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In such cases commercial cities may rise and flourish, as did Venice, the daughter of the unfruitful sea. But the peoples as a whole in barren countries can only live poorly and painfully; the population is sparse and has but a meager growth. A fixed home is hardly possible ; men live a nomadic life in scattered families and hordes. Buckle has pointed out that the Mongols and the Tartars made little progress on their own barren steppes, only developing a civilization in the richer soil of China and India : and that the Arabs did not become an advanced state till they left Arabia for the fruitful lands of Persia and the coast of the Mediterranean.
A very fruitful soil, which furnishes sufficient food without requiring labor, is better than an unproductive soil, but it is by no means the best basis for the State, for these reasons:
The main motive to human effort is the desire for subsistence. If this is removed by the bounty of nature, men work little, or not at all; and generally sink into indolence and sensuality. Where they do not work, men fail to develop the hidden resources of their nature, and society does not advance. On many tropical islands the people live a happy sensual life, but remain uncivilized. Naples made a great advance when she converted her idle lazzaroni into industrious laborers.
Where labor is not needed, labor and laborer are despised; the life of the mass of the people counts for nothing. Nowhere is human life so brutally disregarded as in the negro despotisms of Africa, where the soil is fruitful without tillage, and there is no industry to ennoble labor.
Great fertility of soil promotes an unequal distribution of property. We find a few rich men, living in superfluity, hardly any middle class, and a great mass of poor and servile population. As there is no check on population in such countries, it increases rapidly. But an occasional famine or invasion reduces the careless population to misery. Those few who have had the providence to hoard their fruits, compel the masses to surrender their fruit trees and their land in return for food. Military leaders, in return for their protection, exact taxes and service: priests, who reconcile the gods and invoke their blessing, receive large estates from the faithful. Thus there gradually arises a class of rich landlords and princes, of nobles and priests, who own the whole country. They attain to some degree of civilization and to great material wealth. They exact labor from the subject classes, but hold them cheap, because there are plenty of laborers, and man, as such, has no value. The masses become poor, despised, and completely dependent: they live a dull and brutal life of service, completely cut off from any civilizing influence. .
The most favorable soil then is one of moderate fertility, which requires the expenditure of serious and persistent labor. There labor and the laborer are properly valued, but they are not overtasked, and there is no destitution. Man's powers are developed, and the conditions of life perfected: families enjoy a secure existence in moderate prosperity, and wealth is so distributed that the middle class is numerous and well to do. One class shades off gradually into another : there is no danger of the lower classes being enslaved, nor of the higher becoming a privileged caste. There is a great diversity of occupations, but the people form a coherent whole, animated by a common spirit.
26. Effects of dryness and moisture. Spencer points out important results of differences in humidity, as follows:
Passing over such traits of climate as variability and equability, whether diurnal, annual, or irregular, all of which have their effects on human activities, and therefore on social phenomena, I will name one other climatic trait that appears to be an important factor. I refer to the quality of the air in respect of dryness or moisture.
Either extreme brings indirect impediments to civilization, which we may note before observing the direct effects. That great dryness of the air, causing a parched surface and a scanty vegetation, negatives the multiplication needed for advanced social life, is a familiar fact. And it is a fact, though not a familiar one, that extreme humidity, especially when joined with great heat, may raise unexpected obstacles to progress; as, for example, in parts of East Africa, where " the springs of powder flasks exposed to the damp snap like toasted quills ; . . . paper, becoming soft and soppy by the loss of glazing, acts as a blotter; ... metals are ever rusty; . . . and gunpowder, if not kept from the air, refuses to ignite."
But it is the direct effects of different hygrometric states, which are most noteworthy — the effects on the vital processes, and, therefore, on the individual activities, and, through them, on the social activities. Bodily functions are facilitated by atmospheric conditions which make evaporation from the skin and lungs rapid. That weak persons, whose variations of health furnish good tests, are worse when the air is surcharged with water, and are better when the weather is fine; and that commonly such persons are enervated by residence in moist localities but invigorated by residence in dry ones, are facts generally recognized. And this relation of cause and effect, manifest in individuals, doubtless holds in races. Throughout temperate regions, differences of constitutional activity due to differences of atmospheric humidity, are less traceable than in torrid regions: the reason being that all the inhabitants are subject to a tolerably quick escape of water from their surfaces; since the air, though well charged with water, will take up more when its temperature, previously low, is raised by contact with the body. But it is otherwise in tropical regions where the body and the air bathing it differ much less in temperature; and where, indeed, the air is sometimes higher in temperature than the body. Here the rate of evaporation depends almost wholly on the quantity of surrounding vapor. If the air is hot and moist, the escape of water through the skin and lungs is greatly hindered; while it is greatly facilitated if the air is hot and dry. Hence in the torrid zone, we may expect constitutional differences between the inhabitants of low steaming tracts and the inhabitants of tracts parched with heat. Needful as are cutaneous and pulmonary evaporation for maintaining the movement of Auids through the tissues and thus furthering molecular changes, it is to be inferred that, other things equal, there will be more bodily activity in the people of hot and dry localities than in the people of hot and humid localities.
The evidence justifies this inference. The earliest-recorded civilization grew up in a hot and dry region — Egypt; and in hot and dry regions also arose the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Phoenician civilizations. But the facts when stated in terms of nations are far less striking than when stated in terms of races. On glancing over a general rain map, there will be seen an almost continuous area marked "rainless district," extending across North Africa, Arabia, Persia, and on through Tibet into Mongolia; and from within, or from the borders of, this district have come all the conquering races of the Old World. We have the Tartar race, which, passing the southern mountain boundary of this rainless district, peopled China and the regions between it and India — thrusting the aborigines of these areas into the hilly tracts; and which has sent successive waves of invaders not into these regions only, but into the West. We have the Aryan race, overspreading India and making its way through Europe. We have the Semitic race, becoming dominant in North Africa, and, spurred on by Mohammedan fanaticism, subduing parts of Europe. That is to say, besides the Egyptian race, which became powerful in the hot and dry valley of the Nile, we have three races widely unlike in type, which, from different parts of the rainless district, have spread over regions relatively humid. Original superiority of type was not the common trait of these peoples : the Tartar type is inferior, as was the Egyptian. But the common trait, as proved by subjugation of other peoples, was energy. And when we see that this common trait in kinds of men otherwise unlike, had for its concomitant their long-continued subjection to these special climatic conditions — when we find, further, that from the region characterized by these conditions, the earlier waves of conquering emigrants, losing in
moister countries their ancestral energy, were overrun by later waves of the same kind of men, or of other kinds, coming from this region; we get strong reason for inferring a relation between constitutional vigor and the presence of an air which, by its warmth and dryness, facilitates the vital actions. A striking verification is at hand. The rain map of the New World shows that the largest of the parts distinguished as almost rainless is that Central American and Mexican region in which indigenous civilizations developed ; and that the only other rainless district is that part of the ancient Peruvian territory, in which the pre-Ynca civilization has left its most conspicuous traces. Inductively, then, the evidence justifies in a remarkable manner the physiological deduction. Nor are there wanting minor verifications. Speaking of the varieties of negroes, Livingstone says — "Heat alone does not produce blackness of skin, but heat with moisture seems to insure the deepest hue"; and Schweinfurth remarks on the relative blackness of the Denka and other tribes living on the alluvial plains, and contrasts them with "the less swarthy and more robust races who inhabit the rocky hills of the interior” : differences with which there go differences of energy. But I note this fact for the purpose of suggesting its probable connection with the fact that the lighter-skinned races are habitually the dominant races. We see it to have been so in Egypt. It was so with the races spreading south from Central 'Asia. Traditions imply that it was so in Central America and Peru. Speke says — "I have always found the lightercolored savages more boisterous and warlike than those of a dingier hue.” And if, heat being the same, darkness of skin accompanies humidity of the air, while lightness of skin accompanies dryness of the air, then, in this habitual predominance of the fair varieties of men, we find further evidence that constitutional activity, and in so far social development, is favored by a climate conducing to rapid evaporation.
I do not mean that the energy thus resulting determines, of itself, higher social development; this is neither implied deductively nor shown inductively. But greater energy, making easy the conquest of less active races and the usurpation of their richer and more varied habitats, also makes possible a better utilization of such habitats.
27. The general aspects of nature. No writer has more powerfully presented the materialistic conception of history than has Buckle.
It now remains for me to examine the effect of those other physical agents to which I have given the collective name of Aspects of Nature, and which will be found suggestive of some very wide and comprehensive inquiries into the influence exercised by the external world in predisposing men to certain habits of thought, and thus giving a particular tone to religion, arts, literature, and, in a word, to all the principal manifestations of the human mind. To ascertain how this is brought about forms a necessary supplement to the investigations just concluded. For, as we have seen that climate, food, and soil mainly concern the accumulation and distribution of wealth, so also shall we see that the Aspects of Nature concern the accumulation and distribution of thought. In the first case, we have to do with the material interests of Man; in the other case, with his intellectual interests. ... The relation between the Aspects of Nature and the mind of Man involves speculations of such magnitude, and requires such a mass of materials drawn from every quarter, that I feel very apprehensive as to the result; and I need hardly say, that I make no pretensions to anything approaching an exhaustive analysis, nor can I hope to do more than generalize a few of the laws of that complicated, but as yet unexplored process by which the external world has affected the human mind, has warped its natural movements, and too often checked its natural progress.
The Aspects of Nature, when considered from this point of view, are divisible into two classes: the first class being those which are most likely to excite the imagination; and the other class being those which address themselves to the understanding commonly so called, that is, to the mere logical operations of the intellect. For although it is true that, in a complete and well-balanced mind, the imagination and the understanding each play their respective parts, and are auxiliary to each other, it is also true that, in a majority of instances, the understanding is too weak to curb the imagination and restrain its dangerous license. The tendency of advancing civilization is to remedy this disproportion, and invest the reasoning powers with that authority, which, in an early stage of society, the imagination exclusively possesses. ...
Now, so far as natural phenomena are concerned, it is evident, that whatever inspires feelings of terror, or of great wonder, and whatever excites in the mind an idea of the vague and uncontrollable, has a special tendency to inflame the imagination, and bring under its dominion the slower and more deliberate operations of the understanding. In such cases, Man, contrasting himself with the force and majesty of Nature, becomes painfully conscious of his own insignificance. A sense of inferiority steals over him. From every quarter innumerable obstacles hem him in, and limit his individual will. His mind, appalled by the indefined and indefinable, hardly cares to scrutinize the details of which such imposing grandeur consists. On the other hand, where the works of Nature are small and feeble, Man regains confidence: he seems more