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poets, conquerors, martyrs-founders of cities and dynastiesauthors of immortal works-ravagers of vast districts abounding in wealth and population. Of all these great personages and events, nobody in Europe, if we except a score or two of studious Orientalists, has ever heard before ; and it would not, we imagine, be very easy to show that we are any better for hearing of them now. A few curious traits, that happen to be strikingly in contrast with our own manners and habits, may remain on the memory of a reflecting reader-with a general confused recollection of the dark and gorgeous phantasmagoria. But no one, we may fairly say, will think it worth while to digest or develope the history, or be at the pains to become acquainted with the leading individuals, and fix in his memory the series and connexion of events. Yet the effusion of human blood was as copious—the display of talent and courage as imposing—the perversion of high moral qualities, and the waste of the means of enjoyment as unsparing, as in other long-past battles and intrigues and revolutions, over the details of which we still pore with the most unwearied attention ; and to verify the dates or minute details of which, is still regarded as a great exploit in historical research, and among the noblest employments of human learning and sagacity.
It is not perhaps very easy to account for the eagerness with which we still follow the fortunes of Miltiades, Alexander, or Cæsar-of the Bruce and the Black Prince, and the interest which yet belongs to the fields of Marathon and Pharsalia, of Crecy and Bannockburn, compared with the indifference, or rather reluctance, with which we listen to the details of Asiatic warfare, the conquests that transferred to the Moguls the vast sovereignties of India, or raised a dynasty of Manchew Tartars to the Celestial Empire of China. It will not do to say, that we want something nobler in character, and more exalted in intellect, than is to be met with among those murderous Orientals-that there is nothing to interest in the contentions of mere force and violence; and that it requires no very finedrawn reasoning to explain why we should turn with disgust from the story, if it had been preserved, of the savage affrays which have drenched the sands of Africa or the rocks of New Zealand—through long generations of murder---with the blood of their brutish population. This may be true enough of Madagascar or Dahomy; but it does not apply to the case before us. The nations of Asia generally—at least those of its great stateswere undoubtedly more polished than those of Europe, during all the period that preceded their recent connexion. Their warriors were as brave in the field, their statesmen more subtle and politic in the cabinet-in the arts of luxury, and all the elegancies of civil life, they were immeasurably superior; in ingenuity of speculation-in literature-in social politenessthe comparison is still in their favour.
It has often occurred to us, indeed, to consider what the effect would have been on the fate and fortunes of the world, if, in the fifteenth century, when the germs of their present civilization were first disclosed, the nations of Europe had been introduced to an intimate and friendly acquaintance with the great polished communities of the East, and had been thus led to take them for their masters in intellectual cultivation, and their models in all the higher pursuits of genius, polity, and art. The difference in our social and moral condition, it could not perhaps be easy to estimate ; but one result, we conceive, would unquestionably have been, to make us take the same deep interest in their ancient story, which we now feel, for similar reasons, in that of the sterner barbarians of early Rome, or the more imaginative clans and colonies of immortal Greece. The experiment, however, though there seemed oftener than once to be some openings for it, was not made. Our Crusading ancestors were too rude themselves to estimate or to feel the value of the refinement which presented itself to their passing gaze, and too entirely occupied with war and bigotry, to reflect on its causes or effects; and the first naval adventurers who opened up India to our commerce, were both too few and too far off to communicate to their brethren at home any taste for the splendours which might have excited their own admiration. By the time that our intercourse with those regions was enlarged, our own career of improvement had been prosperously begun; and our superiority in the art, or at least the discipline, of war, having given us a signal advantage in the conflicts to which that extending intercourse immediately led, naturally increased the aversion and disdain with which almost all races of men are apt to regard strangers to their blood and dissenters from their creed. Since that time, the genius of Europe has been steadily progressive, whilst that of Asia has been at least stationary, and most probably retrograde; and the descendants of the feudal and predatory warriors of the West have at last attained a decided predominancy over those of their elder brothers in the East, to whom, at that period, they were unquestionably inferior in elegance and ingenuity, and whose hostilities were then conducted on the same system with our own. They, in short, have remained nearly where they were ; while we, beginning with the improvement of our governments and military discipline, have gradually outstripped them in all the lesser and
more ornamental attainments in which they originally excelled.
This extraordinary fact of the stationary or degenerate condition of the two oldest and greatest families of mankind-those of Asia and Africa, has always appeared to us a sad obstacle in the way of those who believe in the general progress of the race, and its constant advancement towards a state of perfection. Two or three thousand years ago, those vast communities were certainly in a happier and more prosperous state than they are now; and in many of them we know that their most powerful and flourishing societies have been corrupted and dissolved, not by any accidental or extrinsic disaster, like foreign conquest, pestilence, or elemental devastation, but by what appeared to be the natural consequences of that very greatness and refinement which had marked and rewarded their earlier exertions. In Europe, hitherto, the case has certainly been different: For though darkness did fall upon its nations also, after the lights of Roman civilization were extinguished, it is to be remembered that they did not burn out of themselves, but were trampled down by hosts of invading barbarians, and that they blazed out anew, with increased splendour and power, when the dulness of that superincumbent mass was at length vivified by their contact, and animated by the fermentation of that leaven which had all along been secretly working in its recesses. In Europe certainly there has been a progress : And the more polished of its present inhabitants have not only regained the place which was held of old by their illustrious masters of Greece and Rome, but have plainly outgone them in the most suhstantial and exalted of their improvements. Far more humane and refined than the Romans-far less giddy and turbulent and treacherous than the Greeks, they have given a security to life and property that was unknown to the earlier ages of the world-exalted the arts of peace to a dignity with which they were never before invested; and, by the abolition of domestic servitude, for the first time extended to the bulk of the population those higher capacities and enjoyments which were formerly engrossed by a few. By the invention of printing, they have made all knowledge, not only accessible, but imperishable; and by their improvements in the art of war, have effectually secured themselves against the overwhelming calamity of barbarous invasion--the risk of subjugation by mere numerical or animal force; whilst the alternations of conquest and defeat amongst civilized communities, who alone can now be formidable to each other, though productive of great local and temporary evils, may be regarded on the whole as one of the means of promoting and equalising the general civilization. Rome polished and enlightened all the barbarous nations she subdued-and was herself polished and enlightened by her conquest of elegant Greece. If the European parts of Russia had been subjected to the dominion of France, there can be no doubt that the loss of national independence would have been compensated by rapid advances both in liberality and refinement; and if, by a still more disastrous, though less improbable contingency, the Moscovite hordes were ever to overrun the fair countries to the south-west of them, it is equally certain that the invaders would speedily be softened and informed by the union, and be infected more certainly than by any other sort of contact, with the arts and the knowledge of the vanquished.
All thesegreat advantages, however this apparently irrepressible impulse to improvement—this security against backsliding and decay, seems peculiar to Europe,* and not capable of being communicated, even by her, to the prevailing races of the ancient world; and it is really extremely difficult to explain, upon what are called philosophical principles, the causes of this superiority. We should be very glad to ascribe it to our greater political freedom :-and no doubt, as a secondary cause, this is among the most powerful; as it is to the maintenance of that freedom that we are indebted for the self-estimation, the feeling of honour, the general equity of the laws, and the substantial security both from sudden revolution and from capricious oppression, which distinguish our quarter of the globe. But we cannot bring ourselves to regard this freedom as a mere accident in our history, that is not itself to be accounted for, as well as its consequences : And when it is said that our greater stability and prosperity is owing to our greater freedom, we are immediately tempted to ask, by what that freedom has itself been produced ? In the same way we might ascribe the superior mildness and humanity of our manners, the abated ferocity of our wars, and generally our respect for human life, to the influence of a religion which teaches that all men are equal in the sight of God, and inculcates peace and
* When we speak of Europe, it will be understood that we speak, not of the land, but of the people and include, therefore, all the settlements and colonies of that favoured race, in whatever quarter of the globe they may now be established. Some situations seem more, and some less, favourable to the preservation of the original character. The Spaniards certainly degenerated in Peru—the Dutch perhaps in Batavia ;- but the English remain, we trust, unimpaired in America. charity as the first of our duties. But, besides the startling contrast between the profligacy, treachery, and cruelty of the Eastern Empire after its conversion to the true faith, and the simple and heroic virtues of the heathen republic, it would still occur to enquire, how it has happened that the nations of European descent have alone embraced the sublime truths, and adopted into their practice the mild precepts, of Christianity, while the people of the East have uniformly rejected and disclaimed them, as alien to their character and habits-in spite of all the efforts of the apostles, fathers, and martyrs, in the primitive and most effective periods of their preaching? How, in short, it has happened that the sensual and sanguinary creed of Mahomet has superseded the pure and pacific doctrines of Christianity in most of those very regions where it was first revealed to mankind, and first established by the greatest of existing governments? The Christian revelation is no doubt the most precious of all Heaven's gifts to the benighted world. But it is plain, that there was a greater aptitude to embrace and to profit by it in the European than in the Asiatic race. A free government, in like manner, is unquestionably the most valuable of all human inventions—the great safeguard of all other temporal blessings, and the mainspring of all intellectual and moral improvement:-But such a government is not the result of a lucky thought or happy casualty; and could only be established among men who had 'previously learned both to relish the benefits it secures, and to understand the connexion between the means it employs and the end at which it aims.
We come then, though a little reluctantly, to the conclusion, that there is a natural and inherent difference in the character and temperament of the European and the Asiatic races-consisting, perhaps, chiefly in a superior capacity of patient and persevering thought in the former and displaying itself, for the most part, in a more sober and robust understanding, and a more reasonable, principled, and inflexible morality. It is this which has led us, at once to temper our political institutions with prospective checks and suspicious provisions against abuses, and, in our different orders and degrees, to submit without impatience to those checks and restrictions—to extend our reasonings by repeated observation and experiment, to larger and larger conclusions—and thus gradually to discover the paramount importance of discipline and unity of purpose in war, and of absolute security to person and property in all peaceful pursuits, the folly of all passionate and vindictive assertion of supposed rights and pretensions, and the certain