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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

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. t....

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.


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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 on has observed, every great change of belief in Europe has been precede by a great change in its intellectual condition; the success of an opinion has depended less upon the force of its arguments or the abilit of its advocates than upon the predisposition of society to receive i while this predisposition results from the intellectual type of the ag Men do new things because they want to do them, and they cease doin 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." b' 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.

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