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This book, the account of the site, the manners, and the inhabitants of Germany, by Tacitus, has had various fates. To every German, to every member of the Teutonic race, it has always been a kind of national charter, a picture of a golden age, adorned with all that is considered most perfect, pure, and noble in human nature; whereas French savants have often either ridiculed the work of Tacitus as a mere romance, or so interpreted his words as to turn the ancient Germans into real Hottentots.
Here we may study the natural man as he | they are not malicious, but reckless, really was, in some respects certainly a changeable, fond of innovation, and never savage, but a progressive savage, as we to be depended on. They are quick in know from his later history, and certainly their resolutions, but often inconsiderate, without one sign of that corruption and fond of war, brave, but intolerably condecay which is so plainly visible in Hot- ceited if victorious, and quite demoralized tentots and Papuans. if defeated. Polybius confirms that their first onslaught is terrible, but both Cæsar and Livy agree as to their want of steadiness and perseverance. Other Latin authors add that they are unmanageable and inclined to revolutions, and that, owing to continual factions, many are obliged to leave the country, and to try their fortunes as adventurers elsewhere. Still darker colors were added by others to this picture of national depravity. The state of morality in Gaul was such that it was considered infamous for a father to be seen in company with his son before the latter had come of age. At the death of a nobleman his widow was, as a matter of course, subjected to a trial as to whether she had been the cause of her husband's death. Strabo affirms that it was their custom to cut off the heads of their enemies after a battle, and to hang them on the heads of their horses, or nail them over their doors. While German scholars composed this mosaic out of all the stones that classical writers had ever thrown at the inhabitants of Gaul, French writers retaliated by either throwing discredit on Tacitus, the supposed encomiast of the Germans, or by showing that the account which Tacitus gives of the ancestors of the Teutonic race proves better than anything else that, at his time, the Germans had not yet emerged from a state of the grossest barbarism, and were incapable, therefore, as yet of vices which they main tain are the outcome of a more advanced state of civilization.
This controversy has been carried on during several centuries. M. Guizot, for instance, in his "History of Civilization," completely ignoring the distinction between retrogressive and progressive savages, tried to show that there was little to choose between the Germans of Tacitus and the Red Indians of the present day.
This controversy became embittered by a curious circumstance. Whereas Tacitus and other Roman writers spoke in glowing terms of the Teutonic races, their remarks on the Gauls, the ancient inhabitants of France, were not only far from complimentary, but happened to touch on points on which Frenchmen are particularly sensitive. Tertullian, who was a great admirer of the Jews, is very wroth with Tacitus because he used very antiSemitic language. He actually calls Tacitus a "brawler, and the greatest teller of lies." The French do not differ much from that opinion, not so much because Tacitus spoke ill of the Jews, and likewise of the Celts of Gaul, as because he spoke so well of the paysans du Danube. The ancient classical writers dwell rather strongly on the unfavorable side of the Celtic character. It is well known how low an opinion Aristotle formed of Celtic morality. Strabo says that the Celts are simple, but proud and sensitive, fond of dress and ornaments. It is even hinted that they dyed their hair, and allowed their moustache to grow, so that it interfered with the comfort of eating and drinking. Strabo goes on to say that
Tertullian, Apolog. 16: “rabula et mendaciorum loquacissimus. See Strabo, iv. 196; Plin. xviii. 12; Liv. xxxviii.
To my mind, apart from any national idiosyncrasies, the description which Taci tus gives us of the Germans, as he had seen them, is perfectly unique and invaluable as a picture of what I should willingly call the life of progressive savages. What should we give if, besides the hymns of the Rig-Veda, we had the accounts of travellers who had actually seen the ancient Rishis of India with their flocks and families, their priests and sacrifices, their kings and battles? What should we give if, besides the Homeric poems, we had the work of an eye-witness who could describe to us the real Troy, and the real fight between Greece and Asia Minor? This is what Tacitus has done for Germany, and at a time when
between the healthy sons of Germany and the tattoed cannibals of New Zealand. If they prove anything, it is that there is one kind of barbarism through which every nation has to pass, the childhood and wild youth of a race, to be followed by the mature vigor of a nation's manhood, and that there is another kind of barbarism which leads to nothing, but ends in mere brutality, shrinking from contact with higher civilization and succumbing when it attempts to imitate with monkeyish delight the virtues and vices of a more advanced society. Why is it that the fresh breezes of European civilization proved fatal to the consumptive barbarism of the wretched inhabitants of Australia, while the strong constitution of the Germans of Tacitus resisted even the poison
the ancient religion was still living, when | ment of facts when addressed to ears no the simple laws of a primitive society longer accustomed to the sound of unvarwere still observed, and when the epic nished truth. poems of a later time were still being So little did M. Guizot perceive the sung as ballads at the feasts of half-naked unique character of the "Germania" of warriors. In Tacitus, therefore, and not Tacitus as an historical document of the in the missionary accounts of Melanesian earliest stage of society, that he amused savages, should we study the truly primi- himself with collecting from various books tive man, primitive in the only sense in of travel a number of facts observed which we shall ever know of primitive among the very lowest races in America man, and primitive certainly in a far truer and Africa, which, as he thinks, form an sense than Papuans or Fuegians are likely exact parallel to the statements of Tacitus to be in the nineteenth century. I cannot with regard to the good and bad qualities understand how an historian like Guizot of the Germans. His parallel columns, could have allowed himself to be so much which occupy nearly ten pages, are cermisguided by national prejudice as to tainly amusing, but they prove nothing, speak of Tacitus as a kind of Montaigne | least of all that there was no difference or Rousseau, who, in a fit of disgust with his own country, drew a picture of Germany as a mere satire on Roman manners, or to call the "Germania" "the eloquent sulking of a patriotic philosopher who wishes to see virtue where he does not find the disgraceful effeminacy and the elegant depravity of an old society." Surely the work of Tacitus cannot have been very fresh in the memory of the great French historian when he delivered this judgment. If Tacitus, like Rousseau or Voltaire, had intended to draw the picture of an ideal barbarism, would he have mentioned the many vices of the German Utopia, the indolence of the Germans, their drunkenness, their cruelty to slaves, their passion for gambling, and their riotous revels? Besides, three-fourths of his book treat of subjects which have no bear-ous vapors of Roman life? When the ing whatever on Roman society, nay, which are of so little interest to the gen eral reader that I doubt whether many Romans would have taken the trouble to read them. The facts which came to the knowledge of Tacitus are so loosely strung together that his book looks more like a collection of memoranda than the compact and pointed pamphlet of a political satirist. We need only read the letters of Voltaire on England, or Montalembert's pamphlet, "De l'Angleterre," in order to perceive the difference between a political satire and an historical memoir. No doubt a man of the temper of Tacitus would naturally dwell with satisfaction on the bright side of the German character, and, while holding before the eyes of his own nation the picture of a brave and simple, religious and independent race, might naturally think of what Rome once had been, and was no longer. But there is no more sarcasm or satire in his work than is inseparable from a straightforward state
results are so different, surely there must be a difference in the antecedents, and though M. Guizot is successful in showing that in some respects the ancient Germans did the same things and said the same things as Ojibways and Papuans, he forgets in drawing his conclusion the old proverb, Si duo dicunt idem, non est idem.
After these remarks it will perhaps seem less surprising that students of an. tiquity should decline to answer the pointblank question whether man began his life on earth as a savage. Every definition that has been attempted of a savage in general, has broken down as soon as it was confronted with facts. The only characteristic of the savage which remained, and was strong enough to withstand the sharpest cross-examination, was cannibalism. But I am not aware that even the most extreme believers in the primitive savage would insist on his having been necessarily a cannibal, a kind of human Kronos, swallowing his own kith and kin.
Every attempt to place the savage who can no longer be called civilized in the place of the savage who can not yet be so called, could only end, as it has, in utter confusion of thought.
Something, however, will be gained, or at all events some kind of mutual understanding will become possible, if in future discussions on the character of primitive man a careful distinction is made between the two kinds of savages, the progressive and the retrogressive. When that distinction has once been grasped, the question whether man began as a savage has no longer anything perplexing about it. Man certainly began as a savage, but as a progressive savage. He certainly did not begin with an innate knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic; but, on the other hand, there is nothing to lead us to suppose that he was a being altogether foul and filthy, that when he grew up he invariably ill-treated his wife or wives, and that still later in life he passed his time in eating his children.
If we must need form theories or reason by analogy on the primitive state of man, let us go to the nearest ci-près, such as the Vedic Hindus, or the Germans as described by Cæsar and Tacitus, but not to Fuegians, who in time and probably in space also are the most widely removed from the primitive inhabitants of our globe. If we knew nothing of the manners and customs of the Saxons, when they first settled in these isles, should we imagine that they must have resembled the most depraved classes of modern English society? Let us but once see clearly that the Fuegian, whether as described by Darwin or by Parker Snow, is the most modern of human beings, and we shall pause before we seek in him the image of the first ancestor of the human race. Wherever we look we can see the rise and fall of the human race. We can see it with our own eyes, if we look at the living representatives of some of our oldest and noblest families; we can read it in history if we compare ancient India with modern India, ancient Greece with modern Greece. The idea that the Fuegian was salted and preserved for us during many thousands of years, so that we might study in him the original type of man, is nothing but a poetical sentiment, unsupported alike by fact, analogy, and reason.
I know full well that when I speak of the Germans of Tacitus or of the Aryans of the Veda as the ci-près of primitive man, all the indications of modern, or at all events of secondary and tertiary
thought which I have pointed out myself in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and which might easily be collected from the book of Tacitus, will be mustered against me. Must I quote the old saying again: Est quoddam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra? All I maintain is that these historical documents bring us as near to the primitive man as historical documents can bring us; but that the nearest point within our reach is still very far from the cradle of the human race, no one has pointed out more often than myself.
There is, however, plenty of work still to be done in slowly following up the course of human progress and tracing it back to its earliest stages, as far as literary, monumental, and traditional documents will allow us to do so. There are many intricate windings of that historical river to be explored, many riddles to be solved, many lessons to be learned. One thing only is quite certain — namely, that the private diary of the first man will never be discovered, least of all at Cape Horn.
I have thus tried to show how untenable is the theory which would boldly identify the modern savage with primitive man, and how cautious we ought to be whenever we take even a few hints here and there from degraded tribes of the present day in order to fill out our imaginary picture of the earliest civilization of our race. Some lessons, and even important lessons, may be learned from savages, if only they are studied in a truly scholarlike spirit, as they have been, for instance, by Callaway and Codrington, by Waitz and Tylor. But if the interpretation of an Homeric custom or myth requires care, that of African or Polynesian customs or myths requires ten times greater care, and if a man shrinks from writing on the Veda because he does not know Sankrit, he should tremble whenever he writes the names of Zulus, unless he has some idea of what Bântu grammar means.
In arguing so far, I have carefully kept to the historical point of view, though I am well aware that the principal traits in the imaginary picture of primitive man are generally taken from a very different source. We are so made that for everything that comes before us we have to postulate a cause and a beginning. We therefore postulate a cause and a begin. ning for man. The ethnologist is not concerned with the first cause of man, but he cannot resist the craving of his mind to know at least the beginning of man.
Most ethnologists used to hold that, as
each individual begins as a child, mankind also began as a child; and they imagined that a careful observation of the modern child would give them some idea of the character of the primeval child. Much ingenuity has been spent on this subject since the days of Voltaire, and many amusing books have been the result, till it was seen at last that the modern baby and the primeval baby have nothing in common but the name, not even a mother
or a nurse.
From Chambers' Journal. A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF. BY MRS. OLIPHANT.
THE Warings had been settled at Bordighera almost as long as Frances could remember. She had known no other way of living than that which could be carried on under the painted roofs in the Palazzo, nor any other domestic management than that of Domenico and Mariuccia. It was chiefly due to Darwin and to the herself had been brought up by the latter, new impulse which he gave to the theory who had taught her to knit stockings and of evolution that this line of argument was to make lace of a coarse kind, and also abandoned as hopeless. Darwin boldly how to spare and save, and watch every asked the question; whose child the pri- detail of the spese, the weekly or daily acmeval human baby could have been, and he counts, with an anxious eye. Beyond answered it by representing the human this, Frances had received very little edubaby as the child of non-human parents. cation; her father had taught her fitfully Admitting even the possibility of this to read and write after a sort; and he had transitio in aliud genus, which the most taught her to draw, for which she had a honest of Darwin's followers strenuously little faculty: that is to say she had made deny, what should we gain by this for our little sketches of all the points of view purpose namely, for knowing the prim-round about, which, if they were not very itive state of man, the earliest glimmer- great in art, amused her, and made her ings of the human intellect? Our difficul- feel that there was something she could ties would remain exactly the same, only pushed back a little further.
Disappointing as it may sound, the fact must be faced, nevertheless, that our reasoning faculties, wonderful as they are, break down completely before all problems concerning the origin of things. We may imagine, we may believe, anything we like about the first man; we can know absolutely nothing. If we trace him back to a primeval cell, the primeval cell that could become a man is more mysterious by far than the man that was evolved from a cell. If we trace him back to a primeval pro-anthropos, the pro-anthropos is more unintelligible to us than even the protanthropos would be. If we trace back the whole solar system to a rotating nebula, that wonderful nebula which by evolution and revolution could become an inhabitable universe is, again, far more mysterious than the universe itself.
The lesson that there are limits to our knowledge is an old lesson, but it has to be taught again and again. It was taught by Buddha, it was taught by Socrates, and it was taught for the last time in the most powerful manner by Kant. Philosophy has been called the knowledge of our knowledge; it might be called more truly the knowledge of our ignorance, or, to adopt the more moderate language of Kant, the knowledge of the limits of our knowledge.
F. MAX Muller.
do. Indeed, so far as doing went, she had a good deal of knowledge. She could mend very neatly, so neatly, that her darn or her patch was almost an ornament. She was indeed neat in everything, by instinct, without being taught. The conse quence was that her life was very full of occupation, and her time never hung heavy on her hands. At eighteen, indeed, it may be doubted whether time ever does hang heavy on a girl's hands. It is when ten years or so of additional life have passed over her head, bringing her no more important occupations than those which are pleasant and appropriate to early youth, that she begins to feel her disabilities; but fortunately, that is a period of existence with which at the present moment we have nothing to do.
Her father, who was not fifty yet, had been a young man when he came to this strange seclusion. Why he should have chosen Bordighera, no one had taken the trouble to inquire. He came when it was a little town on the spur of the hill, without either hotels or tourists, or at least very few of these articles ; like many other little towns which are perched on little platforms among the olive woods all over that lovely country. The place had commended itself to him because it was so completely out of the way. And then it was very cheap, simple, and primitive. He was not, however, by any means a primitive-minded man; and when he took
Domenico and Mariuccia into his service, it was for a year or two an interest in his life to train them to everything that was the reverse of their own natural primitive ways. Mariuccia had a little native instinct for cookery such as is not unusual among the Latin races, and which her master trained into all the sophistications of a cordon bleu. And Domenico had that lively desire to serve his padrone “hand and foot," as English servants say, and do everything for him, which comes natural to an amiable Italian eager to please. Both of them had been encouraged and trained to carry out their inclinations. Mr. Waring was diffcult to please. He wanted attendance continually. He would not tolerate a speck of dust anywhere, or any carelessness of service; but otherwise he was not a bad master. He left them many independencies, which suited them, and never objected to that appropriation to themselves of his house as theirs, and assertion of themselves as an important part of the family, which is the natural result of a long service. Frances grew up accordingly in franker intimacy with the honest couple than is usual in English households. There was nothing they would not have done for the signorina, starve for her, scrape and pinch for her, die for her if need had been; and in the mean time, while there was no need for service more heroic, correct her and improve her mind, and set her faults before her with simplicity. Her faults were small, it is true, but zealous love did not omit to find many out.
like society for Frances. Another associate was an old Indian officer, much battered by wounds, liver, and disappointment, who, systematically neglected by the authorities (as he thought), and finding himself a nobody in the home to which he had looked forward for so many years, had retired in disgust, and built himself a little house, surrounded with palms, which reminded him of India, and full in the rays of the sun, which kept off his neuralgia. He, too, had a wife, whose constant correspondence with her numerous children occupied her mind and thoughts, and who liked Frances because she never tired of hearing stories of those absent sons and daughters. They saw a good deal of each other, these three resident families, and reminded each other from time to time that there was such a thing as society.
In summer, they disappeared, sometimes to places higher up among the hills; sometimes to Switzerland or the Tyrol; sometimes “home." They all said home, though neither the Durants nor the Gaunts knew much of England, and though they could never say enough in disparagement of its gray skies and cold winds. But the Warings never went "home." Frances, who was entirely without knowledge or associations with her native country, used the word from time to time because she heard Tasie Durant or Mrs. Gaunt do so; but her father never spoke of England, nor of any possible return, nor of any district in England as that to which he belonged. It escaped him at times that he Mr. Waring painted a little, and was had seen something of society a dozen or disposed to call himself an artist; and he fifteen years before this date; but otherread a great deal, or was supposed to do wise, nothing was known about his past so, in the library, which formed one of life. It was not a thing that was much the set of rooms, among the old books in discussed, for the intercourse in which he vellum, which took a great deal of read-lived with his neighbors was not intimate, ing. A little old public library existing nor was there any particular reason why in another little town farther up among he should enter upon his own history; but the hills, gave him an excuse, if it was not yet now and then it would be remarked anything more, for a great deal of what he by one or another that nobody knew any. called work. There were some manu- thing of his antecedents. "What's your scripts and a number of old editions laid county, Waring?" General Gaunt had up in this curious little hermitage of learn- once asked, and the other had answered ing, from which the few people who knew with a languid smile, "I have no county," him believed he was going some day to without the least attempt to explain. The compile or collate something of impor- old general, in spite of himself, had apoltance. The people who knew him were ogized, he did not know why; but still no very few. An old clergyman, who had information was given. And Waring did been a colonial chaplain all his life, and not look like a man who had no county. now "took the service" in the bare little His thin, long figure had an aristocratic room which served as an English church, air. He knew about horses and dogs and was the chief of his acquaintances. This country-gentlemen sort of subjects. It gentleman had an old wife and a middle- was impossible that he should turn out to aged daughter, who furnished something be a shopkeeper's son, or a bourgeois of