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illustrate some of the prominent seatures in the moral character of the savage and uncivilized tribes of the human race. The examples I have selected have not been taken from the records of missionaries, or of professed religionists, who might be suspected by some to give an exaggerated description of the depravity of the Pagan world—but from the unvarnished stateinents of respectable voyagers and travellers, who could have no motives for misrepresenting the facts which they have recorded. These illustrations might have been extended to a much greater length, had it been consistent with the limited nature of the present work. Instead of occupying only forty or fifty pages, they might have been extended so as to have filled as many volumes; for every book of travels, as well as every historical document, contains a record of the operations of malignity, and of the diversified modes in which human depravity is displayed. The dispositions which I have illustrated, it will be readily admitted, are all of a malignant character, directly repugnant to that benevolent principle which forms the basis of the moral laws of the universe. And when we consider, that such malevolent dispositions are displayed by a mass of human beings, aimounting to more than three fourths of the population of the globe, and that true happiness cannot be experienced where malignant passions reign uncontrolled, a benevolent mind cannot refrain from indulging a thousand melancholy reflections, when it casts its eye over the desolations of the moral world, and from forming an anxious wish, that the period may soon arrive, when the darkness which covers the nations shall be dispelled, and when benevolence and peace shall reign triumphant over all the earth. I shall now endeavour to present a few facts and sketches which may have a tendency to illustrate the present state, and the moral charac.er and aspect of the civilized world.
SECTION III. MoRAL state of civilized NATions.
The present population of the globe may be cstimatell at about 800 millions. Of these, if we except the empires of China and Hindostan, we cannot reckon above 180 millions as existing in a state of enlightened civilization ; a number which is less than the fourth part of the human race. Were even this small portion of mankind uniformly distinguished sor intelligence, and for the practice of benevolence, it would form a glorious picture for the philanthropist to contemplate; and would be a sure prelude of the near approach of that happy period, when “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, when all the kindreds of the nations shall do
homage unto him and when there shall be nothing to hurt nor destroy” among ail the families of mankind. But alas! when we investigate the moral state even of this portion of human beings, we find the principle of malignity distinctly visible in its operations, and interwoven, in numerous and minute ramifications, through all the ranks and gradations of society. Though its shades are less dark and gloomy, they are no less real than among the hordes of Africa and Tartary, and the other abodes of savage life. To illustrate this position is the object of the sollowing sketches; in which I shall chiefly refer to the state of society among the nations of Europe, and the United States of America, and particularly to the moral character and aspect of the British empire. I shall, in the first place, consider the operation of the malevolent principle as it appears in the actions and dispositions of the young, and in the modes of tuition by which they are trained. In many thousands of instances, it may be observed, that, even before a child has been weaned from its mother's breasts, malignant dispositions are not only fostered, but are regularly taught both by precept and example. Does a child happen to hit its head accidentally against the corner of a table—it is taught by its nurse, and even by its mother, to avenge the injury on the inanimate object which caused it, and to ex
hibit its prowess and its revenge by beating the
table with all its might. Does it cry, through peevishness or pain—it is immediately threatened with being thrown into the ditch, tossed out of the window, or committed to the charge of some frightful spectre. Is it expedient to repress its murmurings, and to cajole it into obedience—it is then inspired with sallacious hopes, and allured with deceitful promises of objects and of pleasures which are never intended to be realized. Does it require to have its physical powers exercised—a wooden sword or a whip is put into its hands; and it is encouraged to display its energies in inflicting strokes on a dog, a cat, or any of its play-fellow, or companions. I have seen a little urchin of t.'s description, three or four years of age, brandishing its wooden sword with all the ardour of a warrior, and repeating its strokes on every person around, while the foolish parents were exulting in the prowess displayed by their little darling, and encouraging it in all its movements. By these and similar practices, revenge, falsehood, superstition, and the elements of war, are fostered in the youthful mind; and is it to be wondered at, that such malignant principles and passions should “grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength,” till they burst forth in all those hideous forms which they assume amidst the contests of communities and of nations?—The false maxims by which children are frequently trained under the domestic roof, and the foolish indulgence with which
they are treated by injudicious parents, in too many instances lay the foundation of those petu..ant and maliznant tempers, which are a pest both to Christian and to general society. Indulgence often leads to an opposite extreme; and produces such a degree of insubordination among the young, that nothing is to be seen and heard but a perpetual round of scolding and beating, and the contest of angry passions. “Among the lower ranks of people,” says Dr. Witherspoon, “who are under no restraint from decency, you may sometimes see a father or mother running out into the street, after a child who has fled from them, with looks of fury and words of execration, and they are osten stupid enough to imagine that neighbours or passengers will approve them in this conduct.” Wherever parental authority is thus undermined, and such conduct uniformly pursued, a sure foundation is laid for an extensive display, in after life, of the malignant passions of the human heart. If we follow our youth from the nursery to the school-room, we shall find the same malevolent assections developing themselves on a larger scale, and indirectly cherished, by the books they read, the discipline by which they are trained, and the amusements in which they indulge. Here we may behold one little fellow taking a malicious pleasure in pinching his neighbour, another in kicking him, a third in boxing him, a fourth in tearing his book, a fifth in pilfering his property, and a sixth in endeavouring to hold him up to scorn and ridicule; and all of them combined to frustrate, if possible, the exertions of their teacher, and to prevent their own improvement.—If we look into the majority of the books which are read in schools, we shall find them full of encomiums upon war, and upon warriors. The Caesars, the Alexanders, and the Bonapartes, whose restless ambition has transformed the earth into scenes of desolation and carnage, are represented as patterms of every thing that is brave, noble, generous, and heroic. The descriptive powers of the poet are also called in, in order to inflame the youthful mind with warlike dispositions, and to excite an ardent desire for mingling in scenes of contention, and for the acquisition of false glory and of military renown. Hence, there is no part of their school exercises in which the young so much delight, and in which they so much excel, as in that in which they are called upon to recite such speeches as “Sempronius's speech for war,” or to ape the revengeful encounter of Norval and Glenalvon. While the spirit of war is thus virtually cherished, the counteraction of vicious propensities, and the cultivation of the moral powers of the young, are considered as a matter of inserior importance, and, in many seminaries of instruction, are altogether overlooked. Many of the school collections to which I allude—instead of exhibiting, in simple language, the beau.ics and sublimities of the works of nature, the
displays of the natural and moral character of the Deity, the facts of Sacred History, the morality of the Gospel, the scenes of rural and domestic life, and the operations of philanthrophy—are filled with extracts from metaphysical writers, from parliamentary debates, and from old plays, novels, and farces, which are frequently interlarded with oaths, obscenity, and the slang of Billingsgate, which can have no other tendency than to pollute and demoralize the youthful mind. It needs, therefore, excite no surprise, that the great body of mankind is still so deficient in rational information and substantial knowledge, and that a warlike spirit is afloat, and exerting its baleful influence among the nations. If we follow the young from the school-room to the play-ground, or to the streets and the highways, we shall find the spirit of malignity displaying itselfin a vast diversity of forms. Here, we may behold one mischievous little boy slapping his neighbour in the face, another tearing his neighbour's clothes, another tossing his cap into a dirty ditch, another chalking his back in order to hold him up to ridicule, and another pouring out upon him a torrent of nicknames, and of scurrilous epithets. There, we may behold a crowd of boys pelting a poor beggar or an unfortunate maniac with stones and dirt for their diversion ; mocking the lame, the deformed, and the aged, and insulting the passing traveller. And, when such objects do not happen to occur, we may see them assailing, with a shower of stones, a cat, a dog, a hare, or a fowl, that happens to cross the path, and enjoying a diabolical pleasure in witnessing the sufferings of these unfortu nate animals. Here, we may behold an insolent boy insulting a timid girl, overturning her pitcher, and besmearing her with mire;—there we behold another saluting his fellow with a malignant scowl, and a third brandishing his whip, and lashing a horse or a cow, for his amusement. On the one hand, we may sometimes behold a ring of boys, in the centre of which two little demons are engaged in mutual combat, with eyes glaring with fury and revenge, exerting their physical powers to the utmost stretch, in 3rder to wound and lacerate, and cover with blood and gore, the faces of each other: on the other hand, we may behold an unfortunate boy, whom a natural temperament, or a virtuous principle, prevents from engaging in similar combats, assailed with opprobrious epithets, and made a laughing-stock, and an object of derision and scorn, because he will not be persuaded to declare war against his neighbour. And, what is still more atrocious and disgusting, we may behold children of thirty or forty years of age, encouraging such malevolent dispositions, and stimulating such combatants in their diabolical exertions!” Such infernai
* The practice of boxing, among boys, which sm generally prevails, especially in England, is a dis. grace to the boasted civilization and Christianity c
practices, among creatures originally formed after the divine image, is they were not so common, would be viewed by every one in whose breast the least spark of virtue resides, with feelings of indignation and horror. The great body of our youth, habituated to such dispositions and practices, after having left school at the age of fourteen or fifteen—a period when head-strong passions and vicious propensities begin to operate with still greater violence —have access to no other seminaries, in which their lawless passions inay be counteracted and controlled, and in which they may be carried forward in the path of moral and intellectual improvement. Throughout the whole of the civilized world, I am not aware that there exist any regular institutions exclusively appropriated for the instruction of young persons, from the age of fifteen to the age of twenty-five or upwards, on moral, religious, and scientific subjects; in order to expand their intellectual capacities, and to direct their moral powers in the path of universal benevolence. Yet, without such institutions, all the knowledge and instructions they may have previously acquired, in the great majority of instances, are rendered almost useless and inefficient for promoting the great end of their existence. From the age of fifteen to the age of twenty-five, is the most important period of huma... life; and, for want of proper instruction and direction, during this period, and of rational objects to employ the attention at leisure hours, many a hopeful young man has been left to glide insensibiy into the mire of vice and corruption,
that country, and to the superintendents of its public seminaries. That pugilistic contests between grownup savages in a civilized shape, should be publicly alvertised, and describel in our newspapers, and the arena of such contests resortel to by so muny thousan is of the middling and higher classes of society, is a striking proof that the spirit of solly and of malignity still prevai's to a great extent, and that the spirit of Christianity has mude little progress, even within the limits of the British empire.—the following late occurrence shows the fatal efoects with which such practices are sometimes attended. “On Mon lav, February 23, 1825, two of the scholars at Eton, the Hon. F. A. Cooper, the son of the Earl of shuftesbury, and Mr. Wood, the son of Colonel wool, an inephew to the Marquis of Londonderry, in consequence of a very warm altercation on the play groun I, on the preceding day, met, for the purnose of settling the unhappy quarrel by a pugilistia encounter—a prer olent practice at Eton and an our public schools. Almost the whole school assemble l to witness the spectacle . The inexperienced youth cominenced fighting at four o'clock, and partly by their own energy, and partly hy the criminal excite. ment of others, continued the futul contest till within a little of six, when, mournful to relate, the Earl of Shaftesbury's son fell very heavily upon his he ul, and never spoke afterwards. He was carried off to his lodgings, where he expired in a few hours. On the coroner's inquest it came out, that hrandy had been administerel very freely, and that no decisive effort had been mude to discontinue a contest prolonged beyond all due limits.--About forty years ago a similar cause led to a similar result at the same establishment. ‘the survivor is a clergyman of great respectability.”—S-e the Public Prints for Feb. and Evan. May, for April, 1825.
and to become a pest to his friends, and to general society. Our streets and highways are infested, and our jails and bridewells filled with young persons of this age, who, by means of rational and religious training, might have been rendered a comfort to their friends, blessings to society, and ornaments of the Christian Church. It would be inconsistent with the limited plan of this work, to attempt to trace the principle of malignity through all the scenes of social, commercial, and domestic life. Were I to enter into details of filial impiety. ingratitude, and rebellion-of faithless friendships—of the alienations of affection, and of the unnatural contentions between brothers and sisters—of the abominable selfishness which appears in the general conduct and transactions of mankind—of the bitterness, the fraud, and the perjury, with which law-suits are commenced and prosecuted—of the hatred, malice, and resentment, manifested for injuries real or supposed—of the frauds daily committed in every department of the commerclal world—of the shufflings and base deceptions which are practised in cases of bankruptcy—of the slanders, the caballing, and the falsehood, which attend electioneering contests—of the envy, malice, and resentment displayed between competitors for office and power—of the haughtiness and insolence displayed by petty tyrants both in church and state—of the selfishness and injustice of corporate bodies, and the little regard they show for the interests of those woo are oppressed, and deprived of their rewards—of the gluttony, drunkenness, and prodigality, which so generally prevail—of the brawlings, fightings, and contentions, which are daily presented to the view in taverns, ale-houses, and dram-shops, and the low slang and vulgar abuse with which such scenes are intermingled—of the seductions accomplished by insidious artfulness and outrageous perjury—of the multiplied falsehoods of all descriptions which are uttered in courts, in camps, and in private dwellings—of the unblushing lies of public newspapers, and the perjuries of office—of the systematic frauds and robberies by which a large portion of the community are cheated out of their property and their rights— of the pride, haughtiness, and oppression of the rich, and of the malice, envy, and discontentment of the poor—such pictures of malignity might be presented to the view, as would fill the mind of the reader with astonishment and horror, and which would require a series of volumes to record the revolting details. There is one very general characteristic of civilized, and even of Christian society, that bears the stamp of malignity, which may particularly be noticed; and that is, the pleasure with which men expatiate on the faults and delinquencies of their neighbours, and the eagerness with which they circulate scandalous reports through every portion of the community. Almost
the one half of the conversation of civilized men, when strictly analyzed, will be found to consist of malignant insinuations, and of tales of scandal and detraction, the one half of which is destitute of any solid foundation. How comes it to pass, that the slightest deviation from propriety or rectitude, in the case of one of a generally respectable character, is dwelt upon with a fiendlike pleasure, and aggravated beyond measure, while all his good qualities are overlooked and thrown completely into the shade 7 What is the reason why we are not as anxious to bring forward the good qualities and actions of our fellow-men, and to bestow upon them their due tribute of praise, as we are to blaze abroad their errors and infirmities 7 How often does it happen, that a single evil action committed by an individual, contrary to the general tenor of his life, will be trumpeted about by the tongue of malice, even to the end of his life, while all his virtuous deeds and praiseworthy actions will be overlooked and forgotten, and attempted to be buried in oblivion! If benevolence were the prevailing characteristic of mankind, such dispositions would seldom be displayed in the intercourses of human beings. If benevolence pervaded every heart, we would rejoice to expatiate on the excellences of others;—these would form the chief topics of conversation in our personal remarks on others; we would endeavour to throw a veil over the infirmities of our brethren, and would be always disposed to exercise that candour and charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” If we now turn our eyes for a moment, to the amusements of civilized society, we shall find many of them distinguished by a malignant character and tendency. What an appropriate exhibition for rational and immortal beings do the scenes of a cockpit display! to behold a motley group of bipeds, of all sorts and sizes, from the er to the chimney-sweep, and from the man of oary hairs to the lisping infant, betting, blustering, swearing, and feasting their eyes with a savage delight on the sufferings of their fellow-bipeds, whom they have taught to wound, to torment, and to destroy each other! There is scarcely any thing that appears so congenial to the spirit which pervades the infernal regions, as the attempt to inspire the lower animals with the same malignant dispositions which characterize the most degraded of the human species. That such a cruel and disgusting practice still prevails in England, and that it formed, until lately, a part of the amusements of almost all the schools in Scotland, is a reproach to the civilization, the aumanity, and the Christianity of our country. And what a fine spectacle to a humane and civilized mind is the amusement of bull-baiting ! an amusement in which the strength and courage of this animal are made the means of torturing win with the most exquisite agonies: Canbe
nevolence, can even the common feelings of humanity, reside in the breast of that man who can find enjoyment in encouraging and in witnessing such barbarous sports? And what a dignified amusement is the horse race' where crowds of the nobility, gentry, and of the most polished classes of society, as well as the ignoble rabble, assemble from all quarters, to behold two noble animals panting, and heaving, and endeavouring to outstrip each other on the course ! What a scene of bullying, and jockeying, and betting, and cheating, and cursing, and swearing, and fighting, is generally presented on such occasions ! What a wonderful degree of importance is attached, by the most dignified rank of society, to the issue of the race; as if the sate of an empire, or the salvation of an immortal spirit, were depending on the circumstance of one horse getting a start of another! I do not mean to decry, indiscriminately, public amusements : nor to call in question the propriety of improving the locomotive powers of the horse; but, surely, it would require no great stretch of invention, to devise spectacles and entertainments, much more dignified and congenial to the noble powers, and to the high destination of the human mind, and which might be exhibited with as little expense either of time or of money. And what shall we say of lion fights, and dog Jights, and boring matches between animals in the shape of men, which have been lately advertised in the public prints with so much impudence and effrontery 7 Are the patrons of such revolting exhibitions, and the crowds which resort to them, to be considered as patterns of taste, of humanity, and of refined benevolence 7 And what shall we think of the amusements of one half of our gentry, country squires, gentlemen farmers, and the whole tribe of the sporting community, who derive more exquisite enjoyment in maiming a hare, a partridge, or a moorfowl, than in relieving the wants of the friendless poor, in meliorating the condition of their dependants, or in patronising the diffusion of useful knowledge # If one of our best moral poets declared, that “he would not enter, on his list of friends, though graced with polished manners and fine sense, the man who needlessly sets foot upon a worm,” what would be his estimate of the man who derived one of his chief gratifications, day after day, from making havoc among the feathered tribes, and from lacerating and maiming a timid hare, for the sole purpose of indulging a sporting humour, and proving himself an excellent marksman 7 Can we suppose that the benevolent Creator so curiously organized the beasts of the earth and the fowls of heaven, and endowed them with exquisite feelings and sensibility, merely that ty. rannical man might torture and destroy them for his amusement 2 For the persons to whom I allude cannot plead necessity for such conduct, as if they were dependant for subsistence on their *arcasses. Such is still the mania for these cruel arguments, that the butchery of the brutal and the winged tribes, it is likely, will soon be reduced to a regular system, and enrolled among the number of the fine arts. For, an octavo volume, os 470 pages, which has already passed through three editions, has been lately published, entitled, “Instructions to young Sportsmen in all that relates to Game and Shooting:” by Lieut. Colonel Hawker. The author, after having stated that he has now lost his eyes and nerves for a good shot, says “The greatest pleasure that can possibly remain for me, is to resign the little I have learned for the benefit of young sportsmen. The rising generation of shooters might otherwise be lef for many years,to find out all these little matters.” And a most important loss, doubtless, the rising generation would have sustained, had not the worthy Colonel condescended to communicate his discoveries! I was lately making an excursion in a steam-boat, through one of the Scottish lakes. Among the passengers were several of the sporting gentry, furnished with all their requisite accoutrements, who seened to enjoy a higher gratification in disturbing the happiness of the feathered tribes, than in contemplating the natural beauties of the surrounding scene. When any of these hapless animals appeared in view, a hue and cry commenced, a shot was prepared, and a musket levelled at the unoffending creatures, which created among them universal agitation and alarm. Some of them were killed; and others, doubtless, maimed, and re dered miserable for life; while no human being could enjoy the least benefit from such wanton cruelty. To kill, or even to maim any living creature that is doing us no harm, and when there is no possibility, nor even a desire, to procure its carcass for food, cannot, I should think, by any sophistry of reasoning, be construed into an act of benevolence.* I cannot, here, forbear inserting a passage from “Salt's Travels in Abyssinia,” which exhibits a very different spirit in one whom some would be disposed to rank among the class of semi-barbarians. “In the evening, Baharnegash Yasons, a servant of the Ras (of Abyssinia) who had attended me during my whole stay in the country, took his leave. Among all the men
* In throwing out these reflections, the author by no means wishes to insinuate, that it is improper, in every instance, to kill any of the inferior animals; his remarks being directed solely against the prac. tice of wantonly maiming or destroying them for the sake of mere sloort or amusement. Even in those cases where it m ov anpear expedient or necessary, to extirpate a portion of the animal tribes, it appears somewhat strunge, that gentlemen should be the vo. luntary agents employed in this work of destruction, and that their minds should be so much absorbed in the 3atisfaction which it creates. One would have thought that the very lowest class of the community would have been selected for this purpose, as there is something naturally revolting in the employment of destroying the lise of any sensitive being.
with whom I have been intimately acquainted, " consider this old man as one of the most perfect and blameless characters. His mind seemed to be formed upon the purest principles of the Christian religion; his every thought and action appeared to be the result of its dictates. He would often, to ease his mule, walk more than half the day; and as he journeyed by my side, continually recited prayers for our welfare and suture prosperity. On all occasions he sought to repress in those around him, every improper feeling of anger; conciliated them by the kindest words, and excited them, by his example, to an active performance of their duties. If a man were weary, he would assist him in carrying his burden; if he perceived any of the mules' backs to be hurt, he would beg me to have them relieved; and, constantly, when he saw me engaged in shooting partridges, or other birds, he would call out to them to fly out of the way, shaking his head, and begging me, in a mournful accent, not to kill them. I have remarked, in my former journal, that, with all this refined feeling of humanity, he was far from being devoid of courage; and, I had an opportunity, subsequently, of witnessing several instances of his bravery, though he appeared on all occasions peculiarly anxious to avoid a quarrrel. We parted, I believe, with mutual regret; at least for my own part, I can truly say, that I have seldom felt more respect for an individual than I did for this worthy man.”
As a contrast to the benevolent dispositions displayed by this worthy Abyssinian,—I shall give a short description of a bull-fight, in Madrid, extracted from a work, the author of which was a spectator (in 1803) of the scene he describes. “The Spanish bull-fights are certainly the most extraordinary exhibition in Europe: we were present at one of them this morning. The places in the amphitheatre were nearly all filled at half past nine, and at ten, the corregidor came into his box; upon which the trumpet sounded, and the people rose and shouted, from the delight that the show was to begin immediately. Four men in black gowns then came forward, and read a proclamation, enjoining all persons to remain in their seats. On their going out of the arena, the six bulls which were to be sought this morning, were driven across, led on by a cow, with a bell round her neck. The two Picadores (the men who were appointed to fight the furious animals) now appeared, dressed in leathern gaiters, thick leathern breeches, silk jackets covered with spangles, and caps surmounted by broad brimmed white hats; each rode a miserable hack, and carried in his hand a long pole, with a goad at the end. As soon as they were prepared, a door was opened, and the first bull rushed in. In the course of the contest, I felt first alarmed for the men, and then for the horses. Soon the acci. dents of the men withdrew my pity from the beasts; and, latterly, by a natural, and dreadful