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head of the family, may be found in every part of the world.* At this period, social organization is but one step removed from absolute and ferocious anarchy. “ Mistrust, jealousy, secret ambushes, and implacable vengeances” characterize the mutual relations of these social aggregates of the first order. Hostility is the rule, and peace the exception. The repulsive forces are stronger and the cohesive forces weaker than at any subsequent period. The sympathetic feelings, whereby man is chiefly distinguished from the beasts are as yet unawakened ; and the selfish desires which tend to maintain savage isolation are unchecked save by family affection, the most instinctive and originally the least generous of civilizing emotions.
The expansion of families into tribes and their coalescence into civic communities illustrates the formation of social aggregates of the second order. For a long time these higher aggregates retain conspicuous traces of their mode of composition, as in Greece and Rome, until increasing heterogeneity obliterates the original lines of demarcation ; while new divisions spring up, resulting from the integration of like parts, as is seen in the guilds of mediæval Europe, and still better in the localization of industries which marks the present time.
The advance from the civic or rural † community to the nation - an aggregate of the third order— is best exemplified in the history of France, which, from a disorderly collection of independent baronies, has passed by well-defined transitions into a perfectly integral empire. The attainment of this stage is a cardinal event in social life, and an indispensable preliminary to a career of permanent progress.
As hinted above, the premature overthrow of the Hellenic political system is mainly, if not solely, to be attributed to its very incomplete integration. An aggregate of the national type was in process of being formed by the extensive coalescence of maritime cities under the leadership of Athens, when the Peloponnesian war supervened, indicating the superiority of selfish autonomy, and showing by its
Volney's View of the United States, p. 397 ; Phillipp on Jurisprudence, p. 207; C. Comte, Législation, Liv. III. c. 28; Arist., Eth. Nic. VIII. 14; Grote, H. G. III. 48 – 69; Gibbon (Paris ed.), III. 243; Vico, Scienza Nuova, Opere, Tom. IV. pp. 23, 35, 40. † A rural community may be either an incipient civic como
mmunity or a modification of the tribe. VOL. CIX. NO. 224.
result that the civilizing spirit of nationality was as yet too feeble to prevail.
It was first under the Roman dominion that national aggregation and the feeling of national solidarity were developed to something like completeness. By absorbing nearly all the petty communities then existing, and by gradually extending to their members the privileges of citizenship, the Roman Empire succeeded in dealing to the passion for autonomy a blow from which it has never recovered; while the enormous extent of 'the Empire, and its ethnic heterogeneity, imparted to the national spirit thus invoked a cosmopolitan character destined afterwards to be of great service to civilization. The influence of these circumstances upon the subsequent attitude of Christianity cannot be too strongly insisted upon. No human mind could have even conceived, much less have carried into execution, the idea of a universal religion, if the antique state of social isolation had not previously been brought to a close by universal empire. If Christianity had appeared four centuries earlier than it did, it would, like Buddhism, have assumed the garb of a local religious reformation. Or if it could have aimed at anything higher than this, its preaching would have fallen upon ears not ready to receive it. All the Oriental enthusiasm, all the Hellenic subtilty of Paul, could have effected nothing, had he visited Athens in the days of Plato and Diogenes. But the cosmopolitan element in Roman civilization was just that which Christianity most readily assimilated. From this happy concurrence of circumstances, there was formed upon the ruins of Paganism that religious organization which alone of all churches that have existed has earned the glorious name of Catholic. Disgusted at her high-handed proceedings in later times, historians have too frequently forgotten that the Roman Church, by co-ordinating the most vigorous and progressive elements of ancient life, has given to modern civilization both its ubiquity and its permanence. Had the Church perished along with the Empire, amid the general wreck of ancient institutions, it is difficult to see how European history could have been anything else than a repetition of Grecian history, save only in the extent of its geographical range. Whoever is disposed to doubt so emphatic an assertion will do well, not only to con
sider the immeasurable inferiority of the Scandinavian religions, compared with early Christianity, but likewise duly to ponder the fact that the German conquerors of Rome had not advanced beyond the stage of tribal organization. On their aggregation into rural and civic bodies, the autonomous spirit would have acquired an ascendancy which it would have taken another more fortunate Athenian federation, or another absorbing Roman domination, thoroughly to destroy. Even as it was, it required all the immense power of the Church, unflinchingly exercised through many generations, to prevent European society from disintegrating into a mere collection of mutually repelling tribal communities. But the Church not only preserved the social results of Roman dominion, by hastening the consolidation of each embryonic nationality ; it also, by its peeuliar position as common arbiter between the different states, contributed to the formation of a new social aggregate of the highest order. The modern system of independent nationalities held in virtual federation — not by international codes, but by the possession of guiding principles of conduct more or less heartily reverenced by all — is the work of the Roman Church. Here, finally, we have reached a system whose structure bears in the highest degree the marks of permanence. It is sustained by the ever-deepening sentiments of cosmopolitan philanthropy and universal justice, the most cohesive of social forces, as the spirit of local selfishness was the most disruptive.
Thus, throughout, we find the development of society corresponding in a remarkable degree to the development of organisms as a whole. By the special comparisons which have been instituted, the general theory of social evolution is illustrated while it is confirmed. As far as the inquiry has gone, - and it might be carried much further, — the claims of Mr. Spencer's law of organic life to be considered the law of history are thoroughly vindicated. As far as humanity is a manifestation of collective life, the law of its progress may be said to be determined. But to render the interpretation coextensive with the phenomena, another consideration must be brought forward. Our law of history, as it now stands, covers alike the phenomena of social and of organic life ; and to it the differential element must be added, by virtue of which the one class of phenomena is distinguished from the other.
In the ancient family, as delineated by Mr. Maine, the separate existence of the individuals was almost submerged and lost in the corporate existence of the aggregate. Personal freedom was entirely unrecognized. The doctrine that each person has the exclusive right to be the arbiter of his own destiny, subject to no meddling interference from without, found no place on the statute books of ancient lawgivers. To family duties all individual rights were subjected. By a tie, religious no less than political, the members of the family were all held in allegiance to its oldest male representative. The father might expose his son in infancy, and when grown up might sell him as a slave, or put him to death for disobedience. And the wife was to an equal extent in the power of her husband, to whom she legally stood in the relation of a daughter, so that marriage was but the exchange of one form of servitude for another. No transfer of property was valid, unless the persons conducting it swore in the name of some ancestor,
ages ago, it might be; for so absolute was the authority of the paterfamilias that it could not be conceived of as departing from him at death, but must be exercised by him, through the medium of prescriptive ceremonial, over whole generations to come. Nothing, in short, was regulated by contract, but everything was determined by status.* And this is the fact which irretrievably demolishes the theory of a primitive social compact, advocated by Hobbes and Rousseau. The prevalence of this state of things, moreover, in the despotic empires of the East, is proof conclusive that those nations are nothing but immense tribes, or aggregates of the first order; and thus the theory of the overripe character of Oriental civilization meets its doom.
With the rise of higher aggregates, such as states, civic or imperial, this sinking of the individual in the corporate existence still for some time continued. The rights and duties of the individual were still unrecognized, save in so far as they followed from the status in which he happened to be placed. In
* “S tus est qualitas cujus ratione homines div jure utuntur. . . . . Alio jure utitur liber homo; alio servus; alio civis; alio peregrinus." Heineccii Recitationes, Lib. I. tit. 3.
republican Rome, and in the Hellenic communities, the welfare of the citizen was universally postponed to the welfare of the state. But circumstances too complicated to be here detailed, of which the chief symptom was the increasing importance assigned by Roman jurisprudence to contracts, resulted, at an advanced period of the empire, in the more or less complete recognition of individual rights and obligations. On the rise of the feudal system, the relations of vassal to suzerain were, through the influence of Roman conceptions, extensively regulated by contract; and it is in this respect that the feudal institutions are most widely distinguished" from the unadulterated usages of primitive races.”* It was, I believe, mainly owing to this that the integration of feudal sovereignties was accompanied by the enlargement of individual liberty to a much greater extent than the integration of ancient gentes and phratries. The Roman Church also aided in promoting the freedom of individuals, as well as in facilitating the consolidaKon of states. By the strict enforcement of celibacy, it maintained in the midst of hereditary aristocracy a comparatively democratic organization, where advancement usually depended upon moral excellence or intellectual ability. And preserving, by the same admirable institution, its independence of feudal patronage, it was often enabled successfully to interpose between the tyranny of kings and the helplessness of subjects. The development of industry, crossing in various ways the antique divisions of society, has contributed to the same result; until, in modern times, the primitive mode of organization is almost entirely effaced, leaving perhaps no other vestige than the legal disqualifications of women. Individual rights and obligations, from being nothing, have come to be all in all.
It will thus be seen that the very same process, which has resulted in the formation of social aggregates of a higher and higher order, has also resulted in the more and more complete subordination of the requirements of the aggregate to the requirements of the individual. And be it further noticed, that the sentiment of universal philanthropy and universal justice, which maintains the stability of the highest social aggregation, maintains also to the fullest extent the independence of its in
* Maine, p. 365.