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cup of coffee yourself, and then directing the servant, by a wave of the hand, to help the guest.
“When a visitor arrives, the coffee and pipe are called for to welcome him; a second call for these articles announces that he may depart : but this part of the ceremony varies according to the relative rank or intimacy of the parties.
“These matters may appear light to those with whom observances of this character are habits, not rules; but in this country they are of primary consideration, a man's importance with himself and with others depending on them."*
In ancient customary societies the influence of manner, which is a primary influence, has been settled into rules, so that it may aid established usages and not thwart them; that it may, above all, augment the habit of going by custom, and not break and weaken it. Every aid, as we have seen, was wanted to impose the yoke of custom upon such societies; and impressing the power of manner to serve them was one of the greatest aids.
And lastly, we now understand why order and civilization are so unstable even in progressive communities. We see frequently in states what physiologists call "atavism,”—the return in part to the unstable nature of their barbarous ancestors. Such scenes of cruelty and horror as happened in the great French Revolution, and as happen more or less in every great riot, have always been said to bring out a secret and suppressed side of human nature; and we now see that they were the outbreak of inherited passions long repressed by fixed custom, but starting into life as soon as that repression was catastrophically removed and when sudden choice was given. The instability of mankind, too, is only part of their imperfect transitory civilization and of their original savage nature: they could not look steadily to a given end for an hour in their prehistoric state; and even now, when excited or when suddenly and wholly thrown out of their old grooves, they can scarcely do
*"Sketches of Persia," Chap. ix.
Even some very high races, as the French and the Irish, seem in troubled times hardly to be stable at all, but to be carried everywhere as the passions of the moment and the ideas generated at the hour may determine. But thoroughly to deal with such phenomena as these, we must examine the mode in which national characters can be emancipated from the rule of custom and can be prepared for the use of choice.
THE AGE OF DISCUSSION.
THE greatest living contrast is between the old East-
the most interesting question in an age abounding almost beyond example in questions of political interest.
Historical inquiries show that the feeling of the Hindoos is the old feeling, and that the feeling of the Englishman is a modern feeling. Old law rests, as Sir Henry Maine puts it, not on contract but on status.* The life of ancient civilization, so far as legal records go, runs back to a time when every important particular of life was settled by a usage which was social, political, and religious (as we should now say) all in one; which those who obeyed it could not have been able to analyze, - for those distinctions had no place in their mind and language, - but which they felt to be a usage of imperishable import and above all things to be kept unchanged. In former papers I have shown, or at least tried to show, why these customary civilizations were the only ones which suited an early society; why, so to say, they alone could have been first; in what manner they had in their very structure a decisive advantage over all competitors. But now comes the further question, If fixity is an invariable ingredient in early civilizations, how then did any civilization become unfixed ? No doubt most civilizations stuck where they first were ; no doubt we see now why stagnation is the rule of the world and why progress is the very rare exception : but we do not learn what it is which has caused progress in these few cases, or the absence of what it is which has denied it in all others.
To this question history gives a very clear and very remarkable answer : it is, that the change from the age of status to the age of choice was first made in states where the government was to a great and a growing extent a government by discussion, and where the subjects of that discussion were in some degree abstract, or as we should say, matters of principle. It was in the small republics of Greece and Italy that the chain of custom was first broken:
* “ The movement has been from status to contract." - Introduction to " Ancient Law."
“ " Let there be light !' said Liberty;
Athens arose !"* says Shelley ; and his historical philosophy is in this case far more correct than is usual with him. A free state, a state with liberty, means a state - call it republic or call it monarchy – in which the sovereign power is divided between many persons, and in which there is a discussion among those persons; of these the Greek republics were the first in history if not in time, and Athens was the greatest of those republics.
After the event it is easy to see why the teaching of history should be this and nothing else; it is easy to see why the common discussion of common actions or common interests should become the root of change and progress. In early society, originality in life was forbidden and repressed by the fixed rule of life; it may not have been quite so much so in ancient Greece as in some other parts of the world, but it was very much so even there. As a recent writer has well said, “Law then presented itself to men's minds as something venerable and unchangeable, as old as the city ; it had been delivered by the founder himself, when he laid the walls of the city and kindled its sacred fire." An ordinary man who wished to strike out a new path, to begin a new and important practice by himself, would have been peremptorily required to abandon his novelties on pain of death: he was deviating, he would be told, from the ordinances imposed by the gods on his nation, and he must not do so to please himself; on the contrary, others were deeply interested in his actions, - if he disobeyed, the gods might inflict grievous harm on all the people as well as him. Each partner in the most ancient kind of partnerships was supposed to have the power of attracting the wrath of the divinities on the entire firm, upon the other partners quite as much as upon himself. The quaking bystanders in a superstitious
* " Hellas."