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able to rely on his own power; he can, as it were, pass through, and exercise authority in every direction. And as the phenomena are more accessible, it becomes easier for him to experiment on them, or to observe them with minuteness; an inquisitive and analytic spirit is encouraged, and he is tempted to generalize the appearances of Nature, and refer them to the laws by which they are governed.




28. Human causes that act in history. The relative importance of the physical environment and of the people who inhabit it is suggestively treated in the following:1

It must not be supposed that environment alone accomplishes any historical result. Environment acts upon and through man, contributing to the formation of his character and conditioning his activities. In the truest sense, Nature is not an historical cause at all. History is not primarily a study of circumstances, but of the human agents that exist and act among circumstances; not a study of environment, but of what man does acting under environment. ...

Human nature sums up the main historic causes and agents; the native and universal qualities of the race, the complex of characters that mark man off from inferior creatures. Sagacious as are some species of animals, we have no difficulty in distinguishing the works of man from their works — the ant, the bee, or the beaver. ... Although hedged about with metes and bounds, he is capable within certain large limits of rising above circumstances or conditions and of asserting a lordship over Nature. Man, then, is the starting point in history. ...

I. How far race character and national character are due to native inherent qualities, and how far to environment, is a hard question, but fortunately one that lies outside of our present field. Certainly they are among the most potent of historical causes. In a celebrated passage Aristotle pointed out the obvious contrast between the repose of Asia and the energy of Europe. After speaking of the number of citizens of a state, he proceeds to speak of what should be their character : " This is a subject which can be easily understood by any one who casts his eye on the more celebrated states of Hellas, and generally on the distribution of races in the habitable world. Those who live in a cold climate and in (northern) Europe are full of spirit, but wanting in intelligence and skill ; and therefore they keep their freedom, but have no political organization,

1 Copyright, 1893, by D. Appleton and Company.

and are incapable of ruling over others. Whereas the natives of Asia are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in spirit, and therefore they are always in a state of subjection and slavery. But the Hellenic race, which is situated between them, is likewise intermediate in character, being high-spirited and also intelligent. Hence it continues free, and is the best governed of any nation, and, if it could be formed into one state, would be able to rule the world. There are also similar differences in the different tribes of Hellas; for some of them are of a one-sided nature, and are intelligent or courageous only, while in others there is a happy combination of both qualities." ..

The national character of the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans — the first religious, the second philosophical and literary, and the third practical and legal in their genius — are historical factors of the greatest value and consequence. Such factors should be studied both with reference to the causes that produce them and the effects that they themselves produce. ...

II. To analyze the genius of the age — what the German calls the Time Spirit — showing what it is, how it comes, and why it goes — is no easy task. That it exercises a controlling power, subordinate only to race and national character, cannot be doubted. Great events cannot be accomplished until the world is ready for their accomplishment. ... At one time the dogmatic spirit, at another time the scholastic spirit, at a third the spirit of classical antiquity, and then again the rationalistic or modern spirit has swayed the minds of men.

The Time Spirit creates the age. Some things can be done but once. The world will not see the Crusades repeated. The medieval cathedrals, which, as has been said, "often rose out of towns which were then little better than collections of hovels, with but small accumulations of wealth, and without what we now deem the appliances of civilized life, and that also mark the highest ascent of man's spiritual nature above the realities of his worldly lot,” cannot be duplicated. We do not anticipate new migrations of nations like those that broke up the Roman Empire, and a second age of maritime discovery is impossible.

The spirit of the age is not the creature of chance, but is the product of causes that may in part be discovered. For example, as one has observed, every great change of belief in Europe has been preceded by a great change in its intellectual condition; the success of any opinion has depended less upon the force of its arguments or the ability of its advocates than upon the predisposition of society to receive it, while this predisposition results from the intellectual type of the age. Men do new things because they want to do them, and they cease doing them because they have come to feel more interest in something else. So they change their opinions, not so much because they are convinced by formal arguments of the unsoundness of the old and of the soundness of the new, as because they grow out of the old and grow into the new.

III. Individual genius is an historic cause. To adjust the great man and his time is almost as difficult as it is to adjust free will and universal causation. How far is the great man a cause, how far an effect? At this point two divergent tendencies of thought present themselves.

Carlyle emphasizes in the strongest manner individualities, and denounces the opposite tendency as machinelike and degrading. He sneers at all attempts to account for the great man, as to show that he is a product of the times, and maintains that universal history, "the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the history of the great men who have worked here.” His doctrine is that "history is the essence of innumerable biographies."

Mr. Buckle is perhaps the best representative of the counter tendency. He makes almost nothing of individualities, denies the fact of free will, and resolves history into a necessary sequence, the action of general causes. ...

The truth lies between these two extremes. Both individualities and general causation play important parts in history. Peter the Hermit must preach the Crusade, Luther must lift up the banner of the Reformation, Napoleon must lead the armies of the Revolution ; but, on the other hand, the world must be ready for Peter the Hermit, for Luther, and for Napoleon, or he will accomplish little or nothing. Certainly the mere effervescence and fermentation of society in itself leads to nothing useful and permanent. The crusading spirit did not preach the Crusade, mere reforming tendencies did not nail the theses to the church door or confront Charles V at Worms, the Revolution as a Zeitgeist did not overrun and conquer all western and central Europe. Carlyle, in his hero worship, scouts the very conditions that make the hero possible ; Buckle, in his devotion to history as a science, overlooks the hero altogether. "The times," says Carlyle," have indeed called loudly enough for the great man, and he has not answered.” To which Mr. Buckle might reply with equal truth, " The great man has indeed called loudly enough to the times, and the times have not answered.” ...

Without entering further into the speculative discussion of the subject, we shall altogether miss the mark unless we recognize the force and value of the leaders of mankind, who are genuine historic causes of great potency. The history of no country more forcibly illustrates the regular and orderly flow of historical causation than our own; but it is impossible to conceive what our history would have been without Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Marshall, Lincoln, and Grant.

Among the potent causes that act in history — in war, politics, religion, industry, and trade — ideas and sentiments must be assigned a high rank. Under every historical movement can be found some human factor that transcends mere physical causation. Even the most repulsive political and military struggles can be made intelligible by referring them to human motives. Armies have sometimes been counted the playthings of kings, and war their pastime. But the lines —

But war 's a game which, were their subjects wise,

Kings would not play at — is only partly true. Ambitious rulers have much to answer for, but war has not often been mere ruthless slaughter, killing for the sake of killing; on the contrary, state policies or national ideas are almost always more or less involved. Rome and Carthage contested the supremacy of the Mediterranean Sea ; they represented antagonistic ideas and policies, and the best interests of mankind demanded that Rome should triumph. The rule of England in India, harsh as it sometimes seems, promotes the well-being of the people, and autocratic Russia is fulfilling a mission in Central Asia. The destroyers Alaric and Attila embodied the ideas and the passions of the societies that produced them, and from which they derived their power. Napoleon was the child of the Revolution ; Emerson says of him that he succeeded because he was surrounded by little Napoleons, who saw in him only their own aims and desires. "Generally speaking,” says Count von Moltke," it is no longer the ambition of monarchs which endangers peace; the passions of the people, its dissatisfaction with interior conditions and affairs, the strife of parties, and the intrigues of their leaders are the causes.” ...

The relations of the two great groups of historic factors are very much a question of time and development. " With each advance of intellectual power, the dependence (of man) upon environment becomes more and more intimate, for with that intelligence the creature seeks beyond itself for opportunities to gratify its desires.” So says Professor Shaler. Professor Bryce presents a different view : "Man in his early stages is at the mercy of Nature. Nature does with him practically whatever she likes. He is obliged to adapt himself entirely to her. But in process of time he learns to raise himself above her. It is true he does so by humoring her, so to speak, by submitting to her forces. In the famous phrase of Bacon, Natura non nisi parendo vincitur, Nature is not conquered except by obeying her; but the skill which man acquires is such as to make him in his higher stages of development always more and more independent of Nature, and able to bend her to his will in a way that aboriginal man could not do. He becomes

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