Page images

of meliorating the habits of the people, and communicating to them a share of the advantages which other nations have already attained.

The destiny of America is more fortunate, and the prospect it presents is a valuable illustration of the uses of that active principle which conveys civilization universally. This vast continent, which on its first discovery was, for the most part, wandered over by thin and scattered tribes, is now inhabited by a cultivated and increasing people; and has received by inheritance those treasures of improvement which the nations of Europe have been through many centuries painfully acquiring. The case was similar with the colonists from ancient Greece, many of whose settlements, within a period comparatively trifling, rivalled the mother country, not only in extent of territory, but in arts and opulence. But the recent and living example of America is peculiarly calculated to place before us the reality of the ad

vantages effected by colonization.* The necessity of legal restraints in countries that emerge by their own efforts from barbarism, is learnt by experience of mischief; by colonists it is already known: and the forms of law most compatible with the essentials of liberty, have been discovered. The principles of government are understood, and the benefits of subordination acknowledged. Literature is not obliged to force its way from its first elements, but has an advanced point to set out from.

The subject requires no more than to glance, in passing, at these beneficial effects of the overflow of Europe; for it will not surely be denied, that such an increase in the number of the civilized inhabitants of the globe is justly termed a beneficial consequence resulting from a full population. And it must not be forgotten,

"The colony of a civilized nation which takes possession either of a waste country, or of one so thinly inhabited that the natives easily give place to the new settlers, advances more rapidly to wealth and greatness than any other human society." Wealth of Nations, b. iv. ch. vii.

that not only the moral acquirements, but the natural productions in which one country has the advantage over another, are spread throughout the world by this interchange of its great families. * "The inhabitants of western Europe have deposited in America whatever vegetable treasures they have been receiving for two thousand years by their communications with the Greeks and Romans; by the irruption of the hordes of central Asia, by the conquest of the Arabs, by the Crusades, and the navigation of the Portuguese. All these productions, augmented by those of America, pass farther still to the islands of the South Sea and New Holland. A colony collects in a small spot every thing most valuable, which wandering man has discovered over the whole system of the globe."+

* " The potatoe, indigenous in South America, has become common in New Zealand, in Japan, in Java, in Boutan, and Bengal, where potatoes are considered more useful than the bread-fruit tree introduced at Madras. Their cultivation extends from the extremity of Africa to Labrador, Iceland, and Lapland." Humboldt.

+ Humboldt, vol. ii. p. 500.


Lastly, it remains to be observed, that the important purpose effected by this provision in disseminating the blessings of Revelation, must have been prominent in the view of the Creator. Were there no stimulus to intercourse between different countries, any revelation must either have been as partial as that made to the Jews, or it must have been displayed separately to every district of the globe. through the influence of the principle we are considering, civilization becomes the instru ment of diffusing Christianity: how active and how powerful an instrument, is abundantly testified by the unexampled exertions which are employed, at the present moment, to translate the Scriptures into every known language, and to distribute them in the remotest quarters of the world. Whoever contemplates this fact, must either be blind to the advantages of such distribution, or must acknowledge the wisdom of a dispensation, by means of which a Revelation made in one age and country, is, in effect, made to all ages and all nations. For, if we analyze those means, we find that it

is the activity of full population in England which has carried the arts that minister to human comfort to unrivalled perfection; that the industry of the same population employed in the transmission of those arts has found access to the rudest and most distant countries; and that the fulness of every avenue to wealth at home is the foundation of that readiness to emigrate and colonize, which leads to the establishment of Christianity together with civilization.

This transference of arts and population leads me to remark, as one of the most admirable beauties of the system, its easy adaptation to the various circumstances in which mankind may be placed by the fortune of their birth. What is the fact? Population, which, in the American states doubles itself within twenty-five years, in the old countries of Europe is not supposed to double in less than five hundred years.* Here is a difference so enor

* This calculation of Smith's does not agree with the quick progress of population in these kingdoms during the last cen

« PreviousContinue »