generally has a blood feud with nine out of ten of his own relations”; and their lack of all humane sentiment is implied by the statement that “ruthless, cowardly robbery, cold-blooded, treacherous murder, are to an Afridi the salt of life.” Then we have the case of the Dahomans, above shown to be utterly void of sympathy even with their own offspring, and whose absolutely militant social state is so exceptionally indicated by their army of Amazons. The wildest tribes of the North American Indians, too, the Dakotas and the Comanches, whose inhumanity is shown by torturing their prisoners, are tribes of warriors carrying on chronic feuds and perpetual wars.
Of the converse relation, the most marked cases above instanced are those exhibited by certain absolutely peaceful peoples–the Esquimaux, the inhabitants of Luan, the Veddahs. Among such, free as they are from those passions which intertribal enmities exercise and increase, we find an unusual display of that fellow-feeling which results in kindly behavior and benevolent actions.
And here, along with this contrast, may be joined a contrast of kindred nature, between the absence and presence of a trait allied to humane feeling–I mean gratitude; for of gratitude, as of humanity the ultimate root is sympathy. Of the fighting and destructive Fijians Williams says:
Ingratitude deeply and disgracefully stains the character of the Fijian heathen. . . . If one of them, when sick, obtained medicine from me, he thought me bound to give him food; the reception of food he considered as giving him a claim on me for covering; and, that being secured, he deemed himself at liberty to beg anything he wanted, and abuse me if I refused his unreasonable request.
On the other hand, what do we read about the Veddahs, living always in peace? Mr. Atherton describes them as “very grateful for attention or assistance”; and, as quoted by Pridham, Mr. Bennett says that after having given some Veddahs presents and done them a service,
a couple of elephants’ tusks, nearly six feet in length, found their way into his front verandah at night, but the Veddahs who had brought them never gave him an opportunity to reward them. “What a lesson in gratitude and delicacy” he observes, “even a Veddah may teach!”
Truly, indeed, they may teach this, by making in so unobtrusive a way and with great labor, a return greater in value than the obligation; and they may teach more–may teach that where there have not been preached the Christian virtues, these may be shown in a higher degree than where they are ostentatiously professed and perpetually enjoined.
156. Complete truthfulness is one of the rarest of virtues. Even those who regard themselves as absolutely truthful are daily guilty of overstatements and understatements. Exaggeration is almost universal. The perpetual use of the word “very.” where the occasion does not call for it, shows how widely diffused and confirmed is the habit of misrepresentation. And this habit sometimes goes along with the loudest denunciations of falsehood. After much vehement talk about “the veracities,” will come utterly unveracious accounts of things and people–accounts made unveracious by the use of emphatic words where ordinary words alone are warranted: pictures of which the outlines are correct but the lights and shades and colors are doubly and trebly as strong as they should be.
Here, among the countless deviations of statement from fact, we are concerned only with those in which form is wrong as well as color–those in which the statement is not merely a perversion of the fact but, practically an inversion of it. Chiefly, too, we have to deal with cases in which personal interests of one or other kind are the prompters to falsehood–now the desire to inflict injury as by false witness; now the desire to gain a material advantage; now the desire to escape a punishment or other threatened evil; now the desire to get favor by saying that which pleases. For in mankind at large, the love of truth for truth’s sake, irrespective of ends, is but little exemplified.
Here let us contemplate some of the illustrations of veracity and unveracity–chiefly unveracity–furnished by various human races.
157. The members of wild tribes in different parts of the world, who, as hunters or as nomads, are more or less hostile to their neighbors, are nearly always reprobated by travelers for their untruthfulness; as are also the members of larger societies consolidated by conquest under despotic rulers.
Says Burton of the Dakotas–"The Indian, like other savages, never tells the truth.” Of the Mishmis, Griffith writes–"They have so little regard for truth, that one cannot rely much on what they say.” And a general remark, à propos of the Kirghiz, is to the same effect. “Thuth, throughout Central Asia, is subservient to the powerful, and the ruler who governs leniently commands but little respect.”
Of the settled societies, the first to be named is the Fijian. Williams tells us that
Among the Fijians the propensity to lie is so strong, that they seem to have no wish to deny its existence. . . . Adroitness in lying is attained by the constant use made of it to conceal the schemes and plots of the Chiefs, to whom a ready and clever liar is a valuable acquisition. . . . “A Fijian truth” has been regarded as a synonym for a lie.
Of kindred nature, under kindred conditions, is the trait displayed by the people of Uganda.
In common with all savage tribes, truth is held in very low estimation, and it is never considered wrong to tell lies; indeed, a successful liar is considered a smart, clever fellow, and rather admired.
So, too, was it among the ancient semicivilized peoples of Central America. De Laet says of certain of them, living under a despotic and bloody regime–"they are liars, like most of the Indians.” And concerning the modern Indians, who may be supposed to have preserved more or less the character of their progenitors, Dunlop writes:
I never have found any native of Central America, who would admit that there could be any vice in lying; and when one has succeeded in cheating another, however gross and infamous the fraud may be, the natives will only remark, “Que hombre vivo” (What a clever fellow).
A like fact is given by Mr. Foreman in his work on the Philippine Islands. He says the natives do not “appear to regard lying as a sin, but rather as a legitimate, though cunning, convenience.”
158. The literatures of ancient semicivilized peoples yield evidence of stages during which truth was little esteemed, or rather, during which lying was tacitly or openly applauded. As we saw in a recent chapter (section 127) deception, joined with atrocity, was occasionally inculcated in the early Indian literature as a means to personal advancement. We have proof in the Bible that, apart from the lying which constituted false witness, and was to the injury of a neighbor, there was among the Hebrews but little reprobation of lying. Indeed it would be remarkable were it otherwise, considering that Jahveh set the example; as when, to ruin Ahab, he commissioned “a lying spirit” (1 Kings, xxii. 22) to deceive his prophets; or as when, according to Ezekiel, xiv. 9, he threatened to use deceptions as a means of vengeance.
If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
Evidently from a race-character which evolved such a conception of a deity’s principles, there naturally came no great regard for veracity This we see in sundry cases; as when Isaac said Rebecca was not his wife but his sister, and nevertheless received the same year a bountiful harvest: “the Lord blessed him” (Gen. xxvi, 12); or as when Rebecca induced Jacob to tell a lie to his father and defraud Esau–a lie not condemned but shortly followed by a divine promise of prosperity; or as when Jeremiah tells a falsehood at the king’s suggestion. Still we must not overlook the fact that in the writings of the Hebrew prophets, as also in parts of the New Testament, lying is strongly reprobated. Averaging the evidence, we may infer that along with the settled life of the Hebrews there had grown up among them an increased truthfulness.
Much regard for veracity was hardly to be expected among the Greeks. In the Iliad the gods are represented not only as deceiving men but as deceiving one another. The chiefs “do not hesitate at all manner of lying.” Pallas Athene is described as loving Ulysses because he is so deceitful; and, in the words of Mahaffy the Homeric society is full of “guile and falsehood.”2 Nor was it widely otherwise in later days. The trait alleged of the Cretans–"always liars"–though it may have been more marked in them than in Greeks at large, did not constitute an essential difference. Mahaffy describes Greek conduct in the Attic ages as characterized by “treachery” and “selfish knavery,” and says that Darius thought a Greek who kept his word a notable exception.
Evidence of the relation between chronic hostilities and utter disregard of truth, is furnished throughout the history of Europe. In the Merovingian period–"the era of blood"–oaths taken by rulers, even with their hands on the altar, were forthwith broken; and Salvian writes–"If a Frank forswear himself, where’s the wonder, when he thinks perjury but a form of speech, not of crime?” After perpetual wars during the two hundred years of the Carolingian period, with Arabs, Saracens, Aquitanians, Saxons, Lombards, Slavs, Avars, Normans, came the early feudal period, of which H. Martin says:
The tenth [century] may pass for the era of fraud and deceit. At no other epoch of our history does the moral sense appear to have been so completely effaced from the human soul as in that first period of feudalism.
And then, as an accompaniment and consequence of the internal conflicts which ended in the establishment of the French monarchy, there was a still-continued treachery: the aristocracy in their relations with one another “were without truth, loyalty, or disinterestedness . . . Neither life nor character was safe in their hands.” Though Mr. Lecky ascribes the medieval “indifference to truth” to other causes than chronic militancy, yet he furnishes a sentence which indirectly yields support to the induction here made, and is the more to be valued because it is not intended to yield such support. He remarks that “where the industrial spirit has not penetrated, truthfulness rarely occupies in the popular mind the same prominent position in the catalogue of virtues” as it does among those “educated in the habits of industrial life.”
Nor do we fail to see at the present time, in the contrasts between the Eastern and Western nations of Europe, a like relation of phenomena.
159. Reflection shows, however, that this relation is not a direct one. There is no immediate connection between bloodthirstiness and the telling of lies. Nor because a man is kind-hearted does it follow that he is truthful. If, as above implied, a life of amity is conducive to veracity, while a life of enmity fosters unveracity, the dependencies must be indirect. After glancing at some further facts, we shall understand better in what ways these traits of life and character are usually associated.
In respect of veracity as in respect of other virtues, I have again to instance various aboriginal peoples who have been thrust by invading races into undesirable habitats; and have there been left either in absolute tranquillity or free from chronic hostilities with their neighbors. Saying of the Kois that they all seem to suffer from chronic fever (which sufficiently shows why they are left unmolested in their malarious wilds) Morris tells us that “They are noted for truthfulness, and are quite an example in this respect to the civilized and more cultivated inhabitants of the plains.” According to Shortt, in his Hill Ranges of Southern India,
A pleasing feature in their [Sowrahs] character is their complete truthfulness. They do not know how to tell a lie. They are not sufficiently civilized to be able to invent.
I may remark in passing that I have heard other Anglo-Indians assign lack of intelligence as the cause of this good trait–a not very respectable endeavor to save the credit of the higher races. Considering that small children tell lies, and that lies are told, if not in speech yet in acts, by dogs, considerable hardihood is shown in ascribing the truthfulness of these and kindred peoples to stupidity. In his Highlands of Central India, Forsyth writes: “The aborigine is the most truthful of beings, and rarely denies either a money obligation or a crime really chargeable against him.” Describing the Râmósîs, Sinclair alleges that
They are as great liars as the most civilized races, differing in this from the Hill tribes proper, and from the Parwâris, of whom I once knew a Brâhman to say: “The Kunabis, if they have made a promise, will keep it, but a Mahâr [Parwari] is such a fool that he will tell the truth without any reason at all.”
And this opinion expressed by the Brahman, well illustrates the way in which their more civilized neighbors corrupt these veracious aborigines; for while Sherwill, writing of another tribe, says “The truth is by a Sonthal held sacred, offering in this respect a bright example to their lying neighbors the Bengalis,” it is remarked of them by Man that “Evil communications are exercising their baneful influences over them, and soon, I fear, the proverbial veracity of the Sonthal will cease to become a byword.”
In The Principles of Sociology, vol. ii, sections 437 and 574, I gave the names of others of these Indian hill-tribes noted for veracity–the Bodo and Dhimals, the Carnatic aborigines, the Todas, the Hos; and here I may add one more, the Puluyans, whose refuge is “hemmed in on all sides by mountains, woods, backwaters, swamps, and the sea,” and who “are sometimes distinguished by a rare character for truth and honor, which their superiors in the caste scale might well emulate.” So too is it in a neighboring land, Ceylon. Wood-Veddahs are described as “proverbially truthful and honest.” From other regions there comes kindred evidence. Of some Northern Asiatic peoples, who are apparently without any organization for offense or defense, we read: “To the credit of the Ostiaks and Samoiedes it must be said, that they are eminently distinguished for integrity and truthfulness.”
But now we have to note facts which make us pause. There are instances of truthfulness among peoples who are but partially peaceful, and among others who are anything but peaceful. Though characterized as “mild, quiet, and timid,” the Hottentots have not infrequent wars about territories; and yet, in agreement with Barrow, Kolben says the Word of a Hottentot “is sacred: and there is hardly any thing upon earth they look upon as a fouler crime than breach of engagement.” Morgan, writing of the Iroquois, states that “the love of truth was another marked trait of the Indian character.” And yet, though the Iroquois league was formed avowedly for the preservation of peace, and achieved this end in respect of its component nations, these nations carried on hostilities with their neighbors. The Patagonian tribes have frequent fights with one another, as well as with the aggressive Spaniards; and yet Snow says–"A lie with them is held in detestation.” The Khonds, too, who believe that truthfulness is one of the most sacred duties imposed by the gods, have “sanguinary conflicts” between tribes respecting their lands. And of the Kolis, inhabiting the highlands of the Dekhan, we read that though “manly, simple, and truthful,” they are “great plunderers” and guilty of “unrelenting cruelty.”
What is there in common between these truthful and pacific tribes and these truthful tribes which are more or less warlike? The common trait is that they are not subject to coercive rule. That this is so with tribes which are peaceful, I have shown elsewhere (Principles of Sociology, ii, sections 573–74); and here we come upon the significant fact that it is so, too, with truthful tribes which are not peaceful. The Hottentots are governed by an assembly deciding by a majority and the head men have but little authority. The Iroquois were under the control of a council of fifty elected sachems, who could be deposed by their tribes; and military expeditions, led by chiefs chosen for merit, were left to private enterprise and voluntary service. Among the Patagonians there was but feeble government: followers deserting their chiefs if dissatisfied. Writing of the Khonds’ “system of society” Macpherson says–"The spirit of equality pervades its whole constitution, society is governed by the moral influence of its natural heads alone, to the entire exclusion of the principle of coercive authority.”
160. In the remarks of sundry travelers, we find evidence that it is the presence or absence of despotic rule which leads to prevalent falsehood or prevalent truth.
Reference to the Reports on the Discovery of Peru of Xeres and Pizarro (pp. 68–69, 85–86, 114–20), makes it manifest that the general untruthfulness described was due to the intimidation the Indians were subject to. So, too, respecting the Mexicans, the Franciscan testimony was–"They are liars, but to those who treat them well they speak the truth readily.” A clear conception of the relation between mendacity and fear was given to Livingstone by his experiences. Speaking of the falsehood of the East Africans he says,
But great as this failing is among the free, it is much more annoying among the slaves. One can scarcely induce a slave to translate anything truly: he is so intent on thinking of what will please.
And he further remarks that “untruthfulness is a sort of refuge for the weak and oppressed.”
A glance over civilized communities at once furnishes verification. Of European peoples, those subject to the most absolute rule, running down from their autocrats through all grades, are the Russians; and their extreme untruthfulness is notorious. Among the Egyptians, long subject to a despotism administered by despotic officials, a man prides himself on successful lying, and will even ascribe a defect in his work to failure in deceiving some one. Then we have the case of the Hindus, who, in their early days irresponsibly governed, afterwards subject for a long period to the brutal rule of the Mahometans, and since that time to the scarcely-less brutal rule of the Christians, are so utterly untruthful that oaths in Courts of Justice are of no avail, and lying is confessed to without shame. Histories tell like tales of a mendacity which, beginning with the ruled, infects the rulers. Writing of the later feudal period in France, Michelet says: “It is curious to trace from year to year the lies and tergiversations of the royal false coiner": but nowadays political deceptions in France, though still practiced, are nothing like so gross. Nor has it been otherwise among ourselves. If with the “universal and loathsome treachery of which every statesman of every party was continually guilty,” during Elizabeth’s reign, while monarchical power was still but little qualified, we contrast the veracity of statesmen in recent days, we see a kindred instance of the relations between the untruthfulness which accompanies tyranny and the truthfulness which arises along with increase of liberty.
Hence such connections as we trace between mendacity and a life of external enmity, and between veracity and a life of internal amity, are not due to any direct relations between violence and lying and between peacefulness and truth-telling; but are due to the coercive social structure which chronic external enmity develops, and to the noncoercive social structure developed by a life of internal amity. To which it should be added that under the one set of conditions there is little or no ethical, or rather proethical, reprobation of lying; while under the other set of conditions the proethical reprobation of lying, and in considerable measure the ethical reprobation, become strong.
161. Under the one name “obedience” are grouped two kinds of conduct, which have widely different sanctions: the one sanction being permanent and the other temporary. Filial obedience and political obedience being thus bracketed, the idea of virtuousness is associated with both; and almost everyone thinks that a submission which is praiseworthy in the one case, is praiseworthy in the other also.
Here we have to recognize the truth that while due subordination of child to parent originates in a permanent order of Nature, and is unconditionally good, the subordination of citizen to government is appropriate to a process which is transitional, and is but conditionally good.
It is true that in societies which have had a genesis of the kind erroneously supposed by Sir Henry Maine to be universal, the two kinds of obedience have a common root: the patriarchal group grows out of the family and, by insensible steps, the subjection of children to parents passes into the subjection of adult sons to their father, and the subjection of family groups to the father of the father or patriarch. It is true, also, that by union of many patriarchal groups there is produced an organization in which a supreme patriarch is the political head. But in developed societies, such as those of modern days, these primitive relationships have wholly disappeared, and the two kinds of obedience have become quite distinct. Nevertheless, being in large measure prompted by the same sentiment, the two commonly vary together.
In contemplating the facts, we will first take those which concern the subordination of child to father, and then those which concern the subordination of citizen to government.
162. The earliest social stages are characterized not only by absence of chiefs, and therefore absence of the sentiment which causes political submission, but they are often characterized by such small submission of sons as renders the human family group near akin to the brutal family group–a group in which parental responsibility on the one side, and filial subjection on the other, soon cease.
The American races yield instances. The Araucanians “never punish their male children, considering chastisement degrading, and calculated to render the future man pusillanimous and unfit for the duties of a warrior.” Among the Arawaks affection seems to prompt this lenient treatment: a father “will bear any insult or inconvenience from his child tamely, rather than administer personal correction.” And then of a Dakota boy we read that “at ten or twelve, he openly rebels against all domestic rule, and does not hesitate to strike his father: the parent then goes off rubbing his hurt, and boasting to his neighbors of the brave boy whom he has begotten.” Some Old World races supply kindred illustrations. Of the East Africans, Burton says: “When childhood is past, the father and son become natural enemies, after the manner of wild beasts.” So, too, when, writing about the Bedouin character, and commenting on “the daily quarrels between parents and children,” Burckhardt tells us that “instead of teaching the boy civil manners, the father desires him to beat and pelt the strangers who come to the tent,” to cultivate his high spirit: adding elsewhere that “the young man, as soon as it is in his power, emancipates himself from the father’s authority . . . whenever he can become master of a tent himself . . . he listens to no advice, nor obeys any earthly command but that of his own will.” Associated with insubordination to parents, we sometimes have cruelty shown to them in age. A Chippewayan old man “is neglected, and treated with great disrespect, even by his own children”; and the Kamtschadales “did not even consider it a violation of filial duty to kill them [their parents] when they became burdensome.”
Towards mothers, more especially is disregard shown: their relatively low position as slaves to men, prompting contempt for them. By the Dakotas “the son is taught to make his mother toil for him.” In Fiji “one of the first lessons taught the infant is to strike its mother, a neglect of which would beget a fear lest the child should grow up to be a coward.” When a young Hottentot has been admitted into the society of men
He may insult his mother when he will with impunity. He may cudgel her, if he pleases, only for his humor without any danger of being called to an account for it. Such actions are esteemed as tokens of a manly temper and bravery.
Concerning the Zulu boys Thompson writes: “It is a melancholy fact, that when they have arrived at a very early age, should their mothers attempt to chastise them, such is the law, that these lads are at the moment allowed to kill their mothers.” And Mason says of the Karens:
Occasionally when the mother gives annoyance to her children by reproving them; one will say: “My mother talks excessively. I shall not be happy till she dies. I will sell her, though I do not get more than a gong or five rupees for her.” And he sells her.
So far as these instances go, they associate lack of obedience of children to parents with a low type of social organization. This, however, is not a uniform relation, as we see in the case of the Esquimaux, among whom “the affection of the parents for their children is very great, and disobedience on the part of the latter is rare. The parents never inflict physical chastisement upon the children.” The fact would appear to be that in the lowest social groups, we may have either filial obedience or filial disobedience; but that if the groups are of kinds which lead lives of antagonism, then, in the absence of filial obedience, there does not arise that cohesion required for social organization.
163. This is implied by the converse connection which we see displayed among various types of men.
If, with the wandering Semites above named, we contrast the Semites who, though at first wandering, became settled and politically organized, we see little filial subordination in the one and much in the other. Among the Hebrews the head of the family exercised capital jurisdiction (Genesis xxxviii. 24). In the decalogue (Exodus xx, 12) honoring parents comes next to obeying God. In Leviticus xx. 9, punishment is threatened for cursing father or mother, just as it is for blasphemy; and in Deuteronomy xxi. 18–21, it is ordered that a rebellious son shall be publicly stoned to death. Of another branch of the race, which assumed the coercive type of social organization–the Assyrians–we read that “a father was supreme in his household . . . If the son or daughter disowned his father he was sold as a slave, and if he disowned his mother he was outlawed.”
By the Hindus, filial piety vividly shown by sacrifices of food to deceased father, grandfather, great-grandfather, &c., was in early times vividly shown, too, during life.
The father of Nakiketas had offered what is called an All-sacrifice, which requires a man to give away all that he possesses. His son, hearing of his father’s vow, asks him, whether he does or does not mean to fulfill his vow without reserve. At first the father hesitates; at last, becoming angry he says: “Yes, I shall give thee also unto death.” The father, having once said so, was bound to fulfill his vow, and to sacrifice his son to death. The son is quite willing to go, in order to redeem his father’s rash promise.
No less conspicuously has this connection been exhibited in China, where it has continued from the earliest recorded days down to our own. With the established worship of ancestors, by whom are supposed to be consumed the periodical offerings of food, &c., made to them, there has all along gone the absolute subordination of children to living parents. Says Confucius–"Filial piety and fraternal submission!–are they not the root of all benevolent actions?” An old Chinese saying runs–"Among the hundred virtues, filial piety is the chief”; and a sacred edict of 1670 says filial piety is “the first and greatest of the commandments in China.” It was the same in another large society of which the continuity goes back beyond our chronology: I mean that of the Egyptians. According to Ptah-hotep, “The secret of moral duty is obedience; filial obedience is its root.” Nor was it otherwise with the society which, beginning as a small cluster of clans, spread and spread till it overran all Europe, with parts of Asia and Africa. The subjection of sons to fathers in early Roman days, and long afterwards, was absolute–less qualified indeed, than in China; for though down to the present time Chinese parents have the right of infanticide, and may sell their children as servants or slaves; and though, by implication, adult sons can do nothing without parental approval, or own property not subject to parental confiscation; yet we do not read that the Chinese have exercised the power of life and death over adult children, as did the Romans. Of course with the establishment of this absolute parental power went the assumption that filial submission should be absolute. And if, throughout subsequent European history, a father’s authority and a child’s subjection have been less extreme; yet, up to comparatively modern times, they have been very decided.
By various types of men we are thus shown that filial obedience has constantly accompanied social growth and consolidation: if not throughout, yet during its earlier stages.
164. The height to which political obedience rises is determined, in chief measure, by the existence of favorable conditions. If the physical characters of the habitat are such as to negative large aggregations of men–as they do in wide tracts which are barren, leading to nomadic life, or as they do where mountain chains cut off group from group–the tendency seems rather to be for the filial sentiment to develop no further than the patriarchal; and along with this restricted growth there may go resistance to a wider rule. The Khonds exemplify this:
For the head of a family all the tribes have the greatest respect, it being a proverb with them that “A man’s father is his God on earth.” The social organization among them is indeed strictly patriarchal, the father of a family being its absolute ruler in every case. Disobedience to him under any circumstances is regarded as a crime.
This trait is possessed by another mountain people, the Bhils, who, along with a certain amount of submission to general chiefs, show an extreme allegiance to their family chiefs or patriarchs, called Turwees.
So wonderful is the influence of the chief over this infatuated people, that in no situation, however desperate, can they be induced to betray him. . . . To kill another when their Turwee desires, or to suffer death themselves, appears to them equally a matter of indffference.
From filial obedience, thus widening in range, may in time develop a settled political obedience, where physical circumstances favor it; and especially where there arises combined action in war. Pallas tells us that the Kalmucks manifest much “attachment towards their legitimate rulers”; and that they honor and obey their parents. Among the Sgaus, a division of the Karens (apparently unlike the other divisions), “The elders say: ‘O children and grandchildren! respect and reverence your mother and father.’ . . . ‘O, children and grandchildren! obey the orders of kings, for kings in former times obeyed the commands of God.’ “But it is in the larger societies of primitive types that the two kinds of obedience are most closely associated. In China where, as before shown, filial obedience is extreme, we see them jointly insisted upon; as implied by Tsze-hea when he lauded a man “if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength, if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life”; and as implied in the conduct of Confucius, already quoted as enjoining filial obedience, who when “passing the vacant place of the prince, his countenance appeared to change, and his legs to bend under him, and his words came as if he hardly had breath to utter them.” After recognizing in China occasional dissent, as of Mencius, who in one place suggests rebellion, we may pass to Persia. Here, too, there were solitary expressions of independence, as by the Darwesh who said that “kings are for the protection of their subjects, not subjects for the service of kings”; but, in general, political obedience was urged, for reasons of prudence if for no other. One of their vazirs said:
And Sadi enjoins the attitude of submission as a part of duty: instance the sentence: “Whosoever possesseth the qualities of righteousness placeth his head on the threshold of obedience.” Among the Ancient Indians, instanced above as carrying to an extreme the submission of son to father, political submission was strongly insisted on; as in the Code of Manu, where it is held wrong to treat even a child-king “as if he were a mortal; he is a great divinity in human shape.” Then in Egypt, along with that exhortation to obey parents quoted from Ptah-hotep, may be named his approval of wider obedience: “If thou abasest thyself in obeying a superior, thy conduct is entirely good before God.” Commenting on the groveling prostrations represented in their sculptures and paintings, Duncker remarks that the Egyptians “worshipped their kings as the deities of the land.” Indeed, in the inscriptions on the tombs of officials, the deeds implying such worship are specified as proofs of their virtue. Nor was it otherwise with the Hebrews. While, in their decalogue, religious obedience and filial obedience are closely coupled, there was elsewhere joined with these political obedience; as in Proverbs xvi. 10, where it is said: “A divine sentence is in the lips of the king; his mouth transgresseth not.”
Throughout European history a like relationship is traceable. Along with the theory and practice of absolute subjection of child to parent, there went the theory and practice of absolute subjection to the chief man of the group–now to the local head, while the groups were small and incoherent, and now to the central head, when they became large and consolidated. Less definite forms of rule having been replaced by feudalism, there first came fealty to the feudal lord, and then, with advancing political integration, there came loyalty to the king. In the old French epic the one inexpiable crime is the treason of a vassal; the noblest virtue is a vassal’s fidelity. In our own country the extreme loyalty of the highlanders to the chiefs of their clans, and subsequently to the Stuarts as their kings, exemplifies the dominance of the sentiment; while the English nobility have, among other ways of showing this feeling, shown it in sundry of their mottoes; as instance–Paulet and others, “Aimez loyaulté”; Earl Grey and others, “De bon vouloir servir le roy”; Earl of Lindsay “Loyalty binds me”; Baron Mowbray, “I will be loyal during my life”; Earl of Rosse, “For God and the King”; Adair, “Loyal to the death.”
And here let us note how the frequency with which loyalty is thus expressed as the highest of sentiments, reminds us of the frequency with which aggressiveness has been, by other nobles, chosen as the sentiment most worthy to be professed.
165. The significance of this association lies in the fact that they are both accompaniments of chronic militancy. When we remember that first of all the chief, and in later days the king, and later still the emperor, is primarily the supreme commander; and that his headship in peace is but a sequence of his headship in war; it is clear that at the outset political obedience is identical with military obedience. Further, it needs but to consider that for success in war absolute subordination to the commander-in-chief is essential, and that absolute subordination to him as king is a concomitant, to see that while the militancy remains active, the two remain one.
Additional evidence of this relationship is yielded by a few cases in which political obedience is carried to an extreme exceeding obedience of all other kinds. The first to be named is afforded by a people who have passed away–the warlike and cannibal Mexicans, who invaded their neighbors to get victims to satisfy their hungry gods. Montezuma II, says Herrera, “caused himself to be so highly respected, that it almost came to be adoration. No commoner was to look him in the face, and if one did, he died for it.” According to Peter of Ghent, “the worst feature in the character of the Indians is their submissiveness”; and then Herrera, illustrating their loyalty names a man who would not betray his lord, but rather than do so allowed himself to be “torn piecemeal” by dogs. Among existing peoples, a striking example is furnished by the cannibal Fijians. These ferocious savages, revelling in war and destruction, are described by Erskine as intensely loyal. So obedient are they to their chiefs, says Jackson, that they have been known to eat pumice-stone when commanded to do so; and Williams says that a condemned man stands unbound to be killed, himself declaring, “Whatever the king says, must be done.” Of the bloody Dahomans, too, with their Amazon army, we are told by one traveler that “before the king all are slaves alike,” and by another that “they reverence him with a mixture of love and fear, little short of adoration": “parents are held to have no right or claim to their children, who, like everything else, belong to the king.” So that political subordination submerges all other kinds of subordination.
Nor is it only by these extreme cases, and by the extreme converse cases, that this connection is shown. It is shown also by the intermediate cases: instance the various peoples of Europe. In Russia militancy and its appliances subordinate the entire national life; and among Europeans the Russians display the most abject obedience: gaining, thereby the applause of Mr. Carlyle. Loyal to the point of worship, they submit unresistingly to the dictation of all state officials down to the lowest. On the other hand, we are ourselves the people among whom militancy and its appliances occupy the smallest space in the national life, and among whom there is least political subjection. The government has come to be a servant instead of a master. Citizens severely criticize their princes; discuss the propriety of abolishing one division of the legislature; and expel from power ministers who do not please them.
Nor is it otherwise when we compare earlier and later stages of the same nation. By these, too, we are shown that as fast as the life of internal amity outgrows the life of external enmity, the sentiment of obedience declines. Though submissive loyality to the living German Kaiser is great, yet it is not so great as was the submissive loyalty to his conquering ancestor, Frederick II, when Forster wrote: “What chiefly disgusted me was the deification of the king.” If, notwithstanding the nominally free form of their government, the mass of the French people let their liberties be trampled upon to an extent which the English delegates to a Trades–Union Congress in Paris said is “a disgrace to, and an anomaly in, a Republican nation”; yet their willing subordination is not so great as it was at the time when war had raised the French monarchy to its zenith. In our own case, too, while there is a marked contrast between the amount of war, internal and external, in early days, and the complete internal peace, joined with long external peace, which recent times have known; there is a contrast no less marked between the great loyalty shown in early days and the moderate loyalty largely nominal, shown at present.
It remains only to add that, along with the decline of political subordination there has gone a decline of filial subordination. The harsh rule of parents and humble submission of children in past centuries, have, in our times, been exchanged for a very moderate exercise of parental authority and a filial subjection which, far less conspicuous during youth than it used to be, almost ceases when the age for marriage arrives.
166. Thus, akin though they are in the sentiment prompting them, and in the main varying together, the two kinds of obedience, filial and political, have different sanctions. The one is bound up with the laws of life, while the other is dependent on the needs of the social state, and changes as they change.
For the obedience of child to parent there is the warrant arising from relatively imperfect development, and there is the warrant arising from the obligation to make some return for benefits received. These are obviously permanent; and though, with the advance from lower to higher types of man and society. filial subjection decreases, yet some degree of it must ever remain, and must continue to be prompted by an ethical sentiment properly so-called.
On the other hand, political obedience, nonexistent in groups of primitive men, comes into existence during the political integrations effected by war–during the growth and organization of large societies formed by successive conquests. The development of political obedience in such societies is a necessity; since, without it, there cannot be carried on the combined actions by which subjugations and consolidations are brought about.
The implication is that the sentiment of political obedience, having but a transitional function, must decrease in amount as the function decreases in needfulness. Along with decline of that system of status characterizing the militant type of organization, and rise of that system of contrast characterizing the industrial type, the need for subjection becomes gradually less. The change of sentiment accompanying this change from compulsory cooperation to voluntary cooperation, while it modifies the relations of citizens to one another, modifies also their relations to their government: to this the same degree of obedience is neither required nor felt. Humble submission ceases to be a virtue; and in place of it there comes the virtue of independence.
Decline of political obedience and waning belief in the duty of it, go along with increasing subordination to ethical principles, a clearer recognition of the supremacy of these, and a determination to abide by them rather than by legislative dictates. More and more the proethical sentiments prompting obedience to government, come into conflict with the ethical sentiment prompting obedience to conscience. More and more this last causes unconformity to laws which are at variance with equity. And more and more it comes to be felt that legal coercion is warranted only insofar as law is an enforcer of justice.
That political obedience is thus a purely transitional virtue, cannot be perceived while the need for political subordination remains great; and while it remains great the unlimited authority of the ruling power (if not a man then a majority) will continue to be asserted. But if from past changes we are to infer future changes, we may conclude that in an advanced state, the sphere of political obedience will have comparatively narrow limits; and that beyond those limits the submission of citizen to government will no more be regarded as meritorious than is now the cringing of a slave to a master.
167. If we are to understand the origins and variations of the sentiments, ethical and proethical, which have been entertained in different times and places concerning industry and the absence of industry we must first note certain fundamental distinctions between classes of human activities, and between their relations to the social state.
Industry, as we now understand it, scarcely exists among primitive men–scarcely indeed, can exist before the pastoral and agricultural states have been established. Living on wild products, savages of early types have to expend their energies primarily in gathering and catching these: the obtainment of some, like fruits and roots, being easy and safe, and the obtainment of others, such as beasts of which some are swift and some are large, being difficult and dangerous. After these the remaining activities, more difficult and dangerous than those the chase implies, are implied by warfare with fellow men. Hence the occupations of the utterly uncivilized may be roughly divided into those which demand strength, courage, and skill, in large measure, and those which demand them in but small measure or not at all. And since in most cases the preservation of the tribe is mainly determined by its success in war and the chase, it results that the strength, courage, or skill shown in these, come to be honored both for themselves and for their value to the tribe. Conversely, since the digging up of roots, the gathering of wild fruits, and the collecting of shellfish, do not call for strength, courage, and skill, and do not conspicuously further tribal preservation, these occupations come to be little honored or relatively despised. An implication strengthens the contrast. While the stronger sex is called on to devote itself to the one, the other is left to the weaker sex: sometimes aided by conquered men, or slaves. Hence arises a further reason why in primitive societies, honor is given to the predatory activities while the peaceful activities are held in dishonor. Industry, therefore, or that which at first represents it, is not unnaturally condemned by the proethical sentiment.
The only kinds of activity to be classed as industrial which the warriors of the tribe may enter upon, are those necessitated by the making of weapons and the erection of wigwams or huts: the one, closely associated with war and the chase, demanding also the exercise of skill; and the other demanding both skill and strength–not the moderate strength shown in monotonous labor, but the great strength which has to be suddenly exerted. And these apparent exceptions furnish a verification; for they further show that the occupations held in contempt are those which, demanding relatively little power, physical or intellectual, can be carried on by the inferior.
The contrast thus initiated between the sentiments with which these classes of occupations are regarded, has persisted with but small, though increasing, qualification, throughout the course of human progress; and it has thus persisted because the causes have in the main persisted. While the self-preservation of societies has most conspicuously depended on the activities implied by successful war, such activities have been held in honor; and, by implication, industrial activities have been held contemptible. Only during recent times–only now that national welfare is becoming more and more dependent on superior powers of production, and such superior powers of production are becoming more and more dependent on the higher mental faculties, are other occupations than militant ones rising into respectability; while simultaneously respectability is being acknowledged in the accompanying capacity for persistent and monotonous application.
Carrying this clue with us, we shall be able now to understand better the ethics of labor, as changing from people to people and from age to age.
168. The North American Indians furnish the simplest and clearest illustrations of predatory habits and associated sentiments. Schoolcraft says of the Chippewas:
They have regarded the use of the bow and arrow the war club and spear as the noblest employments of man. . . . To hunt well and to fight well, are the first and the last themes of their hopes and praises of the living and the dead. . . . They have ever looked upon agricultural and mechanical labors as degrading.
Of the Snake Indian, Lewis and Clarke write: “He would consider himself degraded by being compelled to walk any distance.” Of kindred nature is Burton’s account of the Dakotas: “The warrior, considering the chase as an ample share of the labor curse, is so lazy that he will not rise to saddle or unsaddle his pony. . . . Like a wild beast he cannot be broken to work: he would rather die than employ himself in honest industry.” By the more civilized Iroquois, too, the primitive feeling was displayed–"The warrior despised the toil of husbandry, and held all labor beneath him.” Even the unwarlike Esquimaux is said to exhibit a like aversion. “He hunts and fishes, but having brought his booty to land troubles himself no further about it; for it would be a stigma on his character, if he so much as drew a seal out of the water.” There being, perhaps, for this usage a plea like that possessed by the usage of the Chippewayans, among whom, “when the men kill any large beast, the women are always sent to bring it to the tent"–the plea, namely, that the chase, whether on sea or on land, is extremely exhausting.
Passing to South America we meet with facts of kindred meaning. Men of the Guiana tribes take no share in industry, save in making clearance for the growing of food: each lies “indolently in his hammock until necessitated to fish, or use the more violent exercise of the chase, to provide for the wants of his family,” And then of the Araucanians, warlike but agricultural (apparently because there is but little scope for the chase), we are told that “the ‘lord and master’ does little but eat, sleep, and ride about.”
In the wording of this last statement, as by implication in the other statements, we may see that in early stages the egoism of men, unqualified by the altruism which amicable social intercourse generates, leads them to devolve on women all exertions which, unaccompanied by the pleasures of achievement, are monotonous and wearisome. “The lord and master” does what he likes; and he likes to make the woman (or his woman as the case may be) do all the dull and hard work. Proofs of this are multitudinous. America furnishes instances in the accounts of the Chippewayans, Creeks, Tupis, Patagonians; as witness these extracts:
“This laborious task [dragging the sledges] falls most heavily on the women: nothing can more shock the feelings of a person, accustomed to civilized life, than to witness the state of their degradation.”
“The women perform all the labor, both in the house and field, and are, in fact, but slaves to the men.”
“When they removed, the women were the beasts of burthen, and carried the hammocks, pots, wooden pestles and mortars, and all their other household stock.”
The lives of the Patagonian women are “one continued scene of labor. . . . They do everything, except hunting and fighting.”
Here, again, are testimonies given by travelers in Africa concerning the Hottentots, Bechuanas, Kaffirs, Ashantis, people of Fernando Po and the Lower Niger:
The wife “is doomed to all the toil of getting and dressing provisions for” her husband, “herself and children. . . . and to all the care and drudgery within doors, with a share of the fatigue in tending the cattle.”
“The women build the houses; plant and reap the corn; fetch water and fuel; and cook the food. It is very rarely that the men are seen helping the women, even in the most laborious work.”
“Besides her domestic duties, the woman has to perform all the hard work; she is her husband’s ox, as a Kafir once said to me–she has been bought, he argued, and must therefore labor.”
“It may be remarked, that the weightiest duties generally devolve upon the wife, who is to be found ‘grinding at the mill,’ transacting business in the market, or cultivating the plantation.”
“The females in Fernando Po have a fair portion of work assigned to them, such as planting and collecting the yam . . . but they are certainly treated with greater consideration and kindness than in any part of Africa we visited.”
On the lower Niger, “women are commonly employed in the petty retail trade about the country; they also do a great deal of hard work, especially in the cultivation of the land.”
Of which extracts it may be remarked that the latter ones, which concern races of more advanced kinds, carrying on more settled industries, show that with them the slavery of women is less pronounced.
Beyond that dishonorableness which, in early stages, attaches to labor because it can be performed by women, who in most cases are incapable, or considered to be incapable, of war and the chase; there is the further dishonorableness which attaches to it because, as above pointed out, it is carried on also by conquered men or slaves–by men, that is, proved in one or other way to be inferior. In very early stages we sometimes find slaves thus used for the nonpredatory occupations which their masters find irksome. Even of the Chinooks we read that “slaves do all the laborious work”; and they are often associated with the women in this function. Says Andersson: “The Damaras are idle creatures. What is not done by the women is left to the slaves, who are either the descendants of impoverished members of their own tribe or . . . captured Bushmen.” Describing the people of Embomma on the Congo, Tuckey writes: “The cultivation of the ground is entirely the business of slaves and women, the King’s daughters and princes’ wives being constantly thus employed.” Burton tells us that in Dahomey “agriculture is despised, because slaves are employed in it”; but a great deal of it seems to be done by women. And similarly of the Mishmis in Asia, we read that “the women and slaves do all the cultivation.”
Naturally then, and, indeed, we may say necessarily there grows up in these early stages a profound prejudice against labor–a proethical sentiment condemnatory of it. How this proethical sentiment, having the sanction of ancestral usages, assumes this or that special character according to the habits which the environment determines, we are variously shown. Thus we read that the Bushmen “are sworn enemies to the pastoral life. Some of their maxims are, to live on hunting and plunder”; “The genuine Arabs disdain husbandry, as an employment by which they would be degraded.” In which examples, as in many already given, we may see how a mode of life long pursued, determines a congruous set of feelings and ideas. And the strength of the prejudices which maintain inherited customs of this class, is shown by sundry anomalous cases. Livingstone tells us of the East Africans that where there are cattle, the women till the land, plant the corn, and build the huts. The men stay at home to sew, spin, weave, and talk, and milk the cows.”
Still more strange is the settled division of labor between the sexes in Abyssinia. According to Bruce, “It is infamy for a man to go to market to buy anything. He cannot carry water or bake bread; but he must wash the clothes belonging to both sexes, and, in this function, the women cannot help him.” In Cieza’s account of certain ancient Peruvians, the Cañaris, we find a kindred system:
[The women] are great laborers, for it is they who dig the land, sow the crops, and reap the harvests, while their husbands remain in the houses sewing and weaving, adorning their clothes, and performing other feminine offices. . . . Some Indians say that this arises from the dearth of men and the great abundance of women.
Possibly such anomalies as these have arisen in cases where surrounding conditions, causing decrease of predatory activities while the labors of women continued to suffice for purposes of production, left the men to lead idle lives or lives filled with easy occupations. We may safely infer that among barbarous peoples, the men did not take to hard and monotonous labor until they were obliged.
169. But where chronic militancy did not effectually keep down population, increase of it made peremptory the devotion of men to food production; and with this change in social life there was initiated a change in the proethical sentiments respecting labor. The Khonds furnish an example. They “consider it beneath their dignity to barter or traffic, and . . . regard as base and plebeian all who are not either warriors or tillers of the soil.” So of the Javans we are told that “they have a contempt for trade, and those of higher rank esteem it disgraceful to be engaged in it; but the common people are ever ready to engage in the labors of agriculture, and the chiefs to honor and encourage agricultural industry.” From various sources we learn that the Germanic tribes, both in their original habitats and in those which they usurped, became reconciled to husbandry as an alternative to hunting and marauding: doubtless because by no other occupation could adequate sustenance be obtained.
Concerning these and kindred transitional states, two passing remarks may be ventured. One is that since industry chiefly agricultural, is at first carried on by slaves and women, working under authority it results that when freemen are forced by want of food to labor, they have a strong prejudice against laboring for others, that is, laboring for hire; since working under authority by contract, too much resembles working under authority by compulsion. While Schomburgk characterizes the Caribs as the most industrious race in Guiana, he says that only the extremest need can induce a Carib so far to lower his dignity as to work for wages for a European. This feeling is shown with equal or greater strength by some peaceful peoples to whom subordination is unfamiliar or unknown. Speaking of southeast India, Lewin says: “Among the hill tribes labor cannot be hired; the people work each one for himself. In 1865, in this district, a road had to be cut; but although fabulous wages were offered, the hill population steadily refused to work.” And still more decided is the aversion to working under orders shown by the otherwise industrious Sonthal:
The Sonthal will take service with no one, he will perform no work except for himself or his family, and should any attempt be made to coerce him, he flies the country or penetrates into the thickest jungle, where unknown and unsought, he commences clearing a patch of ground and erecting his log hut.
The other remark is that the scorn for trade which, as above shown, at first coexists with the honoring of agriculture, is possibly due to the fact that it was originally carried on chiefly by unsettled classes, who were detached, untrustworthy members of a community in which most men had fixed positions. But the growth of trade slowly brought a changed estimate. As, in hunting tribes, agriculture, relatively unessential, was despised, but became respectable when it became an indispensable means to maintenance of life; so trade, at first relatively unessential (since essential things were mostly made at home), similarly lacked the sanction of necessity and of ancestral custom, but in course of time, while growing into importance, gradually ceased to excite that proethical sentiment which vents itself in contempt.
170. With the growth of populous societies and the more and more imperative need for agriculture, the honorableness for labor does not for long periods obtain recognition, for the reasons indicated at the outset: it is carried on by slaves, or by serfs, or in later days by men more or less inferior in body or mind. A strong association in thought is thus established; and the natural repugnance to work is enforced by the belief that engagement in it is a confession of a low nature.
Though, in the literatures of ancient civilized societies, we find the duty of laboring insisted on, it seems mostly to be the duty of subject men. The injunction contained in the Code of Manu–"Daily perform thine own appointed work unweariedly,” refers by implication to men under authority: “appointed” work implies a master. So, too, according to the Book of the Dead (cxxv), the Egyptian, when questioned after death, had to declare, “I have not been idle,” and, “I have not made delays, or dawdled.” From the phrasing of the last sentence we may fairly infer that the work diligently performed was work commanded. Of the Hebrews the same may be concluded. Remembering that, being originally pastoral, they long continued to regard the care of cattle as relatively honorable (like the existing Arabs among whom, when the men are not raiding, their only fit occupation is herding); we may similarly gather that the obligation to work was mostly the obligation imposed on servants or slaves: slaves being usually the proper word. Though the third commandment applies to masters as well as to servants, yet, even supposing the Commandments were indigenous, the fact that the life was still mainly pastoral, implies that the work spoken of was pastoral work, not manual labor. It is true that in the legend of Adam’s condemnation, the curse of labor is imposed on all his descendants; but we have, in the first place, good reason for regarding this legend as of Babylonian origin, and we have, in the second place, the inference suggested by recent researches, that the Adami, a dark race, were slaves, and that the eating of the forbidden fruit reserved for the superior race, was a punishable transgression; just as was, in ancient Peru, the eating of coca, similarly reserved for the Inca class. So that possibly among the Hebrews also, the duty of working was imposed on inferior men rather than on men as such. In Persian literature we do, indeed, meet with more distinct recognition of the virtuousness of labor irrespective of conditions. Thus it is said–"A sower of seeds is as great in the eyes of Ormusd, as if he had given existence to a thousand creatures.” And in The Parsees, by Dosabhoy Framjee, we read that “the Zoroastrian is taught by his religion to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.”
171. The peoples of Europe from early days down to our own, illustrate this relation between the kind of social activity and the prevailing sentiment about labor.
We have first the evidence which the Greeks furnish. Plato, showing his feeling towards traders by saying that the legislator passes them over, while for agriculturists he shows such respect as is implied by giving them laws, shows more fully in the Republic how degraded he holds to be all producers and distributors: comparing them to the basest parts of the individual nature. Similar is the belief expressed, and feeling manifested, by Aristotle, who says, “It is impossible for one who lives the life of a mechanic or hired servant to practice a life of virtue.”
Nor has it been otherwise further West. In the Roman world, along with persistent and active militancy, there went an increasing degradation of the nonmilitant class–slaves and freedmen. And throughout “the dark ages,” which collapse of the brutal civilization of Rome left behind, as well as throughout those ages during which perpetually recurring wars at length established large and stable kingdoms, this contempt for industry, both bodily and mental, continued; so that not only unskilled labor and the skilled labor of the craftsman, but also the intellectual labor of the educated man, were treated with contempt. Only in proportion as fighting ceased to be the exclusive business of life with all but the subject classes, and only as the subject classes, simultaneously growing larger, gained a larger share in the formation of opinion did the honorableness of industry become in some measure recognized: any praise of it previously given by the governing classes, being due to the consciousness that it conduced to their welfare.
In modern days, especially among ourselves and the Americans, the industrial part of society has so greatly outgrown the militant part, and has come to be so much more operative in forming the sentiments and ideas concerning industry, that these are almost reversed. Though unskilled labor is still regarded with something like contempt, as implying inferiority of capacity and of social position; and though the labor of the artisan, more respected because of the higher mental power it implies, is little respected because of its class associations; yet intellectual labor has in recent times acquired an honorable status. But the fact chiefly to be noted is that along with the advance of industrialism towards social supremacy, there has arisen the almost universal feeling that some kind of useful occupation is imperative. Condemnations of the “idle rich” are nowadays uttered by the rich themselves.
It may be noted, however, that even still, among those who represent the ancient regime–the military and naval officers–the old feeling survives; with the result that those among them who possess the highest culture–the medical officers, both military and naval, and the engineer officers–are regarded as standing on a lower level than the rest, and are treated with less consideration by the authorities.
172. Thus as in all the preceding chapters, so in this chapter, we see that the ethical conceptions, or rather the proethical conceptions, are determined by the forms of the social activities. Toward such activities as are most conspicuously conducive to the welfare of the society sentiments of approbation are called forth, and conversely; the result being that the idea of right comes to be associated with the presence of them and wrong with the absence of them.
Hence the general contrast shown from the earliest stages down to the latest, between the disgracefulness of labor in societies exclusively warlike, and the honorableness of labor in peaceful societies, or in societies relatively peaceful. This contrast is significantly indicated by the contrast between the ceremonies at the inauguration of a ruler. Among uncivilized militant peoples, in the formal act of making or crowning a chief or king, weapons always figure: here he is raised on a shield above the shoulders of his followers, and there the sword is girded on or the spear handed to him. And since, in most cases, relatively peaceful societies have preserved in their traditions the ceremonies used in their exclusively militant days, it rarely happens that the inauguration of a ruler is free from symbols of this kind. But one significant case of freedom from them is supplied by that tribe in Africa, the Manansas, already named, who, driven by warlike tribes around into a hill country, have devoted themselves to agriculture, and who say: “We want not the blood of the beasts, much less do we thirst for the blood of men!” for among them, according to Holub, a new sovereign receives as tokens, some sand, stones, and a hammer, “symbolizing industry and labor.”
There is one remaining fact to be named and emphasized. Out of the proethical sentiments which yield sanction to industry and make it honorable, there eventually emerges the ethical sentiment proper. This does not enjoin labor for its own sake, but enjoins it as implied by the duty of selfsustentation instead of sustentation by others. The virtue of work consists essentially in the performance of such actions as suffice to meet the cost of maintaining self and dependents and discharging social duties; while the disgracefulness of idleness essentially consists in the taking from the common stock the means of living, while doing nothing either to add to it or otherwise to further men’s happiness.
173. Such ethical, or rather proethical, sentiments as attach to temperance, have primarily like sundry of the associated proethical sentiments, religious origins. As shown in The Principles of Sociology, section 140, the bearing of hunger becomes in many cases a virtue, because it is a sequence of leaving food for the ancestor, and, at a later stage, sacrificing food to the god. Where food is not abundant, relinquishments of it involve either absolute fastings or stinted meals; and hence there arises an association in thought between moderation in eating and a subordination which is either religious or quasi-religious.
Possibly in some cases a kindred restraint is put on the drinking of liquors which are used as libations, since the quantities required for these also, restrict the quantities remaining for the sacrificers. If, as often happens, there is at every meal a throwing aside of drink, as well as food, for the invisible beings around, it tends to become an implication that one who exceeds so far as to become intoxicated, has disregarded these invisible beings, and is therefore to be blamed. It is true that, as we shall presently see, other ideas sometimes lead to contrary beliefs and sentiments; but it is possible that there may from this cause have originated the divine reprobation which is in some cases alleged.
Since the above paragraphs were written, I have found clear proof that the suspicion they express is well founded. From a people among whom ancestor-worship, and the habitual sacrificing to ancestors, have been through all known ages zealously carried on, we get evidence that moderation in both food and drink, pushed even to asceticism, is a consequence of regard for the dead, to whom oblations are constantly made. Said Confucius: “He who aims to be a man of complete virtue, in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite.” Here we have the virtue enunciated apart from its cause. But Confucius also said: “I can find no flaw in the character of Yu. He used himself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost filial piety towards the spirits. His ordinary garments were poor, but he displayed the utmost elegance in his sacrificial cap and apron.” Here we have the virtue presented in connection with religious duty: the last being the cause, the first the consequence.
Considered apart from supposed religious sanction, the virtue of temperance can of course have no other sanction than utility, as determined by experience. The observed beneficial effects of moderation and the observed detrimental effects of excess, form the bases for judgments, and the accompanying feelings.
Rational ideas concerning temperance–especially temperance in food–cannot be formed until we have glanced at those variations in the physiological requirements, entailed by variations in surrounding circumstances.
174. What would among ourselves be condemned as disgusting gluttony is, under the conditions to which certain races of men are exposed, quite normal and indeed necessary. Where the habitat is such as at one time to supply very little food and at another time food in great abundance, survival depends on the ability to consume immense quantities when the opportunities occur. A good instance is furnished by Sir George Grey’s account of the orgies which follow the stranding of a whale in Australia.
By and by other natives came gaily trooping in from all quarters: by night they dance and sing, and by day they eat and sleep, and for days this revelry continues unchecked, until they at last fairly eat their way into the whale, and you see them climbing in and about the stinking carcase choosing titbits . . . they remain by the carcase for many days, rubbed from head to foot with stinking blubber gorged to repletion with putrid meat. . . . When they at last quit their feast, they carry off as much as they can stagger under.
Living as the Australians do in a barren country, and often half starved, those of their number who could not fully utilize an occasion like this would be the first to die during times of famine. Proof that this is the true interpretation, is furnished by Christison’s account of a tribe of central Queensland. They are great eaters “only at first; but when they have become used to rations and regular meals, including bread or damper, they are very moderate eaters, perhaps more moderate than Europeans.”
In other cases what seems to us extreme and almost incredible excess, is due to the physiological necessity for producing heat in climates where the loss of heat is very great. Hence the explanation of the following story.
From Kooilittiuk I learnt a new Eskimaux luxury: he had eaten until he was drunk, and every moment fell asleep, with a flushed and burning face, and his mouth open: by his side sat Arnalooa [his wife], who was attending her cooking pot, and at short intervals awakened her spouse, in order to cram as much as was possible of a large piece of half-boiled flesh into his mouth, with the assistance of her forefinger and having filled it quite full, cut off the morsel close to his lips. This he slowly chewed, and as soon as a small vacancy became perceptible, this was filled again by a lump of raw blubber. During this operation the happy man moved no part of him but his jaws, not even opening his eyes; but his extreme satisfaction was occasionally shown by a most expressive grunt, whenever he enjoyed sufficient room for the passage of sound.
Another case, equally astonishing, comes from northern Asia. Mr. Cochrane says:
The Yakuti and Tongousi are great gluttons. I gave the child [a boy about five years old] a candle made of the most impure tallow, a second, and a third–and all were devoured with avidity. The steersman then gave him several pounds of sour frozen butter; this also he immediately consumed; lastly a large piece of yellow soap; all went the same road. . . In fact, there is nothing in the way of fish or meat, from whatever animal, however putrid or unwholesome, but they will devour with impunity and the quantity only varies from what they have, to what they can get. I have repeatedly seen a Yakut or a Tongouse devour forty pounds of meat in a day.
The following testimony of Capt. Wrangell shows the physiological results of this enormous consumption.
Even in Siberia, the jakuti are called iron-men, and I suppose that there are not any other people in the world who endure cold and hunger as they do. I have seen them frequently in the severe cold of this country and when the fire had long been extinguished, and the light jacket had slipped off their shoulders, sleeping quietly, completely exposed to the heavens, with scarcely any clothing on, and their bodies covered with a thick coat of rime.
And now observe the remarkable and significant fact that where survival primarily depends on this ability to eat and digest enormous quantities of food, this ability acquires an ethical or proethical sanction. According to Erman, a Yakut adage says: “To eat much meat and to grow fat upon it, is the highest destiny of men.”
175. Passing from this extreme instance of the way in which the necessities of life generate corresponding ideas of right and wrong, and coming to the ordinary cases meeting us in temperate and tropical climates, where something like an ethical sanction, as we ordinarily understand it, comes into play; we find no connections between temperance in food and other traits, unless it be a general association of gluttony with degradation.
Even this qualified generalization may be held doubtful. Cook described the Tahitians as each consuming a “prodigious” quantity of food. Yet they were physically a fine race, intellectually superior to many and, though licentious, were described by him as having sundry characteristics to be admired. Conversely the Arabs are relatively abstemious in both food and drink. But while in their sexual relations they are about as low as the Tahitians, since they are continually changing wives, and say of themselves, “Dogs are better than we are,” they are little to be admired in any respect: being fanatically revengeful and regarding skillful robbery as a qualification for marriage.
At the same time that the uncivilized at large present no definite relations between temperance or intemperance in food and their other traits, they display little or no sentiment in respect of one or the other which can be called ethical. Save in the above remarkable proverb quoted from the Yakuts, opinion on this matter has not taken shape among them.
In some ancient semicivilized societies, however, there had arisen the consciousness that excess in food is wrong. In the Code of Manu it is written:
The fact that in parts of the Mahabharata “heavenly blessedness” is described as without any kind of “sensual gratification,” implies reprobation of excess in eating. This is of course implied also in the ascetic life on which the Indian sages insisted. The Hebrews, too, displayed this consciousness: there was occasional advocacy of abstemiousness, as shown in the proverb: “Be not among winebibbers: among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Prov. xxiii 20–21). By the Egyptians gluttony was recognized as a vice, but was nevertheless deliberately practiced. On the one hand, excess in food was set down among the forty-two chief sins of the Egyptians, while on the other hand, at their
banquets the Egyptians do not seem to have been very moderate. Herodotus tells us (ii. 78) that a small wooden image of a mummy was carried round at their entertainments with the exhortion, “Look on this, drink and be merry. When dead, thou wilt be as this is!” This admonition was not without its results. ln the pictures on monuments we find not only men, but women, throwing up the surfeit of food and wine.
But the general aspect of the evidence seems to imply that with the rise of settled societies, and with the generalizing of experiences, there arose a utilitarian condemnation of excess in food.
176. Excess in drinking is a phrase which, though applicable to drinking of unfermented liquors in injurious quantities, yet practically applies to liquors which are either fermented, and therefore intoxicating, or are otherwise intoxicating. Opinion concerning the taking of them is determined mainly by recognition of the effects they produce–regarded here with approbation and there with reprobation.
It is a mistake to suppose that the state of intoxication is everywhere condemned. Whether produced by alcohol or by other agent, it has been in early times lauded, and still is so in some places. An interpretation is suggested by the remark of an Arafura, who, when belief in the Christian God was commended to him and he was told that God is everywhere present, said: “Then this God is certainly in your arrack, for I never feel happier than when I have drunk plenty of it.” The idea thus implied was distinctly and perpetually expressed by the ancient Indians in their praises of Soma-drinking. The god Soma was supposed to be present in the juice of the plant called soma; intoxication resulted from being possessed by him: and the exalted state desired, produced, and gloried in, was a state of religious blessedness: the gods themselves being supposed to be thus inspired by the god Soma. Says Max Müller:
Madakyut=such a state of intoxication as was not incompatible with the character of the ancient gods. . . . We have no poetical word to express a high state of mental excitement produced by drinking the intoxicating juice of the Soma or other plants, which has not something opprobrious mixed up with it, while in ancient times that state of excitement was celebrated as a blessing of the gods, as not unworthy of the gods themselves, nay as a state in which both the warrior and the poet would perform their highest achievements.
So, too, by the Greeks it was believed that the god Dionysus was present in wine, and that “the Bacchic excitement,” with its accompanying prophetic power, was due to possession by him. Hence there arose a religious sanction for drunkenness, as shown in the orgies. Nor are we without cases in our own times. The Dahomans, according to Burton, deem it a “duty to the gods to be drunk”; and the Ainos sanctity their intoxication under “the fiction of `drinking to the gods’": “the more saké the Ainos drink the more devout they are, and the better pleased are the gods.” Kindred ideas and sentiments exist in Polynesia, in connection with the taking of the intoxicating ava, kava, or yaqona. In Fiji the preparation and drinking are accompanied by prayers to the gods and chants, and participation in the ceremonies is regarded as honorable.
Evidently then, drunkenness, instead of having in all cases religious condemnation, has in some cases religious sanction; and thus comes to have a proethical sentiment justifying it. This is very well shown by the Ainos, who refuse to associate with those who will not drink.
177. Either with or without this kind of sanction, intemperance, under one or other form, is widely spread among the inferior races.
Of the Kalmucks, Pallas tells us that they are intemperate in eating and drinking when they have the chance. “The festivities of the Khonds,” says Campbell, “usually terminate in universal drunkenness.” Brett writes that the drunkenness of the natives of Guiana takes the shape of “fearful excess at intervals.” And we read of the existing Guatemalans that “the greatest happiness of these people consists in drunkenness, produced by the excessive use of . . . chicha.” These last testimonies respecting American peoples at the present day recall kindred testimonies respecting ancient American peoples. Garcilasso says of the Peruvians: “They brought liquor in great quantity, for this was one of the most prevalent vices among the Indians.” Of the Yucatanese, Landa says: “The Indians were very debauched, and often got drunk”; “the women got intoxicated at the banquets, but by themselves.” And Sahagun writes of the Mexicans that “they said that the bad effects of drunkenness were produced by one of the gods of wine. Hence it appears that they did not consider as a sin what they had done while being drunk.”
But intemperance is by no means universal among the uncivilized and semicivilized: sobriety being shown by some of the utterly primitive as well as by some of the considerably advanced. Of the Veddahs we read–"They do not smoke, and are very temperate, drinking water only.” Says Campbell: “Fond of fermented and spirituous liquors, the Lepchas are nevertheless not given to drunkenness.” Of the Sumatran of the interior, only partially vitiated by contact with the Malays, Marsden tells us: “He is temperate and sober, being equally abstemious in meat and drink.” Africa, too, supplies instances: “The Foolas and Mandingos very strictly abstain from fermented liquors, and from spirits, which they hold in such abhorrence, that if a single drop were to fall upon a clean garment, it would be rendered unfit to wear until washed.” And Waitz makes the general remark that “except where they have had much intercourse with whites the Negroes cannot be accused of being specially addicted to intoxicating liquors.”
This last statement, reminding us of the demoralization which Europeans everywhere produce in the native races whom they pretend to civilize, and reminding us more especially of the disastrous effects which follow the supplying of them with whiskey or rum, shows how cautious we must be in our inferences respecting the relations between drinking habits and social states. It is clear that in some cases, as in that of the Veddahs, sobriety may result from lack of intoxicants, and that in other cases insobriety does not naturally belong to the type or the tribe, but has been imported.
178. Perhaps among European peoples, with their long histories, we may with most chance of success seek for such relation as exists between sobriety and social conditions. This relation seems but indefinite at best.
Brutal as was their social system, the Spartans were ascetic in their regimen; and remembering the lessons which drunken helots were made to inculcate, it is clear that originally the Spartans reprobated drunkenness and were ordinarily sober. Meanwhile the Athenians, much more civilized as they were in their social state, and far superior in culture, were by no means so sober. Some scanty testimonies imply that among the European peoples who at that time were socially organized in but low degrees, excesses in drinking were frequent. Of the early Gauls Diodorus says: “They are so exceedingly given to wine, that they guzzle it down as soon as it is imported by the merchant.” And describing the primitive Germans, Tacitus tells us that “to pass an entire day and night in drinking disgraces no one.” Of course not much has come down to us respecting men’s drinking habits during “the dark ages”; but the prevalence of intemperance may be inferred from such indications as we have. One of the excesses occurring in the Merovingian period was that Bishop Eonius fell down drunk at mass; and we are told of Charlemagne that he was temperate: the implication being that temperance was something exceptional. Of France it may be remarked that even when intoxication was not produced, wine was taken in great excess during many later centuries. Montaigne, while saying that drunkenness was less than when he was a boy tells us that: “I have seen a great lord of my time . . . who without setting himself to’t, and after his ordinary rate of drinking at meals, swallowed down not much less than five quarts of wine.” Evidently, from the days of Montaigne down to those of the modern French, the majority of whom water their ordinary weak wine, the decrease of intemperance has been marked. And among ourselves there has taken place, though with much irregularity a kindred change. From old English and Danish times, when there was drunkenness among monks as well as others, down through the times of the Normans, who soon became as intemperate as those they had subjugated, and down through subsequent centuries, the excesses in drinks of the less potent kinds were great and general. At the beginning of the last century, when the consumption of spirits increased greatly, rising to nearly a gallon per head of the population annually and producing scenes such as Hogarth depicted in his Gin Lane, there came the remedial Gin Act, which, however, was soon repealed after having done mischief. Then during the rest of the century while “drunkenness was the common vice of the middle and tower orders,” wealthier people indulged so largely in wine for their entertainments, as not unfrequently to improverish themselves.
179. Evidently the relations between drinking habits and kinds of social life are obscure. We cannot, as the teetotalers would like, assert a regular proportion between temperance and civilization, or between intemperance and moral degradation at large. Says Surgeon-General Balfour, “Half of the Asiatic races–Arab, Persian, Hindu, Burman, Malay, Siamese . . . are abstinents”; and yet no one will contend that, either in social type or social conduct, these races are superior to the races of Europe, who are anything but abstinents. Within Europe itself differences teach us the same lesson. Sober Turkey is not so high in its social life as whiskey-drinking Scotland. Yet, on comparing Italy and Germany, do we see that along with the contrast between the small potations of the one, and the great potations of the other, there goes contrast between their moral states of the kind that might be looked for. Putting on the one hand the Bedouin, who, habitual robber as he is and displaying numerous vices, nevertheless drinks no fermented liquors, and cries “Fie upon thee, drunkard!” and on the other hand the clever English artisan, who occasionally drinks to excess (and the clever ones are most apt to do this) but who is often a good fellow in other respects, we do not find any clear association between temperance and rectitude.
Some relation may reasonably be supposed to exist between drunkenness and general wretchedness. Where the life is miserable there is a great tendency to drink, partly to get what little momentary pleasure may be had, and partly to shut out unhappy thoughts about the future. But if we recall the drunkenness which prevailed among our upper classes in the last century, we cannot say that wretchedness, or at any rate physical wretchedness, was its excuse. Ennui, too, seems often an assignable cause, and may have produced the prevailing inebriety throughout Europe in early days, when there was difficulty in passing the time not occupied in fighting or hunting. Yet we find various peoples whose lives are monotonous enough, but who do not drink. Manifestly various influences cooperate; and it appears that the results of them are too irregular to be generalized.
180. But we are chiefly concerned with temperance and intemperance as ethically regarded. That intemperance, whether in food or drink, is condemned by the ethical sentiment proper, which refers, not to the extrinsic but to the intrinsic effects, as injurious alike to body and mind, goes without saying. But it is otherwise with the proethical sentiment. We have many cases showing that there comes either approbation or reprobation or intemperance, according to the religious ideas and social habits.
Already we have seen that intoxication may be sanctified by certain theological beliefs; and here we have to note that prevailing excess in drinking, and the current opinion which grows up along with it, may result in a social sanction. One of the uncivilized races shows us that a habit of taking a toxic agent may where it is general, generate for itself not only a justification but something more. Says Yule of the Kasias:
In the people perhaps the first thing that strikes a stranger is their extreme addiction to chewing pawn, and their utter disregard of the traces which its use leaves on their teeth and lips. Indeed they pride themselves on this, saying that “Dogs and Bengalees have white teeth.”
In records of ancient civilized races we find evidence of a kindred pride in excesses. Apart from its religious sanction, the drunken elevation which followed Soma-drinking was gloried in by the Indian rishi; and among a neighboring people, alcoholic excess was by some thought the reverse of disgraceful, as witness the epitaph of Darius Hystaspes, saying that he was a great conqueror and a great drinker, and as witness the self-commendation of Cyrus, who “in his epistle to the Spartans says, that in many other things he was more fit than his brother to be a king, and chiefly because he could bear abundance of wine.” But modern Europe has yielded the clearest proofs that prevailing inebriety may generate a sentiment which justifies inebriety. The drinking usages in Germany in past times, and down to the present time among students, show that along with an inordinate desire for fermented liquor, and the scarcely credible ability to absorb it, there had grown up a contempt for those who fell much below the average drinking capacity and a glory in being able to drink the largest quantity in the shortest time. Among ourselves, too, in the last century kindred ideas and feelings prevailed. The saying “It is a poor heart that never rejoices” was used as a justification for excess. The taking of salt to produce thirst, the use of wine glasses which would not stand, and the exhortation “No heel-taps,” clearly showed the disapproval of moderation which went along with applause for the “three-bottle” man. There are some still living who have taken part in orgies at which after locking the door and placing a number of bottles of wine on the sideboard, the host announced that they had to be emptied before rising: the refusal to take the required share causing reprobation.3
But while, in past generations, there was thus a certain proethical sentiment upholding intemperance, in our own generation temperance is upheld both by the ethical sentiment, and by a proethical sentiment. Not only is drinking to excess universally reprobated, and to have been intoxicated even once leaves a stain on a man’s reputation, but we have now a large class by whom even moderate drinking is condemned. While in America water is the universal beverage at meals and the taking of wine is regarded as scarcely respectable.
181. Before we can understand fully the ethical aspects of chastity, we must study its biological and sociological sanctions. Conduciveness to welfare, individual or social or both, being the ultimate criterion of evolutionary ethics, the demand for chastity has to be sought in its effects under given conditions.
Among men, as among inferior creatures, the needs of the species determine the rightness or wrongness of these or those sexual relations; for sexual relations unfavorable to the rearing of offspring, in respect either of number or quality must tend towards degradation and extinction. The fact that some animals are polygamous while others are monogamous is thus to be explained. In Part III of The Principles of Sociology, treating of “Domestic Institutions,” it was shown that the relation between the sexes is liable to be determined into this or that form by environing conditions; and that certain inferior forms of the relation appear, under some conditions, to become necessary: nonadoption of them being fatal to the society. A natural connection was found to exist between polygamy and a life of perpetual hostilities, entailing great destruction of men: since of tribes which mutually slaughter their men, the one which, being monogamous, leaves many women unmarried and childless, must fail to maintain its population in face of the one which, being polygamous, utilizes all its women as mothers (sec. 307). We saw, too, that in some cases, especially in Tibet, polyandry appears more conducive to social welfare than any other relation of the sexes. It receives approval from travelers, and even a Moravian missionary defends it: the missionary holding that “superabundant population, in an unfertile country must be a great calamity and produce ‘eternal warfare or eternal want’” (sec. 301).
These inferior forms of marriage are not consistent with that conception of chastity which accompanies the settled monogamy of advanced societies. As we understand it, the word connotes either the absence of any sexual relation, or the permanent sexual relation of one man with one woman. But we must not extend this higher conception of chastity to these lower societies. We must not assume that there exists in them any such ethical reprobation of these less-restricted relations as they excite in us. To see this clearly we must glance at the facts.
182. Already in section 120 I have given sundry illustrations of the truth, startling to those whose education has left them ignorant of multiform humanity, that the institution of polygamy is in various places morally approved, while the opposite institution is condemned. This truth, however, should not cause surprise, considering that from childhood all have been familiar with the tacit approval of the usage in the book they regard as divine. The polygamy of the patriarchs is spoken of as a matter of course, and there is implied approval of it by a wife who prompts her husband to take a concubine. But beyond this we see, in the case of David, both the religious and the social sanction for a harem: the one being implied by the statement that David, to whom God had given his “master’s wives,” was a man “after his own heart,” and the other by the fact that when Nathan reproached him, the reproach was that he had taken the solitary wife of Uriah, not that he had already many wives (1 Samuel xiii. 14; 2 Samuel xii). His many wives we may reasonably suppose constituted a mark of dignity, as do those of kings among savage and semicivilized peoples now. Clearly, then, under certain social conditions there is a proethical sentiment supporting polygamy and that species of unchastity implied by it.
So, too, is it with polyandry. Various passages in the Mahabharata imply that it was a recognized institution among the early Indians, regarded by them as perfectly proper: practiced, indeed, by those who are upheld as models of virtue. The heroine of the poem, Draupadi, is the wife of five husbands. Each of them had a house and garden of his own, and Draupadi dwelt with them “in turn for two days at a time.” Meanwhile, as we have already seen (sec. 117), one of the husbands, Yudhishthira, unfortunate notwithstanding his goodness, enunciates the doctrine that right is to be done regardless of consequences; while elsewhere Draupadi describes the virtues which she holds proper for a wife, and represents herself as acting up to them. Kindred evidence is yielded at the present time by some of the tribes in the valleys of the Himalayas–the Lad~ khis, and the Ch~ mp~ s. Telling us that they practice polyandry. Drew says of the Lad~ khis that they are “cheerful, willing, and good-tempered”; “they are not quarrelsome”; are “much given to truth-telling”; and he adds that the “social liberty of the women . . . I think it may be said, is as great as that of workmen’s wives in England.”
Rightly to interpret these facts, however, it should be added that the social state in which polyandry originally existed among the Indian peoples, had emerged from a social state still lower in respect of the sexual relations. Bad as were the gods of the Greeks, the gods of the ancient Indians were worse. In the Puranas as well as in the Mahabharata there are stories about the “adulterous amours” of Indra, Varuna, and other gods; at the same time that the “celestial nymphs are expressly declared to be courtesans,” and are “sent by the gods from time to time to seduce austere sages.” A society having a theology of such a kind, cannot well have been other than licentious. With the ascription even of incest to some of their gods, there naturally went an utter disregard of restraints among themselves. In the Mahabharata we read: “Women were formerly unconfined, and roved about at their pleasure, independent. Though in their youthful innocence, they abandoned their husbands, they were guilty of no offense; for such was the rule in early times.” And according to a tradition embodied in that poem,
This condition of things was abolished by Sv‘ tak‘ hi, son of the rishi Uddalaka, who was incensed at seeing his mother led away by a strange Brahman. His father told him there was no reason to be angry as: “The women of all castes of earth are unconfined: just as cattle are situated, so are human beings, too, within their respective castes.”
Hence it may possibly be that polyandry arose as a limitation of promiscuity; and that therefore the ethical sentiment existing in support of it, was really in support of a relative chastity.
183. Returning now from this half-parenthetical discussion of those types of undeveloped chastity which are implied by low types of marriage, and resuming the discussion of chastity and unchastity considered in their simple forms, let us first look at the evidence presented by various uncivilized peoples. And here, in pursuance of the course followed in preceding chapters dealing with other divisions of conduct, I am obliged to name facts which in the absence of a strong reason should be passed over. They are not, however, more objectionable than many which are reported in our daily papers with no better motive than ministering to a prurient curiosity.
The absolute or relative deficiency of chastity may be conveniently exemplified by a string of extracts from books of travel. We may begin with North America. The testimony of Lewis and Clarke respecting the Chinooks, agreeing with that of Ross, is as follows: “Among these people, as indeed among all Indians, the prostitution of unmarried women is so far from being considered criminal or improper, that the females themselves solicit the favors of the other sex, with the entire approbation of their friends and connections.” Concerning the Sioux, these same travelers give us a fact equally significant: “The Sioux had offered us squaws, but while we remained there having declined, they followed us with offers of females for two days.”
Coming further south the Creeks may be named as, according to Schoolcraft, no better than the Chinooks. Like evidence is furnished by South American races, as the Tupis and Caribs: “Bands [of chastity] were broken without fear, and incontinence was not regarded as an offense”; Caribs “put no value on the chastity of unmarried women.” These instances yielded by America, are associated with some in which the unchastity is of a qualified kind. To the fact that “among the Esquimaux it is considered a great mark of friendship for two men to exchange wives for a day or two,” may be added a like fact presented by the Chippewayans: “It is a very common custom among the men of this country to exchange a night’s lodging with each other’s wives. But this is so far from being considered as an act which is criminal, that it is esteemed by them as one of the strongest ties of friendship between two families.” The Dakotas supply an example, like many found elsewhere, of the coexistence of laxity before marriage with strictness after it: “There are few nations in the world amongst whom this practice, originating in a natural desire not to ‘make a leap in the dark,’ cannot be traced. Yet after marriage they will live like the Spartan matrons a life of austerity in relation to the other sex.” In ancient Nicaragua, as in various countries, there was another kind of compromise between chastity and unchastity: “On the occasion of a certain annual festival, it was permitted that all the women, of whatever condition, might abandon themselves to the arms of whomever they pleased. Rigid fidelity however, was exacted at all other times.” But there seems to have been no restraint at other times on the unmarried, as witness Herrera’s statement: “Many of the women were beautiful, and their parents used, when the maidens were marriageable, to send them to earn their portions, and accordingly they ranged about the country in a shameful manner, till they had got enough to marry them off.”
Asia furnishes illustrations of another usage common among the uncivilized. The Kamtschadales and Aleuts lend their wives to guests; and sundry others of the Northern Asiatic races do the like. Pallas tells us that the Kalmucks are little jealous of their wives, and freely give them up to acquaintances. And then of an adjacent people we read–"The relation between the sexes, among the Kirghizes, is altogether on a very primitive footing; mothers, fathers, and brothers regard any breach of morality with great leniency and husbands even encourage their friends to close intimacy with their wives. . . . Like the Kirghizes, the Buruts are strangers to jealousy.” So, too, of the Mongols Prjevalsky tells us that “adultery is not even concealed, and is not regarded as a vice.” From peoples further south, two instances may be cited: “Among the Red Karens, chastity both with married and unmarried, is reported as remarkably loose. The commerce of the sexes among young people is defended as nothing wrong, because ‘it is our custom’ “; “Prostitution is exceedingly common, while chastity is a rare virtue among Toda women; and the ties of marriage and consanguinity are merely nominal.”
To all these instances from other regions may be added some from Africa. In his Highlands of Ethiopia, Harris writes: “The jewel chastity is here [in Shoa] in no repute: and the utmost extent of reparation to be recovered in a court of justice for the most aggravated case of seduction is but five-pence sterling!” The nature of the sentiment prevailing near the Upper Congo is shown by this extract from Tuckey: “Before marriage, the father or brothers of a girl prostitute her to every man that will pay two fathoms of cloth; nor does this derogate in any way from her character, or prevent her being afterwards married.” And so is it with some unlike people further south. Among the Bushmen, “infidelity to the marriage compact is . . . not considered as a crime; it is scarcely regarded by the offended person. . . . They seem to have no idea of the distinction of girl, maiden, and wife; they are all expressed by one word alone.”
In Polynesia we have the well-known evidence yielded by the Arreoi society of Tahiti; and from the same region, or rather from Micronesia, comes yet other evidence. In his account of the inhabitants of the Ladrone Islands, Freycinct writes: “Souvent on avoit vu les péres vendre sans rougir les prémices de leurs filles . . . les méres elles–mêmes engager leurs enfants à suivre l’impulsion de leurs sens. . . . On possède encore une des chansons qu’elles chantoient à leurs filles en pareille circonstance.” The Pelew Islanders furnish a like case: the universal practice being for the mother to instruct her newly initiated daughter always to exact payment, and the explanation of the usage being “the avarice of parents as recognized by custom.”
Of the opposite trait a good many examples are furnished by primitive or uncultured peoples. Two of them come from amid these generally lax tribes of North America. Catlin says of the Mandans: “Their women are beautiful and modest–and amongst the respectable families, virtue is as highly cherished and as inapproachable, as in any society whatever.” And of the Chippewas Keating writes: “Chastity is a virtue in high repute among the Chippewas, and without which no woman could expect to be taken as a wife by a warrior.” But he goes on to admit that there is a good deal of concealed irregularity. Africa, too, yields some instances. “A Kaffer woman is both chaste and modest": “instances of infidelity are said to be very rare”; and the like is said of the Bachassins. The most numerous examples of chastity come from the island races. Mariner tells us that in Tonga adultery is very rare. “Chastity prevails more perhaps among these (the Sumatrans] than any other people,” says Marsden. Similar is the statement of Low about the inland people of Borneo: “adultery is a crime unknown, and no Dyak (Land) ever recollected an instance of its occurrence.” So in Dory, New Guinea, according to Kops, “chastity is held in high regard. . . . Adultery is unknown.” And Erskine testifies that the women of Uea, Loyalty Islands, are strictly chaste before marriage, and faithful wives afterwards.” Some peoples who are in other respects among the lowest are in this respect among the highest. Snow says that the Fuegian women at Picton Island are remarkably modest; and a fact worthy of special note is that among the rudest of the Musheras of India, who have no formal marriage, “unchastity, or a change of lovers on either side, when once mutual appropriation has been made, is a thing of rare occurrence”; and when it does occur causes excommunication. The remaining two most marked instances are found among other peaceful tribes of the Indian hills. Says Hodgson of the Bodo and Dhimal–"Chastity is prized in man and woman, married and unmarried.” And according to Dalton, “The Santál women are represented by all who have written about them as exceedingly chaste, yet the young people of the different sexes are greatly devoted to each other’s society and pass much time together.”
With these cases of indigenous chastity may be named cases of peoples who are being degraded by foreign influences. In a paper on the Veddahs, whose neighbors the Singhalese are extremely lax, virchow quotes Gillings to the effect that adultery and polygamy are only heard of among them where attempts have been made to civilize them. And then, little as we should expect to meet with such a testimony from a clergyman concerning a race so low as the Australians, yet of one tribe we are told by the Rev R.W. Holden, as quoted by Taplin, that
The advent of the whites has made the aborigines much more degraded, more helpless, more–yea, much more–susceptible to all diseases. Before our coming amongst them their laws were strict, especially those regarding young men and young women. It was almost death to a young lad or man who had sexual intercourse till married.
But the like cannot be said of other Australian tribes.
As thus presented by the uncivilized races, the facts do not fall into clear generalizations: they do not show distinct relations between chastity or unchastity and social forms or types of race. The evidence does, indeed, preponderate in favor of the relatively peaceful or wholly peaceful tribes, but this relation is not without exception; and conversely though the standard of chastity is low in most of the fighting societies it is not low in all. Nor, when we contemplate special antitheses, do we get clear proof. Of the atrocious Fijians, exceeding in their cannibalism all other peoples, and who glory in lying, theft, and murder, we read in Erskine that the women are modest and that “female virtue may be rated at a high standard,” while according to Seemann, “adultery is one of the crimes generally punished with death.” On the other hand, Cook describes the Tahitians as utterly devoid of the sentiment of chastity. He says they are “people who have not even the idea of indecency and who gratify every appetite and passion before witnesses, with no more sense of impropriety than we feel when we satisfy our hunger at a social board with our family or friends.” At the same time he speaks very favorably of their dispositions: “They seemed to be brave, open, and candid, without either suspicion or treachery cruelty or revenge; so that we placed the same confidence in them as in our best friends.”
Here are incongruities which appear quite irreconcilable with the ideas current among civilized peoples.
184. Throughout the foregoing sections the aim has been to ascertain by examination of the facts, what relations, if any, exist between chastity and social type, as well as between this virtue and other virtues; but we must now consider specifically the prevailing ethical sentiments which go along with observance and nonobservance of it. Already in many of the quotations above given, these sentiments have been expressed or implied; but to complete the general argument it seems needful to observe definitely, the extreme deviations from what we may consider normal, which they sometimes undergo. I will give three instances–one from the uncivilized, another from a semicivilized people now extinct, and a third from an existing civilized people.
Of the Wotyaks, a Finnish race, the German traveler Buch says:
Indeed it is even disgraceful for a girl if she is little sought after by the young men. . . . It is therefore only a logical result that it is honorable for a girl to have children. She then gets a wealthier husband, and her father is paid a higher kalym for her.
Concerning the ancient Chibchas, of Central America, we read:
Some Indians . . . did not much care that their wives should be virgins. . . . On the contrary some, if they discovered that they had had no intercourse with men, thought them unfortunate and without luck, as they had not inspired affection in men: accordingly they disliked them as miserable women.
The civilized nation referred to as showing, in some cases, a feeling almost the reverse of that so strongly pronounced among Western nations, we find in the Far East. Says Dixon of the Japanese:
It used to be no uncommon thing (and we have no clear evidence that the custom is obsolete) for a dutiful daughter to sell herself for a term of years to the proprietor of a house of ill-fame, in order that she might thus retrieve her father’s fallen fortunes. When she returned to her home, no stigma attached to her; rather was she honored for her filial devotion.
Though, in a work just published, The Real Japan, Mr. Henry Norman denies this alleged return home with credit (in modern times at least) he verifies that earlier part of the statement, that daughters are sold for specific periods by their parents: the fact that such parents are tolerated being sufficiently indicative of the prevailing sentiment.
Here then we get proof that in respect of this division of conduct, as in respect of the divisions of conduct dealt with in preceding chapters, habits generate sentiments harmonizing with them. It is a trite remark that the individual who persists in wrongdoing eventually loses all sense that it is wrongdoing, and at length believes that it is rightdoing: and the like holds socially–must, indeed, hold socially since public opinion is but an aggregate of individual opinions.
185. If, instead of comparing one society with another, we compare early stages of those societies which have developed civilizations with later stages, we find very variable relations between chastity and social development. Only in modern societies can we say that this relation becomes tolerably clear.
Already we have seen how low in their sexual relations were the people of India in early days, and how, promiscuity and polyandry having died out, poets and sages in later times endeavored to explain away the traditional transgressions of their gods, while existing Hindus show shame when reproached with the illicit amours of their ancient heroes and heroines. Here there seems to have been a progress of the kind to be looked for.
That, among adjacent societies, there took place some kindred changes, seems implied in the fact that prostitution in temples, which prevailed among Babylonians, Egyptians, &c., and which, like other usages connected with religion, more persistent than general usages, probably indicated certain customs of earlier times, disappeared partially if not wholly. It is to be observed, too, that along with woman-stealing, common during primitive stages of the civilized, as still among the uncivilized, there naturally went a degraded position of captured women (concubinage being a usual concomitant), and that therefore, with the cessation of it, one cause of low sexual relations came to an end. That in the case of the Hebrews further advances took place seems to be shown by the facts that though Herod the Great had nine wives, and though in the Mishnah polygamy is referred to as existing, yet the references in Ecclesiasticus imply the general establishment of monogamy.
The relevant changes in the course of Greek civilization clearly do not warrant the assertion that better relations of the sexes accompanied higher social arrangements. The amount of concubinage implied by the Iliad, was less than that implied by the use of female slaves and servants in Athenian households; and the established institution of hetairai, with the many distinguished of whom coexisted a multitude of undistinguished, the adding to the public revenue by a tax on houses of ill-fame, and the continuance of authorized prostitution in the temples of Aphrodite Pandemos, further prove that the relations of the sexes had degenerated. On passing to Rome we meet with an undeniable case of retrogression in sexual arrangements and usages, going along with the kind of social progress which is implied by extension of empire and increase of political organization. The contrast between the regular relations of men to women in early Roman times, and the extremely irregular relations which prevailed in the times of the emperors, when the being modest was taken to imply being ugly, and when patrician ladies had to be stopped by law from becoming prostitutes, shows that moral degradation of this kind may accompany one type of advancing civilization.
The reaction which commenced after these most corrupt Roman times, was greatly furthered by Christianity. The furtherance, however, cannot be ascribed to a true conception of the relations of the sexes, and a sentiment appropriate to it, but rather to an asceticism which reprobated the acceptance of pleasures and applauded the submission to pains. The prompting motive was an other-worldly one more than an intrinsically moral one; though the other-worldly motive probably fostered the moral motive. But in this case, as in countless other cases, the general law of rhythm was illustrated. Following this violent reaction came in time a violent re-reaction; so that after a period of sexual restraints came a period of sexual excesses–a period in which the relation between action and reaction was further illustrated by the fact that the nominally celibate clergy and nuns became worse than the laity who were not bound to celibacy.
It should be added that the peoples of Northern Europe, among whom the relations of the sexes seem to have been originally good, also exhibited in course of time, though in a less marked degree, the sexual retrogression that may go along with some kinds of social progression. In modern days, however, the advance to higher political types and more settled social states, has been accompanied by an average improvement in this respect as in other respects.
186. Satisfactory interpretation of these many strange contrasts and variations is impracticable: the causation is too complex. We may however, note certain causes which seem to have been occasionally influential, though we cannot say to what extent.
The extreme laxity of the Tahitians may possibly have been encouraged by the immense fertility of their habitat. Commenting on the abundance of food almost spontaneously produced by their soil, Cook says of the Tahitians: “They seem to be exempted from the first general curse, that ‘man should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow.’” Where self-maintenance and, by implication, the maintenance of children, is thus extremely easy it seems that comparatively little mischief results if a mother is left to rear a child or children without the aid of a father; and in the absence of those evil effects on both parent and offspring which result where the necessaries of life are difficult to get, there may not tend to arise that social reprobation of incontinence which arises where its mischievous consequences are conspicuous.
Africa furnishes us with the hint of another cause of laxity which may sometimes operate. The fact that “the Dahoman, like almost all semibarbarians, considers a numerous family the highest blessing"–a fact which recalls kindred ones implied in the Bible–becomes comprehensible when we remember that in early stages, characterized by constant antagonisms, internal and external, it is important to maintain not only the numbers of the tribe in face of other tribes, but also the numbers of the families and clans; since the weaker of these go to the wall when struggles take place. Hence it results that not only is barrenness a reproach but fertility a ground of esteem; and hence possibly the reason why in East Africa “it is no disgrace for an unmarried woman to become the mother of a family": the remark of one traveler, which I cannot now find, concerning another tribe, being that a woman’s irregularities are easily forgiven, if she bears many children.
This fact seems to point to the conclusion, pointed to by many preceding facts, that there is a connection between unchastity and a militant regime; seeing that production of many children is a desideratum only where the mortality from violence is great. For suspecting this connection we find a further reason in the degraded position of women which uniformly accompanies pronounced militancy (see Principles of Sociology, Part III, chap. X, “The Status of Women”). Where, as among peoples constantly fighting, the hard work is done by slaves and women–where women are spoils of war to be dealt with as the victors please–where, when not stolen or gained by conquest, they are bought; it is manifest that the wills of women being in abeyance, the unchecked egoism of men must conflict with the growth of chastity. And in the settled polygamy of societies which lose great numbers of men in battle, the large harems of kings and chiefs, the buying of female slaves–all of them characteristic of the militant type–we similarly see relations of the sexes adverse to any moral restrictions. If we remember that the extreme profligacy of Rome was reached after long centuries of conquests; if we remember that there survived during the feudal organization resulting from war, the jus primoe noetis; if of Russia, exclusively organized for war, we read that any girl on his estate was until recently at the lord’s disposal; we see further reason for suspecting that the militant type of society is unfavorable to elevated relations of the sexes.
We must not conclude, however, that chastity always characterizes societies of the nonmilitant type. Though sundry of the above–named peaceful tribes are distinguished from uncivilized tribes at large by the purity of their sexual relations, it is not so with another peaceful tribe, the Todas: these are characterized rather by the opposite trait. The Esquimaux, too, among whom there is exchange of wives, do not even know what war is.
187. It remains only to emphasize the truth, discernible amid all complexities and varieties, that without a prevailing chastity we do not find a good social state. Though comparison of intermediate types of society does not make this clear, it is made clear by comparison of extreme types. Among the lowest we have such a group as the Ku-Ka-tha clan, inhabiting Western South Australia, whose chief characteristics are “treachery, ingratitude, lying and every species of deceit and cunning,” who have “no property” “no punishment of offenders,” “no idea of right and wrong,” and who show absolute lack of the sentiment in question: “chastity or fidelity being quite unknown to them.” At the other extreme come the most advanced societies of Europe and America, in which, along with a relatively high standard of chastity (for women at least), there exist high degrees of the various traits required for social life which are wanting in these Australians. Nor does comparison of different stages of civilized nations fail to furnish evidence; as witness the contrast between our own time and the time after the Restoration, in respect alike of chastity and of general welfare.
There are three ways in which chastity furthers a superior social state. The first is that indicated at the outset–conduciveness to the nurture of offspring. Nearly everywhere, but especially where the stress of competition makes the rearing of children difficult, lack of help from the father must leave the mother overtaxed, and entail inadequate nutrition of progeny. Unchastity, therefore, tends towards production of inferior individuals, and if it prevails widely must cause decay of the society.
The second cause is that, conflicting as it does with the establishment of normal monogamic relations, unchastity is adverse to those higher sentiments which prompt such relations. In societies characterized by inferior forms of marriage, or by irregular connections, there cannot develop to any great extent that powerful combination of feelings–affection, admiration, sympathy–which in so marvelous a manner has grown out of the sexual instinct. And in the absence of this complex passion, which manifestly presupposes a relation between one man and one woman, the supreme interest in life disappears, and leaves behind relatively subordinate interests. Evidently a prevalent unchastity severs the higher from the lower components of the sexual relation: the root may produce a few leaves, but no true flower.
Sundry of the keenest aesthetic pleasures must at the same time be undermined. It needs but to call to mind what a predominant part in fiction, the drama, poetry, and music, is played by the romantic element in love, to see that anything which militates against it tends to diminish, if not to destroy the chief gratifications which should fill the leisure part of life.
Summary of Inductions
188. There the data are few and exact, definite conclusions can be drawn; but where they are numerous and inexact, the conclusions drawn must be proportionately indefinite. Pure mathematics exemplifies the one extreme, and sociology the other. The phenomena presented by individual life are highly complex, and still more complex are the phenomena presented by the life of aggregated individuals; and their great complexity is rendered still greater by the multiformity and variability of surrounding conditions.
To the difficulties in the way of generalization hence arising, must be added the difficulties arising from uncertainty of the evidence–the doubtfulness, incompleteness, and conflicting natures, of the statements with which we have to deal. Not all travelers are to be trusted. Some are bad observers, some are biased by creed or custom, some by personal likings or dislikings; and all have but imperfect opportunities of getting at the truth. Similarly with historians. Very little of what they narrate is from immediate observation. The greater part of it comes through channels which color, and obscure, and distort; while everywhere party feeling, religious bigotry, and the sentiment of patriotism, cause exaggerations and suppressions. Testimonies concerning moral traits are hence liable to perversion.
Many of the peoples grouped under the same name present considerable diversities of character: instance the Australians, of whom it is remarked that some tribes are quiet and tractable while others are boisterous and difficult to deal with. Further, the conduct, sentiments, and ideas of native peoples often undergo such changes that travelers between whose visits many years have elapsed, give quite different accounts. The original feelings and beliefs are frequently obscured by missionary influences, and, in a still greater degree, by contact with white traders and settlers. From all parts of the world we get proofs that aborigines are degraded by intercourse with Europeans. Here, then, are further causes which distort the evidence.
Yet again there are the complications consequent on changes of habitats and occupations. In this place tribes are forced into antagonism with their neighbors, and in that place they are led into quiet lives: one of the results being that conceptions and feelings appropriate to an antecedent state, surviving for a long time in a subsequent state, appear incongruous with it.
Thus we must expect to meet with anomalies, and must be content with conclusions which hold true on the average.
189. Before we can fully understand the significance of the inductions drawn, we must reconsider the essential nature of social cooperation. As we pointed out in section 48, from the sociological point of view “ethics becomes nothing else than a definite account of the forms of conduct that are fitted to the associated state”; and in subsequent sections it was made clear that, rising above those earliest groups in which the individuals simply live in contiguity without mutual interference and without mutual aid, the associated state can be maintained only by effectual cooperation: now for external defense, now for internal sustentation. That is to say the prosperity of societies depends, other things equal, on the extents to which there are fulfilled in them the conditions to such cooperation. Whence, through survival of the fittest, it follows that principles of conduct implying observance of these conditions, and sentiments enlisted in support of such principles, become dominant; while principles of conduct which concern only such parts of the lives of individuals as do not obviously affect social cooperation, do not acquire sanctions of such pronounced and consistent kinds.
This appears to be the explanation of the fact which must have struck many readers of the last two chapters, that the ideas and sentiments respecting temperance and chastity, display less intelligible relations to social type and social development, than do the ideas and sentiments concerning cooperative conduct, internal and external. For if, scattered throughout the community there are men who eat or drink to excess, such evils as are entailed on the community are indirect. There is, in the first place, no direct interference with military efficiency so long as within the armed force there is no such drunkenness or gluttony as sensibly affects discipline. And in the second place, there is no direct interference with the process of social sustentation, so long as one who eats or drinks to excess does not aggress upon his neighbor or in any way inconvenience him. While erring in either of these ways, a man may respect the persons and property of his fellows and may invariably fulfill his contracts–may, therefore, obey the fundamental principles of social cooperation. Whatever detriment society receives from his conduct arises from the deterioration in one of its units. Much the same thing holds with disregard of chastity; there is no necessary or immediate interference with the carrying on of cooperations, either external or internal; but the evil caused is an ultimate lowering of the population in number or quality. In both these cases the social consciousness, not distinctly awakened to the social results, does not always generate consistent social sentiments.
It is otherwise with those kinds of conduct which directly and obviously transgress the conditions to social cooperation, external or internal. Cowardice, or insubordination, diminishes in a very obvious way the efficiency of a fighting body; and hence, in respect of these, there are readily established consistent ideas and sentiments. So, too, the murdering or assaulting of fellow citizens, the taking away their goods, the breaking of contracts with them, are actions which so conspicuously conflict with the actions constituting social life, that reprobation of them is with tolerable regularity produced. Hence, though there are wide divergences of opinion and of feeling relative to such classes of offenses in different societies, yet we find these related to divergences in the types of social activities–one or other set of reprobations being pronounced according as one or other set of activities is most dominant.
Taken together, the preceding chapters show us a group of moral traits proper to a life of external enmity. Where the predominant social cooperations take the form of constant fighting with adjacent peoples, there grows up a pride in aggression and robbery, revenge becomes an imperative duty, skilful lying is creditable, and (save in small tribes which do not develop) obedience to despotic leaders and rulers is the greatest virtue; at the same time there is a contempt for industry and only such small regard for justice within the society as is required to maintain its existence. On the other hand, where the predominant social cooperations have internal sustentation for their end, while cooperations against external enemies have either greatly diminished or disappeared, unprovoked aggression brings but partial applause or none at all; robbery, even of enemies, ceases to be creditable; revenge is no longer thought a necessity; lying is universally reprobated; justice in the transactions of citizens with one another is insisted upon; political obedience is so far qualified that submission to a despot is held contemptible; and industry, instead of being considered disgraceful, is considered as, in some form or other, imperative on every one.
Of course the varieties of nature inherited by different kinds of men from the past, the effects of customs sanctified by age, the influences of religious creeds, together with the circumstances peculiar to each society complicate and qualify these relations; but in their broad outlines they are sufficiently clear–as clear as we can expect them to be.
190. Hence the fact that the ethical sentiments prevailing in different societies, and in the same society under different conditions, are sometimes diametrically opposed. Multitudinous proofs of this truth have been given in preceding chapters, but it will be well here to enforce it by a series of antitheses.
Among ourselves, to have committed a murder disgraces for all time a man’s memory, and disgraces for generations all who are related to him; but by the Pathâns a quite unlike sentiment is displayed. One who had killed a Mollah (priest), and failed to find refuge from the avengers, said at length: “I can but be a martyr. I will go and kill a Sahib.” He was hanged after shooting a sergeant, perfectly satisfied “at having expiated his offense.”
The prevailing ethical sentiment in England is such that a man who should allow himself to be taken possession of and made an unresisting slave, would be regarded with scorn; but the people of Drekete, a slave-district of Fiji, “said it was their duty to become food and sacrifices for the chiefs,” and “that they were honored by being considered adequate to such a noble task.”
Less extreme, though akin in nature, is the contrast between the feelings which our own history has recorded within these few centuries. In Elizabeth’s time, Sir John Hawkins initiated the slave trade, and in commemoration of the achievement was allowed to put in his coat of arms “a demimoor proper bound with a cord": the honorableness of his action being thus assumed by himself and recognized by Queen and public. But in our days, the making slaves of men, called by Wesley “the sum of all villainies,” is regarded with detestation; and for many years we maintained a fleet to suppress the slave trade.
Peoples who have emerged from the primitive family-and-clan organization, hold that one who is guilty of a crime must himself bear the punishment, and it is thought extreme injustice that the punishment should fall upon anyone else; but our remote ancestors thought and felt differently as do still the Australians, whose “first great principle with regard to punishment is, that all the relatives of a culprit, in the event of his not being found, are implicated in his guilt": “the brothers of the criminal conceive themselves to be quite as guilty as he is.”
By the civilized, the individualities of women are so far recognized that the life and liberty of a wife are not supposed to be bound up with those of her husband; and she now having obtained a right to exclusive possession of property contends for complete independence, domestic and political. But it is, or was, otherwise in Fiji. The wives of the Fijian chiefs consider it a sacred duty to suffer strangulation on the deaths of their husbands. A woman who had been rescued by Williams “escaped during the night, and, swimming across the river, and presenting herself to her own people, insisted on the completion of the sacrifice which she had in a moment of weakness reluctantly consented to forgo”; and Wilkes tells of another who loaded her rescuer “with abuse, and ever afterward manifested the most deadly hatred towards him.”
Here, and on the Continent, the religious prohibition of theft and the legal punishment of it, are joined with a strong social reprobation; so that the offense of a thief is never condoned. In Beloochistan, however, quite contrary ideas and feelings are current. There “a favorite couplet is to the effect that the Biloch who steals and murders, secures heaven to seven generations of ancestors.”
In this part of the world reprobation of untruthfulness is strongly expressed, alike by the gentleman and the laborer. But in many parts of the world it is not so. In Blantyre, for example, according to Macdonald, “to be called a liar is rather a compliment.”
English sentiment is such that the mere suspicion of incontinence on the part of a woman is enough to blight her life; but there are peoples whose sentiments entail no such effect, and in some cases a reverse effect is produced: “unchastity is with the Wotyaks a virtue.”
So that in respect of all the leading divisions of human conduct, different races of men, and the same races at different stages, entertain opposite beliefs and display opposite feelings.
191. I was about to say that the evidence set forth in foregoing chapters, brought to a focus in the above section, must dissipate once for all the belief in a moral sense as commonly entertained. But a long experience prevents me from expecting this. Among men at large, lifelong convictions are not to be destroyed either by conclusive arguments or by multitudinous facts.
Only to those who are not by creed or cherished theory committed to the hypothesis of a supernaturally created humanity will the evidence prove that the human mind has no originally implanted conscience. Though, as shown in my first work, Social Statics, I once espoused the doctrine of the intuitive moralists (at the outset in full, and in later chapters with some implied qualifications), yet it has gradually become clear to me that the qualifications required practically obliterate the doctrine as enunciated by them. It has become clear to me that if, among ourselves, the current belief is that a man who robs and does not repent will be eternally damned, while an accepted proverb among the Bilochs is that “God will not favor a man who does not steal and rob,” it is impossible to hold that men have in common an innate perception of right and wrong.
But now, while we are shown that the moral-sense doctrine in its original form is not true, we are also shown that it adumbrates a truth, and a much higher truth. For the facts cited, chapter after chapter, unite in proving that the sentiments and ideas current in each society become adjusted to the kinds of activity predominating in it. A life of constant external enmity generates a code in which aggression, conquest, revenge, are inculcated, while peaceful occupations are reprobated. Conversely a life of settled internal amity generates a code inculcating the virtues conducing to harmonious cooperation–justice, honesty, veracity, regard for other’s claims. And the implication is that if the life of internal amity continues unbroken from generation to generation, there must result not only the appropriate code, but the appropriate emotional nature–a moral sense adapted to the moral requirements. Men so conditioned will acquire to the degree needful for complete guidance, that innate conscience which the intuitive moralists erroneously suppose to be possessed by mankind at large. There needs but a continuance of absolute peace externally and a rigorous insistence on nonaggression internally to ensure the molding of men into a form naturally characterized by all the virtues.
This general induction is reinforced by a special induction. Now as displaying this high trait of nature, now as displaying that, I have instanced those various uncivilized peoples who, inferior to us in other respects, are morally superior to us; and have pointed out that they are one and all free from intertribal antagonisms. The peoples showing this connection are of various races. In the Indian hills, we find some who are by origin Mongolian, Kolarian, Dravidian; in the forests of Malacca, Burma, and in secluded parts of China, exist such tribes of yet other bloods; in the East Indian Archipelago, are some belonging to the Papuan stock; in Japan there are the amiable Ainos, who “have no traditions of internecine strife”; and in North Mexico exists yet another such people unrelated to the rest, the Pueblos. No more conclusive proof could be wished than that supplied by these isolated groups of men who, widely remote in locality and differing in race, are alike in the two respects, that circumstances have long exempted them from war and that they are now organically good.
The goodness which may be attained to under these conditions excites the wonder of those who know only such goodness as is attained by peoples who plume themselves on their superiority. Witness General Fytche’s comment on the report of Mr. O’Riley concerning the Let-htas: “The account given by him of their appreciation of moral goodness, and the purity of their lives, as compared with the semicivilized tribes amongst whom they dwell, almost savors of romance.”
May we not reasonably infer that the state reached by these small uncultured tribes may be reached by the great cultured nations, when the life of internal amity shall be unqualified by the life of external enmity?
192. That the contemplation of such an eventuality will be agreeable to all, I do not suppose. To the many who, in the East, tacitly assume that Indians exist for the benefit of Anglo-Indians, it will give no pleasure. Such a condition will probably seem undesirable to men who hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, and think themselves absolved by a command from Downing Street. As, among anthropophagi, the suppression of man-eating is not favorably regarded; so in sociophagous nations like ours, not much pleasure is caused by contemplating the cessation of conquests. No strong desire for such a state can be felt by our leading General, who says that the duties of a soldier “are the noblest that fall to man’s lot,” and whose motto is–"Man is as a wolf towards his fellow man.”
Nor, strange though it appears, will this prospect be rejoiced over even by those who preach “peace and goodwill to men”; for the prospect is not presented in association with their creed. The belief that humanity can be made righteous only by acceptance of the Christian scheme, is irreconcilable with the conclusion that humanity may be molded into an ideal form by the continued discipline of peaceful cooperation. Better far to our theologians seems the doctrine that man, intrinsically bad, can be made good only by promises of heaven and threats of hell, than does the doctrine that man, not intrinsically bad, will become good under conditions which exercise the higher feelings and give no scope for the lower. Facts which apparently show that unchristianized human nature is incurably vicious, give to them satisfaction as justifying their religion; and evidence tending to prove the contrary is repugnant as showing that their religion is untrue.
And it is by no means certain that their attitude is to be regretted; for there has to be maintained a congruity between the prevailing cult and the social state and the average nature. If any one says that the men who form the land-grabbing nations of Europe, cannot be ruled in their daily lives by an ethical sentiment, but must have it enforced by the fear of damnation, I am not prepared to contradict him. If a writer who, according to those who know represents truly the natures of the gentlemen we send abroad, sympathetically describes one of them as saying to soldiers shooting down tribes fighting for their independence–"Give ’em hell, men”; I think those are possibly right who contend that such natures are to be kept in check only by fear of a God who will “give ’em hell” if they misbehave. It is, I admit, a tenable supposition that belief in a deity who calmly looks on while myriads of his creatures suffer eternal torments, may fitly survive during a state of the world in which naked barbarians and barbarians in skins are being overrun by barbarians in broadcloth.
But to the few who, looking back on the changes which past thousands of years have witnessed, look forward to the kindred changes which future thousands of years may be expected to bring, it will be a satisfaction to contemplate a humanity so adapted to harmonious social life that all needs are spontaneously and pleasurably fulfilled by each without injury to others.
Endnotes to Part II
[]For further ilIustrations, see Principles of Sociology, secs. 142–3, and Ecclesiastical Institutions, sec. 584.
[]Marvelous are the effects of educational bias. Familiarity with the doings of these people, guilty of so many “atrocities,” characterized by such “revolting cruelty of manners,” as Grote says, who were liars through all grades from their gods down to their slaves, and whose religion was made up of gross and brutal superstitions, distinguishes one of our leading statesmen; and, joined to familiarity with the doings of other Greeks, it is thought by him to furnish the best possible preparation for life of the highest kind. In a speech at Eton, reported in The Times, of 16 March, 1891, Mr. Gladstone said–"If the purpose of education is to fit the human mind for the efficient performance of the greatest functions, the ancient culture, and, above all, Greek culture, is by far the best, the most lasting, and the most elastic instrument that can possibly be applied to it.” Other questions aside, one might ask with puzzled curiosity which of Mr. Gladstone’s creeds, as a statesman, it is which we must ascribe to the influence of Greek culture–whether the creed with which he set out as a Tory when fresh from Oxford, or the extreme radical creed which he has adopted of late years?
[]The late Mr. John Ball, F.R.S., brought up in the neighborhood of Belfast, was, when young, though nominally a Catholic, intimate with a wealthy family of Protestants, at the head of which was an old gentleman looked up to with reverence by his descendants. Mr. Ball told me that this patriarch took a fancy to him; and one day when leaving the room after dinner led him aside and patting him on the shoulder said, “My good young friend, I want to talk to you about your wine. You don’t drink enough. Now take my advice–make your head while you are young, and then you will be able to drink like a gentleman all your life.”