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What different ideas does the dealing with large views, with insticommon expression, “ The study of tutions, with epochs ; but when we history,” call up in various minds ! come to our chair days, we go back For what different purposes is history to our Clarendon and our Burnet; read! with what different views is we like to hear what the Bishop saiá history written ! The lawyer, at the of the Lord, and what Lord Dartvery name of English history, recalls mouth thought of Bishop Burnet. his own constitutional learning, and Let the lawyer and the divine and prepares to investigate again the the retired politician still continue growth of that intricate system of to study history, each for his own polity in which he lives and works, especial purpose or pleasure ; but which he can never sufficiently admire, without a doubt there is a philosoand which he feels he shall never en- phic method of pursuing this study, tirely comprehend. The divine sees which must take precedence over pre-eminently in history the develop- every other. Here the progressive ment of religion, and more especially manifestation of our multifarious of the Christian Church. Idler men humanity is the constant object of fix their eyes on kings and queens, investigation. Here facts are valued battles and conquests; or they de- for the wide generalisations they aulight in the intrigues of a court, in thorise. Here individuals are studlearning how one minister tripped up ied that we may better contemplate the heels of his predecessor, and how the giant steps of Humanity, stepping another was outwitted by some giddy slowly, and pausing long, and often mistress of the king,—who was both apparently retracing its uncertain the royal master and royal puppet of path. Here, in short, we study man; the scene. Some few are mainly in- for what
history but the varied quisitive about the manners, dress, development of the human mind? And and modes of living of that great he who would know what creature nameless multitude which occupies man really is, or may probably bethe background of the historical pic- come, must extend his views over ture, and on which the shadows ge- long periods of time, and many renerally fall. Dear to the sexagenarian gions of the earth. is the memoir and the contemporary But we must guard ourselves history, full of the very passion and against a misconstruction here. We spite of the times; the younger stu- do not expect that history is to be dent may prefer the pages of a Guizot, raised to a science strictly analogous
History of Civilisation in England. By HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE. VOL. LXXXIV.—NO. DXVII,
to those physical sciences which treat ledge ; he is habituated to wide of the uniform action of external generalisations ; he is not averse to nature. We do not expect to be able that toil necessary to eliminate fact to predict social events, as the astro- from fiction ; he thinks acutely, and nomer predicts an eclipse. Man, expounds and describes with amplifrom time to time, makes new acqui- tude and vigour ; for he writes in a sitions of knowledge, invents new style free and masterly, and often arts; and these acquisitions of know- eloquent—a style which, if it has not ledge and wealth are not only new the splendour of illustration and epielements in the calculation, but they grammatic force of Lord Macaulay's, modify the elements we already have has, however, this advantage, that it before us. The various classes of never weariés by too continuous a society undergo a change, and their display of oratorical power. relations and proportions to each reader comes in at the end of the other are altered. What is called volume as fresh as when he started. scientific prediction, which depends Indeed, it is too full of varied thought on a uniform repetition of the same and information to allow the attenphenomena, can here hardly have tion to flag. There is not a dull any place at all. We cannot at the page in the whole book, unless that same time admit that man acquires is to be accounted a page (p. 678), fresh knowledge and additional which is filled with a list of names, powers, and expect a science of his- by some caprice inserted in the text, tory which is to predict the future : instead of being relegated to the but we can survey the past in a notes below. We say, by some cascientific spirit; we can frame certain price, because our author indulges great generalisations, which, if they liberally on other occasions, and too will not enable us to predict future liberally, in the tempting practice of events, may authorise certain vague making foot-notes. "If there is any but hopeful expectations; we can drawback to the pleasurable perusal examine the several histories of dif- of the book, it is this too great indul. ferent nations, and observe the same gence in the aside of the foot-note. laws acting in each, and can thus A note now and then is even an form the conception of an harmoni- agreeable interruption to the reader, ous whole. In geology we can form to say nothing of its convenience to but the vaguest prediction of the the author ; but when the attention future, but the ability to arrange the is repeatedly called off from the past in a systematic order has en- text, we lose the sense of continuity; titled it to the name of a science. the text itself is broken up and disIt is this whole of humanity on which jointed, and becomes for us, at the we must fix our regard. When Bos- moment, as fragmentary as the notes suet wrote his Universal History, he themselves. When these are numertoo had a method, and a philosophy; ous, it is the best plan to read the but he subordinated the history of text straight through on the first all other people to the history of the perusal, and afterwards to recur to Jews. A man of the same genius the notes. as Bossuet, writing in the nineteenth Mr Buckle, we have said, appears century, would hardly adopt this to us to have almost every qualificamethod': he would look with impar- tion for his great work, a philosophitiality over the earth, and all the cal history of England, and this nations of the earth, and see Jew, perhaps is all we have a right to exand Greek, and
Indian, all related pect of any mortal man. We cannot and subordinated to the great whole say that he has every qualification, of humanity.
or that the views which he presents It is in this philosophic spirit that to us of the progress of society are Mr Buckle has studied history, and altogether satisfactory or complete. will enable others also to study it. There is something we desiderate. For the great task he has here under- What that something is, what defects taken he possesses almost every qua- or deficiencies we have to note, will lification. His mind is stored with be best explained as we proceed. But scientific as well as historical know- we may say at once, that we find in
him a tendency to seize upon a few in the Asiatic, he permits himself to great and leading truths, and to dwell indulge in an imaginative strain upon them to the exclusion, or all but which we remember to have met with, exclusion of other truths, which, if not and to have thought fantastical, even of so fundamental a character, are also in the pages of M. Cousin, who is of essential importance. He has a accustomed to relieve the dryness of favouritism in his intellectual do- his abstract speculations by an occamain ; he is capable of exaggerating sional exercise of the fancy. No one, a great truth till he puts it altogether again, has so forcibly presented to into a false position. He has a tele- us his great leading idea, the value scopic vision, but instead of sweeping of intellectual progress; but in doing the horizon with his telescope, he this, he sets up a false distinction points it perseveringly to two or three between it and moral and religious quarters of the heavens. “Le génie progress. He is anxious to give all c'est la patience," writes, we believe, honour to the first, instead of repreM. Buffon. The definition is very in- senting the three (as they surely are) complete; there goes something more inseparably united. Our moral and than patience to form the man of religious sentiments suffer here a genius ; there is the quick perception temporary degradation in the preof relations, and the creative power sence of the intellect. Our religious of new combinations of thought; sentiments especially, and religious but the prolonged and patient medi- beliefs, are thrown always amongst tation, that can wait, and can bear the dark shadows of the picture. Mr to see things in opposite points of Buckle wants here enlargement of view, is a most essential element. view, and open sympathy with manNow we desiderate in Mr Buckle a kind. We are not pronouncing what greater degree of patience; we per- faith a philosophic historian ought ceive in him other elements of the himself to have; but we confidently man of genius, but we find him assert that he is defective in some capable of being impatient, and con- necessary qualifications for his task, sequently rash and exclusive; capable, if he fails to perceive that the reliwith all his acumen, of being led gious faiths of mankind are worthy astray by fanciful suggestions, when of profound and reverential study. they harmonise with his favourite Not in one nation, or in one region, views; prone to expound a great but in every nation and region of thé truth in such a manner that instead earth, religion has been a most conof upholding and illuminating other spicuous element in human life; adgreat truths, it obscures and almost vancing with the intellectual progress banishes them from the canvass. of mankind, and itself reacting con
No one has developed so ably the stantly upon that progress. The influence of external nature, or the boldest displays of the human imagipeculiarities of the several regions of nation, and the most exalted efforts the earth, on the several populations of the human reason, blend perpetuof the world; but, not content with ally in the religious creed : we canexplaining by this means the differ- not understand how it can be other ence between the civilisations of than a subject of the greatest interest Asia and of Europe, he endeavours to a philosophic mind. to explain, in the same manner, cer- But, before proceeding further, we tain differences in European nations, must give some account of the poras the love of art in Italy and Spain, tion of the work that Mr Buckle has or the character of the Norwegian at present given to us. The author and Swedish peasant. In doing this, appears, in the first instance, to have the mental peculiarity which he has to contemplated writing the history of explain, and the physical or geogra- the civilisation of the world, but findphical peculiarity by which he seeks ing his theme expand, as he proceedto explain it, are both sometimes open ed, into proportions altogether too to dispute, and the relation of cause vast to be embraced by one person and effect between them quite proble- in one human life, he limited himself matical. And even when descanting to the history of his own country. on the influence of external nature Having, however, collected materials for the greater undertaking, and the author, and dealing with the unihaving devoted much attention to versal and primary relationships bethe peculiarities which distinguish tween man and the external nature the several countries of Europe in which surrounds him; and it is to their progress in civilisation, he has this portion we must immediately thrown the results of these labours address ourselves. The first six chapinto the form of an introduction. ters, in fact, constitute what is esThis Introduction, therefore, will be sentially the Introduction, and the a work complete in itself; treating History might very well have proin the first place, of those primary ceeded from this point, had the author relations which man has to the planet been so disposed. To these six chapwhich he inhabits, the influence of ters we shall limit our attention for food, climate, and the like; relations the present.* There is matter more which determine the broad distinc- attractive, and more provocative pertions between Asiatic and European haps of discussion, in the two spirited civilisations ; and, in the second outlines that are subsequently given place, taking a general survey of the us of the mental history of England modern nations of Europe, in order and France, but even this area that to present us with the peculiar char- we have marked out for ourselves is acteristics which civilisation or pro- far too wide to be scanned, surveyed, gress bears in each one of them. The and criticised within the limits of one bulky volume which lies before us, brief paper. contains but one half of the Introduc- Mr Buckle treats in a full and tion. That portion of it which con- masterly manner of the influence of cerns the wider generalisations on climate, and of objective nature geneman and the planet he inhabits, and rally, on the mind of man; which explains the philosophic method not think him equally satisfactory of the author, may be said to be com- in his exposition when he enters into plete.
With regard to the other the region of the mind itself, or portion, we have a vigorous sketch when he deals with the feelings and of the intellectual progress of Eng: imaginations of men. We quite acland and of France; and we are told quiesce in his leading idea, that inthat “the remaining part of the In- crease of knowledge is the great troduction will be occupied with an
initiative in human progress; but, in investigation of the civilisations of the first place, there is much IdeaGermany, America, Scotland, and tion which is not precisely knowSpain." "Are we not right in saying ledge—which may prove to be error that this Introduction will be a work –combinations of thought not ultiin itself?
mately recognised as scientific
and It is the first portion of the present which yet has had much to do with volume which is more strictly of a human progress; and, in the second preliminary character-unfolding, as place, he has obscured his exposiit does, the philosophy or method of tion by representing our feelings, our
* The titles of these chapters will of themselves suggest much to the reflective reader. We cannot do better than transcribe them here :
“ Chap. I.–Statement of the Resources for investigating History, and Proofs of the Regularity of Human Actions. These Actions are governed by Mental and Physical Laws; therefore both Sets of Laws must be studied, and there can be vo History without the Natural Sciences.
“ CHAP. II.-Influence exercised by Physical Laws over the Organisation of Society, and over the Character of Individuals.
“ Chap. III.-Examination of the Method employed by Metaphysicians for discovering Mental Laws.
“ Chap. IV.-Mental Laws are either Moral or Intellectual. Comparison of Moral and Intellectual Laws, and Inquiry into the effect produced by each on the Progress of Society.
“ CHAP. V.-Inquiry into the Influence exercised by Religion, Literature, and Government.
" Chap. VI.-Origin of History, and State of Historical Literature during the Middle Ages."
moral and religious sentiments, as emerged from their uncivilised state. having a certain stationary character How entirely this depends on physical which does not belong to them, since causes, is evident from the fact that they themselves change and modify these same Mongolian and Tartarian with our intellectual advancement. hordes have, at different periods, foundBut lest we mingle too many topics ed great monarchies in China, in India, together, let us commence by quot- occasions attained a civilisation nowise
and in Persia, and have on all such ing a passage from Mr Buckle, in inferior to that possessed by the most which he describes, with great clear- Aourishing of the ancient kingdoms. For ness, the influence of soil and climate. in the fertile plains of Southern Asia A very fertile soil is especially pro- nature has supplied all the materials of pitious to the first steps of civilisa- wealth ; and there it was that these tion, because it at once enables the barbarous tribes acquired for the first industry of one man to feed more
time some degree of refinement, prothan himself, and thus produces a
duced a national literature, and organised class who can occupy themselves
a national polity; none of which things about something else than procuring to effect. In the same way the Arabs,
they in their native land had been able food ; but the first steps being taken, &c. &c. ... a temperate climate, with less fer- “ These considerations clearly prove tility of soil, is more favourable to that of the two primary causes of civilsubsequent progress, because here isation, the fertility of the soil is the one the industry of man is more con- which in the ancient world exercised stantly exercised and excited. Civil- most influence. But in European civilisation, accordingly, appears to have isation, the other great cause, that is to risen in countries where the soil was say climate, has been the most powerful; spontaneously fertile, and to have and this, as we have seen, produces au been thence transported into climates effect partly in the capacity of the laless liberal in their spontaneous gifts, the irregularity of his habits. The differ
bourer for work, partly in the regularity or but prompting to uniform and sustained activity.
ence in the results has curiously correCivilisation bas sponded with the difference in the cause. risen in Asia, but assumed its highest For although all civilisation must bave form in Europe.
for its antecedent the accumulation of
wealth, still what subsequently occurs “Looking at the history of wealth, in will be in no small degree determined its earlier stage, it will be found to de- by the conditions under which the acpend entirely on soil and climate : the cumulation took place. In Asia and in soil regulating the returns made to any Africa, the condition was a fertile soil, given amount of labour; the climate causing an abundant return; in Europe, regulating the energy and constancy of it was a happier climate, causing more the labour itself. It requires but a successful labour. In the former case, hasty glance at past events to prove the effect depends on the relation bethe immense power of these two great tween the soil and its produce; in other physical conditions. For there is no in- words, the mere operation of one part stance iu history of any country being of external nature upon another. In civilised by its own efforts, unless it has the latter case, the effect depends on the possessed one of these conditions in a relation between the climate and the very favourable form. In Asia, civilisa- labourer; that is, the operation of extion has always been confined to that ternal nature, not upon itself, but upon vast tract where a rich and alluvial soil
Of these two classes of relations, has secured to man that wealth without the first, being the less complicated, is some share of which no intellectual the least liable to disturbance, and thereprogress can begin. This great region fore came sooner into play. Hence it is extends, with a few interruptions, from that in the march of civilisation, the the east of Southern China to the west- priority is unquestionably due to the ern coasts of Asia Minor, of Phenicia, most fertile parts of Asia and Africa. and of Palestine. To the north of this But although their civilisation was the immense belt there is a long line of earliest, it was very far indeed from barren country, which has invariably being the best and most permanent. been peopled by rude and wandering Owing to circumstances which I shall tribes, who are kept in poverty by the presently state, the only progress which ungenial nature of the soil, and who, as is really effective depends, not upon long as they remained on it, have never the bounty of nature, but upon the