« ZurückWeiter »
the crown is permitted, amidst the greatest jealousy and watchfulness in the people ; nay proceeding from those very principles : Liberty, in a country of the highest liberty, is left entirely to its own defence, without any countenance or protection : The wild state of nature is renewed, in one of the most civilized societies of mankind: And great violences and disorders among the people, the most humane and the best natured, are committed with impunity; while the one party pleads obedience to the supreme magistrate, the other the sanction of fundamental laws.
E S S A Y X. OF THE POPULOUSNESS OF ANTIENT NATIONS *,
THERE is very little ground, either from reason or experience, to conclude
T the universe eternal or incorruptible. The continual and rapid motion of matter, the violent revolutions with which every part is agitated, the changes remarked in the heavens, the plain traces as well as tradition of an universal deluge, or general convulsion of the elements; all these prove strongly the mortality of this fabric of the world, and its passage, by corruption or diffolution, from one state or order to another. It must, therefore, have its infancy, youth, manhood, and old age, as well as each individual form which it contains; and 'tis probable: that, in all these variations, man, equally with every animal and vegetable, will partake. In the Aourishing age of the world, it may be expected, that the human species should possess greater vigor both of mind and body, more prosperous health, higher spirits, longer life, and a stronger inclination and power of generation. But if the general system of things, and human society of course, have any such gradual revolutions, they are too Now to be discernible in that short period which is comprehended by history and tradition. Stature and force of body, length of life, even courage and extent of genius, seem hitherto to have been naturally, in all ages, pretty much the same. The arts and sciences, indeed, have flourished in one period, and have decayed in another : But we may observe, that at the time when they rose to greatest perfection among one people, they were perhaps totally unknown to all the neighboring nations ; and tho' they universally'decayed in one age, yet in a succeeding generation they again revived, and diffused themselves over the world. As far, therefore, as observation reaches, there is no
* An ingenious writer has honored this diseourse difficult to force him. Varro, in such a situation, with an answer. full of politeness, erudition, and could defend himself against HANNIBAL, PHARgood sense. So learned a refutation would have NACEs against CÆSAR. The author, however, made the author suspect, that his reasonings were very willingly acknowleges, that his antagonist has entirely overthrown, had he not used the precau- detected many mistakes both in his authorities and tion. from the beginning, to keep himself on the reasonings ; and it was owing entirely to that fceptical fide : and having taken this advantage of gentleman's indulgence, that many more errors the ground, he was enabled, tho' with much infe- were not remarked. In this edition, advantage has rior forces, to preserve himself from a total defeat. been taken of his learned animadverfions, and the That Reverend gentleman will always find, where Effay has been rendered less imperfect than forhis antagonist is so entrenched, that it will be very merly.
universal universal difference discernible in the human species : And tho it were allowed, that the universe, like an animal body, had a natural progress from infancy to old age; yet as it must still be uncertain whether, at present, it be advancing to its point of perfection, or declining from it, we cannot thence presuppose any decay in human nature a. To prove, therefore, or account for the greater populousness of antiquity, by the imaginary youth or vigor of the world, will scarce be admitted by any just reafoner. These general physical causes ought entirely to be excluded from that question.
There are indeed some more particular physical causes of great importance. Diseases are mentioned in antiquity, which are almost unknown to modern medicine; and new diseases have arisen, and propagated themselves, of which there are no traces in antient history. And in this particular we may observe, upon comparison, that the disadvantage is very much on the side of the moderns. Not to mention some others of less importance. The small pox commits such ravages, as would almost alone account for the great superiority supposed in antient times. The tenth or the twelfth part of mankind, destroyed every generation, should make a vast difference, it may be thought, in the numbers of the people ; and when joined to venereal distempers, a new plague diffused every where, this disease is perhaps equivalent, by its constant operation, to the three great scourges of mankind, war, pestilence, and famine, Were it certain, therefore, that antient times were more populous than the present, and could no moral causes be assigned for so great a change; these physical causes alone, in the opinion of many, would be fufficient to give us satisfaction on that head.
But is it certain, that antiquity was so much more populous, as is pretended ? The extravagancies of Vossius, with regard to this subject, are well known. But an author of much greater genius and discernment has ventured to affirm, that, according to the best computations which these subjects will admit of, there are not now, on the face of the earth, the fiftieth part of mankind, which existed in the time of Julius CÆSAR 6. It may easily be observed, that the comparisons, in this case, must be very imperfect, even tho we confine ourfelves to the scene of antient history ; EUROPE, and the nations about the MEDITERRANEAN. We know not exactly the numbers of any European kingdom, or even city, at : present: How can we pretend to calculate those of antient cities and states, where hiftorians have left us such imperfect traces? For my part, the matter appears to : me so uncertain, that, as I intend to throw together some reflections on that head, I shall intermingle the inquiry concerning causes with that concerning fasts; which'ought never to be admitted, where the facts can be ascertained with any tolerable assurance. We shall, first, consider, whether it be probable, from what we know : of the situation of society in both periods, that antiquity must have been more po
a COLUMELLA says, lib. 3. cap. 8. that in are apt to suppose the northern nations more fer , Ægypt and AFRICA the bearing of twins was tile. As those two countries were provinces of the . frequent, and even customary; gemini partus fa. Roman empire, 'tis difficult, tho' not altogether miliares, ac pæne folennes funt. If this was true, absurd, to suppose that such a man as COLUMELLA there is a physical difference both in countries and might be mistaken with regard to them." ages. For travellers make no fich remarks of 5 Lettres PERSANEs. See also L'Esprit des Loix, these countries at present. On the contrary we liv. 23. cap. 17. 18. 19.
pulous ; fecondly, whether in reality it was so. If I can make appear, that the conclusion is not so certain as is pretended, in favor of antiquity, 'tis all I aspire to.
In general, we may observe, that the question with regard to the comparative populousness of ages or kingdoms implies very important consequences, and com-, monly determines concerning the preference of their whole police, manners, and constitution of government. For as there is in all men, both male and female, a desire and power of generation, more active than is ever universally exerted, the restraints which they lie under, must proceed from fome difficulties in mens situation, which it belongs to a wise legislature carefully to observe and remove. Almost every man who thinks he can maintain a family, will have one ; and the human species, at this rate of propagation, would more than double every generation, were every one coupled as soon as he comes to the age of puberty. How fast do mankind multiply in every colony or new settlement ; where it is an easy matter to provide for a family ; and where men are no way ftraitened or confined, as in long established governments ? History tells us frequently of plagues, which have swept away the third or fourth part of a people: Yet in a generation or two, the destruction was not perceived ; and the society had again acquired their former number. The lands which were cultivated, the houses built, the commodities raised, the riches acquired, enabled the people who escaped, immediately to marry, and to rear families, which supplied the place of those who had perished. And for a like reason, every wife, juft, and mild government, by rendering the condition of its subjects easy and secure, will always abound most in people, as well as in commodities and riches. A country, indeed, whose climate and soil are fitted for vines, will naturally be more populous than one which produces only corn, and that more populous than one which is only fitted for pafturage. But if every thing else be equal, it seems natural to expect, that where-ever there are moft happiness and virtue, and the wisest institutions, there will also be most people.
: The question, therefore, concerning the populousness of antient and modern times, being allowed of great importance, it will be requisite, if we would bring it to some determination, to compare both the domestic and political situation of these two periods, in order to judge of the facts by their moral causes, which is the first view in which we proposed to consider them.
The chief difference betwixt the domestic oeconomy of the antients and that of the moderns consists in the practice of slavery, which prevailed among the former, and which has been abolished for some centuries thro’out the greatest part of EuROPE. Some passionate admirers of the antients, and zealous partisans of civil liberty, (for these sentiments, as they are both of them, in the main, extremely just, are found to be almost infeparable), cannot forbear regretting the loss of this institution ; and whilst they brand all submission to the government of a single person with the harsh denomination of navery, they would gladly reduce the greatest part
This too is a good reason why the small-poxed by Don GERONIMO DE USTARIZ, that the does not depopulate countries so much as may at provinces of Spain which send most people to the first sight be imagined. Where there is room for ÎNDIES, are most populous ; which proceeds from more people, they will always arise, even without their superior riches. the alüstance of naturalization-bills. 'Tis remark
of mankind to real Navery and subjection. But to one who considers coolly on the fubject, it will appear, that human nature, in general, really enjoys more liberty at present, in the most arbitrary government of Europe, than it ever did during the most flourishing period of ancient times. As much' as submission to a petty prince, whose dominions extend not beyond a single city, is more grievous than obedience to a great monarch ; so much is domestic Navery more cruel and oppressive than any civil subjection whatsoever. The more the master is removed from us in place and rank, the greater liberty we enjoy; the less are our actions inspected and controled; and the fainter that cruel comparison becomes between our own subjection, and the freedom, and even dominion of another. The remains that are found of domestic Navery, in the AMERICAN colonies, and among some EUROPEAN nations, would never surely create a desire of rendering it more universal. The little humanity commonly observed in persons accustomed, from their infancy, to exercise so great authority over their fellow-creatures, and to trample upon human nature, were sufficient alone to disgust us with that authority. Nor can a more probable reason be given for the severe, I might say, barbarous, manners of antient times, than the practice of domestic Navery ; by which every man of rank was rendered a petty tyrant, and educated amidst the flattery, submislion, and low debasement of his slaves.
ACCORDING to the antient practice, all checks were on the inferior, to restrain him to the duty of submission; none on the superior, to engage him to the reciprocal duties of gentleness and humanity. In modern times, a bad servant finds not easily a good master, nor a bad master a good servant ; and the checks are mutual, suitable to the inviolable and eternal laws of reason and equity.
The custom of exposing old, useless, or sick Naves in an island of the Tyler, there to starve, seems to have been pretty common in Rome ; and whoever recovered, after having been so exposed, had his liberty given him, by an edict of the emperor CLAUDIUS ; where it was likewise forbid to kill any Nave, merely for old age or sickness". But supposing that this edict was strictly obeyed, would it better the domestic treatment of Naves, or render their lives much more comfortable? We may imagine what others would practise, when it was the professed maxim of the elder Cato, to sell his superannuated slaves for any price, rather than maintain what he esteemed an useless burthen
The ergastula, or dungeons, where Naves in chains were forced to work, were very common all over ITALY. COLUMELLA' advises, that they be always built under ground; and recommends it as the duty of a careful overseer, to call over every day the names of these Naves, like the mustering of a regiment or ship's company, in order to know presently when any of them had deserted. A proof of the frequency of these ergusula, and of the great number of saves usually confined in them.
A CHAINED slave for a porter was usual in Rome, as appears from Ovid , and other authors i. Had not these people shaken off all sense of compassion towards that unhappy part of their species, would they have presented all their
in the inviolable oreless, or lichomion in ROME Kim, by an ealer for
d SUETONIUS in vita CL AUDIT.
h Amor. lib. 1. eleg. 6.
i SUETON de claris rhetor. So also the antient poet, nitoris tintinnire impedimenta audio. EE 2
poet, ETON de idleg: 6.
friends, at the first entrance, with such an image of the severity of the master, and misery of the Nave?
NOTHING so common in all trials, even of civil causes, as to call for the evidence of slaves; which was always extorted by the most exquisite torments, DEMOSTHenes says ", that where it was possible to produce, for the same fact, either freemen or slaves as witnesses, the judges always preferred the torturing of Naves, as a more certain and infallible evidence'.
Seneca draws a picture of that disorderly luxury, which changes day into night, and night into day, and inverts every stated hour of every office in life. Among other circumstances, such as displacing the meals and times of bathing, he mentions, that regularly, about the third hour of the night, the neighbors of one who indulges this false refinement, hear the noise of whips and lashes; and, upon inquiry, find he is then taking an account of the conduct of his servants, and giving them due correction and discipline. This is not remarked as an instance of cruelty, but only of disorder, which, even in actions the most usual and methodical, changes the fixed hours that an establiłhed custom had assigned
But our present business is only to consider the influence of Navery on the populousness of a state. 'Tis pretended, that, in this particular, the antient practice had infinitely the advantage, and was the chief cause of that extreme populousness which is supposed in those times. At present, all masters discourage the marrying of their male servants, and admit not by any means the marriage of the female, who are then supposed altogether incapacitated for their service. But where the property of the servants is lodged in the master, their marriage and fertility form his riches, and bring him a succession of naves, that supply the place of those whom age and infirmity have disabled. He encourages, therefore, their propagation as much as that of his cattle ; rears the young with the same care ; and educates them to some art or calling, which may render them more useful or valuable to him. The opulent are, by this policy, interested in the being at least, tho' not the well-being of the poor ; and enrich themselves, by increasing the number and industry of those who are subjected to them. Each man, being a fovereign in his own family, has the same interest with regard to it, as the prince with regard to the state ; and has not, like the prince, any opposite motives of ambition or vain-glory, which may lead him to depopulate his little sovereignty.
tho' not than... The opulent are calling, which mayoung with the curt, their
* In Oneterem orat. 1.
is apt to renew the barbarous wish of CALIGULA, The same practice was common in Rome; but that the people had but one neck. A man could Cicero seems not to think this evidence fo certain almost be pleased, by a single blow, to put an end as the testimony of free-citizens. Pro Coelio. to such a race of monsters. You may thank God,
m Epift. 122. The inhuman sports exhibited says the author above cited, (epift. 7.), addressing at Rome, may justly be considered too as an effect himself to the Roman people, that you have a of the people's contempt for slaves, and was also master, (viz. the mild and merciful Nero), who a great cause of the general inhumanity of their is incapable of learning cruelty from your examprinces and rulers. Who can read the accounts of ple. This was fpoke in the beginning of his the amphitheatrical entertainments without horror? reign: But he fitted them very well afterwards; Or who is surprized, that the emperors should and no doubt was considerably improved by the treat that people in the same way the people treated right of the barbarous objects, to which he had, their inferiors ? One's humanity, on that occafion, from his infancy, been accustomed.